How to...

This section is an ongoing post with different articles that I will be writing. For the most part, they will be on the "How to.." subject. There will also be some on the comical antics of an amateur cook. Others will be on subjects that are very near and dear to my heart. I hope this portion of the blog will be useful, informational, and humerus as well.

October 14, 2014: How to peel an onion

This is the story of a vivacious red onion who appeared well "dressed" on my husband's hamburger one night. It was quite a lovely onion, as far as onions were concern. Deep purple red hue, a slight perfection of roundness, and a pungent odor. Just the right size as well, fitting nicely into the palm of my hand. I hated to cut into its loveliness; but, a lass, onions were not meant to just be admired. I readied my knife, heavy and sharp, sliced the ends off, and then sliced it just so. A thick slice to fit right on top of the lettuce and tomatoes on the husband's homemade hamburger. I can still see the masterpiece in my mind: Bun, burger, cheese, tomato, onion, lettuce, pickles, bun nestled next to golden fries as I glided into the dining room to present my first homemade burger and fries to the husband. A moment of pride for sure. He smiled lovingly at me as he took his first bite. I hold my breath as a strange expression crosses his face. My brow furrows as I think of the worst possible scenario: raw hamburger.
I timidly ask the dreaded question: "what is it?"
Dramatically, he opens the bun and points to the beautifully sliced onion. 
I look questioningly at this display, having no idea what is the matter. "What?" I ask.
Then the question of the year comes out of his mouth, "Have you never peeled an onion before?"
Red embarrassment creeps over my cheeks. In truth, I did not know you had to peel an onion. "No, " I answered timidly
My ever gentle husband led me to the kitchen and demonstrated how to do the deed:
1. Take the whole onion and cut off one end.
2. Depending on use: a. you then slice the onion down the middle, or b. slice off the other end.
3. a. Store one half of the onion in an air tight container in the refrigerator. With the other half, score one side and slowly peel the outer layer off and discard. b. Score one side and slowly peel the outer layer off and discard. 
4. Slice or dice as needed. 

Also, to prevent an episode of unwanted tears: wash onion after the peeling process.

December 19, 2013: A Well Stocked Pantry

There are several items that every chef, whether novice or professional, needs or knows to have in their kitchen at fingers length. A good set of pots and pans, good set of knifes, cast iron skillets, a variety of utensils, and a well stocked pantry. This little snippet will include what I consider a stocked pantry to be. The basics that I use on a regular basis. Keep the spices away from the stove top. The heat will weaken the potency of the spice/herb. 


Let's start with the fridge:

Milk--any kind that one prefers. I prefer cow milk, but sometimes I will have Almond or Soy milk available. 
Eggs
Wine--red and white for cooking purposes
Sour Cream
Mayonnaise, mustard, Ketchup
Butter
Cream Cheese
Italian Dressing
Soy Sauce, Lite
Worcestershire Sauce

Spice Rack
Salt
Pepper
Chili powder
Red pepper flakes
Paprika
Basil
Thyme
Rosemary
Parsley
Oregano
Cilantro
Dried Chives
Garlic Powder
Dry Mustard
Cumin
Corriander
Herb d'Provence
Ginger
Cinnamon
All Spice
Cloves
Nutmeg
Cardamon
Vanilla Extract
Almond Extract

Baking Pantry
All Purpose Flour (Gluten free in my house)
Flaxseed Mill
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Cornstarch
Yeast
Brown Sugar
White Sugar
Honey
Powdered Sugar
Cocoa Powder
Bread Crumbs
Olive Oil
Vegetable Oil or Sunflower oil
Butter
Crisco
White Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar
Balsamic Vinegar
Rice Vinegar
Red Wine Vinegar


September 17, 2013: How to care for your cast iron skillet.

