Haibun: Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?

A haibun for day 26 of NAPIWRIMO. A haibun is a Japanese poery form that is prosimetic – part autobiographical (non-fiction, tight paragraph, ended with a seasonal haiku). The western style is long with much description; the Japanese is brief and to the point.

Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?
“Do I dare
Disturb the universe?…
Do I dare to eat a peach?” T. S. Eliot Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

It was hot July. I was midpoint to age 13. I had earlier raided the kitchen for a couple of peaches for breakfast and sat down in the library to read. So immersed, I didn’t hear the calls to breakfast by my grandmother. I had just read the line about the peach. You know the one. My grandmother pops her head in and says it is time for breakfast. I looked up and said “I have had my mind totally blown”. She sniffed. “It is still your day to wash the breakfast dishes”.
hot July morning –
eating a peach
will never be the same

Winter’s Coming: Two Yum Deluxe Oatmeals

Yes indeed.  Snow is coming down all over the map – and before Thanksgiving!  Oatmeal, plain, is good for you.  Oatmeal fancied up and fixed in a slow cooker or overnight in the fridge is….wonderful and good for you.  This is comfort food that stays with you and sustains you.

Depending on the ingredients you choose, both of these can be vegan, dairy free, and sugar free.  The slow cooker oatmeal had the whole house smelling of apple pie the next morning and had my cat trolling for breakfast.  The cinnamon on top of the oatmeal was crusty and the apples just fell apart in my mouth.  If slow cooker oatmeal be the music of life, then play on!   Or so says my paraphrasing of Mr. Shakespeare.

The overnight oats are what I need in the morning  – something nourishing, tasty and idiot proof.  Yeah, idiot proof.  I’m not the brightest bulb in the pack before I’ve had a gallon of coffee.  This oatmeal is prepared the night before and “cooked” in the refrigerator.  I like it cold, room temp, or nuked until hot.  I carry the container with me to work and while my puter is revving up, I’m scarfing down this oatmeal.  When in Switzerland, I fell in love with muesli and this dish comes close.

Enjoy.  You will be so glad you fixed these and even more glad you ate!

public domain clipart

public domain clipart

Slow Cooker Irish Oatmeal
◾1 cup steel cut oats (or Irish oats) Not: quick, instant, etc.
◾4 cups liquids (I used 2 cups water, 1 c. natural apple juice & 1 cup regular flavor almond milk)
◾2 tsp cinnamon (I use a good cinnamon, usually Saigon)
◾1 apple, skinned and chopped
◾1/4 cup raisins, or craisins, or dried plums (chopped into raisin size pieces)
◾Stevia, honey, raw sugar or other sweetener of your choice to taste, or no sweetener
◾Optional: ¼ c. chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds….I love nuts. You don’t have to.

Add apples, dried fruit, and cinnamon to slow cooker, next oats. Stir in four cups of liquid. Stir in rest of ingredients. Set slow cooker to low setting for 7 hours. The cinnamon on top will be crusty, and the apples should just fall apart in your mouth. You can also add the chopped nuts afterwards in case someone has nut allergies.

Overnight Oats
1 part liquid (apple juice, soy mild, almond milk, milk)
1 part rolled oats (non-instant or quick cooking. I like Irish oats)
fruit: apples, peaches, bananas, mangos, strawberries, blueberries, raisins, prunes, etc.
sweetening: sugar, raw sugar, brown sugar, stevia, honey, maple syrup, none.
Seasoning: cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, orange zest
Extra: nuts, crumbled muffins, fruit preserves

Method: Mix together and place into a container and cover. Put in fridge. Eat the next morning.

 

Holiday Cooking: Yorkshire Pudding

Since I have managed to toss off my holiday blues (thank you for all your kind words, prayers, hugs. and positive vibes!) I am beginning to plan our Christmas dinner. I’ve not decided on turkey or a lovely beef roast. But I have already decided on the side dishes and as usual, this includes Yorkshire or, Batter Pudding.

When visiting England several times and years ago, I fell in love with this deceptively simple dish. Made with beef drippings and served hot alongside the meat with gravy ladled on, it is a savory dish that makes the meal, just in its humble simplicity. I’m happy just with the pudding and the gravy! If I serve with poultry or pork, I add a nice pinch of either rosemary, thyme, or sage. Not a lot, just a tad to enhance the compatibility to the meat. I rarely eat meat but will do a few times of year. This is a good dish with roasted vegetables as well as meat/poultry/pork.

Leftover puddings with melted butter and a tart orange marmalade is an excellent breakfast or, a smear of butter for a good out of hand gaming snack. This is not a snobbish dish. It is friendly and a combination of “hey y’all, Ay up, and hello love”. If you haven’t tried Yorkshire pudding, do give it a go. You may find it as easy and useful as a potato dish and may even end up using it as often.

