Saturday, December 12, 2009

Week 3

I didn't cook from the Women of Great Taste this week. Instead I cooked my mother's goulash and ate it 3 days in a row. Perhaps it was a byproduct of meeting my sister, Judy in Kansas City last weekend. Kansas City is our home town and we enjoy going back to where it all started including driving by St. Luke's, the hospital where we were born. Mother claimed that she didn't know she was carrying twins and they didn't do ultrasounds 58 years ago. We stayed at my sister Jane's condo just off The Plaza, my parents favorite area for eating and shopping.

The closest Judy and I came to cooking over the weekend was heating up a really nice jar of artichoke and spinach dip from World Market. We enjoyed pizza at Minsky,s and then went back to Eggcetra's (adjacent to Minsky's and I believed owned by the same person) for breakfast the next morning. Both eateries are places were my daughter, Rachel, worked at when she lived in K.C. and both are excellent.

But the highlight of the trip was our drive down highway 71 to find pecans. We had to go half way to Arkansas but finally found the road side store in Rich Hill. When you buy fresh pecans you can either buy them cracked or shelled. The cracked pecans have been put though some sort of machine that basically cracks and mostly shells the pecans but you have to separate the shells from the nuts. Not a difficult job and a much cheaper way to buy a large quality of pecans. The down side to buying pecans only days off the tree is that the ones you buy in the grocery stores always taste dry and stale after that.

I brought my several pound bag of nuts home and started looking at ways to use them before they went bad or I would have to put them in the freezer. So far I have used them in pumpkin pancakes that were delicious and chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies that were heavenly if I do say so myself. I've been looking at a recipe for honey pecan squares that may be perfect. And there are many recipes I could use from Women of Great Taste.

So hopefully next week I will have another recipe for my friends to try and me to report on.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Week Two

This week was a pretty easy week as far as the recipes went. Baja Nachos and Cheese & Artichoke Torta. Very little cooking involved. No fancy ingredients. For the Baja Nachos I needed grated cheddar cheese, green chilies, black olives (I had some left over from last week), green onions, mayonnaise, tiny shrimp and round tortilla chips. What are tiny shrimp? I bought the smallest I could find but ended up cutting them into pieces. I made the mistake of buying them already cooked from the grocery store and they really lacked flavor. I also got lazy and bought grated cheese. It's funny how we remember certain things, like my sister, Susan, insisting that packaged grated cheese is dried out and it is much better to grate your own. She is right. Besides being less fresh, packaged grated cheese has added potato starch and powdered cellulose to prevent caking and natamycin to inhibit mold. Block cheese on the other hand has only pasteurized milk, salt, cheese culture. and enzymes. After mixing all the ingredients I spooned the cheese mixture onto the Tortilla chips. The recipe called for 40 chips so I am guessing you stack them on top of each other, otherwise the dish you would have to use wouldn't fit into the microwave. Instead I did a layer at a time.

For the Cheese and Artichoke Torta I had to roast a red bell pepper, something I've been wanting to try. The instructions said to broil until "the sides start to blister and turn brown". What I wasn't sure about, was do I just stand it up right on the rack or do I set it on it's side and rotate it as the sides blister? I decided to do the latter which worked fine. I then put the pepper into a brown bag for 20 minutes as instructed and it was easy to peel. The rest of the ingredients consisted of marinated artichoke hearts, minced fresh parsley (I now have a bunch of parsley in the fridge that will most likely go bad), cream cheese and a package of ranch-style salad dressing mix. The hard part of this recipe was layering the vegetables between the cream cheese.

My daughter, Kate, was over to sample the results as well as my roommate, Kim and myself. We all decided that the nachos were definitely editable and pretty yummy despite the bland shrimp. I am becoming less adverse to black olives. I won't be eating them out of the can but I won't be picking them off vegetarian pizza either. But the torta was not so great. As Kate put it, it looks great on paper (roasted red pepper, artichoke hearts, parsley and cream cheese how can you go wrong?) but I think the cream cheese overwhelmed the vegetables, and if I were to do the recipe again I would cut down on the cream cheese and use some other flavoring for it.


I know that some of us late baby boomers are resistive to new technologies and new forms of communication. I'm still working on the texting. But I think we may find it invaluable as our minds continue to fail. For instance this week I needed to mail a package to my nephew, Cal. I got to the post office congratulating myself for actually getting there in a timely manner. My nephew, John, is still waiting for the items he left at my house four months ago. Anyway, I'm at the post office and realize that I have forgotten to bring the address. I'm not looking forward to riding the bus all the way home and then back again. I decide to call Cal's father, Bill hoping he might have the address in his head. He doesn't. And then I suddenly remember that I have an IPhone! I can access my email which has the address. Eureka! I mailed the package and then when I got home if found the note I was going to include still in my purse. So what I am thinking is, when I get really demented my daughters can program "home" into my GPS in my IPhone and I will be able to find my way. Hopefully.

I'm spending the weekend in Kansas City with my twin sister, Judy. We probably won't cook but I'm sure we are going to eat. Looking forward to a relaxing weekend.