Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What's for Dinner?

by Stephanie Black

Since I blogged about exercise last week, it seems fitting that I blog about food this week, especially after Rob opened the topic by mentioning bacon grease. You should all give up bacon! And donuts! And French fries! And cream cheese! Put that cookie down! Shape up!

Wow, that was a lot of hypocrisy for one day.

Mmm, donuts. We have this great donut shop nearby. Little-known fact: if you walk to a donut shop instead of driving, you are legally allowed to categorize donuts as health food.

Okay, I really do think healthful food is a good thing, at least for other people, and I have tried to eat less lately, so if anyone would like to pat me on the back, that would be awesome. But don’t pat too hard, because I haven’t done that well, and besides, you might knock me over, because my core muscle strength and balance aren’t yet what they ought to be. But give me time.

Next on the list of tasty topics: barbecue pulled pork. I finally had a lightbulb moment regarding pork after I made some pork carnitas that my family loved, wherein I used a good, fatty cut of meat. I realized if I was making shredded pork, I needed to stop using that lean pork loin that looks so nice in the package at the store, and instead go for something streaked with fat, like a pork shoulder. Oh, baby. I cooked the pork for a few hours in a pan I am extremely fond of—do you ever have fond feelings for certain cookware or dishes? Anyway, it’s enamel-covered cast iron in a lovely blue, and I have warm, furry feelings towards it. And the pork was extremely tasty.

I’m a decent cook, though it’s not something I view as recreation. My husband, who is a bread baker, doesn’t mind making something that takes hours (ask him about the ward Christmas party last year—he spent the entire day baking two kinds of bread for the dinner. I would have gone to Costco). To me, cooking is a household task, like vacuuming. I don’t dislike it; it’s just something that needs to be done. Or it’s a means to an end, as in, man, don’t blueberry scones sound good right now? I think I’ll bake some. I love it when a simple, quick recipe is also delicious, like tortellini-basil soup (chicken broth, cheese-filled tortellini, chopped tomatoes, cannellini beans, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, sprinkle some parmesan cheese and pepper on the top and you’re done). I do like trying new recipes—my first attempt at pad Thai was the pits since we made a last-ditch effort to substitute tamarind soup mix for the tamarind paste. Warning: do not try this substitution at home. You need tamarind paste. When I tried it again with the right stuff, it was very tasty, and my five-year-old devoured it. Of course, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the rest of that jar of tamarind paste in my fridge. Maybe it could hang out with the capers.

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to plan out weekly dinner menus, so I would know what we were eating that week and could shop accordingly, instead of saying “What’s for dinner?” at 4:30 in the afternoon and having to run to the store multiple times each week. I’d like to say I’ve done really well on planning my meals. I’d also like to say that I’ve done really well on cleaning my carpets, but neither would be true. I’m still hit and miss on the dinner planning—sometimes I have a list of meals; often I don’t. But it all works.

My daughter is heading back to college next week, and she put together a binder of recipes for use at school. I’m glad she can cook—she makes excellent hot and sour soup, for one thing. I need to pester my next oldest daughter, who is a senior in high school, to make sure she has basic cooking skills before she leaves. I want all my kids to have basic cooking skills. If they leave home without knowing how to make cream cheese chocolate chip cookies, they’re just asking for trouble in life.

So what kind of cook are you? Do you love it? Hate it? Love trying new recipes? Prefer the tried-and-true classics? All of the above.

Oddly enough, I’m hungry. Time for lunch!


At 8/18/2010 4:43 PM, Blogger Kelsi Rose said...

I also harbor fond feeling for cookware. I have been known to purr while holding it lovingly in my arms. It is sad, but true.

I like to ccok. Not in the summer though, it is too hot and sticky. However, I haev been searching for a good hot and sour soup reciepe, would your daughter mind sharing? I have also never head of cream cheese chocolate chip cookies, please share, they sound life changing.

At 8/18/2010 5:29 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Did you know there's a word for people who practically worship their cookware? Pantheism.

I read an article this morning that said it was better to eat a donut in the morning for breakfast than to skip breakfast entirely. Something about jump-starting your metabolism, sweeping the insulin under the rug, whatever. It was very convincing. Of course, they recommended you actually eat something healthy instead, like steel-cut oats (why does it have to be steel? why do the tomatoes have to be dried in the sun? WHY?)

Ok, I have to share a little story with you that will confirm your idea that your kids need basic cooking skills before they head off to college. I have always been a fan of Kraft Mac n Cheese. Mix it with veggies, hot dogs, ground hamburger and tomatoes... mmmm MMM! Anyway, I had made it dozens of time living at home, so I thought I was good to make it at my first apartment in college. Only, we didn't have any pots and pans yet. So, I boiled some water on the stove top in a Pyrex dish. (I can see you cringing in the audience.) I poured the macaroni into the dish and there was this not-very-loud pop, and the dish basically disintegrated into little glass shards as boiling water flooded the stove top. I was picking up glass, mopping up water, crying. Every now and then, I'd find an uncooked macaroni elbow in the oven. #LFMF

I think a decent set of pots and pans makes a GREAT graduation gift! I got a set when I turned 18, and *cough* quite a few years later, I still have two pots from the set.

