Tag Archives: cooking through the decades

the rewards of refuse: my culinary revelations

My husband is big on throwing things out in the kitchen. If the ketchup, mustard or mayo gets low enough that it takes a bit of work to get the last few servings out of the container-he’ll throw the whole thing in the recycling, remaining food and all.

I am the exact opposite. I’ll spend far too much time and effort to get out every last drop. I’ve even poured the hot tea water into the bottom of the honey jar, then poured that into my tea to get every last morsel of honey out. What can I say? I don’t waste. I have a father who was raised by a single mother during WWII. I grew up hearing the stories of rationing and how there was no real butter. I guess that stuck with me.

So when I saw that mustard container sitting on the windowsill waiting to be carried to the recycling bin at the curb, I took back the mustard! I’m involved in this Romance’s Biggest Winner weight-loss challenge, and I knew I’d be having lots of salads over the next few weeks. I saw that mustard and thought what a perfect way to make some homemade salad dressing. I poured into that mostly but not quite empty mustard container some red wine vinegar, olive oil, a dash of water, a pinch of grated parmesan cheese, some fresh finely chopped garlic, a single dash of Worchestershire sauce, a touch of salt and pepper . Then I closed the lid and shook it all together.

I’ve been enjoying that dressing over romaine hearts. Sometimes I add grilled chicken breast. Last night for dinner I added garlic shrimp. That mustard dressing has lasted me all week long and the silly man almost threw it away! But I have to forgive him because he’s also the one who went out Sunday and returned home with bags of real wood Barbecue chips. Oh. My. God. Plain old boneless skinless (tasteless) chicken breast grilled over a combination of mesquite and apple wood chips is AMAZING! It’s unbelievable what simply cooking over these chips rather than with gas or charcoal can do to the flavor, all without adding any calories or fat. I’m ready to cook all our food like this. Fish. Steak. Everything! I daresay these woodchips may be my new favorite thing. Crazy thing is, my father probably disposes in the compost pile buckets of similar chips from his sawmill and we’re paying to buy it in tiny bags. I’ll have to investigate this…

So those are my two culinary revelations this week–cooking with stuff that could have been thrown out. LOL Let’s see if I can keep up both the diet and the food discoveries for another week. Fingers crossed because beware, it’s Girl Scout Cookie season.

Cat

my favorite things: cowgirl creamery cheese

Cowgirl CreameryA few months ago I posted on another group blog I belong to about Purple Cowboy wine. Well here is the perfect accompaniment to that–Cowgirl Creamery Cheeses.

As I’ve mentioned here before, my friends and I are foodies. We get together weekly at one house and basically cook and eat together. I won’t say it’s exactly like the scene in the movie The Big Chill, but I’ll admit there is sometimes singing, and even once some dancing…long story. Anyway, we fancy ourselves cheese afficienados–so much so that one among us (who shall remain nameless) was told by his doctor his cholesterol was too high. His answer, “It’s not my fault. My wife enrolled me in the cheese of the month club.” No it wasn’t me or my husband, but we do all love our cheese, and I love all things cowboy, so when said cheese lover with high cholesterol was shopping at Fairway and saw cheese with the above cowgirl logo on it, he picked it up immediately, and oh my God was it good!

Mt Tam from Cowgirl Cremery

The one we had was the Mt Tam. So creamy. So tasty. So expensive! (The small round we had was $20.) But oh so good. So much so I was intrigued, as much by the name of the company as by the cheese. Here is what I found out about them…

The company was begun by 2 women in 1997 in a small coastal town in CA. I LOVE supporting small business and women-owned businesses even better. This artisan cheese is actually made in an old renovated barn–another thing I love to support–the reuse and repurposing of old buildings. For this handmade cheese, they buy organic milk from their neighbor. Yet one more thing I love–supporting America’s small farmers, not to mention how environmentally friendly it is to use local resources rather than trucking things from across the country, or worse, from another country.

local cow

You can read more about the Cowgirl Creamery and their philosophies regarding not only cheese, but also preserving rural life HERE. And even if you can’t buy Cowgirl Cheese where you live, I bet there’s a farmer’s market not too far away that sells artisan cheese made locally with the same loving care from local milk farmed by…you guessed it, local cowboys and cowgirls.

Cat

got bundt?

There’s something missing in my life. I’ve known it’s missing for quite some time now. Decades actually. But I’ve never gone out and corrected the situation and now I’m feeling the need.

Perhaps it’s the $4.05 a gallon gas price I saw posted today that is making me nostaligic for simpler times but I think, after 20 1/2 years of marriage and 21 years of home ownership, I am going to buy my first bundt cake pan.

What brought this on? Well I was watching ABC World News with Diane Sawyer tonight (while checking Twitter and Facebook, investigating the rumor that my library has eBooks for loan, cleaning up some files on my computer and talking on the phone) and one story actually broke through my multi-tasking and caught my attention and I actually stopped all else and watched it.

