Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ginger Green Bean Chicken and Rice

I just love ginger.  I love all of these ingredients. I'm getting a sauce that I really like.

1/3 cup soy sauce.
1/3 cup of white wine.  There was some left over from last night, really.  

1 T. Rice Vinegar.  I prefer rice vinegar in most salads and sauces. 
1/2 c. water and
2 T. Ketchup
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 cloves garlic or more or less to taste.
This ugly thing is ginger.  I love it.  I rub it behind my ears.  It makes me happy and I could use a little happy.
Peel the skin of the one end of it with a small paring knife, then grate it until you have one 1 T.  Put the rest in a baggy and put in the freezer for next time.  Use it again.
Mince the garlic.  This is my favorite way, but do what ever makes you feel good.  It's important to take your time and feel good. 
Squeeze and it comes out minced.  It's the simple things that do it for me.
I'm not ashamed to stand here and enjoy this for a minute.  I might have mentioned that garlic and ginger make me happy.  At least a time or two.  It all goes into the sauce. 
Mushrooms.  I quarter them, because I like the texture in the dish.  I really don't slice mushrooms much any more.
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, but into bite size pieces.  I've mentioned that I don't buy this much.  Whole chickens are frugal.  The bone in pieces have more flavor in certain types of cooking, but for this recipe this is the thing.  
A good mess of green beans.

Papa is watching Lord of the Rings which will make him happy.   He hasn't given her too much ice cream, yet. I'm getting in my zone.  Should be a good night. 
In my cast iron skillet, 1 T. oil, heated to medium high.  Dry the chicken pieces with a paper towel and drop a third of the chicken into the skillet at a time, browning the pieces.  The brown crispy bits taste good, so take the time.  

Transfer the browned meat to a pie plate and add more until it's all cooked. Into warming drawer, you go, chicken.  

Any other T. oil heated in the cast iron and add the vegetables.  Cook on medium high, turning vegetables with a spoon. 

The vegetables start to brown.  The mushrooms start to sweat and soften.  The beans brown and soften just a little bit.  Be bold.  Keep at it until the beans start to get a little tender.  You'll still get a snap. Into the a pie plate and into the warming drawer for the vegetables.  And wait until the movie watchers are ready.

Now to finish.  But first a little story.  I didn't eat much Chinese or Asian style food until I was an adult.  I grew up in a small town. Not even a McDonalds, let alone much ethic choices.  But there was one place, the Bamboo Terrace.  We went there for Dad's birthday.  He ordered the same thing each time, a Tempura Fried Shrimp.  I remember it being a pretty chessy place, but the great thing about it was the koi pond.  I'd never seen anything like it, big gold fish swimming around.  We kids got to order pork chow mein and a Shirely Temple.  I got to have as much soy sauce as I liked.  Heaven.  I've always been a salt freek.  I love salty things.  But I've gotten off track.  

Put both the chicken and vegetables back in the skillet.  Pour the sauce over it and bring up the heat.  You'll need to thicken it. 

Corn starch and water whisked together.  Once the sauce starts to boil, pour a little in and stir.  You won't know how much the corn starch will thicken unless it's boiling.  Add some more until it's as thick as you want.

A pot of rice.  And remember to start another movie.  

Coming next, the 3rd in the Traditional Food is Cheap.   

Hats, Cleaning out, self discovery

We are still cleaning out Mom's and Dad's house.  It was built in 1962 and I grew up there.  Mom resides in an assisted living facility.  Dad passed away in 1995

I've made important discoveries.  The first is that my parents were nuts!  Well, at least pack rats.

And the second is that they liked hats.  There were tons of them.

Not that there is anything wrong with hats.

We just didn't know. Never saw them.  Don't know where they came from.  There is probably a story behind all of the hats.  And we don't know what it is.  

A third thing we learned about our mother is that she probably needed some additional care before we moved her.

Without revealing too many personal details, let's just say that the three items in this picture are a 1998 local phone book.  A 1997 calendar, apparently unused and a pack of standard staples, 5 packages of 5000 staples each wrapped together.  In case you are a little rusty on your arithmetic, that's an unopened package containing 25,000 staples.  All three of these items were sitting on her desk.  Back to the first thing I learned, above. 

Just another sample of our day. 

Staging in the garage.

A closet filled with my Dad's things as if he had just left them.  Remember he's been gone since 1995.

