Old-Fashioned Dutch Apple Cobbler

I made this recipe on Sunday, and both Aaron and I declare it a success. Granted, I forgot one ingredient in the crumb topping — 2 Tbsp. cold water — but it still turned out pretty good.

It’s not exactly low carb — OK, it’s not low-carb at all — but it is lower in sugar than normal desserts, thanks to the inclusion of Splenda products. Plus, I feel better about my food in general when I know what’s in it. No high fructose corn syrup for me, thanks, and make mine wheat flour.

Food Experiments: Mayonnaise

I don’t remember where I got it in my head that I wanted to try to make my own mayonnaise. Might have been Alton Brown. Might have been my Cooking Club magazine. At any rate, it seemed pretty simple.

Tonight was the night I decided to go for it.

Attempt #1 began with two egg yolks, a cup and a half of olive oil, hot water, lemon juice, and seasonings. These items were poorly combined in my food processor, with oil poured in entirely too quickly, and the mayo never set up for a myriad variety of reasons. I even tried pouring it into the blender instead, to no avail. Batch #1 was a miserable failure, and went straight down the kitchen sink.

Attempt #2 began with a different recipe, from the book my Memaw bought me about a year before she died. Every time I have a stupid, basic cooking question, I crack open my copy of How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, and I say aloud, “OK, Memaw, how do you make _____?” as I flip through the index. This time, Memaw and Mr. Bittman taught me how to make a basic mayonnaise — including the proper technique.

One whole egg, ¼ cup of peanut oil (as a basic neutral oil), 2 Tbsp of lemon juice, and identical seasonings went into the blender. Then I slowly, s – l – o – w – l – y added another 3/4 cup of oil as the blender blended.

And, holy shit, I had mayonnaise.

It’s a little excessively lemony, and a little runny, so I think I know which ingredient to back off next time. That’s OK, because I’d intended this batch mainly as a base for tartar sauce; but I do want to perfect the method and the recipe before I move on to something a little different. After I get the basic thick mayo downpat, my next version will use diluted vinegar instead of lemon juice, and will include some Splenda, for a more Miracle-Whippy type of mayo.

My homemade mayo will never be like Hellmann’s, but it’s fun to make — and maybe I can stretch out our “real” mayo just a little and spice things up by having something a little different in the fridge.

Booze As Part Of A Balanced Diet

A couple weeks ago, I discovered this great site that has nutritional information for all kinds of alcoholic (and nonalcoholic) beverages. The website is drinksmixer.com, and it’s not just a good “nutritional” resource, but it also has the ever-helpful Cabinet feature. Tell it what you’ve got, both booze and “normal” beverages, and it tells you what you can make, either with only what you have or with one or two more ingredients.

I have come to an unfortunate conclusion, though. I dislike Applejack. It wasn’t very expensive, but I do wish I’d managed to sample it somewhere before procuring an entire bottle. After this, I’m not sure I’d be a fan of any kind of brandy, if apple brandy isn’t floating my boat. It’s just too damn strong; the first sip always takes my breath away. Yeah, maybe I’m a lightweight. I’m OK with that.

On the same night I bought my bottle of Applejack, though, I tried the Classic Irish Whiskey Flight at Claddagh Irish Pub. My original plan had been to sample some scotch, but the Irish whiskeys had more detailed descriptions in the drink menu, being that Claddagh is an Irish-style pub and all. So, I got three small shots of Irish whiskey, and I must say that the Jameson was my favorite of the three. The waiter made comment that a woman who likes Irish whiskey is a good catch, which amused both Aaron and myself.

I’m really not much of a drinker, and whenever I get to thinking about alcohol too much, it makes me feel like I’m some kind of lush. Which I know I’m not. Still, it’s weird to be thinking about what kind of alcohol I’d like to try, in the same way I’d think about different ethnic foods I’d like to try; especially knowing that I only really drink once every six months or so, and very rarely with the goal of “getting drunk.”

Yes, I have half a shot of the Applejack sitting here on my desk. And, yes, I’m going to finish it. Will I have anything else tonight? Probably not.

Homemade Thai Rules.

Made some Thai Red Curry with Shrimp and Pineapple for dinner tonight. Actually, it was green curry. The Cooking Club recipe called for red curry, but Aaron couldn’t find red curry at Meijer yesterday.

Once we find some red curry, I’m totally making this again, because it was SO good with the green that I’m curious how much better it would be with the red.

Now that I have green curry paste and fish oil in my cupboard, I’ll be on the lookout for more Thai recipes that I can make and serve over brown rice. I can’t believe how yummy that turned out. And, since I didn’t try to halve the recipe, Aaron gets to have it for dinner tonight when he gets home, and I get to have it for lunch tomorrow, and then someone gets to eat the last Gladware containerfull of homemade Thai.

*swoon*

Tonight’s Main Course

Homemade shrimp and cucumber sushi. I haven’t rolled sushi in years, but this turned out relatively well.

I took the less-pretty pieces (shown) for myself, and put the better-looking ones in the fridge for Aaron when he gets home from work. He’ll be surprised; we haven’t made sushi at home in probably almost three years.

For future reference: I cooked one cup of brown rice in the rice cooker, then added two tablespoons of rice vinegar and two tablespoons of Splenda after the rice cooled. That yielded two rolls. Two strips of cucumber and six shrimpies per roll. It actually turned out a little sweeter than I’m used to, so I might have to revise the recipe next time I try this.

