Tired of Cooking

I opened the refrigerator, looked back at the stove, then up at the clock, and then down to my grandson. Sigh. Inspiration for cooking left last year. Like a lot of gals, cooking, planning, and shopping for 3 meals a day, seven days a week finally takes its toll after 28 years. That’s 28,224 meals, but who’s counting.

I can’t be the only gal in Pipestone County who is frantically searching the refrigerator at 5 pm trying to come up with supper! I have exactly 30 minutes to whip something up, ready to eat, or someone very small is going to make my life an episode of “Hell’s Kitchen”.

Praying silently, I madly search through my refrigerator. I stumble upon a thawing 1 lb package of hamburger. YES! Now down into the veggie drawer for some carrots. YES!

Supper in a pot

Image by Melanie Feuerer from Pixabay

Supper was well on its way. I threw the hamburger into a pot, began breaking it up and fry it. Scooping up the grandbaby we walked into the pantry and dug out some potatoes.

I dislike to prep or cook with a baby on my hip, so I convince him he would like to eat cheese and watch from his highchair. He loves cheese, so my bribery worked well.

Grabbing the potatoes, I gave them a quick wash and then off to the cutting board to be cut into cute quarters. A sizzling sound from the pot reminds me that I have to pay attention to my hamburger, so I dash over and peer in. Better stir that Michele! Then I quickly add some salt and pepper.

This is mission control

Feeling rather sassy about my quick supper pull together, I decided to do a “Grandma Happy Dance”, which for Dutch girls, amounts to a lot of hopping with a bit of clogging. It’s not pretty but it’s all this girl has. What is someone supposed to do when your ancestors wore wood clogs on their feet?

Back to my supper… Now that my hamburger is cooked, I pour in about 2 cups of water and add the cut up potatoes, along with 2 cups of baby carrots and a handful of chopped onion. I do a spin and put the lid on the pot, setting the timer to simmer for 20 minutes.

Turning around I find my grandson has finished his cheese and has an expectant look of “what’s next Grammers?”. Once again I turn to the refrigerator and pull out some yogurt and canned pears. He is teething and would love something cold and delicious. I mash the pears into the yogurt and we begin.

T minus 10 minutes and counting

In between finishing the pear yogurt concoction, I check the pot to make sure there is enough water to continue cooking the potatoes and carrots. I tell myself I have to find some sort of inspiration, and organization to my future cooking.

It’s not that I don’t like cooking, it’s just I am cooked out. I don’t know how else to explain it. I need a cooking revival of some sort, but how? After chatting with friends and looking for internet cooking inspiration I ran into an article by Joshua Becker called “A Simple Guide to Enjoy Cooking“.

Joshua is a minimalist. If you are unfamiliar with “minimalism” it’s a practice of living on less. Being content with what you have, and focusing on being purposed and peaceful- mindfulness.

All that to say, in his quest for a minimalist life he found that his mindfulness has led him to be purposed in his cooking for his family. Along the way Joshua has some suggestions for how to build enjoyment in cooking:

  • Keep your kitchen counters clutter-free. Opportunity and possibility are encouraged in a clutter-free environment.
  • Cook healthy foods
  • Use fresh ingredients- this gives your recipe a dramatically different taste.
  • Purchase a good sharp knife and learn how to properly use it
  • Prepare meals that interest you, be willing to step out of your comfort zone and try new things
  • Be confident
  • Put value in how you present your food creations
  • Put an emphasis on eating together and appreciating the time spent, as well as the clean-up afterward
  • Record your recipes

Attitude is everything

Image by Niek Verlaan from Pixabay

I’ve come to realize that cooking isn’t a chore, it’s a blessing. I am blessed to have food to cook. It’s easy to keep in the same mundane rut. I need to step out of my “rural farm cooking” mode and explore other cooking avenues.

As I look out over his recommendations, the “Put a value in how you present…” comes to the forefront. Though the presentation creates more dishes to wash, it is very lovely to look at and makes me feel special when I do make the extra effort.

Being confident is another great suggestion that certainly partners with trying new recipes from different cultures. The internet is full of simple recipes from different cultures. Your just a click away from something really yummy! What will you try different to “spice” things up with your cooking?

As always, here it to good food, good friends, and a wonderfully good and free life.

Rhubarb Fever!

There is a backstory to this title. I will tell that story later, till then let’s talk about rhubarb and it is definitely in season. I can see my patch right here from my window and it is telling me to “get picking”.