Step Son never knew my Dad.  Dad liked his shop.  It was always very tidy and clean.  He took good care of what he had.  Taking his shop apart was the hardest.

Just a second, tissue time again.  This collection hung like this in the garage.  Dad liked this.  My fellas are going to take it down and re-hang it in the reception area of our business.  That will make me happy.
Then they brought me this package.  They found it in the attic. It had been mailed from Cleo Springs, Oklahoma by Mrs. Boyd Noble to Mrs. John Bennett.  Obviously, Mrs. Noble's first name wasn't Boyd.  She was my father's sister, my Aunt Vera.  Mrs. John Bennett was my mother, Cathy. 

Anyway, this package was unopened and bound with twine when it was placed in my hands.  Why had it never been opened and what treasure was inside?  Want to see?

Clothes.  Shirts and skirts, home made on a sewing machine.  Another story here which I do not know.
A big trip to the dump.  Another big trip to Goodwill.  All I could take.  Went home and had a drink.  That's all I have to say about that for now.

No.  Two more things.  First, thanks to Daughter in Law for having a good dinner ready when we returned.  And second, Love you Mama and Daddy.    

Monday, February 21, 2011

Traditional Food is Cheap: Hominy Casserole

This is Installment #2 in my Traditional Food is Cheap series

Hominy is a traditional food in pioneer times and the South.  It is made from corn.  This is one of those things it's better not to question how it happens. Dried and ground hominy is called Grits.  Grits and hominy kept many a poor family in the South from hunger during the depression.  

My mother didn't make Hominy, but she did buy it at the store and used it in casseroles and stews.  I wonder why she used hominy.  Did she think it was frugal food?  Did it remind her of childhood?  Did she like it?  I like it and my husband likes it.

So imagine my surprise the other day when the lovely Daughter in Law asked me about hominy.  She had chosen to make a Chicken Tortilla soup recipe which was delicious and contained hominy.   In fact, hominy is found in some Hispanic dishes.  If you can't find it in the vegetable aisle at the grocery store, they will surely have it in the Hispanic section.

Hominy Casserole Makes (6 servings)
1 lb ground beef ($3.99 per lb; $.67 per serving)
15.5 oz can yellow or white hominy, drained ($.69 per can; $.12 per serving)
2 8 oz cans Tomato sauce ($.50 cents each; $.17 per serving)
1 3.8 oz can sliced black olive, drained ($1.85; $.31 per serving)
1 t. salt (less than $.01 per serving)
1/2 t. garlic powder ($1.70/oz; 6 t. = 1 oz; $.02 per serving)
1 t. dry minced onion ($1.43/oz; $.04 per serving)
2 t. Italian seasoning ($3.51/oz; $.20 per serving)
1/8 t. cayenne pepper ($1.03/oz; About $.01 per serving)
1 c. shredded medium cheddar cheese (About $.28 per serving)

About $1.83 per serving for this dish.

Brown the meat and drain off any liquid.  Add all ingredients except the cheese.  Cook on medium heat covered for approximately 15 minutes.  Top with cheese.  Cover and simmer on low an additional 5 minutes.  Do not stir after applying the cheese. 
Corn meal muffins and a vegetable.  Yummy stuff.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

More on Fresh Ginger

This is fresh ginger root.  It is not a local food, but together with a little garlic and soy, along with maybe lime, white wine, maybe brown sugar, other fairly ordinary ingredients, it can provide really huge and modern flavors. 

This piece of ginger was purchased by me at my local grocery story for $.39 today.  My next use of it, coming soon, will use about one-quarter of it.  I'll put the rest in a ziplock baggie in the freezer.  I'll use it again, 2, 3, 4 times, until either it is used up or it gets a little soft and squishy and I stop enjoying using it - for $.39.  And I'll buy another.  I love this stuff; it costs penny's, it provides that whole terriaki Asian flavor thing that is popular and that people pay money to buy in little bowls for lunch, chopsticks and all.  I'm told by wise people that Ginger provides health benefits.  I've currently got garlic growing in my back yard. 

Remember to experiment and expand your horizons.     

Friday, February 18, 2011

Traditional Food is Cheap #1: Swiss Steak

Over the last few years different people have told me that they eat fast food and highly processed packaged food because it is cheaper.  I feel much compassion for the pain I've seen in the world recently and I don't mean any offense, but I've got just a few things to say about this.

