Wednesday, September 02, 2015
There are a lot of things I like about being an adult. Dessert first. Donuts for lunch. Bravo TV. Booze. Last-minute travel. Cold pizza and coffee for breakfast. Staying up way late. (OK, I used to like doing that.) Driving at night with the windows down, the stereo cranked, and the a/c blasting. Marriage (and the fun stuff that comes with it). And parenthood. Yes, I love my little boogers like nobody's business.
But there is one thing about parenthood that drives me nuts. Dinnertime with children. Y'all, I knew what I was getting into when I had kids. I knew life with kids would be loud and messy and emotional and sticky and sweet and heartbreaking—sometimes all of those things at once. But I was not prepared to lose my time in the kitchen, my calm dinners, my ability to have a conversation with my husband without punctuating each sentence with—take your pick—One hand in your lap, We don't eat with our hands, Stop using your shirt as a napkin, We sit while we eat, Stop blowing bubbles in your milk, You have to finish your fruit, You have to take at least one bite, and What do we say when we want to leave the table? No, we say May I be excused, not Can I.
Holy moly. Turning tiny cave people into responsible, upright adults is not. easy.
But last weekend I did it. I achieved (what passes in our house) for dinnertime nirvana. I fed the kids first. I bathed them. I popped them popcorn on the stove top and put it in cute red and white paper popcorn bags. I settled them down on the couch in front of The Cat in the Hat. And then I ate with my husband. At the table. Just the two of us! Pan-seared filet mignon with quick garlic-soy marinade over fresh iceberg lettuce—you gotta love that cold crunch. With roasted potatoes on the side. For a whole 30 minutes! And it was enough to recharge my batteries for Sunday lunch. "Please put your brother's pizza down. He's 4 now, and he doesn't need you to feed him." Next time I better include wine.
Pan-Seared Filet Mignon With Quick Garlic-Soy Marinade
Makes 2 servings.
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp honey
3 cloves garlic, minced (or more to taste)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 filet mignon steaks
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1. In small bowl, whisk together soy sauce through black pepper.
2. Place steaks in zip-top plastic bag, pour in marinade, and close bag. Place in refrigerator and marinate at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes.
3. Heat oil and butter in saute pan over high heat.
4. Remove one steak from marinade at a time, letting excess marinade drip off, and putting each steak directly into pan when foam from butter disappears. Discard marinade. Cook steaks about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Let rest a few minutes before slicing. Serve warm.
Saturday, August 29, 2015
I'm not the kind of person who jump on bandwagons. I'm fairly questioning of most things I read. And I'm not quick to trust. But I am loyal. And faithful. And when I like something, I really like it. That especially applies to recipes. This Southern grits breakfast casserole is family favorite. This homemade beef stroganoff is one of our go-to meals. And I've made this broccoli casserole more times than I can count. I know a good thing when I make it.
I'm also not one of those people who tends to plan, shop, prep, and cook enough food for a month. First, it's because I don't think end times are upon us. Second, it's because I like to eat fresh food, not thawed, rehydrated, and heated food. And third, it's because I get tired of eating the same thing again and again. (Unlike my children because oh my gravy they want the same things all the time. Just a moment of honesty from a mom who's made 7,659 PBJs in the last year.) I'm sure it's convenient to have food made and ready to go, but I think those people are looking at cooking all wrong. It should be joyful to spend time preparing a meal. It should be a reliever of stress, not a creator. Cooking should make your house smell good. Cooking should make you anticipate the pleasure of a fresh pie, a golden roasted chicken, or a big pot of bubbly, homemade spaghetti sauce.
And finally, I'm not one of those people who closes the weekend with a day of activity. I still believe Sundays are a day of rest. Sunday afternoons are meant to be low-key. They're when I like to tackle new recipes and flip through magazines, looking for inspiration. And they're for slowly roasting a pork roast so that it glistens with delicious fat, pops with flavor, slices with a fork, and pulls your family to the kitchen to ask, What's that smell? And perhaps your oven-roasted pork will also feed you for a few days. Cook once, eat three times, some say. So if this is how you do that, count me in.
