Friday, October 9, 2009


Apple pie with cheddar cheese crust in three stages. This made the house smell so good whilst it was baking.

I used 3lbs of Granny Smith apples, juice of one lemon, 1/3 cup white sugar, about a tbsp of cinnamon, and 2 tbsp of corn starch.

Crust was made with 1 1/2 cups flour, 8 tbsp cold butter, cut into tiny cubes, 1/3 cup extra-sharp cheddar, and 4 tbsp ice water. Pulsed first three ingredients in food processor until it looked like chunky cornmeal then added water slowly through the tube with it still running. Pulsed until it came together and I could easily form it into a large disc. Fridged for about an hour before rolling into crust.

Baked at 425 for an hour; it's very brown from the cheese.

I really love pie.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Too Posh for my own good ;-)

After rereading my earlier post I realize that wow, my nose really got stuck up in the air, didn't it? :-)

What I meant earlier was that I grew up eating a lot of box, processed foods, interspersed with many a from-scratch meal and I'm none the worse for wear. But 30 years ago we kinda sorta didn't know better. Hell, I grew up eating 85/15 hamburgers fried in butter for Pete's sake! Topped with cheese! And I ate two at a time!

But I digress. I love, love, love much of the boxy goodness. The Roni, pot noodles, cheapcheapcheap store-brand mac & cheese, chili from a jar, Chef Boyardee ravioli, the list goes on. And I love me some Spam. Yep, Spam. I also keep one of those 72-slice boxes of plastic cheese in my fridge because it's so good on an eggwich and sticky good as grilled cheese. So I don't have airs above myself. I just think it's too easy to rely on boxed everything for meals. The salt and fat content is usually through the roof and many products have not-of-this-world artificial ingredients that are too spooky for my taste. I also think over-relying on these kinds of products kills your taste buds. You get so used to the salty, artificial taste that, when confronted with something fresh and wonderful, your brain goes into fits thinking it's not right.

I think it's extremely important for families to sit down together for at least one meal each and every day. And that meal shouldn't be thrown together. But it should be as easy to prepare as you choose and, if that means throwing on a pot of Roni as I did just to get everyone to the table then it's all good. But there needs to be balance. And that was the whole point of my earlier rambling. Invest in the items you have mad love for and enjoy every mouthful.

My guilty pleasures: Plastic cheese. Roni. Twelve-packs of ramen noodles. Bottled salad dressing. Pillsbury's pop biscuits. Instant mashed potatoes. God, I love those. Campbell's soups, especially Chunky soup--the one with the little burgers. Eat around the burgers then layer them on a slice of buttered white bread. Disgustingly good.

And much, much more. :-)

Prepping the pantry

Jerry's recuperation lasted almost two months. During that time, he napped a lot and I tried to revolve meals around him, with the largest being mid-day and small plates for dinner and snacks. It was a system that worked for the most part, if you can ignore our giving in to fast food cravings and yen for chips, chips, and more chips.

During this time, I started realizing that, on a very small scale, Sandra Lee has hit the nail on the head. Whilst I do not at all believe her 70% packaged/30% fresh ratio is at all the way to go (switch those numbers and we might talk), I started picking up old favorites to keep in my cupboards because I wanted them, they were quick, and I could round out a meal when I didn't know what else to do. For example, Rice-a-Roni. Man, I am a whore for that stuff. One night I wanted something quick and simple; I knew I had a pack of chicken breasts in the fridge but didn't want potatoes or fries or garlic bread, ergo, Roni for a side dish with some veggies. It was just the push I needed to put together a proper meal. And that night I had seriously considered caving and calling out for Chinese.

Second item of dissention, the once-ubiquitous green can of parmesan cheese. Yikes! I am someone who always--always--has a block of pecorino romano and Grana padano in her fridge, ready to grate at a moment's notice. But one night we were eating pizza and it needed something. I couldn't find the rasp I use for grating so, whilst I enjoyed the pizza, I wanted more. Next time I was at the market the Green Can was on sale so I grabbed it. And now I use it whenever it's too much trouble to grate fresh. I love it on a hot slice of pizza but it's also nice to grab in the morning when I'm putting together a pepper & egg sandwich; it's salty, it's tasty, and it's fast. Do I think it's better than grating fresh off a block? Hell no. But it's not a bad little thing to keep in the fridge for when you need it.

Now, this doesn't mean I'll succumb to the lure of box mac & cheese or Hamburger Helper or--heaven forbid!--jarred pasta sauce (truth be told, I busted out a jar not long ago [found in the back of the cupboard] and even the chittlins got rankled). I love making mac & cheese and pasta sauce as I want it and Hamburger Helper, well, I grew up on that and it's best left as a childhood memory. I guess what I am saying is that I'm still very, very picky about processed food. I try not to keep it in the house but, on occasion, if it makes the difference between getting a proper meal on the table or hitting up the golden arches, well, I'm keeping it on standby. Rice-a-Roni can be served alongside a nice piece of quality protein, a salad or some veg, and you can eat happily, knowing that you made the right decision. Same with jarred curry sauces, instant mashed potatoes, frozen side dishes, all of which can be called into play to round out a meal.

And wouldn't you rather go to bed not feeling like garbage because you took the lazy way out? Plus, it means you can have a wee treat for dessert. :-)