Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gutsy cooks week 6

I spent a few minutes today flipping through the Cooking Bible and marking down all the recipes that we have done so far and the ones scheduled for the future. 

Doing so got me excited to prepare this week's menu
Cod in Tomato Sauce and Spanish Vegetable Tortilla

I saw in other cook's posts that several of them were not fans of fish with tomato sauce.  I couldn't think of a time when I had ever HAD fish with a tomato sauce, so I was game. 

My first adjustment to the recipie was that I used Whiting instead of Cod.  Whiting was on sale... what's a girl to do?  Whiting is a pretty fishy fish, just so you know.  We like fish here, so it wasn't a big deal. 

My next adjustment was that it called for fish stock.  Ewww, I couldn't even bring myself to look for such a thing in the store, so I used chicken stock. 

I thought the procedure was a little cumbersome.  Cook the fish; remove the fish; make the sauce; add the fish; bake the pan; remove fish from pan; boil and reduce sauce.... ehh.  I'm a lazy cook and this was a lot of work. 

In the end I would say that 'yes' I like fish with tomato sauce and 'no' I do not like THIS tomato sauce.  After trying it, Jim and I both thought it was lacking and so I added some spaghetti sauce that Jim had made and I thought that really perked it up.  So if I do this again, I'll just use our homemade spaghetti sauce and cut out a lot of the busy work that was involved here.  The family were not huge fans... well, except Treasure, she ate 3 pieces!

The Spanish Tortilla was like a fritatta, I guess.  It was tons of potatoes and veggies all cooked together with eggs.  I was so excited for this.  I'm a big fan of potatoes and my family is not, so Gutsy Cooks is a great excuse to cook 'em up!

Anything that involves a pile of tastiness like that has GOT to be good.
I browned the potatoes in a non stick pan along with some red onion and I steamed some broccoli and peas.  I beat 6 eggs, added all the veggies to it and then put it back into the non stick pan.

We have chickens, and they provide us with such pretty eggs, I just wanted to show them off a little!
Life always likes to be underfoot... I mean  keep me company in the kitchen.  Here she was singing 'Uh Oh!' to those forks.  She was cracking me up!
The finished tortilla.  You have to cook it slowly and then get it out of the pan onto a plate, flip it back into the pan to cook the other side and then flip it again on to a plate when you're all finished.  It was tricky, but I was successful!
I liked this quite a bit.  I don't think I would use peas again, they were a little weird.  But it was good.  Jim was pleasantly surprised and said "Huh!  That was better than I expected"  The kids were mostly indifferent, so it is definitely on the make again list!  Maybe next time with some hollandaise sauce?
The finished meal. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The eyes have it

So I was inspired by another homeschooler today when I saw her post on facebook that they had graphed eye color today.  I remember doing that with Treasure when she was in first grade.  So, I thought we would give it a try today.  To make it more fun I did a poll on facebook.   I posted to let me know the eye colors of your family.  (We have 4 blue and 2 Hazel)  Wow!  What a response!  When we did the project we had 97 pairs of eyes to graph, at last check we have well over 100!  Perhaps we'll do it again another day to include all the responses.

Asked, who is in first grade,  picked 4 families and graphed their eye colors using counting blocks.  He ended up with 21 people to graph.

The girls used hash marks to figure the number of each color

and then made a bar graph to show their results.
Blue (51), Hazel (13), Brown (17), Green (16) and Gray (2)
 I may see if Jim will do a line graph with the Treasure and Joy tomorrow.  Maybe even a pie chart!  If they do, I'll be sure to add on the pictures.

As a kid, I always thought everyone seemed to have hazel eyes like me.  Boy was I wrong!  What an interesting project.  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gutsy Cooks week 5

This weeks menu is Braised Oxtail with Wine and Herbs and Polenta.

Jim and I both agreed that we are willing to try a lot of things, but just didn't feel like a tail was one of them.  If someone else made it and we could taste it, we would totally do that.  And if we liked it, I would be all over this.  But... that is not the case, I'm sorry to say.  If you want to make this and invite us over.  Great!  I'll bring a cake.  So we're skipping week 5 and we'll see you for week 6, Spanish Vegetable Tortilla and Cod in Tomato Sauce.  Sounds yummy!

In an unrelated incident, Jim wanted a Snickers Bar and all we had were Milky Ways, so he improvised.
He's always got SOMETHING up his sleeve.

Gutsy Cooks week 4

I am behind in my gutsy cooking.  The busyness of life and my own exhaustion in living said life, has gotten in the way.  I almost let this weeks menu slip by when Jim said "Will we have something new and delicious tonight?"  Ahhhhhh, I my cooking soul has been revived!  So I busted out my mushrooms!  This weeks menu was Wild Mushroom Tartlets and Vanilla Custard.  I didn't make the custard tonight because it takes at least 4 hours to cool and the 4 hour mark would have landed at kidlet bed time, so we'll try that another time.

First, I need to say that I think I should gain bonus points for attempting to only grocery shop at Wal Mart.  Ugh!  You first might ask yourself   "Self.  Why would Brenda torture herself by not only shopping at Wal Mart in the first place, but try to shop there almost exclusively?'' My answer is that I have 4 kids.  'Nuf said.

So, surprise surprise, Wal Mart did NOT have the dried mushrooms that I needed.  Or any wild mushrooms, for that matter.  So I bought 2 packages of mushrooms.  Mini portabellas and then the regular old white mushrooms. 

My next obstacle is that I don't have the mini tart pans with removable bottoms.  Think think.  Think think think ""Lightbulb""  I can make a big tart with my spring-form pan.

Third obstacle, I have to make hollandaise sauce.  Ugh!  Really? Can I just skip that step?  Don't you need a culinary degree to make such a thing?  I just worked and I'm tired and.... fine fine.  I looked it up in my trusty Kitchen Bible.  It didn't look impossible.

I was ready.

They say to make the crust in the food processor.  It worked really well.  My crust ended up being a little dry, but since I used the bigger pan, I just kind of patted the crust into the pan instead of rolling it out as the recipe directed.  It worked out well.  Then I cooked up the mushrooms and onion.  The mushrooms are supposed to cool and then be put in the food- processor with some cream cheese.   The recipe says to do the mushrooms first then the crust.  In the interest of laziness, I did the crust first, didn't wash the bowl, then did the mushrooms.  It all worked out.

So then the hollandaise.  I won't bore you with the details, because the whole process went smoothly.  I will however, stop here and say.  Until today I would say "I don't like hollandaise sauce."  But I was basing that on the one time I had it.  I ate Eggs Benedict at Perkins Family Restaurant.  Perkins, is known for their pancakes, not their hollandaise sauce.  And there is a reason for that.  Ick.  But, this lovely, beautiful, happy golden sauce I made today has totally changed my mind and I may just start eating it on everything.  Hollandaise on your cereal kids?

And so, I bet you want to know what we all thought of this naughty little tart.  Treasure ate a few bites but didn't want to finish her piece.  Asked gave it a thumbs down.  Joy had the best response "I don't really like it, but I can see how someone who likes that sort of thing might think it's good."  When asked if he would eat it again Jim immediately said yes.  He thought the sauce was a little too 'acidy' but he overlooked that and had a second piece.  I think I could eat this often, maybe daily.  There are 4 pieces left, if I can somehow eat them all tomorrow... I will.