Saturday, November 10, 2018

Sometimes I strike out

The downside to trying new dishes and recipes is, sometime the results aren't that great. Oh, not just the smoking mess that leaves everyone having a great time... at the Mexican restaurant. No, there are the dishes that are okay, but not great. Or not to some folk's taste.

For example, I made a tagine with beef, oranges, beets, orange blossom water, and pistachios. Involved thing, took plenty of work. And the results? Really don't care for it. At all. Some of the guests liked it, some didn't. Scratch that one off the do-again menu.

Since I couldn't find beets that were just the roots, I had a grocery bag full of beet greens. So I pulled out the Indian Home Cooking recipe book, and made saag paneer from scratch.

Peter liked it. As for me, well, I took about three bites, and found it too highly spiced.

Not spicy, not too hot, just... look, the dish called for frying 7 whole cloves, 7 green cardamom pods, and a bunch of cumin and fennel seeds, along with dried red peppers, in ghee before adding the greens. And when I bit into the greens, my stomach said "This is too high a density of spice to digest. Go get something bland, or you're really going to regret this in a few hours."

...then again, Peter grew up with Indian cooking. I did not. *sigh*

So, no recipe this week, either.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Unplugged

My love and I both spend too much time staring at computer screens. whether it's with his blogging and writing, or my Day Job, much less any writing, blog reading, or other. So this afternoon, we went for a date that involved views more than a thousand yards out.

Horseshoe Bend Cellars is a very new winery just outside Wichita Falls, TX, and they're making mostly sweet wines, a few dry wines, a couple meads, and two chocolate wine sauces (milk and dark chocolate). They bill the vineyard & tasting room as a great date-night destination, and I have to agree, in good weather it really is. We tried a tasting menu (two, actually, so at 4 samples each, we could cover all the wines we were interested in), and then purchased two bottles of wine, a bottle of chocolate wine sauce, and a very nice meat and cheese plate. They gave us two glasses and a pouring spout for the bottle, and brought the meat and cheese tray after we'd settled in on the deck.

Then we sat upstairs on the deck, and watched the sunset turn all the land golden to match the changing colours of the mesquite in fall. The deck has comfortable chairs and a couch, nice low tables, and is high enough that even the most ambitious mosquitoes didn't bother to come that high. (There were a number of flies, which is why they provide a wire serving dome for your meat & cheese tray) The sky and land were truly beautiful, the silence golden, and broken only by the "pew! pew!" of one neighbor shooting a .22. Okay, and the lowing muh-ooooooo! of bovine commentary upon life, the universe, and where's my food.

Very Texas winery experience. 

And then we crashed the rest of the gang finishing dinner at a Tiny Town eatery, and had appetizers and chatted until it was time to part ways well after full dark had fallen.

Life is good!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Yeah, they've been there...

Today, OldNFO and LawDog conspired with my husband to move my brand-new-to-me couch from its last owner into the house. (Yay for friends!)

I thought, how can I thank them for this? If you think my answer involved food, well, you may know a thing or two about me. I pulled out my tagines & couscous recipe book, and went on an ingredient acquisition run.

Knowing all three gentlemen have spent time in various souks, I figured a lovely warm Moroccan dish that's well out of the ordinary for North Texas was in order, and made a spicy chicken tagine with apricots, rosemary, and ginger.

The one major change: I substituted "Two red chiles, seeded and diced" with one poblano, seeded and diced, and a diced red bell pepper (for the right colour.) I know what pain "two red chiles" can bring, and I'm eating this dish, too!

In retrospect, I think I could have kicked it up to a jalapeno from a poblano, because the honey in the dish does cut the fire quite a bit. On the other hand, nobody was complaining about how mild it was.

Commentary included "I haven't had this dish in years... and hey, I can identify the meat this time!" and horror stories about being in a souk with neither peptobismol nor tums, and eating fish coated with harissa paste anyway.

Then I made what might have been a tactical error - I showed the guys the recipe book, with my bookmarks for "things I want to try" still in. One tagine I had put off for later, due to the amount of work involved, is a beef tagine with beets and oranges. Apparently it's very tasty, nobody can remember the in-country, non-translated name, but they can all point at the photo and go "That one! Delicious! Great winter food!"

...well, then, guess I know what I need to make for group dinner as it turns colder!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Paella spiced fish bake

My dear darling man speaks something like 7 languages. None of them are Spanish. After seeing the word "paella" written down, he hasn't been able to pronounce it since. However, he agrees that the dish itself is very tasty!

As for what goes in a paella, well, mi mama taught me that the answer is "Whatever meat you've got." She was very used to lots of seafood, but when she made it for us several hundred miles from the nearest ocean, it was chicken (Although she explained rabbit would be perfectly in keeping with the dish, but we neither kept domestic rabbits nor were great and mighty hunters. I think the cats got more rabbits than us kids did!)

Mom also made a virtue of necessity, and spiced her paellas with the closest spices she could get her hands - so I grew up thinking that all paellas were made with turmeric. Turns out that if you can get it where you live, and can afford it, you use saffron instead. These days, Amazon has made the world much smaller, and much tastier, and I can get Rumi's paella spice mix shipped to the odds and ends of North Texas... and decades of improvement in food preparation and transport mean I can get decent frozen fish here, too!

