Six Ways to Spend Enjoyable Time In and Around the Kitchen
In Part 1 we did some “warming up and stretching” to take in a movie or two, watch some cooking shows to see how the experts do it and visit the internet to explore how it can help us find great recipes and generate creative ideas. All of this in an effort to explore how cooking can provide respite from the daily grind of soft isolation. Now its time to get down to business and move into the kitchen to lay some hands on.
1) If our coronavirus social distancing continues for a while and your ingredients get diminished you might look in the pantry or freezer and see what looks good. Even with no recipe in mind you can search the internet by putting in a combo of ingredients and see what comes up. For example I just put in pork chop, peas, and sweet potatoes and got back pages of colorful and interesting suggestions, including this one from the Food Network website.
2) I saw a suggestion on line that a good way to change focus from all things corona virus is to try cooking a recipe that requires your full attention. The Atlantic Magazine culture writer Hannah Giorgis discovered a kind of meditative peace in stirring and stirring a risotto in a wonderful article about cooking as relief from the grind of the daily news. Here is link:
3) And finally, here are several favorite recipes that Leah and I really enjoy. The first we found in a Heard Museum Cookbook called “Metate to Microwave” from 1988 for the ever popular “Swiss Steak” with all the tender protein, colorful braised vegetables, and savory, rich gravy that you remember as a kiddo. Here it is almost verbatim:
Take the cheapest cut of meat you can find (should be at least an inch thick) and trim off any excess fat. Brown meat in heavy frying pan or dutch oven; add either tomato juice, V-8 juice or chicken stock until pan is 1/3 full. Spread meat with catsup, mustard and 1 envelope of Lipton’s onion soup mix. Surround and cover meat with sliced onions, green/red peppers, carrot strips, and tomatoes (canned or fresh). Sprinkle with herbs (Italian, oregano, dill, marjoram, rosemary, etc. to taste. Some form of garlic is essential. Cover with a tight lid and cook low and slow either on stove-top or 300 degree oven for 2-4 hours depending on method and quantity. Check and replenish liquid (we like V-8 the best) as necessary to ensure no burning and to create desired gravy, which you might have to adjust a bit before serving. Ladle over mashed potatoes, quinoa, or whatever’s on hand.
The second recipe, affectionately called “Leah’s Dip,” was printed in the New Mexican cooking contest in 1977. It is simple, tasty and different. A fine dip for raw vegetables, a dressing for a cabbage slaw or even to dip your favorite wings in. Mix roughly 1 cup of your favorite mayo with 2 tablespoons or so of soy sauce, and ground toasted sesame seeds. Mix well and refrigerate for several hours to meld flavors. I realize that the sesame seeds may be a little exotic, but really worthwhile. If you don’t have any, perhaps substitute a dash of sesame oil and/or some chopped or dried herbs like parsley, tarragon, dill, or even some garlic to taste.
And finally, in the 1976 New Mexican Recipe Contest supplement yours truly took a prize for “Barak Bean Soup“ when Leah and I were living downtown in a quaint courtyard that is now the Inn of the Five Graces.