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

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

For the holidays everybody would like to spend time with their family. This year we've got a strange arrangement going on. Today, we had West Coast Christmas. This meant our usual Christmas routine. Except for one thing. All the presents were from people on Mom's side of the family. Why? You ask, well you see, tomorrow we're going to Kentucky for the East Coast Christmas.
But we're traveling on Sunday. And the TSA really doesn't appreciate it when you try to take a Bunsen Burner onto the plane to cook dinner. It makes them think you're a terrorist.

Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Leek Looks Like An Onion

You've seen alot in our nearly a year of blogging, we've even had our uncle Clark cook one of the dinners, but so far I have always done the posting. That's about to change. Here's our cousin Drew who will be doing the writing for tonight. Here's Drew.
Well it's currently 3:07 PM and Cyrus is already chopping, (killing, slaying and putting to sleep) (quote from Cyrus) the potatoes for potato leek soup.
It was hard for Cyrus to decide what to cook because my little sister Anna, who's also up here for a few days, eats gluten free, so Cyrus finally had the idea of potato leek soup. Now my Uncle Ben is sautéing leeks in butter then adds potatoes and chicken broth. Now as I'm sitting here typing I just had the delightful experience of watching Cyrus try to throw an orange slice into his mouth. And fail. Sally, the dog, snapped up the fallen slice faster than an Alligator.
Before we started cooking, we were playing mattress football which is a very bloody sport (Cyrus and Anna were both bleeding within the first 5 minutes). The game is very similar to football, except it's played on two mattreses next laid end to end, and rather than kicking the ball at the beginning you throw it. Also you can always pass, and there's no safety/ blocking rules. The center doesn't have to hike the ball to the QB, he just starts running while the other man blocks for him or pushes him forward from behind, or goes ahead of the other team and the center tries to throw or hand the ball to him. So basically you just try to get the ball into the endzone anyway you can, in 4 plays. I can hear Anna and Tucker and Cy playing, so I think I'll go join them and come back when more cooking is going on.

The stew just sat around on the stove for a few hours. We eat!

That was a good soup. The chicken was wonderfully well cooked and the broth was salty. It was a delicious counterpoint to the cold apple cider.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Misted From Our Minds

Sometime this summer we began to talk about were we wanted to go on an international trip this spring. At first the front runners were Peru and India, I didn't want to go to either of those places and was advocating Greece. Slowly Peru then India fell out of contention as possible travel destinations. As a compromise between India and Greece Mom had suggested a few days in Spain then Morocco. Sounded good to all of us, so although we have yet to buy tickets, we plan to take a trip to Spain and Morocco this summer or spring. In anticipation of the coming trip I've decided to make a Moroccan dish for dinner tonight.
The dish in question is a well spiced, lemon infused, Moroccan chicken. Moroccan culture and cuisine is widely influenced by most of the Mediterranean. With it's native Berber cuisine absorbing the influences of Andalusia and the Moors, the Turks, Jews and Arabic cuisines, a Moroccan meal promises to be a wide infusion of all Mediterranean tastes. For side dishes we have hummus and pita bread and couscous and a salad.

Cy is sick, so Dad took him to get checked out. The cooking is coming to a head. The preserved lemons, olives and wine are in with the onions and pita bread is toasting in the oven. Chicken broth is melting in the microwave. (Dad makes home made Chicken broth and freezes it.) We are starting the salad and the couscous should follow soon.

I just accidentally put way to much chicken broth in the main pot. If only Dad was here to help. But he's with Cy who's getting an ultrasound, Cy might have appendicitis. The salad is on the table and everything else is on it's way. The pita bread is taking turns warming up in the oven while the couscous liquid, a quarter of which is the extra broth, is heating up on the stove. Any minute now we will be ready to eat.
The chicken is almost ready and the smells wafting through the house are amazing, so thick you can taste them. I bet they could cure Cy no matter how sick he is. The chicken is ready. Dinner is served!

The couscous was both excellent and amazing. One moment I was poring it into an immense amount of water and broth. The next I glanced over and the lid of the pot was being physically lifted by the couscous. The chicken was excellent and lemony. And I probably toasted the pita to long. As we ate you could almost see the great white canvas of a Berber tent building around us. Then the phone rang and our canvas sheets fell to the ground and misted from our minds. Turns out Cy doesn't have appendicitis. We returned to our plates and the wonderful flavors of North Africa.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thank You Cyrus, Dad, Neighbor Andy And, Smith&Wesson??

You'd have to live in a cave to not know that the University of Oregon's football team is going to play Auburn for the national championship. That's nice, but what has us (and by and large the rest of the neighborhood) excited is the U of O's a cappella group "On the Rocks". They just got a spot on NBC's The Sing-Off", a limited run holiday season series. One of their members is an old swimteam coach at the local pool. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTFh8LCBZeQ&feature=related) Teigh Bowen is the blond guy to the right of the main singer in most of the videos. He was an awesome swim coach.
With all sorts of talented Oregonians in national competitions Cy decided to make a dish that baffled us when we first made it, but now we're good enough at it that it could win a national championship. Pirogi. The cheese has been grated and mashed into the potatoes, now the cheese potato mixture is being mashed into small balls for the filling, and the onions are sizzling away filling our house with their fragrant buttery, greasy, wonderfulness. The dough is done resting now, and the onions are almost caramelized.
Last time we had pirogi for dinner it wasn't the best. The dough was tough, you couldn't taste the cheese in the filling and the onions were over done. The time before that was, I think, Super Bowl Sunday.
Cy is now assembling the pirogi. After rolling out and cutting the dough into small circles he puts one of the small cheese-potato balls into the middle, then crushes the edges together into the classic dumpling shape. Meanwhile on the stove sauerkraut and some venison sausage our neighbor Andy gave us are heating up together on the front burner. Andy had been hunting this fall and got a buck in Eastern Oregon. Otto's , the little German deli/butcher shop in our neighborhood smokes game for the hunters in the neighborhood. These sausages were super smoky and super delicious. On the rear burner of the stove, the pirogi that have already been made are boiling away in a big pot of heavily salted pirogi water.

While we're waiting for all the pirogi to finish cooking we've been snacking on the leftover cheese balls. We have probably 20 extra cheese balls. On the outside they are slightly greasy and slippery. They look to be just orange tinted mash potato balls. The light glints off of them in such a way it appear they are sweating. When you bite in at first you just taste the potatoes. Then the cheese sneaks in. Sharp and cheddary you get a wonderful taste of the cheesiness (which the government wants us to eat more of) and the fattiness (which they want us to eat less of). The pirogi are ready, we eat!

That was really good. The pirogi were by far the best we've ever made, in fact, it was good enough to rival the pirogi that Eastern European immigrants sell on Saturdays from the basement of the Ukranian church in our neighborhhod. Next time though, more onions. And the sausage, that was good. It was really good. Imagine the best venison sausage you ever had, the multiply it by 10. After we had finished eating Mom said, "Thanks for the wonderful meal Cy and Dad, and Andy," then Dad broke in "and Smith&Wesson."