Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Maya Angelou's Take on Health Food

Maya Angelou passed away two years ago (May 28, 2014) and in memoriam, I thought I'd post food poem she wrote:

The Health-Food Diner
by Maya Angelou

No sprouted wheat and soya shoots
And Brussels in a cake,
Carrot straw and spinach raw,
(Today, I need a steak).

Not thick brown rice and rice pilaw
Or mushrooms creamed on toast,
Turnips mashed and parsnips hashed,
(I'm dreaming of a roast).

Health-food folks around the world
Are thinned by anxious zeal,
They look for help in seafood kelp
(I count on breaded veal).

No Smoking signs, raw mustard greens,
Zucchini by the ton,
Uncooked kale and bodies frail
Are sure to make me run


Loins of pork and chicken thighs
And standing rib, so prime,
Pork chops brown and fresh ground round
(I crave them all the time).

Irish stews and boiled corned beef
and hot dogs by the scores,
or any place that saves a space
For smoking carnivores.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest.

The poet Billy Collins once wrote after stumbling upon one simple, average word in the dictionary: "No cookie nibbled by a French novelist/could send one more suddenly into the past".

The same is true of food and I believe that's why many of us love to recreate the recipes of our mothers, aunts, grandmothers, etc. The food connection to the past hits multiple senses simultaneously and transports us back to those times and those kitchens where a certain magic resides.

It was such a memory that inspired my "Lasagna's Cousin" recipe, and this past week when I had extra chopped hot dogs that needed to be used up, that a simple can of regular pork and beans sent me back to my mom's kitchen many years ago. 

Ah, yes - Good ol' Beans and Franks. 

As a latchkey kid with a mother who didn't enjoy cooking anyway, a simple recipe with minimal prep time and inexpensive ingredients was just the kind of thing she made to get the "making dinner" item scratched off the evening's activities. Beans and Franks was one of the many recipes she used to keep two kids full. 

She had many others, like salmon patties, a mac & cheese with tuna bake (although she called it casserole)cube steaks, pan-fried Spam, etc. Basically anything that could be prepped and cooked in under 30 minutes. 

It is these very memories though that inspire even the most talented cook to new creations. These memories coupled with some people's desire to recreate them that spark a new found love of cooking and add to the overall collective. Modern cookbooks are now filled with little stories or essays about a beloved relative's recipe as the general cooking public desire more and more to hear stories about familial love associated with food, cooking, and the kitchen.

Everyone has heard the adage "Stop and Smell the Roses", and that's exactly the same thing in this instance. Sometimes it's good for us to forget about the multiple ingredients, the extra this or that, or the need to "wow" our family and internet follows with beautiful dishes that explode our taste buds. Sometimes we should just pause, make a simple Beans and Franks dinner and reminisce

Until Next Time...
Here's a short video on how to make cube steaks (although I think this particular vlogger has them simmer too long)
Simply Yours,

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Taco Pizza for a late night B-Movie

An activity I always enjoyed while growing up (I've mentioned this before) was watching cheap horror movies and eating pizza on a Saturday night. The room was lit only by the light of the television screen, everyone had a glass of Coke, napkins littered the coffee table next to paper plates, and there was usually popcorn or a bag or two of chips nearby. Back then the pizza involved a frozen pizza I doctored up with extra ingredients, unless someone was lucky enough to con their parents out of the cash to order one delivered. A great tradition I carried on as different friends came and went through the years.

Now as an adult who has, in a manner of speaking, revived this tradition with The Boss, I wanted to make a pizza from the bottom up. It's more fun, costs much less, tastes better, and is moderately healthier than delivery or frozen.

Since this was the weekend before Cinco de Mayo, it only made sense that I would make a Mexican themed pizza, and since I had all the ingredients on hand already, a Taco Pizza sounded like a good idea.

Like most cooks, I had a notion of what needed to be done but I thought I'd check my books and online as well. No one had anything quite like I envisioned, all though one book I own came close even though they used shrimp instead of taco seasoned meat, which inspired me to include both.

This particular time, due to my work schedule, I had to use a premade crust, but there's no shame in that. I put my trusty and well-loved pizza stone in the oven to preheated to 400 degrees. In the meantime, I browned the meat and seasoned it with the taco seasoning mix as per the directions on the package. I used an organic salsa lightly as a pizza sauce, then sprinkled a light layer of cheese on top of the salsa.

I threw in the shrimp with the meat at this point to make sure it got coated with the taco seasoning mix as well. I didn't throw them in earlier because they were deveined and I didn't want them to shrink. Once I felt they were coated adequately enough, I scooped out the meat/shrimp combo and spread it evenly over the pie. I added a can of diced chili peppers, a handful of jalepenos, and some black olives. Then I sprinkled just another very thin layer of cheese, just enough that it didn't hide any of the ingredients, and finished it off with a few pinches of cilantro. Once I placed it on the heated stone I only had to wait about 10-12 minutes.

Once you take it out, you can add shredded lettuce on top or sour creme if that's what you prefer, and you're ready to dig in. (Note: I took this picture right out of the over without the lettuce topping. Also, the crust looks a little more burnt than expected because I used a whole wheat crust.)

- pizza dough
- standard taco ingredients, i.e., meat, shrimp, chicken, chilies, cheese, etc. etc. (Note: one pound of ground beef can make at least two pizzas, if you're only making one, then you have extra beef to use for nachos later.)

- see above

I know these next few days I'm going to burn out The Boss on Mexican food, but I figured if I throw some gaucamole in the mix, she'll forgive me all my sins. <wink> After all, Love originates in the kitchen.

Until Next Time...
Watch this wonderful video on how to make Super Deluxe Steak Nachos. Great stuff, gang, great stuff.