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Bacon and eggs tonight

Tomorrow I have a starving blood test at 8:30 in the morning, plus a long drive to the doctor’s office, so I decided to do something wild and have bacon and eggs this evening.

It’s been a while. Almost had them last week in Florida. And I haven’t gone to the grocery yet to get the ingredients for that new recipe for Lamb and Apricot Stew from the new Everyday Food magazine. I’ll let you know what I think when I get around to making it.

This completely mortifies the vegans and vegetarians, but. . .well, y’all eat beans and foliage and soy-based fake food anyway. I don’t tell you to eat meat, and I’m allergic to soy, so chill, please.

I love to poke fun at veggie folks. They’ll never starve waiting for a wild cow to come by, and there’s plenty of grass to nibble. 🙂

I love eggs, but don’t do all the stuff I used to with them, especially I sort of gave up dairy by default a few years ago. Mostly I boil them lately, but enjoy making main dishes with them, too. There is a delicious curried egg recipe in one of the Martha Stewart annual books, but I don’t remember which one. Hmmm. . .maybe this weekend. Lots of tomatoes and curry powder.

Don’t get me started on frittatas, I could eat them all the time. And often have. I used to make a bacon and egg pie for a week’s worth of breakfast (no crust) but I don’t buy cream anymore. I put almond milk in my coffee and tea, and long ago quit drinking milk of any kind. A little cheese, a little butter, ice cream once in a while, (yogurt–yuck) but dairy doesn’t happen much for me anymore.

See, much as I love to cook, as much as I enjoyed doing the parties at my last job, and as much as I enjoy our annual Thanksgiving open house (thank you, Lisa) sometimes, even I don’t feel like cooking. And my one of my favorite go-to alternates is the Meaty Burrito from Jack-In-The-Box. They’re made the same no matter where you go, and they hit the spot. Unfortunately, sometimes I get busy and eat more than one in a week. Then they start tasting exactly the same no matter what you add to them. But that’s been a while.

I also like sweet potato fries, but they don’t come out well at home without a fryer–which I don’t have. So I’ve taken to getting them at either Cafe Express or at the newly built Carl’s Jr. near my home. I actually don’t like Carl’s Jr because of the way I was treated the first time I went to the drive through, but have gone back twice for a batch of them. But like a lot of things, not very often. I do enjoy baking them at home with olive oil and a spice mix; I can do that all week long if I want.

Note: I thoroughly loathe and despise sweet potato pie, and all recipes combining sweet potatoes with brown sugar, marshmallows, pineapple, or anything else sweet. Adding anything besides butter, salt, savory spices and/or olive oil on a sweet potato in any form is disgusting and should be made a felony.  If you like that stuff, please keep it on your side of the table. Thank you.

Oh, and many thanks to Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, for the tip about putting bacon in the OVEN, rather than messing with it on top the stove. The countertop (aka “toaster”) oven makes it even easier, and doesn’t heat up the kitchen. Maybe one day I’ll do a blog posting about the virtues of a countertop oven. It was a show I saw with Sara Moulton years ago talking about cooking with one, and I’ve had one ever since. If you have the space and the means and love to cook or bake. . .it’s worth having one.

Well, the bacon is done, and it’s about the only thing that seems to have enough salt in it for me. Eggs are cooked correctly (the way I want them) and so I will take my leave for the night.

Ok, I gotta go think. . .I mean, eat. . . .

Happy Dining!

Boheme Bistro, Delray Beach, FL

Last week I was in Delray Beach, Florida, where I’ve been twice before for the annual Copywriters Bootcamp sponsored by American Writers & Artists, Inc. (AWAI) While the food is always wonderful, there was one occasion where I left to find some.

You see, it was my birthday, and after one of the presentations, everyone scattered. I decided I would have a great lunch and some great dessert. (Boy, did I.)  I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning. . . .

