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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 4: Browned Baby Artichokes and Mushrooms with Garlic pp.4

A long night, lead to a long day.  But I still had enough energy to make the next recipe.   Chef Turbo found a new game to play on the Wii, he was to busy to help.  Due to the nature of this recipe, the only thing I let Sous Chef Squeaker play in the sink.  He had such a blast,  it was fun to watch him play :D.

Baby Artichokes are not younger versions of the adult plant, but rather it's artichokes from another part of the plant.  They are more tender and smaller than the main artichoke.  
  I found that they were easier to peel and remove the choke.  I found them quite cute!  The lady at Whole Foods said that they sell quickly.  I found them quite pricey,  but worth the try.  

I was required only to use a certain number of the baby artichokes,  so now I have a few left to experiment with, maybe on Saturday.  My Beloved came up with a great recipe idea,  but I'll have to surprise you with that later.

This side dish is the best so far.  I am going to have a copy of it for my "Side Dish Notebook".  Tons of different flavors, and the texture was just wonderful!   Sadly,  I was the only one to try this meal,  so I'll have to make this again (I want to make this again!) for My Beloved.  A basic cost analysis of this side dish: $2 a person.  Expensive, yes,  worth it, yes.  I just loved it!

Tomorrow we have a crayfish boil for dinner.  I think I will make the dreaded recipe early and bring it with us so I can keep up with my deal.  I only want to occasionally trade Friday's and Saturdays.  I would prefer to keep my Saturdays free for family time.  

Day 5: Artichokes Braised with Onions and Thyme.  I am dreading this one.  I HATE ONIONS.  But the rules state,  I must not omit them (and I have to take Thank You bites and eat them!).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 3: Roasted Artichokes and New Potatoes pp4

I started to day like my normal days.  There was no adventure like yesterday.  I ran, planned, and painted the boys room.  I was out of artichokes, like a painter with no paint,  I knew I had to go and get some more.  But I wanted to make sure I got the "Baby Artichokes" for my next recipe.   I called my favorite produce store, but to on avail,  they were still out of stock.  Lacking a phone book for the parish next to me,  I called Whole Foods.  Guess what,  they had Artichokes in stock and Baby ones to boot!  But, it was $2.50 a head for not the normal kinds of artichokes I have been purchasing.  $6 for the box of 12 baby artichokes.

Now, baby artichokes are from another part of the plant, they are not the "younger" version.

I also purchased purple artichokes and long stem artichokes.  :D  I'll post a picture tomorrow me me holding the long stem variety like flowers (they are in fact flowers!)

I have come up with a plan on how to off set these problems of locating the vegetables I need for this project.  I am going to network at the local farmers market.  I am going to try and collect either business cards or names and phone numbers so that I can contact them when I need something.  Hopefully they will be close enough so that this will work :D  The question is, do I have the guts to do this?

 It took some carful planning today to get the timing all right for this meal.  I had to roast the potatoes first and then add boiled artichokes.  Which meant I had to prepare them during the time it took to roast the potatoes AND still make the normal main dish... spaggetti with meat sauce.  Too many carbs,  but I did not think while making my menu this week that this would cause a problem.  I'll do better next week.

The side dish was good.  I wish Mr. Bishop would have added two, no, three things, and then it would have been perfect!  Salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary.  I guess whenever I roast my potatoes,  that is how I like them done.  We added salt when we sat down to eat,  which we never do,  but that was the only way I could really enjoy this piece.  Oh well.

Looking forward to tomorrow!

Day 4: Browned Baby Artichokes and Mushrooms with Garlic

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 2: Grilled Artichokes, Two Ways pp.3-4

Wow,  my day started early while preparing for my next recipe in Jack Bishop's cookbook.  I needed a measurement of the burner in my grill so I could replace my old burner.   I was not prepared for what I was going to find inside my Charbroil grill.   There was a wasp with her little nest hanging off of the grate.  I knew instantly that this was not going to be an easy task,  not only was I not going to be able to measure the burner,  but I had to kill this pest AND repair the grill.  So, I went to Walmart,  got my supplies and then began the process of pondering this perplexing situation.
   You may wonder, "Why is it so perplexing?".  Well,  you see, half the burner was broken,  the grill had not been in use for a year, so I had no idea if there was a blockage anywhere, and I did not want to spray chemicals on my cooking surface,  flammable chemicals at that.  I was not going to give up, no sir, not at all.
   I found a great time to ponder while mowing the lawn.  There is nothing like mowing the lawn and dancing with dragonflies (we've got hundreds of those).  I figured I needed to burn her out....
So that is what I did.  I hooked up the propane tank, checked for leaks, then, well, let's just say the situation was taken care of.

I still needed to change out the burner.  When I opened the lid again, there was a small little green frog.  I caught it (without touching it), put it in a jar, and then bekoned Turbo and Squeaker to come and see the frog.  They thought it was awesome.  Back to the grill,  I opened the grill one more time.... to find a complete turkey dinner!  No,  to find out that the screw had rusted something awful, so I have to wait till My Beloved has some time to fix the silly grill.

So,  instead of grilling artichokes,  I broiled them,  not as good,  but close enough.

