Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chile Verde

Yesterday, I made chile verde from A Year of Slow Cooking. I've made an effort to be more frugal in my groceries, as I usually decided I wanted to make something then go buy all the ingredients. So I decided to start watching the sale items for the week and then make something based off that, or at least based off what meat was on sale. Before we went to England (more on that later) last week, I bought almost five pounds of chuck roast with no idea what to do with it.

And to no one's surprise, I ended up on A Year of Slow Cooking, and picked that. I had never actually touched a tomatillo before, and I went the extra mile and bought fresh sage and cilantro. I spent probably an hour and a half hand-chopping all the fresh ingredients the night before, knowing I'd never do it in the morning.

Well, I did use the chopper-thing, so I guess I can't say I chopped it by hand. But it did take me almost an hour and a half.

It looked amazing the next morning, and it smelled great even after it had only been in for a few minutes. I was concerned that the meat would dry out since there wasn't much moisture, but it sank during the day and Mama Bird stirred it a little too.

Boyfriend Bird told me I needed to start learning to plate food, if I really wanted to be a foodie. I stuck my tongue out at him, but then spent a little time trying to make it look pretty. I think I had succeeded before I just drizzled fat all over the burrito-taco, but since I didn't have great lighting and had to use flash, I don't think it looks great anyway. So Boyfriend Bird decided to one-up me.

I maintain that it wasn't fair because I had rolled my food up, so it wasn't a great comparison, but he just said I should have thought of that. He wanted me to make sure that I pointed out the artistic way he drizzled his fat in loops. I told him I'd be sure to point it out.

As for the food, though, I was somewhat disappointed. I didn't think it had tons of flavor; I would have found it bland if not for the rice. I'm hoping that having it sit in the fridge for another day will have made it better, but we'll see. I think I may have added too little spices, as I had almost an extra pound of meat in the pot. But even still, I'm not convinced. I'll see if it's better now that it's sat.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Year's Cooking

I have been bad at cooking since New Year's. And even worse at dieting, truth be told. I made it halfway to my goal- 20 pounds down, and 20 to go!- but I've been eating terribly for the last week and a half. So I've gained two pounds back, which has lead me to the conclusion that I need to start running. Of course, I won't be doing that right now. We have a family vacation coming up, so I'll be starting running after we come back from that. Hopefully Netflix will help me along.

But, I wanted to continue my health crusade with my morning muffins at work. Mama Bird got me a cupcake holder for Christmas, so I can safely bring muffins into work in the morning without wasting bags, or letting them get squashed. Of course, most muffins aren't healthy, so of course I tried to make something healthy. So I made cornbread muffins from The Hillbilly Housewife. I was a little curious by it not having sugar, but figured that she knew what she was doing.

The tops of the muffins collapsed, and I thought it was funny. I grabbed one while they were warm, and took a big bite. I barely managed to finish chewing it, and tossed mine in the trash. Sister Bird didn't believe they could be that bad, and also did the same thing. Boyfriend Bird insisted they couldn't be that bad, and said if I kept them for him then he'd take them home with him and eat them.

I told him he was very, very wrong, but held onto them since he was coming for dinner that night. He arrived, and forced himself to eat a whole one while I laughed at his horrified face. He was very, very sweet about it, but finally admitted that yes, he did not want to take them home, and they were pretty bad.

Luckily, the stew I made went over very well.

Using both Rotel Original and taco sauce was too much for my family, and they thought it was almost overly spicy. I thought it was quite good, and would make it again. I might use more potatoes and carrots, as I thought it could have used a little more veggie. But we also used beef tenderloin, so I think I just wanted more stuff to balance up the meat.

I had a bit of an OCD fit over the short winter break, and went through two of the three freezers in our house. I threw away a lot of food that was past good. Some frozen meals that were labeled as expiring in 2007, some meals I recall my mother making right after the end of the school year, some bags of things that had been ripped and were completely frostbitten... and the worse, finding somehow a bottle of red wine had exploded in the freezer and I had to clean the sticky up. Mama and Papa Bird were very, very appreciative, though, and now we have a checklist of everything in the freezers and when they'll expire. We're working through it slowly, and it makes me happy.

I've had a lot of ideas for things I'd like to do with this blog. Self challenges, things like that. Things like using that homemade ice cream maker to make a big vat of vanilla ice cream, then making a bunch of homemade syrups and just trying them all out. I also really want to go through all of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, and cook everything from there that sounds interesting. That, however, will take a right long time. It's also really hard to find those episodes anywhere without buying the DVDs, and while I like the show, I don't think I like it enough to buy it. So hopefully I'll make more use of this. =)