I have been cooking up a storm! I have to admit that I prefer to just cook the way that I naturally do, rather than cook and formulate/record recipes. When I cook, typically I don’t use recipes or measurements. To make workable recipes for this site, I do what I would normally do, but I pause at each step to record exactly what amount of this or that goes into each dish. This can sometimes take me out of the cooking zone and make the experience a little less fun.
Lately I’ve been enjoying cooking the way that I cook, and simply photographing it for you as inspiration. Usually when I can’t think of what to make for dinner, I’ll peruse lots of different recipes for different things until I find something that strikes a chord. Then I just go ahead and cook it by ear!
The first thing I made was this whipped and baked carrot dish, which as far as I know, I invented. I promise at some point I’ll get around to actually working it into a recipe, it’s a bit like souffle-light and heavenly. I like to season mine with sea salt, pepper, and cinnamon, it’s perfect for the holidays but I make it all the time.
It’s rare that the fella makes a food request, and when he does it’s usually because I’m completely out of ideas and beg for a suggestion. Whenever he gives one, it’s always something I would have never thought to make. Last weekend I had some gorgeous pork chops from the butcher shop and he inquired about the possibility of them being breaded. Ah-ha! A new adventure!
One of the things that I love most about cooking is the way that you can continue to apply the same techniques to lots of different things. Once you learn something in the kitchen, you can apply your knowledge to all sorts of things! I decided the best way to go for the breaded pork chops was to first rub the chops with salt and let them sit for about an hour (so that they came down to room temperature). Then I coated the chops assembly line style, first in a mixture of flour and herbs, then dipped in egg, then covered ultimately in breadcrumbs. To seal the breading on the chops I fried them quickly in oil, and then finished them by baking them in the oven. It’s always a bit daring and exciting when you cook something new, I removed the chops from the oven, held my breath hoping for the best, and saw this:
The were crispy, moist, and had a nice layer of breading. I think I can adapt this into an oven prepared “fried” chicken by doing additional layers of flour, egg, and breadcrumbs. Yum!!!
At the beginning of last week I decided to make a meatloaf. I always like to stretch my meatloaf and meatballs by mincing in lots of vegetables. This is a great trick for anyone who doesn’t love vegetables but wants to work them into a meal. I use mushrooms, clery, red pepper, orange peppers, and freshly chopped garlic. Then I folded the vegetables into my meat- I use half ground pork and half ground beef (from my friendly neighborhood butcher of course)! I also add in some egg, breadcrumbs, ketchup, and lots of other herbs.
Look at that! It was so good, but of course I couldn’t stop there. Once I had made the meatloaf, I realized that naturally I should also make gravy, so I did.
Homemade gravy is one of those things that sounds really impressive to people who don’t cook, and I’m fine with that. The dirty truth is that gravy takes about 15 minutes to make when you have a good stock to work with. The quality of stock is the single most important factor- good stock means you don’t have to do much extra to your gravy, except thicken it, to make it delicious. I had some extra mushrooms and celery so I threw those in too.
The bonus is that all week the fella got to eat Meatloaf and Gravy sandwiches for lunch!
This is just a picture of one of our leftover dinners last week. I always love to show my leftover plates because I think so many food blogs now are so wildly aspirational that you rarely see true platings from a real household. This is also the reason that I don’t photoshop, color correct, or digitally alter any of my pictures.
Anyway, this leftover night was meatloaf, gravy, seared brussels sprouts, and some baked acorn squash. It was all delicious, except the acorn squash, which was just “ok” because I sort of jumped the gun- it’s not really in its prime for another couple of months.