Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Culinary Lamentation

Last night, my Grandma Carolyn passed away. She had Alzheimer's and Post-Polio Syndrome. She had Polio from when she was born in 1933 until she was about 5. She didn't walk until then. But then she was somehow recovered and grew up into a beautiful woman, got married and had my Dad and Aunt. Married again, and had a great (I hope) time with her grandkids; me and my older sister. Until we moved away about 19 years ago.

Anyway, I will miss my Grandma, but I know she's not in pain anymore (the PPS was pretty severe), and she's in that cosmic place in the heavens where we will all end up one day. And I'll see her again. Good part to me: she can see my Grandpa again, who was murdered when I was about 12.

So in her honor, I made this delicious from scratch, fresh-fruit blueberry pie. I named it, "I Miss My Grandma Blueberry Pie".

In my day of lamentation, I also made this delicious beef stew; in her honor:


Monday, January 24, 2011

I am Pie Samurai

Yesterday was National Pie Day, and in honor of such, I made my Awesome Apple Pie.

YOWZA. It's the best one I've ever made, and let me tell you...I ate it for dinner. Yes my huge slice of Pie was dinner.

Do you wanna make pies? Yes I wanna make pies! And I made a damn good pie. I am Pie Samurai. Observe, and witness the yumminess.

And just to be generous, here's my recipe:


Serves 10 to 12

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
12 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
3/4 cup sugar, plus additional for pie top
Sugar & Cinnamon to taste
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter
Drizzle of honey
1large egg, beaten
2 Pre-made or from Scratch Pie Shells

1. Heat oven to 375. Press one pie shell into the pie plate. Place the other circle on waxed paper, and cover with plastic wrap. Chill all pastry until firm, about 30 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, combine apples, sugar, spices, and flour. Toss well. Spoon apples into pie pan. Dot with butter, drizzle a touch of honey and cover with remaining pastry circle. Cut several steam vents across top. Seal by crimping edges as desired. Brush with beaten egg, and sprinkle with additional sugar.

3. Bake until crust is brown and juices are bubbling, about 1 hour. Let cool on wire rack before serving.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cooking, Worms and Grannies

Ok, I have to admit I haven't been cooking out my Julia Child's cookbook. I know, I am naughty, however I am admitting it and that's the first step. I have utilized quite a few of her techniques, though and she rocks!! Her basic knowledge is amazing; for instance I now know when the butter is just right for browning meat. We've been on a bit of an Italian and Cajun kick around here, and so I haven't tried another Julia recipe as of yet, but will be soon!

Today it's my awesome Step-Dad's Louisiana Red Beans & Rice! Yummmmy!

Also, I've been a bit distracted as of late because my kitten got tapeworms this week, although I have no clue how since he gets Frontline every month. He was sick when I got him back in October and I got him dewormed and vaccinated then. So I've been dealing with that, and got him and the older kitty treated at the vet, and got some Revolution. My conclusion is that Frontline sucks!!

My Grandma is also very sick and in hospice about 12 hours away from me and I've been debating pulling my oldest from school and going there, but don't know if I can make that drive by myself with a 6 year old, 4 year old and 2 year old. Hubby just started his new IT job a month ago and he doesn't need to be taking time off already, especially in this economy. So I'm pondering the logistics of the situation and getting updates from my Father on her condition. She has Alzheimer's and seems to have just given up; she refuses to eat. She refused a feeding tube. It's against her wishes to have that sort of life saving procedure done, and stated in her living will. So it's a really sad situation and I'm a little gloomy about that right now... I haven't lost a Grandparent in 20 years and still have 3 alive and well. I was just hoping it would stay that way for some time.

Anywhoooo, don't mean to be the party pooper! I'm off to my delicious dinner and kitchen cleaning.

Au revoir!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I made soup and became DICING LORD!

The Potage Parmentier was good. It was light and creamy and the taste was delicious. That being said it was more meticulous than I had anticipated, and required a lot of tending. I'm used to a homemade soup being thrown into a pot and simmering half the day until it's ready and yummy, not much fuss. But, it was neat to learn some extra steps and I learned the coolest thing EVAR!

How to dice onions the RIGHT way. Julia says in her book, once mastered it makes dicing go lightning fast. And holy cow was she right!!! Am I allowed to share? Do you have to buy the book to find the light of dicing truth? I dunno so if you want to know, email me and I'll tell you the secret!

Can you dice onions lightning fast? I can! Also, the same technique applies to almost anything you can dice. I used it a couple days later when I made my Step-Dad's Red Beans & Rice for the onion, celery and bell pepper. YOWZA! I want to cook more stuff just so I can dice it, or dice just for the hell of it!! I AM DICING LORD! *plugs cheesy Toph reference*

That being said, I am now on cooking fancy French recipes break due to a lack of funding. Yes I await the ever elusive payday. Until then, I'll be reading and writing as usual. I have no new books to read aside from my cookbook I just bought, so it's back to the bookshelf to see what I haven't read in a while, or skipped over.

