28 October 2012

Shrimp and Potato Porridge






This is originally a Paula Deen recipe that I've messed with.  Shocker, I know. 
Her recipe is titled Potato Soup with Shrimp, but a dear friend was eating this four or five years ago and said, "Ann Lowrey.  What we've got here is not soup.  This is Porridge." 

I did not argue, though as I sat down to write this, I did google out of curiosity.  [It remains quite frustrating to me that curious has a u and curiosity does not.  What ridiculousness.]

Porridge is actually traditionally made of oats - we just call it oatmeal here in America.  However, there is such an animal as Potato Porridge - a Norwegian tradition.  I am not Norwegian, and neither is my friend proclaiming this to be porridge - in fact, we're both quite Irish with a little English thrown in.  But, for today, we sing the song of Norway proudly.

1 stick of butter
1 large onion diced on the small side
3 carrots, diced
 2 T all purpose flour (optional)  This gives it a more porridge-y consistency, but if you are trying to avoid gluten, leave it out.  The potatoes will make it plenty thick.

6-7 medium potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-1 inch cubes
4 cups milk (whole, 2%, 1% - again, depends on what's in the fridge, but I usually use whole)
2 chicken bullion cubes dissolved in
1/2 cup hot milk

1 cup half and half
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1 lb medium shrimp, peeled (cooked already is fine, but I prefer throwing it in raw and letting it cook in the soup.  I have my reasons.  If I type them here, it will take too long.  The moral of the story, though, is that you shouldn't be scared of shrimp - they cook in mere seconds). 

So, in soup pot, melt the butter over medium high heat.  Toss in those onions and carrots.  Enjoy the aroma.  Stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes, allowing them to soften thoroughly.

Add the flour, stir for a minute or two. 

Add the milk, potatoes, and bullion dissolved in milk. 

Let it cook for 30 - 45 minutes over medium heat. 
Now, you can let it go a bit longer and the potatoes will fall apart for you.  Or you can stop at 30 minutes or so and use an immersion blender on it.  Or you can usually, at about 45 minutes, use a potato masher.  The point, is you don't want potato chunks.  It's a porridge - which basically means mush.  You wouldn't think it would be awesome.  But you'd be wrong. 

After it's all mashy and pasty and you accidentally lick a bit off the wooden spoon and think, "Damn, baby, you so fine," because you will channel Will Smith in his freshest Fresh Prince days, then, and only then, should you add the remaining ingredients. 

Add the salt and pepper and the cup of goodness.  Bring to just shy of a boil.  Don't let it boil - I don't know this for sure, but it seems to me that half and half has a tendency to curdle more readily than its cream or milk brothers. 
After it's as hot as it can get without boiling, throw in the shrimp -

It will cook in 2 minutes - really - I promise.   And you'll be ready to go. 

My top ten favorite meals involve this soup and a really bad for me grilled cheese. 

And then all shall be well.  All manner of thing shall be well.   Very well, actually. 

25 October 2012

a nice little side dish

This is just an amazing photo.  Really great angle and lighting.  I'm just so impressed.  

I went a googlin' earlier to find something to serve with seared tuna for supper tonight.

I found something, fiddled with it, and this is what we have here. 

Bonus:  Gluten Free and Dairy Free and No Sugar Added.  Now, we are pro gluten and pro dairy at our house, but with three friends with celiac now and countless others with sensitivities to things, it's always good to add to the repertoire of things we can feed people. 

Black Bean and Rice Salad

  • 1 cup dry basmati rice, cooked (without adding butter or oo or seasoning to the water)
  • 2 cans black beans well drained and rinsed (obviously, you could cook your own, but then it wouldn't be a 15 minute ordeal like it was tonight.)
  • 1/2 a red onion, diced fairly small
  • 1 bunch cilantro or parsley, hacked at with the santoku knife to relieve all frustration (cilantro tonight, but whatever floats your boat)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil.  The original recipe called for 3/4 a cup.  I maintain that this has to have been a typo.  If not, my feelings remain hurt. 
  • 2-4 Tablespoons Lime Juice (Juice of 1-2 limes)
  • Season to taste - Tonight - maybe 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp granulated garlic

Toss it all together well and serve at room temp - or chilled-

Nothing fancy, nothing to write home about, barely anything to record in this here blog, but all five of us ate it up,  it was cheap, and I'll wonder  in three months what exactly I did.  So, problem solved.  I do so love the internets. 

