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Posts Tagged ‘food’

Look Who’s Cooking!

My newer readers don’t know this about me but for many years (well at least three) I stopped using my stove, using only the microwave to heat and cook things.  I love my microwave but it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to cooking.  It eventually got to where I wasn’t even cooking.  I was only heating things up in the microwave which meant I was eating a lot of packaged frozen food and occasionally, left overs that my daughter would give me.  Part of that was that my health was not very good.  I really had no desire to do much of anything.  It was very difficult for me to move around.  If something was not at my arm’s reach, I could not bend down to reach for it or reach up to grab it (and I’m very short so that left a lot of things that were out of my reach).  Then I had my surgery in April and things got immediately better and as my recovery progressed, I have been able to do more and more.  And I have been able to enjoy so much more which has left me wanting to do more.

So, I’m cooking again!  I used to love to cook and I still do, I’m just out of practice.  However, over the past three weeks, I’ve been using the stove to cook at least two of my meals each day.  I still have it.  I’m so glad that my flair for combining ingredients hasn’t left me.  I’ve still got it.  I’ve even made my own hot sauce, which I had never done before.

That all means I’m now eating heathier and I am happier.  I’m feeling more and more like me!  In the past couple of weeks, I’ve made chicken with zucchini and tomato with a some soupy liquid.  I’ve also made four or five different dishes with a small seasoned pork roast that I got on clearance.  I’ve used chicken breasts to make myself shredded chicken burritos and chicken sandwiches.  I’ve made ground beef tacos.  I’ve made chicken soup!  Add to this all the fresh fruits and veggies I am enjoying  and it translates to a happier and healthier me!

Yup!  Look who’s cooking!

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Many people have memories of a favorite meal. I have memories of a favorite food; a food that I had every day so, while not “special” it was special to me and holds very fond memories for me.

Tortillas de harina. Flour tortillas. My mom made them every day, fresh for every meal. For breakfast we might have huevos con chorizo or plain old eggs or menudo, but we always had fresh tortillas. On the rare occasion that we had pancakes (only my Uncle Joe fixed pancakes for us) or French toast, we didn’t have tortillas and I found that I missed them and sitting with my mom at the table while she rolled them out and cooked them on the griddle.

I guess maybe that’s what was so special about them. My mom made them and I got to sit at the table to watch her make the masa and form the testales and then roll out the tortillas (she only made masa once a day, usually, saving enough for the later meals). As she rolled more out, some would be on the comal, cooking. The smell in the kitchen was of warmth and freshness and love as those tortillas de harina cooked. When the first was finished cooking, I would get to eat it as soon as it cooled enough but was still warm and fresh. While she rolled them out and cooked them, we got to talk. I would ask her what she was doing and why, not only about the tortillas but about whatever she happened to be cooking for our meal. I watched her closely, even when I was just a toddler, probably hoping that by watching I would learn. (And I did!)

Tortillas de harina are not only delicious with a meal, they can be a meal when you wrap them around the just right ingredients. Everything goes in flour tortillas. Everything. My favorites, besides actual food, include pieces of chocolate wrapped inside of a right off of the griddle tortillas…nice and gooey as it melts. And you’ll probably think it’s strange but my absolute favorite is arroz con leche wrapped in a tortilla de harina…arroz con leche is rice pudding…delicious!

That’s my favorite food…flour tortillas…especially as my mother made them all those years ago. There is nothing as delicious as those memories.

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While watching TV, a commercial caught my attention, which in itself is unusual as I tend to tune out all commercials. I’m the one that is totally clueless about what a company might be running for their commercial, regardless of how popular said commercial might be. The commercial that caught my attention was for fried chicken from a regional chain. Now I am craving fried chicken. I don’t eat meat except one in a great while and rarely do I eat anything that is fried so the commercial seems to have accomplished its task!

Years ago I used to make an oven baked chicken that mimicked fried chicken. It was a recipe that I got from a healthy heart cookbook purchased after my brother died from sudden cardiac death at the age of 37. The recipe called for skinless chicken dipped in egg whites/egg substitute then rolled in crushed corn flakes. Instead of frying the chicken in oil, it was baked in a non stick pan in a 350 degree oven for an hour. Easy, right? I love the simplicity and the results were delicious! An added bonus was that instead of having to stand at the stove and carefully monitor the frying process, I could just put a whole tray in the oven, set a time, and forget about it while I ran around doing so many other things that had to be done. When I had to cook for large groups, at school functions, it was easy to bring this dish.

When my kids were in elementary school, a group of fathers had the Dads Club which supported one main project through two fundraisers each year. The Dads Club owned and operated a building adjacent to the school where school groups could meet for free. Most of the Scout groups associated with the school met at the Dads Club building. In addition, AYSO business meetings used it, as did the PTA. To pay for property taxes, insurance, utilities, and insurance on the building, the Dads Club put on a Pancake Breakfast each January. This Pancake Breakfast was also the kick off for Fathers Follies, a musical production held each May, in which all acting and singing roles, male and female, were performed by the fathers. The moms were a big force behind the scenes each year. Personally, some of the things I did over the years include repairing and laundering costumes, helping dads into and out of their costumes for dress rehearsals and performances, makeup, and feeding the dads backstage.

One year, I had to provide food for the dress rehearsal on the same night that I had to attend a function at the high school where my son was a student. (Yup, I was one of those moms that had kids in high school, middle school, and elementary, all at the same time!) Rushed is a mild word for what my schedule was like in those days. As I started to fix my oven fried chicken, I grabbed the box of corn flakes, only to find that one of the kids had put the empty box back on the shelf. I called a couple of neighbors but no one had corn flakes so I had to improvise. I grabbed the box of raisin bran, plucked out all of the raisins, and proceeded with the recipe, replacing the corn flakes with my raisinless raisin bran, all the while hoping that it would turn out to be edible.

It worked! When I returned to the facility to pick up my serving dishes, the food had been completely devoured and the lingering dads all commented on how good my fried chicken was and mentioned that the slight sweetness in the chicken coating added a fruity flavor. I was very much relieved!

That was the only time I fixed it with raisin bran and I haven’t fixed it at all in years but now that I think of it, I am going to give it a try again.

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