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The Anniversary Dinner (Roast, Brussell Sprouts, Mashed Potatoes)
The Anniversary Dinner (Roast, Brussell Sprouts & Bacon, and Mashed Potatoes). Image by alexis22578 via Flickr.

First. I didn’t cook anything today. Lack of planning yesterday means no home cooked goodness today. Second, as stated previously, I generally do enjoy cooking. I also enjoy presenting the foodarranging it on a plate, that’s part of the joy. A fellow food friend shared a picture of the dinner she made her family, on facebook, and it made me think about taking the time for these presentations.

Her image: bright green peas, bright green spinach, an entire fish, baked (I think), wrapped in bacon. The contrasting colors of the gray-blue hue of the fish with crispy brown of cooking, contrasted with the bright green blanched peas amidst round, white onions, and fresh spinach resting on a modern pattern of Correll dinnerware. In the background, a glass of water, a glass of red wine, and a bottle of Noris Milk (the dairy we use in our food club). All resting on her natural wood table.

Elegant, beautiful, home cooked, wholesome, healthy – YUM.

Yummy Beef Stroganoff
Yummy Beef Stroganoff. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr.

Often, my husband asks me why I even take the time. After he claims that he could burn water, he says if he were cooking it’d be this x, y, z thing thrown together. I, on the other hand, take the time to whisk the eggs, pour in the cream, and make an omelet of goat cheese and spinach. Or, I take the time to marinade the meat, braise it for a short time, before slow roasting it in the oven, slowly adding in roasted vegetables and perhaps making some biscuits too (with Levi).

When it works, I like cooking to be an inclusive process. A process where we all share in the food that’s supposed to nourish and connect us. I like, when I have the patience for it, helping hands, namely Levi’s. I like him to shred one cheese while I shred the other. I love that my four year old can knead biscuits now and that the patience I exerted by putting the controlling part of myself at bay while I let him explore dough is paying off. I like when I cook and my family tells me about their day while we are in the kitchen, together. I like our food creation attempts: that is gardening. I like digging in the dirt pulling weeds planting plants, attempting to plant seeds. I like adding to this gardening experiment year after  year, then when the season is done, I capture the rewards in canned gems.

Taco on homemade flour tortilla.
Taco on homemade flour tortilla. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr.

What’s the point of all this work, asks my husband. Connection. Doing something I love. I have an artistic side — I hope that’s demonstrated. So, why not arrange the vegetables and meats in a nice way to make the plate more pleasing to the eye, and potentially the palate? We have to eat. So, why not make it taste good? We have to have nourishment. So, why not take a little extra time thinking about complimentary items? Why not indeed. I can’t see a reason why not, so I do. And, often, I enjoy it. And, more often than not, so does my family. What a great combination: artistic yumminess that nourishes the tummy in a way that my family is satisfied.

That’s why I cook. That’s why I love cooking.

Birthday Dinner
My 32nd Birthday Dinner using our Lenox wedding china. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr.
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Homemade Beef Stroganoff

Yummy Beef Stroganoff
Yummy Beef Stroganoff. Image via alexis22578 via flickr.

Coming home, after a 45 minute drive in stop and go traffic is not the high point of my day. It’s such a drag for me that I often feel overwhelmed by doing the next task: cooking dinner. My husband lamely claims he can burn water, as if that’s a viable excuse to get him out of what he deems an arduous task. It usually works, though, because I see our trade offs in car maintenance versus food preparation. I prepare the food, because it’s important to me and I enjoy it. He maintains our cars because he knows how, doesn’t like other people fixing things he can fix, wants to save a buck, and I do believe he enjoys it no matter his complaints about what stupid thing an engineer did.

Generally, I love cooking. But, after an 8 hour day, navigating the 4 year olds mood swings, and then driving in traffic: I detest the thing I love: cooking.

Last night, I decided we were going to have Beef Stroganoff for dinner. Our OGC order came in. Luscious, beautiful produce. Let us learn from last year’s mistakes: order simply and use it all up. My pound of lovely crimini mushrooms… what shall I do? Last night they were turned into a sort of lamb-bok choy-carrot stir fry/stew. I had about half a pound left. What do do? Ooh, some of that lovely Taylor-Made ground beef stroganoff! Yum! Delish!

The task, although sounding so delectable is waived off into procrastination when I see what must be done when I get home. My husband doesn’t see food “mess” the way I do. He had toast, made juice and left his pants on the table. I took a deep breath and asked first for him to put away the food he used this afternoon and last night. I cannot cook in a kitchen that is not tidy. I then asked him if he could please remove his boxers and pants from the dining room table. I was happy I worded it in a way he heard the silliness. He removed them and put things away. (Note: the pants and boxers were clean and on the table as a dropping off point from the bike-to-bag-to table unloading.)

Okay, but now I have to coooooook? Okay, Stroganoff. Ketchup is the surprise, simple is my pleasure. What to do? This is what I did. Excitement mounted. It was good.

  • Heat pan.
  • Melt 2 tbsp butter in pan over low-medium heat.
  • Add one onion, chopped. Sauté for a few minutes until soft.
  • Add 4 minced cloves of garlic. Sauté until softer. Maybe 5-8 minutes total.
  • Add mushrooms. Soften mushrooms.
  • Add 1 lb (pastured, hormone free, organic, grass fed) ground beef (lean) to pan. Brown hamburger.
  • Salt, added about 1 tsp.
  • Cleared rounded space in middle of pan. Added about 1/4 cup beef broth.
  • Added about 3 tbsp ketchup.
  • Stirred ingredients together, tasted. Adjusted ketchup by rinsing bottle and adding a little more ketchup and water- maybe 1/4 cup total.
  • Added about 1 tbsp corn starch to thicken. Whisked in corn starch to liquid with fork until lumps removed. Stirred together over low-medium heat.
  • Added one very large dollop of (organic, pastured) sour cream. Simmered over low heat until macaroni noodles were done.
  • Served over macaroni noodles with blanched green beans.
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