More Creative Cooking


Experimentation and creativity while cooking become really important when you are home and going out and about does not seem a very safe option.  Here are some photos of two recent dishes I created for dinner.

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Many people do not like certain vegetables, two of which are my favorites, beets and Brussels spouts.  I remain convinced that people do not like them because no one has ever cooked them in a way they find palatable. These two vegetables keep well in the refrigerator so they are good for buying in this time when many do not want to go to the grocery often.

To create the above dish, I sautéed several chopped garlic cloves in olive oil with the chopped beets.  Cook these until nearly done, then add the sliced Brussels sprouts.  It takes longer to cook the beets and garlic than the Brussels sprouts.  You want the Brussels spouts to be tender but do not over cook.  This particular day I added basil essential oil to taste and served the dish over pasta from Italy.  When I want something more spicy, I sprinkle berbere (Ethiopian spice) over the vegetables instead of using basil or other Italian spices.  Sometimes I serve this over rice instead of pasta, e.g. when I use berbere.  This provides a delicious vegan meal and is easy to prepare.

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One of my favorite dishes includes cod loins.  I create many different versions by changing the vegetables used and the spices. For this one, I first sautéed garlic in olive oil until golden, added chopped beets and sautéed until they were tender.  Then I added the cod loin and chopped red bell pepper and chopped poblano pepper.  At the last minute I added a handful of frozen green peas and sautéed only until they were hot.  Once again I used basil and added lemon essential oil.  The pasta is bucatini from Italy.  If you like cheese, grate fresh parmesan or asiago over the dish.

Covid19–Creative Cooking


This is post number six as I continue to quarantine.  I’ve lost tract of exactly when I last went to the grocery–not for at least three weeks.  In an effort to avoid going unnecessarily, I’ve come up with all sorts of creative cooking by looking to see what I can find in the pantry and refrigerator and inventing recipes, using what I already have.  Here are three of my inventions.

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When I was in Italy last November, I ate pasta with lemon creme sauce in two different restaurants in two different cities.  I have managed to duplicate it using bucatini from Italy, lemons, and heavy cream.  For two servings, cook about 1/2 pound of pasta.  While pasta is cooking, use a potato peeler to peel of strips of rind from one lemon.  Chop these strips into smaller pieces.  Cut the lemon into quarters.  When pasta is al dente, drain.  Turn down the heat and melt 1/4 stick butter in the pan, add drained pasta and lemon rind.  Take the lemon quarters and squeeze the juice into the pasta, add cream to taste–do not add too much. If you do not have cream–this time I had none in the refrigerator, do not worry.  It is yummy without it.

I was out of most salad ingredients so the above salad is chopped cilantro topped with feta cheese, various kinds of olives, and olive oil.

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While scrounging around in the freezer compartment, I found half pound of hamburger. I defrosted that and found a can of kidney beans in the pantry. I sautéed the lean hamburger in olive oil, then added the kidney beans.  I did not have any tomatoes or tomato sauce so I dumped in a little organic ketchup.  After stirring this together, I added berbere, a complex and a little hot spice from Ethiopia.  I served this on top of basmati rice from Pakistan–I buy this in ten pound bags at an international grocery.

The salad ingredients were a gift from a friend who had to harvest all his arugula and lettuce because of freezing weather. While both of us were outside, he handed me a bagful of these goodies.  I added some red cabbage I already had.  Finally, I grated asiago cheese all over the top of everything.  Cheese is a favorite food so I always have lots on hand.

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The other food I always keep in the freezer is fish, usually salmon and cod loins.  For this recipe, I defrosted the salmon and marinated it in teriyaki sauce and chopped up some onions and crystallized ginger.  I sautéed the onions in olive oil, then added the salmon and crystallized ginger.  When the salmon was almost done, I added some chopped, frozen,  poblano peppers (when I knew this stay-at-home order was likely, I bought a lot of poblano peppers and froze them) and arugula.  I served the finished dish over basmati rice.

Sometime in the next month or so–no definite date yet–my memoir/cookbook will come out, “You’re Gonna Eat That!? Adventures with Food, Family, and Friends.” It is filled with recipes using ingredients and methods I have learned in travels and growing up with my mom. Many of the recipes are vegetarian and could be vegan with minor adjustments.

