Okay, that’s last week out of the way, here is a post from several days ago. I will carry on and do a pasta post somewhere in the next 24-36 hours, promise.

- – -

I have been appropriately chastised by a reader for failing to blog since I posted the roast. I cannot believe it’s been two weeks. My most sincere apologies.

Let’s catch it all up then. First of all I need present to the recipe I promised for the Squash Pizza several posts back. I will this pizza again, however, as I mentioned on January 11, I will pay a little more attention to the quantities of carmelised onion and squash used, and I might try to make the squash a little crunchy somehow, try to give it a little texture before adding it to the pizza.

- – -

Pizza with Squash, Mushrooms, Onion, and Spinach

Ingredients:
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, thickly sliced
1 c mushrooms, your choice (I used portobello and cremini)
2 c spinach leaves (I iused baby spinach)
1 pizza dough (recipe below)
Coarse cornmeal for sprinkling (optional, though I always used it now)
1-2 tbs tomato sauce
1/2 c. cubed Roasted Butternut Squash and Balsamico (recipe below)
1-2 c mozzarella cheese or cheese of choice
1 pinch red pepper flakes

Directions:

1. Pre-heat the oven. Most ovens will need to be set at 500 degrees. The one I am using at present overheats terribly so I do not need to go that high. The higher temperature is especially necessary if you are using a pizza stone, but even a good pizza pan needs the heat.

2. Prepare the pizza dough as directed. When it has risen sufficiently roll it out and slap it into an oiled pan sprinkled with or cornmeal or go the pizza stone route if that is the way you are going.

3. Use ½ of the olive oil and fry the onion slices until carmelised. Do it slowly, let it take 10-12 minutes anyhow. Set aside.

4. Dump the mushrooms and the rest of the olive oil into the same pan and heat the mushrooms till golden-brown and no longer moist. They sweat and ‘give up’ their moisture as Celeste puts it.

5. Just wilt the spinach leaves. Takes only a scant minute.

6. Assemble the pizza. Spread the tomato sauce, then throw on the 3 main ingredients and top it all with your mozzarella cheese.

7. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes or so or until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is crusty golden brown.

8. I have learned over time to do what the pros tell me and let the pizza settle for several minutes when it comes out of the oven. That’s it. Go to it!

- – -

Molly Katzen’s Moosewood Calzone/Pizza Dough

I have been using this recipe for many years. It’s a lock to work out for you, even if you are not comfortable making dough. Pizza dough is really not as big a challenge as people make it out to be.

The dough can be made in advance and refrigerated or even frozen until use. Let come to room temperature before assembling, then knead for a few minutes to warm it up. [I prefer not to freeze it, but if you do let it thaw on its own, then punch it down and let it rise. Don’t try to thaw the frozen dough by any accelerated method. It never worked for me.

1 c wrist-temperature water
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbs honey or sugar {I rarely have honey around so the ‘white death’ has been fine)
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 c flour
olive oil

1. Place the water in a medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast, and stir in the honey or sugar until everything dissolves.

2. Stir in the salt and flour. When it gets too thick to stir with an implement, mix with one floured hand. Knead in the bowl for a minute or two, then flip the ball out onto a well-floured table. Knead the dough for as close to five minutes as you can.

3. Brush a little olive oil over the dough, cover the bowl with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).

The 17th

2010/01/26

Where DOES the time go, no? The HTML date will tell you that I neglected to post this entry when I wrote it. Here it is today over ten days later.

***

Finally got around to using the heel of the roast I have been posting on for a week or so.

I have been watching too much TV. That bleach blonde guy who does “Ditches, Diners, and Drive-Bys,’ or whatever it’s called finally got to me. As I pointed out to someone else a few days ago, it doesn’t matter whether we as viewers find any given host obnoxious; the fact is that we are watching that person, hence the tag ‘viewer.’ They do find him some interesting eateries to check out.
He went to some famous place in the deep south somewhere and had the chef make up a classic po’boy for him. The restaurant’s reputation is built on making a particularly fine version of the sandwich.

