Monday, August 26, 2013
Somewhere along the line, food blogs turned from places to share words and recipes that your family and friends have loved and really lived while enjoying, to a place where the photos have to be taken with DSLR's in just the right light, with the perfect background and props, and then expertly edited for hours in photoshop for your blog to be worth anything.
Well, I'm a rebel.
There will be times - and yes today is one of them - where you won't see a single picture on this blog. Nope. Not a one. And do you know what I've decided?
No pictures is a-okay.
I've been making Penne a la Vodka since Rachael Ray told me it was the only recipe that was scientifically proven to get me a husband. (Was that her vodka sauce recipe? Or was it some other chicken nonsense that I'm getting confused in my head? Either way.) To be fair, she wasn't exactly wrong - my boyfriend does love my cooking. Yes. Boyfriend. Not husband. I know. I'm working on him. :)
Okay, so let's get to it - here's what I do! I start tomato sauce off the same way no matter what kind of sauce I'm making - marinara, vodka, or otherwise.
1. Heat up a small glug of olive oil and about a tablespoon of butter in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. (Why yes, I am singing "Fat Bottomed Girls" in my head. If you are too, you are invited to stay and be my friend).
2. While the oil/butter mixture is heating up, dice 1 onion. If you do not know how to do this without dicing your fingers along with it, I suggest you YouTube that shit. Seriously, save the fingers.
3. Once the oil is rippling slightly, drop in the onions and shake in (like a polaroid picture) some salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Sometimes I rub the Italian seasoning in between my palms before I put it in the pot just to release some of the oils. Sometimes I am lazy and I don't.
4. Stir to combine and let saute for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent but right before they get browned on the edges.
5. Add about half a tablespoon of garlic (or more if you like it garlicky). If you use the pre-chopped kind out of a jar, I will not tell the tomato sauce police on you, I promise. And use Polaner, it's by far the best. :)
6. Let the garlic cook for about a minute - trust me, you DO NOT want your garlic to burn because that is the bitterest shit you will ever taste. Yes, I just made bitterest a word. Trust me. Don't burn it.
7. Here comes the vodka! Pull the pan off the flame and add enough vodka to really cover the bottom of the pan - I'm talking like 2 to 3 turns of the pan depending on how large your pan is. Once you have put the pan back on the heat, STEP BACK. Do not breathe in the vodka fumes because they smell something awful. It's like drinking vodka through your nose and that is not fun.
8. Let the vodka reduce until there's only a tiny bit of liquid left. Then add one can of crushed tomatoes and one can of diced tomatoes and stir. I like a chunky tomato sauce, but if you like it pureed please feel free to use two cans of crushed tomatoes (or boat motor the hell of out of your sauce once you're done... immersion blenders = the shit).
8. Let simmer for at least 30 minutes, but longer is better.
9. Taste it! If it's too acidic, add some sugar - start with a tablespoon and go from there. If it needs more salt and pepper, put some in. If it sorta tastes like nothing and you're thoroughly confused, throw in a chicken bouillon cube. I know it sounds ridiculous but I swear by that shit (especially for chicken cacciatore, hello yum).
10. Boil your pasta!
11. When your pasta is about 2 minutes from being cooked, pour in one of those little baby containers of heavy cream. If you like your sauce creamier and less tomato-y, add more cream. I swear, you guys, cooking is not an exact science.
12. Taste again! Make adjustments as needed.
13. Drain pasta, put back in hot pot, and add some sauce. Stir vigorously. However, I will call the tomato sauce police on you if you rinse your pasta with water before you do this. Don't. Ever. Rinse. Pasta.
14. Dump into a family style serving bowl, ladle up some sauce on the side, and serve with some crusty bread and some parmesan cheese.
Straight up, that is the end. It's a couple steps, but I promise you it's so easy an Italian cavewoman probably painted it on a rock wall a million years ago. For real.
If you make this recipe, please send me a picture as I am clearly photographically challenged. And comment. And be my friend.
What do you guys think of me YouTubing some cooking? Hmm. I wouldn't have to worry about taking pictures. :)
Monday, August 19, 2013
Yes, I’m aware it’s been a long time.
