Demented Ramblings life is too short to refrain from eating jam out of the jar


First cooking lessons

Work is stressing me out hardcore and I have 84000 things to do, so of course I am blowing it off for blogging. I had lunch with my mum today and we were talking about her pantry. I housesat for her last week and of course had to peek in her cabinets and fridge, she has almost nothing but convenience foods. Toaster struedels, frozen pretzels, microwave meals, and ice cream novelties. She does that because my stepsister might get hungry during the day and is only allowed to use the microwave. I think that the girl is old enough to learn to cook, she's 16. She might be a bit challenged, but I think that everyone should be able to cook a few simple things. Mom'll never teach her, she never taught me, I just learned on my own. So, I've decided that it falls on her big sis to teach her to cook.

My question to you is this: what would you recommend as a good starting point for learning to cook?

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My tongue is on fire!

Obviously, I am the last human on earth to discover this, but last night I learned that if you roast a jalapeno it actually becomes HOTTER! I'm quite sure that there's some science involved here, which I will look into at a later date.

Last night I threw together a quick bean salad for my picnic date with my pal Kelly tonight. Which, by the way she has canceled out on. She's letting a little rain scare her away. The wonderful boyfriend and I will still have a picnic though. Manicdad will also be happy as this means that some of the bean salad will be coming home for him tonight.

Ysha's Black Bean Salad

1 Finely diced small onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 roasted jalapeno
Red wine vinegar
Kosher salt
Juice of 1 lime
2 cans black beans, rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed

Dice the onion first and allow it to "bloom" in a little red wine vinegar. This is the term I heard used for it on the Food Network, otherwise known as "let it sit for a minute" in Yshaspeak. Toss in the other ingredients and mix, adjust seasonings to taste. This salad is good if it has time for the flavors to "mingle".


Burps That Will Fell a Small City

Once again, this summer, I have fallen in love with the almighty Garlic Salad. In order to make an Yshastyle garlic salad, one starts with a bowl of leafy greens. (I use bagged salad, because I'm lazy like that.) Rough chop some mushrooms and toss on the top along with some diced onion. Red onion is especially good, but lately I've been using Vidalia because I have a huge bag of those. Mince a clove or two of garlic (per salad! awwww yeah!) and put that in the bowl. If you are Manicdad, then at this point you add a whole chopped tomato to your bowl, juice and all. Sprinkle with some seasoned salt, a little olive oil, and a healthy bit of lemon juice. "Waller it up" and enjoy. Don't forget to drink the juice in the bottom of the bowl, it'll make you shudder but it's great!

Ah, the burps that ensue after this. Raw garlic! RUN AWAY! I have found that it is superduper gross if you follow up your salad with a dessert of something chocolatey.

I will soon have to pare back my forays into the garlic salad, after too many of them, one starts to smell like a salami. Nice if you work in a deli, not so nice when you have an interview coming up. I've been doing my best to only have them once or twice a week though.

Garlic's healthy, right? Keeps away the cancerous vampire or something.


The Stuffed Peppers That Weren’t

I've been experimenting lately with Indian spices. Earlier in the week, I made tandoori marinated grilled chicken breasts that were great! Today I decided to play around a bit more with the spices that I bought at the Indian market.

I am trying to find more ways to enjoy chicken. It's much healthier than beef and I'm feeling the need to eat more healthy foods. At the suggestion of one of my livejournal buddies, I went looking for ground chicken. The idea in my head was some sort of Indian spiced stuffed peppers, as I had 3 lovely red bell peppers in my fridge. I went by Wal-Mart (yes, I know that it's the devil, but they have cereal much much cheaper than Kroger) and they did not have ground chicken. I didn't feel like making two stops, so I went with ground turkey.

I dug through the fridge and found most of an onion and a few mushrooms. Sadly, the salad I'd planned on having with dinner had already gone brownish, and I won't touch lettuce that is at all brown. I am picky, I admit it.

First, I dug in the cabinet for the last of the wild/brown rice and added a bit of basmati to round it off to a cup. This I put into a pan to cook with a can of beef broth and a wee bit of water.

I rough diced the onion, the mushrooms, one of the bell peppers, and 3 cloves of garlic. I preheated my largest everyday pan (gotta love that Calphalon!) with a little olive oil and tossed in the turkey and all of the veggies. To this I added 1 tablespoon of garam masala and a teaspoon of paprika, and sauted/fried/whatever until the meat was done. Turkey never seems to brown, but the spices gave it a browner color and most likely my dad would have never known that it wasn't hamburger if I hadn't told him.

While all of this cooked, I mixed up a tahini garlic sauce. I used 3 tablespoons of tahini, 1 clove of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the juice of one lemon, 1 tablespoon of yogurt and a bit of water. It tasted rather bitter, so I tried adding a bit more yogurt and some paprika. It was still a bit on the bitter side, but I decided to let it be.

When the rice and meat were pretty much done, I dumped the rice in with the meat and veggies. To this I added an eight ounce can of tomato sauce and a bit of white wine. And plenty of salt.

Then I started the creamed corn. I cheated and started with a frozen log, but it's some really tasty corn. I added some rosemary and turmeric to the corn while it heated.

Meanwhile, back in the other pan, there's no way that all of this mixture is fitting into two lonely little peppers. So, I sliced them up into strips and arranged them on top of the filling mixture. Then I covered the pan and let the peppers steam while the corn warmed through.

When it was all done, it tasted wonderful. I spooned the meat and rice mixture onto a plate with some of the steamed pepper strips and drizzled it with a little of the tahini sauce. Beside that I put a spoonful of the creamed corn. It was so yummy that I could have eaten myself silly. No pictures, because it turned out looking like one of those pre-chewed dishes. Seems that most brownish colored dishes with rice included turn out like that.