upon reading my most previous post, I realized how horribly written it was. I have since hung my head in the paper bag of shame.
In all honesty there is no excuse for my not writing once a week, I missed last week even though I DESPERATLY wanted to get on here and type my tiny little heart out however my day job amped up AND my business amped up at the same time not to mention the family stuff and plain ol fatigue.
I do have several things to write about (if I haven’t already mentioned my hand), I did attempt this Friday night when I was waiting for a very old and dear and VERY pregnant friend for coffee. In which I was using the tiniest keyboard I have ever used which makes my fingers look like sausages and I am constantly pressing the wrong buttons then as she walked in the door I too quickly closed the page and thus my painstaking hard work and tiny words were lost in the underverse of the internets. (insert LONG sympathetic sigh here).
Finally here I am several days late explaining why I am so late. The other factor is, I almost have to be in the mood (which I am so often in the WRONG situation) and of course my best ideas strike right when I am stressed and in the middle of something VERY important. I am glad I was never commissioned for anything like Michalangelo was, I would never get anything done. The ceiling of the Sistine would be a sun dyed white to date. Alas I am here and I am writing that counts for something right??? As mom always said “No excuses” and in all honesty there is no such thing as a good excuse. The fact is I should have remained committed to both blogs and wrote my heart out no matter the hour in the evening. So my dear flakies I apologise for my absence.
Well my nights in the kitchen have been interesting to say the least, I nearly sliced off my hand, I screamed and swore at pizza dough and I burned my face off 3 times in one week. It was BAD, for some reason most of the fam didn’t mind what I called “epic fails” they liked the extra heat in my dishes and no one died so that is a good sign too. In nearly slicing off my hand the knife skills I was teaching myself went by the wayside, I was attempting at halving a butternut squash in half to stuff with vegetarian chili luckily hubs was there to point out I was about to cut my hand off, and in a nasty way because I also discovered cutting a squash, let alone 3 of them, is really tough business.
I have since learned from my dear facebook friends (who occasionally are a wealth of knowledge when they aren’t being absolutly hysterical on thier status updates) that if you ask the produce department very nicely they will go and cut the squash for you.
I learned that one cannot substitute chipotle chili powder for regular chili powder, it doesn’t even subsitute when you halve it. Whenever one sticks it in the dish it will end up burning my face off (for spicey heat wimps like me).
Be wary of zests and how much you put in. I’ve experimented with lemons, limes and now oranges (the latter being the WORST) and always pay special attention to just how much fresh zest to put in the dish. I recommend that when orange zest and sweet potato are to be mixed with sour cream AND butter just to ignore the orange part…. and maybe the sour cream. I can’t describe what happened in my mouth though I don’t think anything can be as bad as a durian. (Apologies to those who love the durian!)
When making your favorite soup, don’t make it if you don’t have what you need to give it actual flavor, I ended up with beans in slightly flavored water which wasn’t appetizing at all.
Did I mention DON’T **&(^*^&%$ with orange zest?
So always make sure your knives are sharp, cut away from yourself, don’t stick your hand under the blade. Don’t mess with orange zest, its more punch in a teaspoon than Brock Lesner. To burn your face-off add copious amounts of Chipotle Chili powder to recipes that call for regular chili powder. If there are no parmesan cheese rinds, fresh thyme, or rosemary about, skip the soup (if it is a veggie or light chicken flavored one).
And the best part, make time for your friends, tell the ones you love them and say something positive to yourself and someone who needs it. Which in my experience is everyone.
This is something I have been wondering for about a year. I know abodo is a pepper and it is most likely “burn my face off hot” I am wondering this as I have upteen recipes calling for abodo chillis or abodo chilli powder or chillis in abodo sauce.
As I go through cookbooks and see this ingredient I usually sluff it off and either put it on ignore, replace it with a chipotle chili powder, regular chili powder or just a jalapeno or red pepper. In small town southern Alberta it seems hard to find some fancy pants ingredients that are probably available in every grocery store states side no matter what the location.
Think of me with a pursed lip or mouthing “what the ******************???!!!” I narrow my eyes at the word and I bite my thumb at it. Abodo! Pah!
Now is the time for an answer, i am tired of the question mark hanging over my head and making fun of me behind my back. I must put an end to this mystery. I just googled it and discovered I just epic-ly failed on the spelling of the word…. ADOBO. (Which being a designer by trade reminds me of Adobe which is completely unrelated). I must say I am quite embarrassed though I don’t think I will be making that spelling mistake again. I have scoured the local shelves for this item and there are none to be found, I’ve searched the shelves in the city too and still no luck. I am thinking unless there is some chilli store opened up I may never try this for myself. (This also reads as “I am too cheap to pay for shipping and handling for ordering speciality food“) Or else I am completely blind and it is available at the local WalMart however I do doubt it so. So far my omissions or substitutions are making up for the lack of adobo-ness in my dishes.
Adobo aside there is something else that has been nagging at me “smoked tomatoes” another mystery ingredient that is constantly eluding me. I’ve looked for it in the fresh produce, the pasta aisle, the soup aisle, jarred veggies aisle , the mexican aisle and other ethnic food areas of grocery stores. I’ve been wanting to try something like this as it sounds delicious. I have half a mind to don my mad scientist gear & buy some liquid smoke then add it to a tin of crushed tomatoes however I have a hunch it won’t produce near the same taste (and how does one create this upon not eating it) or flavor experience. Speaking of smoke, how does one liquify a smoke???? That must have been quite a process. Either way it is impressive one can buy such an item. The change from what was available in the 80’s when my mom was shopping compared today is a HUGE change (pancakes in a spray can?!).
Smoked tomatoes must be a rare species, I can almost hear David Attenburough narrating the life and times of the endangered “smoked tomato”; Maybe it occasionally takes an adobo chilli lover! The flavor offspring! GASP! A moment truely unique in the fruit and spice kingdom and gives a whole new meaning to “blended families.” Sadly the life of both the smoked tomato and adobo pepper are doomed to be short. Plucked from the vines, torn away from each other, processed in a distant foreign factory & thier lives end caged within a tin can. They secretly hope a human (LIKE ME) will pick it up and put it out of its misery in a delicious taco recipe to be devoured by thier waiting and hungry children. If there were such a can of deliciousness I would have picked up 4 as I need one for tonights dish “Turkey Chili Shepherds pie topped with sweet potatoes“.
Sounds delicious doesn’t it, well the adobo and smoked tomato have snubbed me. I will have to make do with what I have available for now. If anyone wants to start an adobo & smoked tomato Alberta invasion, send them my way!
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?
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:
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.
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
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“