Yorkshire Pudding

Ingredients
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup pan drippings from roast prime rib of beef (or duck fat, vegetable shortening, vegetable oil)

NOTE: If I get a roast from the butcher that has a lot of external fat, I trim that off, render and clarify and use with this recipe. If I don’t have quite enough, I add some melted vegetable shortening. This can cook while your meat is resting. I let my batter rest about 15 minutes, but you really don’t have to.  DO NOT USE a glass baking dish – the batter going into smoking hot grease can cause the baking dish to explode.

Directions
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Sift together the flour and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, beat together the eggs and milk until light and foamy. Stir in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Pour the drippings into a 9-inch pie pan, cast iron skillet, or square baking dish or into muffin tin holes. Put the pan in oven and get the drippings smoking hot. Carefully take the pan out of the oven and pour in the batter. Put the pan back in oven and cook until puffed and dry, 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 6 (or more puddings if you use a muffin tin)

from Nigella's How to Eat

from Nigella’s How to Eat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Contrast this pudding with those cooked in bak...

Contrast this pudding with those cooked in bakeware of tin and glass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Simply Southern – Grits (and shrimp)

You can’t eat just one….well, you can, but it is really hard. What is a grit?  Grits are ground corn – sometimes white, sometimes yellow. Think of grits as super coarse corn meal. Shrimp and grits is an old Southern Low Country dish that has become chic. Grits are great with just butter, cheese added, eaten with milk and sugar, allowed to get cold and then sliced and fried (think of northern corn meal mush), baked in a casserole, an interesting side instead of rice or mashed taters, served for breakfast with a good drizzle of Red Eye gravy….  Shrimp and Grits are an excellent brunch, lunch or elegant dinner dish.

Grits. I love them. A bowl of hot grits with plenty of butter makes me happy. It is what I call a “non-confrontational” food. Warm, comforting, filling; feeling peckish, tired, lazy….Grits.

I like to buy stone ground grits (not the non-quick cooking or instant ones) that have plenty of the corn bran in them. They take more time to cook – like Irish Oats – but the texture and taste is rewarding. Add whatever you think you want to them – they’re grits – they’re gritty – they can take it. I have included the recipe for Shrimp and Grits and also, a scene from one of my favorite movies: My Cousin Vinny. I think you know the scene before you even see it.

どうぞめしあがれ douzo meshiagare, y’all!!

Shrimp and Grits (or, Breakfast Shrimp)
•1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled, halved lengthwise, and deveined
•Juice of 1 lemon
•Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce (I use Frank’s or Crystal)
•1 1/2 teaspoons salt or more to taste
•1 1/2 cups stone-ground grits, not instant or quick-cooking
•6 thick slices bacon, chopped
•1 small onion, finely chopped
•1 garlic clove, minced
•1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
•2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
•1 cup chicken stock
•1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
•1 cup (about 1/4 pound) grated medium to sharp Cheddar cheese
•Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce

Preparation:
Combine the shrimp with the lemon juice and a couple of generous splashes of hot pepper sauce. Let sit while you begin the grits and gravy.
Make the grits in a large heavy saucepan, first bringing 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a boil. Whisk in the grits a few handfuls at a time. When you have added all the grits, reduce the heat to a very low simmer and cook over low heat for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently toward the end. Be sure to check frequently as they can stick. Like risotto, stirring makes them more creamy.

While the grits simmer, get the gravy under way. Fry the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until brown but still limp. Stir in the onion and garlic and continue cooking until the onion and pepper are limp, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions, sprinkle the flour over the mixture, and continue cooking for 5 minutes longer. Stir in the stock and remaining salt and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat while you finish the grits.

When the grits are thick and creamy, stir in as much of the butter as you wish, followed by the cheese. Add a splash of hot pepper sauce and additional salt if you like. Cover the grits while you finish the gravy.

Return the gravy to medium heat and stir in the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are opaque throughout, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, mounding the grits in large shallow bowls or on plates and covering them with shrimp and gravy. A sprinkle of thinly sliced green onion is a good garnish.

images[6]

Simple Saturday Cooking and Recipes

Saturdays are always busy so it is KISS – Keep it simple Saturday. Yesterday I did snow day cooking (see post). Saturdays are for cleaning, running errands and watching Duke play basketball – unil the end of the season. Supper tonight will be leftover soup from yesterday’s cooking. Lunch everybody just grabs.

So for KISS, breakfast is simple: Egg in the Nest or, Toad in the Hole – the two names I have heard this dish called for years. there may be others but I only know these two. Simple breakfast, simple recipe. This is a satisfying breakfast or quick lunch or easy supper.

In between times, I will make Pimiento Cheese: A southern staple that is without seasons. It is a staple on picnics, wedding receptions, for kids to grab and go (in my day someone would grab two pieces of plain old white bread and slather with the mixture and hand to me as I was on my way out the door to play until suppertime), stuffed into pieces of celery for addition on a fancy appetizer tray or a cool summer nosh.  Pimiento cheese sandwiches are excellent grilled.  Those quick bread and butter pickles I made yesterday are a great aside for pimiento cheese.

