12.28.2010

"Ding, fries are done"

My culinary contribution to Christmas this year was an egg soufflé. I tried to remember my ex-fiancé's mother's recipe but settled for one I found on AR instead. Every couple of days, I kick myself for not swiping a few recipes from the collection she gave my ex, because although he never cooks, he took the collection (and our BH&G cookbook, even though I was the only one that ever used it) with him on his journey of stupidity.

Anyway. One easy breakfast casserole preparation later, I went to Indianapolis with my mom to visit my brother. I was gifted a food processor (dubbed "The Magic Bullet"... anyone heard of this? Comments? My mom was captivated by the "As Seen On TV!" logo and bought it for me whilst in a trance), some utensils, some seasonings, a nice bottle of olive oil that I left in my car later that weekend and the cold weather seems to have pwned it, glass storage containers, a gorgeous bamboo salad bowl (my sister-in-law apparently remembered that my T-Day cranberry&spinach salad was served in tupperware), and other assorted non-food-related items.

I also became BFFs with my 15-month-old niece, of Thanksgiving beer-loving fame. For once, she didn't squirm when I held her, and she even reached for me after I put her down. She received musical bells for Christmas, among other things, and they occupied me for most of the afternoon. I would be demonstrating my talents, playing an uneven bell-y version of "Ode to Joy," when she would pick up two bells (somehow always managing to choose two bells that make a third interval) and bang them together. It made her just insanely happy to do that. She also liked my soufflé.

My immediate family is full of bird-like eaters. We make enough food to fill an S10, end up with enough leftovers to fill a Cavalier, and then pick at the leftovers for another week before getting sick of them and throwing them out. Everyone raved about my soufflé, but when I left my brother's house on Christmas, there was barely a dent put into it.

So I took it to Nashville, Tennessee. ROCK!

I drove down Christmas afternoon to see D.'s mom's side of the family, which was a lot of fun. It was also an indirect way to rid myself of the soufflé and not spend Christmas night alone in my living room, drinking gin and eating microwave quesadilla rolls. Which is what I did Christmas Eve.

I stayed in Nashville till Monday afternoon. During that time, I gave my aunt (D.'s mama) the rub recipe from AR's Perfect Rib Roast, which she used for a beef tenderloin. It was well-received by everyone -- she cooked the tenderloin perfectly -- and the rub made the kitchen smell amazing. I received some gifts from her and my other cousins: tealight candles, Vera Bradley notepad/pens, a cookie cookbook!, and a cupcake decorator that looks like a caulking gun. You know, these are people who haven't spent much time around me since I was about two (especially one of D.'s sisters, who just met me for the first time in 20 years on Saturday), but the gifts were really thoughtful and just my taste. I wish I could've afforded to get gifts for them all, but all I got was a pair of earrings for my aunt and a DVD for D.'s nephew. I've been spending all my money at the grocery store.

Anyway, on Sunday, the ladies and I made a no-bake cake that they had two names for. I don't know which one applies most -- "Pineapple Upside-Down Cake" or "Banana Split Cake." I would just think to call it "Dante Cake." Because it has several layers. OF SIN. not really, but close.

I'll try to remember this as best as I can:

First layer -- crushed Nilla wafers. And/or almonds?
Second layer -- a mixture of two eggs, 2 C powdered sugar, and 2 sticks melted butter. Maybe something else, I can't remember, even though this was the layer I was responsible for. Then you whip that for fifteen minutes. At this part, the handwritten recipe card says, "(they're not kidding!)"
Third layer -- four bananas, sliced
Fourth layer -- can of cherries
Fifth layer -- can of shredded pineapple, drained within an inch of its life
Sixth layer -- whipped cream

Not sure how long it's supposed to be in the fridge (if at all), but we had some of it later that night. I'm not a huge fan of fruity desserts, but this wasn't half bad. It just needs to have a name that people will stick with.

