Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday's Feast

Today was one of those roller coaster days - either things were really great or really shitty. Dinner, fortunately, was really great.

Hans planned and took credit for all of this dinner - He went out and bought an entire beef tenderloin, then cut it himself, cutting 4 filets for our dinner tonight. These were tempered, seasoned and grilled, then topped with premiere blue cheese crumbles. Also on the menu: grilled portabello topped with lump crabmeat, steamed fresh broccoli and baked potatoes. Dessert? Blueberry pie with double vanilla ice cream.

Usually I would have pictures at the end of the post (and the post would be more verbose), but we ate everything before I thought to take the pictures.

And now I'm going to take my nasty, nasty, mean and terrible medications and curl up in a fetal position. Dig in, ya'll!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Breakfast for dinner!

All right, I promised a post tonight, and a good dinner. Hans is helping friends move again, so I'm flying solo. The kids wanted bologna sandwiches, so that was quick and easy and out of the way. Now that they're in bed, I've started making dinner for myself.

Maybe I should preface all this by explaining a bit about myself. I'm from rural Northeast Georgia. I grew up mere miles from my Granny and Papa. I learned at an early age how to make some of the foods that epitomize the South and Southern fare, some from my mama, though truth be told, she's one of those "Damn Yankees,*" so most of what she taught me wasn't strictly Southern, but most was learned from my Granny. One of the things I learned from her was how to make biscuits. Biscuits aren't difficult, they don't require many ingredients, and the best way to screw them up is to try to overwork them. Some flour (I'm a cheater and use self-rising, but she usually did too, once it became as easy to find as all purpose!), some shortening (someday I will buy lard and make them truly authentic), and some ice water.

I also learned how to make sausage gravy, though that was from my Uncle Farrell. Most summers my family, which consisted of Mama, Daddy, my sister and I, would go camping with my Daddy's sister, Barbara, and her family, my Uncle Farrell, and cousins Chad and Jamie. It was a big to-do, usually lasting a week, and meals and groceries were split between the two families. I always remember the mornings that Uncle Farrell made breakfast, though - he would make sausage gravy from scratch over a Coleman stove. That was the best sausage gravy ever. I learned to make mine from watching and remembering his....

Okay, so now you know a little about my past. Today was one of those days where it seemed like the world was against me, so since I'm alone for dinner, I decided to turn to my comfort foods - gravy and biscuits. I browned up the sausage, some of which I will put aside for another dish, some of which will end up in my gravy. The biscuits are in the oven, and in a few minutes, I will start the gravy.

This is the part of the post where I would normally post recipes. However, because of how these were obtained, and because of what they are, like so many good Southern recipes, they're a lot less recipe, and a lot more suggestion. So let's start with the biscuits....

I started off with my little red bowl, since I was just making for me tonight. Poured in a bit of self rising flour - probably around 2 cups - and added 3TBS of shortening and used my pastry cutter to blend it. Then I used my 2 cup glass measuring cup, filled it with ice, then with water. Slowly mixed the water with the flour and shortening until I thought there was enough, then added about that much more. Took all the water in the measuring cup (I should add that I have a lid for this cup, and that I put it on and pour through its strainer), actually. Then I dropped by handfuls onto my pizza stone that had been pre-heated in the 450° oven and baked for 20 minutes.

Now, before I started my biscuits, I browned up a pound of spicy bulk sausage in my large cast iron skillet. I put half of that into the fridge, and kept half in the skillet. I also kept the fat in the skillet from browning the meat. I took my "gravy jar" (a spaghetti sauce jar that I keep just for this sort of thing because I find it gives me the best result), filled it halfway with milk, then added 2 tbs of self rising flour (Because it's what I had out already). Then I put the lid on it and shook it up till it was well mixed. Pour that into the skillet that has been kept hot, stirring the whole time. This will take about five minutes, with you stirring the entire time. You may have to add more liquid, depending on how hot your skillet is, or how thick or thin you like your gravy.

If the timing is right, the gravy and the biscuits should be ready about the same time. Pop the bisciuts out of the oven, slice one open, put a dab of butter on the biscuit, then load the gravy on. Dig in, ya'll!

*Damn Yankee - someone who comes to the south from the north, then falls in love with it and decides to stay. Not meant in any sort of derogatory way.

Last Night Was A Quiet One

So I didn't post last night because, well, dinner wasn't anything of interest. Hans was helping a friend move, so the ids had TV dinners and I ended up heating a frozen pizza. Tonight, though, will be something good. I hope....

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Meal to Dissolve a Bad Day....

Today was just one of those days. Started at 2am with being awakened because I was fighting (violently, evidently) with my pillow and had knocked over my night time glass of water. Then work was pretty epically bad (for me, anyway - I snapped at a manager when I am but a lowly underling, and she wasn't even deserving of my snapping, really....), I'm sore and have a migraine hangover (ie:the day after a God-awful migraine tends to lack energy and brain power). Add to all that the dunderheads on the expressway (really, people, where did you get your licenses? A Cracker Jack box??) and the vicious circle automated phone system that I was attempting to navigate and, yeah, it was a pretty crappy Tuesday-that-is-like-my-Friday-but-felt-just-like-a-Monday. Oh yeah, and I get bitchy with Hans for no real reason.

And yet, despite my bad attitude, he made dinner. Not just any dinner, but a true family favorite: Sausage Rice Casserole from the cookbook his parents made for him when he went off to college.

It's one of those dishes that just comes together. It's simple, it's hearty and it's tasty as all hell. It's one that I like to have leftovers of, too, because it melds well for lunch the next day, but one that we have very little left over!

Hans also had bought a fresh pineapple at Aldi last week as a special treat for the girls. He decided to cut it tonight, and the next thing I know, he's putting a fresh pina colada into my hand!

Ah, yes. Good food, good drink, healing and restorative powers....

And now, the recipe for the Sausage Rice Casserole, as written, with our modifications in blue.

Grandmommy's Sausage Rice Casserole

1lb bulk pork sausage (we use sage sausage, but have had great luck with plain sausage and hot sausage as well. We even used leftover chicken once. Tasty, but the whole dish was just a bit beige....)
1c. uncooked rice (may use white or brown)
2 pkg dehydrated chicken soup (we use chicken bouillon)
1/4c. finely chopped onion
1c. sliced celery
2 1/2c. water (may use chicken stock or broth instead, but omit bouillon/dehydrated soup)
1Tbs. soy sauce (we usually use 2-3 Tbs.)
1/2c. sliced almonds (I've been known to use chopped or slivered, if that's what I have on hand)

Break apart sausage and brown. Pour off grease. Mix sausage, uncooked rice, soup, onions, celery and place in 2qt. casserole (we like to use our dutch oven because we can brown the sausage in it, drain it, then use the same pot to bake the casserole. Less dishes! Yay!). At this point you may refrigerate to bake within 24 hours, seal and freeze to bake at a later time (after thawing, of course) or finish.

Mix soy sauce with water, add almonds, then mix. Pour over sausage rice mixture. Cover and bake in oven preheated to 350° for at least 1 hour, or until rice is done.


I'm starting this blog because a number of friends have asked for the recipes for the wonderful foods that we eat here for dinner most nights. I have to admit that, while I'm the one blogging it all, Hans is the one that cooks 90% of the time or more. It's not that I can't, but rather that he really enjoys it. We're both good at it, but I'm more of a baker, while he qualifies more as a chef.

So here we go! First recipe/dinner coming up soon!