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Cooking storm

August 14, 2009

Today has been a day for cooking up a storm. Well, sort of. I broke in my non-stick WearEver loaf pan and used up the rest of my local blueberries making a Blueberry-Oat Quick Bread I found on that smells absolutely divine and is nearly done cooking. It calls for buttermilk (yay! I had some!) and I doubled or almost doubled the amount of blueberries in it (it calls for one cup. Just one!). I’ll let you know how it turns out.

I’ve been a bit indecisive about what to make for dinner tonight. First I was going to use the last of my potatoes and the last onion with some of the zucchini and squash we got from the Amish last weekend and some green beans and saute them all together with a mustard vinaigrette and serve them hot with a sprinkling of cheese on top. Then I realized that I had chosen not to buy the green beans from the Amish like I did last time (clearly, a mistake) and have broccoli instead. Well, that wasn’t going to work well, either. Then I thought about doing a vegetable stew-casserole thingy with shell or rigatoni pasta with tomatoes and the squash and some nice chicken stock and some of my fresh basil, but realized all I have in the way of pasta is spaghetti.

SO! I decided to fall back a little on my old standby: Zatarains Spanish Rice. This stuff is awesome. If you have a can of tomatoes, you can do just about anything with it. Add a can of beans, vegetables (fresh or frozen), and pre-cooked/leftover meat (leftover chicken, pork, sausage, ground beef, etc.) and you’ve got a hearty, relatively healthy meal to serve up.

My mom “invented” a Mexican-style dish with spanish rice, a can of black beans, and frozen corn, generally with chicken added. I love it without the chicken but with frozen or fresh spinach and/or summer squash/zucchini added and served up meat-free with a little shredded cheese on top. So good and so easy! Just follow the instructions on the box (minus the fluffing at the end). Basically, you put it all in a large skillet, bring it to a boil, cover, and let simmer for about a half an hour.

Tonight, I’ve decided to make faux red beans & rice by adding a can of red kidney beans and some sliced kielbasa (no andouille in the house, alas. No ham, either) to the tomatoes and rice. Then, on the side, I’ll saute a mix of the summer squash, zucchini, and my one remaining onion with a little olive oil and dijon mustard. Doesn’t that sound delicious? I think so.

The rice mixes are nice because they are moist and flavorful (particularly when you add undrained beans) and are a good vehicle for all kinds of veggies and meats. They also don’t take as long as cooking raw rice separately.

Tonight the boy and I are going to go see “G.I. Joe” because he loved watching the cartoons as a child and is a huge nerd and I’m a big enough nerd to go with him.

Tomorrow, I’m going to try and revisit my Russian Cherry Halfmoon cookies, except they’ll have yellow plum and apricot and possibly black raspberry/plum fillings this time. I’m going to see what happens if I substitute cream cheese for farmer’s cheese in the dough and try sealing them with a little water, instead of just pinching together. Also going to do a double batch, since the original recipe made less than the recipe promised. I may even make coconut macaroons again, and experiment with the flour addition. If I get really ambitious, that is.

It’s so much easier to cook when one has a clean kitchen. The boy and I cleaned the apartment the other day when a friend was coming to visit and go out to dinner with us. We finally cleaned up the kitchen and today I did a giant load of dishes. I’m getting quite good at balancing a giant stack to dry in our little dish drainer!

I think having my knee injured (it’s much better now, thanks for asking, but I’ve still got to see the doctor in just over a week) and being forced to lay around and do nothing in a messy apartment has made me appreciate being able to clean and do productive things.

Tonight after the movie I think I need to go grocery shopping. Since trying to eat down the cupboards and fridge and then being gone upstate for a three day weekend, we are nearly out of everything! No bread, no mayo, no cereal, no sandwich fixings, no fresh fruit, scarcely any frozen veg or meat in the freezer, running low on canned goods, just a couple potatoes left, just one little onion, etc. I also want to pick up some gelatin envelopes (so I can make buttermilk panna cotta!!!), some yeast, and some light corn syrup (for caramel? Only if the heavy cream is still good). I might even have to pick up some more cream. : )

And now, I’m off to start dinner! Hmm, maybe I should whip up some buttermilk biscuits, too? We’ll see, we’ll see.

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