Unconcerned with Fire

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One of my co-workers remarked on my cavalier attitude towards the fact that I tend to start fires when I cook. And I’m very ok with the fact that fires happen. I’ve always put them out and I see them as a learning method. Fires with me are also semi-rare. They only happen when I’m trying something new. Like deciding that I can make a raspberry-whiskey sauce from a recipe that I half-assed remembered off the top of my head. You have to break a few eggs to make an omelette, right?

Well, in my case, I need to break a few eggs and set them on fire in order to make an omelette. It’s just something I have to grow out of.

Eventually, when I learn how to cook properly, I’m sure I’ll stop setting fires. If not, I’ll have lots of fun with what I’m now calling EXTREME COOKING!

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A Lesson in Fire

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Yesterday I decided that I wanted French Toast. Except I had no bread, or milk. What I had was tortilla wraps, and vanilla Greek yogurt. I also had raspberries. And whiskey. So I decided to make…French Tortilla. I don’t know what it should be called, but I mixed yogurt and egg together, drenched the tortilla in the egg mix and cooked it like French Toast.

I also decided that I wanted to make a raspberry-whiskey sauce because…I remembered seeing a recipe somewhere and thought it looked good and like I could handle it. Sadly, I couldn’t find the recipe so I just winged the recipe from what I could remember.

Except…I’m kind of clumsy in the kitchen and “winging” things is never a good idea. However, I really wanted to try the sauce so I went for it.

And then a fire happened. There I was standing in my kitchen in a sports bra and basketball shorts and flames were shooting up out of my raspberry filled pot. My first instinct was to run away screaming, but then I remembered that there was a fire in my kitchen. So I used a plastic spoon turn the heat off on my stove and push the pot off the element. The fire eventually went away.

That’s when I realized that I probably should follow recipes and not cook with alcohol. Ever. Unless I’m drinking it. Drinking alcohol while cooking might be ok.

P.S. I managed to make a raspberry sauce without the whiskey and the French…tortillas turned out fantabulous!

Day 1.1 – Adult Eating

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Along side this whole writing goal thinger that I’m working on, I’m also working on trying to eat like a fully grown human being. Meaning, I’m attempting to prepare healthy meals that don’t involve Sapporo noodles or mushroom soup and crackers. So last night I sat down and actually planned out my food for this week and planned out my groceries for the week and into the next couple of weeks as I spread out non-perishable stuff. Not only did I plan out what I was eating, I planned out how much that I would be spending because I’m really trying to enforce this being a responsible human thing into my lifestyle.

So yay! I went grocery shopping today (Part one of two – I have to get my non-perishables tomorrow) and picked up what I needed for my dinner tonight, lunch tomorrow, plus breakfast stuff to last me into next week and dinner stuff for the rest of this week. Then I came home and made a super yummy and weirdly super filling sammich (I prefer “sammich” to “sandwich” because “sandwich” sounds awkward). I took the idea from a sammich called “My Big Fat Greek Sandwich” and made it how I wanted to make it because I couldn’t remember where I put the recipe for this beauty that is now a part of my regular menu.

I’m still calling it “By Greek Sammich”. Check it out.

Ingredients:

  • Red onions ($0.88)
  • English cucumber ($2.49)
  • Yellow pepper ($2.07)
  • Green pepper ($0.81)
  • 2 Artisan bread rolls ($0.50)
  • Italian blend pre-mixed salad ($2.99)
  • Boneless/skinless chicken breast ($2.74 – based on 3 breasts in a pack that was $8.22 total)

Total: $12.48

What I did:

  • Cut up half the cucumber, yellow and green pepper into cubes and cut up a third of the onion. I tossed that in a container and shook it all up to get it mixed and then tossed in some Italian salad dressing to make a Greek (ish) salad. I skipped buying feta and Greek salad dressing because I wanted to buy other things like yogurt, frozen juice and milk.
  • While I was doing that I boiled a chicken breast. When that was done I used a couple of forks to pull and shred the chicken a part until it was all shredded and was what is apparently called “pulled chicken”. At least that’s what the recipe called this process if I remember it correctly.
  • When that was all said and done I cut a bread roll in half and partially hallowed out the top and filled it with my Greek (ish) salad. On the bottom I layered on the Italian blend salad and the “pulled chicken”. I squirted on a little bit more of the Italian dressing then closed up my sammich and rolled it tightly in a ziploc baggie and let it sit in my fridge for a bit to let the flavors get into the bread and chicken.
  • Finally I ate it and dubbed this the hardest and longest I have ever worked for a sammich.

On the upside it was super filling and my lunch is ready to go for tomorrow. And based off of my math (it might be wrong), each sammich cost $6.24 each to make though that doesn’t include my Italian dressing which I already had. Plus I have half a cucumber, half yellow pepper, half a green pepper and two-thirds of an onion left to make stuff with as well. Could I stretch that further? Could I cut the prices of this stuff down?

I know I can, I got lazy and instead of buying my veggies at one of the many cute Asian markets in my area, I paid extra and bought my veggies at a Safeway. I could have bought the chicken at a cheaper price, but I was determined to try this recipe, so I bought the cheapest chicken that I could find between Safeway and my corner grocery store and came home to make my new and fun sammich.

Now that I’ve tested out this recipe, I’m ok with making it. I mean, it is the longest and the hardest I’ve ever had to work for simple sammich, but it was worth it. It was filling, healthy and not disgustingly expensive and didn’t demand that I buy anything weird for that once specific cooking adventure. Instead I got ingredients that I could use later on for other things and these are items that I normally keep stocked so I won’t have to run off and buy anything special whenever I feel like having a Greek (ish) sandwhich.

