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:
Oh, yeah. . .found them on sale.
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!
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:
So when it was finally time to eat:
And so I don’t have to cook anymore for a few days, I have a little something that would rival Goode Company BBQ:
It’s not fine dining, but hey–it’s “heat and eat” you can feel good about.
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.
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:
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:
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.)
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?
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.
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.