Monday, September 21, 2009

Chicken Chili

Today was make the chili day. Chicken chili that is...

I know chili is a beef thing, a red meat thing, and I like so many have trouble when people just throw chicken in where red meat should be.

But white chili (no tomatoes), THAT is a another story. And so today, my own, very first, personal white, chicken chili.

So the bean are white, the spices and green and white... and hey.
Tomatillas for the acid tomatoes usually bring. All the chiles are green, the onions are white, and DON'T leave out the garlic.

Break out the corn bread!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Clean Out the Fridge Day

The mistakes, the too much of a good thing, the last little bit of stuff in a jar... It is time for all of it to go.

There I have JUST enough room for the next round of silliness.

Hmmmmm.... The farmer's market is open.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How Can You Love Pork Chops if You've Never Tasted Them?

So... It was go to the aquarium day, and we are walking through Pike Place Market (It's just a place to buy fresh food, get over the FETISH now, Please?). The Fish Boyz are throwin' the same tired salmon for the next bus load of tourists, and my son is really over it. But in the next stall is a gorgeous butcher case. We and the butcher are walking around the cases talking about the meat. Stew the crazy shoulder cuts, what is - and what to do with veal? Chicken is already old news but always open to possibilty... but this is a "cornish game hen" and THAT is a quail.

For some reason the Pork Chops capture him.
"I love pork chops," enthuses my son.
"When did you have pork chops?" After the lamb disaster, I had hung back from pork chops.
"I don't remember. A long time ago."
This is actually a valid answer from my son. At 6, it is unclear what you haven't done, and what you don't remember. It gets harder when you think you should have done something, or are pretty sure you want to have done something. (YES, grammar people, at 6, this is a valid collection of tenses.)

So, tonight was the cooking-of-the-pork-chops. This was remarkable for 2 reasons. I, after several failures, actually cooked really good pork chops (see below if you are curious). And he ate half of his with plenty of starch and Orange & Purple salad (see also below). What made it interesting is he asked to have the other half for lunch.

I guess if your fancy takes you, you CAN love Pork Chops even if you have never tasted them. And thus the opposite holds water. If you decide to hate something, you just do, and there is nothing one can do about it sanely. (Thus, sometimes insanity and the ridiculous are effective... but never something reasonable.)

*My First Personal Best Pork Chops*
(Good only for meat eaters. If you don't eat meat... go back to the tomatoes, and wait until I get around to yogurt cheese. Though I am beginning to suspect Very Firm Tofu would react well to this treatment. )

1. Get your paws on GOOD pork chops. To do this find a butcher, or at the very least, get up the courage to ask your grocery store butcher. They are most likely DYING to answer you questions. They know a lot, and no one ever asks them ANYTHING. Make their day.
2. Marinate
3. Sear to produce flavor and texture. (This "sealing in the juices" thing is BUNK, but searing IS super tasty.)
4. Cook the middles covered and over LOW low heat.
5. Serve with something sweet and sour.

More specifically - This recipe is for 2 pork chops. Double, triple and do appropriate fractions for more meat.

2 pork chops
Marinade: In a non-reactive bowl or zip top bag combine....
1 teaspoon sweet (not spicy or smoked) paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
4 cloves garlic smashed against a knife and peeled of skins
2 Tbs olive oil
About 1 Tbs soy sauce - for salt
and a few grinds or shakes of black pepper

Mix together, smear over the pork chops, and add -

Enough red wine (up to 1/2 cup) to get everything really wet - fruity if you've got it

Let this sit in the fridge at least an hour... but feel free to have it marinate up to 8 hours.

When it comes time to cook, heat a cast iron skillet or other heavy pan (and I mean HEAVY... is it hard to lift with 1 hand?) over medium high heat with a little oil. Sear each side 3-4 minutes - until it develops a little brown color.

Now turn the heat to LOW, low and Cover Tightly. Cook for another 6 minutes (3 minutes each side if you feel compelled to flip. But at low heat flipping is not essential. When cooked through, but still moist and tender, serve (can keep warm covered with foil, on a plate.)

Serve with Slaw. Slaw? What Slaw? Remember the Orange & Purple salad... here it is.

*Cabbage, Onion and Vegetable Bin Slaw*

This takes advantage of the fact that just about any hard vegetable grated is pretty edible. And any hard vegetable grated and slightly sauteed in somewhere between Very Edible and Down Right Delicious.

Ideal Recipe (This means Totally Adjustable to Current Realities) -

1 Food Processor with grater blade
1/2 head or approximate equiv. of a large cabbage grated, and set aside. (I had purple... thus the Purple)

Grated and mixed together:
1 small or 1/2 large red onion
1 apple quartered and cored - slightly tart and firm preferred, but what you have will do
About 1/2 to 1 cups worth of something crunchy from your vegetable bin (I had golden beets, thus the orange. But celery, carrots, fennel, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash ... whatever! will do).

Dressing: The real rule is TRUST YOUR TONGUE. But if you are saying, sure, but where do I start?

Try: red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp dijon mustard (& a squirt of honey out of a honey bear if it seems like a good idea.) Stir this together with a fork or whisk. Then stir and add some good olive oil (maybe a little sesame oil if you have it/ feel like it). Stir together. If it tastes good, but too strong, it is just right.

In a hot skillet (hopefully the one that you used for the pork chops?) that has a little oil in it...
briefly saute the grated onion apple and misc. hard vegetable.
Toss with the cabbage and dressing. Taste. Add a little salt and pepper, a little at a time, get it Just Right.

Eat the Pork Chops and Slaw together with some toast or left over Mac 'n Cheese or some other handy starch.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Lunch Box Dilemma

As I try to decide on the lunch box regimen for the 1st grade, I try to think back to my own lunches. My mom was not a big fan of the "school hot lunch." Standing where she stood, I see what she meant. But having been in my son's spot, I see the appeal. The answer - compromise... Thanks Mom.

So school lunch 1x a month (I remind myself, lots of kids eat this every day, and they are all there, back at school the next day. Just CHILL! On the other hand, this week's Time, "The Real Cost of Cheap Food" also speaks to me.)

But on other days.... I had sandwich and fruit/veg and drink (milk or real juice) and the occasional cookie. I concede I find this a good formula. However, I firmly believe that what we can make fresh(ish) as small producers will always be superior to mass produced incredibly shelf stable stuff that arrives in foil lined, heat sealed, plastic reinforced packaging. Though, some days, I just gotta say yes to the Dorito.

Anyway, tomorrow, day 1 has been slated as "splashy noodles" in the new thermos, with veg, pickled ginger and cookies on the side. + milk

Day 2 turkey sandwich and apple . + milk

Day 3 PB & J, apple +milk.

It is just lunch. No need to get hyper. Just keep it simple, tasty and fresh and everyone will be ok. I think sometimes we forget as a society that little-er kids crave the security of repetition. It is only us jaded grownups that beg for the constant change and something new. Even many adults are happy with the same thing. After all, "I'll have the usual" is something growups say.