« Flying While Male? | Main | Dennis the Peasant Nails It »

January 20, 2010

Snarky Words of Wisdom...

...from Little Miss Attila:

... cooking can be a lot of fun if one simply throws out the recipes and stops obsessing about what ingredients one might have forgotten this time, and why it isn’t as good as it was last time—or what exactly made it better.

Experiences are much funner when one tries to step into the moment a bit, rather than having meta-experiences all over the place.

I shall write that down, and remember it for next time: Try to have real experiences, rather than meta-experiences.

In the kitchen, I'm a big improviser. Recipes are just starting points for experimentation - I can't think of the last time I followed a recipe exactly. But it's more common for me not to start with a recipe at all. Most of my 'signature dishes' are ones where the recipe is in my head.

I like lentils too, but I usually make lentil soup with a ham bone or ham hock, some cumin, finely diced onions and tomatoes, a hint - not too much! - of garlic, and a generous dash of cayenne pepper. It should have a slight bite but not be too spicy.

I remember when every good Southern grocery store had plenty of ham hocks. When we were first married and couldn't afford meat every day I used them to make split pea soup, lentil soup, potato and bean soups. I think I've even put them in collard greens or kale a time or two. Now they're a "gourmet" item (when I can find them) and nearly as expensive as real ham.

*sigh*

Posted by Cassandra at January 20, 2010 08:27 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.villainouscompany.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/3504

Comments

One of my best dishes was an experiment. Two chicken breasts, sliced open. Stuff a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss inside. Put them in a pan. A slice of Swiss over each, drizzle with white wine Worcestershire sauce, bake at 350 till done.

It was tasty.

Posted by: MikeD at January 20, 2010 08:56 AM

All there is to cooking is learning, from experience or from recipes, what the basic ingredients are that make for tasty food. After that, it's playtime. :)

Posted by: Grim at January 20, 2010 09:30 AM

Recipes? We don't need no stinkin' recipes! :-o

Posted by: JHD at January 20, 2010 10:29 AM

The LG often tries new recipes she sees in magazines, TV, cookbooks. But by the time she's done futzing with it she's changed half the recipe.

She often asks me if I like it enough for her to make it again.

I often respond with "Yes, if that's even possible." :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at January 20, 2010 10:31 AM

All there is to cooking is learning, from experience or from recipes, what the basic ingredients are that make for tasty food. After that, it's playtime. :)

In my experience, Grim, if you go with some form of meat, cheese, and bread you can't go too wrong.

Posted by: MikeD at January 20, 2010 10:45 AM

My father was a great cook, and never used recipes. I improvise a bit, and I have about a half-dozen favorite dishes that have no real recipe.

I tend stick to a recipe when I know I've got something good, but that doesn't mean you always prepare it exactly the same. Cooking really IS an art--the variations of flavor and quality in a single ingredient mean it's never the same and you always have to adjust for what's in front of you that day.

Which is very sad, because if I go without really cooking for too long it can take weeks/months to get it right again. :P

Posted by: FbL at January 20, 2010 10:52 AM

Which is very sad, because if I go without really cooking for too long it can take weeks/months to get it right again. :P

Boy Howdy, how I wish that were even possible. Then maybe I could get the red pepper outa' my nose and smell again! :-o

I'm making linguica. Want some? ;-)

Posted by: JHD at January 20, 2010 11:01 AM

Then maybe I could get the red pepper outa' my nose and smell again!

Well, don't over-season everything, then! ;)

Posted by: FbL at January 20, 2010 11:35 AM

It's accumulatin' I tell ya'. There's a whole lot of accumulatin' goin' on round heah!

Posted by: JHD at January 20, 2010 12:04 PM

My impression was that an accumulation of red pepper would tend to clear one's nose. At least, I believe that's how it works in Basic Training.

Posted by: Grim at January 20, 2010 02:02 PM

Indeed, it removes mucous you didn't know you even had.

But I suppose if you shoved slices of bell pepper up your nose, that would clog it up. Why you'd be doing that is beyond me.

Posted by: MikeD at January 20, 2010 02:58 PM

I'm still trying to grok over-season...

I mean, isn't one of the 1001 uses for beer to modulate the effects of seasoning?

Posted by: bthun at January 20, 2010 03:05 PM

Naw, that would be ale bthun! heh!

If you inhale red pepper over a period of say... 40 years, the whole tear duct/running nose thing becomes passe'.

And yeah, I can think of better uses for bell peppers! ruh-roh! :-o

Posted by: JHD at January 20, 2010 03:30 PM

Yeah, but mazola oil makes them slimy and they get lost in the whipped cream.

Posted by: DL Sly at January 20, 2010 03:49 PM

Oh, gross!

This thread started off so promising... :P

Posted by: FbL at January 20, 2010 06:16 PM

Thanks, Cass. I've been using, as flavoring agents,
1) salt pork;
2) leftover T-bones from steak (yeah, they freeze);
3) some leftover turkey bones.

And, yes: I just snagged some tomato paste, so I can take the next bean or lentil soup in a different direction.

Posted by: Little Miss Attila at January 22, 2010 08:16 AM

Thanks, Cass. I've been using, as flavoring agents,
1) salt pork;
2) leftover T-bones from steak (yeah, they freeze);
3) some leftover turkey bones.

My mother is a big believer in bacon fat. She saves it every time she makes bacon (which is about every Sunday). I've seen her use it to make Yorkshire Puddings, on her turkey, on the outside of baked potatoes... all kinds of uses.

Posted by: MikeD at January 22, 2010 12:24 PM

And bacon fat and drippings work real well when assembling ingredients to throw into venison burgers, venison being, virtually, fat free.

Hmmm... *heads down to mongo-big freezer in basement, as if in a trance*

Posted by: bthun at January 22, 2010 12:41 PM

I still use bacon or sausage drippings in certain dishes. Some people like to use chicken bullion as a fat free alternative but there is really no substitute.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 22, 2010 01:43 PM

I still remember my mother's first attempt at making Manhattan clam chowder from scratch.

She had no idea what "cayenne" was, but figured if the recipe decided a teaspoon of it was good enough for two quarts of soup, then a tablespoon of it was even better.

And *four* tablespoons should've made it superb.

That was the first time I ever realized saltine crackers were *useful*...

Posted by: BillT at January 23, 2010 11:46 AM

Post a comment

To reduce comment spam, comments on older posts are put into moderation 5 days after the last activity. Comments with more than one link also go into moderation. If you don't see your comment after posting it, try refreshing the screen. If you still don't see it, your comment is probably in the moderation queue.




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)