On prior trips out of the conference, I walked past Boheme Bistro a few times, but kept going because I thought it might be too expensive. During the first two trips, I was on a company expense account. Anything unusual could be considered fraudulent, or at least raise an eyebrow. Since my manager was so nice to send me, I made absolutely certain that there was nothing unusual about my credit card receipts.

The conference started at 1:00 pm Wednesday with a luncheon, so that morning, I decided I’d do my souvenir shopping. (You just can’t go wrong with a) coffee cups, b) T-shirts, and c) fridge magnets. I love them all.) Great little walk up and down Atlantic Avenue, but about 11:00 am, I started getting hungry. REALLY hungry. I went into a hotel about six blocks from the beach and was curtly told by someone at 11:10 am in the snack bar that breakfast was over promptly at 11:00 am. I said, just as curtly, “Thank you” and walked out.

I went past the Boheme, thinking they would tell me the same thing, but turned around when I saw a bakery sign. I asked the lady about breakfast, and she invited me in. (It was now about 11:15.) I didn’t want to look at a menu, take a table, I really just wanted some food. (At this point, I almost didn’t care what it cost, since it was my own credit card being used.)  She suggested what they call “Grandmother’s Style Eggs.” I said, “OK.” I had a seat at the bar and they brought me a glass of water.  I waited patiently. A little longer than fast food, but not very long. You can’t rush these things.

What they brought was the kind of picture-perfect dish you see in magazines–which I forgot to take a picture of, because I was THAT hungry.  In addition to three scrambled eggs with chopped tomatoes and onions, there were what they call “home potatoes.” I normally don’t eat potatoes, (high in starch) but I couldn’t resist these. I would ignore chocolate for these potatoes. Red (aka “new”) potatoes, perfectly cut into a very large dice, and fried up with the crispiest outsides ever. They offered me ketchup, but I declined. It would have ruined these potatoes. All they needed was salt.

Trust me when I tell you I was the happiest cat in the kingdom at this point. I finished off this delicious creation and paid my tab. I wanted to go back to the Boheme before I left Delray Beach, and on Friday, I got my chance.

Friday, October 26th. My birthday. Everyone sort of scattered after the session I was in ended, so I went off on my own to the Boheme. Why? Partly because I knew they wouldn’t do that embarrassing birthday thing they do in chain restaurants. I hate that.

Like a lot of people, I enjoy Italian food, but I don’t eat much in the way of pasta. I used to. But now I save it for special occasions, like dinner at someone’s house, or. . .my birthday. I love tortellini, and prefer to have it on my birthday. Most restaurants have ravioli, but no tortellini, so that’s what I had at Boheme. It was, of course, delicious. Take a look:

Oh so good. . .

Happy Birthday. . .to me!!

I know I shouldn’t have–I really shouldn’t have–but I asked about dessert. Since it was so early in the day, all the desserts were in a small fridge case in the back. So I looked at all of them (from a distance) and decided to have that chocolate mousse-y thing. The nice waitress had to take the plastic off the sides.

But for my birthday, in a wonderful place to be, I thought it was appropriate:

When you can't have a regular birthday cake, this fits the bill perfectly.

Yes, it was delicious. No, I did not share. Yes, I ate the whole thing. No, I did not lick the plate (but was greatly tempted.) Yes, it was worth the calories. The little whipped cream stars were a nice touch.

The place is a comfortable, rustic building, with indoor and outdoor seating, and a nice big bar, complete with a huge selection of wines and liquors. (No, not at 11:30 am.) It’s comfortable, with a friendly staff who will tell you anything you want to know. The kind of place you wander into like I did for a bite to eat and maybe a drink.

Highly recommended, and I can’t wait to go back. Thanks!!!

