Tuesday, December 30, 2014

On spewing anger fueled comments into the interwebs

"Opinions are like assholes." ~Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan 

"Don't sweat the petty things..". ~George Carlin

The bad thing about the internet is it makes it too easy to funnel anger, pain, rage, hate, and fear into a comment. That comment gets posted without thought or regard to the impact it will have. You have the instant gratification of telling the whole world that here is a thing that you hate. 
But what purpose are we fulfilling when we throw our negativity out to the world? It's a modern version of our primordial fight-or-flight impulse. We get a temporary feeling of accomplishment. That rush of endorphins of conquering an enemy. Unfortunately, there are consequences for throwing negativity into the void. That negativity comes back.
Negative comments breed negativity. They go out and infect innocent readers and enrage them. They either agree with the original post and add their rage to the offender, or they disagree and add throw their rage at the offended. 
Look around us now. So much negativity. So much hatred. So much anger over the littlest thing. So much pain because we are unable to forego an insult. So much hatred because we can't master or passions.
We have to master our passions. We have to pause before we hit the enter button and release our anger on the world. Are we just spewing anger and vitriol for no reason other than we feel bad? To what purpose does a rage post serve? Are we just offering critique thinly veiled as criticism? Think. Think before you post.
It is easy to rage, rage against that which wrongs us. It is far harder to meet our anger with a calm resolution. It is harder to face our primordial seething rage and ask it "to what purpose." 
Write out the rage. Get it on screen. Then when you are done, before you hit enter, pause. Pause and reflect on the question. To what purpose am I posting this? What is the goal I wish to accomplish? Be selfish and increase entropy, or not. 
"The spear in the Other's heart is the spear in your own - you are he." ~Surak Spocks World by Diane Duane

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Baked Spaghetti Squash

One day, Charles and I got adventurous after watching Anne Burrell cook up some spaghetti squash.  We decided to give it a go ourselves and see if it would be something to try again. It was fall and the squash were in season and we were in one of the farmers market so we grabbed one up and gave it a try. And it was good. So good that they have become a semi regular feature on our supper menu.

When I was trying to think of what to write about today, I thought of a good friend of ours from Georgia who is mostly vegetarian. I thought she would appreciate a cooking post without gratuitous meat shots in it. So here we go:

Roasted Spaghetti Squash.

one 2-3 lbs spaghetti squash
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Cut the spaghetti squash lengthwise.
Scoop out the squash guts

Drizzle the squash halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper

Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes. You will know the squash is done if you can easily pierce the back of the squash with a fork.


Take the squash out of the oven and use a fork to shred the flesh into spaghetti-like strands.
Put your squash on a plate and serve with a sauce of your choice or just season them up and eat them plain.







Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Holiday Anxiety

It's that time of year again. Thanksgiving is right around the corner. For me, that means that my family is going to start trying to invite me to functions. Thanksgiving Day and Christmas eve were always pretty huge in my family. These holidays are the few times a year that we would all get together without someone being dead or married.


I am only “officially out to my older sister and my younger brother. When my husband and I got married, I let them know what was going on. Not only was I embarking on a whole new and wonderful chapter of my life, I was about to head out on a 1700 mile round trip. I know that accidents can happen when you are driving and I wanted my family to be aware that I was about to undertake this awesome adventure. I wrote about that last year here .


Now it's holiday time again. Now the phone calls and texts are going to start again. I honestly still haven't processed through the anger I feel toward my family. I am afraid that they will try to force the issue. I am afraid that they will try to break my self-imposed exile from them. I am afraid that they are going to force me to burn a bridge that I would much rather see stay damaged, but intact.


So, now I am dealing with anxiety. I run through scenarios in my head where a member of the family knocks on my door. None of the scenarios end well. I don't know if I will ever be able to talk to anyone in my family any time soon. I don't know if I will be able to welcome them into my home without feeling anger and resentment and a little shame.


