Archive for October, 2009

Sunsets in the morning

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Now that Allena is driving me to work in the mornings, sometimes the kids get up early and want to come along too.  Given the time of year, we’re frequently heading out right around dawn.  Today all of the little kids were with us and Teresa said “Oh, look!  What a beautiful sunset coming up!”

As long as we’re talking about food

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

One of my favorite bloggers is a Catholic Priest.  Usually he blogs about Catholic things (duh) but occasionally he goes off topic to just speak about the things that give him pleasure.  He’ll post pictures of his bird feeders, or his bonzai plants.  One of the things he posts about frequently is food, and let me tell you – the man has some culinary skills.  Everything I’ve seen him cook looks and sounds great.  I can’t imagine any of my children would willingly eat it hahaha!  (you know it must be good if kids won’t eat it, right?)  So, I thought I’d follow suit and post a little more often about food – seeing as it’s one of the things that gives me pleasure, as my waistline will testify too.

Allena and I have recently invested in a crock pot.  With her driving me to work and all, dinner was getting pretty late.  We haven’t owned one in quite a while (the crock part broke on the last one a couple of years ago), and even when we did it was mostly for stews and sometimes meatballs.  And Allena had a little one that she made glue in :).  Well, I’m not sure how we found out, but apparently there is a great variety of things you can make in a crock pot.  I know, I know…many of you are shaking your heads, saying to yourselves, “two college educated people and they don’t know you can make more than stew and meatballs in a crock pot???  Pathetic!”, and you’d be right to think so.  But now we know better!

We’ve had a few interesting adventures with the crock pot thus far.  The soup mentioned in my last post was made in the crock pot.  We’ve made oatmeal overnight in the crock pot.  This is called “Amish Baked Oatmeal”, which is really kind of a silly thing to call the recipe if you think about it – it’s really good all the same.  We made a breakfast casserole in it one time – potatoes, eggs, bacon, cheese, etc.  Tonight we had “Dijon Lamb” only, it wasn’t lamb, it was venison.  This is the second time we’ve made this recipe.  The first time we changed the recipe a little because it called for lemon juice and all we had was lime.  It also called for beef stock and we only had vegetable stock.  Not to mention the venison instead of the lamb.  Ok, ok…so we pretty much just used the recipe as a foundation and winged it.  Tonight was about the same – we had lemon, but we left out the stock all together and put in water and some red wine instead, and more garlic, and potatoes.  We’re not good at following simple directions I guess :)

Allena and I are both really enjoying the crock pot.  It’s nice to make meals when you feel up to it (like at noon on Sunday) and then just have it ready to eat when you’re tired (like when you get back from Mass on Sunday evening).

Here’s the recipe for Dijon Meat Of Your Choice:

  • Cut up two pounds of meat into cubes/chunks – Lamb, Venison, Beef (think “red meat”)
  • Salt and pepper the meat and then coat it all in flower
  • Put it in a skillet with some oil (olive/vegetable) and fry it up until it’s browned well on the outside – does not have to be cooked all the way through
  • Set the browned meat in a bowl and set it aside

That’s the first part.  The second part is sauce that it cooks in – I just start putting this stuff straight into the crock pot

  • Grate up a teaspoon or so of lemon or lime peal.  Just get the outer part of the peal – the inner part is bitter.
  • Squeeze the juice from half of a lemon or lime into the pot.
  • Add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • Mince up two cloves of garlic (or more if you like) and toss it in
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary
  • Add about 2 cups of liquid – vegetable or beef stock, or wine (we used Merlot), or whatever.  Honestly I think you could just use straight water and it’d still be good.
  • Cube up 5 or 6 new potatoes and add them to the pot – again, be creative here.  Red potatoes would probably be awesome.  We just used regular bakers because that’s what we had.

Now just add the meat you cooked in the first part, cover the crock pot and cook it on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8-10.  We served it over rice with veggies on the side.  Good stuff!

Fine French Dining – homestyle

Friday, October 16th, 2009

We had to go to Springfield this morning for yet another doctor appointment for me.  This time to a pulmonologist for a pre-sleep-study consultation.  There is the strong suspicion that I have sleep apnea and that it’s contributing to my seizures.  Woohoo!  But I’ll tell you about that another time because  that is NOT what this post is about.  This post is about fine French dining!  How’s that for a segue?

After the appointment, it was near lunch time so we stopped in at Panera Bread, which is a nice bakery/sandwich/soup/salad type cafe.  They’re all over the place – most likely you’ve seen them.  We had soup and some delicious bread, and Dominic had a gigantic cinnamon roll, and the girls had some pastries, and everybody shared with everyone else.  Somehow the subject of how French people eat in courses and such came up, and the kids all agreed they’d like to try that.  So we bought a couple of extra baguettes at Panera to bring home, and tonight we ate like the French.

We started with fruit – slices of apple and pear, and bunches of grapes (hey, not a whole lot of variety this late in the season!).  Wine was served – a Chardonnay in the “table wine” class, but nice all the same.  We even let the kids try some.  Theirs was predominantly water with a little splash of wine in it.  They were *still* not impressed.  lol

Course number two was baked brie with almond slivers on top, served with the aforementioned baguettes.  We haven’t had that in a long time, but let me tell you it’s fantastic!  I’m sure it did terrible things to my cholesterol levels, and it was worth it all.

The third course was soup.  We actually found the recipe on line for Panera’s Broccoli Cheese Soup, and I must say it’s a very close match.  Highly tasty.

For desert, we got all the ingredients for crepes, but everybody was full by that time so perhaps we’ll make crepes for breakfast tomorrow?

It’s nice to eat in a different manner once in a while.  Dinner was at a very leisurely pace – we spent over an hour at the table just talking about food and things.  I can see why the French enjoy dining this way.

We still haven’t gotten around to making hasenpfeffer yet, but perhaps tomorrow night we’ll extend our international dining experience to cover Germany.  Anybody know how the typical German family sits down to dinner together?

Hasenpfeffer

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

If you’ve ever watched a Bugs Bunny cartoon that involved Elmer Fudd, you’re probably familiar with the term “hasenpfeffer”.  I recall asking my folks what hasenpfeffer was as a child, and though I don’t remember the exact answer, it was something like “rabbit stew”.  Thus was a misconception born.  I have held this misconception since childhood until last night when Allena and I actually looked a recipe for hasenpfeffer.

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  It is NOT rabbit stew.  The recipe looks WONDERFUL, and we will be trying it soon.  It’s apparently one of those dishes that everyone cooks just a little differently, but every recipe we looked at sounded outstanding.  Check out the Bavarian Grill for just one variety.

So why all this interest in hasenpfeffer?  Well, because we butchered some rabbits on the ol’ ranch last night (five of them) and we were searching around for good ways to prepare them.  Allena has fried rabbit before, and rabbit stew would be easy enough to figure out but we like to try new stuff.  Hasenpfeffer is definitely on the list – we only lack some dry wine to cook the sauce with and that will be acquired today.

We probably won’t make it until the weekend, but I’ll definitely let you know how it was.  Bon Appetit!