Monday, October 08, 2007

i made mayonnaise

I am rebelling against Big Food and so I made mayonnaise. It was incredibly easy: one egg, one tablespoon of lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon of dry mustard, then 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/4 cup of flax seed oil drizzled slowly into the blender. I felt like an alchemist, turning those mundane ingredients into a light and fluffy dream of fresh mayonnaise for an egg salad I was making. And it was surprisingly simple and fast and the results were superior by half to even the best supermarket mayo.

I've been making food at home a lot lately: walnut and pumpkin seed encrusted chicken, butternut squash and apple soup, a chicken curry salad, roasted turnips, beets, carrots, a beef/spinach/onion scramble, lots of salads with exotic greens and just enough walnut and olive oil to hold things together.

All of this fresh, healthy food is making me feel better, and the process of preparing it is taking my focus from the hopeless political state of our country to the simple act of cooking. I am living in the moment when I'm chopping onions, lest I lose a finger. And taking the time to saute garlic and spinach together, watching the leaves turn bright green while the aroma of garlic fills the kitchen, it's divine, really.

Cooking is something I let slide much of the time. Too much trouble, too quick to run out for something, too easy to slip into my favorite bad habit of a sandwich and whatever. I come from a long line of sandwich addicts: if you can slap it between bread, we're on it, but talking to my sisters, I'm recognizing that I do not come from a long line of vegetable addicts.

My father window dressed his own eating habits for our benefit: he ate vegetables but, aside from the manly two (corn, green beans), he hated them. At 89, he eats as much chocolate as he can and avoids anything tinged with green. Carry on, Daddy.

But my sisters, criminy, what a picky pair! The oldest sister called this morning to gloat about the fact that she likes zucchini now. And the other one managed to eat an entire bowl of my butternut soup, pronouncing it tasty enough to repeat. First veggies they've consumed in ages. Amazing.

I have always loved vegetables, I just don't take the time to cook them. And so I am and it feels wonderful and it's such a simple act in such desperate times that it feels right. I am cooking vegetables and the occasional roast chicken or beef, and I will make mayonnaise as the need for it arises. It's simple and basic and it's just what I need right now. Hope you are cooking, too.

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Anonymous tater said...

HAH! I like this post. I made Hollandaise sauce yesterday, and it never broke, and came out perfectly! I usually need two attempts to get it right, but I bought this really incredible Dble Boiler at William Sonoma, and it heats much more evenly than my old home made affair. I steamed some Broc and Cauliflower (had to steam it because I was slathering it with the fat and cholesterol laden, yellow goodness). I marinated some pork loins and salmon steaks in a mixture of maple syrup, brown sugar, Southern Comfort, Rosemary(pork only), salt, pepper, garlic,ginger, olive oil, hint of sesame oil, and a splash of cider vinegar. After an hour or two in the fridge, it all went on the grill, with my little pup dancing around and around my feet, in and out of the house. We dined fabulously, with hardly a carb in sight, and the little dog loved it too. Cooking is a ritual I enjoy, and I am sure it will add years to my life (if I lay off the rich sauces).

October 08, 2007 11:24 AM  
Blogger kusala said...

I'm loving this post also. I have my own cooking post simmering inside me and I'll need to type it up soon. I love to cook and also love to eat, which means I have a good 10-15 pounds that would do me a world of good to get rid of. C'est la vie. Life at (almost) forty.

Vegetables! I hear you! Love 'em but am often SO lazy to cook them properly. I hate even simple tasks like rinsing, drying, and tearing lettuce and greens. I think there are exactly 23 people in this entire country who eat the recommended number of servings of vegetables every damn day! One thing I'm proud of is the fact that I am absolutely not picky at all; love most everything (even tiny quantities of the yucky stuff like livers and so forth can be appealing), and I cringe when I'm around friends whose lists of things they DON'T eat is longer than things they DO. I don't understand them.

Squash soup is heavenly, and it's about that time of year. I think you, me, and Tater should get together for a weekend of cooking goodness and invite all our blog friends for a big ol' feast.

