Tag Archives: introductions

More catastrophes, near misses & pant-seat-flying coming your way!


Hello my dear unburnt, golden, lightly toasted, and charcoaled cornflakes (or should I write “readers”….. nah!) I am making an announcement.

I have once again signed myself up for an impossible task… well not impossible but something I am HOPING to successfully complete and will have fun doing. It’s not writing another novel in a month (afterall it is not November).

I am undertaking the WordPress challenge and will be posting once a week. So brace yourselves, lets hope I won’t cook up a tornado, burn the house down, and have to many mental breakdowns over food, writing, writing on food, food on writing moments.

With some luck I will keep you interested and neither of us fall off the plate like that meatball who tumbled into the garden.

Let the noshing commence!!

 

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The potatoes were obscene….


Welcome to another instalment of Burned Cornflakes! Not a whole lot has happened since my epic feast was served on the big holiday however I nearly screwed up an “old faithful” of mine. Growing up I watched meal after meal with any leftovers they would be placed and labelled in a container and placed in either the fridge or freezer for future use, I was always lectured on the importance of NOT WASTING. Let me just say that this lecture didn’t really sink in (sorry mom… in ways it did! Promise!). I am absolutely NO SAINT in this area; I bin a lot of food, some of it is still good, some beyond rotten from the depths of a lunch bag or worse. I get upset about it, whine or nag only sometimes but mostly I just methodically toss things in the bin with a pursed lip and a guilty conscience.

After the “epic holiday feast” was done there were leftovers which we mostly took care of in the amazing turkey soup I helped hubs make. Further down the list of leftovers were potatoes, I didn’t know what to do with them and having a family audience (read this as “my mom has eyes like a hawk and would BUST me for wasting if I dared“) so I squashed them between 2 gently used pie plates (yay for recycling!) and tossed in the freezer. Yes, IN THE FREEZER. I figured they would be alright because I saw advertised a big company preparing mashed potatoes to whip out of the freezer on a whim and show off to your relatives. (side note: I do find the ads very annoying). That aside when in doubt I toss EVERYTHING in the freezer, if it ends up freezer burnt it will probably either have one of 2 fates… tossed into a dish that over cooks everything or in the bin. LOL.

Once that was all done I kind of forgot about them until hubs asked for dead shepherd for dinner. I could imagine the light bulb going off over my head as I remembered the potatoes. So I set on my merry way to preparing a beloved family dish. I sliced up 8 extra potatoes to ensure I had enough coverage as when I make my dead shepherd it is usually fit to serve about 10 people. There I was happily cooking away listening to my potatoes & parsnips boil, the meat brown and the microwave struggling to defrost 2 lbs of pre mashed potatoes. Once my meat & onion had browned completely I drain the fat off and add in the rest of my ingredients. I went to my faithful freezer of random food and started pulling out random chopped things to add in; I noticed this little Tupperware container in the back with something unknown in it, with a shrug of the shoulder and not a second thought I tossed the puppy in with my other random finds. Not until this mystery substance melted and created a large liquid content did I start worrying. Then came the aroma (it smelled pleasant) and I got to thinking….. what the heck did I just put in the dead shepherd?

I panicked.

Only slightly.

Promise.

Until I realised with a sweet wave of relief that we had saved of my epic experiments making Au Jus for gnarly beef dips, this one in particular was roasted garlic au jus (yum!). With a (small) leap of joy I happily finished up and served the “Frankenstein” dead shepherd. (I have a dear friend who calls experiments Frankenstein’s, I loved the term so much I added it to my vocab). So I got lucky….this time. It could have possibly still lead to disaster as one of the sauces I had put in as part of my “wild card” flavorings was a brown sugar flavour, so I passed this one by the hair on my chinny chin chin.

As for the potatoes they were a tad obscene, I may have made too many. Actually, I will admit it I did make too many as the topping was HUGE. I had about 2-1/2″ thick worth of potatoes (I had combined the left over mashed potatoes with 2 parsnips and 8 freshly boiled potatoes mashed with unsalted margarine). So a lesson learned from an old classic recipe we adore.

As a treat I’ll sound off my classic “un-Frankenstein-ed” version of Dead Shepherd.

NOTE: makes approx. 10 servings! (good for making a big batch and freezing mini meals for later).

What else is great about this is you can add or subtract anything you like and you’re almost guaranteed a great dish. Experiment with different ground meats, ingredients and toppings!!! Though I have no idea what one would do for a vegetarian version of this…. Possibly mashed beans/lentils and Portobello mushrooms (?)…. Have to brainstorm on that one!

