Post # 315 Reinventing the Obvious

December 1, 2014 at 10:48 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 315 Reinventing the Obvious

So, everyone knows how bad fast food is, right?  I don’t need to open a long discussion on that?  Okay, good.  Because I could do that, but I don’t really want to.  What I really want to talk about is reinventing the obvious.  I like fast food.  I like healthy fast food.  I like home made, healthy fast food.  And there are ways to make fast food at home and healthy.

The idea for this post came from a conversation this weekend.  Our holiday weekend started like everyone else’s on Thursday, the big feast day.  We did our farm-to-table thing and ordered our bird from our favorite farmers’ market a couple of months ago.  Let me tell you about this bird.  It was 16 pounds, organic, locally raised, never frozen, and butchered just a couple of days before we picked it up.  I won’t go so far as to say it was raised with love, but it was certainly a more humane process than the national fowl processors.  However, the family/guests we invited for the feast could not make it until the weekend, so we left our bird in the fridge.  The bird-day feast of wonderful; the Saturday feast with the real bird was superb.

Sunday morning, and it’s time to make breakfast for four people and a couple more guests who would be arriving soon.  Partner/Spouse already had a good idea on what he wanted to create, so he started by heating the oven to 350, and spraying cooking spray into some small muffin tins.  Then he fried up some sausage patties, and some bacon he’d cut up into small pieces.  When all the meats were done, he placed on sausage patty in each cupcake tin.  Then he took several eggs and beat them to within an inch of their lives so they poured easier and filled each muffin tin almost to the top.  He baked them until they were done, about 10-15 minutes depending on how well done you like your eggs.  Then he put them on a plate for anyone to grab when they wanted them.  Here’s what was left ten minutes later:

egg muffins

While he was putting them together, Guest1 asked where he’d got the recipe.  I was working at my computer, just a few feet away so I answered.  “Out of his head.”  She was surprised and impressed.  “How did you know this was going to be so good?”  He replied, “Practice.”

Several minutes later, as we were sitting in the living room digesting, she asked again about how we knew these things were going to be good.

“It’s all about fast food,” I said.  “Do you like Egg McMuffins?  These are everything those are, without the McMuffin and cheese.  If you like bacon and eggs, these are a no brainer.”

“But how did you know that baking them would work?”

“Cuz we’ve done it a hundred times before.  Like he said, Practice.”

The conversation went along the same vein, but I made the same basic points.  Cooking is about practicing.  You read things, you try them.  You watch techniques or recipes, you try them.  You eat something and figure out the ingredients, you try them.  Some things are successful and some aren’t.  I spent over a year making spaghetti sauce twice a week in a crock pot until I had it so mouthwatering good, it once woke up my ex-wife’s sister at 11pm to come out and try some.

More importantly, the more you do something, the easier it gets.  At one point in my cooking career, I could throw a cake in the oven in fifteen minutes flat.  Chocolate chip cookies were even easier.  It was sheer repetition.  And as things get easier, creativity creeps in.  You start to put your own spin on things.  You start adding sunflower seeds to your chocolate chip cookies instead of nuts.  You add cinnamon to your spaghetti sauce because once, many years before, someone you know did that.  The more successes you have, the more confidant you become and the more you begin to experiment with something new.

Then “home made” becomes fast food because you know how to do it.  You can create a muffin-less Egg McMuffin.  You can recreate the onion sauce on your favorite burger.  You can get a bigger crock pot and make enough of your favorite dish to freeze some for later so it’s simply a matter of a microwave if you’re pressed for time, or a slow reheat in the oven if you want to kick back and drink wine and smell dinner cooking.

Picking a crock pot can be a chore.  My first one was a small, 2 quart size because I was cooking for me.  Then I had to get bigger ones, and different shaped ones to handle the kind of cooking I was then doing.  Now, we have an oval 6 quart affair with digital timers, lid locks, etc.  I’m still making the same things, just more of it.

Here’s one of my best successes in recreating a restaurant experience.  Partner/Spouse and I love the Brazilian style of cooking called “churrascaria.”  There’s a post about it at the beginning of this blog.  It’s wonderful stuff.  I was introduced to it Sao Paulo and have loved it ever since.  It’s pretty expensive here in the States, but well worth it.  High quality meats are skewered, typically on swords, and rock salt is thrown at the meat to coat it.  Then the meat is tipped over a blazing hot wood fire to cook for a few minutes.  Then the servers take this hot meat around the restaurant and slice pieces onto your plate.  It’s always rare, and always delicious!  When they start hitting the raw meat, they take it back to the salt and fire.

I don’t have skewers or swords, and I certainly don’t have a wood fire pit to create the blazing temps necessary.  But with the help of Bobby Flay and America’s Test Kitchens, we stumbled on the technique for cooking indoors (or on the grill, either one) that I’ve blogged about before.  Get your grill or grill pan blazing hot.  Take your steak and coat it with salt (Bobby Flay adds other seasonings, but it’s all good.)  Place the meat on the grill for 5 minutes without touching it, then flip it and do another five minutes.  Let it rest for five minutes, and serve.  Perfectly seasoned, and perfectly medium rare.  And it’s done in twenty minutes start to finish.  While the steak is cooking, prepare a salad and some bread and you’ve got dinner in under a half hour.

fave food 3

Fast food recreated.

Enjoy!

 

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