Peanut Butter Chicken

This is a very interesting recipe. Especially with my substitutions.

The recipe called for:
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch cubes
* 1 medium onion, sliced
* 7 fresh mushrooms, sliced
* 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
* 3/4 cup chicken stock
* 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
* salt and pepper to taste

I had no onion, so I just did without. I substituted canned mushrooms for fresh. I substituted chunky salsa (medium) for diced tomatoes. I substituted chunky PB for smooth.

I could tell that the salsa added some heat to the dish that was probably never intended, and the person who created this would probably smack me or something if they saw how I massacred their original recipe. Still, it was pretty good. I’ll have to get the real ingredients and try it again sometime to share with Aaron. (I don’t like to inflict my cooking attempts on him the first time I ever make a given dish.)

Does anybody know if peanut oil (particularly Chinese peanut oil) is expensive? I’d like to try cooking the chicken in peanut oil next time, to get the peanut flavor going on even more.

Yep… I think I like it.

New Traditions

It appears that, in addition to keeping alive the Christmas tradition of sausage cake, I have inadvertently begun a new tradition.

Both this year and last year, I had to run out and purchase an ingredient last-minute. Both years, it was a vital ingredient for the brown-sugar glaze (although it hasn’t been the same ingredient I was missing). Both years, I attempted to buy the ingredient at the Quik Mart just down the street, but was foiled and had to drive seven minutes to Kroger instead — for one singular ingredient.

Hopefully, I can maintain the tradition of the sausage cake not sucking.

Oh, and in case you aren’t privy to the joys of baking with meat, it’s apparently a Welsh recipe handed down through the Cook family. As far as our family recipe goes, I’m sworn to secrecy, but this one will give you an idea of what it’s all about. It tastes kind of like a heavy spice cake. With a thick glaze / candy coating of brown sugar, reminiscent of maple candies. Except made with brown sugar instead of maple syrup.

OMG, so good. Sausage cake IS Christmas to me.

Homemade Adult Beverage

Take this recipe, substitute Splenda for white sugar and Splenda Brown Sugar Blend for brown sugar, and you’ve got a seriously kickass homemade amaretto with a fraction of the sugar.

Note to self: Next time I make this, I must remember to use less Splenda Brown Sugar Blend. It really is twice as sweet as regular brown sugar; they’re not kidding around. Also, reading the ingredients correctly and adding 2 TEASPOONS of vanilla would make things better, as well. *facepalm*

Still, though, I *heart* my new Homemade Amaretto And Caffeine-Free Diet Coke. 🙂

Massive Update on Stuff In General

I took my final half-day off of work today so I could go to lunch with two women I used to work with. We caught up on each other’s lives (mainly work-related), reminisced about the Bad Old Days…

24 September 2002: Just Another Day…

Hey, for once I worked an 8-hour day! Yeah, we were doing so well that we actually took a one-hour lunch and everything. Just for reference, yesterday I worked a 14-hour day. Seriously. My co-worker and almost-supervisor, Loni, worked an hour and a half more than me, since she came in at 6am. Damn, that sucked. Makes the normal 8-hour day seem like a luxury instead of a burden.

…and ate some yummy Mexican food. And despite my lack of a lunchtime walk, I still got my podcast-listening time in, since a.) our lunch meeting was a half hour south of where I work, and b.) I bought a Kensington FM transmitter for the iPod(s).

When I got home, I had intended to work on the LSM site, as it needs some stuff added and updated (like audition info). Instead, I ended up finishing off the cosplay skirt. Yes, indeed, the skirt is complete! Well, except for possibly adding some velcro for good measure, and the final ironing before we leave for Youmacon in two weeks.

Don’t worry, I’ll definitely post pictures of me and Aaron in costume. 🙂

What else…? Oh, yeah, tonight’s dinner. I know, blogging about what I made for dinner is certifiably lame, but this was really good. Ten-Minute Szechuan Chicken. It’s really easy (even I can do it), and really good… but, now that I think about it, I think I’m going to put the recipe on my next Low Carb Lifestyle podcast, so I’m not going to publish it here yet. If you download this old-school DOS recipe filing program, though, I could be convinced to e-mail you the database file that this fantastic recipe came from. (Thanks, Uncle Pete!)

Yesterday, I told the Acting Executive Director of LSM that I’ve decided not to march next year. He was understandably disappointed, but he completely understood, which is cool.

I’m sure there’s other stuff I should write about, but that’s the overall rundown of everything I wanted to mention. Now I’m going to go work on the LSM page. Yay for contact info and audition info and pictures? w00t.

Spicy Catfish Nuggets

I just created something yummy. Forgive the lack of measurements — I’m my Memaw’s grandbaby, and tend not to measure when I can get away with it. 🙂

Catfish nuggets, unfrozen
2 Tbsp butter
Cayenne pepper
Lemon pepper
Ground ginger
Salt & pepper

Preheat over to 350°F. Melt butter in a medium-sized bowl. Combine spices in a second bowl or dish. Dip catfish nuggets one by one in melted butter, then in spices, then place each in a glass baking dish. Bake at 350&deg for about 30 minutes, or until flaky.

For dipping: in lieu of tartar sauce, I combined mayonnaise with lemon juice and the drippings from the nuggets after they were done. They’re flavorful enough that they really don’t need any sort of sauce, though.

I ended up putting in more cayenne than I really needed, so my nuggets were super-spicy. I also think I may have left them a tad underdone (I was really hungry and growing impatient). Apart from that, though, I think I’m onto something here.