"Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it." ~Unknown

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Dark Sky Was Worth It

Shish-kebabs, also kepab, kabab, kebob, kabob, kibob, kebhav and kephav according to wikipedia. Are a dish that originated in Persia as fried, not grilled, meat. The kebabs (or kepabs, kababs...) weren't originally served on skewers they were in fact a wide variety of dishes. Everything from large and small cuts of meat to ground meat and sandwiches, (hence the wide variety of names anyone)?
Tonight's kepabs are the standard americanized version. Cyrus (wait a minute, that's the name of a Persian king and Sun God and my brother) is making a main course of sirloin tip, cherry tomato and potato kababs. These wonder kebobs will be followed by our families ever-present grilled fruit desert. But this time it'll be different. Imagine a kabob with fresh strawberries and cubed mango, grilled. Better yet put that in the middle of your plate and drizzle some hot fudge onto the top of the already wonderful kibob.
My mouth waters just waiting for it.
You can smell the sirloin tips now. Marinating in olive oil and spices. The sky is clouding over and dad and Cy are hunched over the grill starting a fire. The potatoes are parboiling and Frank Sinatra is calling from the speakers. What would we do without Pandora "internet radio"?
The kebhavs are on the grill now getting smoked out beneath the lid. Dad is slicing the mango (which, being a produce broker, he bought, sold and bought again. Odd paradox.) for our desert kephavs and Cy is skewering the strawberries and mango cubes. The smell of smoky sirloin and grilled tomatoes fills our house, and no doubt our neighbor's houses too. The main course skewers are almost ready and the spur-of-the-moment shopping decision naan (an Indian flatbread) is being coated in olive oil to heat up on the grill. I can't wait.
And I almost forgot about the Phizzini (see March 28th post) fixin's we got at IKEA the other day, lingonberry juice concentrate, that we will mix with club soda.
Our main course is done and the sky is getting darker by the minute. This isn't 6:30 PM in late May. At least it's not totally dark, I've never seen brighter, happier, colors as the red-gold combo we just put on the grill. But we must muddy it with the dark of the chocolate sauce like oil has muddied the waters of the gulf coast.
Amazing. The last kebabs were perfect. The strawberries and mangoes just slid right off the skewers and they were slightly warm, near to bursting with warmed sugary fruit juices. Mmmmmmmm. The dark sky was worth it. I'm glad we ate outside

Sunday, May 23, 2010


It's Sunday again. I wanted to make shepherd's pie but that just wasn't going to happen. I didn't get home from a sleepover until 4 and we hadn't even started shopping. The shepherd's pie recipe I planned to make said it would take three hours. We just weren't going to have that sort of time.
So dad and I rushed off to the store and got milk, pine nuts, fresh pasta and ground beef. Then we dashed home to begin preparing dinner. We toasted pine nuts and almonds and mixed them with ground beef an egg and bread crumbs. If you haven't figured it out already, as many "Losties" have with their shows end so near, we're making spaghetti and meatballs. This was really a "throw together something nice" dinner but I think it will be quite good.

Wow. I've never spent such a time in the kitchen - it just flew by. I had barely managed to tell what we we're having for dinner and then bang! Pow! We we're eating. The meatballs and spaghetti weren't all that perfect. The meatballs kept falling apart and were undercooked. The sauce was a little watery and could have done with a little more care, precision and time. I suppose we were just hurrying to get dinner done in a reasonable time that we over-hurried and it cost us. Wait a second. Why are these keys turning red? Holy #%^! WERE"S MY FINGER! Just kidding. We weren't that careless!
The greatest standout of this meal though was the salad. Now fairly routine in our house the lettuce-apple-carrot salad stood out thanks to it's apple. I'm not sure what variety the apple was but it was a great big one, larger than my fist, with a red skin and the flavor of carbs that had soaked in honey. The best piece of the apple was the juice, with each bite it's liquid honey flavor oozed out of the apple, down your teeth and straight to your tastebuds which practically fainted the taste was so amazing.
With a side dish uber-success I'll just hope for better luck in two weeks with the main course, shepherd's pie.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It Was Like Summer Out There

It must be summer time here in Portland. It's 70, sunny and I wish I'd put on shorts this morning. Cy just got back from a camping trip with friends this afternoon and opted for a meal in no short supply around our house in the summer. Burgers. Cy will be cooking up a batch of burgers. He'll form the patties by hand then grill them on our old black charcoal grill before placing a slice of cheese on top for any one who wants it. Then, as the burgers come off family tradition says to toast the buns while slicing tomatoes and pickles. And you can't forget put ketchup on the table. These burgers are always seasoned with spices from the Old Chicago Spice House. They're good burgers.
Just moments ago Cyrus kneaded the meat while dad piled on spices. "You know, we don't have a recipe," dad said.
"Yep," Cy said "we don't need one though."
Smoke is rising up from the grill as the sun beats down, the small shoots of our summer garden adding a slight green to the background. Neko Case's voice comes from the speakers placed on our kitchen windowsill.
Flipping burgers complete, a slice of cheddar cheese on mine, Cy has come back in to prepare a salad while dad prepares the asparagus. The dogs stand watch by the door waiting for their chance to eat all the burgers on the grill. We won't give 'em that chance.
Wow, burgers cook fast. It would appear they're almost done. The pickles have been sliced and the buns are about to be toasted. From the look of things we might be able to have our first 5 o'clock Sunday dinner in months. But I doubt it. We've still got to grill the asparagus.
Which I now know, takes about five seconds. One minute I was watching burgers get flipped and the next I was eating the largest burger I've ever seen. We actually pulled off the 5 o'clock dinner. We ate the burgers and grilled asparagus with the sun still high in the sky.
Yet we're far from done, right now we have peaches and apriums on the grill that will be drizzled with honey and creme fraiche. And those took about five seconds too. The grill cooks things too fast to write about them.
At least they taste good. Really good. As Grandma said: "I just had a weeks worth of meat." She was right.
It was like summer out there.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lasagna Again!

