my pot boileth over

I do not cook.

I just don’t have patience when it comes to kitchen work.  I can spend 2 hours hanging pictures “just so”, but the thought of chopping vegetables for 10 minutes has me reaching for the phone to order a pizza.

So it’s a very good thing that I married a man who enjoys cooking, because I think a steady diet of ramen noodles and pizza pops would get old pretty fast.

Wilzie not only enjoys cooking but he is also damn good at it, he is creative and intuitive and is willing to make me try new things.  And as further proof that we are made for each other, as good a cook as Wilzie is, I am an even better taster.*  Together, we make some mighty tasty dinners.

Unfortunately, when Wizlie is working weekends, it’s up to me to have dinner ready for when he gets home.

Last weekend we had Kraft Dinner.

But when Wilzie went to work on Sunday morning, I decided to put all those hours I spend on Pinterest endlessly clicking “See More Pins” to good use.  There are a bunch of recipes available for lazy cooks like me who want something tasty with little effort – all I had to do was pick one.

I decided on caramelized chicken with honey-glazed carrots, roasted beets and smashed roasted potatoes.

The chicken seemed easy enough: per the recipe, I mixed soy sauce, honey, ketchup, olive oil and garlic and dumped some chicken breasts in to marinate.  When it came time to bake it, I just chucked it in a baking dish and tossed it in the oven for an hour at 350 (basting the chicken every 15 minutes).

I chopped the beets drenched them in olive oil and wrapped them in tin foil to join the chicken in the oven.

I diced the carrots, piled them into a microwave-safe bowl, drizzled them with honey and put them on a 5 minute fast track.

The potatoes were the most labour-intensive part of the meal:**  I par-boiled them, and smashed them with a fork, after adding some butter and cream cheese.  Then I spooned out portions on to a greased cookie sheet, flattened them into free-form potato cakes and shoved them into the oven too.

All that was left was to wait for Wilzie to come home.

But when it came time to eat, I realized that I used teriyaki sauce instead of soy sauce for the chicken so the sauce was way too sweet and it seemed more poached than caramelized.  The carrots were still mostly raw.  And the smashed potato-cakes could’ve used a few more minutes in the oven to crisp up.

But the beets were good!

Yet Wilzie was “Yum”-ing as thought it was truly a gourmet-calibre meal.

And that is just one more reason that I know that Wilzie is my soul mate:  after doing nothing more strenuous than converting oxygen into carbon dioxide all day, I can pour some too-sweet sauce over a chicken breast, smash some potatoes and not-quite cook some carrots and, because he loves me, Wilzie not only eats it, but believes it is delicious.

That’s love.

*Even if my most common suggestion is “needs more salt”

**Which still wasn’t very intensive, at all

what night do you want to come over?

When Wilzie cooks dinner:

Appetizer of herbed goat cheese wrapped up in mild genoa salami.

Entrée of grilled chicken breast rubbed with Wilzie’s own spice blend.  Served with roasted, baby red potatoes, julienne carrots and red onions.  Also, asparagus and mushroom sautéed with miso, garlic and lemon juice.

Not Wilzie’s – thank you Contessa

When I cook dinner:

I text Wilzie at work and tell him that I don’t know what to make for dinner and suggest we go out.  He reminds me of the contents of our cupboards and fridge and suggests ways for me to put them all together.

I slice the leftover chicken and reheat in a pan with the leftover veggies.

I cook some rice and mix everything together with sesame sauce.

With a flourish, I produce a coupon and suggest we go for ice cream for dessert.

first, the caulk. now, the balls

When Wilzie picked me up from work yesterday, he announced that he made spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.

The entire ride home was filled with “ball” talk:

“I got saucy balls waiting at home for you.”

“I was going to try a white sauce, but I don’t know how I feel about creamy balls.”

“I thought about adding some coconut milk and ginger to Thai up my balls.”

“I crumbled the old pretzel buns, so my balls may actually be kind of crumby.”

“I hope you’re hungry, because you are going to be putting some big, meaty balls in your mouth.”

Me: “So you spent a good part of your day rolling balls in your hands?”