There are lots of delightful things to create with rhubarb. To satisfy all you rhubarb lovers I will give you some great recipes. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Cake Dessert- Florence Brouwer

Table Blessings church cook book- 100th Anniversary 1st Reformed Church Randolph Wisconsin

Ingredients

  • 1 white cake mix
  • 3 c. finely chopped rhubarb
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3 oz pkg strawberry or cherry Jello

Make cake mix following box directions. Put in greased 9×13 inch pan; In a bowl mix together the chopped rhubarb, sugar and jello and then place on top of the cake batter. Bake for 34 minutes at 350 degrees.

-I like to serve it warm with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

Rhubarb Fruit Cup- Wilma Vanden Berg

Family Favorites of Sheldon Christian, circa 1986

Ingredients

  • 4-6 cups rhubarb
  • 1 package frozen strawberries
  • 1 small can mandarin organges (drainded)
  • 2 or 3 sliced bananas

Directions

Cook your rhubarb until tender. Sweeten to taste, but not too sweet. Then add your frozen strawberries, mandarin oranges, and bananas. Cool thoroughly. Very refreshing.

Glazed Rhubarb Almond Pie- Daune DeVries

rhubarb pie
Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

Randolph Christian School Cookbook, 1990

Ingredients

  • 1 4 3/4 oz danish dessert and pie glaze mix
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 4 c. rhubarb cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 8 oz pkg cream cheese softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 c slivered almonds
  • 1 9 inch pastry shell

Directions

Prepare glaze according to package directions. Cover surface with wax paper. Set aside. Bring the first 1/4 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a boil. Add rhubarb, bring to a boil again. Reduce heat and simmer the rhubarb covered for 2-3 minutes. Carefully remove rhubarb with a slotted spoon. Set aside. Beat cream cheese with the remaining sugar, milk, and vanilla until fluffy. Fold in almonds. Spread over the bottom and sides of the pastry shell. Spoon half of the glaze over the cheese layer. Arrange rhubarb over the glaze and the remaining glaze on top of the rhubarb. Chill. Before serving sprinkle with additional sliced or slivered almonds.

Rhubarb Slush- Amy Hanson

rhubarb slush
Image by Sandy Miller from Pixabay

Ingredients

  • 8 cups of rhubarb, cut up
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 1 box strawberry jello, small
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice
  • 1 container frozen strawberries
  • white soda

Directions

Boil together the rhubarb and water for about 20 minutes. Strain juice into a container to freeze. Pour half of the strained rhubarb juice into a pot to reheat adding to it: 3 cups of sugar, 1 box strawberry jello, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1 container frozen strawberries. Stir together until well combined and sugar and jello are dissolved. Return the reheated portion into the container to freeze with the rest of the strained rhubarb juice. Stir together. Freeze. Stir frequently while freezing.

To serve, place two scoops of frozen rhubarb into a glass with a white soda, stir to combine. Refreshing! Enjoy!

Rhubarb Sauce- Brenda Groen

rhubarb sauce
Image by Gelly___ from Pixabay

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cut Rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3oz of jello

Directions

Combine water, jello, and sugar. Heat until dissolved! Add rhubarb and cook until tender!

Once bitten twice shy

My mother always told me we don’t talk about “illnesses” while eating food. I applied this maxim to reading recipes as well. Now that recipe reading is done, I shall tell my story.

My mother had made a rhubarb dessert for our Sunday evening desert after the big meal. Grandpa and Grandma Syens came over and we all enjoyed a nice meal together.

After supper, I ran outside to play. It had been a hot day with lots of activity and I wasn’t going to slow down that evening either. Eight in the evening rolled around and it was time to head home. Waiting for me at home was a nice piece of rhubarb dessert and a scoop of ice cream.

Wiping the sweat from my face in the kitchen dish cloth, I took a seat at the kitchen table and dug into the rhubarb dessert. Yummy! I really liked how it smelled, looked and tasted.

After finishing my dessert it was to the bathroom for a bath before bed. While getting ready for bed I felt kind of weird and made a point to tell my mother about my discomfort. Later into the night the fun began. My mom said I had the stomach “flu”, but I was convinced it was the rhubarb.

It’s been thirty years since that fateful night. I can make rhubarb desserts, I just can’t bring myself to eat them. Hopefully, I will be bringing you a few more rhubarb recipes next week. Stay tuned!

As always, here is to good food, good friends and a good life!

Things My Husband Shouldn’t Have Ate: Dog Biscuits and Gummy Vites

That title is a mouthful, but honestly, it is the truth. Things my husband shouldn’t have eaten, but did. He can be a danger to himself in the refrigerator or snooping around the kitchen. I resorted to labeling most everything in the refrigerator when we were first married.