Looked awfully good to me, so you have to know what I was doing next time I went up to market.
Earlier in the week I had a po’boy with sides of potatoes and salad and some dessert. Today I had a smaller po’boy by itself for lunch. Today was ‘be creative’ day as my local buddy would say. I had no tomatoes left and I did not feel like going out just for a couple of tomatoes. I used some bottled sweet red papers. Very nice. Somewhere close to the same texture (definitely when you are using winter tomatoes for the original sandwich), and bringing a different flavour to the array of tastes that bombard your buds when you bite into this delight.

Right, here is how the lunch version of the sandwich looked:

The sandwich was gone minutes after I completed the shoot ; I washed it down with a cup of coffee. Great lunch, very tasty.

For those of you who are curious, the folks in America where they are always serious about such things, will say that you must have the right bread and roast and mayo, etc etc etc.
Perhaps this is true. Perhaps I am missing a true culinary event by substituting the ingredients I have used in either sandwich. You would have a very hard time convincing me that these are not really tasty in and of themselves.

The 12th

2010/01/13

I still have to post the basic ideas for the squash pizza, I know, but I had a roast beef dinner tonight that I want to share.

Some people might ask why I am eating roast beef in the middle of the week. The simple truth of the matter is that I generally buy cheaper cuts when they are on sale. I bring the roast home and cut it up into 2 or 3 smaller pieces, each of which is fine for a single person, and throw them in the freezer. That’s 3 roasties over the course of a month for me, most of the time.

I simply didn’t get around to cutting up the roast I bought this past weekend, nor freezing it, so I had to use it now. I am not usually too crazy about going this way because I end up eating whatever meat is involved for days afterward. The upside, however, is that it forces me to be creative about how I use the leftovers.

Tonight I used an herbal crust on the roast which is not uncommon. Choose whatever herbs and spices you like. Don’t stint on amounts either. I used a tablespoon each of oregano, thyme, and rosemary, a pinch of onion salt and garlic powder, and a generous teaspoon of freshly ground pepper. Any herbal crust really helps bring taste to cheaper cuts of meat.

What I had not tried, and here is another imaginative use of balsamic vinegar, was giving the roast a balsamic bath prior to applying the herbs of choice. That seems to have added something too. That idea came from The Angus Beef website on the internet.

Here is the roast prior to cooking. Just throw a little oil in the roasting vessel and put the roast into a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes turn the oven down to 325-350 degrees (depending on the oven) and cook until it’s ready.

You can go the meat thermometer route or you can just learn how your oven behaves and judge when the roast is done the way you prefer it.

If you are cooking a sale cut of any outside round roast you need not to overcook it, and you must slice thin when you are preparing servings. Most times it makes a lovely meal.

Rather than having this meal with gravy in the traditional manner, I tried a blue cheese sauce. It was quite delicious. If you go this route a) don’t make more than 1/2 cup in total of the blue cheese sauce or b) have something else in mind to use the remainder of the sauce you make.

Blue cheese sauce was a dynamite addition to this meal. One last word of advice: don’t lay it on the way you do with almost any kind of gravy you use. The blue cheese is quite rich and strong.

In each case below you can move the amounts up or down, proportionately, depending on how much sauce you want to have around. I saw several variants on the web which also included a nip of horseradish. If you like strong tastes I think this would be a great addition. I don’t have any on hand right this minute so I substituted a milder full-bodied hot sauce. I always have 2 or 3 hot sauces on the go, at least.

The sauce will keep in the fridge for a few days in a storage container with a tight lid. If you don’t have kids constantly opening and closing the fridge it will actually keep a little longer but that is true of everything in the fridge. *smile*

¼ c mayonnaise (I used light)
¼ c low-fat plain yogurt (most recipes will ask for sour cream here)
1 tbs butter, margarine, whatever
¼ c milk (actually it is whatever quantity it takes to loosen things up)
¼ c blue cheese crumbled up
½ tsp hot sauce of choice (I used PC Chipotle Sauce in this case)

Like many simple sauces you can vary one or two of the ‘taste’ ingredients to suit. I keep stressing that a little bit of blue cheese goes a long way. It’s true, believe me.

