Patty Melts

John has been on a rye bread kick lately.  Everytime he orders a sandwich, he has asked for rye.  When I make breakfast on the weekend he has been requesting rye toast.  Works for me, I love rye bread.   When I told him we were having burgers for dinner, he asked if he could have rye bread instead of a roll.   I said sure, and proceeded me make a match of caramelized onions so we could have Patty Melts.

patty melts

I made a batch of potato salad as our side dish.  Perfect late summer weekend dinner.  We were busy all day with projects, so making the salad and onions in the morning worked out beautifully.  All I needed to do was grill the burgers and the bread and dinner was served.

He made a “special sauce” to go with his burger – it was a combo of steak sauce and BBQ sauce.  He was thrilled with his concoction.  I am glad he is getting more adventurous!

Chicken and Rice

We seem to eat a lot of rice in this house.  I am totally not sure how this happened??  I LOVE all things starch, to be sure, but honestly, I prefer potatoes to rice.  The hubby will take rice over any other starch – every single time.   I have been trying to limit the amount of carbs I eat so I have been making it more and more often – basically so I am not tempted.

chx and rice

Marinated boneless skinless chicken, grilled outside with a HUGE batch of white rice.  Honestly, I have to limit the amount of rice I make, John has been known to eat three cups of rice at dinner.  That just isn’t normal…..is it?  Anyway, I have been craving fresh and green so I made a BIG salad as our other side dish.

salad

My husband isn’t a fan of vegetables, so his salad is lettuce with croutons and dressing.  I on the other hand, LOVE veggies so this is a picture of my plate.  The onions are pickled red onions that I have in my fridge.  I made a batch a week or so ago and I have been putting them on everything.   I absolutely love that the days are getting warmer and longer, we have been able to eat outside quite a bit lately.  Summer is ALMOST here and I for one, CAN’T WAIT!

Canning Season has arrived in PA

I spent Saturday in the kitchen, canning.  Working in the kitchen has always soothed my soul and my soul was definitely in need.   I already had a batch of fermented hot sauce sitting on the counter waiting to be pureed and bottled.

hot sauce

The color was much more orange this time, I had more orange and yellow peppers in this batch.  Not as pretty as my first batch, but goodness, does it taste good.  I texted a picture to a friend who is travelling and let them know that hot sauce awaits him upon his return!

On Friday I picked up a flat of local strawberries from the farm stand.  Saturday morning, I made three batches of strawberry jam.  It went rather quickly, so after the third batch, I went back, grabbed another flat and four pounds of apricots.

There used to be a local farm that grew apricots and I absolutely LOVE apricot jam, but they have since closed.  It is surprising how difficult it is to find local apricots.  The ones I got on Saturday are from Lancaster County (about 2 hours away) so they were localish. Anyway, I made another batch of plain strawberry jam, one of strawberry lemon jam and then the apricot.

jam

As far as I am concerned, this isn’t a bad way to spend a Saturday!  I pureed the rest of the strawberries and froze them so I can make a batch or two of mixed berry jam once raspberries and blueberries are in season.  In about two weeks, we should be seeing sour cherries, raspberries, and blueberries in our area.  I can’t wait!

 

Anthony Bourdain

I am stunned and saddened by the passing of Anthony Bourdain.  We have lost a creative GIANT.  He was a man who lived his passion, wasn’t afraid to speak his mind, and was curious to the end.  I admired and respected him tremendously.

In 2003 I was at a crossroads, the life I wanted was never going to be a reality, so I needed to adjust my expectations.  I was angry at the world, but mostly angry with myself for failing, angry at the unfairness of it all.  Angry that I wasn’t in control, and no matter how much I tried, how much time, effort, sweat, blood, and tears I put in – I couldn’t make my dream a reality.  It is a hard moment to face, but face it I did, with the help of Mr. Bourdain’s book Kitchen Confidential. 

It was a dark, sexy, seedy tale – full of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.  But it was also a story about a man who was aware of his flaws, a man who owned his truth.  He didn’t shy away from showing you the ugly truth – he talked about resilience, about team work, about finding passion, he inspired me.