You want to know what happens when a parent doesn't support a gay child? I can tell you, because I know first hand. That child begins to feel outcast. That child feels worthless. That child feels like his feelings, his true feelings, don't matter. That child begins to feel ashamed of himself.

Years of feeling outcast and ostracized can take a toll on a person. Right now I want to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and not come out until New Year's. But I am not going to do that. I am going to continue to live my life in the best way that I know how. I am going to continue to love the man that I married. We are going to forge a life together. If my family wants to be a part of my life, they will have to do so on my terms now. I  no longer have a roommate, I have a husband. Together, my husband and I will continue to fulfill our foray.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's past time that we humans stop being afraid

It's past time that we humans stop being afraid of each other because we are different. It's time that we start examining why we are afraid of each other. We, as a species, have been behaving the same way to people who are different than us for the entirety of our recorded history.
It is time to make a change. It is time to stop the violence. It is time that we look at our fellow humans and be able to say that we are afraid. We have to face our fears or we will never, ever be able to move past them.
It is time for us to look at our fellow humans and rejoice and be thankful in our differences.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My husband wanted Buffalo wings.

*Edit- A lawyer friend told me that to just be on the safe side, I need to say that you should cook your chicken throughly because if you don't you can get sick and die. *

Buffalo wings are a  food that I really do not like to eat. Unfortunately for me, my husband would eat them for every meal. As a result I've had to learn how to cook them and according to the husband I do a pretty good job.

I started with about 3 lbs of drummettes. It's a little more expensive to just get the drummettes but in our opinion those are the best part of the chicken wing, so why spend money on something you don't like.

I let the drummettes come to room temp, then threw them in a bowl with some salt and pepper and mixed it all up. In the dutch oven, I put about an inch of vegetable oil and let it come to temp. I used a piece of bread to check my oil temperature.  You just drop a 1 inch cube of bread into your oil and if it gets toasty in less than a minute, you oil is ready.

I dropped the drummettes in 6 at a time so I didn't overcrowd the pan. Put too many wings in and you risk lowering the oil temp too much and that makes for not tasty wing. I let them fry for about 5 minutes then turned them over so they could cook through and brown the other side.


Then I put them on a plate with a paper towel to drain while I loaded up the oil with the next batch.

When the next batch was frying I tossed the wings in the hot sauce that I had warming on another burner. You want your hot sauce hot. I don't know why but it just coats the chicken better if its warm.


Once the wings were coated in sauce, my husband got them and devoured them.





















Here's the recipes:

Sweet Buffalo Sauce:

1/4 cup hot sauce
3 TBS honey
3 TBS butter
1 TBS apple cider vinegar

Combine in a small pot and bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low.

Chicken wings:
3 lbs (about 20) drummettes
Salt and Pepper to taste
enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a dutch oven to a depth of about an inch

Heat oil in dutch oven. Add seasoned chicken wings to oil in batches. Cook 5 minutes on one side then turn them over and cook an additional 5 minutes or until done.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Pickle Juice Brined Baked Chicken

So, last night I was inspired by some posts that have been going around about brining chicken in pickle juice. At first I was mildly disgusted with the idea, but then I gave it more thought. A brine is just a very salty liquid that breaks down the proteins and hydrates the meat. Pickle juice is a brine. I decided to take a risk. It might be awful or it might not be. The only way to know for sure is to find out. Since I had just eaten the last pickle for lunch I had this jar of pickle juice to try out.

Now, I meant to take pictures of the process, but I really didn't think it would turn out very well... and I had to charge my phone, so I didn't take any pictures. I should have because this chicken was delicious.

Recipe:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts.
1 jar of pickles, pickles removed.
1/2 onion, diced
2 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper

Place chicken breasts in a zip top bag with the pickle juice and brine for at least 30 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Remove chicken from brine, rinse and pat dry.
Drizzle olive oil on chicken, then add salt and pepper to taste.
Place chicken in an oven safe pan on top of the diced onion and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the chicken over and bake an additional 15 minutes or until a thermometer reads 165 degrees.

