Tag Archives: kitchen

Time’s Up

31 Jul

Just as I have an aversion to pot holders, so too goes the little, annoying device known to many as the kitchen timer. I don’t like ’em. And, here’s why: They rob one’s natural ability to trust the passage of time. They force one to turn away from using one’s senses, of smell, touch, and sight to know when it’s time to check on the half-baked cookies; the third-of-the-way sauce reduction; or the spring-back of a pound cake, its corners pulled slightly away from the pan.

Worse still, is the nawing feeling at the back of my mind that time is ticking away–tick-tock, tick-tock, tic, tic, tic….I feel compelled to stay close-by, afraid to leave the kitchen, so as not to miss the inevitable tingy noise, alerting me–no, urging me–to spring toward the oven, mit in hand, to find a perfectly golden-brown, springy cake smile back at me, knowing that I owe this beautifully baked creation to the time machine.

Well, I’m taking a stand. No more timers. Have you ever seen a timer in a Hell’s Kitchen episode?  No, you have not. And, do you know why Chef Ramsey won’t allow it? Because timers don’t know how to cook. They only know how to count time. Do you want to be a cook, or do you want to be a clock?  

This stand I’ve taken has been a good one. Except today, when I decided to do a Google search for kitschy kitchen timers. I had no idea the world in which kitchen timers live. There are digital ones. Wind ups and temperature-sensitive ones for cooking the perfect egg.  As I perused the sites, I found some really nifty ones. Some were sleek and artsy, some vintage-inspired, yet others were a bit designer-challenged.

I soon found myself  locked in an emotional tug-of-war with these simple time machines and began to think that I might like to have a few. Just for their curious asthetic. A collection of odd, little timers sitting on one of my kitchen ledges might be a good compromise. I won’t have to wind them up. Just let them sit there, all silly and quiet.

my favorite--a magnetic timer

a simple wind-up

Williams-Sonoma sleek timer

lux perfect egg--color-changing timer

You can find the websites on my blogroll, for those of you not yet ready to join the “no timers” coalition. Remember, there’s no time like the present.

Rollin’ In Fiestaware

24 Jul

Just placed an order for more of the famed WV pottery. Wish it weren’t such a fame whore, though. Getting harder to find good discounts, even at their factory outlet. Usually, they’ve got plenty assortments of ,what they call their “seconds,” but these are getting stingier by the year. In an effort to best serve my Fiestaware habit–brought about by my son, Marshall–I’ve looked elsewhere. Turned my back, temporarily, on WV and found some really nice deals on a website called “Megachina.” You can pick your colors, mix ’em up, and they’ll ship anywhere. Here’s the website: www.Megachina.com I did, however, save the original WVwebsite to my blogroll. It’s a great site, with some nice deals, as well. Plus, it has the history of the HomerLaughlin company, Fiestaware’s roots. Check ’em out in the blogroll. 

I’m sorry, WV. Just couldn’t help myself. Please, don’t be angry with me. I still find you Wild and Wonderful. Just not cheap enough in these recessionary times we’re a livin’ .

Salsa or Chutney?

23 Jul

Last night I made some pork loins and thought they’d like some company, but didn’t want to stick with making my mango salsa. I usually make a sweet little salsa to pair with grilled chicken or salmon, and would’ve thought the same if I had grilled the pork loins. But, I remembered reading about chutneys a while back and thought this might be an interesting twist to the meal. I like the idea of pairing the pork loin pieces with a warmed-up version of traditional salsa.

Here’s what I did: I took some of the basic ingredients of my mango salsa and used them to make the chutney. The pork loins were sprinkled with garlic salt and cracked black pepper and then sauteed in a little canola oil, until browned on both sides and white on the sides; then into a 350 degree oven, foil-covered for another 10 – 15 minutes, tops. I made the chutney while the loins (don’t think it) were cooking through.

Chutney: 3 ripe mangos, cubed

                    1/4 to 1/2 small jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

                    1/8 tsp. or slightly less of ginger paste

                     1/2  lime for zest; 1 wedge amt. of lime juice

                    pinch of cumin

If the mangos aren’t sweet enough, you can add a drizzle of  honey or a pinch of  brown sugar.

Cut the mangos so that you have two large pieces cut away from the pit. Score vertically and horizontally so that you have lots of squares. Use a teaspoon to scrape all into the small saucepan, so that all the juice gets in there. Add all other ingredients. Slowly heat on low, stirring occasionally. Should take about 10 min. Remove when they’ve started to break down and feels warmed through.

Spoon some alongside or on top of your loins. You decide.

Enjoy.

A New-Old Addition

6 Jul

A New Addition

My daughter proudly hung a pretty, little pink apron alongside her mama’s little collection of such. Funny, how something given to her by her dance teacher years back can have new meaning to her now. The apron was given to her to use as part of a colonist outfit in one of her dance recitals. Her teacher allowed her to keep it afterward–totally uncharacteristic at the time. Anyway, my daughter, apparently, kept it and dragged it along with us when we moved to West Virginia five years ago. Now, it hangs proudly alongside the other treasured aprons in this city-girl’s kitchen. P.S. Last week I found a sweet apron with fabric displaying tiny strawberries and polka dots, all in various shades of red and pink. It was only ten bucks! Alas, I managed to talk myself out of it. It had felt like such a splurge at the time, even though my gut knew better. I wished I had listened to my gut. I’m thinking about going back to see if it’s still there. If it is, it’ll mean it was meant for me, right?