Being from a very southern family, a cast iron skillet has been in my family for generations. I truthfully cannot remember a time when I have not been in the kitchen without one. My grandmother had hers sitting on the stove top, well seasoned and ready to use. That very same one is now in my kitchen and used just about everyday in one capacity or another.
By now, you are probably thinking, "I have a cast iron skillet, now what?" That's a great line of thought, one that I can definitely help you through. We must now start with the basics. The first piece of information about a cast iron skillet one must obtain is this: Whether you have inherited or bought brand new, the skillet has to be seasoned.
Season(ed): to mature, ripen, or condition by exposure to suitable conditions or treatment.
If you have inherited a cast iron skillet (hooray!) from mom, grandmother, or otherwise; yours should be well seasoned and all you will have to do is maintain said cast iron skillet. Which we will be discussing later. If you have a new skillet or inherited one that was not well attended to (shame, shame,) a little more work is required to bring it up to par.
This is the easy part; time consuming, but easy. There are 7 easy steps to follow:
1. Wash said cast iron skillet with warm water and salt (no soap) to remove any rust or debris which has formed.
2. Dry completely with towel and set aside for 15 minutes to air dry.
3.Coat, and I do mean completely coat from handle to bottom with oil (vegetable or canola.)
4. In a 250*F oven, place the skillet upside down. Cook for one hour.
5. Cool, re-oil, and cook for 1 hour.
6. Cool, re-oil, and cook for 1 hour
7. Cool, re-oil and store.
Once your cast iron has had its initial seasoning, it will be ready for you to use it.
To start cooking with your cast iron skillet, there are a few points to take into account:
1. Always oil your pan when cooking. Even though the initial seasoning has taken place, you never want to use a "dry" pan. Cooking with the oil or butter will not only help maintain the seasoning, it will continue to season it more.
2. Unlike other skillets made from aluminum or ceramic, cast iron holds the heat of the stove longer and sustains it better. To heat the skillet, place on MED-HI while you are preparing the food. Never, Never, Never place your skillet on HI heat; I can guarantee you will burn your pan and burn your food. Once the skillet is hot and the food has started cooking, turn the heat down to LO. It will retain its heat, trust me.
3.When you first start using your skillet, you may have to use more oil in the middle of cooking. The more you use your skillet, the less oil you will have to use as long as you maintain it. If you find your food sticking to the bottom, ask yourself these two questions: Is the heat too high? and Do you have enough oil in the skillet? If the heat is too high, turn it down and remove the skillet for a few minutes. Otherwise, put some oil in the pan.
4. After you have finished cooking, remove pan from heat and let cool before you clean. Once the skillet is cool, cleaning is simple. All you need is water and a clean sponge. If there are food particles stuck to the skillet, use a scrapper very lightly to remove. You may use a little salt if the food is being tough.
5. Dry skillet completely, oil, and store until next usage.
Follow these 5 simple steps on seasoning, using, and cleaning; you will be able to enjoy your cast iron skillet for many years to come.

August 17, 2015

This section is to provide a guide to the most common used phrases, and an overview of common herbs/spices, oils and vinegar used in the recipes provided. The following definitions are taken from epicurious.com and my own personal intake. Please feel free to ask questions and add your own personal experiences.

Commonly Used Phrases

1.Dredge: (v) to sprinkle or coat with some powdered substance. 
This phrase is used when frying (pan or oil) a meat or vegetable. 

2.Dice: (v) to cut into small cubes.

This is one of the most common actions in preparing a meal. Mostly used in terms of cutting up vegetables, but can be used in cutting meats and breads for recipes. The dice can be a micro dice (mince) or a large, choppy dice. 

3.Julienne: (v) to cut food into very thin strips.

This is mostly used as a garnish for salads, but can be used in stir fry dishes with peppers or sun-dried tomatoes.

4.Zest: (n) The perfume outermost skin layer of citrus fruit (usually oranges or lemons), which is removed with the aid of a CITRUS ZESTER, paring knife or VEGETABLE PEELER. Only the colored portion of the skin (and not the white pith) is considered the zest. The aromatic oils in citrus zest are what add so much flavor to food. Zest can be used to flavor raw or cooked and sweet or savory dishes.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/tools/fooddictionary/search#ixzz20FzWOfCU

5.Saute:(v) To fry in a small amount of fat.

6.Fry:(v) To cook food in hot fat over moderate to high heat. DEEP-FRIED food is submerged in hot, liquid fat. Frying (also called pan frying ) or SAUTÉING refers to cooking food in a lesser amount of fat, which doesn't cover the food. There is little difference in these two terms, though sautéing is often thought of as using less fat and being the faster of the two methods.
Read More http://www.epicurious.com/tools/fooddictionary/search#ixzz20G12QBRz

7.Braise:(v) To cook meat or vegetables by lightly browning in fat then cooking slowly in a closed pan with a small amount of liquid.
Read more http://www.thefreedictionary.com/braise