Saturday, August 11, 2007

It doesn't feel like I cooked a lot today

All three recipes were really easy, and went in the oven to cook.

After I got home from work, I ate some lunch, planned the week's menu, and wrote a grocery list. I went up to Trader Joe's to get said groceries (a short list this week, as I'm recycling half of last week's list), where I was amused to see TJ's food in it's natural habitat. The TJ's in Alameda donates so much stuff to the food bank that I'm used to seeing everything in banana boxes. I shop at Trader Joe's because my mother's butcher said to go there for meat because he didn't know of any butcher shops in the east bay.

I bought this chicken last Sunday that I didn't cook yet. I had planned to cook it Thursday but we had a big lunch and opted for "skip" for dinner. I knew it couldn't wait any longer, so I pulled out a few cookbooks to see what they said to do. My 1964 Joy of Cooking, as I suspected, has instructions that were clearly out of date. Alton Brown's cooking science book doesn't have directions to roast a chicken, though it does have those for turkey, a standing rib roast, potatoes, meatloaf, broccoli, and tomatoes. So I turned to Williams-Sonoma's Essentials of Roasting, though I tend to avoid food-porn cookbooks because they are usually fussy. Not that I followed the recipe: After removing most of the skin from the chicken, I chopped up an apple and an onion to stuff inside and rubbed the outside with pepper, salt, and oregano. Then because I forgot to rub the olive oil on first, I sprayed it on.

Amazingly enough, the chicken came out perfectly, in the perfect time. I have learned to rely on my meat thermometer, but with only guessing the size of the chicken I didn't have to put it back in the oven several times - in fact, I didn't even have to do it once. Wouldn't you know it, it's the one time that I wasn't trying to get a bunch of things on the table at the same time and we didn't have any company.

I also made Grush's Banana Bread out of peaches that would have otherwise gone to the worms. I learned years ago from a coworker that if you have a decent banana bread recipe you can replace the bananas with any semi-solid fruit or vegetable, even condensed tomato soup(!). I have done it with applesauce, grated carrots, and now peaches. The peaches didn't have a strong enough flavor to really come through the bread, but it's still decent sweet bread.

Grush's Banana Bread (one loaf)
1/4 c butter
1/4 c shortening (I use trans fat-less Crisco)
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar (not packed too tightly)

Cream these together. Add:

2 eggs, one at a time
1+1/4 c flour
1/4 t salt
1/4 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
1 t vanilla (I usually use rum)
1 c mashed bananas

Grease and flour a loaf pan. Bake for ~50 minutes at 350*F.

The recipe for Lazy Blueberry Cobbler in Death By Pad Thai caught my eye, and Michelle Wildgen, the author of the story in which it appears, mentions that you can substitute other fruit such as cherries or "peaches especially." I had more peaches, so I made that too. I just took it out of the oven just before I started typing the recipe above.

If I were a real food blogger, I would have beautiful pictures of all of these, but a skinned, roasted chicken is hardly beautiful in the first place and the bread isn't that interesting, to look at or to eat. However, I did take a picture of the cobbler, which I'm about to try.

Update: It's very good. It's quite sweet. I've never made cobbler before so I don't know if I could reduce the sugar (which is an even amount with the flour). Do use fresh butter. Yum!

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