Menu 10/25 - 10/31


Lunch - Fridge Clean Out
Supper - Seared Tuna with this Black Beans/Rice/Cilantro/Lime mixture I saw online.  We have some tuna that some friends brought us from a fishing trip, and it needs to give up its rent-controlled apartment in my freezer. 
[My dad had this law student work for him one summer who wouldn't quit saying "Ahi Tuna - I have to have Ahi.  No other kind will do.  It needs to be AAAAAAAhi"  -  So, rather than the lovely words you would be tempted to call that guy, we just called him Ahi.   So now, Ahi is synonymous in my head with one of those words that you'd call that guy who talks incessantly about acceptable grades of Tuna.]


Lunch - Out and About, I imagine

Supper - Red Beans and Rice.  I have a hankering.   I actually had some recently, but I haven't cooked any in a while.  There is just something about a pot of beans.  Something good. 


Lunch - Soup Contest at our Reformation Day celebration.  I'm making a Shrimp and Potato Porridge.  It is our family favorite. 

Supper -  Our children are abandoning us to go see John Prine.  This means that Paul and I are going to curl up, watch a movie, and eat take out Chinese.  Or Taco Bell.  Depending on his mood. 


Lunch - Tuna Melts - My favorite.

Supper - Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas, Mexican Rice


Lunch - Leftovers / Sandwiches

Supper - Chili, Cornbread


Lunch - Chili Dogs

Supper - Noodles with Sauteed Vegetables

14 October 2012

the public vow

This morning, like most Sunday mornings, we found some matching shoes, and even a few collar-shirts (as Collins calls them) for the menfolk, and we traipsed to church.

But, rather than heading ten miles west, we headed ten miles east to a different church of a different denomination. 

We explained to the little people that the church service was going to look different, and we found our roped-off pew next to the font.
We tried to quickly instruct Ada Bee how to follow a service that relies on a prayer book, rather than an extensive bulletin.  We did not attempt this with Eas.
We reminded children how to receive communion through a common cup.
We had an organ rather than a piano. 

We sang unfamiliar service music. 

06 October 2012

Genius Parenting Tip # 367

So, when your kids are little (or big), they fight.  They also share.  We split a lot of things around here.  One graham cracker left?  Split it.  A bowl full of popcorn?  Divide it among you.  One third of mom's lukewarm coke remains?  Sure - everyone take one sip, and make sure Collins gets some! 

Well, at lunch today, I was reminded of a genius parenting tip that someone, somewhere passed down to me. 
I don't know who.  It may have been my Mama. It may have been a dear friend who may see this and rightfully demand credit.  It may have been a random woman in the grocery store. 

I honestly cannot remember.   All I remember is being dumbstruck at the simple brilliance.  Why didn't I think of that?  Who knows. 

Regardless, here we go. 

We all had leftover poached pears with our lunch. 
Collins didn't like his.  His brother and sister were both coveting it. 

So, how to split fairly? 
Someone will get a bigger piece.  Unless you get a ruler, bigger pieces just happen.  And one response to their complaining about being slighted is to say, "Get a life."  And we do a lot of that.  But why make the kid feel like his life has been less than fair today if it's easily and joyfully avoided?  Right.  No reason.
We have plenty of life isn't fair moments.  We don't need to add poached pears to the pile.  

So, brilliance cometh like manna in the wilderness.  

One child breaks it in half.....
 and the other picks which half he wants. 

Isn't that brilliant?  Simple and brilliant. 
It entirely eliminates the "I want the bigger piece" obnoxiousness.

The person breaking has every incentive to actually break it as close to half as possible - because he knows, in all likelihood, he'll be on the receiving end of the less desirable half.  

If he does a bad job, he's only done himself a bad turn. 

It's pretty great.  Pretty great, I tell you. 

If you're not eating soup, well....

If you're not eating soup these days, we may have to reevaluate our friendship. 

I'm struggling to keep us to two soup meals every ten days.  That's right - my average is above one soup meal a week.  I love the stuff all year round, but well, have you been outside this week?  And this morning, it's down right chilly. 

So, this week, I pulled out an old soup recipe that is inexpensive, quick, and filling.  For what more could one ask in October?

I was going to email to a friend, but thought I'd just as well type it here first. 

