Friday, January 8, 2010

An inordinary love of bacon

I love bacon... not the turkey, fake, or precooked kind... real honest to goodness thick sliced, honey smoked's one of the simplest meats, yet it is so very versatile and really much better tasting than it is for you... but all that 'bad' stuff about bacon aside... I just love it, and I love to cook with it all the flavor it imparts... amazing! 
Some of the items in my 'bacon' cook book include some things I'll be sharing with you in the near future:

  • Magimom's Tons of Tater's Potato Soup
  • Green beans 'n bacon
  • Green bean casserole
  • Bacon wrapped shrimp
  • Garlic stuffed pork roast
Yep, I use a lot of bacon in my kitchen, and definitely not just for breakfast. your heart a favor, as I have for my loved ones -- use the best cut of bacon you can afford, and make sure that you always, always drain the fat. Try to make sure that you get a really meaty (pink) cut of bacon instead of a really fatty one -- you can tell, if the marble is more than 30% white, there is way too much fat, try a better cut, or better yet, find a butcher (rare I know) that will cut some to your specifications... out of the way country grocery stores are best for finding this kind of thing... and the more rural the better in some cases -- our local store not only cuts its own meat, but most of it is local, farm-raised and butchered... it's good stuff -- and really fresh! 
Don't scrimp on your bacon, it's not good for you... and the flavor isn't always the best either. 

From the kitchen of a mom, with lots of love!

Beef and Mushroom Stew

So, from now on, I think I'll check my camera to ensure that the memory card is actually in there before I start taking pictures of dinner -- because you surely cannot just drop everything to charge batteries, or put in a memory card... it is the kitchen after all... Well, enough about that -- as I mentioned in my first post, I have fallen in love with food blogs. One in particular that is my current obsession is The Pioneer Woman. This site is incredible. She blogs daily, about life on a ranch, her kids, and the food... incredible. delicious. unbelievable. food! She posted the original Beef and Mushroom stew recipe on her blog, and I decided to try it out, being a lover of all things beefy and mushroomy! Once I got to looking at the ingredients, I determined that I could not use all of the ones listed... because a. my kids won't eat it... and b. my kids won't eat it... hehe... did I happen to mention that not only do I have teenagers, but they're picky eaters, with well developed palates -- especially my middle son, SG... oh does he love good food! He's the only one in the house besides my oldest son and I that will even think about touching sushi... 
So, not only can I not cook with certain things... having seven to feed on a very limited budget -- I also cannot afford to cook with certain things. So -- I made a few minor changes, and viola! My own version of Ree Drummond's Beef and Mushroom stew... Without further ado...

The participants in tonights feast: 
Beef 2-4 lbs -- stew meat or top sirloin cut into stew size chunks... I did use top sirloin for two reasons - one the sirloin just looked better than the stew meat; two the sirloin was .20 per pound cheaper than the stew meat.
Mushrooms - I used about 5 cups or so -- baby Portabella's if you can afford it -- I cannot deny the flavor and wonderfulness of this awesome little fungal friend. However, the ones I have access to that actually look like something I would eat are at least $1 a pound more expensive than their less wonderful counterpart the button... If you can afford the Portabella and want to, go for it, you won't be disappointed I promise! One day I will have my own portabella farm, then I will eat nothing but.. Ok, so I digress, I used button mushrooms... and a little more garlic, salt and onion to enhance the flavor a bit. 
Garlic, nothing but fresh will do -- don't scrimp on this -- ever. It's not worth the 34 cent's you'll save buying the dry ground stuff over the real thing, trust me!
Olive oil -- you can use any oil, I know Olive oil is expensive, therefore I use sunflower oil, it's about $2 cheaper, and while it doesn't have the same flavor, it's just as healthy and flavorful on its own. 
Butter, and again -- don't scrimp unless you have some secret I don't know... use the real thing, salted or not
Green onions... just the white part, or a shallot. My kids don't like shallots... I tried... they just won't eat them. I don't know why -- but the only onion I can get past them is a green one, most likely because they're mild and easier on a kids palate, but we use a lot of them. 

