In the Kitchen

Today has been a slightly unusual day in that I've spent almost the entire day in the kitchen. (I don't have all the pictures to prove it, so you'll just have to take my word for it.) I woke up off-and-on this morning and then finally pushed myself out of the bed in the late morning. I know you can't really catch up on sleep, but I've been getting my share in this holiday break.

At any rate, after cooking breakfast for a change (I made a breakfast burrito - I finally got a chance to use up some of my Mexican seasoning) and having a cup of tea, I decided to get started on the desserts I volunteered for the church dinner tomorrow. But first I had to finish cleaning up the kitchen and putting up dishes that had already dried. I don't like cooking unless the kitchen is totally clean. So I got right to it. I even moved my little t.v. into the kitchen to utilize that cable I'm paying for.

While watching the Food Network, I began my dessert baking with another attempt of the Down East Maine Pumpkin bread that I baked about a week ago. This time I watched the bread more carefully . I think that recipe still needs some adjusting because the "doneness" that the recipe claims will happen in a certain time period does so at the sake of having an overly brown bottom. So I will try this recipe again to master the time or temperature. Now I'm thinking maybe I'll have to adjust the temperature. Maybe drop it 25 degrees. Well, to get back on subject, this bread baked better than the last batch. I carefully took both loaves out of the oven and placed them on cooling racks.

While they had been baking, I washed all of my cooking utensils and got started on the pound cake. I decided to try Aunt Tutsie's Lemon Pound Cake. I hadn't made that recipe in years, plus I wanted a cake that didn't yield an enormous amount of batter. The modern cake pans hold less batter than the ones my mom has had all of my life. I'm still searching for a tall bundt pan that doesn't have a releasable bottom like the angel food cake pans.

Aunt Tutsie's Lemon Pound Cake was easy to mix, but once I was done with that cake and the pumpkin bread I was totally out of sugar! I placed most of the batter into one of my coffee cake pans and the remaining batter I placed in my miniature silicone loaf pan. It only filled up 3 of the 8 spaces in the pan, but that will make a good freeze. Thankfully by purchasing this ancient home, I have a teeny tiny oven in the wall that I used to bake my miniature pound cakes in and I used the regular sized oven that I purchased this time last year to bake the real deal. That way, the cakes were done just about the same time and I could turn that oven off!

After the cakes were removed and placed on another cooling rack, I decided I'd better tackle that head of collards my dad brought back from our visit to grandma's. I had the seasoning meat flavoring up the water in a small pot while I sliced the collards into matchstick thin slices and washed them up in the sink. After the seasoned water was ready, I transferred it and the collards into my favorite big pot (it's the waterless cooking kind with a valve that opens and closes to help your food cook faster and hold in more nutrients) and cooked the collards for a seemingly short period of time. That's what frost will do for you! I called myself sampling the finished product, but my sample ended up being a plate of collards. Man, they were good. I put the rest of the pot in the fridge once the pot had cooled. I'll transfer them to another dish later. I was on a roll. The next head of collards I get, I will try Sunny Anderson's vegetarian style version. It sounds good.

After washing up the lastest batch of dishes, I decided to be more proactive. Don't let food go to waste - freeze it! So, I took the pot of the stew beef dish I'd made in the crockpot a little earlier and divided it into small meals, labeled the containers with the item and the date, and put them in the freezer. I was going to finish up my evening or day in the kitchen with cooking up the last piece of cabbage, but I got a little sidetracked and only managed to slice and wash the cabbage. So I put it in a Ziploc bag and will quickly decide how I'll use it if I don't decide to just steam it. I'm realizing now that if I'm not proactive about my food (for example) I just won't eat right because this time of year I'm too overworked to think of meals or too tired to care about them being balanced.

I've been putting myself on a tight budget when it concerns food and I was determined to eat whatever I had in my freezer down before restocking and so far it's working. Now the items that I'm putting back into the freezer are by-products of what I already had, except they are fully cooked. I still have some salmon and tilapia I need to use and a couple of other meats, but so far I think this plan is working for me.

I'm realizing that I do a lot of things according to my moods. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but it is a realization that I am experiencing. I craft when the mood hits, I bake when I'm in that "baking" mood, I practice my Spanish when the mood strikes. You get the picture. What I've learned is that when I do these things outside of that mood I'm often less successful: the cakes don't turn out as well, I make more mistakes in my craft projects. So, today was one of those cooking moods, so I needed to cook everything I could while the mood was striking. I just wish someone would have a sale on shrimp while I'm in this mood. I wonder if I channel my thoughts to that effect if it would make it happen?

Until then....


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