Happy Sunday! I'll be digging in for the forthcoming snow on the way. Have a safe week!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Julia doth teach me...

Yesterday I finally drove to the next town and bought Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I sat down and read the Introduction to the Anniversary Edition, the Foreword to the 1983 edition, the Foreword, Acknowledgements, the Table of Contents; you know all the stuff typically you'd skip when eager to get into the book. There was a wealth of information in just those areas, and allowed me to get a feel for how Julia thought and performed at life. Once I was done with that, I went into the basics such as her minutely detailed descriptions and explanations of kitchen equipment, measurements, temperatures, conversions, proper cutting techniques, and even wine selection. Holy cooking bible batman!!

After I read all the basics, I read through a lot of the recipes, step by step. I can't wait to pick one and cook it! I'm carefully combing through and finding out which would be the best one to start with, and also considering my family's tastes. I know my husband will try whatever I decide to concoct, as will my 2 year old. My 6 and 4 year olds however, are a picky bunch to please. I'm hoping this newfound cooking knowledge will help to expand their limited palates and encourage them to try new things!

So what first? Do I attempt the famed "Boeuf Bourguignon" or my husband's request of a Tart?

After some careful consideration, I think I'm going to make "Potage Parmentier" because it's cold out, it looks easy to start with and I have the ingredients.

Happy cooking! (And reading!)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year, New Blog, New Direction! Happy 2011!

HAPPY 2011! May this year bring you all prosperity, love, peace, joy and may you transform into the being you always wished to be!

Yes, it's been a while since I last posted to my sadly neglected little blog. But in my defense I was quite distracted. My whole life turned upside down, and through the transitional phase, I found myself with little time for my own interests anymore. If you've read my previous posts, you'll know that we moved 3 states away, went through an unemployment phase and stepped back in time about 50 years in terms of modern amenities. More like nostalgic amenities, but it's actually kind of fun. I only lament the loss of using my dryer-which sits next to the washer taunting me-because in freezing weather you have to hang clothes inside. That severely limits the quantity in which I can get done in a day. But, we are LOVING the 6.5 acres we now sit upon, the fresh air and the cute little house that is becoming our home. (And I've started a dryer fund to save for the electrical work that needs to be done!) Gratitude is abound, and my awesome hubby finally found a new IT position in our new state, and things are settling back to normal. I am also happy to report that I was able to resign from my less than desirable part-time job I had taken during our interim period of unemployment. Man, it's good to be back to my home, my kids and my joy!!

Since right after Thanksgiving, I have been under the weather with some kind of bronchial infection. I didn't go to the doctor because we have a lull in insurance coverage at the moment since hubby was laid off last summer. (His new insurance starts in February, hooray!) Well my sickness got so bad that I was getting dizzy spells and my heart was racing from coughing all the time, and my throat felt like I swallowed magma spiked with razor blades. Right around Christmas I couldn't function anymore, and just walking around would get me dizzy and pounding. So finally I went to the doctor in town and just paid outright for the visit and meds. He gave me some antibiotics, prednisone and an inhaler and within about 5 days I was feeling back to myself again. The reason I'm sharing this is because during my downtime, I came across the movie, Julie & Julia and was inspired by Julia Child's masterpiece, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I thought Julie Powell's initiative to cook all 524 of Julia's recipes in 365 days was amazing, and I decided that after I recovered and acquired the book, I was going to cook those recipes too. I don't know about the aspics, or if I'll get it done in 365 days, but I am going to get the book and learn to cook the way we were meant to cook. Everything nowadays is rush through in 30 minutes, get it done fast, use canned ingredients, hurry, hurry, hurry! Well I am home with my kids, I have the time and I love to cook. I feel like I've been resting on my laurels as far as my cooking skills and needs to branch out so to speak. And so I'll be getting Julia's book either today from the Books A Million that's 30 minutes away in the next town over, or I may order it from Amazon if they don't have it in stock.

Cooking to me is a release, an outlet and a way to bring family together. Plus, my 2 year old demands dishes with an adult palate. Everyone needs to eat, so why not make it something really special, every time? Why settle for good enough or 30 minutes or less if you have more than that to put into the health of your family? I remember as a child going to my Grandparents' house on Sundays and my Grandma cooking half the day and making an amazing meal for everyone. We gathered in the kitchen and the women helped her, and we talked and laughed and snitched food. Grandpa would patiently and eagerly await the meal and praise her highly once it was presented. I must expand my skills and master the ART of COOKING!

524 recipes in 365 days? Umm no. Julie Powell didn't have 3 kids. I do. So I'm thinking more like 524 in 524. Minus the aspics. Yuck!

Don't worry all you bookies. I am still a big reader & writer and I'm not giving up on my dream of becoming a published author one day. I'm still working on my manuscripts and querying agents with my finished and polished children's book. But I'm a Gemini and must do something to appease the other half of me, and she loves to cook. ;)

Wish me luck, and happy eating!!

"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself." ~Neil Gaiman