Wednesday, November 6, 2013

(Mis)adventures in cooking

Despite my life long claim of "I don't know how to cook" I've managed to pull off some fairly good easy Indian dishes thanks to my two friends from India.  My favorite is one of their stand-by easy "Indian-equivalent of tuna casserole" type dish where you cook up some red rice, then saute some vegetables with some kind of meet, then mix in plain yogurt, cumin, tumeric, coriander, and ginger along with something hot - I've been using Siracha sauce which is my new favorite thing for everything.   Apparently, food here in the U.S. is painfully bland for my friends from India, even when we all went out to a Mexican restaurant the other day (with our friend from Nigeria in tow who also prefers spice).  I knew my friends from India were too polite so I asked the waiter to throw a little hot sauce on their enchiladas.  He looked confused and I said, "Like Siracha sauce?" and he said, "Oh!" and came back with a bowl of hot sauce (which actually wasn't as hot as I expected) for us to add.  I ended up adding it to mine too.  They're a bad influence on me because now I want everything to be spicy and have gotten addicted to among other things Mama Lil's Kick Butt peppers on my sandwiches and salads.

Anyway, I tried to make home made mac & cheese last night since that's a popular kid meal in these parts and Kraft puts a lot of nasty shit in theirs.  Unfortunately, the recipe I tried had too much flour in it so it was kind of gritty and I made a mistake of putting garlic in it when I cooked it so my daughter didn't like it.  She likes some spices and she does like hot red peppers (like in Andouille sausage) but she doesn't like garlic or oregano.  Basil is ok as is thyme.  So, I need to remember not to fill up dishes with garlic until I've taken out her portion.  So, no garlic, less flour.  And I need to get some soy milk because goat milk is expensive to use in mac & cheese! And now that I'm old I can't drink milk anymore (or eat anything with a dairy cream base).  The recipe with my changes is really simple:

8 oz. store bought macaroni noodles (so far I'm a big failure at trying to make my own pasta)
1.5 cups some sort of milk type thing - it's tastier if you can drink cow milk to make the .5 cream
2 cups shredded cheese
2 tbsp flour
4 tbsp butter
salt to taste (which in my case is always a lot)
(if you're not cooking for my daughter, add in sauted garlic onion, and black pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper)   Melt the butter in a sauce pan, add flour and stir until melted, add milk and stir at boiling for a couple minutes, then turn the heat down and let it cook (not at an active boil) for about 10 minutes, stirring constanty.  Slowly add cheese and stir constantly until melted.  Let sit for a few minutes then stir in pre-cooked macaroni. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes in a buttered casserole dish.

It's not gourmet but it's yummy.  If you're not my daughter or I don't add any spices.  Next I'm going to try it with bacon.

I also came up with a good flax seed bread recipe finally after tweaking together a bunch of different bread recipes.  Of course it's a bread machine recipe since kneading bread is not such an easy thing for me (I know - we all forget I have RA except in certain situations like kneading bread where it's a reminder that I have severe joint damage and fit the "disabled" bill.  Luckily, those times of remembering that are few and far between!).

In other news, I watched Cesear Milan for the first time ever last night.  I've read articles here and there by him and I think he sounds like he knows what he's doing and I'm pretty much on board with his theories.  But I've been having trouble with the pitbull lately when we're out for walks and although I'm generally really good with dogs this problem is out of my league.  She's always been defensive when she's out on a leash when it comes to other dogs or people who are in the least bit "sketchy" with their energy.  But it's gotten a lot worse now because she's out with my daughter a lot more now and she's super protective of her.  And it's even worse when we're up at the bus stop in the morning and she has a whole group of kids to protect.

The first time I really saw the full carnage of it was a three years ago when I worked in Pioneer Square.  I took the pitbull to work with me so she wouldn't be home alone all day and on school holidays I would take my daughter to work with me too.  At that time she was about six years old.  One day I let her hold the leash to walk the pitbull and we were passing through the cobblestone square area where all the homeless drunk guys hang out between 1st & 3rd Ave and Main and Yesler.  All was well until a really drunk guy stood up and started staggering toward us and I'm pretty sure he was so drunk he just didn't see my daughter and the pitbull and he almost ran right into her and next thing I knew the pitbull had launched herself at him with the most vicious snarling I'd ever heard from her and if I hadn't been standing right there and instantly reached over and grabbed the leash to pull her back, I'm certain she would've mauled the guy.  I had to drag her away snarling and lunging at the guy, who had fallen over and was muttering, "What's going on?"

Apparently, I am the alpha in the house and around the yard, but not when she's on the leash.  So, today we started a new thing where she always has to walk next to or behind me and is not allowed to walk in front of me.  And when she tried to snarl at a dog in a neighbor's yard I stepped in front of her to her attention and backed her up the same way we back up horses to show them we're in charge and she actually submitted to me.  She wanted to bark and snarl and made these little high-pitched "please let me snarl!" noises as we walked by the yard, but she didn't bark or snarl.  So, now we just need to do this every time we take walks from now on.  Sigh.

Bread Maker Flax Seed Bread recipe that I've finally perfected to my liking:
3/4 cup room temperature water
1 tbsp vegetable oil or melted butter
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 tbsp dry milk powder
2 eggs
1/4 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup sugar (brown sugar is better for this recipe but regular sugar works too)
(don't substitute sugar with a fruit product or leave it out because you're worried about sugar - the yeast needs sugar to activate (and fruit won't provide enough) and sugar really isn't as evil as people make it out to be)
1 3/4 cup bread flour
3/4 cup wheat flour
1 1/2 tbsp active yeast
(if you've never made bread in a bread maker before, put the liquid in first and the dry ingredients second, and make a little indentation in the flour to pour the yeast in as the last ingredient so that it doesn't contact the liquid until the mixing process)
Use the "Basic" setting on most bread machines.

My two girls at Ocean Shores last year.  My daughter and her pitbull:

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