New URL

That’s right… I went and did it.  I bought http://www.blogwelldone.com.  Please keep visiting me there!

New Vegan Blog

Hi everyone, I have decided to go Vegan for 90 days and working out at least 5 times per week during that 90 day period.

I am journeling my missteps, trials, tribulations, and hopefully successes at http://iamtheanimal.blogspot.com

I will still be posting to this here blog, at least as much as I have done recently.

Donnor Party Special

As befitting this special day, here’s a recipe I invented for special occasions.

You will need:

  • 4 tablespoons grapeseed oil 
  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced 
  • 2 pounds of meat, deboned, dark meat preferred
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cover the meat liberally with salt and pepper. 
  2. Over a medium fire, add the butter and half of the oil.
  3. When the butter is foamy, add the onions, carrots, celery, and a pinch of salt.  Cook until soft.
  4. Remove vegetables, increase to medium high heat, and add the rest of the oil.
  5. When the oil is piping hot, add the meat and cook four minutes per side.  If the meat is particularly fatty, as some victims…er… carcasses may be, the heat can be kept at medium and the fat rendered out.
  6. Finish the meat in a 350 degree oven.   Meat should cook 5 minutes per pound for medium rare.
  7. Serve atop the sauted vegetables.

Happy April 1!

Using Salt

Using salt is one of the three most important skills in cooking, the other two being good knife skills and the proper use of heat.  For many, hearing that salt is a basic cooking skill will come as a surprise.  Given the linkage been salt and high blood pressure and other heart diseases, many home cooks have started to limit the amount of salt in their food.  These same cooks wonder why food at restaurants tastes better.

 

Salt does a number of very important things in cooking and baking.  First, salt helps to draw the juices out of meat and vegetables.  For proteins, this promotes crust formation when they are and it is why so many recipes state that meat should be liberally sprinkled with salt several minutes before cooking.

 

For vegetables, drawing out the juice does several things.  First, in sautés, it causes them to cook faster and more completely.  When adding them to a sauce, the salt will cause the vegetables to release their juice and add it to the surrounding liquid.  This will make the resulting food have a richer flavor.

 

In baking, salt has a number of useful functions.  It provides structure to baked goods by strengthening gluten (wheat proteins) and it helps to brown crusts.  Salt also prevents staleness by inhibiting or killing yeasts that are present in the finished product.

 

While all of this is crucial to preparing good food, the most important thing that salt does is fire the taste buds.  The tongue has different sets of taste buds, each of which are specifically designed for one type of taste: sweet, bitter, umami (savory), sour, and salty.  Without salt, one entire category of taste bud is underutilized or not utilized at all.

 

The common saying is that salt makes things taste more like themselves.  In a roundabout way, this is accurate.  Because the salt causes an additional set of taste buds to fire, the taste signals to the brain will be both clearer and stronger.

  

It bears repeating that the primary skills of a home cook are the use of heat, good knife skills, and the [i]proper[/i] use of salt.  Seasoning food is a balancing act.  The cook should strive to find enough salt so that the food tastes good without it tasting salty.  There is not a great margin of error when using salt in food: a little too much tastes as bad as far too much.  Still, in most cases, food can take more salt than the cook might think.

Test

This is a test
Continue reading

Keeping the Resolution: Mexican Lasagna

This is something I cooked up last night as I stood before my pantry trying furiously to figure out what to serve the boy and I.  At some level, I hate to even list it as a healthy recipe since it uses so many canned goods (high in sodium) but at the same time, it was pretty easy to throw together.  

On thing to note, as printed this recipe uses Fantastic ground beef replacement (technically I used the sloppy joe mix) which tastes amazing.  Even before I became vegetarian, I would use their taco meat instead of ground beef because I got the same flavor with far less fat and calories.  It has a place in even the most die-hard meat and potatoes family as long as it is used in Mexican foods, sloppy joes, and lasagnas where the texture of the meat is not 100% important because the texture is just a bit off.  If you do not have Fantastic or another meat substitute, feel free to use lean ground beef that you have washed before putting into the lasagna.

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • pinch (1/8 teaspoon) of red pepper flake
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced (red would work well, too)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 box of lasagna noodles
  • 2 cans of dice tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, sage mix)
  • 1 box of vegetarian ground beef replacement, prepared per package instructions
  • 1 can of low-fat or vegetarian refried beans
  • 1 can of black beans, drained
  • 1 can of chili beans, drained
  • 1 bag of low-fat Mexican cheese blend
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. 
  2. Put a pan on medium flame and add the olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the red pepper flake and the garlic.  Wait 15 seconds and add the peppers, onions, and pepper. 
  3. While the vegetables are getting soft, bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Add the lasagna noodles and prepare according to the instructions.
  4. When the vegetables are soft, add the tomatoes, a healthy pinch of salt, and the Italian seasoning.  Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce heat so that it bubbles, but it is not at a full roiling boil.
  5. Now is a good time to make sure the meat substitute is cooking.
  6. When the noodles are ready, construct the lasagna by first putting a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.  Then add a layer of noodles. 
  7. Mix the Fantastic meat replacement and the refried beans and spoon them onto the lasagna.  Add another layer of noodles.
  8. Mix the black and chili beans, then spoon them onto the lasagna and spread them out.  Add the final layer of noodles.
  9. Top with a good layer of the tomato sauce and the bag of shredded cheese.
  10. Bake in the oven until the cheese melts, usually 10-15 minutes.
  11. Serve on a plate with a good ladel of tomato sauce.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Fried Yucca

I worked out how to make yucca fries from my friend John.  It is really simple.

  • Yucca
  • Neutral oil for frying, canola is fine
  • Salt 
  1. Boil the yucca for 45 minutes or until starting to beccome fork tender
  2. Remove and slice the yucca into steak fry sized pieces, two inches by 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch.
  3. Deep fry in oil until golden brown
  4. Remove to a cooling rack and sprinkle with salt while warm.
  5. One the oil is drained away, enjoy!