AND NOW…A WORD ABOUT POTHOLDERS

24 Jun

There seems to be two camps in the cooking world: potholders or no potholders. I am in the second.  Tradition, notwithstanding, I find them cumbersome and, frankly, dangerous. My husband, on the otherhand, believes that they will, somehow, protect him from every conceivable hot surface within a 10-mile radius, and without them, will surely send him to the nearest metropolitan burn unit. Besides, it’s what his mother taught him. (Too hot to touch, you realize. Although, am tempted.)

Author's hand, safely applying tea towel to hot pan.

I choose to use tea towels.  The same ones I have hanging nearby for drying my hands, dishes, and anything else which needs drying. Within reason. Just like the master chefs you see on foodie networks around the globe, I, too, fold them in such a way as to fit over any pot opening, or stiffly (and safely) grab onto an awkwardly designed handle, or even pulling out a super-hot oven rack in the middle of basting a lovely meat. If you fold it correctly, you won’t need to worry about flames attacking your dutiful towel, or burned fingers, which somehow manage to occur while using potholders, no matter how large or thick they appear.

One caveat: Do not, ever, use a slip (while still on your body) to grab hold of a whistling tea kettle early in the morning, while Kaukab is asleep. The gas flames don’t care that you are an innocent 10-year-old child, who has watched her mother, several times, use her own daysmock to do the same. Only, her’s never caught on fire. With no one in sight. All this child wanted was a nice cup of tea. Luckily, the washbasin, used by Kaukab to pre-wash dirty laundry and being only feet away from the evil stove, (Can’t explain now why the stove and washbasin share the same cooking space; there’s an innocent child on fire!) said child tore off scorched slip and ran to her bedroom to change for school. The tea would have to wait.  Moral of the story: Potholders are dangerous.

Kaukab’s Green Beans w/Tomatoes

20 Jun

Toddler-Approved

2lbs. fresh green beans (as fresh as supermarkets can provide)

1 lg. onion, finely chopped

2 whole cloves; peeled, of course

a small wedge or two of lemon

1 28oz. (or close to) can whole or crushed tomatoes. (4 or 5 med. fresh tomatoes, skinned and quarted, will also do effectively)

cinnamon, 1/4-1/2 tsp., depending upon amt. of green beans and taste

salt, 1/2tsp. to start, a bit more as cooks down and to adjust taste

cooking oil (I prefer Canola oil; you can use any veg. oil, but don’t use olive oil)

Water, to cover.

I think I should have stated earlier, but now’s as good a time as any…Take my measurements as estimates, only. Kaukab never measured (as stated earlier), and so, I learned to ascribe to her cooking method, as well. Cooking something new takes rehearsal. Eventually, you do it, relying on all your senses, rather than waiting for a bell to ring (much like Pavlov’s dog) to tell you when the food is done. Plus, my taste buds are home-grown. By that I mean, they were acclimated to my mother’s cooking, as yours was to your’s, so when you taste the “same” recipe, is it ever going to taste exactly as Kaukab’s? Not really. Not at least, according to Kaukab. Mine gets very close–an assertion mildly grating to my mother. But I’ve learned to compromise, and let her have her win. For a woman who defines herself by the extraordinary food she prepares for friends and family, it would be self-serving, and impish of me to grant her anything less. This conciliation (and confession, of sorts) has only come my way in recent years, and I believe I’m the better for it. Now, on to the green beans.

So, now that you have all the ingredients, let’s start.

Wash and string green beans. Drain and paper-towel dry. Snap beans in half.

In pot, pour enough oil in bottom of pot to just come up the sides. Heat oil over med. high heat. Throw in the chopped onions and cook until nearly transluscent. Toss in the green beans and cinnamon, stirring with the onions until green beans begin to turn yellowish–up to 5min, maybe. (This is where you’re going to start learning to use your eyeballs.) Then add tomatoes. If whole, or fresh, break them up in the pot. Stir around.

 Add water, enough to cover beans about an inch, or so, above them. Add salt.   Cover with lid, partially tilted. Once boiling, stir, and then return lid (partially tilited, of course) and turn down heat to medium. Let cook about 30 min. and check for liquid reduction. Stir. Add more salt, if needs. Turn down heat to med. low. Squeeze a wedge or two of lemon, for a bright note of flavor. Continue cooking until tomato liquid is rich red and somewhat thickened–usually an additional 20 -30 min.

In Mid-Simmer

 

Serve with pita bread. Of course.  As an aside: These beans are really good served cold, or at room temperature the next day. With pita bread.

Aprons make food taste better.

14 Jun

Those are my hands, and my new snazzy 1940’s-ish apron that I bought for myself a few weeks before cooking up a wonderful Christmas dinner–a portion of which is being held by said hands. I got one just like it (the apron, not the hands) for a my dear childhood friend, and the deal was was that we’d each take a photo of ourselves, in our aprons, our lips swathed in 1940’s red lipstick.  I wanted to put my hair in an updo, but by the time I had remembered the deal, Christmas dinner had already begun. I made everyone at the table wait until I hurriedly ran up to the bedroom to locate some 1940’s red lipstick and donn my adorable June Cleaver-apron.  Then we ate.

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