At 8/18/2010 9:35 PM, Blogger Stephanie Humphreys said...

Mmmm. . .Cream cheese chocolate chip cookies. That sounds heavenly. I love to cook but only when I feel like it but I certainly don't feel like it every day at dinner time. I've tried to plan menus in advance, but I never seem to be able to stick to it. I'm just looking forward to the day when there are only two of us to cook for. I'll be able to make one dish and we'll eat the leftovers all week long.

I know my oldest daughter can cook, but she doesn't do it often. She does make a killer batch of snickerdoodles though, so I guess she'll be okay. :)

At 8/18/2010 10:06 PM, Blogger Traci Hunter Abramson said...

So....are you going to share that recipe for cream cheese chocolate chip cookies???

At 8/18/2010 11:04 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Kelsi Rose, I think the hot and sour soup was an America's Test Kitchen thing--I'll ask my daughter about it and post the link.

Jon, ha ha ha! Pantheism. That was brilliant. And bummer about the Pyrex! :)

Kelsi Rose, Stephanie, Traci, and anyone else interested, I'll get you that cookie recipe--I thought I had it on my computer, but it must be on my external hard drive. It's definitely life changing, or at least weight changing. They are incredibly delicious little balls of fat, including cream cheese, shortening, and butter . . .

At 8/18/2010 11:26 PM, Blogger Janice said...

I assign all my family members one day a week to come up with a menu so I know at least one family member will be happy at each meal. I also get to enlist their help with dinner. And if they don't pick a vegetable, they get beans. And if they don't eat the vegetable they picked, next time they get beans. No one likes beans - except me. Wha ha ha ha ha

At 8/19/2010 1:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like this John Spell character. Did you really cry over your broken bowl? Awesome. Yes, John, tomatoes must be dried in the sun. Unless you're Rob, then just fry them in bacon grease, dip them in chocolate and slip them into the simvistatin bottle.


Did you notice that Jeff wrote a nice piece on Monday and it took him until Wednesday to get four comments. Steph, on the other hand, writes about food and she gets a bucket load of comments in a few hours. What does that say about the frog blog readers? Really, what? We're all contributors to the Ward Cookbook selling at Seagull, where you never pay full price for anything. I like that store.

If Stephanie posts her cookie recipe I'll bet she blows the hit counter over the lilly pad. And I thought you were all serious writers. Pashaw!

At 8/19/2010 3:59 AM, Blogger Melanie Goldmund said...

Reading Jeff Savage's blog entries makes me want to curl up and die with jealousy because I'm not as successful, prolific, or imaginative. I don't comment most of the time because it would just be too negative.

But I can hold my own with food! I like cooking. Lately, I've started trying out vegetarian dishes with lots of spices -- yum! And I like baking, too, although lately I only do it once a week when I've got missionaries coming for lunch the next day. Anything with chocolate ... I like trying out new things and putting a successful recipe in my book. I also like going back to the tried-and-true classics. I guess I just like food in general. :-)

At 8/19/2010 11:18 AM, Blogger Michael Knudsen said...

There's a fine art to wrapping stuff up in tortillas that never ceases to fascinate me. I'll keep tweaking my chicken enchilada recipe until my dying day. Ole!

At 8/19/2010 1:47 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Anon: it wasn't the Pyrex I cried over, it was the lost macaroni. =)

(And my pitiful failure.)

At 8/19/2010 6:50 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Ah, food is such a wonderful subject. Thanks for the comments!

Here's the Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe:

1 c. shortening
1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
8 oz. cream cheese
4 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. salt
4 c. flour
12 oz. chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Cream shortening, butter, sugar, and cream cheese. Add vanilla, flour, and salt. Mix well. Add nuts and chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. These cookies don't brown much and they aren't very pretty--but boy are they tasty! The recipe makes a lot, so they're good if you need a ton of cookies to take to an event.

At 8/20/2010 2:47 AM, Blogger kbrebes said...

Wow. I wonder how many Weight Watcher points those are? I don't think I'll find out, but I will bake them for Activity Girls! Thanks!

At 8/21/2010 10:37 AM, Blogger Sandra said...

I love cooking. I love everything about it, findihg the perfect recipe, changing the perfect recipe so it is even better, writing my own recipe, experimenting with food shapes, sizes, textures, flavor combos....

And I love me a good piece of cookware.

To Anon, I remember the day I put something on to simmer in my favorite stock pot, got distracted, went to the store and came home to a burned pot with nothing in it except a hole in the bottom. Yes I cried over the loss of my pot. I am still looking for one as great as that one was.

I plan out menues for the family. I had everyone give me ideas for at least 2 favorite meals then put the recipe on an index card and filed it in a box in my recipe book cupboard. When it is time for planning, pull out 7 dinner cards, write the grocery list and then post the menu on the fridge. Now I can just pull out the paper I wrote the menue on and post it and pull those cards- easy, peasy and quick.

(and just a little plug here, I do a how to cook blog- complete with pictures when I have the time to take them- you are welcome to pop over and check it out and maybe even give me ideas of things you want to learn-

At 8/27/2010 12:43 PM, Blogger Valerie Ipson said...

And how about that Easy Tortellini Soup recipe? My family loves tortellini and I love easy.


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