Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Folklore and Philosophy

A few cooking rules will improve your lot.
They are east to remember, so forget them not.
Start your vegetables cold - Start your meats hot.
Take the pot to the kettle: not the kettle to the pot.

This ditty dates back to the early New England colonies before the Revolutionary War.

Through this journal you will notice an emphasis on cooking with less salt and fat. Basically food that “we all know we should eat” – not because of a diet fad – but as a way of “caring.”

The ancient Greeks said: “All things in moderation.” However since then we have played with our food. We preserve it better and get higher yields from our crops. We developed a taste of foods from thousands of miles away. In less than 100 years we have stopped growing our own. We expect a local supermarket where the food is not spoiled. We don't care if it is “in season”. We want it convenient, fast and the less we have to do to it the better.

Our bodies and needs have changed. When you do hard labor 12 hours a day, you need more calories, fats, proteins, salt and a host of sweets. Things we no longer need. More people have allergies. We have identified intolerance of lactose and gluten. We see deadly reactions to certain nuts and shellfish, etc.

My cooking philosophy is: in the absence of one of the above “intolerance” or “allergy”, no food is banished completely. Some things should be limited, yes. Treats are for a treat!

For example Christmas Cookies. I made a few great tasting low fat cookies. For the most part, (like my bacon – chocolate chip cookies), would be enough to make nutritionists faint! They're cookies for heavens sake, not breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a month! Have some restraint – please!

I hope you will find some knowledge that you might not have been taught. A Weight Watchers on line poll of 20 to 30 year old's showed only one in five admitted they knew how to cook! Upon questioning, that 20% reported the overwhelming majority of their skill was little beyond “cut a small slit in center before placing in microwave”.

So forgive if I go into minor details “everyone knows”. You can't count on that anymore. Think of these as reminders. Slave is no “expertly trained” chief or teacher. I have been cooking since before the Kennedy Assassination. -NO, smart ass the two were not related! In that time I have picked up a few things(?). I serve, wither that be a Master or another slave, allow me to help.

A favorite quote is from Quentin Crisp:

“Neither look forward where there is doubt, nor backward where there is regret. Look inward, and ask not if there is anything outside that you want, but wither there is anything inside that you have not yet unpacked.” Let slave pass on a few of the tricks he has packed away!

Forever His,


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Adulation Chicken Casserole

A low fat/low salt take on chicken pot pie with a unique sauce, not gravy.

½ raw chicken breast (1 piece) and 2 thighs, skin removed, boned and cut into thumb-sized pieces. You want good sized chunks!

1 lbs pkg frozen mixed vegetables for soup

1/3 cup diced yellow onion

small can mushroom pieces drained

3 cups low sodium chicken stock divided

¼ cup white balsamic vinegar

2 tbs all purpose flour

¾ cup No-Fat Cream Cheese

1 sm packet of no sodium chicken bullion (Herb Ox) optional

1 pkg Pillsbury Croissant dough They now sell one without the cuts!

Spray a deep skillet with butter flavored cooking spray: Start the chicken pieces to cook over a medium-high heat. 2 – 3 minutes for each side. You only want to change their color and put an edge of brown on them then remove.

Add onion and mushrooms to pan. Cook until the onions are turning transparent and water has cooked out of mushrooms. 3 – 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove.

Deglaze the pan with ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar. This will steam up and loosen any grease or particles that are stuck to the pan. (keep your head back – the fumes will be concentrated) Use spatula to help. Since I used a non stick pan I keep several wooden tools handy (remember to clean these by hand NOT in the dish washer) Return the onions, mushrooms and chicken to pan and add 2 of the 3 cups chicken broth.

While that's warming up, in a medium sized bowl mix the No-Fat Cream Cheese with flour and bouillon powder, if too thick add a few tablespoons of No-fat half and half or skim milk. Make sure it is well incorporated with as few lumps as possible. Use a whisk if you have one. Then stir in the last cup of chicken broth.