Thinking about it, this is almost the un-recipe of recipe’s as there are no real set rules! Dare I say an anarchistic dish?! *gasp*

Kitchen Stuff you will need:

  • 2 largish pots
  • an ovenproof dish
  • strainer or lids to pots
  • stovetop or hot plate
  • oven or toaster oven
  • a spatula or spoon to stir
  • potato masher (a fork works but it is labour intensive)
  • cutting board
  • knife (sharp, preferably unserrated)

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg lean gr. Beef (or preferred ground meat, if using ground turkey you WILL need to use olive oil or cooking oil to ensure the meat doesn’t stick and burn to the pot)
  • 0.3 – 0.5kg of lean gr. Pork
  • 1 Medium to large red onion chopped
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning (to taste)
  • Worstershire sauce about 3 tsp (I eyeball it)
  • Barbeque Sauce or Fruity HP Sauce * optional* about ½ cup; in place of this you could put in about ½ cup of beef broth or French onion soup mix. Experiment and make it yours!
  • 1 can of Baked beans *optional* experiment with flavors! J
  • Vegetables of your choice you can use freshly chopped or mixed froxen vegetables. I use about 4-5 cups of frozen vegetables.
  • 7 potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2-3 parsnips peeled and sliced *optional* – I add these in for added nutrition and sneaking more veggies in to my resident picky eater
  • Water
  • Margarine or butter *optional* about ¼ cup
  • Sour Cream *optional* to taste or serve alongside your dinner if people like potatoes and sour cream!
  • Shredded cheese *optional*

Directions:

Set oven to “broil” (my oven defaults the broil temp to 500 degrees and I don’t change it.) ensure your oven rack is set to the right height to accommodate your oven dish.

Place potatoes and parsnips in large pot fill water to cover them and place on high heat to boil. Once they bubble violently turn down the heat to medium. The potatoes will be cooked when they slide off the fork.

While the potatoes are boiling brown the meat in the other large pot with the onion on med-high heat. Sprinkle with Montreal Steak seasoning (or not!). Once the meat has browned drain the fat into safe container and dispose of the fat safely. DO NOT POUR IT DOWN ANY DRAINS!!!!

Return the meat pot to the stovetop and add in the worstershire sauce, the bbq sauce (if you are using) and the baked beans. Stir. Add in your veggies stir and let them soften/warm through. Once this is done remove from the heat (turn off your burner). Slide all your ingredients into your waiting oven dish.

Once your parsnips and potatoes have finished boiling, remove them from the heat, drain and begin mashing. Once the mashing is on its way add in the margarine and continue mashing to your desired consistency. I like to sometimes add sour cream and mash it in too. It is up to you and your taste buds.

When you have your desired mashed potato awesomeness grab a spoon and top your meat base with them. I like to draw a pattern in mine so when the potatoes brown in the oven it makes a cute picture. If you so desire sprinkle the cheese top of your potatoes for a kid pleaser (and cheese lover!)

Place in the oven for about 15 minutes until the potatoes reach your desired browned/crispyness.

Serve.

This recipe is great to refine to your particular tastes and what your guests, family likes or make it the way your family did. Plus it is super easy!

Remember to label your leftovers (with everything) to avoid disasters in the future!

Happy Eating J

 

Down to the wires


Having a gourmet dinner last night (and by gourmet I really mean canned spaghetti and creamed corn) gave me some “food for thought.” As of late I have been stressing, shopping, cooking, stressing, adding, subtracting and then adding in some more stress over the big day coming. I keep telling myself “everything will be fine, don’t worry so much” and then my insecurities get the better of me.

Here is the main reason I am so stressed out. It is the first time I will have ever cooked for 17+, not to mention a BIG holiday. My nerves are shot and I am getting glitchier as each day passes, not to mention the big TO do list has very few check marks on things completed (don’t get me started on the gifts OR the stocking stuffers…even the stockings themselves!). I am still pondering how I am going to fit 17 people around a table that will fit 12 plus a highchair. Not to mention the plates, cutlery and dishes being served. I guess now is the time to announce that I don’t even have a menu planned out. All I have in my deep freeze is a turkey, and I don’t even think it is big enough. I bought the turkey when I thought we would be having 12 people for dinner even though I KNEW that we would have a minimum of 15. I must have filled my brain with extra air that day. I will probably make it up by Barbequing some ribs and putting something in the crockpot (well I should say “hubs will barbeque some ribs” as he is the master of the ribs in our house)

Talk about “flying by the seat of my pants“, I do this so often I have to wear long johns. I am definatly NO goddess in the kitchen and despite being marginally organized, nothing in the world have gotten me to get my act together for this Christmas. Thankfully I am cooking for family and they are much more forgiving than any food critic, foodie or celebrity chef (side note: I
most recently criticized a catering job for not cooking their vegetables long enough, the potato salad tasted like engine oil & the bean salad tasted like diesel exhaust) however their (the families) opinion is paramount in my world so I really do want to watch them enjoy dinner rather than make the “mmmm” face whilst stifling the gag reflexes.

