I’ve been talking about starting this blog for too long now…I’ve gotten several entries written and tons of pics of what we’ve been cooking, but I don’t want to overdo the first post. Most of you already know me, so no introduction is necessary, but the blogweb is big and I hope to be a contributing member…so someone somewhere might read this that doesn’t know me.
I will start with the basics (rather than the long drawn out intros I’ve worked on before): I’m a mid-twenties Nashvillian who likes to eat. Cooking is my new favorite form of creative expression. Anytime I take an interest in something, I’m fanatical about it and cooking is no different.
I won’t pretend I have a lot of experience or know a lot about it yet; I’m just starting out. I will detail at some point a kind of time line of how my cooking has changed over time because it’s something that’s interesting to me. I, in no way, cook the same way I ate growing up. However, I am from rural West Tennessee, so there’ll be a good bit of bacon going on (must keep the Anthony Bourdains of this world happy and content).
I’m somewhat newly married to a wonderful young man by the name of Mark. He’s new to food fanaticism, but he’s taken to it well. In fact, we make quite the team. He used to be more of a sous chef, delegated to chopping, etc., but he’s risen in the ranks and has earned a few more stars on his apron. Just today, he’s masterminded a homemade marinara (all tomatoes from our very own garden!) as I entertained some unexpected visitors:
We’re such baby-ooglers…but procreating is not in the cards in the near foreseeable future...besides, we already have a little child
She’d be none too pleased if we were to bring a baby around.
And yes, we ARE crazy cat people. All the stereotypes are true. Don’t judge, sigh, I didn’t think it could happen to me, either.
In other news, after realizing we have moved twice with a box of outdated Kraft macaroni and cheese that once belonged to my roommate in Murfreesboro (outdated before leaving M’boro, mind you), Mark and I have decided to go on a pantry raid. I rarely use canned foods anymore (if I do, it’s beans, LeSuer English peas, tomatoes, or broths) and the four boxes of prepared foods that we have are nearing the end of their shelf life. So today, it was time to call forth the Fantastic Foods meatless taco box. I was delightfully surprised that they were as good as the tacos we usually make (affectionately referred to as Ghetto tacos, but more on that later). I added some extra seasonings, of course…our favorite hot sauce, homemade chili powder, garlic (nothing goes garlic-less around here), and the darling condiments that shine in our beloved Ghetto tacos (squirt o’ Heinz ketchup, spicy mustard, and Worcestershire). I know, we’re too much, but I love them Ghetto tacos. They remind me of the ones my sister, Heather, makes which always put mine to shame. Here’s my usual rendition:
French-Barrett Ghetto Tacos
Sauté onion, green bell pepper, and jalapeño pepper (seeds and membranes remain intact in this household) in olive oil with salt & pepper. After a few minutes, add 1 lb of lean sirloin (fattier if you are in to that kind of thing) and a packet of Taco Bell seasoning with a small bottle of Ortega mild taco sauce. I add lots of hot sauce, but you certainly don’t have to if it ain’t your thing. Then I get out the aforementioned condiments and squirt liberally (no jokes, please, this is a serious process).
Oh, Ghetto tacos, you take me right back to middle school. However, I think we may be converts. These meatless babies are just as good and faster! With meat, as far as I’m concerned, mostly I’m only looking for the texture. I just need a vehicle for the spices I want to use. Besides, we put so many toppings on our tacos; the meat is really second fiddle anyway.
For taco assembly, Mark and I have a patented system and if it isn’t followed correctly, there will be disappointed faces. Just ask my friend Samantha. She didn’t listen and ended up with a soggy, falling apart glob o’ taco.
We have a Panini press, so at this point, we plug that baby in. We heat up the tortilla of choice in the microwave for just a second or two, then add meat or meat substitute, refried beans (“recipe” to follow), and Cabot white cheddar. Wrap it up and put it on the grill. After it comes out crispy and brown, I top mine with more hot sauce, shredded lettuce or cabbage (my fave), fresh tomatoes or salsa or both, and anything else we have on hand (cilantro, avocado, scallions, and I usually add some picked jalapeños).
For the beans, I just open a can of vegetarian refried beans (I can do without the lard in the non-veg kind), put them in a small pot with some ground cumin, garlic, and a small dash of cinnamon.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m a novice in the kitchen. I tend to over-season things. I once had a good friend remark that I season things like I’ve been smoking for 20 years.
However, I will say, my intuition in the kitchen is growing stronger. Between the two of us, we’ve tried and succeeded at a few ambitious projects these past couple of months. Our most recent accomplishment was an entirely homemade lasagne:
We made everything but the cheese, my friends, and that’s something I intend to look into having just purchased this guy.
Our new KitchenAid has enabled us to become pizza evangelicals. We take the operation to the streets:
not so much to the streets...as that appears to be my red & white tablecloth showing in the background...but in theory, we take it to the streets.
goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and various mushrooms
black beans, corn, scallion, avocado, cherry maters, cheddar, etc.
That’s all for now.
Love & stuff,
P.S. I also cooked up some amazing fresh lima beans…just simmered them in water with the rind of a Parmesan wedge…I keep those in a bag in the freezer…we use them for lots o’ things.