My husband…he may not be classy, but he sure has some tasty balls.

my mom would be so proud

Is there such a thing as too much bacon?

My heart (and my arteries) say yes, but my taste buds say no.

I’ve mentioned many times here how my Mother’s cooking was not for the weak of heart.  Seriously, you needed a really strong heart, because after a few of her home-cooked meals, your ticker would be working overtime to pump the grease out of your bloodstream.  Bacon was the meat of choice in our house, and Mom put it in everything.

Since marrying Wilzie, my bacon consumption has gone way down.  But on Tuesday, feeling that our blood to bacon-fat ratio was dangerously low, Wilzie sliced open 2 (TWO!) packs of bacon.

It was going to be a big night in the fojoy house.

He put aside 8 slices to enjoy with our pancake dinner, sliced up the rest into bite-sized pieces, and threw half of that into the frying pan.  Then he settled on to the couch and opened the laptop…leaving me in charge of the bacon.

Bad idea.

After the first batch was fried, I transferred it to a bowl, drained the grease and started frying the second half.  Unfortunately, every time I went to stir the still-cooking bacon, I would dip my fingers in to the already crispy bacon in the bowl for a nibble.

Multiple times.

Per stir.

When it was all said and done, I probably ate a quarter of that bowl*.  But that’s not all!  Then we had our pancake & bacon dinner.  The only time I have pancakes for supper is on Shrove Tuesday, and I look forward to it all day, but I only had three slices  of the salty strips because I was already stuffed with my bacon “nibbles” dainty, so I gave my extra piece to Wilzie.

*Please don’t judge me.

Then Wilzie went to work on his snack mix.  I found this recipe on a blog around the Super Bowl (I cannot remember which one, so if it looks familiar, please claim it in the comments – because it is AWESOME!) and we tried it out a couple of weeks ago.  The only problem with it is that it seems to have disappeared.

Maple Bacon Party Mix

2 cups corn chex

2 cups rice chex**

2 cups wheat chex**

1 cup peanuts, salted and roasted

6 strips bacon, cooked extra crispy and chopped

4 T. butter, melted

4 T. maple syrup

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (depending on how spicy you like it)

1-1 1/2 teaspoons Maldon (any salt will do but if you are using table salt reduce the quantity)

**Wilzie used Chex, Cheerios, pretzels, mixed nuts, Honeycomb cereal and, of course, bacon

Combine the cereals, peanuts, and cayenne in a large, microwavable-safe bowl. In a small bowl combine the butter and maple syrup. Add the butter mixture to the cereal and stir very well. Microwave on high for three minutes stirring every minute to prevent the sugars to scorch.

Add the bacon and salt. Stir. Let cool. Serve

So Wilzie worked his kitchen magic, and when the first batch was finished cooking, he brought it to me to sample.

“Mmm…s’good.”  Nibble pretzel.  Nibble bacon.  “REALLY good!”  Nibble cashew.  Nibble bacon.  “SO GOOD!”  Nibble bacon.  Nibble bacon.  “You can just leave that bowl here…”

How did my Mom never think of this!?!

I think I sat with that bowl at my side for the next, oh…2.35 hours “nibbling” on the bacon snack mix.  It was incredibly addictive, and even though I was so far past hungry, I could not stop eating it.  I finally had to make Wilzie take bowl away (as I pulled out another Honeycomb and one more piece of bacon), but instead of making it to the cupboard, Wilzie sat down and started to munch.  That is dangerous stuff.

And there’s more!

Wilzie used the rest of the bacon that we fried (and its gooey grease***) to make potato bacon soup for supper last night.  And even though I have had about my year’s quota of bacon and can feel my arteries hardening as I type this, he works so hard to make yummy meals, it would have been be rude to turn it down…

***I am not a proud woman

And…I may have begged Wilzie to run to our local cupcakerie to pick up a couple of their featured maple bacon cupcakes.

He said “No”.

Jerk.

a master of culinary trickery

I don’t normally post recipes on this blog, because I don’t cook.  The kitchen is Wilzie’s domain, and we are both just fine with that.  Recently, with a heavy heart, and a heavier stomach, Wilzie has (for now) given up his quest for the perfect loaf of bread.  But he made something last week, that was so unexpectedly good, that I felt compelled to share it with you.