My Ideal Audience


The fourth assignment in my newest experiment, Word Press’ Blogging 101 class, is to write a post for my ideal audience. My immediate reaction was, “There is no such person; I do not have an ideal audience.”  I might be able to come up with three or four persons, some of whom might like the recipes, others might enjoy the travel posts, and another group might react to comments on the environment, international politics, and sundry controversial topics.  Finally, a few, perhaps more, might relish the occasional poetry pieces.  After all, my haiku posts attained more readers than I ever expected.  The challenge then might be to write a post combining several of these but how?  Here we go on another adventure.

My idea reader would enjoy literature, especially the serious and more especially literature from other countries and cultures, like to eat hot foot from diverse cultures, travel to other places besides here and Europe, care about the environment, follow international politics, and, even though not previously mentioned, like horses, prefer the country to the city, and enjoy a wide variety of music.  Do such individuals exist?  Where are they and how do I find them?

Here is my first attempt at covering at least two of these topics:

Last summer, as former followers know, I traveled with friends to Ethiopia for three weeks via Dubai.  Because I love the stuff, I brought back an entire kilo of berbere.  Mine follows the special recipe of my Ethiopian friend’s mother.  She had it made special just so we could bring it home.  Actually there were three kilos in my bag but only one for me.  My new favorite salmon recipe involves the use of berbere.  Unlike some, hers is more rich and spicy rather than really hot.  This will serve one to two, just increase the amount of all the ingredients to suit the number of people you plan to feed.

1-2 portions wild sockeye salmon–you could use any type of course

4 medium to large brussel sprouts, coarsely chopped

1/2 purple onion chopped coarsely

Several broccoli florets

1/2 ripe bell pepper, seeded and chopped

Olive oil

Berbere

Cover the bottom of a skillet with olive oil.  Add onions and sauté until translucent.  Add the brussel sprouts and sauté until nearly tender.  Add the peppers and broccoli.  Sprinkle a light layer of berbere over all the vegetables as you cook them.  Stir occasionally.  Add the salmon, skin side down.  Sprinkle berbere over the salmon so the salmon is covered but only lightly.  You can add more to taste.  Continue cooking until the salmon flakes.

I serve this with rice.  The rice in the photo is basmati.  See previous posts for the special way I cook rice.  Sometimes I vary the vegetables using poblano peppers, carrots, Swiss chard–whatever I happen to have or feel like eating at the moment.  Pick what you like.

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This, honestly, is nothing like real Ethiopian food in part because I do not have teff and do not know how to make injera.  The photo below shows me and friends in a restaurant in Gonder, Ethiopia, in my idea of food heaven.

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Lazy Day and Dinner


Cool and cloudy reigned today.  Now tornado warnings west of here glide across the TV screen I’ve turned on mute.  About now, the severe thunderstorms are supposed to start.  A repeat of yesterday when I took these photos from my patio.

 

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Fed Rosie earlier to beat the predicted storm, swept the dirt and little rocks from yesterday’s storm off the drive, and strolled around to get some exercise.  After several hectic days of no cooking, decided to cook something vegetarian.

1 medium sized purple onion coarsely chopped

6 medium brussels sprouts cut in half

1/2 large red bell pepper coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon chana masala (East Indian spice)

1 teaspoon berbere (Ethiopian spice)

Olive oil

Pour enough olive oil in 8-10 inch skillet to cover the bottom.  Saute the onions in the oil until translucent.  Add the brussels sprouts and spices.  Stir and cook until the brussels sprouts are cooked but still crisp.  Add the red pepper and sauté.  Do not over cook.  Serve over Jasmine rice.

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Not quite ready but almost.

 

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Berbere on left sent from Ethiopia by my friend’s mother.

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Jasmine rice ready to serve.  Here is how I cook the rice:

Pour enough olive oil in the bottom of the saucepan to barely cover it.  Add 1 heaping tsp. finely chopped garlic and briefly sauté.  Add one cup rice (here I used white but sometimes I mix red, black and white evenly) and sauté a little bit more.  Add two cups water and 1 tsp. vegetarian bouillon (I prefer Better Than Bouillon).  Stir and cover with several paper towels or one thick tea towel.  Place lid on top and turn down to low.  Cook 1/2 hour if using only white rice.  Other rice requires double the time.

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The finished product ready to eat.

 

Now I am going back to reading while awaiting the lightning and thunder.  About 1/3 way through a light but entertaining read:  “Coyote Cowgirl” by Kim Antieau.