I picked myself up, dusted myself off, took a deep breath, and changed the course of my future.  At 33 years old, I went to culinary school.  I was the oldest person, and only woman, in my cohort.  I was surrounded by 18-20 year old boys, I was the same age as most of my instructors.  I found what I needed in that kitchen.  I regained my confidence, I honed my skills, and found my tribe, so to speak.  I thrive when I am working with people who are all focused on the same goal.  In the kitchen, I had to keep up, pull my own weight.  I was responsible for the food coming out of my station.  It played to all of my strengths.  I LOVE planning – prepping for service each night was where I found comfort.  I was in control – of everything – from how I set up my station, to where things were located in my fridge and shelves.  As a team, we all supported one another, respected everyone’s skills, and pitched in when necessary, because the ultimate goal was getting food out, hot, plated, picture perfect, at the exact same time.  It isn’t easy, it requires communication, trust, planning, and the willingness to be fully present in the moment.  If you fail, the kitchen fails, which means the servers fail, which means the restaurant failed in its service to our customers.

Working in a kitchen requires you to be a team player, without sacrificing your individuality.  It requires you to exhibit grace under pressure and to pull your own weight.  You need to contribute, to keep moving forward, striving for perfection, every single moment of the night.  I am proud of the work I have done and all of those skills have served me well in my current position of meeting planner.  I have confidence because I KNOW what I am capable of, I have been tested by fire, and I have the scars to prove it.

Thank you Mr. Bourdain – you inspired me to have the courage to try, may you rest in peace.

BBQ Pork Chops

We LOVE pork in our house.   Mom and I were talking on the phone the other day, she can’t seem to find a decent pork chop where she lives.  She says they are all tough, no matter how she cooks them.  Thankfully, we don’t have that situation here.

pork chop

I picked up thick cut boneless chops, which the hubby grilled for me.  He added some store bought BBQ sauce right before he pulled them off the grill.

I baked off potatoes in the oven and prepared the bagged slaw mix I picked up from the store.  It was an apple slaw.  The dressing was an apple vinaigrette and it was surprisingly good, especially when paired with the pork.

Luck for us, the weather held out again, and we were able to eat outside.  It has been almost non stop rain for the last few days.  Everything is just damp, through and through.  It has been really hot and humid, which doesn’t bother me as much as it does other folks, I just wish the sun was shining.  Yeah, I know, I am probably the only one who craves hot weather and massive amounts of sunshine.  I don’t care – it is what makes me happy!

House Projects and Lunch

John decided to spend Memorial Day weekend ripping up the carpet in his home office and replacing it with hardwood.  He isn’t quite finished yet, so I won’t post pictures, but it is going to look amazing.

When he is working on a project, he tends to not eat, which would be fine if it is was one day, but multiple days, it is a problem.  John gets ugly angry when he doesn’t eat so I try to find something light and quick that I can serve him so he can eat quickly and get back to work.

I picked up a package of low carb/high protein wraps along with some cold cuts from the deli.

Question – I grew up in New York, we called meat from the deli Cold Cuts.  The hubby was raised in Philly and they call meat from the deli Lunch Meat.  He thinks I am crazy and I know he is wrong, so I am taking a poll – what do you call sliced meat that you pick up at a deli counter?

Anyway, back to lunch.  I made him a turkey and provolone sandwich with homemade honey mustard sauce and a bit of fresh spinach.  Healthy, pretty, and tasty.  Exactly what every growing boy needs when he is working on a project, wouldn’t you agree?

turkey wrap

I added frito’s because the boy can’t resist chips of any kind, but especially frito’s.  It was a win/win situation.  He ate a good meal, which meant he was less cranky, and I didn’t have to deal with an unreasonably hungry man at dinner.  Whoo HOO!

Steak and Cheesy Potatoes

Memorial Day weekend means great sales on meat that you can grill.   I was in the grocery and they had NY Strip Steaks on sale, they were ridiculously inexpensive.  Normally I buy filets, because I hate wasting food and NY Strip Steaks are usually wayyyy  to much food for me.  Since it was a weekend and both the hubby and I were home, I knew he would eat my leftover steak with eggs for breakfast so I splurged.

steak and cheesy pots

The entire meal was made on the grill.  The steaks were seasoned with Montreal Steak Seasoning.  I cut up potatoes, tossed them with some diced onion, salt, pepper, and olive oil and put them in a pan to roast.  When they were almost done, I sprinkled them with some sharp cheddar cheese.  AWESOME – starch and cheese = amazing!

The asparagus was simply seasoned with salt and pepper and tossed with some olive oil.  Super easy meal, that looked beautiful on the plate and tasted even better.  PLUS we got to eat it outside on the deck.  The rain stopped for just long enough for us to get dinner grilled and eaten. I love that the days are getting longer and we are able to eat outside on the deck!