So - watcha doing?

Well, I have tons of half finished entries and a serious lack of time. After giving me my dream schedule for a whole two weeks, my manager asked me to switch to one that would work better for the other person in my department – effectively killing a new series of columns I was going to write. Damn damn damn.

Next, I have been working on my garden. A friend of a friend called me up last February and said, “Will you help me plant a garden this spring? My yard looks really empty. I think it’s a nesting instinct or something.” I will tell you, starting a garden from scratch is one of those things – that if you knew just how much work it was going to involve – you would just as soon tell the person who suggested the idea to go to hell. Being ignorant, I said, “Sure!”

How much work was it you ask? Well, let’s just say that when I had to get a hatchet to take out the 5” diameter tree roots, I knew I was in over my head.

Now that all the prep work has been done, it’s not too bad. I planted green beans, hot pepper plants, tomatoes, herbs, spinach and a few more misc. tasty treats. I just finished pulling up radishes. They are good – but I want tomatoes now dammit!! Salsa, fried egg and tomato sandwiches – hell, just fresh off the vine. Who do I have to kill for a ripe tomato!!??

Here is a picture of some of my plants – exciting isn’t it?! They are all...ummm….green and stuff…

So while I have been “working hard”, I do still find time to read other people’s blogs. My favorite post of late is on Cuban Bread from Raspil over at Bluecad. I am sorry that her archive of posts recently disappeared - as she had some great step by step instructions on things like veal stock and ummmm – how to make porn bread - and a lot of other interesting things.

Another bit of interesting news and then I will let you go back to wandering the net aimlessly - I recently auctioned off my chocolate cheesecake for the March of Dimes fundraiser at work. My cake has become legendary among the staff and a bidding war ensued. The final tally: Forty greenback to help ‘lil tiny babies. The gal who lost out at the last minute was kinda upset at being outbid, so I told her I would make her one too, provided she matched the winning bid. So forty more dollars for the lil babies!! Overall - our staff of 22 people raised just over $2,000.00. Sorry there isn’t a picture of the cheesecake, but they disappeared in less time than it took me to make them. Next year, I will hire guards to keep the pack of hungry scavengers at bay until I can get my camera out!

So cross your fingers for me - I want to make some tasty food for my buddies this weekend. I just invested in an electric griddle and the world has become a cornicopia of wonderful junk food I can make for my friends ...


Triple Threat - TSIR #2

I recently met a gentleman who was appalled that I had eaten very little from my ethnic food background when growing up. My mother was of Polish decent and my father’s family was German. However, most of the foods that I ate were very middle of the road “American”. Bean soup, meatloaf, pot roast, liver and onions…you know, all the stuff that most people eat every time they pull their chair up to the dinner table. (Well maybe not the liver – I hated the liver, but loved the gravy…but more on that another time…)

By and large, traditional American cooking uses ginger, cinnamon and anise as “sweet” spices. Cookies, cakes and breads – they reflect a certain Northern European sensibility that demands that every spice be kept in it proper place. My house was no different. My mom would have blanched at using cinnamon in a meat sauce or allspice in a barbeque rub… Those spices are for sweet stuff! Heresy!

I will never forget the first time I had cinnamon is a savory dish. When I was a kid, I accidentally grabbed a tin of cinnamon out of the cupboard and sprinkled it over my over easy eggs instead of black pepper. The rule in my house was - you make it, you eat it. With Mom standing over my shoulder, I had to follow the rule. It was freakin’ nasty. I do not recommend it.

Since I have moved out into the wide world, my palate has expanded quite a bit. Indian, Ethiopian, Moroccan – you name it, I like eating it. And being the culinary heretic that I am, the use of “sweet” spices in a savory dish doesn’t bother me in the least. Sorry Mom!

So that being said, my pick for TSIR #2: Sweet or Savory is Cinnamon Beef. I had this dish in Vegas a few years ago, and fell in love with the flavor combination. It is a variation on a “red-cooked” dish from China that combines cinnamon, ginger and anise (“sweet” spices from my childhood) with soy sauce, chilies, garlic and onion to make a melting rich meat sauce to be served over noodles topped with sautéed spinach. Every so often I get an immense craving for the dish. This time, Barbara woke up my taste buds when she posted this event. All I could think of was this dish – yummy! Thanks Barabara!

So here you have it: Cinnamon Beef. The best thing about this dish is that it tastes better every time you heat it up. It freezes well too – if you have any left!

Cinnamon Beef Noodles

6 Servings

1 teaspoon safflower or corn oil

Chile-Cinnamon Seasonings:

6 scallions, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch sections, and smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife

6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed lightly with the flat side of a cleaver, and thinly sliced

4 slices fresh ginger (about the size of a quarter), smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife

1 1/2 teaspoons hot chile paste

2 cinnamon sticks

1 small piece star anise

8 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 pounds chuck or beef stew meat, trimmed of fat and gristle, and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

10-ounces spinach, trimmed, rinsed, and drained

1/2 pound flat Chinese wheat-flour noodles, udon, or other flat noodles, such as fettuccine, cooked until just tender, rinsed under warm water, and drained

3 tablespoons minced scallions

1. Heat a large pot or casserole over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat until hot, about 30 seconds. Add the chile-cinnamon seasonings and stir-fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the water and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Add the beef and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until the beef is very tender. Skim the surface to remove any impurities or fat. Remove the ginger slices, anise and cinnamon sticks and discard. Sauté spinach briefly in a small amount of oil with some garlic, until wilted.

2. Divide the noodles among six soup bowls. Ladle the meat and broth over the noodles and top with the sautéed spinach. Sprinkle with the scallions. Serve.


I've been canonized!

A lady customer told my boss that I was a saint. I think she mistook exhaustion for patience and understanding. I just stared and smiled the whole fourty five minutes I was dealing with her - as coma patients often will. The weekend cannot get here fast enough...

BTW I got roped into having a home decorating party - don't think I mentioned that before - if I did, sorry. The gals from work and I are going to drink sangria and look at craptastic crap made in China. It looks like the stuff my elderly aunt used to have in her house. I am going to ask the sales lady if they have any display cases for my
Hellraiser figures. I think I will bring them for show and tell. There - take that, you blackmailing bitch! I think I am going to have a hangover this Sunday morning too.

Dinner last night? Long John Silver's. I've hit the bottom of the barrel. Did I eat it? Hell yes. There is some tasty stuff in the bottom of that barrel.

Bitch bitch bitch, moan moan moan.
Yes I do feel better. Thank you.


Me? Busy? Nah...

So it is now Wednesday Morning - I have 27 hours racked up at work as of 8pm last night. While my paycheck will look great, it means I have been eating whatever can come out of the fridge and into my mouth with a minimum of effort. Yummmmmm leftover roast beef sandwiches...

IMBB - what's that? Oh yeah - another opportunity missed dammit.

With any luck, I will be footloose and fancy free this coming Friday so I can tempt you with my favorite foods...

And a big thanks to fluffygurl for saying I was one of her favorite food blogs.

See ya all later!