Of course this is the basic no frills recipe, like this is a basic no photo post. The chicken was tender and moist with only the slight hint of pickle. I made my own BBQ sauce to dip and it was delicious.

edit: the bbq sauce is 1/4 cup of ketchup, 1/8 cup mustard, 2 TBS Worcestershire sauce, 2 TBS hot sauce, and 1 TBS brown sugar. I only make enough for myself because the husband doesn't like BBQ sauce.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Honey-Mustard baked chicken, Lemon-Pepper corn, Pasta with Tomato wine and mushroom sauce.

Lots of goodies cooked for supper the other night. Sometimes I can surprise myself.

First up lets talk about honey-mustard baked chicken. I love honey mustard. I put a spin on plain honey mustard dipping sauce for this recipe by adding poultry seasoning to it. I figured since I'm cooking chicken anyway, might as well try and use this stuff up.

I mixed 2 1/2 tablespoons honey, 2 1/2 tablespoons mustard, a teaspoon of poultry seasoning, and about a teaspoon of hot sauce together.

Then I washed and dried my thawed boneless, skinless chicken breasts and gave them a coat of salt and pepper.

I diced up half of an onion to make a bed for the chicken to sit on while it cooked and pre-heated my oven to 350 degrees.

Spoon about half of the honey mustard mixture over the chicken and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take the chicken out and turn them over. Coat the other side of the breasts with the honey mustard mixture and bake for 15 more minutes or until the internal temp is 165 degrees.


Next up is lemon-pepper corn. I discovered how good lemon-pepper seasoning was on corn entirely by accident. In the before times, in the longlongago, I was in college at Auburn University. Hanging out with some friends doing the cook out thing, someone had made corn on the cob. I grabbed some salt and what I thought was pepper to season my corn. But it wasn't just pepper. It was lemon pepper. That tart bit of acid with the buttery richness of the corn was just perfection. Now when I want to fancy up a can of corn, I just add some lemon pepper or make my own like I did tonight.
Just add a couple of slices of lemon and a lot of pepper to a can of corn and you have lemon-pepper corn. It's a really good side dish to go with the baked chicken.

And finally, my tomato wine and mushroom sauce. We have some friends that have gotten into wine making as a hobby. Like a serious hobby. Like entering national wine competitions and winning medals hobby. One year, to play with the chemistry, they made a wine out of some tomatoes and gave us a couple of bottles. Now we get the wine by the case and have to come up with more things to cook with the wine.

For the tomato wine and mushroom sauce, I started with a basic wine sauce recipe. Saute an onion, add wine and stock, simmer until reduced.
I took the other half of the onion I used for the chicken and diced it. I removed the stems from an 8 oz pkg of portobello mushrooms, and then sliced the caps.
 I melted 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium pan then added my onion and mushrooms. Stir to coat the mushrooms with the butter then reduce the heat to medium low so the mushrooms and onions can start to caramelize. 




















When the mushrooms are dark, deglaze the pan with a cup of tomato wine, then stir in a cup of chicken broth. Turn the heat up until the liquid starts to boil, then reduce the heat so that the mixture can simmer.



You want to reduce the volume of liquid by about half. Once the sauce is reduced you can serve it as is or if you want to thicken it, add in a cornstarch slurry. To make the slurry, add about a tablespoon of cornstarch to a small bowl, then add some of the hot liquid from your sauce. You want to add enough to make a thick paste that is about the same consistence as glue. Now, stir your slurry back into your sauce. If it gets too thick, you can thin it back out by adding some of the starchy cooking liquid from the pasta, or more chicken stock if you have that handy.





















Cook and drain your pasta, then plate everything up.

