Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Not for the Vegan-Hearted

Not for the Vegan-Hearted
The world is both a beautiful and terrible place. There is so much pain, so much unnecessary suffering, so much intentional infliction of suffering that it is overwhelming. I spend my days mostly doing investigative reporting in the Fort Worth area. That includes looking into private prisons and immigration--both intentional infliction of suffering on populations unable to protect themselves and having few rights by which to protect themselves. I also read about wars that I do not cover, and starvation caused by greed and all sorts of awful things.
By late afternoon I retreat to some red wine and then cooking food. I'm always willing to share the food with whomever shows up and I'm always happy when people show up for it. The wine is another matter: Better to bring your own if you want to have a glass.
The food here is always good, but sometimes there is a string of a few days when it's just mouth-watering. We just finished a couple of weeks of that. When a dozen friends came in from around the country two weeks ago I started with chicken parmesan and a side or two of veggies, after some nice homemade guacamole and good fruit. The next morning was baked eggs replete with lots of veggies and good bread. That evening we had a barbeque of marinated chicken thighs, marinated shrimp, sausage and tons of marinated barbequed veggies, including asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, scallions, yellow squash and zuccini.
For a going away dinner for the crew my friend Mike made a crawfish boil with corn and potatoes, to which Chepa, my wife/ex-wife added a great ceviche and a mountain of yucca..
Next night, with only a few guest left, I made a baked bean dinner: garlic, onions, diced tomatoes, nicely seasoned; then some fat back bacon, then the really good beef franks cut into 1/2 inch slices. When all was sauteed to the right color, a couple of cans of good beans went in, to which was added mustard, some ketchup, cilantro. A lot of cheating in that recipe but it's the best darned franks and beans I know of, for real. Top it with a bit of cheddar when serving and you're in pig heaven.
Somewhere along the line I made an Uncle Clem's chicken--diced, sauteed chicken breast over a big bed of steamed broccoli florets, covered in a rich sauce then topped with mozzarella cheese and baked till the cheese is brown. Served over Jasmine rice.
We also snuck in lime chicken one night (chicken breaded with good crumbs mixed with parmesan cheese, sauteed, then baked with lots of fresh lime juice so that when you eat it your mouth squeals with delight), with spaghetti squash and sauteed spinach in garlic. Then we went light with hot roast beef sandwiches: fresh rosemary sourdough bread with a bit of mayonnaise popped into the oven till warm, then topped with rare roast beef, homemade coleslaw and swiss cheese. I think we served a side of a melange of broccoli, cauliflower, zuccini, tomatoes, and onions, all cooked in a bit of olive oil and lots of garlic.
Couple of days ago I was in the mood for lamb, so I made a variation on the Greek dish, pastitsio. Instead of using pasta, I covered the base of the baking dish with mashed new potatoes, topped that with lamb sauteed with onions, garlic and scallions and tomatoes, to which was added smoked paprika, cumin, a bit of curry, allspice, and a bit of this and that, which was topped with more mashed potatoes and then covered in a bechamel--a white sauce with parmesan cheese and nutmeg. The whole thing baked for about 30 minutes at 325, till the sauce was lightly browned. Man, that was good.
Last night was an old fashioned mac and cheese. I cooked fusilli cause I like the way the sauce sticks to the screw shaped rings of that pasta. For the cheese I used cheddar, swiss, some mozzarella I had laying around, some colby jack, parmesan. To that the yolks of three organic eggs was added to help keep it light. Also, to the cheese was added smoked diced ham sauteed in garlic and onions and tomatoes (I use that combo a LOT). It was topped with breadcrumbs and parmesan, then baked till brown.
I am sure I'm forgetting the roast pork dinner baked with potatoes and carroes on a bed of celery, onions, apples, and pears; the sauce espagnole I made over the course of two days (with no flour) that I added to several of the dishes; and plain old chicken wings.
I think there is plenty of good stuff left in the fridge, so don't hesitate. When you get here I'll be working on a new story that's due in two days. At least till late this afternoon, when it will be time to cut the grass, open a bottle of wine, and think about what I should make for dinner.

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