Sunday, December 04, 2005

Roasts and Cakes

When it's the time of month that we're pinching pennies, I realize I go back to cooking meals like my grandmother would. Big, inexpensive cuts of meat like pork or beef, or even a large chicken, that I can cook on a Sunday and have last throughout the week. And cakes or pies instead of the premium one-night pints of ice cream.

Last night I roasted a five-pound pork shoulder. It was $1.59 a pound. Of course, it was a bit fattier than a tenderloin would be, but at $8 it was a lot cheaper, too. I stuffed finely minced garlic into slits made with a small knife, then liberally seasoned with salt and pepper. A bay leaf went into the pan, and a lot of thyme went into a half-cup of white vinegar, which went over the roast.

The recipe I used said to cook it at 325 for 35 minutes a pound, but I don't think that was right. They missed something there--let it get to 150 degrees first, and then the 35 minutes per pound? Pork and chicken are those meats that my family just doesn't mess around with being undercooked. And of course, one thermometer said it was done, and the other didn't. I just sliced some up and ended up slowly microwaving them on low power till I knew they'd be quite cooked, while the roast stayed in the oven to finish cooking.

A gravy was made with the pan juices mixed in with canned chicken gravy (which I'd bought previously on sale). Yellow gold potatoes were cut into bite-sized bits and seasoned with kosher salt, pepper, rosemary, and tossed in olive oil. I cooked those at 355 for about an hour, until they were well roasted on the bottom.

I quartered a cauliflower and carmelized one side of each piece in an iron skillet, then added some water to the pan and gently steamed. For the Bug I heated up creamed corn, and for the dh and me added a starchy treat of cornbread stuffing, which we'd had already in the cupboard (bought on sale, of course).

The dinner, overall, cost about $13, including tax. The leftover pork can be sliced up and eaten as is with the leftover sides, or cubed and cooked as sweet and sour pork, or chopped and eaten as a version of carnitas in burritos and tacos.

And then there was the white cake and chocolate icing, which were a total of $2.50. Since I cooked it in one 8-inch square pan it dried out a bit on the sides so the center could finish. I'd have cooked it less and had a less-done center if I'd thought of it. The icing is Duncan Hines, I believe, in the new big container and it says it's whipped. The flavor isn't my favorite. It doesn't have a rich chocolate taste to it; I think I taste the shortening more. The cake is worth about what it cost to make, though it smelled great while it was baking, and it looks nice.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Guala-comma Sauce

There's a Betty Grable movie called Moon Over Miami where kooky co-star Charlotte Greenwood woos bellboy Jack Haley with her fantastic "gualacomma sauce." For years Juiceboy and I referenced the gualacomma sauce, but we have no clue if it's guacamole, or something else.
In the effort to find a replacement for mayonaise and aoili, here's the result:

Fleagirl's Gualacomma Sauce, take one:

2 Haas avocados
Juice of two limes
1/3 C olive oil
1 garlic clove (or half of one if it's big)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Mash the mix up a bit and then blend it in a food processor or blender until it's absolutely smooth. Taste for seasonings and thickness. It should be the consistency of mayonaise--nicely spreadable. Use on sandwiches, crackers, or with vegetables. Nice for backyard barbeques too: hamburgers, hot dogs, etc.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


With the frozen Costco Tri-Tip in the freezer, I made delicious fajitas. First, I barbequed the tri-tip. It was marinated in something I didn't have to worry about, and I grilled it for about 45 minutes total, some of that with the lid on, some off.

I also made
Guacamole (two avocado's and a package of the dry mix).
Grilled two big bell peppers and one onion in a tin-foil pocket on the grill: salt and pepper, a dash of cumin, a drizzle of olive oil, and fold it all up at the edges so no steam escapes.
Brown rice (with a cube of bullion and a pat of butter)
Black beans
Salsa Verde (Two handfuls of tomatillos (~8), handful of cilantro, squeeze of lime juice, a fat clove of garlic, shake of cumin, salt and pepper to taste, two shakes red pepper flakes...all blended up. No chopping involved. Let it sit for at least 45 minutes before eating. YUM)
All served up with chips, finely shredded Mexican cheese and Trader Joe's handmade tortillas.

My husband praised it. And the picky Bug? Sat down to it saying, "This looks delicious Mommy!" Ate a whole bunch and told me all night how good dinner was all night long. Plus, he got to toast marshmallows bt the grill after dinner.

Tomorrow: The Bug's thoughts on Saturn Peaches.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Cooking for Your Husband is Easier when He's Away

DH is trying to be healthier...and some of the ways include cutting out meat and seafood, cutting down on sugars and fats, and even cutting down on spices like garlic.

For a garlic fiend like me, that last one cut me to the core. But I'm trying. I planned a stir-fry dish with just broccoli, carrots, snow peas, bamboo shoots and brown rice. Little bit of sesame oil, chicken broth and soy sauce. The Bug and I were going to have some shrimp on the side.

Got it all going, brown rice bubbling away in the rice maker. DH is off for a ride. More time goes by. And by. And by. Finally, I realize he's gone to a class but didn't think to tell me. goes a big fat clove of garlic, teriyaki sauce, shrimp, a little white wine. Very yummy. And no complaints from anyone. Could cooking be easier when you don't have anyone to serve?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Would You Like a Little Thumb with That?

DH sharpened knives this afternoon. I was enjoying the fine edge while I was chopping tomatoes for a delicious no-cook pasta dish. As I was cutting I thought, "It's a wonder I never cut myself while this was so dull" and adjusted my fingers inwards. Just then, chop! Right into the tip of my thumb.

DH and the Bug ended up finishing up cooking dinner, while I "supervised." I really enjoyed them working together with me in the kitchen and hope to do more of the same tomorrow(minus the maiming). We wrapped it up with a great 30-minute walk around the neighborhood, enjoying the rising full moon.

Note about dinner: Marie's Spinach Salad dressing is really strong; a little goes a long way.

No-Cook Pasta Sauce
3 Cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
A bunch of fresh basil, torn by hand
One small clove garlic, pressed (this won't be cooked, so make it a smaller clove)
One cup ricotta
Handful of shredded mozzarella
1/2 C chopped red onion
1/4 C olive oil
salt and pepper
Large pasta such as penne, wagon wheels, rotinni, etc.

Mix everything but the pasta in a large bowl. Cook pasta according to directions; drain. Mix into tomato mixture--serve immediately.

We had spinach salad (spinach, red bell pepper, celery, and red onion) and crusty bread with this. And we added a HUGE clove of garlic--half would have been fine.

A Fine Start

When a fat family decides to get fit...what happens to flavor? Good cooking? Family dinners? Here's your semi-average California family. Overeaters, reliers-on-pizza, enjoyers of ice cream, consumers of alcohol (the parents, that is).

Fleagirl--that's me--works 55 hours a week and is on the road an additional ten, and knows the location of every drive-through Starbucks on her commute. To unwind, she cooks.

The husband--DH--has been working for a long time to get healthy. He meditates. Practices yoga. Goes on vegetarian binges at least once a year. But we've figured out he consumes 30 pounds of sugar in his tea each year. That's just his tea, folks.

The Bug. He's just a kid. Eight years old. Will happily have soup for dinner or a couple of corn dogs. Will make a breakfast of waffles for breakfast and finish it off with a carrot and some celery. Sulks at salads. Craves meat. Loves fruit. We want to do right by him and start eating well ourselves.

These are the tales of one family, different tastes, different needs. And how we go from Fattening Cooking to Fine Cooking.