From the red book…

They say I’m a good cook. I try new dishes. Just tell me the ingredients and often I can figure it out. I’m always learning.

Sometimes my mom wasn’t a very good cook when I was little. Sometimes the scrambled eggs had shell fragments. But once I grew up, I have some favorite dishes that she made. Her pot roasts had awesome carrots onions and potatoes. The chuck roast was ready to tear into and I would cover it all with gravy. I always put pepper on top.

We had a beverage we called pond scum. It was a couple different Kool-Aid packets with 7-Up. Usually, it was only for parties. Another dish we had that I loved was “beany goop” which was a casserole with different kinds of beans in it and a breaded topping.

One of my friends says that she has to follow a recipe religiously careful. I’m more flexible. I don’t think I’m a cooking heretic. I just have things I make.

The old kitchen had shiny copper titles on the wall. There was a window over the sink looking out at the field and the mountain behind it. The dinner table was off to the left and we had a lot of family dinners there. I don’t remember much specific besides my insistence that “no singing at the table” was a rule.

I get a little sad when I think of those days. We lived far away. The school bus took us in to school. I sat in the middle on the right. It let me watch the roads go by and I could stay out of the target of the mean kids.

In the winter, snow drifts piled high. I liked playing. We would lob snowballs at the trees. The weather never seemed radical back then. We got rain when we needed it and the snow was not oppressive. For some reason, I don’t remember shoveling snow. We didn’t have a sidewalk—living out in the country, there wasn’t any point.

I remember the snow cones with real snow. We would dribble maple syrup on them. It was nice.

I’m a late bloomer in my cooking. When I was in school, I didn’t cook much. I don’t remember anything to remark on. I was glad that I could eat in the cafeteria. Sometimes I have nightmares that the cafeteria would be out or that I got there too late. My cooking now might be a subconscious wish to never be late.

Spices for Cauliflower

A serving dish of hot food
I have an excellent cookbook “Rodale’s Basic Natural Foods Cookbook” edited by Charles Gerras. Mine is the 1984 edition.

It has lots of useful tables. How to prepare seafood, cooking methods for vegetables and quite a few others.

One table includes information about spice/vegetable combinations. The attached PDF summarizes the information. I haven’t tested many of the combinations personally but I trust the source.

(Although it’s not in the chart, I discovered that celery seed goes well with cauliflower.)

Spice Table

Low sodium

a drawing of a cookbook
I decided to start taking the doctor’s advice to lower my sodium input. After all, I am taking blood pressure medication…

So, my first go is to start making my own food. I made a pasta bake tonight. I thought I was doing well.

Then I added up the sodium content. There were 7000 mg sodium in it. About 4000 of that came from the tomato sauce I used. The label advertised that the can had only had “280 mg” / serving. But, the serving was half a standard serving so their bragging about being ok on sodium was a lie. Shame on you Red Gold.

I’m not sure how many meals I made in the dish. However, I’m coming from behind in the race to beat prepared frozen dishes.

Next time, I’ll be more careful in my grocery shopping…

Cooking experiments: cook: 1; cooking disasters: 1

upsidedown red bowl
Today’s experiment: use Skyr (icelandic yogurt) instead of water to cook instant oatmeal. Not good at all. I didn’t even try to eat it. After the fact, I see that wikipedia suggests there’s a dish “hræringur” that might be similar to what I was hoping to make although it appears that for hræringur the Skyr is added after cooking the oatmeal, not before.

My first mistake was not stirring it before microwaving it. With water, the boiling action does good enough at mixing with the oatmeal. Skyr is pretty viscous and there was dry oatmeal at the bottom when it was supposed to be done. I tried to recover by stirring and using more time in the microwave. However, there was no hope of success.

I tasted like unpleasant sour pasty mush.

Hopefully it hasn’t hardened in the sink. Gotta do dishes tonight anyway so I’ll clean it up one way or another.

The lesson is, don’t substitue sour dairy products for water with something that you normally add sugar too.

Running score to date is: cook 1, cooking disasters 1. (The first win was documented at Mac n Cheese)

Taking over and other notes

I went out and looked at my morning glory today. It’s taking over my dome. I just wish it would start blooming. It’s got gorgeous big leaves. I took some pictures but haven’t looked how they came out. The leaves were wet so that might help the images seem a little more interesting.

I’m thinking of buying a Moto X2. I have to decide whether the $300 is worth spending to get a better GPS. The specs say that the Moto has more GPS standards that it supports than my Galaxy S3. I need to look at more reviews, but one forum and people criticizing the S3 and praising the Motorola phones. Some of the people in the forum were confused and thought that the question was to find a more accurate GPS which doesn’t make much sense, but other people understood correctly that he was asking about reliability and not accuracy. I’m not able to trust the old phone for going on trips because it drops signal way too easily and takes forever to get it back. I’m hoping to keep my current phone in my car without a SIM for the purpose of its camera. Nobody has anything good to saw about the Moto X2’s camera.

I was trying to edit the previous Journal article on deviantArt to fix a few typos but Fella woouldn’t let me. I send a support request, so hope it gets solved soon. Here’s my main gallery:

Tomorrow is the first day of me not taking any classes. (In other words, classes start tomorrow and I won’t be taking any.) I’m not sure how long the library access will stay live.

I was listening to a cooking program on NPR this afternoon. It was striking how much the show host was including wine as an ingredient or giving the type of wine that goes best with the dish. It was really enjoyable to see how enthusiastic she was and swift on her feet to answer questions and describe fairly intricate dishes from memory.

I’ve got 7 containers of crushed tomatoes in my freezer last night. I put up about 15 tomatoes yesterday. There are 7 or 8 on the vine that are close to being ripe, so I might harvest a couple more tomorrow. I haven’t made soup in forever and the tomatoes would be a good ingredient, or perhaps to make pasta sauce too. I was thinking today to go searching thru the local libraries’ catalogs to find some new cookbooks. The radio program inspired me to get creative. I have a PLAC card so that I can borrow books from any public library in the state.

I had an incident yesterday. I was leaving the gym and when I got out I had a tire that was completely flat. At first I didn’t think I could take off the lug nuts but I thought about a better way and took off the lug nuts. A guy that was exercising outside came out and helped a little. I had a problem getting the tire off the axle. I ended up calling the roadside assistance service from my insurance.

The service guy pulled up on a motorcycle and had an electric drill to quickly tighten the lug nuts. He showed me that I could have fixed the tire without his help… I just needed to bang the flat tire’s rim with the spare tire. It’s an example of me not thinking outside of the box to figure out how to use the tools I had to solve a problem. Today I had dad show me the right place to put the lift for the car. Yesterday I was too close to the wheel and broke a plastic clip on part of the fairing below the wheel. Now I know where to put the lift next time.

So, several good things happened yesterday that seemed to be God’s help. I parked the car facing north, which I usually don’t do. This meant that while I was waiting for the service call to come, I wasn’t baking in the sun. Also, because I was parked that way, the tire was immediately visible as flat and I didn’t have to start driving off to realize the tire was flat and possibly damage the wheel or tire worse. In addition, while changing the tire, I saw the screw that punctured it and it was in the middle of the tread which should be an easy place to repair.