Saturday, February 28, 2009

Carcinogens, Anyone?

Recently, I decided to be a Really Nice Wife and cook something for dinner that my hubs loves and I am indifferent to- because I'm not a Completely Selfless Wife who will cook something that he loves and I hate, like a cousin of mine who is a vegetarian and will regularly make her husband steak.  I'm nice, but I'm not THAT nice.  But anyway.  Back to the dinner.  For this particular dinner, I would be cooking up a nice little ham.  

Hubs has big, strong, man feelings about ham. When a holiday passes in which he believes a ham the designated meat to be consumed during said holiday's meal (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Arbor Day, etc.), and no ham is present, he gets a little sad.  Or a lot sad.  And, well, I grew up in a house where ham was something you had in a sandwich with a slice of processed cheese food, but never for dinner.  So you can guess how often it crosses my mind to make a ham. 

But, on this night, I decided to make a ham.  I went online to investigate the appropriate cooking time and temperature for said hunk of cured pig and to determine the necessary internal temperature to ensure we would not regret eating it.  Armed with my knowledge, I went to the kitchen.  I set the ham in the baking dish and removed the packaging and then sent it happily into the oven.  Partway through the baking time, I pulled it out to drizzle my soy sauce and mustard glaze all over it, and then I came back a few times to brush the glaze on thickly.  It wasn't getting the shine I wanted and I was annoyed, but I supposed that this particular glazing concoction musn't be prone to shine.  If only that was the actual problem.

Upon slicing the meat, I noticed that the glaze had created a bit of a plastic-y coating on it.  It was difficult to slice through and not very appealing, but I didn't pay too much attention to it because I was thinking about the other components of the meal.  Or, I should say, I didn't pay too mush attention to it until my husband said, "Is this PLASTIC?"  

To which I replied, "No, I took the plastic off.  That's from the glaze."  

He looked at me utterly dumbfounded.  "NO, babe," he said slowly, pulling the substance in question off his plate, "this is plastic."  

"But I took the plastic off."

"Apparently not all of it."

Silence.  I looked at the clear, suspiciously plastic-looking ribbon in his fingers.  It seemed it was... well... uh... plastic.  I tried to come up with some sort of plausible culinary technique that required cooking a ham in plastic to explain my complete stupidity away, but came up with nothing.  (Shocking, isn't it?)  I smiled sheepishly.  "Oops."  

We ate the ham anyway.  

Monday, February 16, 2009

Compromise is the Secret to a Happy Marriage

I love sweet potatoes.  Love, love, love them.  And it's a huge bonus that they are one of the most nutritious vegetables you can put in your body.  (Okay, technically, they're a tuber, and I don't know if those qualify as a vegetable because I'm not an expert in the classifications of agriculture.  But if you really care that much about it, feel free to research.  And then, maybe get a hobby.  Because seriously? )  I am not, however, a fan of the candied sweet potatoes found on so many Thanksgiving tables.  Why ruin a lovely sweet potato with all that excess??  What did it ever do to you? 

My hubs, on the other hand, adores candied sweet potatoes (and pretty much any other food drowning in sugar and butter), and so, I agreed to make them for him at Thanksgiving.  Of course, I was going to drastically reduce the butter and sugar in the recipes and try to save the integrity and flavor and natural awesomeness of the little lovelies, but he didn't need to know that.  And then, tragically, I was not able to make them for the big day.  I bet you can imagine how sad I was.  There were buckets of tears... or maybe not.  At least not on my end.  He was pretty disappointed.  

After a while, I started to feel bad about the fact that he missed his favorite part of Thanksgiving (other than the turkey and cranberry sauce and my mom's rolls and the stuffing and the pie), but I was no longer interested in revisiting and modifying the recipes I'd found for candied sweet potatoes.  So I made these:

Baked sweet potatoes with marshmallows!  I was able to forgo the criminal amounts of sugar and butter (and keep the skins!), but he still got the sweetness and beloved marshmallows.  Our toddler couldn't believe we were having marshmallows for dinner.  She was BEYOND excited.  This was a hit all around.  

