Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Kitchen Comeback Update 2

In September, I continued my path in increasing the heat to my food. When I mean heat I mean as in spicy or piquant. The Mexican enchiladas Suizas had a wonderful kick to them. This started in June when I made the first batch of a Pace picante sauce copycat recipe.  This was hotter than I had planned. I did not stop using the salsa. Since, I have made a few things spicer than I used to do things.  I even have experimented with heat with Thai, Indian and other cuisines. I made coleslaw with Serrano chiles; I did not put enough in the batch, next time I have to use more. One issue I am noticing is that certain peppers have a large range of heat. Something that would be spicy in one batch could be milder next time. One batch of Carroll Shelby’s chili I added Hungarian hot paprika, ancho chili powder and all of the cayenne that came with the kit. It gave it some good heat.

                           Quinoa spaghetti in tonnato sauce

I am also working to use less pre-prepared foods. I found a copycat Carroll Shelby’s chili con carne recipe. That will lead to my own personal chili con carne recipe. I made the mistake in September of using a pre-made marinara sauce for my vegetarian lasagna.  I later discovered how loaded with sugar it was. In October, I have made my own homemade marinara and froze it for future use. I froze some of my homemade salsa for future use too. The vegetarian tacos I made in November called for Old El Paso taco seasoning.  I found a copycat recipe and made my own, so as to avoid sugars. All the pre-packaged taco seasonings have sugar (and/or corn syrup) and MSG in them.

                           Thai chicken and lemongrass soup

I am doing more improvising. I had leftover marinara, zucchini, and summer squash.  I added roasted garlic, onions and topped it off with parmesan cheese.  I referred to it as my low rent ratatouille, for true ratatouille I was missing eggplant, bell peppers and some of the herbs. It is funny how this improvisation came out of an experiment. Next time I make lemongrass beef or Thai chicken and lemongrass soup, the plan is to use the food chopper to make the lemon grass edible. It was too fibrous otherwise.

                                          Shoyu Chicken

In November I changed my quesadilla recipe. Since October I have been using my toaster oven to make quesadillas. My recipe was simple cheese, flour tortillas, and Valentina hot sauce. In November, I replaced the hot sauce with chipotle powder, or chipotle powder and ancho powder. The smokiness of the chili pepper powder really gives it a kick and flavor with out the biting sourness of the vinegar found in the hot sauce. I have been adding the chipotle powder to many dishes to enhance flavor as opposed to salt.

Hungarian pan fried pork steak with Hungarian paprika gravy and mashed cauliflower

Then after researching Mexican cheeses, I discovered that traditionally quesadillas are made with corn tortillas and without oil. Previously I was frying them in olive oil, but I found them too greasy. I tried them without the oil and using the cheese with the chipotle and ancho powders. They were not as crispy as I tend to like them, but I still loved them.

Spinach pizza with pesto, feta, sun dried tomatoes, and shaved parmesan 

I experimented with more vegetarian and vegan dishes. This was due to the advice of my doctor.  I am working to eat healthier. I have a Veggetti device that turns vegetables into spaghetti or fettuccine shapes. I have a few ideas there like cucumber noodles with a dill yogurt sauce (tzatziki salad), cucumber noodles with a spicy pickle dressing (Thai cucumber condiment inspired salad), zucchini or cucumber noodles in tonnato sauce, zucchini noodles in pesto, zucchini noodles in marinara sauce, and a cucumber noodle salad based on bread & butter pickles. I was making more egg dishes as well.   
                          Asparagus and mushroom salad

There are few dishes I really want to try out. They are noodles in Thai Peanut sauce from scratch, Mexican pipián sauce (a pumpkin seed sauce), Indian Saag (either lamb or paneer cheese), Puerto Rican tostones (twice fried mashed plantains), Puerto Rican arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas), Thai massaman curry, and homemade pesto. I also found a German delicatessen that makes their own sausages including Hungarian, and Polska kielbasa. I am thinking of picking a few up for a meal.

                            Spaghetti squash enchilada boats

September 2015

Mexican enchiladas Suizas, Indonesian lemongrass beef with rice, Yucatan sopa de lima, Rick’s vegetarian lasagna (zucchini noodles with garlic and onion marinara, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan cheese, and mushrooms), turkey Polska kielbasa scramble (turkey Polska kielbasa, eggs, hash browns, and onions), Rick’s low rent ratatouille (zucchini, summer squash, onions, garlic, leftover marinara sauce, and topped with shaved parmesan cheese), Vegetable medley (asparagus, carrots and potatoes) with eggs, and honey mustard chicken with rice.

                          Vegetarian tacos with spicy crema

October 2015

Pizza with homemade marinara (turkey pepperoni and skim milk mozzarella), chilled tangy avocado soup, turkey bratwursts with mashed potatoes, ground turkey tacos with Serrano vinegar base coleslaw, homemade salsa, Denver scramble (eggs, ham, green bell pepper, onions, Cheddar cheese, and hash browns), quinoa spaghetti in tonnato sauce (tuna, anchovies, lemon juice, capers and olive oil) garnished with parmesan cheese, parsley, and black pepper, Turkey ham with mashed potatoes, California scramble (Spanish chorizo, hash browns, onions, olives, Ortega mild green chiles garnished with avocado and salsa), Thai chicken and lemongrass soup with jasmine rice, Madras beef curry with jasmine rice, quesadillas with Valentina hot sauce, Carroll Shelby’s Chili con Carne with ground turkey (added garlic, corn, Ortega mild green chiles, diced tomatoes, black beans, pinto beans, and onions), and Shoyu chicken with jasmine rice.