Word of warning:
  I use Hellman’s mayo. This has been a source of dismay for my in-laws, relatives, and some friends. Daughters of the south, they use Duke’s mayo. Uhuh. To me, too oily tasting and sweet. Women in other states may use a local brand or Miracle Whip. Some of you may be tempted to use a “lite” mayo. I beg you, please don’t. I mean, you are already eating several mouthfuls of cheese. It’s like eating a Big Mac, large fries and a diet coke. So please use a good quality, full tilt, heavy duty mayo such as Hellman’s.
The sun is shining and a cold front has moved. The snow from yesterday is still much in evidence. I ended up not making sausage balls for my husband yesterday but will today. This recipe has been around since Hector was a pup. Some I bake for immediate eating – the rest I wrap up on rolls of eight and place in a freezer bag for bringing out at various times.
Y’all enjoy your Saturday. Whatever you do, be safe, be careful, have fun.

TOAD-IN-THE-HOLE or, EGG-IN-A-NEST
Per serving:
1 Egg, 1 slice of bread (your choice), butter or margarine, salt and pepper
Cut a hole, about the size of an egg yolk from the center of the bread. Smear one side of the bread with softened butter or margarine. Spray skillet with cooking spray. Break open the egg into the pan keeping the yolk intact and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let white start to cook (about a minute). Drop bread slice, butter side up, on egg with the yolk in the hole of the bread. Cook, depending on how you like your egg. I like over medium. The hole you cut out of the bread should be smeared with butter and allow to pan toast along side of the egg. When ready, flip egg over and allow buttered side of bread to pan toast. Remove to plate and put the “hole” on top of the yolk.

PIMIENTO CHEESE
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
2 cup grated sharp or extra sharp or mixture cheddar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 6 oz. jar or 2 4 oz. jars pimentos, drained and smashed
salt and pepper to taste
dash of hot sauce (Franks or Crystal)
Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add all of the remaining ingredients and beat until well blended. It can be used as a dip for raw veggies or crackers, sandwich filling, filling for celery, topping for beef or turkey burgers. it is also a primo midnight snack: Just open the container and spoon a spoonful or two into your mouth.

SAUSAGE AND CHEESE BALLS
1 pound good quality breakfast sausage (I use homemade) regular, hot, maple, etc.
1 c. all purpose baking mix (such as regular Bisquick or store brand)
2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tbs. grated onion (optional)
Preheat oven to 375. Mix all ingredients just until blended. Doing this by hand is good. Shape into about 40 1 inch balls and place onto two lightly greased baking pans. I cover my pans with foil and lightly grease. Bake about 12 – 14 minutes until done. These are also good for breakfast.

thCAKIW57G                    thCAQLM4LM

Slow Cooker Food: Part I Irish Oatmeal

NOTE:  I posted this last November.  I am posting again along with another post of Overnight Oats.  I have made some changes to this.  For those of you who want to eat healthier and don’t have the time, and trust me, I understand, this is a great recipe.  So is the Overnight Oats but I’ll get into that in that post.  Below is the original post for this:

*******

It is starting to be crazy time…..in the states we have the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years insanity.  I like to fix food that is brainless, yummy, and soothing. I also like foods for crappy rainy/snowy weather that puts its arms around you and soothes and warms you.

NOTE:  Some of you may have noticed I do not add pictures of food being prepped, packages of ingredients, etc.  My thing is:  you all cook.  You know how to chop things, what food ingredients look like, etc.  Unless it is something downright weird or incredibly hard, you are on your own.  I trust you.  If you every have any questions, please do contact me.

Slow Cooker recipes Part I:  Slow Cooker Irish Oatmeal

  • 1 cup steel cut oats (or Irish oats)  Not: quick, instant, etc.
  • 4 cups liquids (I used 2 cups water, 1 c. natural apple juice & 1 cup regular flavor almond milk)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (I use a good cinnamon, usually Saigon)
  • 1 apple, skinned & chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins, or craisins, or dried plums (chopped into raisin size pieces)
  • Stevia, honey, raw sugar or other sweetener of your choice to taste, or not
  • Optional: ¼ c. chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds….I love nuts. You don’t have to.

Add apples, dried fruit, and cinnamon to crock-pot.  Plus 1 cup steel cut oats.  Then 4 cups liquids.  Stir everything well and set slow cooker to low setting for 7 hours. The cinnamon on top was crusty, and the apples  fell apart in my mouth.  My whole house smelled like apple pie.  Even my cat was trolling for breakfast.  This reheats well.  You can also add the chopped nuts afterwards in case someone has nut allergies.

Steel Cut Oatmeal

Steel Cut Oatmeal (Photo credit: missYcola)

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