Yes, I’m aware that makes me a bad blogger.
Yes, I missed you. :)
How are all my friends? And by all, I mean all 3 of you who are reading this! It has been a wild and crazy ride the past year and a half and so many things have happened that I never could have predicted. But that is okay and now I am here, ready to share all of my food adventures with you once again.
But not right this second. But whyyyyyyy?! You just came back and already you’re leaving again? Yes, I know – I’ve left you feeling neglected for so long but I just need to get my recipes and pictures in order so that everything isn’t smudged pages and iPhone photos.
So the next couple that you have to look forward to are Sour Cream Enchiladas from Skinny Mom (that, of course, I adapted to meet my needs and may or may not have forgotten to take a picture of), Crockpot Ranch Pork Chops from I forget where, but I will find it before I post it (which I also adapted to meet my needs and ended up needing to seriously doctor it up to make it taste good), and my very own Penne a la Vodka recipe adapted from my brain. :)
I don’t think I have pictures of any of those.
So much for a triumphant come back!
Missed you loves!
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Okay so I haven’t updated you all on my quest to be free of High Fructose Corn Syrup in a while, so here I am to give a state of the union as it were. It has been 12 days and I have to admit that I have cheated a couple times (way less than I thought I would, to be honest). My biggest vice is Ginger Ale and I have such a whiny baby for a stomach that I just need to drink some sometimes. Other than that, I have been 100% strict with this whole HFCS thing.
Now for the weird stuff. Starting at around day 5 and continuing up until probably day 10 (and a little yesterday as well), I have had a series of migraines like no others I have ever experienced. Apparently, I am in the middle of a migraine cluster; migraines are very predictable when they come in a cluster and they generally begin at the same time every day and that is exactly what I have been experiencing. Now, I can’t say for certain whether or not this migraine cluster is related to giving up HFCS, but I will say that I find the timing and the severity of these migraines to be extremely suspicious. In addition to that, my stomach was feeling pretty weird for the same amount of time as well. The Man and my mama suggested that I might actually be detoxing from the high fructose corn syrup, which is seeming more and more likely to me considering that as I get farther into this little experiment, the better I feel.
Now for the part that I was the most curious about: weight loss. In 12 days, I have lost 2 pounds. I made no other changes to my diet or exercise other than cutting out HFCS, so I can only assume that the change there was from that. Yay for my pants fitting better!!
Also, if you’re thinking about doing this yourself, the only advice I can give you so far is read labels like a crazy person. Watch out for words like “maltodextrin (corn)” or “dextrose” which is another label given to sugar made from corn. Now, I know I’ve seen commercials from the Corn Refiners Association and I’m sure you have too (if you haven’t, YouTube is a lovely thing and I’m sure you could find them there if you wanted to see them). It’s not that I disagree with them saying that biochemically, table sugar and corn sugar are the same – because I don’t disagree with that. Most of the research that I have read on the topic says the same thing. My issue is that corn sugar in this country, nine times out of ten and probably more so, is made from genetically modified corn crops. THAT is what I take issue with. I do not take lightly to large agricultural companies biologically altering the food I eat and I would imagine that much of the disease in this country (cancer especially) comes from so many genetically modified foods being consumed. As unfortunate as it is, eating fruits and vegetables doesn’t guarantee that you are eating healthy due to GMO’s and pesticides and all the other things that we cannot control when buying fresh produce from the grocery store. It sounds like I’m being a typical germophobe when I say it, but you have no idea how many people have handled my food before it meets my mouth and that, to me, is disgusting.
Hence, the reason why I have a flat of seeds sprouting in my house right now – peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Not to mention the lettuce, kale, spinach, herbs, cucumbers, zucchini, and beans that I haven’t started yet. I want as much control over the food that goes in my mouth as possible and the only way to be sure about it is to grow it myself. (Disclaimer: this is not a new wrinkle. I am a gardener and have been since I was little growing tomatoes on the side of my house with my daddy and my Poppy – I just feel WAY better about doing it now because of all of this nonsense that I have learned about the food I eat).
And as my grandmother says, I will get off my soap box now.
