Quiche or Something Like It

Some days you just have to write about Quiche, especially on those days when you threw some together and it turned out on the plus side of edible.

I cooked some bacon until it was dark and crisp. Did I mention in any of my Greece-capades that there was not one breakfast in any of the places we stayed where the bacon was cooked any more than about half way? To me it looked as if they’d warmed it up until the fat melted and then thrown it in a heat tray in a limp and grease sodden mess. Yuck.

Anyway, I cooked the hell out of some bacon, cooled it on a paper towel and crumbled it up in anticipation of adding it to an omelette. And then suddenly an omelette sounded boring. So I chopped up some red onion, red pepper and green pepper, and sautéed it with a zip lock bag full of frozen spinach which usually ends up in my daily smoothie. Smoothies can get boring too.

Next I beat the hell out of six eggs. I don’t love cooking unless I’m cooking the hell out of things. I also find recipes and the way they’re written boring most of the time, unless they say weird and wonderful things like
- prepare the pan (apparently some pans don’t deal well with surprises)
- sit in the fridge for 30 minutes (this only works if you have a super sized fridge and you’re under 4 feet tall)
- season to taste (no really, you need to be more specific here for us taste impaired cooks and actually mention some spices and seasonings by name)

Anyway, buttered pie plate, beaten eggs, sautéed mixture, sprinkled with the crumbled bacon and shredded cheese (I’m sure it doesn’t matter what kind – pick something you like) into the oven at 350 for 30 minutes. Yes, I was pretty much making this up as I went along and hoping for the best. It’s not that I don’t like a Quiche with a pastry crust but those things aren’t good for you and way too much like work.

Voila!

Voila!

Extreme quiche close up.

Extreme quiche close up.

Notice that you are not seeing any of the complicated process leading to this result.  That’s because I don’t like to tempt fate by recording the steps which may lead to colossal failure.  Even with something as relatively simple as crustless Quiche.

I wonder if my cooking skills (or lack of confidence in them) can be blamed on my mother.  We blame our mothers for just about everything, so why not.  She was an excellent cook who could whip up an incredible table full of delicious food for a crowd with very little help.   It would take her longer to tell you how to do something than to just do it herself.  She was forever apologizing for the dishes she made not being better, although we couldn’t imagine how that would be possible.  She never measured anything exactly, using her measuring cups and spoons as guidelines only.  That’s why I don’t have many of her recipes.  The best ones  changed with the ingredients on hand and were never written down.  Leaving her daughters (well this one who never listened anyway) to wing it on their own.

This was really good hot out of the oven with some salsa on the side.  I’m hoping it will be really good cold too, because I may have gone a bit overboard with half a dozen eggs for one person.  Mom also always cooked with leftovers in mind.  Maybe I’m more like her than I know.

Just Jazzy 196

groak (v.)  to watch someone who is eating or to stare longingly at someone else’s food in the hope of being offered a portion of their scrumptious bounty, or better yet, being asked to join them.

jazzy 195 001

If you’re not sure you can succeed at the art of groaking, any dog will be happy to show you how it’s done.

Jazzy Words

Float A Cornflake In It

The last couple of days I’ve been reading books, watching strange things on Netflix, copying weird stuff from Facebook and avoiding writing anything intelligent.  I can’t see why today should be any different.  So here’s some of the fruits of my labour.  Or lack thereof.

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Hope everybody is having a fantastic Tuesday!  Don’t work too hard!  In fact, if you can get away with it, don’t work at all.  I expect you won’t get any better advice than this from me and F. Scott  today.

“It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.” ―     F. Scott Fitzgerald

Recipe for a Good Saturday

In amongst my conglomeration of strange notes on a messy desk I came across this funny little list.  Looks like a recipe, right?  But what the hell is it for?  I wrote it down thinking I would remember why without also jotting down a bunch of details, I guess.

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I have a feeling there’s some major ingredient missing here, along with instructions.  It looks like things one should add to something else or pour over some kind of meat maybe?? Throw in a crock pot?  I don’t know.  But since there’s no quantities for the first five ingredients, I think it would be safe to just skip them.

So go ahead and measure out those two cups of red wine.  And serve immediately.  Double this recipe if sharing with a friend.  Who says doing stuff in the kitchen can’t be simple, easy and fun?  I would definitely add this one to my recipe book if I had one.

