Maiden Voyage

I’m not gonna lie to you.  I’m kind of upset. 

Not because my 11 month old is a runny-nosed mess.  Or because my four-year old has started shouting out that he hates me whenever he doesn’t get his way.  Not even because I’ve been fighting the stomach flu since Friday. 

Nope, I’m ticked because my husband took my sickness as an opportunity to use my new knife.  Without asking. 

But that’s not the only thing he’s done this week.

Let’s backtrack, shall we…

A couple of weeks ago, I decided I need to get my own knife (see reasoning here).  I sought advice and got some great suggestions from fellow bloggers Kate and Jane.  I was excited to do my own research and figure out what I wanted.  I casually mentioned to hubby that I was looking for a knife of my own – and, boy, was he excited.  Seriously.  Excited.

He immediately got online and started researching on his own.  Then he moved on to researching in his cooking magazines.  (Yes, he gets several.  I get People and Glamour, and I’m okay with that.)

Without asking me — let me repeat, without asking me, he ordered me a knife.  Yes, I know he had the best of intentions.  Yes, I know he picked the best rated fairly inexpensive knife suggested from America’s Test Kitchen.  But still, it’s my knife.  And I was enjoying trying to figure out what I wanted.

I was a little unhappy, but I decided to let it go, since I was getting a package in the mail (I love packages).  And I’d probably have a pretty good knife to use since, I hate to admit it, he probably knew what he was doing.

It came on Friday.  I couldn’t wait to get it open. 

But then, I got sick.  Really, really, passed out on floor from vomiting, sick.  Yesterday was pretty much a blur.  Today, I’m finally starting to feel better, so I decided to leave my bedroom for the first time in days.

And guess what I found in the sink in the kitchen.  My knife.  Opened.  Dirty.  Used.

And not by me.

He didn’t even cook anything yesterday.  He just used it to cut some lettuce. 

I think he was jealous.  That’s what I’m telling myself.

Because, right now, I just don’t have the energy to yell.

Victorinox 47570 Cutlery 6-Inch Chef's Knife

Lemon Chicken Results

Well, there were only a few minor issues. 

I put together the rice while my husband was home.  Bad idea.  Let’s just say he had many pieces of advice, and I basically had to tell him to shut his mouth, but in a nice way I promise.  And when I went to fluff the rice, apparently I wasn’t doing it the correct way.  He, of course, demonstrated for me.  Really?!?  Because it was going to make such a difference which direction I fluffed in?  Deep breaths and we made it.

My biggest issue, though, was with timing.  We had an appliance repair person show up to work in the kitchen just as everything was supposed to come together.  And I may have accidentally forgotten to add the thickening sour cream mixture… but an hour plus after it was supposed to be ready, we sat to eat.

It looked good, and it actually tasted great!  The lemon sauce was really lemony and with a little extra salt, perfect (if you ignore the giant pieces of onion).  Even my four year old loved it, and he is my biggest critic.  The rice was a little bland, but it picked up the lemon sauce well.  I would definitely cook this recipe again.

Here I Go

So, I’m already off to a bad start.  Really.  I mean to start this at the beginning of the new year, and I’m already late.   Ooops.  I do have an excuse or two or three.  But for now, I’ll bypass those and just explain what I’m up to.

I’m 33, and I’m just learning to cook.  From scratch.  That means learning to chop, measure, mix, and actually read recipes (I’m kinda a skimmer, which I’ve realized does not lead to success in the kitchen).  All my life I’ve had people around me who love to cook.  So I didn’t have to (smart, aren’t I?).  My mom, my roommates in college, and now my husband adore working in the kitchen.  I don’t get it, but I’ve never had to.  In case of emergency, I make a mean toasty cheese sandwich and have conquered the art of cooking boxed foods — but normally, if someone doesn’t cook for me, I just have a bowl of cereal. 