Has anybody else given up HFCS for Lent? Or for any reason, for that matter? What has your experience been?
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Day 2 and I’m starting to realize that corn farmers or the Corn Refinery Association (or whatever it’s called) must be making money hand over fist because High Fructose Corn Syrup is legitimately in things that I never would have expected it to be in… like a jar of spaghetti sauce. It occurred to me that tomatoes sometimes need sugar, even in homemade sauce, to balance out the acidity – especially in the months when tomatoes are out of season. So when I decided to have ravioli and meatballs for dinner last night, I realized I had to check a jar of pasta sauce for High Fructose Corn Syrup. So unnecessary. Anyway, I found out that Francesca Rinaldi’s regular pasta sauce does not have HFCS, it has regular sugar in it so that’s good. I ended up having ravioli and my mom’s meatballs for dinner and was good to go, HFCS-wise.
This morning, I again had to fight with the bread drawer to find a kind of bread that did not include HFCS. I decided on Nature’s Pride 100% Natural Stone Ground Whole Wheat with Honey – that’s a mouthful, but it was yummy. I ended up having a tuna sandwich because Hellman’s mayonnaise has no HFCS in it either. All I’ve been drinking the past two days is water, which is definitely a switch for me because I am a soda drinker. If there is soda in the house, especially ginger ale, I am absolutely drinking it. Ginger ale is probably my favorite drink of all time, I just love it – and I have such a sensitive stomach most of the time that ginger ale always makes me feel better (it might just be in my head, but I really do believe it helps). So not drinking soda is definitely a change for me. I weighed myself yesterday (but I am SO not sharing that information for the entire internet to see) and I am going to continue to weigh myself once a week for the next 40 days to see if this HFCS experiment has any effect on my weight.
All in all, I am finding this experiment very interesting. I’m beginning to realize that millions of Americans are eating HFCS every single day in massive quantities without even realizing it because it has been added to so many random foods and drinks that we consume every day. We spend so much time trying to understand the rise in obesity, diabetes, cancer, and other ailments in Americans… well, I’d be willing to bet a HUGE part of it is right here.
And that’s not even beginning to go into the possibility that the corn that is being used to create HFCS might be genetically modified in some way, causing a whole slew of other problems.
This is crazy.
Love to you all,
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
My grandmother believes that High Fructose Corn Syrup is poison. Since she is one of the smartest, strongest people in my whole world, I believe her. That’s why I am giving up HFCS for Lent this year. It is my quest to leave HFCS behind for the next 40 days and when Lent is over, I will revisit this and tell you all how I am feeling (whether it be better, worse, or indifferent).
So this is my official day 1. I’m not specifically a church-going person, so for all I know Lent may have started yesterday but I am beginning this quest today because that’s when I decided to do it haha. And let me tell you, people – HFCS is EVERYWHERE. I slept VERY late today and decided when I woke up that I wanted to have a sandwich and some salad for lunch (which was technically my breakfast because I am a lazy mess who slept until 12:30pm… don’t judge me). I assumed bread would be a safe option because I’ve made bread from scratch before and I’ve never once used HFCS or anything like it, so I was safe right?
I had to look through FOUR different kinds of bread before I found one with no HFCS in it. HOW is that possible? Even the whole grain/whole wheat bread I had in the drawer had HFCS fairly close to the top of the ingredients list. Luckily, I had no such trouble with the cold cuts (Boars Head, which I had previously Googled) or the salad dressing (Wish Bone Balsamic Vinaigrette) which specifically states on the bottle that they use sugar and not HFCS (and there are no sneaky “maltodextrin (corn)” lines in the list of ingredients either – that is one you definitely have to watch out for because it’s the same thing, just under a sneakier name).
Who knew this would be so hard?
And how do I eat at restaurants now?
This is going to be a doozy. I’m going to try to post at least once every day from now until the end of Lent to keep everyone updated on this little journey. Please leave any questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Saturday, February 18, 2012
I found it. The best chocolate cupcake recipe ever. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have found it. It’s incredible and I’m not sure how I only ate one so far.
More info and some pictures of the decorated cupcakes soon (hopefully tomorrow)!
YAY! My boyfriend is going to be so impressed.