I'm committed to the principle that real food is not expensive.  The adverse argument is a sales job that marketers have done to the young ones of the world.  Traditional food is not expensive.  There is a time commitment; organization is required.  But I ask you to tell me what is more important than what you and your loved ones eat.

So I've decided to price a few traditional dinners as carefully as possible and come up with an approximate cost per serving.  This is based on an Alton Brown recipe.  I've actually got a little bit of a crush on Alton Brown.  Don't tell anybody.

Swiss Steak  (Makes 8 servings)
2 lbs chuck steak, purchased this week at $3.99 / lb ($1.00 per serving)
2 t. salt (Less than $.01 per serving)
1 c. flour -$1.99 for 5 lbs; 1 c. flour = 4.3 oz (Approximately $.01 per serving)
1/4 c. canola or grape seed oil  - $3.19 for 24 ozs ($.03 per serving)
1/2 a yellow onion, thinly sliced ($.05 per serving)
2 stalks of celery - $.06
1/2 of small can of tomato paste - $.59 per can ($.04 per serving)
14.5 oz can diced tomato - $.69/can ($.08 per serving)
14.5 oz can beef broth - $1.29 per can ($.16 per serving)
1T.  Worcestershire sauce - $2.39 for 5 fl ozs or less for larger jars.  1T=1fluid oz = $.48 or ($.08 per serving)
1 t. oregano - $4.59 per .75 oz jar or 4.5 t. or ($.13 per serving)
1 t. paprika  - $2.95 for 1 oz jar; 1 oz = 6 t.($.06 per serving)

Cost per Serving: $1.70 for Swiss Steak plus the cost of the rice and vegetable.

Cut the meat into manageable size pieces.  Dry each piece with a paper towel.  Add oil to a stew pot and get it hot.  If you drop a drop of water into hot oil it should sizzle up. 

Combine the flour and salt and dropped the meat into the flour a bit at a time to coat, then drop pieces into the pan.  Keep the meat moving as it browns.   

Removed browned meat from the pan and add more until all is brown.  Keep the browned meat in another pan on the side.  A pie plate is what my mother used.

Now add the vegetables to the pan.  Add a little more oil if needed and stir until they soften and sweeten.  Return the meat to the pan and add the remaining ingredients.  Continue cooking on low for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours with the lid on.   And yes, babies like it.

When you get close to eating, make a pot of white rice and a vegetable or salad.  By the way, I buy medium grain rice for 5 lbs for $8.29 or $1.66 per pound.  What do you suppose 3 cups of cooked rice costs?  Slice 4 carrots and cook them, drain, add a tablespoon of butter, salt and a pinch of dill.  This isn't that hard. 

And it doesn't last long here.  But if you get some left overs off this, that would be a good thing.
Shared with Kelly the Kitchen Cop's Hearth and Soul Hop and

Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

and Prairie Story Recipe Swap

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day.

Happy Valentines Day to my Valentines. Darrell, I love you always with all my heart; and I like you most of the time.

Also, my 4-legged Valentine, kisses to Jake from Momma.

And my little Valentines, Hailey and Caleb.

Yes, you might be observing that the last 3 don't actually read the blog, but just saying.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Presents For My Littlest Valentines and Melynda's Cottage Cheese Buns

Can you keep a secret? 

This one is for Step Granddaughter.

I found this guy at Goodwill.

A small box of chocolates.  You Rock.

Not really sure what this thing is except that it probably has M and Ms in it.  She'll have fun figuring it out. 

And one Peeps because I'm a Peeps freek and I'll probably be teaching that.
Not a bad little package, do you think? 

And for Brilliant Baby , a.k.a the Rock Star.

Also from Goodwill.

Foil Wrapped Chocolates.  He unwraps Kisses and hands the foil back to Papa, so this will be age-appropriate.   
 Another Peeks went into his package.  The rest are in my drawer.  Osbornes, stay out! 

Purr-tect Valentine.

Another fun package.  Both went up high in my closet for tomorrow.  Let's just say I had a little Fun with that.

Now.  Other important matters.  I've been meaning to try Melynda's Cottage Cheese Buns for some time.  They went great with our roast last night.  The batter is sticky, but So Pretty and Fragrant.  Yummy 

Daughter-in-law grew up in a house that did no baking.  She watched and we talked about yeast and smelled the dough.  A pleasant time.
Babies like them.  I brushed a little melted butter on top.  But otherwise, it's all Melynda.  Thanks!