Sunday, January 31, 2010

Potato Chowder and Low-Fat Key Lime Pie.

I turn the movie National Treasure on, turn the TV towards the kitchen again and start. I probably should be alone in the kitchen with no distractions, just me and the food, one on one. Taking in the smells and sights and making a connection with the food. But the food intimidates me, so I bring the third party movie along. I am getting better at this; I only had to make 3 calls to Gretchen, Jeff’s mom, for clarification of the recipe. Once again one can of cream of chicken soup is relative. The other problem was I have never cooked real bacon in my whole life….I have just done the microwave stuff. So I had a few questions about how to cook the bacon. Also, the recipe called for ½ can of milk, I had no idea that they sold cans of milk…it turns out they don’t. The one can was referring to pouring the milk in the cream of chicken soup can (how resourceful and less dishes!). The grocery store was okay today, my first stop was Starbucks and that made the trip a whole lot easier. So I am home, cooking with Max, watching Nick Cage do the impossible, as always. The potato chowder is time intensive. I started frying one pound of bacon, which took 4 shifts in my largest frying pan. As the bacon cooked I chopped….and chopped….and chopped; three large onions and 5 russet potatoes (peeled first). Max went after the bacon, so I tried to appease him with onion pieces. He figured our real soon that bacon was much better than onion and the spray bottle came out.
As soon as the chopping had commenced and I turned to fermented grapes to ease the wrist pain, I started to sauté the onions. I read the recipe as; cooking the onions in two cups of water, instead of sauté the onions and then add two cups of water. Minor detail, minor snag. I drain out the water, and start to actually sauté the onions. I thought this would be a nice break to start the Weight Watchers Key Lime Pie, from Grandma. This recipe is easy and quick [man, Nick Cage is a bad liar, I bet he does know where the treasure is]. So I start working on the Key Lime and, in the process, totally forget about the onions. I return eventually to find a CRISIS! The bottom layer of onion is charred and burnt to the pan. DANG IT! I jump into action and whip out another sauté pan, trying to put the top onions into it. As expected, some little burnt pieces make it into my new pan, so while still hot (I am not sure what my urgency was) I try to pick out burnt pieces. Ouch! More wine please! I then put the potatoes in a strainer and rinse them until most of the burnt pieces fall away and decide that this is going to have to be good enough.
So the Key Lime pie is finished within minutes and put in the fridge to cool. I keep an eye on the onions this time and complete the recipe. The one pound of bacon turns into ¾ pound of bacon. It’s not the best idea to cook hungry. Also, Max takes advantage of the onion crisis and is found munching away on the bacon…I can’t be that mad….smart kitty. [Come on, Nick Cage is too goofy looking to get that girl!] The chowder must simmer for one hour covered and one hour uncovered, so I have two hours to relax.
Max and I are fat and happy off of the bacon. I am finishing the movie and Max is doing the dishes in the sink with his tongue. I will let you know how the Chowder and Key Lime Pie taste. Max would let you know too if he could, I will take his silence as a yum.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Chili Picture

The Chili was really good! Just spicy enough but not burning my taste buds.

Monday, January 25, 2010


The first recipe, my mom’s savory chili recipe. A crowd favorite at Estes Park. I wrote down my ingredients and headed out into the windy day to shop. I start in the canned food section and find the cans I need easily, only problem is my mom’s recipe. She has been making the chili forever and the recipe is not directed to a beginner cook. She refers to the cans as ‘large can kidney beans”. Words like large are, let just say, relative. I call her to check if large means the biggest one, or the one just below the biggest one that is still bigger than the little one….do you see my confusion? So we sort out all the can sizes and I say goodbye. Okay….where is the taco seasoning? I call my mom back, she says by the gravy or spices. I stare at the gravy for a while and decide it is not there, so I move on to the spices….success! Bye mom thanks! So now spicy ground pork. I stare at the meat section like I am shopping for a Valentines card on February 13th. Pork sausage, Italian sausage….dang it! Dialing again. She directs me to the lunchmeat/breakfast meat sections…who knew there are 3 places for pork at King Soopers. I then have a near panic attack by the jalapenos; does everybody have to be shopping for the jalapenos right now too? I think I might be ready to leave the store!
The hard thing about groceries when you’re young and poor, is living on a third floor apartment. I grab all my groceries, which I can barely carry and take to the street, through the wind and up the stairs. I walk in my apartment and good thing Max is the only one home. My hair looks like I was just on a rollercoaster and I plop the bags down like I had just run a marathon. Perhaps some exercise is in store for the next week? I turn the TV towards the kitchen, put on CSI (Las Vegas of course) and get choppin! I wore gloves for the peppers….remember to do this, or you will regret it! Kitten Max was trying to be helpful. He tried some jalapeño…didn’t like that. But he cleaned up the onion pieces I left behind….cats like onions, really? I called my mom to check to see if I cover the chili while it cooks (you do) and she asks if I remembered to put in the garlic and onion. Onion yes, garlic…not on the recipe. I scramble to chop some garlic, good thing I have it on hand. I stare into the vast pot I have just assembled…this recipe could feed a small army! Put portions in the freezer to enjoy another time. This recipe will make food for a lot of people, or a lot of servings for two people, and only cost around $20 for all the ingredients!
So the chili is cooking…Max is sleeping…and I am sipping some victory scotch. It only took 3 times as long as it should have, a near panic attack and 6 calls to my mother. Bon appetite!

Family and Friends Recipe Book

The movie Julie and Julia highlights a young woman cooking her way through Julia Child’s cookbook for a year. We could say that this would be my goal, but none of you can imagine me deboning a duck or hearing the lobsters scream as they are boiled. An alternative? Cook my way through our family recipes (a little less French, a little more Midwestern/West coast). I wanted to create a cookbook so the recipes we know and love are never lost. I started to type a few up one day and realized…no one likes looking at black and white pages and trying to conjure an image of the meal. The solution…cook each meal, taking a picture of the final product and adding it to a comprehensive cookbook.
So I ask to you…please join me in my adventure. There will be mistakes, I am sure many. There will be tears, when I drop a whole casserole dish on the floor. There will be spelling errors, bear with me. But there will also be a sense of purpose, a visit to history and a connection with family. Stay tuned, send me good vibes and maybe together the Family and Friends recipe book will be my magnum opus.