When you just want comfort food

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I have been obsessed with my Christmas present and have sous-vided (is that even a verb?) many pieces of protein over the last three weeks. I can accurately predict that my kitchen will soon be adorned with a 12-quart Rubbermaid container with a fitted lid so I no longer have to use my soup pots and transfer my precision cooker from pot to pot depending on the size of the meat or fish being cooked.

Sous Vide is a wonderful cooking technology that allows a chef to cook proteins to an exact temperature without overcooking, unless you forget that protein in the water bath for several hours or cook at too high a temperature. Last night, I cooked a pork tenderloin, Chinese BBQ style, without the actual barbecue. The taste of the marinade combined with the tenderness of the pork was delicious. I broiled the pork for a few minutes to give it that nice crust on the outside and it was better than I anticipated.

When I came home from work tonight, I knew the leftover pork would be used in my dinner preparation. While I mulled over the many things I could make, I thought of my dad. My father was the King of leftovers. There was nothing he couldn’t take from previous meals and not make into a delicious meal the whole family would love. Without thinking, I reached for the rice and prepared to make Barbecue Pork Fried Rice.

There were moments during my meal preparation I could hear my father’s voice, especially when I transferred the rice from pot to frying pan. If I were truly following in his footsteps, I would have spread the cooked rice onto a baking sheet and let it dry slightly overnight to give it the perfect texture for fried rice, but I skipped that step. I did fry the onions to a caramel brown, added the bacon, the peas, the pork and the eggs, allowing the eggs to scramble slightly before incorporating the rice into the mix. I could swear I heard my father sigh when the eggs had cooked properly before I added the final ingredients. The result was delicious.

As much as I love cooking, sometimes a simple dinner of comfort food will taste better than anything I could have toiled to make and I’m sure my dad is smiling knowing he was the influence for my meal choice.

 

 

All arrows pointed to Chile….I mean chili

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With the days growing shorter and the nights becoming cooler, my natural reaction to this autumnal phenomenon is to adorn the apron, plant my bare feet firmly on my kitchen floor and cook.  Today the universe made the signs of my nesting tendencies abundantly obvious when our grocery store flyer found its way to my desk and had every necessary ingredient for chili at a discounted price.  As beautiful as the landscapes are in Santiago, I opted for some ground beef, kidney beans and the two necessary ingredients for my chili that others may frown upon but they make it mine.

I find a deep sense of comfort in my kitchen.  While chopped onions feverishly jump in the Dutch oven and the rest of the ingredients lay in wait to join the party, the smells of happiness assuage any other feelings I may have carried home with me from the remnants of my day.  The food in the pot is not just food – it is my sanctuary and my resolve to end the day on a positive note, regardless of how it began or how it ensued.

Cooking and baking are a tonic for me.  They are a natural drug I can always count on to make me feel like myself again.  And they are not just there to pull me from a sullen mood but also there to heighten my well-being on the good days, which thankfully far outweigh the bad days.

I have often pondered the idea of taking a leap of faith and pursuing this passion to make it a career but I am always left with fragments of an unfinished conversation that always takes place in my head.  ‘If I do it for a living, will it just become a job and will I lose my passion for it?’  I would hate to have something I take so much pleasure in become a prosaic way to pay the bills.

Until I become brave enough to get within range of that bridge, I will not even entertain the thought of jumping off of it.  For now, I will remain content with the wafting smell of chili from my kitchen, the collection of frozen soups in my freezer and the anticipation of the already-marinating pork tenderloin for dinner tomorrow.

“Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” ~ Julia Child

 

 

 

 

 

 

You want fries with that?

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When I win the lottery (note the eternal optimism) I dream of having a food truck.  Seeing this burger and New York Fries truck only placed that dream, once again, in the foreground of my reality.  Our lodge was host to a collection of guests who were attending a wedding at the golf club next door to us and this was the midnight snack truck the bride and groom arranged for their wedding guests.

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My food truck dream changes fairly often.  I have thought about a soup truck with fresh-baked goods, since I love making both of those things, but after seeing this pimped out truck my idea morphed into a fine dining truck that would make the dining more of an experience in the truck rather than just picking your food up from the truck itself.

My brain kicked into high gear today and toyed with the idea of creating a fine dining restaurant on wheels, making the impossible night out possible by bringing the fine dining experience to you.  With a mock backdrop of a starry night and some great jazz, you would be able to enjoy the experience of a real date night without leaving the confines of your property.

Food courses, from Amuse Bouche to dessert, would be paired with wine and the food would be presented in a way that would please the eye as well as the palette.  I have been using myself as a guinea pig and, so far, the tests have been an overwhelming success.  Last night’s meal was bacon wrapped Pork Tenderloin served with spinach, apple, Goat cheese, crushed Pistachios and a Balsamic Reduction and I am confident this dish would be a success. (It was delicious!)

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I am still waiting for the lottery Gods to smile favorably upon my new career choice.  Reservations are available but may take a few years to come to fruition based on how those lottery numbers match the numbers on my tickets.  Until then, I will continue to sample future items to perfect the menu of my food truck and hope my culinary dreams turn into a reality.  This truck, if all goes well, may be coming to a neighborhood near you!