I live to eat and love to cook. Welcome to my life!

January 25, 2011

At least my friends liked it.....

Unbeknown to me, there are more than one species of pine nut....who knew? From continent to continent they vary slightly in taste, texture and chemical makeup. And only very recently (since about 2001) has a syndrome known as "pine mouth" come to light.

I personally think it should be called "crap mouth" as damn near everything you eat tastes like crap. But that's just me.

It doesn't matter if it is sweet, salty, fatty or bland. Once in your mouth the food takes on a flavor that I can only describe as a handful of pine needles combined with the pith (white bitter part) of an orange. It's seriously enough to make you not want to eat anything.

Which for me, sucks.


I researched the web and found that it can last from just a few days after eating them, to up to 2 weeks. It eventually goes away, but there is little you can do about it. Some acidic foods can minimize the effects so I thought I would try some citrus juice at work. I grabbed some OJ out of the fridge and it was pretty good, although I am not much of a juice person.

When I got home I figured it couldn't hurt to add vodka to my OJ and see what happened (since wine tasted like ca ca, boo hoo!). And you know what?

It tasted pretty damn good!

I was cooking dinner for my friends that evening and had the whole menu planned out....my citrus and salt baby back ribs, German potato salad and orange bread pudding for dessert. (Friend was bringing salad....no worries, we got our veggies!) Naturally while making the potato salad I had to test the bacon to see if my taste buds were really THAT effed up (please God, no!). And fortunately I found the second thing that didn't taste like poop....bacon.

Go figure.

So I am thinking.....how can I survive on bacon and screwdrivers for up to 2 weeks????

As it turns out, probably pretty well if I didn't have to work or drive.

I made dinner half sloshed on vodka (as I rarely drink it and had no lunch to speak of) and my friends assured me that it was delicious. They even went back for seconds, so I know I did OK. I think it tasted OK, but am pretty sure my taste buds were worn out from the vodka, so I'll have to take their word for it!

The German Potato Salad recipe is from my Nana, labeled on a recipe card, "My" German Potato Salad. It is everything I remember of her...warm, a little sweet, a little tart and very sassy.

Nana's German Potato Salad
6 Cups Red Potatoes, Cooked and sliced in to 1/4" slices
3 Scallions, sliced thin
6 Slices of Bacon (or more if you are feeling the need)
3 Hard Boiled Eggs, 2 chopped, 1 sliced for garnish
1/3 cup Water
2/3 cup White Vinegar
1/4 cup Sugar
2 T Flour
Salt & Pepper
1/4 tsp Dry Mustard
1/4 tsp Celery Seed

Fry the bacon until crisp and reserve 3 T of the fat, chop the rest of the bacon and set aside.

Mix sliced potatoes, scallions, chopped egg and bacon together in a bowl.

In a small pan, mix together the rest of the ingredients and cook slowly until the dressing is thickened, season to taste with salt & pepper. Pour over potatoes and mix thoroughly. Put in whatever serving bowl you plan on using and garnish with the sliced egg.

This should be served relatively warm, I left it in the stove while I was cooking everything else and it was the perfect temperature. You can also microwave it briefly if it isn't warm enough.

January 16, 2011

A fairy tale recipe

Once upon a time (1997 ish) in a land far far away (Los Angeles) a young and beautiful but very unmotivated girl (me) decided that instead of working as a waitress and dancing away her life in the trendy LA clubs she would go back to college (for the 3rd time) and expand on the skills as a cook that her evil mother (not really, it just makes the story sound better) had forced on her since she was a poor underprivileged child (again, fabrication to make the story more interesting). And finally one day she would become famous and cook like Julia Child on TV. And she would live happily ever after with a fat paycheck and lots of friends and admirers who not only loved her cooking but her sparkling personality.

So off to Santa Barbara did she go with dreams of being a chef fluttering about in her brain. Chop, dice, slice and plate....stir and saute and everyone would be so amazed by her skills that the years of schooling (bad word...hate school) would fly by.

Yeah frigging right.

She did chop dice and slice....and she scrubbed pots, pans, floors and grills, took apart ovens and hoods to clean and fix them and most of all learned that she wasn't as special as she thought she was. There were in the first 6 months, 60 students with the same dream. And some of them were as good as the girl (but not very many), some were worse and some were just there to waste time and space.

For the most part, the ones that stuck bonded and became friends although there were a few in the crowd that were just no fun at all and were not invited to any of the reindeer games held at East Beach, the Ranch or the Flintstone house. (Those are the ones that do not read this blog). The ones that bonded not only learned to work together, but to cook together and became a bit of a yin/yang. (you know....you pick up where I leave off....I'll fill in where you aren't able blah blah blah).

After 12 years and a separation of many many miles (Seattle to Ventura) the girl found that the bond forged all those many many years ago had not been broken and that it was just as perfect cooking with of of her lovely friends this weekend as it was so long ago at the kitchen in the ranch house on Highway 150.

After a yummy lunch in Montecito (where lovely friends Daddy paid, bonus!) and several glasses of delicious wine, they put on their thinking caps when presented with a gift of fresh Alaska halibut from the friends brother who also happened to bring organic carrots and greens from the family ranch.

Brother requested Halibut chowder, but the recipe called for too much cream, milk and butter for the girls (they were constantly watching their girlish figures of course) so they opted to do what they do best and NOT follow the recipe.

In to the pot went 1 chopped onion and some olive oil which they stirred until it was soft and browned. They added 3 cloves of garlic (which was not nearly enough for the friends VERY Italian Daddy but oh well....), 2 large shredded carrots and 3 small russet potatoes which were peeled and diced in to 1/4 inch chunks.

In to the pot went about 10oz of chopped tomatoes (canned...but fresh would work too!) and 16oz of chicken broth (you could use fish stock if you had it). Meanwhile the girls were enjoying glasses of Daddy's wine, for he has a nice cellar and a good palate and someone has to drink it, right?

Stir, stir, stir....boil bubble toil and trouble....chop up the fresh Kale (about 1 bunch if you were to get from the grocery store) that Aunt Sandy & Uncle Roland brought in to little shreds and toss it in to the pot. They then poured another glass of wine and let the stew simmer until the potatoes were nice and tender.

More liquid was needed after while (not wine silly...they had plenty of that!) so they added about another cup or so of chicken broth to the pot and then took some liquid out and mixed it with the roux (butter + flour, cooked just a bit) on the side and blended that back in to the soup to thicken it.

About  2# of fresh halibut was trimmed and chopped with care (even though the girl was questioned by Dad to see if she knew what she was doing, Ha!!) in to 1# chunks and set aside for introduction at the last minute so as not to overcook and get rubbery.

A touch of heavy cream, salt and pepper and then the halibut which was cooked ever so gently in the chowder until it was just done.

Crusty bread and a bottle of Carhartt Vineyard Pinot Noir and they all lived happily ever after! (Especially after a second helping of chowder for all!)

And maybe they were happier after a bottle of Byron Pinot Noir for the girls after a very long and trying day...but who's counting????

The End