Mighty Life List #55: Find a favorite honey. {check}

Well, that was easy. Almost too easy. It was an accidental discovery, actually.

Some backstory: as a child, I LOVED honey. With the passion and abandon only children seem capable of. My father tells me that I used trip over my grandfather’s heels when he was collecting honey – stealing honeycomb directly from the hive and eating with bees buzzing over me. (Note: bees and wasps flying all around me still don’t bother me. Must have something to do with my granddad.)

Anyway, since childhood, I somehow lost my appreciation for one of my favorite treats. Every honey I tasted was bland, boring, or downright offensive. Especially that horrible clover honey at the grocery store. Yuck.

So I set out on a mission: find a favorite honey. And since I couldn’t replicate the honey of my childhood, I figured I’d have to dig around for a while.

I tried a honey from my hometown. Nope.

I tried a honey from Round Rock, our home of 10 years. Nope.

And then, I tried a local honey at the Farmer’s Market near our new home in the Texas Hill Country. BINGO!

Youngblood’s Natural Honey is a mesquite honey from Pearsall, TX, and it’s so good, I could drink it straight from the bottle. I haven’t, of course, but I totally could.

In reality, however, I’ve used it in oatmeal, in marinade for pork loin and turkey breast, in cocktails, and more. It’s versatile, smooth, and delicious. I love it!

So there, one more thing checked off the life list.

Frito Pie: Vegetarian Version (Also Without Fritos)

Who am I kidding? You can’t call this Frito Pie. There were no Fritos and no chili. But there was a jalapeno in there somewhere. And quinoa cooked plain tastes exactly like corn chips. Not even joking. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that this meal was so good, we ate it two nights in a row:

Quinoa with Tex-Mex Lentils

Ingredients:

  • Quinoa
  • Green Lentils
  • Chicken broth
  • One small carrot, diced
  • One rib of celery, diced
  • One small onion, diced
  • One clove garlic, minced
  • One jalapeno, minced
  • Chile powder, cumin, black pepper

1. Soak 1 cup of dried lentils in water for about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. In a medium sized pot, saute the vegetables in a little butter or olive oil until transparent. Add lentils, 2 cups of chicken stock, and spices. (No additional salt at this point!) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until desired firmness.

3. In a separate pot, bringing 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Serve in a bowl: quinoa on the bottom, lentils on top. Garnish with fresh salsa, shredded cheese, and sour cream.

Tastes like Frito Pie, but WAY better for you.

Love and kisses from Cucina Knighton!

Cooking in Jennifer’s Kitchen

This week as been one of culinary experiments.  Well, controlled experiments with known ingredients, that is.

Monday was New York Strip in a mustard-red wine marinade, topped with mustard-butter and served with sauteed fresh spinach.  About the mustard butter – so good I wish I had doubled the batch and served it in a gravy boat.  One part softened unsalted sweet cream butter, one part organic stone-ground mustard; mixed till blended.  Eat-it-with-a-spoon good.

Tuesday was Orange Roughy with garlic caramelized onions.  I cooked the onions in the same pan in which I had seared the garlic-herb crusted fish, so the garlic flavor infused the onions.  It was like the fish and onions were made for each other, and the whole affair melted in the mouth.  Destined for frequent appearances at my table.

Go ahead, try it at your house.  You’ll love both!

Adding a New Item to THE LIST

37. Upgrade my kitchen equipment. (2010: salt & pepper grinders, forged steel cutlery, heavy duty skillets)

Can I just say how much of a difference the new cutlery has made in my life? I cook almost daily, with all the slicing, dicing, and chopping that entails. And my old, cheap, Walmart knives just weren’t up to the rigors of my routine. So, I purchased this great set from Anolon.

I discovered Anolon knives on a trip to California, when we visited my delightful in-laws. I fell in love with the weight and balance of Sue’s set and immediately wanted some of my own. That was two or three years ago. And now I have them and could not be happier.

Out of my way world, I’ve got knives. Really sharp ones!

Getting a Thrill from the Daily Grind

For Christmas, Handsome gave me a set of Peugeot U’Select variable salt and pepper grinders. Kinda like these. They have six (!) settings, ranging from super-fine to extra-course.

And just let me say that I have used these every single meal. And sometimes I lose myself in the smooth grinding action and smother our food in way too much seasoning. Though I think my husband kinda likes that part. The seasoning part, people! Come on!

Well, ok. You’re right. I LOVE the smooth grinding action, the way the pepper or salt meets my exacting demands of size and consistency. Cooking in my kitchen will never be the same.

The Mustard Revelation

So you all know that I now like mustard. And in the spirit of greater mustard appreciation, I decided to add a tablespoonful to my pork loin marinade last night. Here’s the quick and dirty recipe:

1/4 cup light olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
1 tbsp. grainy brown mustard
orange-ginger-sesame seasoning
fresh ground pepper

And you know what? It needed more mustard! I never thought I’d say that.

Nonetheless, the pork loin was fork-tender and flavorful. (But it needed more mustard.) Caramelized onions and celery were a perfect accompaniment, but I should have cooked twice or three times as much.

Eat Something New Every Day

Well, maybe not every day, but at least once in a while. Though given my avowed hatred of several popular food items, I really should try to eat something new a few times a week, at least.

In the past week, I have eaten and enjoyed mustard and both black and green olives. Not together, of course. That’s disgusting.

First, the mustard. This time every year, Handsome and I get a hankering for sausage and sauerkraut, so we picked up some fresh-made German bratwursts at Sprouts Farmers Market, along with some cabbage and, of course, grainy, brown mustard. Cook it all up; sit down to dinner. I stare at the mustard jar. I should try it. Everyone else I know loves mustard. Maybe I only hate the fake-yellow kind.

So, I taste it and, lo, it is good! Very good. Delicious, actually. So, we has more sausages a couple days later. And I’ve eaten half a jar of mustard in a week. Go figure.

And now, the olives. I have horrible, horrible memories of my sister chasing me around the house with an olive on each finger; which might explain the hatred of all things olive. Seriously. I won’t even buy Extra-virgin olive oil – because it tastes like olives. Anyway, this weekend, we had a pizza with pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, roasted red peppers, onions, two kinds of olives – everything in the kitchen, apparently. And I ate it, olives and all. Without choking. I mean, I could taste the olives, but I didn’t want to spit them out – which is my natural reaction when I find them hiding in my food. They weren’t bad.

Handsome thinks this isn’t an accurate measure of my new-found appreciation for the olive. “Try them on their own, without the benefit of pepperoni and cheese and sauce. I’ll bet you still don’t like them.”

He’s probably right. And I’m not going to risk it.