We ate this roast at three meals. The first day we topped runny eggs with slices of just-cooked pork—simple perfection. The second day we ate it sliced on biscuits, with a side of buttery, peppery grits. And on the third day we at it chopped in flour tortillas, topped with cheddar, avocado, and scrambled eggs. Also, note that this recipe is easily doubled or tripled to accommodate a larger pork roast. In general, roast your pork one hour per pound, or until internal temperature reaches 190 F.
Oven-Roasted Pork With Homemade Spice Rub
Makes 6 servings.
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dry mustard
Pinch of cumin powder
Pinch of ginger powder
2-lb pork ham roast, thawed
1/4 cup honey mustard
1. Heat oven to 250 F. Cover bottom and sides of roasting pan with foil.
2. Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine seasoned salt through ginger powder.
3. Pat roast dry with paper towels. Coat meat with honey mustard, and then cover with rub.
4. Place fat-side up in roasting pan. Place uncovered in oven and let cook, undisturbed, for two hours. Remove from oven, and using a meat thermometer, check temperature. Meat should reach 190 F when done.
5. When meat is done, remove pan from oven. Pull sides of foil tightly around meat, cover with towel, and let meat rest for an hour. After resting, chop or slice meat and serve.
Sunday, August 23, 2015
An alternate title for this recipe could be Can't Make Up My Mind Peach Pie. Because, you see, my boys started school last week, which means the calendar is pushing September. And it's closer to the time of year Southern weather isn't so thick you can fill a water gun without turning on the hose. So while the delicious farmers-market North Carolina peaches my dad dropped off were calling my name—I wasn't all that interested in a mid-summer double-crust peach pie. I wanted a bit of crunch. I wanted cinnamon. I demanded a taste of fall (a whole month before it's scheduled to arrive). Enter this Peach Pie With Oatmeal Crumble Topping, a crumble you might typically see on an apple pie in the fall. (I seem to have had this affliction before. Life is cyclical, so they say.)
I found the no-roll easy crust recipe on Pinterest. I admit I never saw Maw Maw make a pie crust this way. Hers were always light, flaky, and rolled by hand. But when you're short on time and you have ridiculously warm hands (the better to pat baby butts to sleep) that melt butter in a second, it's a lifesaver. It reminds me of the crust I use to make my Broccoli, Sour Cream, and Bacon Quiche, but it's easier. But I go a step further. Instead of pie weights, I prick the crust all over with a fork to keep it from bubbling, and then I bake it to prevent sogginess once the fruit is poured in. This is a trick called blind baking, but I didn't know that until I was older. I just knew it as something Mama and Maw Maw always did when baking pies.
This pie doesn't need to be served warm to be enjoyed. It's just as good for breakfast on Monday—at room temperature—as it is warm from the oven at Sunday dinner. And it doesn't need ice cream, but a big ol' scoop of that never hurt anybody, now did it? So serve it warm. Serve it with ice cream. And serve it with a spoon, like I always do. Because when the crust is gone and the fruit is slurped, a spoon will come in handy for scooping up every bit of that sweet, left-behind peach-pie nectar that tastes like summer—with a good dose of fall thrown in.
Peach Pie With Oatmeal Crumble Topping
Makes 8 servings.
1 pie crust
6 small to medium ripe peaches
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
For crumble topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp oatmeal
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter
1. Heat oven to 400 F.
2. Make the pie crust. Once crust is pressed into pie plate, prick it all over with fork, and bake it for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, peel and slice peaches. Place in strainer set over a bowl. Pour 1/4 cup sugar over fruit, gently stir, and let sit 30 minutes.
4. Make crumble topping. In medium bowl, combine all ingredients except butter. Add butter, and using a fork or pastry blender, combine until crumbly. Refrigerate until ready to use.
