Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Magic and hail and stuff

I tried a recipe a while back that called for marinating pork loin in mustard and herbs and stuff, then roasting. DH and DD despise mustard in all forms, but I figured if they hated it there was always peanut butter and jelly ;). Besides, I love mustard in all forms (except for that odd dark brown sweet mustard. That stuff is gross) and why can't I have a meal I like for once? So I marinated away, and roasted away. Imagine my surprise to find that the meat was meltingly tender, juicy, and tasty but in no way did it taste like mustard. Considering it was coated with the stuff, I was amazed. DH and DD didn't suspect a thing and ate like they hadn't eaten in days, licking fingers and plates and having thirds. Since then I have gotten more brave about adding mustard to things, experimenting with how much cooking and what combinations cause the flavour to be less mustard and more just savoury goodness. My research has revealed that as long as there is no sweetness component, the taste of the mustard does not appear in the finished product, yet there is a flavour component that is sorely missing without it. This was discovered by making side-by-side marinades and coatings, with and without the mustard. And in all cases, the mustard-less version was lacking in tenderness, juicyness, and flavour. Somehow, however, when there is a sweet component it seems to magnify that mustard taste and smell. The only times DH and DD have caught on to my secret and let their displeasure known, were when I tried a sweet and sour mixture and a barbeque style sauce. One contained just a dab of mustard (the sweet and sour) and the other contained more (the bbq. I always put mustard in my bbq sauce and they like it, but this version was from a recipe and it contained little more than ketchup, mustard, a bit of sugar, and pepper). I think they smelled it before they tasted it in both cases, and it set the food up for failure. Last night I tested this again, by mixing dijon mustard with creole seasoning and brushing it straight onto some pork loin chops. The chops were seared well on all sides, then finished off in the oven. Final resting temp? 155 degrees - our preference for pork. I know I know, it can go lower but I don't like the texture of pork when it isn't cooked at least to 150 degrees. Pinkish white is okay, pure white is better, at least I have escaped the legacy of cooking it until it is grey leather. You can't exactly cut it with a fork (and after all, we aren't cave men) but still very tender and juicy. These chops were ridiculously thick. I mean, I probably could have sliced them in half and they still would have been thick. My little tiny daughter at a whole chop when I myself - a full grown woman - could only manage about a half. I guess they were okay ;). I guess mustard is as magical as balsamic vinegar, another ingredient that seems to disappear and turn into something else entirely when cooked. A properly prepared "balsamic chicken" should not be sweet or tangy at all, in my opinion. But rather it should have a complex "savoury" component. Food alchemy, gotta dig it. Last night while preparing dinner, it started raining pretty hard. Then dd announced "Oh. It's hailing". Like it wasn't the first time she had ever seen hail in real life. Sheesh. Shamoo is just a whale, and hail is just hail. These kids see too much on tv, it makes real life events seem boring in comparison.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Well, it didn't kill her

DD has taken an interest in helping me in the kitchen. She likes to "make salad". That means using a tiny little knife to cut things into chunks (in the case of cucumbers) or smush them into oblivion (in the case of tomatoes) or shred them while somehow at the same time leaving the shreds attached like a paper snowflake (in the case of lettuce). But I am just glad she wants to help, so I give her a cutting board and make her scrub up to the elbows, tie back her hair, and let her have at it. I turned and saw her making an odd face. Very pensive. "Um. I just ate a piece of cucumber". I asked how it was. "I didn't hate it". She didn't look like she was sure she was going to live, however LOLOL. A little while later she licked the salad dressing off a lettuce wisp. How was it? "I didn't hate that either". She wasn't exactly pleased about the entire situation either - and declined to try more. But to me? This means HOPE! There is hope! Hope that I might get a serving of veggies into that little body before I die. My parting wish just may be some version of "try just one bite!" as I hold out an obligatory funeral cabbage roll. I don't know what it is about funerals and my family, but they always bring cabbage rolls out of the woodwork. Big ones, small ones, tomato, no tomato, saurkraut, no saurkraut. Not that I am complaining, I like a good cabbage roll after all. DD's first taste of solid food after cereal, was pureed zuchini that I grew, cooked, and blended myself. She LOVED it. Then spinach, and carrots, and beans. Some was fresh from the garden, and some was frozen that I had put up myself. She even preferred my veggies to applesauce and strained pears. She didn't really like the baby food offereings, but she would ask for peas and beans by name. Then something happened. I am not sure what exactly. It happened around the time we started her on meats. She suddenly stopped eating the veggies, and wanted meats and cereal. She wasn't even big on the fruit, although she did like sweet. And she has stayed the same since. I am having my first salad in several days, now that my mouth has healed (and no, I still have no idea what the problem was, but I am afraid to eat celery now) - and in the hopes that it might wake my taste buds up a little and make me feel a bit refreshed. So far, it is not working. And the onion is giving me immediate heartburn. Sigh. How nerdy is it that I looked so forward to a stupid salad, and that I am so deeply disappointed ROFL? See me next week, when I wax poetic about stir fry again.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Do NOT panic

Please, do NOT panic. I am still here. I have caught the worst cold of my life. You know on TV, how when they have a cold they constantly sneeze those big loud ACHOOO sneezes? Add a lot more mucous and snorkling and a headache the size and weight of the taj majal, and that is pretty much what I got. DD had the sniffles. The SNIFFLES. For two days. I am sure I caught what I have from her, but I think I am dying. I thought kids were supposed to have WEAKER immune systems? Sheesh. Kids are walking pitre dishes, I tell you. Be back when my hands no longer weigh four thousand pounds each and both eyeballs can remain open at the same time.