October 08, 2007 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Travis said...

Ooohhh, homemade mayonnaise!! I didn't even know you could do that! I'm going to try that soon, as I'm in the mood for homemade chicken salad.

Thank you!


October 08, 2007 11:37 AM  
Blogger honib1 said...

would love to see that chicken recipe... i love to cook .. its hard though when working full time.. i prefer cooking on weekends

October 08, 2007 12:34 PM  
Blogger Da Nator said...

Home-made mayonnaise! Yum - and go on with yo' bad self! Now, whatchya do is grill up a cob of corn, roll it in the mayo, then sprinkle on lime juice, ground chili pepper and parmesean cheese. Voila! Mexican grilled corn. De-lish!

I am not cooking much of late, but since I got out of the hospital I have been eating wonderful veggies care of Mrs. Nator and Ma Nator. The visiting nurse told them the best way for me to heal was to eat as healthily as possible and get lots of fluids. Have I mentioned I am also full like unto a water balloon?

It really is great, though. I forget how scrumptious veggies can be when done properly. Left to my own devices, I tend to do very bachelor-y, container-over-the-sink kind of meals, if I'm only feeding myself. My attempt at veggies will be to just eat handfuls of raw grape tomatoes, baby carrots or spinach right out of the crisper. The turtles get the scraps.

I wish I could cook to forget about our administration. However, the Percoset does help!

October 08, 2007 1:13 PM  
Blogger Red7Eric said...

I don't cook nearly as often as I'd like, mostly because I don't like to do anything if I'm not really good at it on the first try.

It's a neurosis I'd rather be without; I wonder what else I'm missing out on. I'll never golf, for example. Ever.

It's a good thing I was too egotistical as a young actor that I had no idea how bad I must have been back then ...

October 08, 2007 1:58 PM  
Anonymous lynette said...

tater ~ that sounds luscious, what a marinade! i haven't made hollandaise in years, thanks for reminding me. nothing wrong with a rich sauce once in a while, is there? oh, and any new whatever from Williams Sonoma inspires me to heights of culinary creativity ;-)

joe ~ i also hated tearing lettuce and greens until i got a good quality salad spinner. i am working on becoming #24 on that list of folks who eat all their veggies every day! and yes, we should get together and cook, all of us.

travis ~ my chicken salad made with fresh mayo was delectable. try it.

honib1 ~ i know, working full time sucks. i'm grateful to have a lot of freedom. most of this stuff hasn't taken long, though, and since i've been in the kitchen anyway, i've been making a couple of dishes at once so i can put some away for lunches and such. suzie bigass homemaker :-)

nator ~ shit oh dear, how did i miss you going into the hospital? last i checked you were going to animal school. i'm coming over shortly to see you . . .

eric ~ you have many other outlets for your gargantuan creativity. i wouldn't cook if i didn't love it. and i'll never golf. never. i know i'm missing nothing there. you aren't either. if you feel the urge to golf, go put together a chicken saute until the urge passes.

October 08, 2007 3:36 PM  
Blogger rodger said...

Hey, hey, hey. Golf can be fun, it all comes down to the foursome. If you take the right crowd, you're going to have a good time.

Just like you would if you, tater and kusala all came to visit. We remodeled the kitchen to accommodate a large group and there's nothing better than an island full of food and good friends digging into all the yummy goodness. We even have a dog to wipe your hands on! Oh..wait...I got a little carried away there.

I love to cook and like you it takes my mind off the bullshit. Better yet, the Granny Smith's are finally ripening so pie and crisps are in my future.

October 08, 2007 4:02 PM  
Anonymous David in KC said...

I made butternut squash soup while it rained yesterday! No carrots or apples though, bf's on South Beach. I upped the seasonings and it didn't suffer too much in comparison to the usual recipe.

Thank goodness he's only dieting another week. To me fall means apple crisps and cinnamon ice cream.

October 08, 2007 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Brion. said...

Wow! Now that's a bit of a change, 'Belle. A food post!

