2.26.2011

2.19.2011

Valentine's

So a few days before Valentine’s Day, HH and I were out shopping and “plops” goes a new crock pot in my cart! Just like that! HH says, “Happy Valentine’s Day. I probably shouldn’t be giving you an appliance, but…” Whoo Hoo! A new crock pot!

After the split pea soup incident – and tamale pie before that, and pot roast before that – I had commented that perhaps the problem was the appliance and not the cook. HH remembered that, knew that I like to master things and decided to help me to be successful with a crock pot for Valentine’s.

Pot Roast had to be the first attempt with the new appliance. As HH said, “if you can’t master the crock pot, perhaps you shouldn’t have a Diner.” Wow.

So after prepping all the root veggies the night before – a large yellow onion, three carrots and an assortment of potatoes – it was time. The roast was browned, covered with a coating of flour, sea salt and fresh ground pepper then placed in the crock pot. This was immediately followed by carrots and half the onions, then potatoes and the rest of the onions. Because of the timing of the day, I put it on high for an hour and asked HH to turn it down to low before he headed out for golf – and I headed out the door.

When I arrived back at the Diner just before dinner time, the Diner smelled fabulous! Now, pot roast dinner is not one of my favorite meals, I’m in it for the beef stroganoff the next night! I approached the crock pot and refrained from taking the lid off to see how it was going, didn’t want to mess things up.

It was finally dinner time at the Diner; HH was still out with the Boys, so service started without him. I gently, tentatively sunk the kitchen spoon into the roast and just like magic the roast fell apart! Just like it is supposed to!

It was not the cook! It was the appliance! I couldn’t wait for HH to arrive. And when he did, he could smell it, said, “Well?” I told him he had to serve himself and see. The first thing he did was sink his fork into a potato and he immediately knew things were different. Next came a fork into the meat and he was visibly salivating, he’s a meat and potatoes kind-of guy.

He said, “Honey, is it okay that I gave you a crock pot for Valentine’s?” Of course it was. I love to get new kitchen things; this matched the Good Oven and came with a dipping sauce warmer (Ooooh!); I like to cook and my payoff is positive feedback at the Diner. That’s what I got for Valentine’s, what could be better!

2.18.2011

Dishwasher

HH said the other night, after a reheat of beef stroganoff, “If you had a Diner, I’d hate to be your dishwasher.” As he scraped, pounded and banged at the layer in the bottom of the pot.

I do love my Dishwasher.

2.17.2011

Split Pea Soup



Split Pea Soup has been served at the Diner before, nothing new but always hearty and delicious. In the January 2011 edition of Food Network Magazine, there is a recipe for a crock pot version of split pea soup. Great, I thought, I can let it cook all day, run errands and not worry about a pot burning on a flame on the stove.

So I tried it. Some ham from Christmas (don’t worry, was frozen then thawed), simple split peas; some carrots, onions; a little seasoning and some water and let it go.

The recipe called for 6 – 8 hours on low, so I modified slightly and let it cook the first hour on high, then switched to low. After seven hours of cooking, it smelled right but didn’t quite look right. I checked the peas, hard as rocks. “Plan B” was served at the Diner that night, the split pea soup would have to wait.

The next morning I put the crock pot contents in a stock pot and on the stove top. Within an hour, split pea soup was ready to serve – at 9:30 AM.

The moral of the story, the most convenient way is not always the most effective way. Or was it something else….

2.09.2011

American Cooking vs. American Cookery

Note: This is the 100th entry that references HH, my Handsome Husband. With that in mind, this is the perfect story to give you a better picture of HH.
In December, HH and I visited Christmas in the Village - couple of wonderful community evenings in our downtown where all the fun shops and restaurants are. There are some great antique shops that have some great kitchen stuff – there are a number of things they have that exist at the Diner, too.

Anyway, on the night we were visiting the Village, we cruised through one shop. HH finished before I did and went outside to watch the parade go by, while I stayed behind and admired the cutest little apron and a few of their seasoned cookbooks – go figure.

At Christmas, I opened a package with that apron I had liked so much but didn’t need. Then another with two cookbooks – one a “cooky” cookbook that HH learned was collectable, and the American Cooking cookbook which HH thought I had spent quite a bit of time looking at.

He said when he left the shop that night, he didn’t watch the parade go by, he watched me and what I was looking at, what I was interested in. He knew the apron was a must, and then tried to figure out which cookbook I had been looking at for so long simply based on the size, shelf placement and partial title of the cookbook. Then the shop owner told him about the uniqueness and collectability of the Cooky Cookbook and was sold.

When I opened the presents at Christmas, I remembered the apron, but not the cookbooks. He told me the story, and about the Cooky cookbook, and that he had gone back the next day while I was working to collect the treasures for Christmas.

Wow. I do love HH.

Anyway, as I looked at the American Cooking cookbook I just could not remember anything special or unique or intriguing that would have caught my attention for so long that evening. Then the January 2011 issue of Saveur magazine arrived, and I realized what I had been looking at that night in the Village. American Cookery by James Beard.

I went back to the little shop last week, took all my treasures from the shop, FOUND the American Cookery cookbook, told my story and the shop keeper let me exchange one cookbook for another – at no additional cost.

I did tell HH that night, I felt I needed to. He was still happy that I was happy, and I was thrilled to have American Cookery by James Beard.

2.06.2011

Super Bowl Feeding

It’s Super Bowl Sunday and that means food, football and, if we are not careful, a stomach ache – not necessarily in that order. Since the Chargers are not playing, well, we’re rooting for whoever makes it a good game. Oh, and the commercials, of course.

Well, the menu is not that of a normal Diner day, although within the realm of the annual Super bowl menu. What does that mean? Here’s the line-up:

Ruffled potato chips
Fritos (traditional)
Fritos (Scoops)
Pita chips
Wheat Thins
Cheetos
Cheez Its
Gold Fish crackers
Kettle Chips (onion flavored)
Sour cream (for dipping)
Bean Dip
Hummus with sundried tomato (don’t know if this will get consumed, though)
Ribs
Chicken Wings
Tempura Shrimp
Pizza with pepperoni
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
Diet Coke with lime
Diet Pepsi
Sweet Tea
Strawberry Lemonade

The only “from scratch” items this year are the cake and the cupcake. Normally I fix something on the stove top all day for the big day. But this year HH had other wishes for the menu and there haven’t been any baked goods since Christmas, so baking was the focus.

On a normal day at the Diner, this menu would not fly – where are the vegetables? Anyway, it was all about the man-food, the man-game and (honestly) the stomach ache before the game even starts. Perhaps I’ll catch my second wind by half time.