In other news, my cousin raked in some pretty good loot this Christmas, and he did pretty well shopping for me, too. He got a ginormous television from his mom, which we almost couldn't fit in the car for the trip home, and a ginormous computer monitor from me. Then, almost every day last week, I'd come home from work to find a box on the doorstep. One day, it was a set of cards to a recipe box (which arrived later), the next day it was Belgian waffle trays that snap into a Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler (which also arrived later, but was broken, so I've called them and gotten that taken care of)... he also got me a tortilla thermal container, these circular things that you can make eggs and pancakes in so that they don't run all over the pan, measuring cups/spoons, and a 24-set of tupperware that actually MATCHES and you can snap the lids to the bottom for easy-peasy storage.

That last gift is particularly satisfying because when my ex-fiancé moved out, he left me with about a thousand tupperware containers, none of which had matching lids. It felt good to heave them all into a box for Goodwill. Actually, I should probably just recycle them. So anyway, I'm hoping that he also has a thousand tupperware containers with no matching lids, because I don't have to deal with them anymore.

I'm looking forward to organizing my recipes into the new box. I'm used to this old tin where I'd stuff recipe print-outs, things torn from magazines, scrap sheets of paper... no longer.

And when my new, un-defective Cuisinart griddler arrives, I'm going to be a griddler FIEND. You'll have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

12.20.2010

TIL: How not to do something

I bet they freeze frozen chicken breasts before throwing them all in a bag together. Or maybe it's the fact that chicken is poultry, and the pieces can freeze together in a bag without sticking to one another. Red meat is apparently different.

I purchased a package of pork chops because they were cheap and I wanted an excuse to buy sage. I cooked up a couple of pork chops (they turned out well), and went to freeze the rest. As I commonly do with leftovers, I put them in a gallon-sized Zip-Lock bag and threw them in the freezer.

The next time we had pork chops, they were prepared in the oven, as one big multi-pork-chop mass. I'd worked for about fifteen minutes to get even one chop loose from the pack, but the chops wouldn't budge from each other. After a lot of swearing and sweating, I slammed them down in a pan, put some spices on them, and threw them in the oven for an hour. They weren't bad.

12.02.2010

I survived Thanksgiving 2010

... with next to no crises.



(from left to right) Sister-in-law, older niece, brother, mom, uncle Jerry, aunt Carol, father.
 The only crisis that I can think of is my niece started to hit the bottle. My dad was at the store, leaving his beer cooler unattended, when my 14-month-old niece explored her way to Dad's Miller Light.  She thought that was the BEST TOY EVER.  She shook the can, danced with the can, squealed with glee when the other ladies and I started to laugh... and then she put the unopened can to her face as if she were drinking it.  "Alright, that's enough," announced her mother, who moved to take the can away from her. "I didn't think she'd imitate drinking beer."  My mom and I pointed out to her that she didn't know it was beer, but the can got taken away regardless, and my niece happily waddled off to play with my cousin's expired Tennessee driver's license.  We set aside the beer can so that my father wouldn't spray himself in the face later, thanks to my niece's zealous shaking of the can.

Other than that, it was fine. Busy, but fine. I didn't end up making the bacon-wrapped asparagus. For one, it needed an oven at 450°, and the roast was at 350°. For another, my brother made green beans. For another, WE HAD WAY TOO MUCH FOOD.

Right now, I'm making sage pork chops with mashed potatoes... the same mashed potatoes I served at Thanksgiving. We've eaten these mashed potatoes almost every night since, and I still have about a half-gallon left. Good thing they were tasty.

So everything came out well, despite my mom making fun of the fact that my brother and I were making everything from scratch. "What is this, Gourmet Thursday?" she'd mock, and we'd reply, "Well... it is Thanksgiving," and then she proceded to tell us that she made all our childhood Thanksgiving meals out of a box. After we recovered from our shock and anger at this discovery, I served the best meal ever. The salad, stuffing, roast, potatoes, green beans, deviled eggs, spinach dip, cider... everything was good. So that shut my mom up.

I'm thinking that I only had a certain amount of cooking talent, and I used it up on Thanksgiving, because I didn't cook for three days and then I managed to mess up Zatarain's Jambalaya on Monday. After trying to choke down his fourth forkful of mushy, tasteless rice and dry turkey sausage, my cousin looked at me in confusion. Our relationship hasn't been the same since. I am hoping these pork chops tonight will be my saving grace.

Anyway, so Thanksgiving was fun. I think I'll do it again next year, if my brother can further tolerate my extremely un-baby-proofed house.