Sunday, July 27, 2008

Yeah, I'm Okay

I know. I haven't posted in a while. I'm a bad, bad person. I haven't written lately because I'm not inspired. It seems like I've already commented on or lampooned the crap that's happening in the world, and I can only repeat myself so many times.

At home, it also seems like the same thing is happening. The sun rises, the sun sets. The seasons change. The kids grow. The love between my wife and me grows. More stuff that I've already discussed or satirized.

I am enjoying my life. During the summer, I go more places and do more things. I don't mind working outside, and life's simple pleasures -- eating wild blackberries, growing fresh tomatoes and walking the dogs -- bring me happiness.

I did recently have a milestone birthday. (I won't say which birthday, and I won't reveal the date.) I got a fry daddy as one of my gifts and tried it out last night. I'm totally inexperienced at fried food. My first stab at a fried coating didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped. It was cornmeal based, and I didn't like the flavor. Later on, I tried a second try, making a coating based on Bisquick. That shit was stupendous! The Mrs. and I ate fried mushrooms and boneless fried chicken tenders. Yuuummmmyyyy!!!

I'm going to have to pace myself, so I don't burn us all out on fried food. With that said though...

What's your favorite fried food recipe?

Have you tried those fried apples? I may try that for the kids.

What's your favorite type of coating? Flour based? Cornmeal based? Something else entirely?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Creative Cooking

During the last week or two, I've whipped up a couple of new variations on some of my favorite dishes. I was so pleased with the way they turned out on the plate that I decided to take a couple of snapshots...

The picture above is a variation of Chicken Parmesan. Since the kids are vegetarians, I used one of those vegetarian chicken patties. As an avid carnivore, I was skeptical, but I have to admit that it's not bad. The fake chicken patty is laid on a bed of home made mashed potatoes, and surrounded by Campari tomatoes, cut into quarters. The entire dish was then sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. The kids really liked it, and I was very happy with the presentation.

This second picture is a variation on another staple around the house... spaghetti. This dish contains meat. I don't really have a name for it, but here's how I made it...

I made meatballs -- the first time I've tried cooking meatballs. The meatballs were made by combining 1 pound of ground beef, 1 egg, basil and oregano to taste. I mixed it all up, rolled the meatballs and started browning them on a low heat. After the meatballs were slightly browned on the outside, I marinated them in spaghetti sauce and wine, with the pan covered.

Around the outside, you will notice that I made sun-dried tomatoes. These were made as follows...
-Line a cookie sheet with olive oil.
-Halve several tomatoes (I used Roma tomatoes)
-Make a baste of olive oil, white wine, basil, oregano and thyme. Cover the tomatoes with the baste.
-Top the tomatoes with Parmesan or Feta cheese. (I used Feta)
-Cook at 200 to 250 degrees for six to eight hours.

The overall presentation of this dish:

Line a plate with fresh baby spinach. Top the spinach with the pasta. Place meatballs on top of the pasta, and line the plate with the sun-dried tomatoes.

I also topped the dish with a single sun-dried yellow pepper slice. Peppers take less time to sun-dry than tomatoes, so make sure to start them later or finish them sooner.

These dishes may sound time-consuming and difficult, but they REALLY aren't. And in addition to being relatively simple, it's cool to see my family enjoying the artistic presentation.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Suffering Builds Character

I look around my country and I can't help but worry. The dollar is falling at the speed of gravity, gas prices are rising to astronomical levels, our boys are fighting a war I don't support, and all we can do as a society is watch reality TV, continue accruing debt and bickering because that T-Shirt at Bloomingdale's doesn't come in cornflower blue. Every generation is a little softer than the previous, and expects a little more without earning or doing. My own children have a cow when I make them walk a few blocks.

I look back to World War II and the Great Depression -- okay, I look back to the stories of history, not my own memories -- and I see a generation that was willing to do more with less. Here's my point... suffering builds character. We need to experience a little discomfort in order to understand what it's like to go without... in order to appreciate what we have... in order to realize that all of our physical possessions don't bring happiness or success.

Yeah, this is a disjointed ramble.