Unidentified glass of dark red wine.

Unidentified glass of dark red wine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When W is Away I Eat Zucchini

After three months of preparation (no exaggeration) W left this morning for his island in the east.  The river ice was probably a month later than normal breaking up so he had to wait around impatiently for better weather.  I just got a text from him saying he’s in Brandon, so tomorrow he’ll do the last leg of the drive to northern Ontario.

At last we’re getting some lovely sunny warm days here too.  The lawn people have already done most of the spring clean up, except for where the last of our snow mountain was stubbornly refusing to melt.  The last time I mentioned something about green grass we had a snow storm, so I’m not doing that again.

I have lots of plans to keep myself busy in the next several months while I’m on my own.  I would mention them all here, but then I’d be embarrassed when none of them happen.  However, there is one I can tell you about since I’ve done it already.  I bought a bunch of vegetables that W doesn’t like and that I miss cooking for myself.  I don’t understand how someone can not like the taste of zucchini – it doesn’t even have a taste.  Tonight I tried a new recipe with results that even W might have been able to choke down.

What can you do with two zucchini and a sweet potato?

What can you do with two zucchini and a sweet potato?

I even took pictures to prove that I’m not completely useless in the kitchen.  Especially when I’m really hungry.

Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise and place cut side up on a pan.  I’m crazy about my Epicure pan which works great for oven roasted potato wedges.  I’m trying to broaden my horizons by cooking other stuff on it too.  Cut the sweet potato into french fry shapes.  Or not, depending on how clueless you are when it comes to chopping things up.

randomly shpaed sweet potato chunks

randomly shaped sweet potato chunks

I put a tablespoon of oil and some spices on the sweet potato and tossed them around in a red bowl.  I like Club House garlic plus, epicure seasoning for rosemary garlic oven fries, and salt and pepper.  And I love my red bowl.

Brush the zucchini with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic plus, salt and pepper and lots of parmesan cheese.  Cut up tomatoes and layer on top.  Add salt and pepper and/or bruschetta spices.  Seriously, the zucchini is so bland, you can go a little nuts with the spices.

Grate some mozzarella cheese for the last layer.

Practically naked zucchini.

Practically naked zucchini.

Zucchini all dressed.

Zucchini all dressed.

 

 

 

TAH DAH!

TAH DAH!

There it is all oven ready (375 F for 20 – 30 minutes) and here it is out of the oven.  And shortly after that most of it disappeared.

This was really simple to put together, and incredibly good.  Hope you get a chance to try it.  And I hope you enjoyed this random recipe blog.  I promise it won’t be a regular feature, and I can hear your sigh of relief from here.  I’m sure I didn’t teach anyone anything that they couldn’t have googled and figured out on their own, and yes I will admit that it was just a shameless way for me to boast about something turning out well in my kitchen.  That’s a random thing too.

See what you’re missing W??  Turnips tomorrow!  HAHAHA!  Now he’ll probably stay away for an extra month.

A Night at the Races

If you’re going to a work related Christmas Party, how does the build up to that event make you feel?  Giddy with excitement?  Nauseous?  Like shooting yourself in the foot just to get out of it?

And if it’s your spouse or significant other dragging you off to theirs, are you okay with that?  Or is it something you dread?

I’ve been on both sides of the fence when it comes to these things.  Some I’ve enjoyed, others have been ordeals from the bottomless pits of hell.  Ha.  You think that’s an exaggeration?  Ummm….no, it’s not.

And the thing is, you never really know until you’re there and living it how it’s going to turn out.   All you can do is show up with a smile on your face and hope for the best.  Well, last night turned out to be one of the best Christmas Parties EVER.  It was casual, the food was great, I drank a lot of wine, and we all bet on the horses.  I seriously want to make this into a tradition, it was that much fun.

harness racing at Northlands 001We had a small banquet room on the fourth floor with candle lit tables and big windows overlooking the race track.  We were all snug and warm inside and I know some of us were feeling a little guilty about those poor horses and drivers out there in the cold.  It was at least 20 below!  Are they crazy?

