Tag Archives: garlic

Guacamole For Dummies

 

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This morning before I got out of bed I solemnly promised myself that I would answer the WordPress Daily Post prompt, no matter what it might be or how much I didn’t feel like it.  Unfortunately for whoever might be reading this, here it is.

(Your Thing) For Dummies:  Take a complicated subject you know more about than most people, and explain it to a friend who knows nothing about it at all.

So would you really like to hear all about fitting eyeglasses and contact lenses, doing follow-up adjustments and appointments and assessments?  I didn’t think so.  All you need to know about all of that stuff, really, is to take your problems to a professional.  Don’t do your own adjustments.  Don’t put your glasses in a microwave, a dog’s mouth, or under a moving truck.  When your contact lenses are uncomfortable, get them the hell out of your eyes.  If your glasses don’t sit all perfectly balanced on a flat surface, but look okay on your face, ask yourself if your head is a flat surface.  Then just get on with your day.

My second thought was to explain my artistic process, but the big thing there seems to be how I’m very good at ruining a lot of clothes and desk tops and floors with paint and glue.  And you probably know better than I do how to avoid all of these things already.  If you don’t, I’m sorry, I can’t help you.

Guacamole, on the other hand, is something I can talk about and I guarantee you will learn a couple of new things, even if you think you already know absolutely everything there is to know on the subject.  I’m still in the learning stages myself, but I know there is perfect guacamole out there somewhere, just waiting for me to discover it.

Here are the secrets I have uncovered so far.

1.  Three cloves of garlic for three avocados is probably too much garlic.  Just because you peeled that many does not mean you should use all of them at once.  Your first clue would be how your fridge smells after placing the guacamole inside it in a sealed container, and still being knocked over backwards by the overpowering garlic odor whenever you open the fridge door.

2.  When they say roma tomatoes, they mean tomatoes that aren’t excessively juicy.  Ordinary tomatoes will work if you scoop out all the juicy insides and pat what’s left dry on a paper towel before chopping them up.

3.  The fact that you seem to remember the recipe calling for the juice of half a lime may annoy you.  Or maybe that’s just me.  Anyway, it always seems like such a waste to squeeze out the juice and throw the rest away.  And then there’s that other half of the lime which slowly shrivels up and dies before you can think of something else to do with it.  I’m talking about big limes.  If the lime is tiny, go ahead and juice the whole thing.  However, if you are ever inclined to just throw the entire gigantic peeled lime into your food processor with the chopped onions and garlic, AVOID THE TEMPTATION.  Yes, I am yelling at you.  This is not a good idea unless you want your guacamole to taste like really bad after shave.

4.  If you ignored my warning and did use the entire lime, throwing a bit of sweetener in after the fact to cut the bitterness of the lime will make your guacamole edible.  That’s it.  Delicious is just not going to happen.

5.  If all else fails (and in my case this is always a possibility) print a recipe off the internet and FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS.  Now I’m just yelling at myself.

I sincerely hope this has been helpful advice for the guacamole impaired.  Anything else you need to know, just ask.  Or Wikipedia is also helpful.  I’m not pretending to know everything.  Or anything really.  So, yeah.  You may now get on with your day.

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Last Supper Last Night

imageDo you know how many vegetables you can hide in lasagna?  Many, many…is the correct answer.  I used to make things like this all the time so that my kids wouldn’t die from malnutrition and so that I didn’t have to listen to their long litany of lists of vegetables they didn’t like.  Turnips, for instance.  My mother in law once cooked us a liver and onion and turnip meal which my daughter described as a child’s nightmare supper.  I thought it was delicious.  My kids did not inherit my taste buds.  They had to develop them, with a little help from their devious mother.  Now of course there is no need to disguise these gorgeous vegetables but I continue to do it anyway just because I can.

Come to think of it, this also works well for spouses who still think the only vegetables worth preparing are canned kernel corn and mashed potatoes.   Yes, I married one of those.  Now he eats a much wider variety than he knows or even suspects.  Spaghetti sauce and chile and cream soups are other clever places to load up with vegetables.

But yesterday it was a New Years Eve lasagna surprise that satisfied my creative vegetable hiding urges.  There’s white onion and garlic cloves in the chopper, with yellow, red, and green peppers, celery, zucchini and bok choi waiting their turn.  Sometimes I add a carrot or a parsnip.  Really, just about anything goes.

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Because this is what it looks like simmering away in browned lean ground beef and a jar of chunky vegetable tomato sauce.  I call this death by vegetables.  I don’t really, but this picture makes it look like it a big pot of God only knows what.  At this stage I added some vegetable and roasted red pepper seasoning and salt and pepper.

Okay!  I use the oven ready noodles that don’t have to be boiled.  I can’t find them in gluten-free but I figure all that other good stuff cancels out their badness.  I am very skilled at rationalization when it suits me.  One layer of the lasagna is beaten eggs mixed with cottage (or ricotta) cheese and lots of chopped spinach.  I buy big bags of fresh spinach and freeze them.  The frozen spinach is easy to crush and crumble so it takes up less space and works great in smoothies.  Or in any kind of hidden vegetable concoction.

