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Posts Tagged ‘country kitchen’

 

Microwave Oven 1967  Photo from  www.smecc.org

Microwave Oven 1967
Photo from
http://www.smecc.org

I don’t do much microwaving.  Warming Tea.  Reviving Stale Coffee.  Unfreezing Vegetables.  Popping Corn.   The Usual.  I don’t cook from scratch in the microwave.  I don’t cook from scratch on the regular range much either.

I am not a great fan of cooking (from scratch or otherwise) although you may recall my friends think I am a gourmet chef.

I am the Great Chef Imposter.

Sometimes I do use the microwave though.

At least I don’t store my socks in there like one bachelor fellow I once knew.

He also stacked his shoes in the dishwasher.

But to continue – – our microwave oven was looking ill.  A worn spot developed inside with some unexplainable staining.  Uh oh!  “Possible extermination of human life,” I thought. “If I stand closer than 6 feet away I might get attacked by escaping nuclear atoms or something.”

“We need a new microwave!” I cried whenever Bill came into view.  Bill doesn’t come into view often although we have been married close to forever.  He has his desk.  I have my desk.  Maybe that’s the secret to long-term marital bliss.

Anyway I made a momentous decision and purchased a new microwave!   Same brand.  Different color.

The old one was black; the new one stainless steel.

At home, as if to say, “I hate this kitchen,” the new addition emitted a horrible plastic-y odor.  “Ikkkk!” said I.  But as Bill tried to tell me, within a few days the odor was more tolerable.  By then however, I developed a bad attitude.

I know it is irrational to dislike a mechanical object but I did.

Not only did the Miserable Micro smell bad, but every time we used it there were visible fingerprints all over the dratted thing! If I decided to murder my husband (or the microwave) the evidence against me would be there on the stainless steel in glaring detail.

Still, I pretended to love Le Mizerable Micro.

In reality I was stuck with a machine I hated and with no good reason to return it.

I think Le Miz knew we were not destined to a life of love, so one morning when I pushed its “On” button, it began to wail!

A truly horrific sound came from deep within its bowels (if a microwave has bowels) and it was a deafening siren-like moan that would send any normal person fleeing.   In a dubious act of love (fearing an imminent explosion) and being either stupid or extremely brave, I quickly pulled the plug.  I saved the machine – and the day – and we all survived.

But that scream was all I needed to return Le Miz to the DIY Store.

In its place is a new (black) Miracle Microwave that was $2.00 cheaper than the first and has no odor.  Miracle Micro is so perfect I have fallen in love. No moaning and no fingerprints either.  I think it loves me too as it seems to purr with satisfaction.

Odd but I now believe that horrendous moan was Le Miz’ way of expressing love too, by emitting a last agonizing scream to release us both from bondage.   I am so thankful and will never forget that enormous sacrifice.

No, uh, your blogger pal does not require medical attention but has only just recognized the hidden bonds of love that can develop between machines and man (or woman).

Do you have a machine you love?

Do you believe machines have feelings too?

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Cooking together

Cooking together (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is a lovely place just outside town offering delightful views and opportunities to explore a tree-shaded farm setting.  The owners are a charming couple who encourage folks to stay and enjoy fabulous luncheons prepared and served right on the premises.

The cost for lunching in that bucolic setting is only about $15 per person.   Who could resist?  So, one unforgettable summer my friend and I signed up for lunch.   “Let’s get away,” we said, “to enjoy the countryside and discover new tastes and textures in a meal prepared by the experts.”  Yes, I know this post is about summer and we are in winter now and the snow flakes are falling across my blog.  Can’t help it.  I’m in the mood to tell this exciting story!

And the menu was enticing.

FrittataRoasted Vegetable Frittata

Classic Homemade Dinner Rolls

Mediterranean Salad

peach-tartFrench Peach Tart

LET’S TAKE A COOKING CLASS TOO!

Yes, we signed up for lunch, but then we read the brochure a little further and discovered we might also attend a cooking class.  The class would occur an  hour or so prior to the luncheon.  “What fun!” we said.  “Let’s sign up for that too! We might learn something.”  The cost was just an additional $30 each.

It was a warm summer day and off we went to a country adventure in haute cuisine.  I had never attended a cooking class before but having seen a few like Julia Child on television, I expected we would be watching an expert chef ‘s fascinating demonstration.

THE GATHERING OF THE CHEFS

Upon arrival, we joined eight other would-be chefs in a very small kitchen.  Each of us was awarded an apron and given the freedom to choose knives from a stack on the table.   Even then, I was still blissfully ignorant of the real intent.  Next we were provided a recipe sheet to share and follow.   If anything in the recipes called for vegetables, we were told we could fetch them from the garden!

And then?

And then the leader of the class promptly left.

WHAAAT?

Yes, all of us eager cooks awaiting a demonstration were left to our own devices!  And you don’t need too many devices for peeling and chopping things (which is what was required in the recipes).

“X&%*x##!!!!!!   I can do this in my own kitchen,” I thought.  “Why am I peeling and chopping here too?”  My friend seemed to be enjoying herself though, chatting on with the neighboring laborers.

“Am I seeing things?” I asked myself.  “Is she thinking this chopping and peeling session is actually fun?

“O.K. – Relax.  Breathe. Follow her lead.  Enjoy.  Help is bound to come.”

About that time, the handle fell off my knife so I had to search through drawers and around people to find another.  Nothing else being available, I continued chopping with a handle-less knife.

YOU HAVE YOUR ORDERS!

And help did not come until all the chopping was over.  Then someone in charge assigned us to posts.

“You fry these – stand here.

Two people frying please!

You over there with the broken knife – beat the eggs and have ’em ready here.