I suppose no crazier than the people who show up to watch and place their bets.  This helpful Official Program explained how to play the horses.  I didn’t get much farther than the basic and combination bets of Win, Place and Show.  The rest was (and still is) a lot of racing gobbledygook - Exactor, Triactor, Win-3, Pick-4, Superfecta. I was just happy to say things like “two dollars on 5 in race 8 to place” like I had a clue what I was doing.

There’s all kinds of information on stats and starts, trainers, owners, breeders, handicaps, payouts, purses, and of course the odds.  All a bit mind-boggling for the novice.  So I did what I’m sure most newbies do at these things and picked the names I liked.  Sweet Like Candy, Cinderella Smile, The Sin Bin.  I think Farm Team won me some money!  With two dollar bets it’s not likely I’ll retire on my winnings, but I think I raked in a whopping thirty-four dollars over 12 races. The best I did was having two of my picks place second and third in the same race.   Raging Fingers, I’m a Wildcat and The Missing Sock?  Too good to pass up. A couple of races ended in a photo finish and my “show” bet got bumped to 4th.  Life is full of such great disappointments – I think he would have paid out at a staggering three dollars and change.  Trust The Artist was a big bust, and I should have bet on Sharkalucchi but I didn’t.  And I should NOT have bet on Minettaszoombyyall but I did.  The odds were 15-1 and I don’t know if the horse even showed up for the race, never mind zooming by y’all.

A very popular Champion. Breed:Kaldblodstraver

A very popular Champion. Breed:Kaldblodstraver (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While all this racing hoopla laughter and excitement was going on we were treated to an excellent hot buffet meal, drinks, dessert, and coffee. Meanwhile those poor horses and jockey’s froze their asses off for our entertainment.  We are all suffering from chronic brain freeze tough and hardy Canadians up here, y’all!

I’ve never considered myself much of a gambler, and the VLT’s and slot machines have never been a temptation.  But going back to the races sometime is definitely on my agenda.  Like in the middle of July maybe.  I think I’d rather see a horse sweat than dangle icicles from its nostrils.

As far as Christmas Parties go, I’m rating this one a 10 out of 10.  What are the odds of that happening?  But it has, and even though I’m a little lighter for cash today, I’m happy I got to be a part of it all.

Recipe For A Good Day

Ingredients: (Mix together any old way you want)

Latte wine color

Latte wine color (Photo credit: Majiscup - The Papercup & Sleeve Log)

1 pot coffee brewed from fresh ground beans

1 hot shower including apricot almond (or other) aroma therapy

1 head of hair so short you couldn’t do anything with it if you tried, so don’t even try

1 lazy little dog who is going to sulk and not eat today because he’s been left with you, but that’s okay because he’ll perk up and like you just fine tomorrow

6 or more unread or half-read books and the joy of being able to choose which one you’ll read today

unlimited ice-cold crystal clear water (for yourself and your moody dog)

unlimited brilliant people and things to fire up your imagination right there on your computer screen

12 or more hours of sunny warm weather

1 quiet neighborhood in which to walk a sulking dog

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Test_only.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1 opened bottle of red wine you forgot you had which needs to be used up right away because OMG, what were you thinking, you can’t waste red wine

2 or 3 leftover things in your fridge to go with the wine, no cooking required

Stir in the delicious fact that there’s

- nowhere you have to go

- nothing you have to do

- an entire day ahead of you and all the time you need to get there and to do it.

Enjoy.

Drink Your Spinach and Eat Your Darts

There is a chef boyardee beef ravioli commercial from the seventies in which a father is sitting beside his son, talking to his wife in another room about an up-coming dart tournament,  and telling her he is much too nervous about it to eat a thing.  At the same time he is absent-mindedly forking back his kid’s food.  The voice over suggests that kids aren’t the only ones who love beef ravioli.  His wife comes in and sees what he’s doing, and with some chagrin he says to his son “Eat your darts.  Umm, eat your ravioli.”

Maybe things were funnier in the seventies or maybe we had fewer quality things to laugh at, because for a while after this commercial aired we repeated that ‘eat your darts’ phrase a lot.  Sufficient times to have it stuck somewhere in the recesses of my brain for over thirty years.  Makes me wonder what the hell else is buried in there.

Anyway, it’s what I thought of when I typed ‘drink your spinach’.  Drinking it is a super easy way to choke down some good-for-you green stuff.

