Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cooking for One

My wife and daughter are SW Nebraska for the weekend, so I'm home alone. I enjoy the first few hours home alone, but then the novelty wears off and I crave my usual company. With Little Miss Pickyeater out of the house, I should use the time to try new recipes, but cooking for myself isn't as satisfying. Food always tastes better when you share it with those I love.

Tonight I'll just settle for cheese, crackers, and summer sausage. I'll wash it down with some bottled Free State Beer, which just hit stores this week.

What's your favorite meal to eat alone? My 92-year-old grandmother today mentioned that she often prepares herself a fried egg sandwich for dinner. Maybe that will be dinner tomorrow night.

Chocolate chip cookies sound great, but I'm an old fashioned guy and prefer mine with milk.

fuggles --that's a word that makes me smile,

Thursday, May 27, 2010

More Cowbell and Cole Slaw

At Man Camp I was assigned to a team of cooks who prepared a BBQ dinner. While other cooks were assigned glamorous tasks like manning the deep-fat fryer and smoking a hunk of beef on a space age contraption(The Orion Cooker), I was told to make cole slaw, which is kinda of like playing cow bell in a rock band.

I didn't whine. Instead I put my nose to the grindstone and tried to prepare a suitable cole slaw. I found this task challenging because with the exception of the Brookville Hotel's cole slaw, I've never been smitten by slaw.

I knew I wanted a vinegar-based slaw that was simple to prepare and didn't overwhelm the taste buds of the kids at Man Camp. After browsing my resources I adapted a recipe from Peace, Love, and Barbecue by Mike Mills. Since I didn't want to chop cabbage in the rain, I used a shredded slaw mix, and I omitted the onions, green pepper, and garlic in the original recipe.

(If you visit, they have closeouts of Peace, Love, and Barbecue for $7.95. I'm eager to try the watermelon ice cream with chocolate seeds.)

Crunchy Cole Slaw
  • 1 bag of prepared cole slaw
  • 1 cup of cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of celery seed (This is the key ingredient to this slaw)
  1. Mix all the dressing ingredients.
  2. Place slaw mixture in a large mixing bowl. Pour about half the dressing over it and toss. If you need more dressing on the slaw, keep adding it until your satisfied with the consistency.
  3. Enjoy the slaw.
I liked this slaw. I like placing a little on a bbq pork sandwich. Give it a try. I still view this recipe as blank canvas for other possibilities. I might experiment in small batches with other vinegars or a little Tabasco. I might use less sugar or other sweeteners. I might also work some jalapenos into the mix. I'll keep you posted as I shape this recipe.

it's OK to be tart,

P.S. I found the following excerpt from Peace, Love, and Barbecue interesting:

Did you know you can freeze cole slaw? Simply boil the dressing and pour it over the cabbage. Let it cool and transfer to large freezer bags or covered plastic containers and freeze. Keep up to one month.
Who knew? There's always something left to learn.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

Sometimes I like it when the weather dictates my schedule. This was the case at Man Camp when the rain forced me inside my cramped tent on a Saturday morning.

At first I wasn't happy with this arrangement. I wanted the rain to stop, and the first hour in tent was torturous. Every 3 minutes my daughter interrupted my reading and asked, "Dad, when is it going to stop raining?"

Eventually, we embraced the rain and cramped became cozy. I used that time to read Mr. Ron Rash's book of short stories titled Burning Bright and the Oxford American's food issue. My daughter doodled and read from one of her favorite books.

In this calm I read a paragraph that struck a chord with me. It's from an article in the Oxford American titled "The Southern Strawberry: Liquid Rubies" by Marianne Gingher:
In lieu of odes, our foodie ancestors created the jar-size museum and invented preserves so that lovers of short-season perishables could enjoy the palate'sequivalent of instant replay. To Make preserves heirloom quality, you need to work as deliberately at the task as divining water. My own patient grandmother concocted a strawberry condiment so like a jar of jewels that we children called it liquid rubies." She discovered that making small batches and not stirring the berries while they simmer produced a lucid, red-gold syrup that fattened and embalmed the fruit. This was my grandmother who had no talent for scramble. She could lean on a windowsill for hours, watching an inchworm's progress; the dreamy to and fro of darning a sock pleased her. Although her languid habits infuriated my grandfather, they made her an excellent cook. Watching sugar and strawberries percolate, feeling the rope syrup gather weight on her spoon, my grandmother tilted her face into the lush, promissory steam unraveling from her jam pot like genies rubbed from lamps.
This reminded me of one of the reasons I cook. Cooking provides me with a model of how to live. Slowly. Deliberately. Doing small things well.
take care,