Can of Beef Consumme, if it comes in generic, my store doesn't carry it, I had to use Campbell's. This stuff is good, and good to have around for any time you need something in a dish. It's very versatile and a bit thicker than broth. 
Fettuccine, one box generic is fine... cooked to package directions 

Flour, maybe a cup or so... you need to judge this yourself

So... down to business... 
Cut up your sirloin and trim the fat. Put it in a bowl and set it aside. 
Heat 1/2 stick of butter on med high to high heat, add olive oil (to cover the bottom) and allow to get hot. 
Chop up the whites of the green onion in a fine chop, I normally will use my little power chopper for about 10 seconds to get the desired chop, but I can't wield a knife as well as I could anymore. Chop three cloves of garlic finely. The easiest way to do this is to peel and "smash" the clove with the side of your knife -- it flattens and separates and makes it easy to chop up. 
Now back to the meat... sprinkle with Salt, Pepper (lots of pepper), and garlic powder. Sprinkle flour over meat and stir to coat meat with spices and flour until meat is well coated.
By this time your oil/butter should be hot — toss the meat in and sear it on one side, about 2 minutes… then flip it on over and sear the other side for about the same time. You can stir a bit to ensure that the meat is browned on all sides… (the original recommends that it be in two batches one good layer on the bottom — but I’m always in a hurry).

Your meat should look something like this:

Remove meat to a plate, and turn the heat down to med-low. 
Add onion and garlic and allow them to cook until they start to brown. Remember, there is butter in the pan and things will brown more quickly. Add the mushrooms, washed and if you like sliced, if they're sliced they don't take as long to cook. 

Stir the mushrooms around to coat with the butter, onion, and garlic.

Cook for a minute or two and add one can of beef consumme. Stir well and add a can of water, mixing well.

Let the mixture come to a nice rolling boil and add some salt — however much you like. Let the mixture bubble nicely for about 5 minutes and then add your meat, and the juice from the plate… can’t forget that lovely juice!

Now is when you turn it down to simmer, pop a top on the pot, and forget about it for 30 minutes… just let all that good stuff go to work together! During this time, cook your pasta, and prepare and sides… I made green beans with bacon and cheesy garlic biscuits. Recipes in another post... ;) 
When the simmer time is over, put 2 tbs flour in measuring cup, and add 4 tbs water, mix well and add to pot. Leave cover off and allow to cook another 10 or so minutes until nicely thickened.

Spoon over nice bed of pasta, add a dollop of sour cream and a little bit of chopped onion top, plate up the sides and serve!
And I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I would be checking my camera before I start cooking from now on... this step by step stuff can take up a lot of photos... I had the entire dinner plated up, and ready for it's close-up, only to discover my camera had no memory left... and the darned memory card was in my computer... and I was serving dinner, and my hands were wet... and most importantly... my food was getting cold... so -- from now on I'll show you the total finished product, and maybe next time I make this, I'll get a good photo of the finished product for this post... maybe not, you never know! 
So... guess what??? I was cleaning out my camera, and found the elusive photo I thought I had taken of the nicely plated food, but couldn't find... anyway, here it is: 

OH wow... this stuff was GOOD!
This served our family of 7 with just a little pasta left over — but two of mine don’t eat pasta. I think it would serve 8 pretty well, with sides or 4 by itself with pasta.
Everyone in my family enjoyed it with and without the pasta -- and the biscuits just really hit the spot with this hearty stew. It's a definite 'must serve' on our list of meals in the winter! 
Hope you enjoy!


I've been on the web for close to 20 years now... I know that seems like a very long time, but really it's not all things considered... I started 'surfing' in the early 90's, when the web was young, and all you had was IRC chats... In all that time I've seen a lot of things on the web. Now, I'm on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace (though very rarely), and various other sites... like Blogger regularly. I've come to one very strange, yet serious (to me) conclusion.... I love food blogs! I love everything about them... the recipes, that always give me ideas of new things to test out on the kiddos... the photos of truly amazing looking food, that I could never HOPE to prepare in my meager kitchen, but do so love to fantasize about! I love the stories that go along with these blogs, the way the writers bring you into their own kitchen and share themselves along with the cooking wisdom. Yes, I'm hopelessly in love with food blogs... and food... and making my kids eat strange and new things.

So I've decided to take my love of writing, and cooking, and taking acceptable photos and put them together here. I'll be sharing some of the meals I prepare, as well as the blog that inspired my cooking and adaptation. 

I don't always follow recipes exactly; honestly, I don't thing any true cook does. I think that most good cooks take a lot of liberty with the written recipe. Especially when it comes to cooking for kids; this is most important when said kids are teenagers with minds, opinions, and attitudes of their own... teenagers who won't hesitate to tell you when they don't like something, by eating a peanut butter sandwich for dinner... when you just spent three hours cooking... 
I test everything on my kids; from appetizers and dips to entrees, beverages, and more... they are little guinea pigs... and they love it - most of the time. 
As I test this stuff out, I'll share it here... just in case anyone is listening... HA!