All this makes me realise how much my mom went through when she put on Christmas dinner and then Boxing Day dinner for the extended family. I always liked Boxing Day dinner because mom, her sisters and their families would bring all their left overs to the hosting families house and it would be samples of everyone’s cooking, baking and other goodies and as a “win-win” it helped decrease the amount of left-overs in everyone’s fridge so there wouldn’t be turkey sandwiches for the next week. Plus it also meant another gift from “The Aunts”, in our family they are famous for their woollen creations which are treasured. As a teenager it gave me extra time to look moody and sullen however once the deck of cards came out for the family game of “Combination Rummy” all bets were off and within no time it was a table full of smiles and laughter. My fondest memories of my Nana always “chanin’!” suits mid-game thus sending my Granddad into a bit of a tizzy as he was always trying to help her out and count cards at the same time. Playing cards after dinner was always such a treat, something I am hoping to bring into my own family tradition.

This time of year always pulls me closer to home, reminds me of Christmas baking, Christmas cooking and Christmas bells softly ringing inside my head as I mozey about my day.

I’ll have to write down what I end up serving and the final result of all my stressing. I am thinking it is all going to turn out fine. I just need to relax.

HA who am I kidding?! I looked like a crazed banshee whirling about the earth without a week’s sleep!

From my family to yours “wishing you all the best this yuletide season

Breaking Boundaries and an introduction to Josephine.


I find I keep marking the opening to my posts as “It has been a while since…” which must be getting a bit tiresome.

I apologise, I do not have set writing days in my calendar, with the life I lead I take time where I can get it. Let’s face it I do put a lot more on my plate when I am eating and in life which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I am a full time parent to 6 kids, a long distance grannie, I have a full time career complete with a 1.5 hr commute. I’m a business owner (and co-owner of another company with hubs) I read, I write, I cook, I spend time with my family, visiting with friends, I recently started up crocheting (though all I did was crotchet myself into a circle) and of course I am also enslaved by a very cute feline.

Have I mentioned I am not 30 yet?? LOL Yes I have one grey hair, and I named her Josephine, we chat, we do coffee, Josephine and I are close, for a human and her grey hair.

So in short on the “un-busiest” of days I am busy.

Regardless I am forever breaking my own boundaries in food whether it be trying a new ingredient, a new dish, a different cooking style or sampling something I have never tried before. I am a bit obsessed with food and I do get really panicky in the kitchen, most people seem natural and at ease whilst cooking away, in my house it is a bit of a gong show. I’ve written before of the interesting language floating out of the room and some of the interesting food that has landed on our families plates and once “tweeted” about my encounter with a durian candy. So when I “break my boundaries” I do it in great fear, always and it doesn’t stop when I turn the burner off, I continue to worry about it LONG after it is done. I probably come across as a complete nervous wreck half of the time and a wild crazy gypsy woman the other half (have you heard me cackle?? I took lessons from mom).

Where do I begin breaking these boundaries? It starts with a recipe and then completely screwing it up by accident or on purpose and serving the end result. So it starts with me and ends with the family, and luckily so far they still love me, will still sit down at our table and eat my (or our) food. I’ve started introducing more meat free dishes into the weekly menu, I find that meat gets too much of the “celebrity status” during the big shows and I want to kind of prove that veggies (or legumes), lentils and playing with herbs can make something amazing. So far no complaints, and NO leftovers which has shocked even me. Mostly I’ve been serving up soups: Caterpillar Soup, Ginger Carrot Soup, Tomato and bean;  I made vegetarian calzones and those were a HUGE hit and now I am looking for the perfect vegetarian lasagne!

My most recent discovery has been the turnip, wow is it ever good? The smell and flavour of fresh ginger and I ate a parsnip raw which was pretty good too. Sounds like pretty plain stuff but to me it was exotic having been grown up on wholesome British/Canadian/Maltese home cookin. Mom tried to get me to try things as a kid and as far as I can remember I wasn’t happy about it, then again, what kid is? Next on the trials is going to be butternut squash, there is this macaroni dish I have been itching to try.

Now I challenge you to pick one thing out of the produce aisle you have either never tried, cooked and give it a shot! Let me know how it goes!!

Happy Eating!

 

ps- as for the durian candy, the aftertaste stayed with me after I ate, into the evening, into the night. And I kept burping it up. I suppose I should mention I didn’t even EAT the candy, I spat it out after 5 chews!