1. I put these ingredients on a trivet on my ring in a favourite small pot and warmed at a gentle medium heat. You definitely don’t want to bring something like this to the boil.
2. Heat it till the other ingredients blend and thicken and the blue cheese has melted into the sauce. If you break up the blue cheese once it is in the sauce it will melt in a little more quickly.
3. You can use it warm (as I did tonight), or you can let it cool off and throw it in the fridge to be used cold at a later time.

Edit one day later:
I used a smash of sauce as dip for the last of the pizza warmed up at lunch. It was really, really tasty.

The 11th

2010/01/11

I have been poking around on the web seeking different recipes for different reasons and I have come to a couple of conclusions.
One, there are an insane number of foodies who are also photographers. Two, there are even more foodies who don’t necessarily embrace photography as completely as the shooters who love food.

I suppose the only thing I find wrong about the ready availability of these great blogs is the speed at which information overload is achieved. Unbelievable. I have to slow down and process some of what I have taken in over the past couple of days. No more hunting forays for a week or so if I can help myself.

I made a pizza last night that used up the last of my gift squash. A friend presented me with two fat turban squashes at the end of the harvest season. I have waited until now for a good reason to get going with them. In an earlier blog entry I posted the recipe for some outrageously tasty soup I had a few nights ago. I also made some really fine savory muffins in the mean time. I forgot to photograph them before I froze them. I may toss them on a plate and see how they look in any event because the muffins are terrific as well.

Here is a slice of last night’s pizza. It was cooling a bit as is evident by the look of the cheese but you get the idea.

My notions for the pizza came from a recipe on the Canadian Living food site: http://www.canadianliving.com/food/mushroom_squash_pizza.php
and one of those wonderful new blogs I mentioned in my opening. If you are even vaguely interested in food go and have a look at Sugar & Spice by Celeste:
http://sugarandspice-celeste.blogspot.com”

I will post my version of the recipe in the morning.

I loved the tastes in this pizza but when I make it again I will pay more attention to the amount of squash and onion I use. I will try not overcook the squash at all before it hits this recipe and I might slice the onion a little thinner to simplify and encourage the carmelization process.
My pizza was a tad kloodgy (this is a highly technical cooking term used to describe texture or mouth feel), but it tasted really fine. The balsamic is an ingredient I will have to remember to use in other pizza recipes.

The 9th

2010/01/09

Last Night’s Recipe/s

I had a request for the recipe for last night’s meal.
I am not up for complex ‘½ day of prep’ deals right now. It has to taste good, be healthy (with the ‘renewed emphasis on healthy), and be relatively straightforward to prepare for me.
I can help to illustrate what I do by tossing in a few ‘on the run’ photos which I have done.

Bread
The bread is a whole-grain loaf that I buy at Zehr’s. I’m not soliciting on behalf of IHB. It is however only 30 cents more than the Zehr’s in-store bakery whole wheat ‘air’ bread which makes it a real bargain. I just bring it home, eat it fresh for a day or two, then manually slice the rest and into a freezer bag it goes. Works for me.

Turkey

Ingredients:
1 Turkey thigh per mouth (unless you have big a mouth or two along for the meal)
1 handful of baby carrots
1 handful of the rustic rub

If it were accessible to me I would buy meat from stores like the chicken place on Kortright (little strip mall just up the hill from the Hanlon; I cannot remember its real name), or Rowe’s. Both are expensive but the difference in quality and taste is payment enough for the additional expense.
The Zehrs meat is a little tough, a little chewy, and you have to stay right on top of it. If it overcooks by 10 minutes even the dark meat will start to dry out. Let’s not even start on the growth hormones or chemical antibiotics thing, okay?