Do you have any recipes like these that are simple and include items that are normally in your fridge? What’s a good go-to meal that you know you can make in a pinch if you run out of idea? Can you suggest anything that won’t have me burning my house down?

Day 11 – I Can’t Cook

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I will be the first to admit that I’m not very self sufficient in the “living alone” department. All through my childhood and teen years, my mom and dad were there looking after me. My mom especially. And when my mom wasn’t there, there was always someone there taking care of me. Mom woke me up for school, made my pre-game pancakes, packed my lunch, knew where my basketball shoes were, washed all of my stinky and sweaty jerseys and socks and took care of all my sprains, pulls, tears and ouchies. I’m an independent being, there is a lot in this world that I can do well on my own without instruction, but when it comes down to actually taking care of the basics of simply living, I suck. What’s worse is that I’ve been on my own off and on since 2005 and I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of not having my mom around.

Case in point: When getting reading for rugby games I used to have to call home so that my mom could help me go over my list of things I needed or guaranteed, I was forgetting something important like my socks or, God’s forbid, my actual rugby boots.

However, the worst of my transgressions in the “living alone” department fall under the category of “cooking”. Not only will I be the first to admit that I suck at living alone, but I will also be the first to admit that I can’t cook very well. I mean, I know how to cook the basics like scrambled eggs, grilled cheese, chicken noodle soup, mushroom soup (Cambell’s out of a can!), Kraft Dinner, spaghetti and chili, but beyond all of that, I’m pretty useless. If I have to stick something in the oven, I’m probably burning it. If I have to fry something in a pan, I’m probably setting it on fire. If I have to boil it in a pot, I’m probably going to burn my hand some way and some how. The only real safe way for me too cook is to either be directly supervised or to make it in the microwave.

Which has led me to being an excellent microwave chef. I’m pretty sure that I have attempted to cook everything I’ve come across in the microwave. Eggs? Yeah, I’m a pro at tasty microwave omlettes. Fries? It’s often quicker than the oven. Pizza? I prefer soggy pizza and it’s quicker than the oven. Soup? It’s quicker and therefore tastier from the microwave. Pasta? I have cooked enough spaghetti to feed 13 people in my dorms just by using a microwave.

Aside from my shenanigans with a microwave, I’ve managed to set grilled cheese on fire (Age 16 – element caught on fire so I flipped the pan with my sammich over to smother the flame and made it worse), as well as several  pizzas (Ages 14-23 – the worst was when it was just two little Mini Pizza’s that spontaneously combusted). I’ve also wound up with funny tasting soup (Age 21 – I no longer add strange beans to my soup), pancakes that cook to the pan (Ages 20-24 – Most recently when I tried to add banana slices to my recipe),  and cake that’s black on the outside and still runny in the middle (Age 19 – I tried to make one from scratch to surprise my boyfriend…he was still surprised, but it was by the mess I made). I’ve seen some of the stuff I’m cooking randomly start itself on fire, congeal into one giant weird mass of BLOB and even just avoid being properly cooked and head straight into the land of “It’s so burnt I couldn’t use it as a weapon because that would be unnecessarily cruel”.

However, I am now the ripe old age of 24 and am quickly heading towards that quarter of a century mark, so I figure it’s time I learned how to cook. Or cook more than Kraft Dinner and soup out of a can. Sadly this past semester and next semester I will remain microwave-less which means my options for quick eats is down to what I can make the will leave enough leftovers for me to eat. Plus salad and a lot of tater tots. That’s not overly healthy though, so I’ve been looking for some slightly better options in the cooking department where I can make quick and easy dishes that will last me beyond one meal. Ideally, I’d probably make something for lunch and then eat the rest for dinner later or eat something for dinner and have the rest for lunch the next day. Now, I also know that I’m very scatterbrained and tend to either get wrapped up in a good book, doing homework or just about anything that I find more enjoyable than cooking, so I know everything I make has to be quick or I have to be able to stick it in the oven for a period of time and not watch it every second that it’s cooking.

Thankfully, I’ve started to  master roasted chicken and potatoes and chicken/turkey/beef/moose stew, but I can only eat that stuff so much before I get sick of it. I also realize that more often than not, I’m going to be eating Sapporo noodles or Cambell’s Mushroom Soup because it’s quick and easy so I probably should be able to cook somewhat healthy sides that I can nomnomnom on to balance out my diet. Again, I’ll be the first to say that my diet last semester sucked. I lived off of mostly canned soup, Kraft Dinner, pizza, tater tots and oranges. This led to my generally not eating because I just got sick of cooking the only foods that I really know how to safely cook without setting my home on fire or poisoning myself.

Therefore, I am entering next semester fully armed with 5 new recipes that will hopefully spice up my feeding regimen and a cool iPod app that will let me look up more good feeding ideas as I truck my way through what will probably be the most boring semester in the history of me. So far I have a neat recipe for BBQ Pulled Chicken, a Greek Salad sammich idea, a recipe for ground turkey (or moose meat in my case) calzones and a neat smoothie recipe as well.

They’re all fairly easy recipes, don’t seem to be overly difficult to make and hopefully won’t lead to me burning any arm hairs off or somehow exploding dough all over the room. Though…next semester isn’t here yet, so we’ll have to wait and see.

What are some of your favorite and quick recipes you love?