This is the first of many guest posts on Guliash Girl. I really want to have this blog be a community of people who are willing to share their experiences with food and cooking so we all can grow. Today you will hear from an amazing woman, my second mother and an inspiration in the kitchen. Michele might not know it, but I have always looked up to her cooking and her way of commanding the kitchen. The ease of her skills and master of how ingredients should go together has captivated me for years. On one occasion, she was showing me how to make a roasted beet dish and I’ll never forget how inspired I was. She roasted the beets with the skin on, which I had never thought of, and gingerly rubbed the skins off after they were cooked. She cautiously toasted pine nuts in the oven, ever so careful to get just enough colour. As she put the dish together and gingerly sprinkled on the goat cheese, I remember being so excited to taste something that so much of her love went into. I think this is still one of my favourite dishes that she makes. In her post below, Michele will share an experience she had cooking and discuss her relationship with food. You will see what I mean about the passion that she ignites for cooking.
Rekindling the Love of Cooking
When I was a child, my mother stayed home to care for our family; very different from the way things were when I was a young working mother with two kids. My parents lived in a world where you grew what you ate and packaged foods were an exciting new convenience that you purchased only once in a while. My how things have changed! We live in a world of convenience; eating fast food and meals from boxes, cans and packages. There is a price to pay for convenience – money and health.
Reading Laine’s blog inspired me to try making beans from scratch. From scratch? Seriously? Only my mom or dad makes beans from scratch! I don’t know how to make beans from scratch. It will be too hard! I have a bunch of cans of them in the pantry. I could just open one of those, couldn’t I? No way, I’m going to make beans like the old people make ‘em. Dried ones, from a bag! I soaked those suckers all night long, rinsed and cooked them on the stovetop before adding the sauce and slow-baked them in the oven.
I was so proud of my efforts, I took a photo and texted it to my dad. He told me to be sure to check on them often because they are likely to soak up all the sauce. Really? Haven’t they just been sitting in water all night and then boiling in water for the past hour? It was a good thing I listened, because sure enough, they were almost dry when I checked them 2 hours into the cooking process. Thanks for the hot tip, Dad! So I added some more liquid and kept on cooking. The result? Absolutely. Fantastic! I paired the beans with cornbread (which I also made from scratch), a spinach and kale salad with cranberry balsamic vinegar/olive oil dressing, and cilantro/lime chicken (BBQ)
I learned a few things from this process of making a meal “from scratch”.
- A sense of empowerment. I made this delicious meal all by myself. I did not have to rely on anyone else (for other than the recipe). I made a nutritious meal for my family and it took very little effort.
- I saved a TON of money. If my husband and I had driven to the local fast food drive through, we typically would have each had a burger, fries and a soft drink. The total would have been approximately $20. The meal above cost me around $15 give or take, tasted like heaven and fed us for about 3 meals.
- A person is never too old to learn. Making the same old meals I always have doesn’t give me near the satisfaction of trying a new recipe. There is zest in trying new things – keeps the marriage and the family fresh!
- The slow cooker is my friend. Although I used a cast iron pot for this, I could have used the slow cooker just as easily. This is where the phrase “set it and forget it” comes in handy! My slow cooker is one of the most-used appliances in my kitchen (besides my espresso machine).
- Good food is not complicated food. Food made with love from simple ingredients can beat the fancy stuff any day of the week.
This old dog has learned some new tricks and I plan to use them often. Thanks, Laine for nudging me from the warm refuge of my safety net and into the exciting kaleidoscope of food colours, textures and taste sensations!!
Here are the recipes Michele used in her post with any comments on how she modified them for her meal. Click through for the recipe.
-She used tomato paste instead of ketchup and added some cayenne pepper.
-She also recommends setting aside the water used to boil the beans as she needed to add 2 cups into her pot halfway through as they had started to dry out.
-She also added some cayenne pepper to this recipe for a kick.
-She did not use a recipe here but she said she used some of her new lime-infused olive oil, coconut balsamic vinegar, cilantro and salt and pepper.
If you would like to do a guest post for Guliash Girl, please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook.
Photo credit: Kayla Young, The Aspiring Something
Michele Patton is a world traveler, a wine lover, and an adventurous cook. She is a wife, mother of two and grandmother of one. Michele has recently retired from the healthcare industry and now has more time to expand her horizons in the kitchen.
Thank you to the ‘Blogging While Nursing’ site and Diana Rattray from aboutfood.com for the recipe inspiration today.
Unless otherwise sourced, the photographs were provided by Michele Patton.