Totally Delicious – The Red Stuff
This is one of my family’s favorite comfort dish, primarily because all of us love to be in the kitchen. This dish started with lots of different fresh vegetables that needed to be used, left over spaghetti sauce, bits of cheese hanging around in the crisper, a bag of frozen vegetables that needed to be used, a couple of open bags of Tostitos, a lonely package of ground beef completely frozen, and four hungry bellies.
None of us (Whitney, Emily, Darrell and I) wanted to wait for the ground beef to thaw and no one had a clear idea for dinner. One of Whitney’s kitchen motto’s is “when in doubt, chop onion and garlic, throw it in a pan, and dinner will make itself.” So that’s what we did then and this is what I started with today.
On the cutting board are peppers and onions that I found in a baggie in the crisper. I de-seeded the jalapeno and the slices are green peppers. The tomatoes have brown spots so I cut around those, the yellow squash was almost done for. Actually only 3 of them were useable. The rest went overboard to the fishies. The okra was a real find in these parts and it went into the pot even though it was still fresh. The ground beef here in Panama is very lean.
Here is a different view of the ingredients.
Here, you can see the “Woo” that I’ll use on the meat and the jar of tomato sauce. The tomato sauce is left over from spaghetti night with my cousin Rob Hendershot and his wife Karen from the China Doll. Fresh jalapenos are lurking in the back corner but they are still fresh and can last a few more days so I used red pepper flakes instead. This dish is really good with a bit of a bite to it. I forgot to add the garlic to my picture here, but rest assured, fresh garlic will be tossed in with the peppers and onions.
So how do you put all this together. Naturally, I start with a cast iron skillet and a little refreshment for the chef and narrator.
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. What was she drinking?
Back to dinner and the cast iron skillet. I started with a little oil in the skillet, warmed that up a bit, and added Italian spices. A tip I learned from a girlfriend while I was going through law school is that you want to get the most flavor from your spices so you put those in the skillet after the oil is slightly hot. You cook these first, stirring them around, being careful not to overcook them. You just want to bring out the flavors.
Then you add your onions, peppers, and garlic. The general rule of thumb for me is to start with the vegetables that take the longest to cook and work toward the ones that take the least amount of time. Here is what it looks like so far. Because I thought it needed a little moisture to help cook the veggies, I threw in a tomato. You can see the garlic , too.
At this point, I miss the girls a lot but I have so many great memories of times spent in the kitchen . I’m thinking of them and GUESS WHAT?? Whitney called. It was great! We use Skype on the boat and you can video call, skype to skype, for free and we got hang out with her. She couldn’t believe we were cooking Totally Delicious. She was getting ready to fix dinner in Portland and started thinking about us and decided to call. So here we were, in the kitchen together. We got to watch Vivien, the almost youngest (the youngest came 7 days later!) granddaughter, crawl, pull herself up, and play. Oh, my, she is so cute at 9 months old. Her older sister, Sabina, was still at preschool so we didn’t get to see her this time. Ok. Back to the kitchen with joy in my heart and huge smiles.
Here is another tip I learned from my girlfriend, Shilpa Patel, while we were in law school. Makes you wonder what I did in law school, eh? Wellllllllllllll, I spent one night a week at her house and we would cook and eat and DRINK ourselves to total bliss. She showed me how to place a knife, flat side up, on top of the garlic and give it a good WHAP with your fist. We would name the garlic pieces, usually an irritating classmate or professor. It crushes the garlic and the skins peel right off – makes it much easier to chop the garlic. Look, I even took a picture. Of the garlic, not my classmates. And add the ground meat.
After the ground beef, and previous assortment of vegetables have cooked, I added the left over tomato sauce. There was still a bit in the bottom of the jar and I happened to have a bit of red wine so I used about ¼ cup of red wine to wash out the rest of the tomato sauce and threw that in the skillet. Now we are ready for the okra and squash. This is what it looks like. It’s nearly finished cooking so I’ll throw in the box of frozen veggies, a Birds Eye blend of peas, carrots, and green beans. Notice that to this point, I have not added any spices other than the Italian blend. I generally do not add salt until the end when it’s time to fine tune and put the finishing touches on the dish.
Darrell did the taste testing and I added a bit more woo, a little Morton salt blend, a few more red pepper flakes, a sprinkle of chili powder over the top, and a dash of ground cumin. After getting it thoroughly stirred and bubbly, it was ready to eat. This was really good and didn’t need any of the bits of cheese that were left over from grating – you know how you always come to the end of a brick of cheese that you are grating and have chucks left over. Well, I always keep the small chunks because they can be used in eggs or grilled cheese sandwiches later. NOTHING gets wasted on the boat. I’ll write a story about grocery shopping in small rubber dingy later.
I hope you come up with your own version of Totally Delicious.
Gayle, Galley Gourmet
SSV Gone Bambu