Preparation:
1.Wash and the thighs and pat them dry, sit the thighs on a plate, and apply as much spice as you like to each side of each piece of meat, then rub it in a little bit (I like lots).
2.If you can, let the meat sit in the fridge for an hour two It is absolutely not critical to do this if you are in a rush or exhausted.
3.Grab your favourite roasting vessel and toss the meat in. Try slipping the baby carrots in here and there between pieces where they will sit well. This move brings some sweet to the dish, allows you to separate the things so they cook better, and the carrots are quite nice to eat with the turkey.
4.That’s about it.

Timeout:
Here I will throw in an insight into a cooking pot that will make roasting easy for even the most terrified beginner among us. The problem for me is this type of cookware seems to have fallen out of vogue so I just don’t see them around as often. I know you can buy them on-line though.
I am talking about terra-cotta clay pots. They are a miracle! I have seen (and owned) smaller and larger models, sometimes under the brand Romertopf, and other under the name Schlemmertopf.
I guarantee you that anything you prepare in a clay pot will make you look like a genius. Check it out.
Time In.


Spice Rub

Everybody has deeply personal preferences where spicing is concerned, just like anything else in life. I took Emeril’s basic idea here and changed it to suit my tastes. I’ll give you his version (very hot/spicy), then mine (lsmaller quantity and less up front hot/spicy). As far as any version goes, like the cute little old woman on TV sez, “I put that shit on EV-erything.”

*****

This is right off the blog a few entries back so I will skip the opening blab. You can go back to ‘The 29th’ if you need to read that bit:

Rustic Rub:
8 tb paprika
3 tb cayenne ( I always tone down the heat, I add it to each recipe as needed)
5 tb freshly ground black pepper (less here too)
6 tb garlic powder
3 tb onion powder
6 tb salt ( I also tend to use far less salt in my food)
2 1/2 tb oregano
2 1/2 tb thyme

My version:
2 tbs paprika
½ tsp cayene
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tbs garlic powder
½ tbs onion powder (I cut down on onion because it is quite salty)
½ tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp thyme

It’s good on anything and everything. Best on poultry but that has never stopped me from throwing a bit on a pork chop or some beef.
Here is what this mix looks like this when you get it all ground up and ready to go.

Soup

After looking through a bunch of recipes on the web, none appealed particularly, so I made one out of several ideas.

Ingredients:
1 lovely big winter squash. For this recipe it doesn’t hurt if it is a bit larger.
1 doz baby carrots (at least)
1 med onion
3-4 cloves garlic
½ –1 tsp fresh ground ginger

1 can veggie or chicken stock (I usually look for low-sodium)
1 c strained juices from cooking the squash
2 c water

Spices:
½ to 1 tbs hot curry sauce
½ to 1 tbs turmeric
½ tbs cumin (look for seeds and use a mortar and pestle)
1 pinch cayenne (again, to taste, some like it hot/ter)
1 pinch salt
Ground pepper to taste at various stages in cooking

1.Cook up your squash in the oven. Safest method is ½ an inch of water in a baking tin that fits the squash, then chuck ‘em in to a 375 over for 40 minutes or however long it takes for squash to cook through. SAVE the squash water.
2.You also see a few other ingredients here. There were more just out of the picture. Just anyone I’ve ever read, I must have everything or I get lost.

3.You can see some baby carrots which are the sweet in the name. You can also see much of the heat. A baggie of cumin is visible, along with some turmeric, and HOT curry power. The onion and garlic are also hanging about like they always seem to.
4.Here we are heating up the savoury elements of the soup. Carrots and onions in first, till the onions soften, then throw in the garlic, but not right away so it doesn’t burn.
5.Forgot!!! It’s not in the shot, which is why I forgot. I had to put it in after I made the photograph. A ½ to a whole tsp of freshly chopped ginger goes in with the garlic at this stage. Got have that ginger snap in there with all those good spices.