If you want to make your own, it's really easy.  Here's what you do:

You'll need one sweet potato for each person.  Scrub them well, and then pierce in a few places with a fork.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Place your sweet potatoes in a nonstick cake pan or something like it because after a while, the insides start to bubble out and it will make a mess in your oven if you don't use a pan.   You can forgo the pan if cleaning your oven is your idea of a good time, but if it is?  You need more than a hobby.  But I digress.  

Bake the potatoes for about an hour or until cooked through and soft.

Remove from the oven.  Cut open lengthwise, but not all the way through.  Add a small pat of butter, a sprinkle of salt and a TINY BIT of sugar and mash the flesh of the potatoes well.  I am not kidding about the SMALL pat of butter and the TINY bit of sugar.  DO NOT make me come over there. 

Switch the oven to broil.

Top the potatoes with a small handful of mini marshmallows, and return the pans to the oven for 2-3 minutes, until the marshmallows are golden on top.  You'll want to stick around and keep an eye on them so they don't burn.  Once they're ready, remove from the oven and let cool a few minutes before serving.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Blog Carnival Virgin No More

It's Works for Me Wednesday over at Rocks in My Dryer, so I thought I'd join in.  

Breakfast is usually not a big deal at our house.  It's often conquered with a few bananas and some yogurt, oatmeal or cereal.  But sometimes it's not so easy.  Sometimes, there are pancakes. Pancakes themselves are not difficult to make, but I hate getting out the griddle and then cleaning the griddle afterward (or the next day if I'm feeling especially resentful toward the blasted thing).  And once there have been pancakes, there is always leftover batter.  

For a long time I didn't know what to do with the leftover batter until one day, a little light went off in my obviously tiny brain.  And this is my WFMW tip: These days, I cook that leftover batter.  Once the unneeded pancakes have cooled, I place sheets of wax or parchment paper between them, pop them in a ziploc bag and put them in the freezer.  Next time the wee one wants pancakes for breakfast and I don't have the time or the will to make them,  I pull a few out of the freezer and heat them up in the microwave.  This leaves me with no annoying griddle to clean, no wasted batter when pancakes are made, no outrageously priced boxed frozen pancakes (with who-knows-what in them),  and best of all, one uber-happy two-year-old. And that DEFINITELY works for me.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sorry, Friend of Nemo

Things I am generally not a fan of: 

1. White bread
2. Meat wrapped in more meat
3. Emo anything
4. Fish trying to be something it isn't, i.e. fish tacos

So when hubs walked in the door on Saturday, not with the turkey burger I'd requested, but with a mahi mahi burger, I was none too enthused.  "No, I'll try it," I said, trying to be grateful and positive (after all, he did bring sweet potato fries, too).  But on the inside I was remembering an experience earlier in life with a salmon burger that did not go well.  Don't misunderstand.  I love fish.  Fish is one of my favorite foods.  But I like my fish to be fish- not a taco filling, not a stew ingredient and absolutely not a burger. 

I sat down at the table and examined the burger before me.  The mahi mahi patty had a blend of spices in it and was topped with a pineapple-coconut salsa.  Uh oh.   I hate coconut.  Between it and the bottom bun was a small pile of mixed greens.  In a separate container was an unidentified sauce of some sort- possibly but not neccessarily a version of tartar sauce.  I asked my husband what it was, but he said he hadn't paid close enough attention to know.  The only thing left to do was try it.  

Which I did.  And much to my surprise, it was astonishingly good.  Good enough that I ate the whole thing, although I still couldn't identify the sauce for you.  It had a nice ocean-y flavor, but it wasn't fishy at all- and I didn't notice the coconut one bit.  (Yay!)

So, where can you get this burger?  You can't.  At least not anymore.  It was the January burger of the month at The Counter.  (A little research informed me that it was called the Hawaiian Spice Rubbed Mahi Mahi Burger, and that the sauce may have been a pickled ginger aioli, but there are apparently many dipping sauce choices, so I can't be sure.)  The Counter is a build-your-own burger restaurant, and every month they also feature a burger of the month.  It's a bit pricey for my humble budget (good thing my food was free), but any place that can make a fish burger worth eating has my vote.