Thursday, March 01, 2007

February is a cold month

We are still in the kitchen, meaning still working on it. Currently, it's the inside of the cupboards, which are painted a hideous shade of drying-blood red, robustly chipped (we always check for paint chips if we get out a little-used dish or bowl), which is not only unattractive but probably lead-based and therefore toxic.
Even so, we haven't mostly relied on frozen dinners, because we got so sick of them during the plastering part of the work. Some things are more easily prepared in a partially functional kitchen. Anthing that uses too many spices will cause grief, because the spices and dried herbs are dispersed far and wide, some in a blue basket, some in a giant dough-rising bowl, some in a box along with the deer's skull that used to hang between the windows (found, not shot).
Also it's not wise to embark on anything that uses too many pans, because there's sure to be cursing and banging of the available pots when you can't find the top of the double boiler, or the springform pan, or the top of the glass casserole dish. (Actually, I don't have a springform pan. I did have one, but I decided I wasn't using it and gave it away, and then became convinced that my life wasn't worth living unless I made cheesecake. So I'll probably buy another.)

Some things that have worked well:
Macaroni and cheese--of course--so simple: macaroni, milk, flour, oil or butter, cheese. The flour canister is easy to find because it's big enough to hold a five-pound bag.
Omelets: everything's in the fridge, which has not so far been renovated.
Chili: this was one of the 1st things we made after the kitchen became functional, and because we like it so much, I grouped the necessary spices/herbs on the window sill for easy access. If I want to use dried beans there's a minor problem, since there are several kinds and they're widely distributed: a giant bag of kidney beans in the cooler, along with the giant bag of rice; pinto beans in an attractive glass jar I got at a house sale; lentils in a plastic container on the dining room window seat next to our record collection; black beans in their original bag in a box on top of the fridge.
Soup: because it is so forgiving. As long as you have stock, bought or homemade and frozen, some vegetables, onions and garlic (almost always essential), meat (optional)--you're in business. One of our recent successful soups was a black bean soup with rice and corn, sensibly spicy--so simple as not to need a recipe: black beans, chicken broth, onion and garlic chopped, corn, extra veg (diced carrots this time), one potato cut up, a cup of leftover rice, a dash of hot sauce, a pinch of ancho pepper (one of the gathered chili spices), another of kosher salt. Serve with grated cheese on top (in this case, smoked cheddar).
Thank heaven for canned crushed tomatoes--a convenience food worth standing up for. And speaking of convenience foods, if you need a reason not to buy Hamburger Helper, check out Erin O'Brien's hilarious post on her HH experiment.


Erin O'Brien said...

I make all this stuff.


No more HH, though. It was only hilarious from a distance ...

lucette said...

I bought HH a few times after I got married and suddenly had to cook ALL THE TIME--but it just didn't taste wonderful; plus too salty.