You can find more about Boheme Bistro at their website, http://bohemebistro.com/

Dinner tonight

This evening I thought I’d play it easy and quick, since I won’t be grocery shopping for a while. Unfortunately, lunch was off the Fresca menu at Taco Bell because I was quite busy today. I decided to do a little “ahead” cooking so I could refrain from doing so for a few days. Six chicken leg quarters went into the oven with some homemade BBQ sauce (the last of it from the freezer, gotta make more.)  Then I took a pack of stuffed chicken breasts from the freezer for dinner tonight (and maybe lunch tomorrow.)  Topped it off with some quinoa cooked in chicken bullion water. . .and it was great. So here goes: Chicken with cheese and green chile peppers

Oh, yeah. . .found them on sale.

With a bit of olive oil, ready for the oven

A touch of olive oil, a 400 degree oven (the little Cuisiart countertop) at 400F and 40 minutes to cook. Now onto the side dish, my favorite: quinoa!

Ready to eat!

Oh, yeah. . .2 cups of water with 2 chicken bullion cubes. Crumble them up, boil the water. When it boils, add 1 cup rinsed quinoa, and lower the heat a bit. Cover, but don’t ignore it–this stuff cooks quickly, and will burn on the bottom of the pot. At $4 a pound, waste offends me greatly.

While that was going on, I also put the other chicken in the big oven. An hour later, I would not have to cook again unless I wanted to:

Deliciousness about to happen

So when it was finally time to eat:

Does anyone not realize that cheese will ooze out at 400F?

Enough left for tomorrow, too!

And so I don’t have to cook anymore for a few days, I have a little something that would rival Goode Company BBQ:

BBQ sauce made with Somersweet and NO SUGAR. Delish. . .

It’s not fine dining, but hey–it’s “heat and eat” you can feel good about.

Happy Dining!

Splayds

Today I’m going to tell you all about the BEST way to eat food. No, not with your grubby paws, darnit (and wash them before you eat, OK?) No, eat like the Aussies. Use a Splayd.

A what?

Splayds were invented in Australia by Bill McAurthur of Potts Point, New South Wales in the late 1940’s. (Source: Splayds.com.au) He noticed that when eating at a party, it’s difficult to balance a knife and fork, and came up with a 3-in-1 tool that’s very easy to use. They became *the* wedding gift in Oz and has also spread to other countries. Except, unfortunately, this one. But there are those of us who know about these incredible utensils and favor them.  You can read a little more about it here.

How did I come across these, you wonder? I was, in 1996, a bride (for the third time), and received a set of four from a friend in Melbourne, Australia:

The first set of Splayds, received as a gift

I’ve had these since 1996, and won’t part with them.

She explained that they are what you give for a wedding present in Australia, and hoped that I would enjoy these. Well, DUH! Of course I did–and made sure to thank her for them, of course. Although the husband (who’s been an ex since 2001) tried them, he never really got used to them. No matter, I have forks, but I prefer the Splayd. If you’ve never tried them, you don’t know what you’re missing. They are so much easier than a standard fork–and not like the plastic “spork” you get in some fast-food establishments.

I always wanted more of them, and finally, a couple of years ago, Amazon.com started to carry them, the real thing, so I bought some:

Stainless Steel Splayds bought in 2010. Even better than the originals!

I love these even more than the originals! They really are a joy to eat with, and the clean design of both models goes with any flatware you already have. You can find them here, and they even come with in a nice box, in case you decide to give them as a gift. Amazon also now carries the mini-Splayds, which I didn’t know about until just now, but that’s going to have to wait a while.

But to put them side by side, you will see that they are the same thing (and, because it’s marked on the back.)

Side-by-side pics of my original Splayd, and the new one.

Really, I can’t say enough about how good Aussie made and designed Splayds are. I’m a native-born American, but I like to find new stuff that maybe we don’t know about and can use. Like Splayds. They’re not dangerous or illegal, they just make life a teeny bit better, you know?

Enjoy!

Welcome to my blog! (Introduction to Heat Cage Kitchen)

Well, here I go, writing about something I know best: food. No kidding. I mean, who doesn’t these days, right? Since Food Network and Cooking Channel are likely the only clean channels left on TV, it’s safe to let kids watch it, so they want to start cooking. That’s a good thing.