However, I'm supposed to be supporting my darling man and low-carbing, so today I made a paella-spiced fish bake with no rice that was warming, tasty, filling, and still made me fondly remember cooking with mom.

Paella Spiced Fish Bake

4 seafish fillets (I used 3 sea bass and a cod fillet, because I was finishing a pack in the freezer)
3 Tbsp ghee/olive oil
2 Tbsp Rumi Paella Spice

2 onions, diced (or 1 big one)
3 cloves garlic, minced (Or a heaped spoonful out of the minced garlic jar)
1 bag frozen bell pepper strips (lots cheaper and easier than getting them and cutting them in strips)
1 can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles, lime & cilantro, drained (or rotel, if you don't have the rotel w/ lime & cilantro)
2 Tbsp white wine (okay, maybe I used 3?)
1 Tsp salt (maybe I used 2?)
1 Tbsp lime juice
parsley to garnish ( I grabbed a handful out of the back garden)
1 bag frozen riced cauliflower

Thaw the fish fillets & put in the bottom of a casserole dish. Add the plain diced tomatoes on top.

Preheat oven to 325F.

Chop the onions.

In a large pan on the stove, heat the oil, add the onions, mushrooms, salt, and paella spice. When onions are translucent, add the minced garlic. When that's starting to brown, add the frozen bell pepper strips, white wine, and second can of (flavored) diced tomatoes. Let heat up until bubbling. Turn off stove, pour evenly over fish. Squirt lime juice over everything.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

5 minutes out, put the riced cauliflower in a microwaveable bowl. Chop the parsley, and add the chopped stems and some parsley leaf to the cauliflower. Microwave until finished.

Pull the casserole dish out of the oven, the riced cauliflower out of the microwave, and everything is ready to serve.

Serves 4 (judging by the amount of leftovers.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Drywall repairs

You know, working on airplanes really doesn't have much in the way of transferable skills to drywall repair.

Except the important bits: learning how to prep for a project, and clean up as you go along. Gracious, but drywall is messy!

Anyway, I still had the best two fallbacks: youtube videos, and calling my Dad for a sanity check. There was also a quick discussion with OldNFO & LawDog, who agreed with Dad - instead of screwing a backer board behind the repair, the wiser thing to do was to enlarge the hole until I found a stud, and screw the drywall patch into the stud. I still find it a little strange that the repair process starts with "Make a much bigger hole", but it makes sense!

Patches are now cut out, put in, taped, mudded, and awaiting on the mud to cure. It's rather rough, but I am reminded that I"m starting at the very bottom of the drywall repair learning curve, after many years without doing any at all. My first welds, rivets, and brazing were really ugly, too. (In fact, they were less functional than this drywall patch. Drywall definitely has an easier learning curve than riveting.)

And there's still sanding and a coat of paint to clean it all up and make it pretty. If it still looks rough but functional, then when I get better at it, I can do it again!


Monday, October 15, 2018

You've been all over, and it's been all over you

My darling husband has chronicled the adventures of the last few weeks. Me, I was along for the ride. Not that I didn't enjoy it, but the tightness in my chest starts about Amarillo, and the altitude sickness kicks in early in the mountains. Along the way, I caught something, so what I took for just the terrible exhaustion of altitude sickness and difficulty breathing... has lingered for days after we came back down.

Doctor seen, shot in the butt received. Sigh. I am not a fan of shots in the butt. (Yes, I consoled myself with tea and chocolate. It fell under the doc's orders to push fluids!)

And the blood draw for lab panels had the gauze pad secured with bright pink vet wrap. I may have spent my morning being distracted by vet wrap on the paw and shaking it while giving the world a look of bewildered hurt and injured dignity... before remembering that unlike that cat who has to do that for days, I have opposable thumbs and can just remove the stuff.

It's the little things you forget when it hurts to breathe...

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Stuffed Mushrooms

When we picked up groceries at Sam's club (always a dangerous exercise when there's only two people in the household), "mushrooms" turned into a pound of brown mushrooms that were roughly twice the size of standard button mushrooms, but about half-sized for portabellas. They're the perfect size for making stuffed mushrooms: no piping filling or ultra-fine mincing necessary! I shall have to do this again, because you get all the flavour without having to do the finicky detail work.

Stuffed Mushrooms

1 lb brown mushrooms, large (okay, two were missing, so if you have a full pound, adjust the rest a little higher)
1/2 small onion, diced small
2 Tbsp butter (I actually used duck fat. Use bacon grease if you have it, and adjust the salt)
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp mesquite smoked salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 cup almond meal
6 oz cream cheese (I used 5, because missing mushrooms.)

Remove the stems from the mushrooms, and dice them fine. Then dice the onion fine. Saute in butter over medium heat with the smoked salt and paprika, until the water is nearly cooked out. Add the garlic and almond meal, and saute until garlic lightly browned & almond meal toasted. Remove to a mixing bowl. If you want mixing to be easier, warm the cream cheese a little first, otherwise just mix until well blended.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If you have a silicone baking sheet, use it; otherwise you may need to grease your pan or aluminum foil to keep the mushrooms from sticking. Fill the mushrooms to at least level with the cap, higher if you have extra.

Bake for 25 minutes (these ones were big enough I baked for 30 minutes, and they were delicious. Button mushrooms you'd probably only bake for 20 minutes.)

Let cool at least 5 minutes so you don't burn your mouth. Enjoy!