Well, now I have two kids for whom I’d like to be able to feed some sort of healthy food, and I just became a stay-at-home mom.  I have the time (well, kind of, didn’t I just mention I have two kids?) and motivation to give this whole cooking thing a try.  (again)

I have tried cooking in the past.  It has not been successful.  Let me share a few reasons why cooking hasn’t worked for me:

  • My husband — He is the quintessential talented, perfectionist cook.  (He would own a restaurant and be a chef if I let him.)  My problem is that whenever I try to cook when he’s around, he tries to help me.  I call it back-seat cooking, he calls it minor assistance and suggestions for improvement.  Usually I just quit and tell him if he knows how to do it better, he should just do it on his own.  Hopefully being at home and cooking while he’s at work will eliminate this issue.
  • Reading — As I mentioned before, I am a skimmer.  Works great when reading textbooks or novels quickly, but kinda messes you up when cooking from a recipe.  Example: When the recipe reads Add chicken broth. Cover and let cook for twenty minutes.  I read Cover with chicken broth and cook for twenty minutes.  Not a huge change, but when you’re making a chicken dish that is not supposed to be a soup, this can cause a problem.  I’m working on this.
  • Raw Meat — I’m terrified of it.  Especially chicken (texture, color, contamination, etc.).  Is there an actual phobia for this?
  • Knives — Also terrifying.  I once worked at a bagel shop, sliced my palm open and had to go to the emergency room.  This leads to chopping issues as I cut really big pieces, just to keep me safe.  Not the best for most recipes.

So now here’s my challenge.  I’ve decided to just try cooking once a week.  That’s all – I can do that.  Even better, I’m starting with crock pot cooking.  No worries there with burning food or scorching pans (of which I have done both — more than once). 

And I’ll write about it in this blog.  Hopefully you will enjoy my ups and downs as I try to figure this out. 

Wish me luck!

Baked Brown Rice

So, my wonderful husband thinks that my chicken dish (still cooking in the pot) will not be enough to make a full meal. 

(Sidenote, he also informed me that 1 1/2 pounds of chicken should be 4 or 5 pieces – not the 3 I used.  Ooops – I thought there was a lot more liquid in there than I needed.  This is what happens when I try to get a hold of him and he’s in a *meeting* and can’t answer my extremely important questions.)

He’s suggested brown rice and even found me a recipe online listed as easy.  I will have to have my timing down to do it since I need to have it in the oven about an hour before my chicken is finished.  Here it is:

Alton Brown’s Baked Brown Rice:

1 1/2 cups brown rice medium or short grain

2 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the rice into an 8-inch square glass baking dish.

Bring the water, butter, and salt just to a boil in a kettle or covered saucepan.  Once the water boils, pour it over the rice, stir to combine, and cover the dish tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove cover and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve immediately.

Okay.  I think I can do this.  I’ll let you know this evening how everything turns out!

Very Lemon Chicken

My husband is such a nice guy.  He bought me a crock pot cookbook for Christmas.  Just what I always wanted in my stocking.  (Can you hear the sarcasm?)  Really, though, it does give me a nice place to start.  So today, I decided to try making Very Lemon Chicken from The $7 a Meal Slow Cooker Cookbook.  Here’s the recipe:

1 1/2 pounds chicken parts, skinned                         1/2 t dried oregano leaves

2 T olive oil                                                                           1 onion, chopped

1/3 c lemon juice                                                               1/2 t salt

2 T vinegar                                                                            1/8 t white pepper

1 c chicken stock                                                                1/2 t paprika

2 T slivered lemon zest                                                   2 T cornstarch

1/2 c sour cream

1. Place chicken in 3 quart slow cooker.  In small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, stock, lemon zest, oregano, onion, salt, pepper, and paprika.  Mix well.  Pour over the chicken, cover, and cook for 8-9 hours.

2. In small bowl combine corn starch and sour cream; mix well.  Add to slow cooker and stir. Cover and cook on high for 20-30 minutes or until sauce is thickened.  Serve immediately.

And that’s it.  Looks easy, should be no problems, right?

Well, on the plus side, I did not have to touch the raw chicken (yay!).  I just slid it into the slow cooker.  Though, I really have no idea how much 1 1/2 pounds is.  It came in a 3 pound pack, so I just estimated.  That’s what a real cook would do – I told myself that, anyways.

Oil, juice, stock, spices – easy!  Vinegar…hmmm.  Could we be more specific?  I found rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and more in my cupboards (my husband apparently has a vinegar fetish).  The apple cider one had the label The natural choice for food.  And hey, I’m making food, so I went with that one.

And I only zested off a tiny bit of my thumb.

Then the dreaded onion.  Good news, no hand slicing.  Bad news, really really really big onion chunks.  Oh well, it’ll cook down.  Right?

(By the way, this easy prep took me well over 45 minutes to complete.  That’s how challenged I am.  Just sayin’.)

It’s all in the pot for now and smells good…