Now that we have a blog and a new recipe Mom convinced me to make lasagna again. And I'm quite excited to try a lasagna dish that isn't so heavily reliant on spinach... (lasagna was actually our third dinner and the second one I cooked). I'll be making garlic bread again and a huge salad. Question is, how does one make "a pre-made Italian spice mix" which the recipe calls for (cheaters) from scratch?bbb
The answer would appear to be to cross that bridge when you come to it. Now just concentrate on the onions and garlic frying in olive oil.

I think I've learned my lesson. stay out of cooking magazines unless you've gone through the recipe multiple times. I just spent about five minutes in total confusion. Maybe it was just poorly written. I hope so. Arrgh. There should not be that much meat juice in the; wait, whats this? A mealworm? On my arm? This is reeking in bad omens.
Clearly I'm overtight. I just need a sec to lean back, smell the basil and garlic, let the strains of The Gladiators (some reggae band) fill my head. Sit back. Look again. Or maybe I should go to the store to get the bread for tonights garlic bread. God. This is going poorly.
Wow. I'm glad I didn't try this recipe for that third dinner. As my peers would have put it it would have been an "epic fail." As it is this one is stretching my fairly new and limited experience of cooking. I bet if you followed the directions word for word it would be easier. "Pre-made Italian spice mix" cheaters.
Finally. The ordeal is over. We got the through the confusing instructions and finally got the lasagna in the oven. Now we have a few minutes to sit back and recuperate before diving headfirst into garlic bread and a salad.
We had a few extra lasagna noodles and more than a little extra sauce so put them together in a bowl for a little appetizer to share with Cy. It was good but missing one thing. Cheese lots and lots of cheese. And that is cooking in the oven with the lasagna. I think I've succeeded and Mimi thinks only she can clean the kitchen. That's fine by me!
I'm also fine with the fact that we have a moment to sit back here. But ya' gotta get back to
work eventually. Like now.
And then you don't have time to write. It was a whirlwind of activity that preceded the
eating. Lasagna out, garlic bread in oven. Increase heat to 400 degrees. Finish salad. Pour wine
for adults. and then we ate by far one of the best meals of all Sunday dinners even if it could
have used a little cayenne kick. A happy mothers day to one and all.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Pork Chops And Twice-Baked Potatoes

Here in Portland the sky will tell you it's June but Cy doesn't care. Tonight's meal will tell you it's January. It's actually May. Cy is making pork chops and as he is explaining to me why, I blurt out "I get it! Fully Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes!! Brilliant!" Is there a trademark button on this computer? We might as well copyright it now, it's already in caps.
What Cy really wanted to make for tonight was alligator, fried alligator. But, sadly, we didn't FedEx alligator steaks. Sad. Oh well, at least you don't have to FedEx gator steaks to make Cochon's baked potatoes. Cochon is a restaurant in the Big Easy that my brother happens to love, (I think I know where Cy's going to live when he grows up.)
Cy was just going to make an approximation of the potatoes when, on Wednesday, by some odd coincidence or perhaps by some clever plan, someone spotted a recipe for Fully Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes in the Real Cajun cookbook which is written by the chef at Cochon.
And so, after a day spent planting our garden and readying the taters in the oven, the cooking began. Slowly. Who knew watching your younger brother stir a stick of butter into the innards of 5 potatoes was so boring. Adding cayenne pepper: boring too. Watching him stir in cheddar cheese, scallions, sour cream: ooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Excuse me while I go drool in private for a moment. Ooooooooooooooohhh. And now he's putting it all back in the potato skins. I'm drooling again. Licking the bowl that Cy mixed it all in... "Mom, come pinch me. I think I'm dreaming."
And we haven't even started the pork chops yet.
We've started the pork chops now, Cy is rubbing the chops down and the smell of bacon is filling our house. The bacon is sizzling and the voice of Bruce Springsteen is pouring from the speakers hooked up to the family itouch. A friend's corgi is staring up at me, clearly she doesn't know that, "The bacon is on the other side of the kitchen , not my lap!" I don't think Scout, the Corgi, speaks English. "El tocino es en el otro lado de la cocina no es mi regazo!?" Ella no habla espaƱol. Oh well she's just a dog. And my mouth is just watering.
I can tell that was a good meal. You know that feeling you get after Thanksgiving dinner when you sit back in the chair to watch football, your relative sighs, and then falls face first into his mashed potatoes and gravy? That tired feeling is exactly what I'm talking about. The only remedy is settling into some Bob Marley. Especially when your sitting down and typing. I. Just. Want. To. Sleep...