While everyone is watching the Olympics…

…I am pondering what to select from my short, but sweet, menu.  There is no TV in the household where I live so, luckily, I am not distracted by those darn Olympics!  Phew!  This gives me TONS of time to work on my food preparation skills.

Inspired by my inability to watch the Olympics, I have decided to provide a very tasty recipe that, if I were to own a TV, I would be enjoying at this very moment.  There’s no sense in keeping it all to myself, especially when it could be used as a delightful Olympic snack for all the folks fortunate enough to have cable.  I call it the “Greenwich,” not to be confused with the district in London.  It’s an excellent sandwich, with a very green hue to it.

Ingredients for 1 Greenwich:

2 slices of Dave’s Killer Bread, Good Seed (mmmm.)

1 medium avocado (depending on how much you adore avocado)

1 tomato

1 strip of Black Forest Bacon (also, depending on your love of bacon)

Condiments, which can be flexible, but these do taste quite nice together:

Mayonnaise

Mustard

Salt and Pepper

I think sandwich-making is fairly popular, so I’m not going to teach you how to put 2 pieces of bread together, but I will tell you about how to make it a Greenwich.  Número uno, I like to spread about 1 tbsp of mayonnaise and mustard on each slice of bread.  Of course, a little more, or a little less won’t hurt, so don’t worry if your taste buds are different from mine.  The avocado is the real star of the sandwich, anyway.  Then, I like to cook the bacon in a wee bit of canola oil until a slight crispness.  It helps to cook the bacon a couple of minutes before you put it on the sandwich, because it will turn into an unappealing green mess, if you place it on the avocado hot and greasy.  This means, you need to pat the bacon dry, as well.  Good idea, believe me…  Now, back to the green part of it.  I find that the sandwich tastes best when the avocado is sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces.  This should be thick enough, so you can actually taste the avocado in all of its glory.  I then season with salt and pepper and add to the bread.  It’s tomato time!  Yes!  Cut one slice of tomato and layer it on.  Last, but certainly not least, I cut the bacon into about 2-inch long strips and complete the Greenwich.  Mmm.  It is certainly not the first avocado sandwich ever made, but it’s simple and delicious.  Perfect for watching international athletes compete against each other.  Enjoy!

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Redesign the Hot Dog!

Hot Dog
Fair warning this is a food rant! A group of intelligent pediatricians pooled their brain matter together to push for the redesign of the hot dog. This is big news today as it made the nightly national news on every broadcast. To be fair, they exposed the hot dog as a choking threat and asked for food labeling, recalls, a choking incident reporting system and more.

It appears that this announcement must mean that we are getting dumber as a society. An advertising campaign with stimulus money should be started to tell us not to let our children play with fire, don’t leave babies on the floor with a rottweiler, and whatever you do don’t feed your young child a hot dog. I know we have to get a license before we drive but there is no such requirement for being a parent. However, if we pause a moment and use some common sense all our young infants might be safer. Continue reading

This is where the magic happens…

The Prep Area

The Prep Area

I’m not sure my cooking can be qualified as “magical” quite yet, but this is where I spend my time trying to figure out what items are actually usable for making a decent meal, sometimes better than decent.  I find something new about the kitchen every time I use it, like another knob is broken, or the sink is leaking…I can’t complain, though, with colors like that I’m hardly ever gloomy when cooking.  There may have been some sort of strategy involved in the paint selection…It’s not like it rains often in Portland or anything…

The Infamous Stove

The Beloved Stove

Here it is, the lovely stove that provides 95% of our meals.  The other 5% is due to our occasional sandwich making.  This adds a very minor bit of variety to our menu.  Sometimes we go all out, and have ourselves some cereal!

Despite its flaws, I do enjoy the effort and adversity involved with this kitchen, and I’m sure I will miss the unique quality of it when I move on.  Who needs working appliances anyway?!

