July 26, 2008

Chef Sarah In the Kitchen

I want to start by saying thanks to my Mom for being the kind of mom that let her kids play in the kitchen. Starting at an early age....there are pictures of us in diapers sitting on the floor surrounded by her pots and pans. Probably at the time we were practicing musicians, but regardless, my sister and I eventually learned to love what those objects were intended for. Mom let me and Meagan cook. She let us "help" by stirring a pot, grating cheese, or whatever. She was even brave enough to turn us loose in her kitchen to make cookies, or whatever. One of my lessons from that experience was....if you cook you clean. I was guilty of having the fun, and leaving all the dirty dishes for Mom to take care of. But she straightened me out, and just for the record, I now can not STAND to have dirty dishes sitting on my counter or in my sink. Drives me nuts.

When I was a junior in high school, Mom went back to school to become a teacher. Don't know why she needed the degree for it. She'd been a teacher to us all her life and they would have had a spectacular teacher, with or without the official documentation. During her college years, she often had late afternoon or evening classes, and so I remember taking over dinner preparations one night a week or so and having supper ready when Mom and Dad got home from school and work. Then it was fun and a game, and gave me a feeling of usefull responsibility feeding the family and helping Mom out. I still love cooking and feeding people.

Obviously I don't get to experiment in the culinary art much seeing as how I live in a truck. But when we go home, I go all out and make the most of the opportunity. Thougth I'd share a couple of recipies with you from this trip home.

Malcolm's a mexican food fanatic and I bought a "Border Cookbook" and tryed a couple of things. My Horchata (mexican rice mik drink) was blah compared to the stuff at the resteraunts so we'll stick with that being an eating out treat. (try it sometime when your at a Mexican resteraunt. Its really good) One night I made my favorite cheese enchiladas, and not wanting to serve up yet another scoop of refried beans, I pulled out my cookbook. I keep thinking surely Mexicans have more side dishes that beans and rice. Well according to my cookbook, they actually don't use veggies as side dishes that much, but I did find a recipe that sounded appetizing and wanted to give it a whirl. Turned out it was a great complimentary dish to my enchildas, and Malcolm and I really enjoyed it. Give it a try sometime:

Zucchini Con Queso

1T butter
1T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Two 5-oz cans evaporated milk
1/4 cup sour cream
4 oz grated pepper jack cheese

2T butter
2T olive oil
5 cups zucchini, cut in fat matchsticks
1/2 medium onion, sliced in thin strips
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
2 small tomatoes (preferably roma or Italian Plum) sliced into thin strips
1/2 tsp dried oregano (didn't have any so I left it out)
1/2 tsp salt

In a large skillet, warm butter and olice old over medium heat. Add the garlic, evaporated milk, and sour cream and heat through. Stir in cheese, cover pan, and remove from the heat. Stir again in several minutes if needed to melt cheese evenly. Keep sauce warm.
In a large skillet warm butter and oil over medium heat. Add zucchini, onion, and garlic. Saute for abotu 5 minutes until wilted. Stir in the bell pepper, tomatoes, oregano, and salt. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, until zucchini is very tender.
Serve hot with spoonfuls of the cheese sauce.

Here's another of Malcolm's favorites, and I like it too. This is his favorite pepper jelly. I made a couple of batches while we were home to keep on hand. We like it on Ritz crackers with cream cheese. I didn't have Ritz crackers because I forgot them at Walmart, and Baker's grocery store didn't have any. This was as close as I could get. They were good too, but not the same. It really ought to be Ritz.

Pepper Jelly
1cup minced bell pepper (about one pepper)
Tabasco sauce (1 1/2 T for mild; 3 T for hot)
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
6 1/2 cups sugar
1 pkg Certo

Put the minced peppers, Tabasco sauce, and cider vinegar in the blender until well blended. Mine usually has some tiny pieces of pepper still intact, but I like the way it looks. I guess if you want the clear perfect jelly look, you could strain it through cheese cloth or something. Pour the mixture into a pot with the sugar and bring to a rapid boil that can't be stirred down. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Skim off froth from surface and stir in Certo. (Momma taught my to always use the liquid form. It works better.) Seal in hot, sterilized jars. Makes 6-7 half pints.

I had a major craving for watermellon for weeks before we went home. I even bought one of those little tubs of pre-cubed watermellon one day at Walmart, but it just wasn't the same. So on our grocery trip for home, Malcolm picked me out two smaller seedless watermellons. Two because he thought it would be good to have with our 4th of July dinner with his family. Well, we had SO much food, as usual, that not much watermellon got eaten. And Malcolm's not a big fan, so there I was with left over watermellon that was quickly becoming too ripe to eat. A few months ago I picked up one of those little grocery store booklets of recipe's from Taste of Home. It was a book of smoothies. So there was a recipe in it for Watermellon Cooler. Its mild in flavor, but refreshing. It makes two servings, but you know how that goes. I put both servings in the same glass. This is a great solution for the quickly ripening watermellon because you freeze it and then you can keep it on hand for a LONG time.

Watermellon Cooler
2 cups cubed watermellon, frozen (hint...cube it before you freeze it!)
1 cup ginger ale
2 mint leaves

I didn't have mint leaves so I used a small drop of mint extract. Probably not the same effect, but it did give it just a hint of mint.
Put the gingerale and mint leaves in the blender and blend a few seconds. Add watermellon and blend till smooth.
Now its kind of thick, so you almost need a straw, or you can do like me, and eat it with a spoon, drinking off the melted liquid as it thaws.

I have decided after many failed attempts that I will never be able to make buttermild biscuits like my mom and grandma. However, my mom assures me that she is just now managing to make them well. I don't know...I feel hopeless in the matter. But I have discovered a close second that I havn't failed at yet.

Sour Cream Biscuits

2 cups self rising flour

1/2 cup softened butter

8oz sour cream (I havn't made it with low fat, I use the 'real" stuff for fear that the low fat version will make my biscuits flop)

Cut butter into flour until it resembles meal (you know the routine here). Gradually stir in sour cream. The dough will be stiff. Turn onto floured surface and knead 10-12 times. Roll to 1/2 inch thickness and cut into biscuits. Place on greased bakingn sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes. (10-12 biscuits)

I will also admit to attempting to make dumplings like my grandmothers. We were hungry and so they were eadible, BUT they were NOT my grandmothers. Close, but not nearly close enough. Another skill of the master cook, that I will never gain I think.

Hope you enjoy these recipes. I thought they were tasty.

Oh I almost forgot. I also made this super yummy batch of strawberry ice cream, but I don't have the recipe with me. I tryed to make it from memory based on Mom's ice cream. I used a can of eagle brand, and then I had like a cup of cream left from something else, so I threw that in. I think it was two cups of sugar, and then...I don't remember how much milk I put in. And then I had a quart container of frozen sugared strawberries that I ran through the food processor to chop of a little more. Anyway....yummy. I wish I had some now, even though its only 10:30 in the morning. Whoever made the rule you can't eat ice cream, or desserts in general, in the morning???

1 comment:

jenni said...

YUM! Sounds like you are a chef. Is that a Kitchen Aid mixer in the background?