Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

Why Couldn’t I have Married a Foodie?

Today being a lazy Sunday, I finished the book “I loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti”, by Guillia Melucchi. It was a funny book about how her failed romances increased her culinary abilities. While I can’t say that I envy anyone being in their mid thirties, unmarried, I can appreciate her experiences with food. Something that in my adult years I have not been able to realize to my full potential. When I mean full potential I mean the experiences of going to eat at all kinds of different and out-of-the-way bistro’s, restaurants, and mom and pop joints. Of course living where I do there is less opportunity to do things like that because most cuisine in these parts caters to the geriatric, or the middle class which makes for a large variety of franchised food.

There is no such thing as a tucked away little diner that you can go roaming into at 2 in the morning, unless that diner has a big yellow sign out front that says Denny’s, and what we know as real Italian food is so Americanized it squeaks of Olive Garden under tones. However, aside from all that, I also have not been blessed with a husband that cares all that much for food, eating, let alone whether a Chardonnay should be coupled with chicken, pork, or fish because he can’t stand wine or any derivative of it. To top it off, he can’t stand all three of those items listed, unless the pork is a roast served up with mashed potatoes and corn. I have been blessed fortunately with a husband that isn’t concerned whether or not I am a few….ok several pounds heavier than I should be, but more so about the small pot belly that he has accumulated over our years together from the beer that he has consumed, that albeit being a light Bud Light and something that I can’t find it in my heart to drink due to my I’m sure more sophisticated palate. So there is a never-ending battle with what to make for dinner.

I’m also happy to report that while magazines still talk about being skinny, there are more and more writers that incorporate their love of writing with their love of food and show this by including recipes in with their witty semi-autobiographies, which leads me to believe that there is still hope our there for me. In our household we have a few staples that we live by. Spaghetti with Prego sauce and ground beef (for him), while I always try to find some other fancy type of jarred sauce, steak, pot roast, crock pot roast, pork roast accompanied by a starch and a vegetable. Every now and then I can squeak in something new or at least something that make me feels like cooking, like my Chili Verde, which is our Sunday night dinner, at least for tonight. I can also always make what I call “White Trash Lasagna.” I call it this, and not out of spite or meanness, but it’s what my husband grew up with. Have you ever had a lasagna with sliced American cheese wrapped up in the single serving plastic covers? The first time I had this, I basically had to choke it down. He made this for me and everything in my being was revolted by the thought of this cheese on a lasagna that I didn’t even think was good enough for my common sandwich! Over the years we have learned to compromise on this and I can now add mozzarella to the mix and has become a family favorite for all of us. For anyone wishing to try this new lasagna here’s the recipe.

White Trash Lasagna

1 package of lasagna noodles (I prefer Barilla) cooked according to package instructions. (Use a little olive oil in the water to keep the noodles from sticking)

1 large jar of Prego with fresh mushrooms

1 pound of ground beef cooked

1 large package of shredded mozzarella, or ball, whatever you prefer and really however much you wish to put in the dish

approximately 24 slices of any brand American cheese slices (at least use Kraft)

Cook beef till no longer pink, add in the pasta sauce and warm. Set aside. Cook Noodles until done, and drain off most of the water, but leave some in so they don’t dry out and stick. Assemble as you would any other lasagna. Layer on your noodles, sauce, American cheese, than Mozzarella. Repeat process until the baking pan (13 x 9 or larger) is full. Bake in a 350 degree oven until cheese is bubbly. Serve with garlic bread and a salad if you choose. Pair with a cheap Merlot or Shiraz.

One recipe that I was very surprised to find that my husband liked was Chili Verde. A friend of ours made it one night and we all waited in anticipation to see what the outcome would be for him. Wouldn’t you know….Mickey liked it! He said the flavor reminded him of stuffed green peppers. How he got that interpretation out of it I will never know, but I didn’t argue. I came home armed with the recipe and I have been making it for my family ever since. I call it the white girl version of Chili Verde, even though my friend Stephanie is Hispanic, and since she started making it has graduated to stewing up her own tomatillos for the sauce, but I have continued to use the canned versions of everything.

White Girl Chili Verde

4-5 pounds of country pork ribs (boneless or a pork roast of any cut you want)

1 medium-sized onion diced finely

4-5 cloves of garlic skinned and diced finely

3 small cans of tomato sauce unseasoned

2-3 small cans of dived green chilies already chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Sour cream

tortillas

rice

1 large jar of green salsa (here you can go mild, medium or hot depending on you or your crowd and any brand, but I prefer Herdez)

Chop up your pork in small bite size pieces removing as much of the fat as possible. Put a bit of olive oil in a large skillet and heat, add onions and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes or until the onions begin to clarify. Add the chopped up pork and let cook stirring every so often. Add some salt and pepper at this point and once the pink disappears, place a lid on the pan and set to cook on medium for about 20 minutes. Than add all your other ingredients to the pan and let it all come to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for a couple of more hours. You can add a little more salt at this point if you feel it’s necessary, especially if you use natural tomato sauce. You actually can get this done in about an hour, but I like to let the flavors simmer for a while and it also makes the pork more tender.  Once your ready to serve, cook up some rice enough for you and however is eating, add rice to a bowl, cover with the Chili Verde and top with sour cream. Warm tortillas to place on the table and dip, wrap or just eat along with the Verde. Makes at least enough for 4-6 helpings and leftovers.

So yesterday, in one of the few adventures to one of our large malls located about 40 minutes from us mom and I went into Crate and Barell. Every time I go in there I get the cooking bug. I bought a hand-held citrus juicer. I never have had one and realized it was time for one when I was using a spoon the other day to extract lime juice from a stubborn and almost dry lime. I also bought 6 prep bowls with lids and two very nice bamboo spoons (used today for the Verde) that were much in need since I threw all the rest of my wooden spoons away when I found out that they probably weren’t good for me to use since they weren’t bamboo. I also found a book on Chinese cooking which I took a picture of to try to find cheaper somewhere on the internet. Now one of the few things that I enjoy eating out is Chinese, so on further thought I may pass on that one. If I make it, than I won’t have a reason to go out any more. However, I have gotten the bug to cook again. I loved to cook. I used to come up with some strange stuff, but at least I had an imagination if I didn’t have money to buy much back in the day. I keep thinking to myself that I get more creative and really work at it that maybe someday I will change my husbands mind about food. So it will be interesting to see what I come up with. Of course I can’t do something new everyday, because that would get expensive and he would be sure to eat lunch later and later feigning that he wasn’t hungry when he got home, but I am going to try. Heck the meatballs that I made earlier this week to substitute the plain ground beef in the spaghetti was a hit. I found the recipe on the Kraft Foods website and basically it was beef, stuffing mix chicken flavor, egg, and water. At least is was different, and it has given me a little encouragement that slowly but surely I can finely cook the way I have always wanted to. Wish me luck in this endeavor!