Recipes:

Honey Mustard Chicken
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 heaping Tbs yellow mustard
2 heaping Tbs honey
1 tsp poultry seasoning
½ tsp or more to taste hot sauce
½ onion - diced
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350℉
In a bowl, mix the honey, mustard, poultry seasoning, and hot sauce. Dice onion.
Wash and dry the chicken, add salt and pepper to taste.
Put onions in the bottom of a 9 inch oven safe skillet. Place chicken breasts on top of onion. Spoon honey mustard mixture over the breasts and bake for 30 minutes. Turn chicken breasts over, spoon remaining honey mustard mixture over top and bake an additional 15 minutes or until internal temp reaches 165℉

Tomato Wine and Mushroom Sauce
1 - 8 oz package portobello mushrooms
½ onion diced
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup tomato wine (or dry white wine)
1 cup chicken stock
1 Tablespoon corn starch

In a 10 inch skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add diced onions and mushrooms. Stir to coat, then reduce heat and cook mushroom onion mixture for about 15 minutes on low heat until mushrooms are brown and onions are starting to caramelize. Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of tomato wine, scraping to get up any browned bits, then add 1 cup of chicken stock. Turn up the heat until the liquid comes to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
Make a slurry with the cornstarch and enough of the cooking liquid to get a thin paste. Stir the slurry into the cooking liquid and continue to stir until thickened. Remove from heat and serve over cooked pasta.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tomato Wine Bloody Mary Beef Stew


Ingredients:

2 1/2 to 3 pound boneless chuck roast trimmed and cut into roughly 1 inch cubes, according to your taste.
I prefer a whole boneless chuck roast instead of the already cut up supermarket “stew meat”. It doesn’t take much time to cut up your own and the results will just be better. A good chuck roast will have ribbons of fat running through it (marbling) that will cook out and make the meat super tender.
2 medium yellow onions
2 - 4 stalks of celery
2 - 6 cloves of garlic (to taste, I like a lot of garlic)
2 green bell pepper
1- 32 oz bottle of Bloody Mary Mix
A good bloody Mary mix will have all the other seasoning you will need for a nice tasty stew. You want to look for a good blend of tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, and hot sauce. For this recipe, I used Tabasco brand but you can use whichever mix you prefer, or make your own.








1 - 12 oz bottle tomato wine (You can substitute 2 cups dry white wine or 2 cups beef stock)
1 - 2 cups of flour
S&P to taste
about 2 TBS oil (any type of oil will work), enough to coat the bottom of the dutch oven + more as needed

Equipment:
5 ½ quart dutch oven
Tongs for turning the meat
Cutting board and chef’s knife
Bowl to flour the meat


Prepwork:
  1. Cut the onions into eighths. Cut the celery, and carrots into thumb sized pieces. You want the veg to be nice and chunky so they will hold up to the long cooking time.
  2. Smash and peel your garlic cloves and give them a rough chop if you want. You can leave them whole if you would prefer to take them out later.
  3. Cut up the bell pepper. I have to cut the bell pepper up into pretty big chunks because my husband doesn’t like to eat them. They need to be pretty big so he can pick them out. 

  4. Trim off any huge fat chunks and cut the roast into roughly 1 inch cubes. Toss the beef chunks into a deep mixing bowl. Salt and pepper the meat, then add the flour and toss well to coat.

Time to cook:


  1. Put the dutch oven on the stove top over a medium high heat and add your oil. Once the oil gets hot and starts to ripple, start adding your veg. 
  2. Throw in the onions, celery and carrots. If the onion starts turning brown, your heat is too high. Give them a stir and let them cook until the onion starts turning clear.  Take the veggies out of the dutch oven and add more oil if needed.
  3. Add the meat in batches (It took me about four batches). You don’t want to crowd the bottom of the pan because if you do the meat won’t get a good sear.  You don’t have to worry about cooking the meat chunks all the way through but you want a good sear on a least one side of the meat. Put the meat in and let it sit for a minute or two, give it a stir and then take it out. If your pan starts getting smoky, turn down the heat. Don’t worry about the stuff sticking to the bottom of the pan. That is an important ingredient that will add a lot of flavor to the stew.
  4. Once all of the meat is seared and removed from the dutch oven, take your bottle of tomato wine and deglaze the pan. Pour in the wine and start working up all those brown bits and incorporating them into the wine.
  5. Add all the meat and veg back to the dutch oven and pour in the bloody Mary mix. Give it a stir to mix everything together and let the stew come to a boil. Once you get a boil started, reduce heat to med low, and simmer uncovered for a couple of hours. After a couple of hours, check a meat chunk. If you can easily pull a chunk apart with a fork, then the stew is done.