5. Pour peach juice out of bowl and save for another use. Then pour peaches back into bowl, and gently stir in remaining sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Sprinkle 2 tbsp flour over bottom of crust. Pour fruit into crust, and top with crumble mixture.
6. Bake pie for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F and bake another 30 minutes, or until fruit is bubbling. If crust or fruit tips are becoming too brown, top with piece of foil until end of baking. Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes to let fruit set before serving.
Monday, January 21, 2013
Imagine with me a world where he or she has been missing for awhile. How do they re-arrive? Well, musical artists come roaring back to the stage with an update to their style, creating a self-applied relevancy to their music. Athletes come running back onto the field with an urgency, taking it upon themselves to put their team at the pinnacle of success. Sometimes they reach that high note. (See: Madonna) Sometimes they fumble. (See: Favre) And sometimes it remains to be seen. (See: Confabulation in the Kitchen)
I could bring to the table a recipe of invention and individuality, in which I showcase the Next Big Thing. Or I could sneak in without letting the screen door slam and leave on your counter a pie that will tickle your taste buds and maybe take you back to that place you've been missing, be it your grandmother's kitchen or your parents' patio. To be honest, that's all I really want. I want to be a back-door friend, one who doesn't have to knock. I want to be a dependable friend, one who brings you apple pie when you're happy or when you're sad. Mostly I want to be that friend who shares recipes with you over a cup of coffee, recipes that you can count on to nourish your family and not break the bank. That's what I was before, I hope. Won't you invite me in for another chat?
I've made this pie many times over the last, oh, 15 years or so. It's my favorite apple pie recipe because it tastes like what you've always loved when it comes to apple pie, but it's a bit more special. It's good for family. It's good for company. It's just good, and there isn't really anything I'd change about it. It's messy. It's sweet. It's lovely. So to give credit where credit is due: Go check out Kendra's Apple Pie!
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
First, let's all take a moment to let my mom have a good, long laugh. You see, I hate green beans, truth be told. Well, what I actually hate is Southern green beans, especially the kind canned at home. They really aren't green after canning. And they hardly taste like beans. They're mush. Yes. I'm 5 years old (still). My parents always made me eat one spoon full of beans at dinner, so I'd shove every single one onto my fork and take one big bite, choking them down and whining about it all the while.
But I'm not 5 any more. (I bet you already knew that.) And now that I can cook for myself I do actually eat beans. I roast and sprinkle them with kosher salt. I saute them in garlic and olive oil and sprinkle them with toasted almonds. And I pile them on my plate at the Chinese buffet ... the exact reason I was attracted to this recipe. I don't know what's in the sauce at the buffet, but I do know what's in this sauce, and it's good stuff. These beans are perfect with chicken and rice, but they'd sit beautifully beside roast pork or a nice juicy steak, too. And if you're not into the whole meat thing just add some carrots and red pepper and serve over rice. Perfection.
Where am I getting fresh green beans in the middle of winter? My freezer. My dad grew these beans over the summer, and I have just a couple of bags left now. What a treat to have something wholesome, fresh, and bright green when the world outside is cold, gray, and damp. When summer rolls around I highly recommend you pick beans at your neighbors' house (they keep begging you to pick some off their ever-producing vines, anyway, right?) or head to the farmers market and get some beans to freeze for yourself. A foodsaver is worth its weight in gold, I tell you what.
Sweet and Spicy Green Beans
Adapted from Allrecipes
Makes 4 servings
If you decide to add vegetables to your beans to make a vegetarian meal you might want to double - or even triple - your amount of sauce.
3/4 pound fresh or frozen green beans
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili sauce
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons olive oil
1. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Steam beans 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, combine garlic, soy sauce, chili sauce and honey.
3. Heat olive oil in saute pan over medium-high heat. Add beans and saute, stirring, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour sauce over beans and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until liquid is mostly cooked away. Serve hot.