6.I just threw this one in for the whole series (i.e. for the doubting T.). Made the turkey too! Smile

7.Mmmm, next critical stage. The spices go in. For this one I used loosely a tbs of hot curry power, a tbs of turmeric, and a ½ tbs of cumin. The curry and turmeric are really old though so I used more. Also, I really prefer to have cumin seeds around but they don’t stock it at my Zehrs. I have not been downtown in weeks. I know I can get it at The Stone Store. Anyhow, also a pinch of cayenne, a pinch salt, and a whack of ground pepper. That’s all to taste, hence the less than specific measures given. Sorry. Right! You always taste test as you are going along, to see whether you want a little extra something in there. If you want more heat this is where to do it because no matter how spicy a dish tastes while it is burbling away, fully half that heat is going to cook in or cook off before you eat the dish.

8. Fry it all up. Let the aroma fill the house. My gawd this mix smells divine.

9. Here is a picture of the world’s best pepper grinder, because it’s mine, that is all. Also, however, you will notice what looks like a smidge of pee in the bowl behind it. I didn’t lose control (Dave!!); that is actually the water that was left after I cooked the squash. I save it and throw it in with the soup stock.

10.We have the assembled our soup before turning up the heat. Spices have gone in and made a nice bit of crust (though not burny catchy), then a bit of stock has gone in to de-glaze the pot, then 4 c in total of liquid. This means I had about a cup of leftover cooking juices, and added one can of veggie stock along with two cups of Guelph water (yechh!).
11.Turn it up, get it softly boiling, then turn it back down and let it simmer till everything has fused nicely (about 10-15 minutes, easily).
12.After that you do the blender thing. I did two batches running on a medium-high speed for a minutes or so each time.
13.I garnished with a tablespoon of 1% plain yogurt, ground pepper, and some red-hot chili peppers. A little more heat for the cook, yeah!

The 8th

2010/01/08

I have been away for a few days, mentally, as I indicated last week.

This morning I read some entries on someone else’s new blog that have heartened me to no end.

Funny how things go. What a wonderful coincidence to see someone putting it on the line with courage and honesty just when I needed to read some of that.

Over and above my mental health issues I know I am not looking after myself very well lately. It is always a struggle at this time of year. That aside, relative to me and who I am physically, my weight and body shape have fluctuated wildly over the past two years. I know I am just a little fellow, but I am not especially proud of the way I look in front of a mirror right now. I do not look much like me any more.  *sigh*  I understand all too well that it is partly a function of the medications I take. It is, however, also because I just eat too much crap.

I tell myself that it is okay because at least I am eating (trust me it is easy not to eat at all where I live), but it is not. I need to eat well and make those good choices.

I have made some killer meals lately but I need to back off on the comfort food a little bit. Less fat. Less gravies. Less carbs. Like that. I need to back off on desserts too.

And yes, after I have turned towards some healthier food choices I must attempt once again to get my head around the nicotine habit. I must do this thing. I must.

More veggies. More fruit. More positive thought in this direction.

So my local photo pal, good good luck, positive thoughts, and much love from my direction, as your personal journey begins. Thank-you for providing a little push for me as well even though you had no idea you were doing so.

Hopefully I will start posting some healthier choices on this blog. I love ground turkey, turkey period, for that matter. Why am I not using it more the way I used to do? Good question . . . stay tuned for some answers.

2010/01/06

I moved this shot over from Flickr because it continues a narrative.

What you see is the result of hiring a Siamese cat to manage your studio.

You cannot leave a shot out over night. He will re-arrange the elements after his own notions while you sleep.

2010/01/05

Select the image for a better view please.

Do I make pretty pictures or what?

Smarties baby!! I LOVE Smarties!

REAL food culture. Never mind the bullshit! 60s 60s 60s Emerging hipster children with buy power. Its history, it’s important, it’s DNA stuff, No one will ever do a dig and suss it all out someday to see what it really means. They were only children after all.