Beetcakes.

As in – cupcakes made with beets.

Beetcakes.

Tell your friends.

The Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peeled, grated beets
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • What to do with them:

  • With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Butter and flour 12 muffin cups.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, soften the beets in the butter and lemon juice, about 5 minutes. Let cool partially (Wilzie microwaved the beets – it was quicker and much easier)
  • Refrigerate until no longer warm to the touch.
  • In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In another bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients, alternating with the beet mixture.
  • Bake between 20 and 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a cake comes out clean.
  • There was also a Beet Syrup Drizzle and a Marscapone Cream to put over top, but I honestly don’t think these sweet, tasty morsels need it.  If you do, you can check out the full recipe here.

    And they are really, addictively good.  So good that I’m scared I will find brussel sprouts in my chocolate any day now.

    Wilzie wouldn’t do that to me…would he?

    pour my heart out – recipe for a happy birthday

    Monday was my Mom’s birthday; her third since dying of cancer.

    Over the last couple of years before she died, she became a woman obsessed with battered, deep-fried fish and chips.  When we went out for dinner, if the restaurant had fish and chips on the menu, she would order it.  She became a connoisseur and started seeking out every mom & pop, fish & chip shop in every corner of our city.  Which was so funny to me, because for the first 50-some years of her life, she hated fish; she wouldn’t touch the stuff.  She would actually order fish and chips, to eat the batter surrounding the fish, but not the fish itself.

    I don’t know what brought on the change (neither did she), but it became her favourite thing ever…after bacon, of course.

    So each year, I have a meal to celebrate my Mom on her birthday.

    Last year, we were stuck at home for her birthday, so Wilzie and I, and my aunt and uncle gathered together at her most favourite fish & chip shop here at home.  I had never been, but was excited to try it after hearing Mom rave about their thick batter and homemade tartar sauce.  And when it finally arrived at our table – it was awful!  The batter was soggy and the fish was dry.  The fries were obviously frozen, and the tartar sauce may have been homemade, but that is not something I would brag about!

    What a disappointment, especially considering the year before – the first year after she died – Wilzie and I were in New York on her birthday.  We had done our research beforehand and found A Salt & Battery, a little fish & chip shop in Greenwich Village owned by 2 brothers from England that was featured on the Food Network.  Perfect!  We walked in to the tiny space, placed our order and took it to go (the few seats at the counter were full, as was the bench out front).  We walked over to a nearby park and sat on a bench and savoured the heart-stopping meal.  The food was wrapped in newspaper, soggy and see-through with grease; the fish was fresh and moist, the batter was crunchy and not too thick; the fries were fresh-cut and perfectly fried.  It was heaven.  Mom would have loved it.  Except for the birds and the hobos gathering around in the hopes of swiping a fallen fry.  So I gave them all the stink-eye on her behalf.

    This year we were going to go in a different direction…Milwaukee.  We saw a diner on the Food Network, The Comet Cafe, that puts bacon on everything.  BACON!  On EVERYTHING!  They even have baskets ‘o’ bacon  at the bar on Sundays as if it were bowls of peanuts.  Yes, we were planning an entire holiday around going to a restaurant to eat bacon for my Mom’s birthday.  In Milwaukee.

    But then we decided to go to Iceland instead.

    And though she loved fish & chips, my Mom would not be fond of sardines on her birthday, so we could go to Reykjavík any time.  So that left me with another birthday at home.  After going over a list of her favourite places, nothing felt just right; I finally decided that we would just stay in this year, and I would make her most best-est dish – macaroni & cheese with bacon and onions.  I think I’ve only made it one other time since she died, and it seemed like the perfect thing to celebrate her birthday and remember her by.

    As I cut up the bacon and onions into tiny, uniform pieces, I remembered how everything always had to be “just so”, and I thanked Mom for passing her attention to detail onto me.

    As the bacon and onion fried, the kitchen filled with the smell that will always be “home” to me.  The smell of Mom’s macaroni & cheese, her perogies, her cabbage rolls and breakfast Christmas morning.