In descending order –

frozen berries

plain greek yogurt

baby spinach

one small banana

2 scoops of arbonne vanilla vitamin mineral shake mix

no sugar added 100% antioxia fruit juice (this one is wild berry and pomegranate I think, or cranberry raspberry saskatoon?)

When this is blended its purple and it tastes like a fruit smoothie.

But is disgustingly healthy.

Do some jedi mind tricks on yourself or think about dart tournaments to forget the spinach is in there if you need to.

I like spinach in salads as long as it’s not the main ingredient but I find myself (absent-mindedly) skipping it half the time, so this has become my alternative and relatively painless method of consuming it.

It might not work as well for me if the whole thing turned green.

Cookery Advice for the Cooking Impaired

Timer

Timer (Photo credit: bargainmoose)

All the delightful cooking/baking/recipe-laden posts out there which should have an uplifting and inspirational effect on me are just not doing that.  Instead they’re making me feel mildly despondent and vaguely depressed.  Similar feelings of inadequacy wash over me when I flip through a cookbook full of glossy pictures of perfect end results, supposedly attainable by someone like me.  Of course that ‘someone like me’ would have to be able to follow directions and use the proper ingredients and not take short cuts.  Or suffer from delusions.

There are a few recipe books in my house which I rarely open.  And yet, there are many things I make that are nutritious and edible.  Some of them are even delicious.  People have asked me for my recipes.  Perhaps they were just being kind.  It doesn’t matter.  My point is, you’d think that after over 50 years of doing stuff in a kitchen I’d be a great source of information and have collected a lot of family heirloom type recipes and have a few priceless and wise cooking tips to share.

Well, I’ve let my sister be the keeper of the recipes since I never follow them anyway.  But I do have tips.  All gleaned from my culinary experiences of learning things the hard way.  And not being an expert on something has certainly never stopped me from sharing advice.  So here it is.

1.  Do not change your mind about what you’re making halfway through the process.  Once I was putting together a lazy cabbage rolls concoction in the crock pot and suddenly didn’t feel like eating rice so I left it out and threw in some beans and things instead, hoping to change the whole thing into chili.  The results were interesting.  But hard to describe.

2.  Set the kitchen timer.  Stay within hearing distance of the timer.  Do not second guess the timer.  The timer was invented so that you would be less likely to end up with results which are black – never a good cooking color.

3.  Keep the oven clean.  If you paid for the self-cleaning feature, you really should learn how to use it.  The next thing you bake does not have to smell like a smoky version of the last thing you roasted to death.

4.  Never skimp on wine, regardless of what you’re making.  Be sure to consume a sufficient amount of it.  I’ve found a good ratio to be 1 part recipe to 3 parts self.  An empty bottle should be your ultimate goal.

5.  Serve your guests copious amounts of alcohol before the main course.  And during, and after.  This ups the odds that they will thoroughly enjoy whatever you serve them and have no idea later what it was.

6.  If you are following a recipe, right to the end, good for you!  Just keep in mind that substitution of ingredients should not be based solely on color.  All orange things are not created equal.

7.  Give yourself a break and stop trying to make Aunt Edna’s mustard pickle relish exactly the way she did it.  Try to accept the fact that it is never going to be the same, and you are doomed to failure.  Unless you have some kind of obsessive compulsive glutton for punishment personality disorder, in which case I suppose no one can stop you, so carry on.

8.  If you don’t know how to skin a hazelnut, there is no shame in googling it to find out.  Although perhaps your basic problem has less to do with HOW,  and more to do with WHY you need to know that.

9.  Clean as you go.  This cannot be stressed enough, especially if something monumental like A Big Holiday Dinner is in the works.  The worst cooking experience I ever had was when my kids were small and we invited some other families over for a big meal and it took me all day to prepare everything,  less than half an hour for them to eat it all, and all bloody night to clean up the mess.  So wash things as you use them and put them away.  Especially those sharp knives.

Mongolian Beef with rice and noodles

Mongolian Beef with rice and noodles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

10.  Have fun.  Be creative.  Try new things.  Keep that recycle compost bin ever at the ready.  It can swallow up a lot of failed attempts even when you can’t.  Toss things in a slow cooker and hope for the best.  When all else fails, take-out chinese is just around the corner waiting to soothe your battle weary culinary soul.