Dog Biscuits

Image by kalhh from Pixabay

Back in Wisconsin, I had my own cleaning business. Each year I always made bog biscuits and gave them out my clients with dogs. I also carried them with me when I went out to clean. It came in handy more than once- convincing “ole Fido” I was okay coming into the house.

With the Christmas season quickly approaching I decided to make some homemade dog biscuits. Brad was gone ice-fishing, so it was just Gabby and me at home.

Gabby and I got the ingredients together and made a few batches of dough. Rolled them out and used a dog bone biscuit cookie cutter, to make some really cute dog bones.

Nibble, nibble like a mouse

The morning passed quickly. The biscuits were finished baking in the oven and were drying nicely on the countertop. We decided to whip up some Christmas cookies too. With the Christmas cookies made and finished, we packed them into containers and placed them in the front porch- better known as the deep freeze.

Our last task was to make some white icing for the Christmas cookies, which we would frost later. We left the frosting sitting out to keep soft. Gabby went to watch T.V. and I sat down at the piano plunking out some tunes.

Brad had come home from ice-fishing and was busy unpacking his gear onto the kitchen floor. I just kept playing the piano but kept an ear to the kitchen. As I continued to play the kitchen became very quiet. Then I heard the cupboard doors opening. The sound of a few plates clattering and then being set on the countertop.

As I was finishing my song, I turned to look into the dining room just as Brad rounded the corner into the piano room. Before I could yell, “Brad don’t those are…”, he took a dog biscuit, dipped it into the Christmas cookie frosting and began to loudly crunch upon this “new cookie”.

It could be worse

Brad began to give me a rundown of the “new cookie” pros and cons:

  1. They were too crunchy.
  2. They didn’t have enough sugar, tasted a bit like beef.
  3. Did I really mean to make them dog bone-shaped?
  4. The frosting really made the cookie!

As he drew up a second dog biscuit to dip, I quickly grabbed the plate and yanked the cookie from his hand. “Brad! Those are DOG BISCUITS! Stopping mid crunch he looked down, then looked at me and continued crunching. After swallowing the bite he said, “Well, I thought it was a little funny that you would make Christmas cookies in the shape of a dog bone. The frosting really helps make up for the beefy flavor.” My husband shouldn’t have eaten them, but he did.

I asked him later if he needed a good scratch behind the ears and told him to stop chasing the cars on East Friesland Road or I would have to tie him up in the backyard.

Vitamins are good for you

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

It wasn’t but a few months later, once again my husband shouldn’t have eaten half a jar of Gummy Vites, but he did. He had come home from work, changed his clothes and came to hang out in the kitchen.

My back was to him as I was busy cooking items on the stove. I could hear him grab some jar off the counter. He leaned back against the counter and crossed his legs. I heard the twist of a jar, a few gentle shakes and then a handful of something into his mouth.

I assumed he must have a jar of peanuts, as peanuts are his favorite snack. We began a conversation and talked for ten minutes with an occasional pause as he grabbed another mouthful of what he was eating.

Tell me you just didn’t eat that

Finished with my cooking I turned to look at him and to my horror, I saw that he had a Gummy Vite jar and not a peanut jar. He had just brought up another mouthful of Gummy Vite’s and began chewing them.

“Brad!” I yelled. “Stop, stop, stop!” He made a face at me and asked why he had to stop eating the gummy bears. I explained they were NOT gummy bears. They were Gummy Vites- vitamins for children. He stared at me, and then held the jar up and looked at the label.

I told him to turn and spit out whatever was in his mouth. I grabbed the jar. Two hundred forty in a jar and I had just opened it two days ago. The jar is nearing half empty. I closed my eyes. Now what?!

Hello? Poison Control?

Grabbing the phone I pounded the poison control number into the phone. The phone rang and a friendly nurse answered. I started off by saying ” Well, your probably not going to believe this but I am calling for my husband, my husband shouldn’t have but, he just ate half a jar of Gummy Vites- he thought they were gummy bears.” I ended my introduction with a bit of a laugh followed by a sigh. The nurse gave a small chuckled but then got right down to business. She asked for some information off the jar, asked how my husband was doing and then put me on hold to consult the pharmacists.

While on hold, I told Brad to go drink some milk and he dutifully poured a glass of milk and drank it down. The nurse came back on the line and said that because Brad was an adult he would not be poisoned by the Gummy Vites, he could experience an upset stomach or diarrhea. In twenty-four hours they should pass completely through his body. He should not take any of his personal vitamins.

Well, of course, he shouldn’t take any of HIS personal vitamins, he probably ate 2 weeks worth in 10 minutes. Bradley! He stood laughing as I thanked the nurse and hung up.

What’s Cooking for Christmas?

