Thursday, July 17, 2014

Journal - Cooking

This week has been about trying to find my cooking groove. I've gravitated toward already prepared meals over the past several months, only truly preparing a home cooked meal on the rare occasion–or at least that's how it's seemed.

I hope this week that I've broken this spell and I'm able to stay inspired about the next meal that I will prepare.

Monday, I went to an old standby: a sort of beef and vegetable stir-fry served with saffron rice. I try not to serve red meat more than twice a week, but this is one of those dishes that is so delicious, I could eat it almost every day!

Tuesday was chicken day. I must confess that I don't particularly like working with chicken, and unless it's well seasoned or has a nice sauce, I don't like eating it much either–well, fried chicken is the exception. I love fried chicken. I don't usually buy mayonnaise, but I was craving sandwiches to take for lunch for a change, so I bought a small jar. As I was looking for the expiration date on the jar, I noticed a recipe for chicken using the mayonnaise. I think of Paula Dean. I remember vaguely that she used to put mayonnaise on everything. The recipe was simple and sounded like it would be tasty. I mixed together the mayonnaise with grated parmesan cheese, garlic salt, Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, panko breadcrums, and lovingly spread this all around the top side of the chicken breasts. Into the 425 degree oven it went and 20 minutes later dinner was served. We had mashed potatoes and cauliflower on the side–my new favorite way to have mashed potatoes–and I sautéed finely chopped mushrooms with garlic, olive oil, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and a splash of white wine; and a simple green salad with thousand island dressing. The chicken was pretty good. I forgot to season it directly, and although the crust gave it great flavor, I think it suffered from lack of seasoning on the meat itself. I couldn't believe I forgot the most basic rule of seasoning.

Tuesday night I pulled out my recipe box–the one that holds the handful of "My Great Recipes" cards that I still have from when I was just a young girl. I used to have a large box of these recipe cards, but damn me for getting rid of them during a move–that at the time I didn't think I would like. But, I still have the ones I deemed worth to stay. So, as I was flipping through the cards to figure out what to do for Wednesday's dinner, a plan formed in my head.

Wednesday's dinner would be planned around making use of the leftover potato and cauliflower mash. I had come across a pork chop recipe and I LOVE pork chops! It wasn't a complicated recipe by any means, but see, I'm a visual person and I need images to inspire me to cook and to provide ideas or to jog my memory to cook meals that I've prepared but forgotten about. Tuesday night, I had already come across a recipe for pineapple muffins, so I knew I wanted to bake those too. I modified the pork chop recipe a bit by adding in some additional veggies in addition to the called for chopped tomatoes and garlic. I added zucchini and spinach. I quickly browed the chops (I did remember to season the chops), set them aside, then added white wine and garlic to the pan, scraping any brown bits, and let that reduce a bit. Back in went the chops topped with the chopped tomatoes, zucchini, and spinach; that simmered for about 45 minutes. We skipped the salad Wednesday night since we had plenty of veggies and tasty pineapple muffins. I must say I'll need to work on the muffin recipe, but they were still pretty good, despite the bottoms getting stuck in the paper cups. So we were essentially easting muffin tops, which cut back on the calories, I imagine.      

I don't have a plan for tonight's dinner yet. I'm sure something will come to me.

I forgot to mention that I love listening to music while I cook, and it has been a reggae week. Reggae calms me and gets me into the perfect state of mind, causing me to pause and dance while I cook.

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