Monday, April 1, 2013

Musings on cooking

I cooked last week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights. And I realized something kind of profound. I like to cook. But only when it turns out well. And it only turns out well if I have the time and concentration to devote to enjoying the cooking AND a) I have a recipe OR b) I've made it so many times that I have a feel for it and can pretty much make it up as I go along.

I made hummus and tabbouleh, followed a recipe for the tabbouleh and made up the hummus, and it was delicious. Perfect. Honestly. I don't say that very often about my cooking. Whereas the fried chicken that I ad libbed for my parents was just barely edible. Maybe not that bad, but certainly not tasty. They were happy for the company, at least. And the recipe that I followed, barely, for Lara's kale and bean stew, ended up in a flavorless concoction that we all ate because it was clearly good for us and had tasty croutons stowed at the bottom of the bowl.

Friday's dinner of roasted asparagus, grilled salmon with salt and dill and super-buttery garlic bread just taught me never to cook if I don't feel like it. At this point in my cooking education, I rarely make disasters anymore- most things are palatable- which is a nice change from before, say, co-habitation with Alex. But if my heart isn't in it, it will taste uninspired and all I will get from it is some sort of moral satisfaction that I used the asparagus before it went bad in the veggie drawer. And these days, satisfaction comes much more easily from smaller efforts.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


Still trying to cook good food and enjoying it most of the time. Do not have time to blog about said food. Perhaps in the future. Signing off for now...


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Venison and the New Year

It has been a couple of months since anything has been posted here... in the meantime, Atticus turned 1, we had lots of visitors and Christmas and New Years. So lots of good food and lots of changes, but little time to write. But now halfway through January there's a little break so here's a list of two weeks worth of fun in the kitchen and how our 2013 has started out.

I started off the New Year by killing something. I think that this is the first year I can say that. I'm sure I have killed a spider or two in the past, but this time it was a large, breathing thing that was not bothering me in the least. I killed Bambi's mother.

It was actually a very worthwhile and interesting experience. The idea was that my father-in-law has not been hunting in a while, and so Erin and I decided to go with him as a Christmas present. We got the guns ready, went out to the blind and waited. It was a cold but beautiful January 1 and we had spent the night at the ranch the night before so not crazy partying or anything and everyone was feeling good. First the turkeys showed up, and I proposed to shoot one of those. Bill vetoed that idea secondary to the painful plucking process. After about an hour, we saw a couple of deer but they quickly scampered off. But then a little bit later, a couple more creeped into view and then came right out of the woods and started eating. Shortly after that, one of them fell to the ground with a bullet through her heart. I don't hunt much, but I do eat meat. So I'm glad that I actually shot, killed, and field-dressed a deer. It definitely gave me more respect for the animal and made me think actively about what eating meat means. And they are apparently over-populated.

All that to say, the venison has been great. Have had a roast and burgers so far and looking forward to lots more. So here's the menu for the last week and the upcoming week. Thank you deer.

Mussels, carrot, celery and mushroom with linguini
- simple recipe: saute carrot, celery, onion with plenty o' pepper in large pan, add mushroom at end, then deglaze with white wine and reduce, then add mussels, cover for 7 minutes and serve over linguini

Bambi burgers, onion rings, broccoli
- lovely, burgers take much less time with venison
Margherita pizza with spinach salad
Blue corn tamales with spicy corn 
Roast venison, acorn squash and potatoes
- the venison I cooked like any roast - browned, then in oven for 20 minutes on 450. The key was the overnight with salt, pepper, lots of thyme and allspice; cooked in over with cranberries and carrots which made for good bites
- the acorn squash was stuffed which I haven't tried before. Just cooked a chopped apple in butter with pecans with some onion over the stove for a while to soften everything up, then mixed in some acorn squash after half cooked, blended with hand blender and back in remaining squash to bake until done
Paalak paneer and chicken masala
- Erin made a great chicken masala, Atticus loved it too - ate his peas!

Next week:
Grilled chicken, asparagus, couscous
Fish tacos with beans, corn
Spaghetti with venison meatballs, salad
- this is solid recipe from a Tex Mex cookbook we have
Curried kale, vegetable korma, rice