Tomato Wine  Bloody Mary Beef Stew
Ingredients:
3 lbs boneless chuck roast trimmed and cut into roughly 1 inch cubes, according to your taste.
I prefer a whole boneless chuck roast instead of the already cut up supermarket “stew meat”. It doesn’t take much time to cut up your own and the results will just be better. A good chuck roast will have ribbons of fat running through it (marbling) that will cook out and make the meat super tender.
2 medium yellow onions
2 - 4 stalks of celery
2 - 6 cloves of garlic (to taste, I like a lot of garlic)
2 green bell pepper
1- 32 oz bottle of Bloody Mary Mix
A good bloody mary mix will have all the other seasoning you will need for a nice tasty stew. You want to look for a good blend of tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, and hot sauce. For this recipe, I used Tabasco brand but you can use whichever mix you prefer, or make your own.
1 - 12 oz bottle tomato wine
1 - 2 cups of flour
S&P to taste
about 2 TBS oil (any type of oil will work), enough to coat the bottom of the dutch oven + more as needed

Equipment:
5 ½ quart dutch oven
Tongs for turning the meat
Cutting Board and Chef’s knife
Bowl to flour the meat

Prepwork:
  1. Cut the onions into eighths. Cut the celery, and carrots into thumb sized pieces. You want the veg to be nice and chunky so they will hold up to the long cooking time.
  2. Smash and peel your garlic cloves and give them a rough chop if you want. You can leave them whole if you would prefer to take them out later.
  3. Cut up the bell pepper. I have to cut the bell pepper up into pretty big chunks because my husband doesn’t like to eat them. They need to be pretty big so he can pick them out.
  4. Trim off the huge fat chunks and cut the roast into roughly 1 inch cubes. Toss the beef chunks into a deep mixing bowl. Salt and pepper the meat, then add the flour and toss well to coat.

Time to cook:
  1. Put the dutch oven on the stove top over a medium high heat and add your oil. Once the oil gets hot and starts to ripple, start adding your veg.
  2. Throw in the onions, celery and carrots. If the onion starts turning brown, your heat is too high. Give them a stir and let them cook until the onion starts turning clear.  Take the veggies out of the dutch oven and add more oil if needed.
  3. Add the meat in batches (It took me about four batches). You don’t want to crowd the bottom of the pan because if you do the meat won’t get a good sear.  You don’t have to worry about cooking the meat chunks all the way through but you want a good sear on a least one side of the meat. Put the meat in and let it sit for a minute or two, give it a stir and then take it out. If your pan starts getting smoky, turn down the heat. Don’t worry about the stuff sticking to the bottom of the pan. That is an important ingredient that will add a lot of flavor to the stew.
  4. Once all of the meat is seared and removed from the dutch oven, take your bottle of tomato wine and deglaze the pan. Pour in the wine and start working up all those brown bits and incorporating them into the wine.
  5. Add all the meat and veg to the dutch oven and pour in the bloody mary mix. Give it a stir to mix everything together and let the stew come to a boil. Once you get a boil started, reduce heat to med low, and cook uncovered for a couple of hours. After a couple of hours, check a meat chunk. If you can easily pull a chunk apart with a fork, then the stew is done.




Friday, October 10, 2014

Chicken Kind of Garam Masala

For supper the other night I decided to put a spin on Chicken Garam Masala.
I started off with one boneless skinless chicken breast cut into bite sized chunks, a tablespoon of garam masala, 1 medium white onion diced, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a splash (about a tsp) of apple cider vinegar, and some salt and pepper, mixed it all up in a bowl and let it marinate for a couple of hours.

