I’ve been struggling to decide what to do with this space. Lately, I have not been enjoying the process of cooking, shooting, and writing and I always told myself that I would stop blogging when I no longer enjoyed doing it.
While I’m not ready to completely pull the plug on BAH, I definitely need a break. A sabbatical. A time out. So I’m going to take one. I’m going to dig into my “drafts” folder and post the recipes that I’ve been sitting on for months. I need to warn you, it’s not going to be pretty.
There are no pretty food photos. Some drafts may have bits and pieces of the story I had hoped to tell. Most are just the recipe that I managed to type up in order to remind myself to talk about it, without a single bit of narrative.
I don’t know if purging this backlog will do the trick and get me out of my rut. I hope it will but only time will tell.
The following post appeared on BAH on 10 August 2009.
In the kitchen, timing is everything. Food is done when it’s done. You get a little wiggle room with some dishes. Others are not so forgiving. Worst of all is when you’ve unknowingly overcooked something. Like that time I made baked eggs. I was expecting something along the lines of maybe a soft boiled or poached egg. What I got was tough and rubbery. Seriously, my fork kept bouncing off the whites as I tried to cut into them.
I did not pay attention to a cardinal rule of cooking – timing involves more than watching a clock. Yes, paying attention to how long a recipe says it will take is important. But so is paying attention to how it smells and looks. Every time SFC is cooking, I try and explain not to just go by how many minutes are on the timer but to use all the senses. Clearly, I need to remember my own words.
I scaled the recipe to make two servings. If I can get this to work they way I think it’s supposed to, I bet it would make a great brunch dish or an easy weeknight dinner.
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup grated parmesan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set two 12 ounce ovenproof bowls on a large rimmed baking sheet.
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium flame. Add garlic and rosemary; cook, stirring until garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Add diced tomatoes with juice, crushed tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons parmesan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide tomato sauce between bowls, reserving 1/2 cup. Crack 2 eggs into each bowl and top with reserved sauce and 2 tablespoons parmesan. Bake until egg whites are just opaque, yolks should still be soft, 24 to 28 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through.
Before 2012, the only Sloppy Joe I ever knew came out of a can. It had been years since our last meeting and honestly, I hadn’t given Joe much thought since then. Joe was just a piece of the past…a cheap means to a quick end when dinner had to get on the table. It was survival cooking which I hope I have left far, far behind me. But there’s no reason for me to snub Joe now because our past relationship was not healthy.
In most relationships, you can’t change your partner. All you can change is your own expectations and reactions. My relationship with Joe is one of the exceptions. Joe yielded completely to my wishes. Without argument Joe became exactly what I asked. No longer defined by a list of chemical and preservatives with dubious nutritional value, Joe went natural.
I won’t lie, it wasn’t quick. It took time. And patience. But now Joe is hearty and filling on my terms. With some planning by me to identify a block of time for Joe to do his thing in the crock pot and a little work to clear freezer space for him to chill out in afterwards, I now have a healthy relationship with Joe. Without much more effort required to brown my ground beef and open a can, I still have budget friendly means to an easy meal.
BAH Note: If you don’t have at least a 12 inch frying pan to work with I recommend browning the ground beef in batches. I was going to say scale the recipe down by half but these are too good not to make the whole batch and stash some in the freezer. Really. That good. I promise.
3 pounds ground beef (I used 2 lbs 90/10 and 1 lb 80/20)
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, diced
2 carrots, peeled and grated
18 ounces tomato paste (that’s 3 cans)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
Cook the ground beef in a large frying pan, working in batches if you need to, over medium heat until it is lightly browned (no longer pink). Transfer the ground beef to the insert of your crock pot, straining off and saving the juices and fat from the pan.
Combine the onion, red pepper, carrots, and beef juices in a large microwave safe bowl. Cook on high power for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through.
While the vegetables soften in the microwave, combine the tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, and spices in a bowl. Stir until they are thoroughly combined.
Add the softened vegetables and tomato paste mixture to the crock pot, stir to completely combine all the ingredients, cover, and cook on low for 6 hours.