Mmmmm Bacteria

Years ago I heard a theory that said if your body needed some particular nutrient, the foods that contained that nutrient would be appealing to you.

I now accept this theory as completely valid. All my life I’ve hated yogurt, the tangy taste would make me want to gag after a couple of spoonfuls. Then I got sick last week, and the doctor prescribed mega-antibiotics.

The antibiotics must have killed every bit of digestive bacteria in my stomach, because it felt like my entire digestive system had just stopped. If I ate something in the late afternoon, I was still trying to digest it the next morning, ugh!

A friend mentioned eating yogurt, which made sense if I could actually keep the stuff down. Amazingly, I found myself enjoying it, the tangy taste which I hated so much suddenly tasted GOOD to me. Of course the real test will be whether or not I go back to hating it in a week or so.

Not Just A Spud

There’s nothing quite as homey, or as easy, as a baked potato. The other day, we just HAPPENED to have all the fixings on hand… potatoes, monterey jack and extra sharp cheese, fresh green onions, and sour cream. After about an hour in the oven, we split them in half, tossed on the grated cheese (which melts almost instantly in the steam) and the chopped green onions, and then the sour cream, either on top or on the side. I guess it’s also just really satisfying when you already have the ingredients on hand and the meal just BEGS to be created – no need to run out to the store for anything, or plan for it another day when you’ve already got the taste for it in your mind. Excluding the hour in the oven, that’s pretty immediate gratification – LOL.

Ignore the Hype

Recent experiences have led us to concoct this equation: the quality of a food experience is inversely proportional to the amount of media hype (even local) that it gets. First case is a local bakery, which shall remain nameless – we finally stopped in there and bought a loaf of their sliced white bread. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this place, mostly in the paper, but the bread itself was almost completely tasteless, and rather substanceless. Didn’t even make good toast when buttered and jammed.

Second case is all the television, radio, etc. ads for California Cheese. All of the cheese we’ve gotten that’s been stamped with the ‘real California cheese’ has been pretty basic. Not bad, but nothing amazing. My feelings on this might be skewed, of course, coming from Upstate New York, where the cheese section in Wegman’s supermarkets is simply amazing – LOL – without advertising. That, and the fact that they always show cows enjoying sunny skies with lush green fields – in many parts of CA the lush green only happens a few months out of the year or with intensive artificial watering everyday, that’s why the phrase, ‘the golden, rolling hills of California’ exists – dead hay/grass for most of the year.

Anyway, I’m taking the time now to notice things that I DON’T see a lot of hype about, and I’ll say that California wines, for example, seem to sell themselves pretty easily just by word of mouth – now THAT’S saying something. 😉

A Different Kind of Banana Bread

Today we stopped into the San Juan Bakery Outlet within Dorothy McNett’s cooking store in Hollister, CA. I picked up a loaf of sliced white (which was actually less expensive than most better brands in the grocery stores) and also splurged on a smaller loaf of banana bread. It’s not the cakey kind of sweet bread like in the Banana Bread Recipe we have, but more like a regular yeast loaf, something about the size and consistency of typical cinammon-raisin bread. The flavor is more subtle than a sweet bread, but it tastes delicious, even the walnuts taste fresh. Definitely something I’d buy again next time I’m feeling extravagant – LOL.

Beef Lime Wraps

It began as an attempt at crossing Fajitas and Enchiladas, an idea which I will pursue some distant day. (Looks wistfully away from the monitor for a moment).

Somewhere along the way, the green peppers I intended to buy vanished. I’m not sure where or when this happened, but they never made it into my car. Next, one of the onions I bought turned out to be bad, really bad. This left me with one onion and two jalapenos, a bulb of garlic, and some boneless beef short ribs I got on sale.

Searching through the kitchen, I began to assemble some of the more interesting flavoring items. I noticed the lime juice in the back of the refrigerator, and was inspired.

I diced up the onion and jalapenos (removing the seeds) and cut the meat into bite sized pieces. The meat far outweighed the veggies, so the fajita angle was completely out. I sauteed the veggies, added the meat, lime juice and some rice wine vinegar. The mixture seemed a bit dry, and I didn’t want the meat to get tough, so I opted for some water and a little flour to make a more gravy like creation. I let it cook for a while and gave it a taste.

It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. It needed a lot more zing. I added the rest of the lime juice, some spices and a packet of beef boullion (No MSG of course). I let it cook a bit longer to blend in the new flavorings, and voila! I had… something.

The final result was very tasty. We decided to try it as a wrap with cheese and sour cream (delicious) but it would have gone very well over noodles too.