So, what’s cooking for Christmas? Glad you asked! What’s cooking for Christmas is Prime Rib! Oh yes! Once a year this ole gal gets her best chef on and we fix prime rib. It’s been a tradition since we moved here in 2008.

Before we start, I must apologize to you. Last week I said I would have Part 2 of Christmas Baked Goods, Candy, and Confections. (Part 1, click here) But, I am not going to do that. I have prime rib on my mind and it’s best we just get it to print or I’m not going to be sleeping well.

An expensive piece of meat

To be honest, the first two Christmas’s we had no clue what we were doing. So our results were not so impressive- rather depressing. This is an expensive piece of meat and the thought of overcooking it makes me a wee bit nauseous. So the pressure is always on to “fix it right the first time”.

The first time we overcooked the prime rib. No bigger disappointment than cutting into that beautiful piece of meat to find grey, well-cooked protein. Sigh. Alright… year two. This time we did a good job of not overcooking it, but it rested too long and was a bit cool. Ugg!

By year three we got ourselves into a good rhythm and we were producing some really great prime rib. Chef Brad is a great addition to the “Team Prime Rib”. He is our anchor while I am busy flying around the kitchen preparing other items. He keeps a timer and a meat probe on him at all times.

Prime rib gold

However, in the last three years, we have struck prime rib gold. This recipe I found is the best yet. The recipe is called “Chef John’s Perfect Prime Rib“. Let me just say right here, I love to listen to Chef John. He is funny, explains the cooking “hows” and “whys” very well and the best part… He doesn’t talk down to you. Your just a friend sitting in his kitchen. Love it! You can’t beat the background music either.

Since the recipe is copyrighted I can only give you an overview of the ingredients and my personal notes from trying the recipe. You will have to make your way via the internet to “Chef John’s Perfect Prime Rib” and check out the recipe. PLEASE watch/listen to Chef John’s video that goes with it. Informative and helpful.

Grab an apron

Image by Courton from Pixabay

This recipe is a mix of science and math. DON’T be frightened. First, let’s tackle the science part. You will need to let your prime rib sit out room temp. The longer the better. Leaving any protein out helps it cook better- even and juicy. I personally have no problem leaving beef and pork out, but chicken and fish I am very cautious with… but that’s just me.

The second part of the science is making sure you have an accurate oven. You don’t want to be “off” in temperature, so you best get a good oven thermometer and take a couple of tests. Check out this article on testing your oven.

Next, the math part. You will need to have the exact weight of your prime rib and then multiply it by 5. For example, 7.25lb x 5 minutes gives you 36.25 minutes. You will cook your prime rib at 500 F for 37 minutes. Rounding up to the next minute is fine. DO NOT MESS with the weight calculation or you will mess up the deliciousness. Lots of people have recipes out there like this one and they refer to it as an “oven” recipe.

Here’s the scoop

Image by Sherilyn Hawley from Pixabay

I can tell you that this recipe involves butter, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and if you have some around- herbes de Provence. Don’t sweat it if you don’t have the herbes de Provence.

I have never done a prime rib with bone-in and the allrecipes Chef John recipe is done with bone-in. His recipe has never failed to make a good prime rib with no bone-in.

With “Team Prime Rib” there is no making mistakes. We use the oven in the fruit cellar, away from eager folk who may want to “peak”. Opening the oven door after the oven has been shut off is a recipe no-no. Keep all that beautiful heat inside, because your prime rib is resting.

The challenging part is to remember to warm your plates so that your prime rib will stay warm as you eat. There are 3 easy ways to warm plates. But first, make sure that your plates can be microwave or placed in the oven:

  1. Warm your plates in the oven at a temperature of 140-160 F for 15 minutes. Use caution removing from the oven as they are mighty hot and can burn.
  2. Warm your plates in the microwave for 2 minutes. Make sure you have a glass of water on the top plate. You can damage your plates as well as the microwave if there is no glass of water.
  3. Make a very hot sink of water and submerge the plates for 8 minutes.
  • USE CAUTION WITH EACH METHOD. HOT PLATES WILL BURN YOUR SKIN.

Last, but not least… eat and enjoy

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Friends! All this talking, writing and blogging about prime rib has me hungry for prime rib. Just thinking about that medium-rare piece of protein, dripping with wonderful au-jus, warm and tender, melting in your mouth, with a side of garlic mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus, and a tea roll. At the time of writing this article, it is a Saturday and I think Hatfield Road House Prime Rib is calling my name!

So after all this talk of prime rib, is what’s cooking for Christmas prime rib? I sure hope so. Prime rib is delicious and Christmas is a special occasion. So live it up a little and get some prime rib cooking for your Christmas.