Pasta à la Portland

Pasta has become our favorite dish here.  No competition, so far…  I’m not sure if it’s because it’s affordable, or because it’s good, or maybe because it’s quick,  but we do have a nice recipe that we have played around with on a couple of rainy nights.  When I say a couple of nights, I mean most, so we eat this pasta quite frequently.  Since there are plenty of great chefs, I’m sure it could be transformed into an even more magnificent meal.  This is what we’ve come up with:

1 Box of Fusilli noodles

1 Jar of Cabernet Marinara (we’ve also used Garlic, Garlic, Garlic sauce, as well)

1 Anaheim Pepper, chopped finely

1 Yellow Squash, sliced

1 Zucchini, sliced

LOTS OF GARLIC, minced (3 cloves, usually)

6-8 Crimini Mushrooms, sliced

These are the ingredients that we use most often for our almost-famous pasta.  We sauté the squash, zucchini, garlic, pepper, and mushrooms together over enough olive oil to coat the pan.  We haven’t used one of those fancy non-stick pans yet, so we have to keep the pan well coated.  When the noodles are about 5 minutes from al dente, we add the pasta sauce to the vegetables, and hope we don’t overcook them.  Luckily, no vegetables have been lost to that dreadful soggy threat.  Our final step is to pour the marinara-vegetable mix over our fun spiral noodles, and then top it off with freshly shredded Mozzarella or Parmesan.  We make pretty large portions here, so we have some nice lunch options for a couple of days.  Since we don’t have an oven (that works), toaster, or microwave, we have found that heating our pasta in a small saucepan with a little bit of olive oil works just fine.  This method probably isn’t the best for our arteries, but one day, just maybe, we might have another heating device.  Well, this is a tasty pasta combination and we sure do enjoy it here, but suggestions are always helpful…for reasons I’m sure you’ve gathered by now…

Living in Portland, learning to cook…

2010 will be a year of  new experiences.  So far, I’ve started with cooking.  I graduated from school and set flight to Portland, OR.  I’m trying to become a liberated chef, now that I don’t have the luxury of family cooking.  Luckily, I’ve moved to a city that encourages culinary creativity and the house that I’m living at now has definitely given me the opportunity to be…creative.  I’m working with a 100-year-old kitchen, so things get a little interesting.  The oven doesn’t work at the moment, so I’m mastering the skills of:  Stove Top Cooking on a Budget 101.  The knobs are tricky little things that don’t have any guide for the level of heat, so part of the fun is paying attention to the flame intensity.  I’ve been primarily using recipes from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.  It works wonders with my novice level of cooking.  The cookbook categorizes recipes by genre of food, i.e. meat, poultry, pasta etc.  This makes it easy to pinpoint exactly what I’m craving.  My favorite part is the little red highlight next to the title of the recipe that says “FAST.”  I’m not at the level of making 1+ hour dishes yet, especially because that usually requires going over my budget.  I’ve made lots of stir fry and pasta dishes.  I can cook noodles like nobody’s business!  To save money, I usually use less meat and more vegetables.  We are a plant-loving household, so this is no problem at all!  I’m still trying to conquer the art of cooking vegetables, but each day gets a little tastier…Now, I’m off to bicycle to the convenient Whole Foods around the corner for my next savory pursuit!

Have you tried Quinoa?

We were walking through the aisles of Costco in December when I saw a bag that looked like couscous. Upon closer inspection the bag said it was Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah). It appears to be a grain, but is not. It is an ancient food from the South American Andes. The ancient Incas called it the mother grain. It is the seed of the Chenopodium or Goosefoot plant with high nutritional properties. The quinoa seed is high in protein, calcium and iron, a source of vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. It contains a balance of all eight essential amino acids making it a complete protein. It is exceptionally high in lysine, cystine and methionine-amino acids. Additional information can be found here or google it yourself.

The package had sat on the shelf through the holidays waiting for a try in our kitchen. Last night we tested it out instead of having couscous or a rice to balance the rest of the plate. Preparation was simple with 1 cup of Quinoa to 2 cups of water ratio. I added 1 onion (diced and sauteed), 1/4 cup of Parmesan, olive oil, tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste. We were satisfied with the flavor and consistency. I still prefer couscous, but you can’t beat the nutritional benefits here.

Give it a try this year and tell us what you think.

My New Years Eve Meal

Happy New Years to All

Champagne

New Years Eve I had a dinner for 8.  It was tied into playing bridge and seeing the new year in at midnight.  We started with appetizers, a light salad  followed by the entrée. Bridge play continued for about 90 minutes culminating with a delicious crepes Grand Marnier .   Oh and yes again more bridge and champagne as the ball dropped. The evening just flew by with our friends as the year 2009 did.

The one thing I learned in preparing this meal was how to make the wonderful Parmesan wafers you get with special salads. I had tried before and never got the balance of cheese and flour correct.  The recipe will be in Miscellaneous on the website.  Watch for them and I will provide the link here once it is posted.