Add the package of frozen mixed vegetables to the pan and stir in the cream cheese mixture. As soon as that comes to a boil, cover and reduce the heat way down to just a simmer. Let it do its magic, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. I used an oven proof glass.

With just about 3 or 4 minutes left of simmering time, open the croissant dough and unroll onto a sheet of wax paper. If you want to cover the whole dish with crust, then place a sheet of plastic wrap over the dough and roll out with a rolling pin until it is the right size. Be sure to cut out a few slits for steam to escape. Feel free to be creative with this. I choose to cut out shapes with a large cookie cutter but didn't plan it very well as you can see from the picture.

Pour chicken mixture into the baking pan. The mixture will have reduced around the meat and vegetables. Place the cut out pastry on top, careful as it will be difficult to reposition.

Bake for 17 – 19 minutes or until the pastry is lightly browned. Remember everything on the inside has already been cooked.

Since this is meat, vegetables, and bread I suggest a small green salad with cut up celery maybe some frozen peas. You want a strong green for the color and a good crunch for texture.

For desert, keep it simple. Either tropical fruit chunks or fruit cocktail in juice (drained) mixed with two tablespoons of no fat unflavored yogurt and sprinkle a bit of rice crispies on top. Now then your meal is balanced with color, texture, savory and sweet, as well as temperature.

Observe when this is served. Make mental notes of comments. Your Master's eyes will tell you if He is pleased. Many Master's prefer to not use many words of praise – never EXPECT praise! You will know that you have nourished and comforted with a warm and healthy meal.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Gift

Its not so much the things we don't know, as it is the things that we know that turn out to be wrong.

Let's face it: sex is the greatest motivator we know. Over 200 years of sexual illusions and images have been used to manipulate almost everything we do. However you could not talk about it. Men were supposed to have the knowledge, I guess genetically, and women were NOT.
Don't worry, this post is not about everything sexual, or gender binary, or all kinds of such “vulgar” things. Instead I'd like to discuss giving. That should not offend, should it? In our culture giving is rightfully emphasized as a reward in itself. It is a joy. It makes us feel good. Being generous is extolled. Philanthropy is held in high regard.
When I say I have a need to give the gift of being subservient to another, it is ridiculed. Why? Wishing to serve country is a good thing but wishing to be of service to a cherished one, is thought of as being “sick”. To want to be a servant is a terrible wrong. We all must be equal, we fight for that. We die for that and our struggle continues. Was I dropped on my head as a child?
The connotations of words used are confusing. Let me explain my take on it. For me, because my Master Indy performs a different job than I, does not mean either of us feel I am worthless or inferior in value. Just as in the military, a “Superior” Officer indicates only who makes the decisions. This leaves the rest to follow those directives. Being a slave is not something that Master Indy did to me, or I to him. Rather it was something within me that I can now embrace and become realized.
Don't let another person's definitions keep you from embracing your true self. Follow your calling, your unique purpose. If your heart cries out to nourish and comfort, do it! This is noble and valuable. It takes a special kind of strength. Don't waste your life by denying yourself and others. Be a proud servant and a prize! Be the gift!

My Master Indy's

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Stroganoff Hamburgers

I wanted to re-envision hamburgers with the taste of Beef Stroganoff. Always looking for a different way to fix this staple. Primary was the need to actually taste like Stroganoff and be very good! Secondary was the need to be responsible and healthy as possible to care for my Master.
1½ lbs 90% lean ground beef or better if you can find
½ cup finely chopped onion divided
¼ cup finely chopped celery
1 egg
1 teaspoon low sodium Worcester Sauce
1 sm envelope no salt beef bullion Herb Ox
1/8 cup Old Fashioned rolled Oats
1 Jar Shiitake Mushrooms
3 cups low salt beef stock divided
2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard.
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 Cup No Fat, unflavored Greek style yogurt
6 hamburger buns
Chop the onions very fine and divide into two equal parts. Chop the celery fine and mix with one of the parts of onion. Mix that into the ground beef. Add the beef bullion powder and oats, then the egg and Worcestershire. Make sure everything is well blended.
I do this in a large bowl and push it down until everything is roughly the same height. Then I take a regular dinner knife and cut six wedges like I was cutting a pizza. That makes it easier for me to form 6 equal sized hamburgers. Remember press hamburgers when they are raw NOT when they are cooking! WASH your hands well with soap. Trust me: nothing will ruin any mood as quickly as cross-contamination!