I think this is some form of minestrone.  I have it scrawled in my cookbook as "quick soup" - such imagery! 

I just looked up minestrone. Fascinating etymology.  It currently literally translates 'Big Soup' in Italian.  However, it comes from the same Latin word that minister comes from -  Minestrone - that which is served; Minister - he who serves.  

 So, to the recipe.

Read all of it as optional/guidelines.  I toss in and don't measure a thing.  But, we all know I'm a weirdo.

Quick Soup

1 lb ground beef or venison or some such (mas o menos, as you see fit)
1 yellow onion, chopped - size based on your onion love. We all know how big o' one I used.
1 clove garlic, minced (Or 1 tsp dried)
2 cups coarsely chopped cabbage 
1 can mixed veggies
1 28 oz can tomatoes
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups water

1 cup macaroni (shells or elbows)

Freshly grated parmesan

Brown the meat and the onion together.  Get pretty lean meat and you don't ever have to drain it, so you can brown veggies in it, making a superior falvor and less time. 

Add garlic and cabbage and stir for one minute. 

Dump in the cans - undrained - seasonings, and water.

Bring to a rolling boil. (look at the water - does it need more?)
Add macaroni.
Simmer 15 minutes.

Serve, sprinkling each serving with cheese.

It's a weird mix of hearty and light -  hearty because of the meat and noodles, but lighter because of the brothiness.  Brothiness is now a word.

All my kids ate it happily two nights in a row - and so did some extra kids who were over, so that means that it's not just my weirdos.  And Paul and I were happy with it.

I really think you could do whatever you want to change it up -  remove the meat, add cannelinis or garbanzos, add carrots or celery or bell peppers, remove the can of mixed veg and actually chop veggies (it's such a small amount and adds time to prep work, so I haven't done that yet.)

Embrace the Soup.

"Soup for you!"  

04 October 2012

Menu 10/4 - 10/10

In fun news, this gourd is currently on my dining table:

It's fall time, and I'm trying to live and cook and eat that way.  Good, wholesome, filling, warm, real food.  We don't aim for perfection, but we're a trying! 


Lunch:  Fridge Clean Out
Supper:  Quick Beef & Vegetable Soup - I don't know where this recipe originated.  I went through my Mamas recipes when I was in college sometime.  I copied down everything I loved and everything that sounded good.  I had a vague memory of having this, and so I copied it down.  It has been very successful. 
I have a better, and more authentic, beef and vegetable stew recipe.  But this one is cheap and seriously - not in that fake liar way - seriously takes from the onion being removed from pantry to first bite in mouth about 42 minutes.  And not all active.  Twelve minutes of active time.  Maybe one day I'll put the recipe up here.


Lunch:  Pic - A - Nic -  I have this problem:  I love picnics.  I do not love cold food.  What I really want for a picnic is Beagle Bagel chicken salad and wheat thins.  But, at like 10 bucks a pint, or more, it's not often viable.  So, I'll figure something out.  But, we're going to the park around the corner, eating our picanic and then heading to the Fire Museum on a School Field Trip. 

Supper:  Chicken in Puff Pastry -  This stuff is bad news.  And the best news.  I'm not venturing into making my own puff pastry, no matter what Robert Capon says, so I'll have to buy that jazz.  Other than that,  (which is a calorie dense caveat)  it's mostly whole foods. 


Lunch: Leftovers

Supper:  Heading to a friend's.  My job is a Walker's House Salad.  Which I am glad to do.  In a heartbeat. 

Mixed Baby Greens - Colored Peppers - Blue Cheese - Creamy Peppercorn Dressing - Red Onion


Lunch:  Noodles.  Parmesan & Butter.  It's good.  And for it we should be thankful. 

Supper:  Cheesecake, Rosemary Mustard Pork Shoulder w/ Egg Noodles, Veggies -  I want radishes and sweet potatoes - probably separately.  We shall see. 


Lunch:  Spelt Bread, Pieces of Cheese, Apples, and Love

Supper:  A dear friend is bringing supper.  I hear we're getting Beef Stroganoff.  And Peanut Butter Pie just for Eason.


Lunch:  Cheese Toast, Trimmings

Supper:  Frankly, I haven't gotten that far.  We might go to the fair.  We might pull something out of the freezer.  We might do fridge clean out.  Depends on our plans and current state of events.  I will not have to go to the store, though -  Will not.