                                      Gazpacho Mexicano

November 2015

Country link sausage with mashed potatoes, quesadillas with chipotle powder, Hungarian pan fried steak with Hungarian paprika gravy and garlic mashed cauliflower, spinach pesto pizza (pesto, spinach, sun dried tomato, feta and shaved parmesan), black bean and cheese burritos, turkey cheddar bratwursts with mashed potatoes, asparagus and mushroom salad (with red bell pepper, arugula, and a citrus dressing), corn quesadillas with chipotle and ancho powder, spaghetti squash enchilada boats, gazpacho Mexicano (Mexican gazpacho, the difference is jalapeño, lime, cilantro, and spicy tomato juice), vegetarian tacos with spicy crema, chile relleno casserole, homemade taco seasoning, and Rick’s ground turkey chili con carne (diced tomatoes, garlic, onion, mild green chiles, corn, black beans, and small red beans).

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Not Acting My Age

Based on the Television, Films (mostly reruns on Television), and music I grew up with, people would think I was 10 to 20 years older than I am. I watched a lot of films on TV from the 30's to the 60's. Since I spent a lot of time in my youth in the Greater Los Angeles area which had 4 independent TV stations that means they did not belong to a network.  That also meant quite a good deal of reruns and films from before 1980. Fox launched in 1986, when I was in college. I was in my mid twenties for WB (1995) and UPN (1995). WB and UPN merged to become the CW in 2006. We did not get Cable till I was 14 or 15. In those days there were a lot of reruns on Cable too.  It was cheap programming.

Growing up in the seventies radio still played a good deal of music from the previous decade. Music had a longer shelf life. Pop stations in the early 80's still played music from the late 70's. I also got into music very young, at 7 or 8. This was partly due to my uncle who was 8 years older. He was also a musician.  Many of his tastes wore off on me (hard rock, classic rock, early metal, psychedelic rock, Southern rock, country rock, progressive rock, blues rock, jazz rock fusion and so on). I got into other music but 60's and 70's rock is my comfort zone. This is why the Soundtracks for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy and Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Animated Series speak to me. It is mostly late 60's, 70's and early 80's music.

All those old movies I watched led to an appreciation of the Golden Age of Hollywood and the Golden Age of Television. Many of the Legends from that era have left us in the last decade. As a kid I watched Tom Hatten on KTLA; he had a show called Family Film Festival on from 1978 to 1992. That is where my love of Danny Kaye, Hope & Crosby, Abbott & Costello, Martin & Lewis, Gene Kelly, and more started. That show was a precursor to what AMC did in the 80’s till 2003 and what Turner Classic Movies does.

I previously discussed the shelf life of media being longer in the 70’s and 80’s. This period was the early years of video rental. With the advent of the internet, access to this has increased but there is so much to occupy our time. The classics get lost in the mix. In regards to music, many music video games like Guitar Hero, and Rock Band, the classics are reaching younger audiences. Films like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy help as well.

I have friends involved in the Classic Horror culture and Disney fandom. They too are about preserving the classics like I am. What spurred this particular introspection were two things, the release of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Animated Series’ Soundtrack and the passing of movie legend Maureen O’Hara on October 24, 2015. The songs on the Soundtrack hit my musical tastes head on. Ms. O’Hara was one of my few Hollywood movie crushes.

I am not saying my film, television or musical tastes stop there, but these are my foundations. I will always have the themes of I Love Lucy, Leave It to Beaver, or Batman ’66, stuck in my head. All of those and many others started and ended before I was born. Today, except for TV Land, rarely do you see shows on TV that are older than a decade, except maybe the Simpsons, which is still producing new episodes. CBS’s online streaming service includes many classic television shows. Hulu also includes many classic shows, and so does Netflix. With there being so many choices they as I have stated earlier get lost in the deluge of options.

Back in the 80’s I used to have exhausting discussions with people my age about the colorization of Black and White films. Let’s just say I was a film purist. Especially many films made in the 50’s and 60’s, that decided to be in Black and White for artistic reasons. This was especially the case with film noir. 30 years later that turned out to be an abysmal fad, however there are a few classics that are only available in the colorized version. A few films have purposely made black and white versions of the films, for example the Mist. It works, if done right and the right subject matter. Colorization still happens, but not to the degree it did in the 80’s and early 90’s.

I have noticed certain fandoms have been known to go back to the originals. Star Trek and Doctor Who fans are known for going back to discover the originals. Not all of those fans, but more than the average TV watcher today under 30. In my experience Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Disney, Horror, and Superhero fans are more likely to watch older, classic works. Some classics are kept alive by the Television Networks. The Peanuts, Dr. Seuss, and the Rankin-Bass TV specials are still shown, available streaming, or accessible on DVD and/or Blu-ray today.

We need to keep the classics alive, to do that we need to expose younger generations to these works, regardless of format. When a remake is made, we need to point folks to the original and start the dialogue. Back in the mid to late 90’s when I heard a group of kids lauding the talent of Marilyn Manson, I pointed them to the acts I thought he was borrowing from, Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, David Bowie and Ozzy Osbourne. In the early 2000’s I pointed kids into Hip Hop to Funk, specifically George Clinton and the Parliament-Funkadelic collective. Don’t be condescending or talk down to the kids.

This Has Been My Not So Humble Opinion.