Spray a 12 inch skillet with cooking spray and heat to a medium high. In batches of three patties each, brown the burgers about 2 – 3 minutes per side. You are just browning them not fully cooking them. Set aside and repeat for the 2nd batch and set them aside. You should not have very much grease left, if more than a tablespoon, drain but leave anything else in the pan. Dump the 2nd bunch of onion along with the drained Shiitake Mushrooms. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the onions start to become transparent and the liquid is cooked out of the mushrooms. With a slotted spoon remove the mushrooms. BTW what is left in the pan, the French refer to as “fond”. You want that, it will be a major flavoring. If you wish a touch of a wine taste, sprinkle some balsamic vinegar in the pan, otherwise pour in 2 cups of the beef stock. This is called “De-glazing.”

Mix the three tablespoons of flour into the remaining cup of stock along with the Dijon Mustard. Stir this into the pan and make sure it is mixed in. return all 6 burgers to the stock and allow to come to a slight boil. Put the lid on and reduce the heat way down. You want it to simmer (just tiny bubbles) let cook for 15 minutes. Resist the urge to lift the lid and bother them. The burgers will have plumped up and be juicy. Serve with the thickened sauce and a teaspoon of yogurt then top with a spoon of mushrooms.
While the burgers are simmering you can do your sides. I suggest the clean taste of french style green beans with slivered almonds. I also cooked some macaroni. While still hot I added some no-fat cream cheese. Then mixed in diced onions and celery til everything was just coated.
Please note:
At this point I got some very valuable advice from Master Christopher. He is very much of a “foodie”. He suggested that to liven-up the pasta, add 6 pickled peppercorns: either black or pink.
Master Christopher was kind enough to teach me how to pickle them. Use a cup of white wine vinegar and a cup of water. Add honey and bring to a boil and throw in the peppercorns, they could simmer for a minute, and then remove from the heat and let them steep/poach until they soften. They'll be vinegary and the pepper is always good for you!
Sir: Thank You!

Your Master will be proud to serve this to His guests and they will complement Him. You of course will not need to hear them because you will know by the look in Master's eyes. That will make you feel almost euphoric!


Friday, January 18, 2013

An Introduction

We react to the word “slave”, by recoiling in disgust. The words: “First responder” or “shelter volunteer” make us feel good. In each case the needs of others come before their own.
Some are forced to be a slave to their job: some chained in the kitchen. The Fifties gave clearly defined roles. Men left for work and provided money. Women stayed home and provided comfort. I never saw it as “Man's work” or “Woman's work”, only that some adults made rules – others made dinners. Today the roles are the same, just not limited to gender.
Leading doesn't fulfill me like nurturing does, so I cook. It is more than a hobby, it is seeing my work comfort & sustain. My calling is to assist and support.
This blog is for any who wish to nurture with cooking, anyone who may also need to comfort and restore.
Wither you see me as “Miss Jane with a slave collar” or “June Cleaver with a strand of pearls” isn't important. Don't focus on me. Learn how to fix these meals, these offerings. Take ideas to help in your caring for another.
This blog is a tribute to one who has been a teacher and guide. I call him “Master Indy”. Give me the complaints but please the compliments should go to him. Without this leader I'd be lost and these words never written. This is my way to venerate Him.
Always His