What’s in a name? More importantly, what’s NOT in a name. Specifically, someone else’s. There are countless Amys, Tygers, and other taken names that I had to come up with something unique. Heat Cage Kitchen. It’s hot, and it can be a cage. But it’s a kitchen.

My mother would never let me cook when I was a kid, but when she started working in about 1976, I started sneaking it. No kidding, I would “get away” with cooking when I could. Of course, I read Seventeen magazine in those days, and they actually had some pretty good recipes in it. Eventually I got to cook now and again, but that doesn’t mean I had an appreciative audience.

One brother, who will not be named, said when he saw my tempura-style fish bites (from the latest issue) with some kind of sauce, “I think I’ll make me a popcorn sandwich.”  I asked the other brother to go to the grocery on his bike and get a small bottle of vinegar, which cost about twenty four cents. He nagged me for years about that “debt.” However, after I finished the cooking, everyone begrudgingly admitted that it was a pretty good meal, we just needed to make more of it. I don’t know where to find that recipe, I guess it was somewhere between 1977 and 1979. Check your local library and let me know if you find it, if you’re interested.

BTW, I  have made dinner for the same brother who demanded that repayment after he married and had a family. Twice. He was in town visiting and I opened Martha Stewart Quick Cook Menus book out and assembled what I thought would be a delicious meal. Twice. Also included was a garden soup from MSL that I was told made my then-teenage niece hurl. I thought it was pretty good, and I made quite a bit of it, according to the recipe. After that, however, I garnered a reputation for being a precarious cook, and stuck to desserts at the holidays. My Auntie L still talks about the apple cake I made from the November 1996 MSL, right on the front cover.

So today I receive this apron as a slightly belated birthday gift. From the same brother. Who writes songs about my cooking skills, or lack thereof. One day I’ll post the lyrics.

Gift from the brother who swears I can't cook

Really. . .I can cook. Early kitchen disasters never leave the minds of the fast-food junkies.

I first heard of Martha Stewart about 1986 or 1987, when she did her first campaign with Kmart. “. . .with lifestyle expert Martha Stewart.” Who?

About 1994, I started to see her more on TV. In 1996, I watched a full show, and bought one of her magazines. It was the 1995/1996 holiday issue with the cranberry wreath on the front. I still have it (somewhere.) Shortly thereafter, I subscribed and still get it. I’ve made countless recipes from MSL, from Everyday Food, and other magazines. I have a wall shelf full of cookbooks, some of them autographed (but not by Martha.)  I even have a few copies of Donna Hay’s magazine from Australia, and I admit to making one of the delicious cakes from the first one.

I got married in 1996 for the last time (I hope.) While I was only married for a little over 4 years, I did my best to make high-quality gourmet meals for my, uh, “husband.” He constantly complained that he was afraid to come home for fear of what I’d made from the current MSL. Oh, well. One day I made sure he found another home, but that’s another story. Since then I’ve cooked for a number of others (and a few men), and am often asked to bring something special to an activity.

Once again I will be making the turkey for our Thanksgiving open-house, hosted by a vegetarian. No kidding. Long story. Despite that, everyone drives miles for my turkey. Why? I know how to make the best turkey you’ve ever eaten. Only Martha Stewart makes better, because I learned from her. And the Barefoot Contessa. And Tyler Florence. And one or two others. Tip: brining a turkey makes it unbelievably tender and delicious. A little extra work, and it’s worth it.

I can’t say how often I will be posting, but will try to write at least a couple of times a week. If not, email me and remind me to DO something.

Note that I’m not an expert, a chef, a critic, or a well-known anything. I’m just me. Comments are welcome, just keep it polite and nice, OK? Lest you will be banished and your digits will rot off after I cast an evil spell.

Welcome to Heat Cage Kitchen!

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