You begin peeling the peaches.

And you are in charge of the rolls.”

And so, the cooking class droned on.  There was no air-conditioning so the small kitchen grew unbearably hot and I had to go outside to breathe.   I went in and out with my broken knife and wounded ego.  The eggs were beaten and ready though.  I do obey orders.

But finally, everything was cooked.  I was surprised that it all looked and smelled wonderful too.

SIGH – LUNCHEON IS SERVED!

O.K. – I’m ready for lunch!

Not yet?!!

Now what?

And you won’t believe this!

Us Reluctant Chefs were now THE WAIT STAFF!  We were expected to SERVE the eleven folks sitting blissfully under shady trees.  They were the Lucky Eleven who had only ordered lunch!   Mind you, they paid $15 each, whereas my friend and I paid $45 each for the privilege of:

– Working in a hot kitchen (which we could do at home)

– Harvesting the vegetables in the hot sun (which we could do at home or enlist husbands)

– Chopping and peeling things (which we could do at home)

–  Frying vegetables (which we could do at home)

– Serving ungrateful diners (which we could do at home)

– Finally sitting down to taste our own cooking (which we could do at home)

And by the time we did sit down to eat, our portions were cold!  Delicious I might add – but cold.

And after lunch I seem to recall we had to clear all the dishes too!  I could be wrong on this, but I’m sure I was blinded at the time by barely repressed rage.

I complained and babbled all the way home.  My friend, on the other hand, just snickered.  “I had a lovely time,” she said , “and I didn’t mind all that cooking and serving at all”.

DID I LEARN ANYTHING IN THE COOKING CLASS?

Well, I learned never to sign up for the cooking class again – only the luncheon!  It’s a far better buy!

I did also learn about SILPATS.  Ever hear of those rubbery sheets made in France?  They are fairly expensive (about $25 each), but wonderful if you are baking sticky things.  Nothing adheres to them and you can line cookie sheets and avoid a mess!  Then wash ‘em off and store for next time.

I suppose that might be worth $45 for lunch and the class, plus $25 for a Silpat.    What do you think?

silpat

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“Recipes are like rumors.  You never quite know where they originated”.  Believe it or not, that’s my own wise quote.

I acquired this special, healthy, kid-loving recipe for Fruit Pizza from my country friend, Donna, who is not even really from the country.  Like me, she is a transplant.  Well, at least I met her here in rural Virginia and who knows,  she may have received the recipe from a real, honest-to-goodness local.

DONNA’S CRESCENT ROLL FRUIT PIZZA

DESIGNED FOR KIDS OR YOUNG-AT-HEART GROWNUPS

(Get the kids to help)

2 Packages of Crescent Rolls. Press into a 15 x 11” pan or cookie sheet.

Bake in 350 degree oven until done.  Package will give approximate time.

Spread with cream cheese and begin to add the fruit in a pattern or design.

Place and press strawberries around the edge, then blueberries, peaches, mandarin oranges, watermelon, etc.

Create pizza slices!

Thanks Donna!  This is healthy cooking and a great family project!


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It’s no secret that I dislike cooking.  I can fool some of the people some of the time however – especially if I have a recipe that has been tested and deemed superb.

If a recipe is a) above all, EASY, and b) consistently delicious and c) generates rave reviews, it makes it to my Gold Star Book.   Now here’s one with two stars!  I  personally intensely dislike meat loaf.  I have disliked it all my long life, that is until a country woman shared her intensely delicious, savory version. I am now a convert and no other recipe will ever suffice.

BARBECUED MEAT LOAF EXTRAORDINAIRE

A HOME PLACE COUNTRY RECIPE

1 ½ pounds ground beef

1 cup bread crumbs

1 onion, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

1 ½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce, divided

½ cup water

3 tablespoons vinegar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Combine the first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl; add ½ can tomato sauce, mixing well.  Place mixture in a 10-x6-x2-inch baking dish, and shape into a loaf.  Combine remaining tomato sauce and remaining ingredients in a small mixing bowl, and pour over loaf.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and 15 minutes or until done, basting often.  Yield: 8 servings.

Sometimes I add a few drops of hot sauce to the sauce for extra zip.

O.K., I know you have your own favorite version of meat loaf and it’s undoubtedly grand, but do try this recipe too.  And let me know what you think.  If you are as hooked as I am, I ask only one thing (well, two things) – name it Dor’s Meatloaf Extraordinaire and give it a gold star!

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They say you can never go home again, but that’s not true around these parts. People inevitably come home.  They yearn for their relatives and friends, the countryside and town, the familiar byways and back roads, old landmarks and watering holes, and the wonderful, comfortable, familiar way it was. It’s where their memories are of fun and feeling, love and nurturing, and of course, great food.

The locals call it “The Homeplace”.  It wasn’t long after we moved to rural Virginia, that I heard that term.  I love it and have always wanted to use it somewhere, and here it is!

RECIPES FROM THE HOMEPLACE

The recipe below was from one of my favorite friends here.   I told her we had over- planted the vegetable garden and the neighbors were sick of refusing our zucchini gifts.   She was eager to help, so here is her recipe and the first in a random series on Virginia Views.

HOMEPLACE ZUCCHINI BREAD

3 Eggs

1 Cup Oil

2 Cups Sugar

2 Cups Grated Zucchini

3 tsp Vanilla

3 Cups Flour

1 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Salt

3 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp Baking Powder

1 Cup Chopped Nuts

Beat eggs until foamy.  Add oil, sugar, zucchini and vanilla.  Mix well.  Add flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and nuts.

Bake at 325 degrees 1 hour to 1 hr/15 minutes.

Makes three standard size loaves.

Guaranteed DELICIOUS!

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