I cranked up the heat on my skillet then I dropped the chicken and onions into the hot pan, stirring constantly to keep it from burning. Once the onions started to turn clear, I added 1/4 red wine (I used a 2011 Norton from Cavender Creek Vineyards ) and a can of diced tomatoes.



 Then I threw in a palmful of oregano, just because.

 For my noodles, I decided ramen would be the way to go so I brought some water to a boil

 Threw in 4 packs of ramen noodles and cooked them for 3 minutes (per package instructions).

 When the noodles were cooked, I tossed them in with the sauce.

 And here is the finished product. OMG it was so good, although I probably should only have cooked two ramen packets. 

RECIPE
Chicken kind of Garam Masala
1 boneless skinless chicken breast - diced
1 medium white or yellow onion - diced
1 TBS garam masala
2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
4 packs (should have only used two) of ramen noodles - spice packet discarded

  1. In a bowl, mix chicken, onion, garam masala, oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Let marinate for 30 minutes to a couple of hours.
  2. Bring a skillet to medium high heat, then add the chicken onion mixture.
  3. sautee until the onions start to turn clear then add 1/4 red wine and one can of diced tomatoes. 
  4. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered 45 mins.
  5. Cook ramen noodles according to package directions
  6. Mix noodles and sauce together in skillet
  7. serve



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tomato Wine Red Beans and Rice with Sausage

A while ago, a friend of ours from Georgia made some tomato wine. After he had it bottled up he didn't know what to do with it. He knows that my husband and I are foodies. So he challenged us to come up with recipes for his tomato wine.


(sorry theres no pictures to go with this, these were made before my phone had a camera : / )

Tomato Wine Red Beans and Rice with Sausage
Ingredients:
2 bottles of tomato wine (substitute one box of vegetable stock)
2 cups of water as needed to cover beans
1 1lb pkg red beans
1 1lb pkg Conecuh Sausage
2 yellow onions quartered
2 bell peppers quartered, seeds, stems, and ribs removed.
4 celery stalks with tops
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, minced (to taste)
a couple of TBS olive oil
a couple of pinches of salt and pepper (to taste)
1 can diced tomatoes
Equipment:
1 large bowl with a lid
5.5 quart dutch oven
Cutting board and chef’s knife
microplane or box grater
Prepwork/Time to cook:
The day before, put the beans in a large bowl and fill with water. Cover and put aside until ready to cook.
Put enough oil in the dutch oven to just cover the bottom of the pan (about 2 Tablespoons)
Heat the oil in the dutch oven over medium heat. As you cut up the veggies, drop em in the dutch oven and give em a stir.
Cut the onions into chunks. You will be cooking for a while and you want them to hold up.
Cut the four sides off the bell pepper and remove the ribs.
Clean and roughly chop the celery and celery tops. You want the celery to relatively small because it takes so long to cook.
Wash and grate the carrots into a bowl then dump them in the dutch oven.
Use the microplane or box grater and grate the garlic into the pot.
Take ¼ of the link of sausage and remove the casing and dice then add to the pot. Take the rest of the sausage and slice them into approximately thumb sized pieces.
Let this mixture cook a little bit, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to turn clear.
Once the onions turn clear, drain and rinse the beans, removing anything that doesn’t look like it belongs. Add the soaked beans to the veggies then add the 2 bottles of tomato wine plus enough water to cover the beans. *If you aren’t using wine, you can substitute broth or water, as long as the beans are covered.
Give the whole thing a stir then turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. When the pot comes to a boil, partially cover the dutch oven and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Cook the beans  stirring occasionally for about an hour, then add the sausage  and can of  diced tomatoes.
Continue to cook until the beans are soft, adding water as necessary until the beans are tender.
Serve with white rice