Cooking: hobby, therapy and smiles


One of my treasured ways to spend my time is cooking.  I firmly believe that cooking from scratch is the best food for you and such wonderful therapy.

I am not saying it does not take more time.  On the other hand, if you cook a pot of spaghetti from scratch, you can get a weeks worth of meals out of it.  So, perhaps in the long run it does NOT take any more time. What if I convinved you that it actually SAVES you time!  Think of coming home every night after work for a nice hot meal, ready for you with just a few minutes warm up.

A few days ago I got an itch to make my chicken breast, leeks and apples entree.  You know, all my recipes just come from a cookbook.  You DO OWN A COOKBOOK right?  If not, just go to http://www.foodnetwork.com and search any food you want and there you go!  A gazillion recipes.  It’s amazing there !  You can just enter in a food you have like “beef ribs” and all their recipes will come up from all their shows!

So I wrote down on my weekly shopping list the few things I needed:  6 Granny Smith apples, chicken breasts, 3 large leeks, apple juice and if I could find it, apple brandy or carvados.  The rest of the recipe called for normal things in my kitchen, butter, cream, sugar, thyme.   I try to only shop once a week and so we keep a list on the kichen counter for us to write down anything that is running low or out.

Then I waited for the right time on my days off to cook.  Seems like tonight will be the night.  Now, watch how easy this is.  It’s a BREEZE!  You are SOOOO going to want to go cook!

First of all, my chicken breasts were frozen, so I had to unfreeze and take the big Moosh to the dog park.

Then is was about an hour of cooking. Brown the chicken breasts in butter and thyme.  Peel and core the apples, slice or chunk up.  Brown them in butter and sprinkle with sugar.  (Careful, they get very fragile when cooked.) Cut off the green part of the leeks, then clean thouroughly.  You have to be sure you open up so the many, many rows of leek lose their sand and dirt.  Chop up into 1/2 inch pieces.  Saute the cleaned leeks in butter til transuscent.   Add back in the chicken, apple juice and a dessert wine I had on hand, and it let cook over medium heat for 15 minutes to finish cooking the chicken.  Add  cream, cook down for a few minutes thicken.  Toss in the apple pieces to heat and serve! Voila!

It’s 95 degrees here suddenly. Overnight from the low 80’s when it’s comfortable to almost triple digits.  Yuck!  However, this weather just forces me to think about cold macaroni salad and blue cheese burgers.  There is a wonderful health food store in Phoenix called Sprouts.  They have a butcher and make their own hamburger patties with blue cheese crumbles throughout.  YUM!  I grab some buns and packages of macaroni (which costs pennies) and rush home.  I already have the eggs to boil, mustard, mayo and sweet pickles to make the salad.  This will make at least four meals this week.

My mom never put paprika on her macaroni salad.  But she always added boiled eggs.  In fact, she added boiled eggs to everything.  My Dad had a deviled egg sandwich every day of his life – I kid you not!  We had to leave a paper towel on the kitchen table, with a glass turned over for his milk and the bag of Lays potato chips.  When he came home every day of his life from the City of Hanford engineering department, he took his deviled egg sandwich out of the fridge (that we had made earlier before school) and had his peaceful lunch.

Another thing I always have ready to cook at my house is chocolate chip cookies.  Trader Joes has the cheapest salted and unsalted butter I can find, so I always go there once a month and stock up and keep the butter in the freezer until I bake.  Costco sells those enormous bags of Nestle chocolate chips – which I keep in the cupboards.  Although I dearly love the inexpensive ones with chocolate liquor that Trader Joes sells too.  There is always butter, flour, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and chips in the house.  Need a fast desert – TA DA!

And let me for a minute talk about biscuits.  One of the last times I ever saw my girlfriend of 30 something years, Colleen Garcia and her husband Allen, I made breakfast for them at our home at the coast.  To this day whenever I make biscuits, about twice a month, I can hear her in my ear saying, “you’re gonna make them from scratch?”  and I remember showing her how easy it is.  And so much better than those horrible things you buy in a roll that you snap open.  And it doesn’t not take much longer – I promise.

Into your food processor you measure out 7 tablespoons unsalted frozen butter, 2 cups flour, 1 tbls baking powder and a 1/2 tsp salt. Process for a few seconds till butter is all crumbled.  Do not over process!  This makes biscuits tough.  Then pour in slowly while processer is running, 3/4 cup cream. Just be sure it does not become mush.  When it’s a nice soft dough rolling around in one ball, take out, kneed 3 times in flour, fold in half a few times to make a nice crack to open up automatically after cooked, and cut out some biscuits with the rim of a glass or biscuit cutter.  Then bake at 450 for 14 minutes.  I like to add a tiny dab of butter (using up the last tablespoon) and sprinkle of sugar to the top before baking – but it’s not necessary.  Now, while you make your candied bacon and eggs with chives, your biscuits are baking and puffing up and will be the hit of your meal!  Now why would you buy that horrible processed food instead??

Ok, go forward young men and women – and COOK!!

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. My wife got me into cooking

  2. Loved your blog..I love to cook…


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