    As I added the corn to the pan I smiled at the only vegetable I grew up eating, and thanked the stars that Mom never thought to pair creamed peas with this dish.

    I poured the box of KD (yep, KD) into the well-used pot that Mom had long before she had me and remembered standing on a chair, as a child, at the stove next to her while she let me stir the boiling pasta under her tutelage.

    As I heaped in the large spoonfuls of butter and cheese whiz (I never said this dish was healthy…or classy), and dumped the perfectly fried trifecta of bacon, onions & corn into the mixture, I remembered how happy she was when the whole family was crowded around the kitchen table, scarfing down her creamy, greasy concoction;  each getting up in turn for second (and third) helpings until we could burst.

    And when Wilzie and I sat down to enjoy our meal, it was perfect.

    going under the knife

    I’ve made a couple of references in the last couple of weeks of an impending surgery, and since its tomorrow I figured I should let you all know that it’s all good – I am the picture of health (except, of course, for being overweight and the increased consumption of alcohol).  I met with my doctor in January to discuss my options for this purely elective surgery and was told that I would receive a call from the hospital in about 3 months.  So I waited, excited to finally be going through with a procedure that I have wanted for as long as I can remember.

    3 months came and went, and no call from the hospital – so I called my doctor’s office again to make sure that I hadn’t been forgotten.  I hadn’t – it was explained to me that since it was an elective surgery that it, though extremely important to me, was not a priority.  My wait was updated to 6 months.

    6 months came and went, and no call from the hospital – so I called my doctor’s office (again).  The receptionist apologized profusely and said that I should expect a call from the hospital within 6 weeks.  And now its tomorrow!

    AND I’M SO EXCITED!!!

    As I said – this is something that I have wanted for a really long time – ever since I was a little girl, I would look in the mirror and imagine myself with this surgical enhancement.  It’s something that I was sure Wilzie would be all for, but he actually took some convincing…now that he’s heard 10 years of my reasoning, he has finally come around.  Its going to be great for our relationship.

    Let’s hear it for tubal ligation, y’all!

    That’s right, after tomorrow, there will be no more threat of children looming over my head.  I will no longer have to swallow lab-made hormones (until menopause of course, no moustache for me, thankyouverymuch!).  I can have sex with my husband, all willy-nilly (isn’t that best kind?) without worrying about where I am in my menstrual cycle.  And I never have to worry about pushing a baby out of my vagina, and spending thousands and thousands of dollars each year on it.  I never have to worry about their friends or their grades or their habits.  All I have to worry about is maintaining my pre-baby body (thankfully the bar is set pretty low), how late I can sleep in on the weekends, and where I will be going on my next vacation.

    But despite my excitement, I may be subconsciously worried about my surgery tomorrow (I’m not), because something is definitely wrong with me…

    I wanted something yummy because my surgery isn’t until 11am, and I can’t eat anything beforehand so Wilzie BBQ’d us some hot dogs for dinner tonight, and I fried up some bacon and onions to sprinkle over top.  We butter’d and grill’d the buns, top’d them with mayo, ketchup and cheese whiz, and sat down to enjoy our wieners.

    And it was disgusting.

    A couple of bites in and something tasted off.  Was it the dog, the whiz or the bacon?  I wasn’t sure, but whatever it was was not sitting well with me.  Wilzie gladly helped me with the remainder of my dinner, as I tried to wash the taste out of my mouth with gallons of water.

    Then we turned to our PVR which was had been loaded up with road-food shows like Diners, Drive Ins & Dives and Best Food Ever.  We had at least 5 hours of food TV to get through – and it was a night of sheer torture for me.  Usually when we watch these types of shows, Wilzie and I take notes – keeping track of all the places we need to go to devour these scrumptious looking meals.

    But not tonight.

    We watched shows about Breakfasts and shows about BBQ.  Chocolate and Cheese.  Salty and Sweet.  By the time we got to Sandwiches, I was ready to hurl.

    No.

    More.

    Food!

    I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I only have one thought looping around my head…I had better not be pregnant!