Monday, March 24, 2014

Chef Bluzardee

I haven’t really cooked anything for quite a while.  Once I met Pinky, she basically took over the cooking duties and I’ve basically been a “re-heater.”  Even since I’ve been single again, I’ve mostly stuck to things for which “Microwave for 90 seconds” has been the first and only step.

See, when I come home from work, the last thing I want to do is cook anything.  (Obviously, by “cook,” I mean “prepare food in a fashion that requires more than one step.)  I just want to come home, feed, browse the computer, maybe pound out a blog post, and then hit the prime time TV lineup or Penguins game.  So I live on Progresso soups, Chef Boyardee lasagna, chicken tenders, microwaveable rice and string cheese.  Or if I had a big lunch, I don’t eat dinner at all.

On the weekends, I’ve made a few simple protein courses, like steaks, chicken, chops or fish.  (You may have heard about my pork chops… they’re to die for.)  That’s when I don’t just go to Wendy’s, or pick up some grocery store carry-out chicken.

But this weekend, I had a hankering to try something a little more complicated… I wanted to make a big bowl of pasta, with sauce that’s not orange.  I haven’t made pasta from scratch* in ages, probably since before Pinky.

*By “scratch,” I certainly don’t mean making the pasta by hand and rolling it out, or assembling the sauce from the ground up, the way my mom does.  I buy the pasta, like most everyone else.  (Bowties are my favorite.)  For sauce, I start with Prego, and then add our family’s “signature” spices, as well as anything else I have on hand to bulk it up. 

I was kind of excited, and ready to break in some of my new replacement cooking utensils.

OK, only the sauce pan and lid are new.  And the strainer thing.

I bought a sauce pan that’s “porcelain coated.”  I usually favor the Teflon, non-stick surfaces all the health-conscious people shun.  See, I don’t care if the Teflon particles come off and stick in my guts.  As far as I’m concerned, that should make my intestines “non-stick” and the food will shoot right through.  But if I ever want to cook for someone else, I figured I’d use a more palatable pan.

To me, the fun thing about making pasta is having multiple things going on at once.  I browned the ground beef first, (and I curse myself right now, because I realize I had Italian sausage in the freezer I could have used), and then while I boiled the water for the pasta, started assembling the sauce.

I had a quart of sauce left over from my recently departed girlfriend, and I added about a half a quart of Prego.  From there I added black olives and mushrooms, because, well, I add those to everything.  Mom always says I’d add black olives to a recipe for pie

I like putting in the spices because it’s a seat-of-your-pants kind of thing.  I never make the same quantity; therefore I can’t predict the proper amount of each spice.  I just shake some in there until I think it tastes right.  I suppose I could “go to the cards,” and consult the recipes Mom wrote for me when I first moved out on my own.  But then there might be math involved and I don’t have the patience to Google “lowest common denominator.”

It’s funny though… every time I’ve split up with a girl, I’ve always requested to take (or be left with) only the spices needed for my sauce.

The sauce had a nice chance to simmer while the water was boiling, and then the pasta cooked.  I don’t like to let the sauce simmer too long, or it starts to disappear (into the air, not into me.  Although if I had some fresh Italian bread on hand, I’d be telling a different story.)

If only you could smell what I smelled while taking this picture…

I also had a chance to begin the cleanup.  I hate having a huge pile of greasy pots and pans to wash at the end of the meal, so I always try to wash things out once I’m done with them.  It keeps the kitchen area neater, that way.


Since I’m “cooking for one,” I didn’t see the need to keep the pasta and sauce separately, so when it was done, the pasta went right into the sauce.


I’m not going to spell out how hard I hit that pasta Sunday night, so I’ll spare you the pictures of me with sauce in my beard and a bowties stuck to my head.

Somehow, I should have leftovers to last most of the week.

Mangia!

7 comments:

  1. Looks beautiful. Remember a dash of nutmeg and a splash of whatever you're drinking.
    Bon Appetite!

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    1. Oh sure, just give away the family Sauce Secrets...

      So I might as well add that ginger, cinnamon and black pepper also go in.

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  2. don't you dare divulge the SECRET!SECRET!

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  3. I love your cooking technique. If you've never tried it, Newman's Own marninara sauce is to die for. We usually make sauce from scratch, but when I'm feeling super tired, I grab that. Doesn't need much doctoring. Also, I use to have those same counter tops in our old town house!

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    Replies
    1. What technique is that, starting with packaged stuff and tarting it up? That's my specialty!

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  4. "That strainer thing."

    I died.

    Good for you! This makes me very happy. There is nothing better than sauce simmering on a stovetop and fresh bread, you are right. Reminds me, it's been a while since I've made some. Looks like I'm gonna get busy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What, does the strainer thing have a real name? Oh, and to be sure, I was talking about the thing on the counter, that you hold over a pan to pour out the grease, not the "colander" in the sink.

      I have the fondest memories of the nights when I came home to sauce simmering on the stove, and home-made bread in the oven. Always good eatin' that night, especially stealing hunks of bread to dip in the sauce, before dinner.

      Delete

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