Turbo loved them,  I loved them,  I think we have found a new vegetable.  I just wish that is was not as expensive to purchase the artichokes.  We are talking $2 a head.  This one was very basic.  Prepare them just like last time, except no garlic.  It feels almost Italian.  It speaks to my roots.  I love the olive oil and salt mixture,  just pure wonderfulness.  

Since, again, there were lots of knives and hot ovens involved,   Chef Turbo did not help,  but he did help me make these wonderful Banana Muffins!  We have a whole bunch stored in our freezer now for future breakfasts! :D

Thanks for reading.  I hope you all have a good night.
Tomorrow: Roasted Artichokes and New Potatoes

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 1: Crisp Pan-Fried Artichoke Slices with Garlic pp.3

I do not remember a time when I have really ever touched or met an artichoke.  I have tried the canned variety,  but was a little disgusted by the taste and texture.  I was very nervous last night while reading Jack Bishop discuss in his book on how to prepare the artichoke for this recipe.  I was afraid I could not do it.  So many mysterious moments.  "Remove the choke".  What's the choke?  "Rinse off to make sure all the hairs are gone".  There are hairs?  What am I eating??  I decided to watch a video on YouTube to prepare me for this moment,  I wanted to see someone else open this strange poky, tough...thing.

cookingguide October 27, 2008 — Cooking Tips: How to Remove Artichoke Hearts. Basic cooking techniques and tips. Expert Village How-to Videos

It took me forever to find any good artichokes in town.  Walmart had some,  but they only had 4 and they were not in good shape.  My favorite open air produce market had run out and may not get any till Thursday.  I went home, and in despair,  I called a store that was in another city.   I was filled with joy when they said they had some... although, those artichokes had been there since Saturday.  
I loaded the reluctant chefs into the car and gathered a few artichokes and brought them home.

I learned that these things have thorns at the tips of their leaves.  Nobody warned me! They hurt.  The inner leaves, guess what,  they have thorns too, and hair.  That is the choke,  that is what you want to remove,  not because it chokes you,  because for other reasons I need to research.  I have 5 more days of cooking artichokes to figure that out and share it with you.

  I learned the reason why every recipe that calls for lemons with these things is because the artichoke is delicate.  It browns easily, just like an apple!  I am not sure if it added to the flavor or not, but I would rather have a more aesthetic looking meal than a brown wilted one.

I stored my extra artichokes in one of those new rubbermaid "produce saver" I lack a crisper in my fridge,  so I hope these help to keep my veggies going when I buy in bulk. 

Final result?  I love Pan-Fried Artichokes!  The gentle notes of garlic, salt, and olive oil were music on my tongue.  If you own the book,  and you have not tried this recipe, you are missing out.  It is worth the work. 

Tomorrow: Grilled Artichokes, Two Ways.  --> I am going to need to get a propane tank tomorrow :D

Forgot to talk about The Two Chefs!  Chef Turbo helped a little bit with other parts of the meal,  I figured with all the knives and hot oil, that this was not a good recipe for him to work with.  Sous Chef Squeaker had fun knocking food off my plate (it was an accident,  he quickly helped me clean it up).  Chef Turbo thought it was "yucky" at first sight,  but when I made him take a 'thank you bite', he changed his mind and also fell in love with the fried artichokes.  SC Squeaker tried it,  but is 2 year old mouth just could not handle the texture. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Cook, The Chef, and The Sous Chef-- Beginning.

So, I watched the movie "Julie and Julia" and loved the idea of cooking through a cookbook. I somewhat liked the movie except for the swearing and the sex scenes. Yes, I am that sensitive and I like my movies to be clean of all that.

Anyways, I discovered that lots of people do "Cooking the Books" blogs. I thought, why not take such a challenge? I recently took up a challenge from Kid Appeal to eat a food I hate. I signed the petition. There are only less than 30 days left to sign and say "I will conquer a food I hate". Which one did I pick? Onions. Blech. I hate them with great hatred!

Anyways, back to my real challenge, to cook through this cookbook:

Here are my rules:
1) I will post recipe name, a picture, and what page number.

2) I will only cook out of this cookbook 5 days out of the week. Saturdays and Sundays are too crazy for me to keep up with this project.

3) I will do my best to write a review of each recipe and how the family reacted.


5) I will post a weekly post about the vegetable we will be eating for the week(s).

Now to introduce who will be making these creations!

I will be the cook. It's a fact, I am just a cook. I know that Chefs are people who are a professional, but I read somewhere that when involving boys in cooking, it's good and healthy to call them a chef while they are young.

Cook: Me, Kris
Chef: Turbo, 4 years old.
Sous Chef: Squeaker, 2 years old, and will probably cause more chaos than help, but that is ok :D.
Reviewer #1: My Beloved (I figured he needed a job in all of this).

Starting tomorrow we will begin with the first chapter Artichokes.

Part of the thistle family. The part we eat is the flower bud. The smaller they are the more tender they will be. The larger the more woody. Baby Artichokes can be eaten without much preparation. I need to look for some that will snap when a leaf is pulled away from the bud. If it just bends back, it is not fresh enough. I can buy enough for the whole week. They last a week in the fridge. (1)

1) Field Guide to Produce pp.113-115
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