The official name is Beef Lime Wraps which is perhaps the most accurate, but I’d like to start giving my creations more imagnative names, like “Poochy”, only not so lame.  Here is the recipe…

Beef Lime Wraps

1 Medium Onion
2 Jalapeno Peppers
1 Clove Garlic
2lbs Boneless Short Ribs (This is what I used, but other cuts of steak would work as well)
6oz Lime Juice
1/4 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Cup Water
1/3 Cup Flour
1/2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 Packet Beef Boullion
1 Salt to taste
6 Medium Flour Tortillas
10 oz Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Sour Cream (optional)

Cut the steak into bite sized pieces, trim away any excess fat.

Mince garlic and put aside.

Finely dice the onion and peppers(remove the seeds) Put the oil in a large saucepan and heat for several minutes. Add onion and peppers, saute’ for 5 minutes then add the garlic and continue to saute for 3 more minutes.

Add beef, lime juice, rice wine vinegar and water to the pan.

Next add flour, cumin, chili powder, beef boullion and salt. Allow mixture to cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once mixture is ready, spoon into tortillas and roll like an enchilada. Top with shredded cheese and microwave for a minute or so to melt the cheese, top with sour cream and enjoy!

From the Google Kitchen

Looks like they’re having a lot of fun with the newish Google Blog, including a post from a Google Cook, Charlie Ayers, with a recipe for Buttermilk Fried Chicken which Elvis apparently loved. As I was glancing through the ingredients list, I noticed that it calls for ‘organic, free-range chickens’ – Go Google!

This reminds of the time I had the opportunity to have lunch with a group of friends at Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond, WA. I wish I could remember exactly what I had, but it’s been a number of years now. Mostly I remember that it was really good, that they had an excellent array (programming pun – heh) of dishes, and it was not typical cafeteria fare at all. Now, if I could just get myself invited to lunch at Google, all will be right with the world. *grin*

To Self-Checkout or Not

I haven’t yet decided if I’m a fan of the Supermarket Self-Checkout or not. I agree with the article in the sense that if you only have a few items, it’s much faster. (The faster you can get that pint of Ben & Jerry’s out of the store, the better!)

When I have more items, however, I have to admit that sometimes the thought of running all of them across the scanner, waiting for verification, and bagging them is just too much work, especially after a long day. On those occasions, I’d rather lean on my cart behind the person in front of me, and amuse myself with tabloid headlines while I wait/rest, and then let someone ELSE do all the work.

Speaking of tabloids… I wonder what kind of impact the self-checkout is having on impulse purchases. For instance, in the one local store that has self-checkouts, there are no impulse items nearby at all – I suppose that’s because there are no clerks around? Hmm.

The Chicken and the Egg

I’ve been slaving over a first post for a few days,
when I realized what I was lacking was a bit of

I began cooking when I was twelve years old. I can remember my Mom
calling from work and asking me to put some chicken in the oven (she
had already prepared it) after school one day. It was the first time
I had ever used the oven, and I was scared to death that I would
burn down the house.

When the chicken came out golden and crispy later, I was hooked. The
next thing I remember learning was scrambled eggs. I learned very
quickly that one of the secrets to great scrambled eggs was to keep
them moving in the pan so that they didn’t just sit in the pan and
cook flat. After that, I quickly became the week day cook at home,
and continued cooking regularly when I moved out on my own.

I started cooking professionally about six years ago. The transition
from “cook at home” to “professional cook” is not an easy one.
Suddenly, you have to plan out a lot of food on a very strict time
table. It’s like planning out a major party on a daily basis.

Many of the techniques I had learned at home were still applicable
though, and I learned even more from a great lady named Georgette
who trained me in those first chaotic weeks. Most of these
techniques are so simple, they usually go unmentioned (like never
flip a burger more than once) yet I know many people who cook
regularly and have never learned them. I’m going to share as many of
these as I can, as we go along here, so those of you who are
experienced cooks/chefs may have to bear with me at times.

I’ll also be sharing my more original recipes, but only after I feel
that they’ve been perfected enough in writing to reproduce them

Mmmm… Cicadas…

Oddly enough, although we have a large number of little black and white food-type icons like the microwave to the left, none of them are BUGS for some reason… Cicadas Take Menus By Storm – “‘Not much of a taste,’ she admits. ‘A bit like overcooked beans, but very crunchy.'”

Ham That Am Ham… in Bed

Brooklyn Cheese Artist Makes Bed of Ham – It’s always weird to me when people use food as an art medium but not as something to be eaten. On the other hand, I can also see a lot of people, after seeing this installation, unconsciously looking for new bed comforters in ‘ham pink’. *grin*