It’s been there since we were lizards creeping out of the tidal pools. The digs which will not happen would forge the critical links between Smarties and handguns and lizards. Its all that and a bunch more that I cannot think of at the mo’. My brain hurts. Forgive me.

Smarties FUCKING rule man! Who cares about anything else?

I love Smarties, anything chocolate, but Smarties have always been the thing, haven’t they? I love Smarties. M&Ms are cool but they are American in my mind, not like Smarties. Besides, they have those choco covered peanut things ptui! peanuts! Who cares? Too much television coverage for the little M&M buggers as well. Waaaay too much.
I mean, I am sure Smarties are manufactured in the States but so what. They feeeel Canadian. Bet we eat more per capita than the yankees do. Just a guess. Bet it’s true,

Anyhow:
I bought this bagful hanging from one of those ‘impulse’ clips at eye level that Zehrs positions strategically ALL over the store in front of food you really need. It works.

Did something happen? Did they stop making the blue ones in the boxes of Smarties or is it just cuz I bought a generic bag of them? Smarties but a big non-descript bag.
I always ate the blue ones first. Absolutely. Lined ‘em all up like little soldiers and munched em up. Smarties were made for OCD folks, Then the red ones, then the green ones, then the yellow ones, never many of them, then whatever ugly dark stuff was left. It was chocolate, what did it matter, ultimately?

Smarties a metaphor for all that life has to offer.

Anon

2010/01/05

MAN I do love them Boston Cream donuts. This one’s bleeding, ain’t it? Could have just as easily put up ‘Let It Bleed’ I suppose, probably too thick a metaphor for most though . . . (I always think of Bunny when I have this conversation with myself).

Anyhow, I feel like a cold italian pizza more often than not as I grow older.

Gawd weren’t they pretty?

Recorded in April, 1969. Released on Let It Bleed on December 5, 1969.
Lead Vocals: Mick Jagger Vibes: Bill Wyman Bass: Bill Wyman Guitars: Keith Richards Drums: Charlie Watts Background Vocals: Keith Richards Piano: Nicky Hopkins Tambourine: Jimmy Miller

MONKEY MAN
(M. Jagger/K. Richards)

I’m a fleabit peanut monkey
All my friends are junkies
That’s not really true

I’m a cold Italian pizza
I could use a lemon squeezer
What you do?

But I’ve been bit and I’ve been tossed around
By every she-rat in this town
Have you, babe?

Well, I am just a monkey man
I’m glad you are a monkey woman too

I was bitten by a boar
I was gouged and I was gored
But I pulled on through

Yes, I’m a sack of broken eggs
I always have an unmade bed
Don’t you?

Well, I hope we’re not too messianic
Or a trifle too satanic
We love to play the blues

Well I am just a monkey man
I’m glad you are a monkey, monkey woman
Monkey woman too, babe!

I’m a monkey! I’m a monkey!
I’m a monkey man! I’m a monkey man!
I’m a monkey! I’m a monkey! I’m a monkey! I’m a monkey!
Monkey! monkey! monkey!…….

The 4th

2010/01/04

Apologies to all and sundry. I have not abandoned my new site so readily. Not been feeling well for the past few daze unfortunately. Hopefully the worst is over, though, and I can get back to it.

In the mean time, have a look at a . . . different perspective on the grand scheme.

Image made with the proud approval and co-operation of the subject sometime near the end of the summer down in The Ward (where else?). We were all eating BBQ I think.

Well of course he’s a redneck. So what? Some of my best friends etc etc etc . . . I consider it an honour that I can still walk up to a stranger most times, anywhere, and talk with him or her.

He was at a table with his wife and children. As I recall the kids thought it was just the coolest damned thing that some old fart wanted to make a photo of Daddie’s t-shirt. His wife just rolled her eyes like it was nothing particularly new or unusual. Does any of this show in his face?

T-shirt aside, this man loves his family. I believe that love shows plainly.

I simply cannot make these images without addressing my subject and getting to know some little piece of them.

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