Many of you have mentioned on Facebook, real life, and on this blog that you especially enjoy when I write about what I’m cooking. I don’t consider myself a very good cook. As a matter of fact, I am a better writer than a cook, so when I write about cooking it always sounds better than it came out in real life. My hopes never quite match up with the execution, but I keep trying.
I’m sort of handicapped in the cooking department, not having a sense of smell at all and my sense of taste reduced to bitter-sweet-salty. I have no palate. Although Christine Ha‘s blindness didn’t keep her from winning Masterchef 3, so I guess there is no such thing as a handicapped cook when it comes down to it. Effort, determination and perseverance are the ingredients for the successful cook. Unfortunately, I have none of those either so I’m back to square one in the success-of-dishes department.
My skill comes from frugality, consistency, and creativity. I mostly cook using handy ingredients, things on sale, and my preferences. I cook the same things, on the same day, contentedly. (That’s the consistency). I also get the Bountiful Basket every other Saturday, and I stick to using whatever is in the basket for my main ingredients.
This week we received a daikon. Apparently it is a kind of Asian radish. It is supposed to be mild with a small bite. I looked up a bunch of recipes and the one that seemed best was pickled daikon. What made it best was:
–the recipe used few ingredients
–I also received carrots in the basket and the recipe called for carrots
Here is what it’ll look like
Now, I don’t usually make a practice of going to the store to buy one item, that destroys the frugality of the dish. But the recipe called for rice vinegar and that IS one of my staples. I also needed garbage bags. I’d run out. So I headed to the Dollar Store for those items plus creamer for coffee, and raw pinto beans (because someone gave me chow chow relish and the two go together wonderfully. I will crock pot cook them while I’m at church Sunday.)
Anyway, off I went. But the Dollar Store didn’t have rice vinegar. They had plain vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and other Asian condiments like soy sauce but no rice vinegar.
That is a toughie to substitute. Rice vinegar is sweet and distinctive. I went across the parking lot next door to the little grocery store run by an Asian lady and her husband. Surely they would have rice vinegar! Not only didn’t she have it but she acted like she had never heard of it.
OK, I still wanted to make julienned pickled daikon and carrot relish. I thought and I thought. I came up with two ideas:
1. Find a recipe that doesn’t use rice vinegar.
2. Use the sweet pickle juice in the almost-finished can of pickles as the rice vinegar substitute someone had canned and given me.
In the end I found another recipe that uses warm water and sugar, but I am still going to use a bit of the sweet pickle juice.
On another topic, someone had given me a homemade can of chow chow. Canning is alive and well in the south, and so is chow chow. Chow chow is a distinctively southern dish. The Armadillo Peppers blog says that chow chow is
“What is Chow-Chow Relish? The short answer is “good”. Chow-Chow Relish has long been a favorite on pinto beans in the South and its appeal is even broader when you consider hot dogs, hamburgers, black-eyed peas and its use on various greens such as turnip greens and collards. Chow-Chow (or Chow-Chow Relish) is made from chopped green tomatoes (and sometimes red tomatoes), cabbage, mustard seed or powder, onions, hot peppers, sweet peppers, and vinegar. Other optional ingredients include cucumbers, celery or celery seed, carrots, beans, asparagus, corn and cauliflower. Unlike most condiments, Chow-Chow retains a chunky (chopped) texture and is not pureed. The taste can be sweet, tangy, hot or a combination thereof. It is typically served cold and like many foods, there are various varieties with an increasing availability of “hot” versions.“
The piece continues with origin and history of chow chow. All I know is that this relish is GREAT on top of pinto beans. I will wash and soak the pintos overnight and then cook them in the slow cooker while I’m at church tomorrow. Mmm hmmm, I might could make me some cornbread too, as they say in the vernacular.
The last thing I plan to cook is a yellow squash and zucchini casserole. I received both in the Bountiful Basket. I looked a long time for a recipe that doesn’t use 8 or ten eggs (yes it’s ridiculous, I agree). I found one that doesn’t use eggs at all, which is OK, but the recipe doesn’t use anything else either, except shaker cheese. So I am going to beef it up a little by using up my cottage cheese. We’ll see how it goes.
No dessert this week. I’d bought some ice cream and have been nibbling on that. I don’t need to make any cookies, muffins or brownies or even anything light like angel food cake with fruit. I’m about filled up with sweets. The ice cream did me in.
The Farmer’s Market is behind the Dollar Store so I swung by to see if Jose had any bread left. He had hardly any, only two loaves by that late hour. The two he had remaining were not the crusty focaccia or olive bread I enjoy so much, but brown sugar-raisin-walnut. More of a breakfast bread. The loaf was huge though. Aw, man, twist my arm, it only took a few seconds of deciding before I said YES and scuttled away with a brown sweet loaf under my arm and visions of Pâté to spread on top dancing in my head.