It was a piece for an apparently recurring feature (that I’ve never noticed before) called the “Made in America: All Stars” series. Maybe I noticed it now because recently I saw a segment on another show where they went into a typical American household and removed everything that wasn’t made in America. There was nothing left. Not even the daughter’s American Girl Doll (which fyi is made in China). The show replaced nearly everything in the house with American-made products, but it wasn’t easy locating some items and I believe they couldn’t find baseballs made in this country–ironic, huh?

So perhaps that’s why this news story about Nordic Ware, a 65-year old, family-owned company in Minneapolis who has been making bundt pans since grandma and grandpa began in 1946, caught my ear. They didn’t  turn a profit for 10 years but they kept at it and the reporter said business has never been better than it is right now (sales are up 30% from last year). They attribute it to the poor economy. People can’t afford to go out so they are staying home and baking bundts? Perhaps. But I venture to say that maybe we’re all just looking to recapture what we perceive were simpler times.

They do say it takes 3 times hearing something for it to stick. So maybe between the Kiss My Bundt cookbook I’ve seen right here on the Eat Something Sexy site, and the poor family with the house emptied of all non-American products, now this Made in America bundt pan company was a case of “third times a charm”. Or maybe I just like cake. Who knows?

Cat

too many cooks in the kitchen

Yes it has become an expression and perhaps lost some of its meaning but Saturday night at our first Cooking through the Decades dinner with friends there truly were too many cooks in the kitchen, as evidenced by the vast and varied menu.

As I mentioned last post my friends and I, who gather weekly to share a meal, decided to add some flair to the get-togethers by creating a themed menu around periods in history. Though I hope we can skip out of order later and do a Colonial meal, as well as a Southern Civil War Era one, we began with the first decade of the 1900s. The menu choices were to be inspired by our personal heritages since that period in US history was the age of immigration and we chose Ellis Island as our theme.

So we had German, Irish, Italian, Jewish and Polish all represented in various mixes among us and here is the menu we served; once you read it you will see what I mean about the too many cooks because there was much too much food and way too many carbs, but perhaps that is my 21st Century sensibilities talking.

Drinks: German Beer, Italian Wine

Appetizers: Polish Kielbassa & German Knockwurst served with German Pretzels in a honey mustard dipping sauce. Italian Pizza Rustica, Irish Dubliner Cheese with crackers, Italian Olives

First Course: Jewish Matzoh Ball Soup

Main Course: Irish Shepards Pie, Tossed Green Salad w/ Italian Vinaigrette

Desserts: Jewish Chocolate & Raspberry-filled Rugalah, German Almond Pastry Puffs, Apple Kugel, and Raspberry Tart, and 2 boxes of assorted purchased Italian bakery cookies.

That doesn’t include the hot wings and fried chicken cutlets we also served to the children because they turned their noses up at our fare. So you can imagine the kitchen, every square inch covered in food. If you were one of the 3 people who actually logged in to our live streaming web broadcast you don’t have to imagine!

Anyway, we are going to do this again in spite of the “are you insane?” look I got from my husband last week when he heard it was a “themed dinner”. It will probably be in 2 weeks we’ll do the second decade of the 19th century, the theme being World War I. This time I am hoping we plan a tighter, more contained and less random menu. I have some of my cookbooks and old magazines out looking for popular drinks of the period and researching what foods were rationed because of the war. A book I discovered on my shelves, Vintage Cocktails: Authentic Recipes and Illustrations from 1920-1960,says that in 1914 “As World War I rages, the Martini is America’s number-one cocktail, known throughout the world as the symbol of all things civilized.”

So there you go. Perhaps I’ll pack an overnight bag for this one since we might be drinking martinis. You may want to tune in to the live streaming broadcast.

cooking through the decades

So you already know my friends a) like to cook, b) like to eat and c) are a little bit crazy. I think the next grand scheme, which will begin tomorrow night, is proof of all three. You see I was away and left them to their own devices for one week with nothing to do and a few bottles of wine, and ‘cooking through the decades’ was born.

What is this of which I speak? They decided to each week choose a different decade and plan a meal around the food popular during that time period, and somehow it morphed to also include the drinks of the period and the clothing. I personally think our friend Grace simply wanted an excuse to dress up, but whatever, it’s happening.

Tomorrow we begin with the turn of the century. The age of immigration in this great country of ours when the huddled masses poured through Ellis Island carrying with them their meager belongings, whatever name the overworked immigration official bestowed upon them, and the foods native to their homeland.

This project has taken on a life of its own and tomorrow I’ll be cooking and I suppose looking for some sort of babushka to wear. We’re hoping to get a live cam up and running in the coming weeks so fans can join us for our weekly culinary travels through time. Hell, if nothing else, it should be entertaining!