I think the layers went something like this.  Sauce, noodles, cottage cheese mixture, noodles, sauce, Parmesan cheese, noodles, sauce, two full bags of grated Italian mix cheese (mostly mozzarella). This of course makes a pan so close to over flowing that you have to rummage around for a big cookie sheet to place it on when you bake it (covered with foil at 350 for about an hour) because otherwise it will bubble over and then you’ll have to clean your oven, and nobody wants that.

I have a recipe for lasagna that substitutes steamed cabbage leaves for the noodles.  Doesn’t that sound amazing?  One gigantic unrolled cabbage roll!  But that’s a bit too much of an experiment if you’re having company, even for me.  I’ll save it for W, even though I know already he’ll be less than impressed.  Unless I throw in a can of corn.

I used the broiler to brown the cheese.  There’s nothing like hot bubbly browned cheese to camouflage whatever disaster lurks beneath.

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Of course I didn’t take a picture of the uncut perfection and of course mine was the only slice that fell to pieces on the plate.  The salad came from a bag and included cranberries and pumpkin seeds and some other strange but delicious green things.

There was enough left over for our daughter to take home (and possibly feed her dog for a week).  But it was pretty good, so the dog might be out of luck.

It was a good last supper for the last day of last year.  Today I’m going to use my homemade chicken stock and make my first vegetable soup of 2015.  It may or may not contain turnips.  No one but me will ever know.

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.

If It’s Too Healthy, I Can Fix That

A salad platter.
A salad platter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I try to watch what I eat.  I read labels for sugar and salt and chemical content.  I rarely buy things that have the nutritional value of cardboard, even though they probably taste amazing.  I try to get enough protein.  And anti-oxidants and vitamin C and calcium and all those other healthy things that are supposed to keep you alive and kicking.

On days that I work I take a salad with me for lunch.  This started several months ago, and frankly no one is more surprised than me that I’ve kept it up for so long. Some days I’m more creative than others.  It depends on how much chopping time I’ve allowed myself and what kinds of things are in my crisper.  I’ve become really tired of peppers so I’ve taken a break from them, but celery, carrots, red cabbage, spinach, romaine, green onions, tomatoes – all these things have become staples.  I add chopped hard-cooked eggs, tuna, ham, crumbled bacon, leftover meat or cheese.  Then there’s all the salad dressings and salad toppings and nuts and seeds to choose from, and voila – it rarely gets boring.

However, as with any healthy food choice regimen, it’s pretty easy to stray off the straight and narrow, a bit at a time until you’re deluding yourself that it’s all good.  Like yesterday, for instance.  In my fridge I’m down to lettuce, carrots, celery and toppings.  (Yes, I need to go shopping.)  I made ranch dressing with Epicure spices, plain greek yogurt and a dollop of mayo.  None of that is bad, but before I ate the salad I threw in half a bag of garlic ginger wonton strips.  When the salad was gone and there was still dressing left over, I used it as a dip for the rest of the strips.  It was just like chips and dip minus the guilt.  Until the entire bag of salad toppings, which should have lasted through several salads, was empty.  And I was full.  Of mostly wontons.

The santa fe tortilla strips don’t even need dip, they’re that good all on their own.  Never mind how I know that.

What got me started on all this was finding a recipe in amongst my piles of papers that need to be sorted, even though I wasn’t sorting at all and merely moving them from one location to another.  It’s a recipe for creamy potato soup which I used to make all the time until I realized it’s full of POTATOES and carbs and starch and butter and flour and other deadly things.  And begs for thick slices of garlic bread on the side.

But just in case there’s anyone out there who would like a shorter life and a hearty soup that’s truly delicious, here’s the recipe. 

In a dutch oven combine 10 medium potatoes, 2 carrots, 4 celery stalks, one onion, (all vegetables chopped),  1 crushed garlic clove, salt and pepper, 3 cups of chicken broth and water to cover.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until vegetables are tender.

In another pot, melt 3/4 cup butter, add 1 tsp salt, 3/4 cup flour.  Make a smooth paste and bring to a boil.  Add 4 cups milk, stir and cook until smooth, add to soup.  Cook until thickened.

Serve with bacon bits, chopped green onion and shredded cheddar cheese.  (But no wonton or tortilla strips please.  We have to draw the line somewhere.)

Forever Food

One meal only for the rest of my life? The same meal over and over forever and ever? Does this mean I would never have to eat cucumbers EVER AGAIN? ALL RIGHT!

I think I could live with my version of a Cobb Salad for many moons. iceberg lettuce, romaine, watercress, spinach, arugula, buttercrunch; spread on a gigantic dinner plate. Chopped hard-cooked eggs, crumbled bacon, shredded cheese, diced carrots, chopped celery, slices of chicken or turkey breast, tomatoes, mushrooms, red onions, green onions, peppers, broccoli and cauliflower, creamy ranch dressing on the side. A slice of garlic cheese toast. Ice water. Black Coffee. Yogurt with nuts and berries for dessert.

Sounds disgustingly healthy. I could live for a long time.

I would really miss a grilled steak every once in a while though, with a baked potato slathered in butter and sour cream. Throw those in there somewhere too, please. No one wants to live forever.

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