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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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November 05, 2009

A Cooking Spree!

My cooking seems to go in spurts and I've been in one these last few days.  I think partly I was inspired by the little cooking class I took at Jamie's Kitchen, partly I was eagerly awaiting my third pasta maker, and, partly I've finally finished editing and ordering my many pictures from Italy.

The only problem with cooking spurts, though is that I'm usually trying new stuff which always seems to end up dirtying just about every pan and utensil in the kitchen!

The first new thing I tried was a bean soup, I guess you'd have to call it.  While I was over in Virginia waiting to come home, I bought some Red Nightfall beans cause I liked the name and they were pretty.  So I got those out and decided to try the recipe on the package which was simple and tasty.  You cook some smoked sausage in with it and the seasonings were an interesting combination I thought - onion, garlic, oregano, paprika, thyme and turmeric with however much cayenne pepper you want.  I enjoyed it even though I think it was probably soupier than it was supposed to be cause the recipe said you could serve it alone or over rice and mine was too soupy for over rice.  But I think for one thing, I probably soaked the beans too long so that when they finally got to cook, they couldn't absorb much more liquid but boy, they were nice and creamy tender.  Also, instead of simmering them stovetop, I simmered them in the oven and had I known how soupy they were going to be, I wouldn't have left the lid on the whole time.  But I had it twice, so that means I'll probably make it again and tweak it a little.  I still have half a bag of the beans left.  I think I would use a slightly heavier hand with those seasonings and try for a thicker finished product.

So, next I fixed a little piece of pork tenderloin I had in the freezer.  I buy a tenderloin and cut it up into smaller pieces to freeze.  I made up a little recipe back a while ago and this was my third or fourth time making it and each time it seems to come out a little different.  I dice up an apple and saute it in butter, add brown sugar (one time), corn syrup (one time) and this time some ginger syrup I bought (again in VA), add a little ginger and some balsamic vinegar, then let it get kind of carmelized.  Empty the skillet and quickly brown the meat in a little olive oil, then dump the apple mix back in, cover and bake in the oven about 30 minutes.  I've had it with sweet potatoes and with polenta and really enjoy it both ways.

Next I made a puttanesca sauce recipe in the Cook's magazine's Italian issue.  Puttanesca sauce is one of my favorites ever since I bought a jar of it at an outlet store way back when I was still working.  I liked it so well, that I started mail ordering it, but like many of my most favorite things, it's no longer being made.  I've been making my own approximation for a while now but decided I'd try an "official" recipe.  It was good ,,, but I'll probably just stick with my own.  Actually, it was very like mine, but following their measurements, I put in more anchovies than I normally do so it was just a little fishy.  But since I was kind of doubtful about it because of the odor, I decided to add a cup or so to my cooked pasta (penne), added some grated parmesan and then baked it for a little while and it turned out tasty enough that I certainly had no trouble eating it up.

And, finally tonight I made another recipe from Cook's - chicken marsala.  This one really dirtied the dishes and I was kind of doubtful about it too, but it turned out quite nummy.  And I made the sauted spinach with garlic that we made at Jamie's kitchen to go with it.

So, now that I've been so industrious, I imagine I'll treat myself to a hot dog and fries, eat some Progresso soup or whatever.  And most likely my next cooking will be a pot roast and then chili - it's SO simple and so good.

And, good grief, I almost forgot.  My third pasta maker arrived today - no dents and it works.  So, yes, pot roast and chili, but home made ravioli will hopefully happen soon!

3 comments:

Christopher said...

WOOHOO! Third time's the charm on the pasta maker--glad to hear it this time! (I had visions of a growing collection of pasta makers, like your fondue pots... granted you were sending these defective ones back, but still... ;)
That is quite a cooking spurt, no doubt... each recipe sounds quite tasty, and I love chicken marsala!

January said...

I like the sound of the beans and sausage! I've never even heard of red nightfall beans - are they like pintos, a bit, or totally different?

vrmichie said...

You have such nice, attentive children -- too bad your sister is such a slaggard. Having read three postings at once, I think I'll confine my comments to the beans and I agree that they'd probably already soaked up too much water. Nowadays, bags of beans usually have a "quick" option which is boil them for two minutes, let them stand for one hour and then proceed with cooking them and that's what I usually do and it seems to work quite well. I like the sound of the seasonings. Weird about the Worchestershire in the cabbage so it's nice it tasted good. Happy ravioli. Looking forward to a report. xoxo

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