Here "Downunder" the first of this seasons asparagus has just been consumed!! (yes, and it makes my pee smell 'funny'; I must be one of the 34% so affected!)


October 08, 2007 6:52 PM  
Anonymous Mark H said...

EVERYTHING in this post brings on salivation. I have only made Mayo ONCE and now am remembering how luscious it was.... SO I WILL do that. I, like honeyb1, am VERY curious about walnut coated chicken...baked, I'll bet. ANY chance you can forward a copy, or post it, or....hey, a farmer swap. I'll send you a favorite recipe if I can see your chicken! AND THEN TATOR ! ! ! What a chef there too. Lynette & Tater: come on out and give us and friends a cooking class???? Fabulous. FALL brings ON the cooking!

October 08, 2007 7:01 PM  
Anonymous lynette said...

rodger ~ that sounds heavenly. what a treat, and a doggy for the hands too! (cute) i used granny smith's in my squash soup and the chicken salad ~ love that tart/sweet combination.

david ~ apple crisp! cinnamon ice cream! i've never actually had cinnamon ice cream, but it sounds heavenly. i could eat crisp ~ of the apple/peach/blueberry/blackberry variety ~ all day and all night long. divine.

brion ~ see? you just never know ;-) asparagus is another love: roasted with olive oil and sea salt. luscious. and i am scented as well. i kind of like that bit of sulfur wafting up to remind me of the grand meal of asparagus a few hours back.

mark ~ that mayonnaise was incredibly light, not at all like the stuff in the jar, which has a jello-like consistency. i think tater's the big cook here, though, and THEN he can take the kind of photos that will commemorate the feast for years to come.


1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 uncooked chicken breasts, skins removed
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup bread crumbs (i used cracker, 1/8 c)
1/4 cup ground walnuts
1/4 cup ground pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine soy sauce and garlic in a small dish and marinate raw chicken pieces for 10-20 minutes, turning once.

Grind seeds & nuts in blender or coffee grinder and mix with everything else.

Remove chicken from soy sauce and place in greased baking dish. Mound the top with the ground nuts/seeds. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake 25 to 35 minutes at 400 degrees, until juices run clear when chicken is pierced. If you need to crisp up the topping, you can turn it to broil for a few minutes, but placing the pan in the top of the oven gave me a nice brown crusty top.

October 08, 2007 8:48 PM  
Anonymous me said...

sorry that should be:

1/4 c. walnuts, ground
1/4 c. pumpkin seeds, ground

October 08, 2007 8:49 PM  
Blogger Big Fella said...

Have you tried brocollini, not always easy to get, but much better than regular old Broccoli. Sauted a nice slab of salmon in some olive oil tonight, then sauteed a handful of broccolini. Good stuff.

October 08, 2007 9:05 PM  
Blogger Ms. Place said...

I bought teensy tiny red, yellow, and orange peppers to decorate my glass bowl. Should I eat them or use them as decoration? Hell, I dunno.

Tonight I made roated beef carpacchio. I forgot the capers. Dayum. So much for my Martha Stewart imitation.

Last time I attempted mayonnaise from scratch it curdled. Kudos to you for trying!

October 09, 2007 12:36 AM  
Blogger Ms. Place said...

Roasted. Where is spell chequer when you need it?

October 09, 2007 12:37 AM  
Blogger David said...

Out of economic necessity I started cooking right out of college and I've kept up the habit (and the economic necessity :-( ). I totally support weaning oneself from big food, and now that I have my kick-ass mixer/blender I will be able to do a lot more.

I also tried to make the jump to all organic produce, but it is a lot harder than I imagined, here in NYC.

I actually don't naturally like veggies and have forced myself to build up a tolerance over the years, but it is worth it in how much healthier I feel.

Have you read "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral" by Barbara Kingsolver? I recommend it. Although it may make you a little angry at the agribusinesses and I know you're trying to stay calmer.

October 09, 2007 7:24 AM  
Blogger David said...

"Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" I meant.

October 09, 2007 7:29 AM  
Blogger Doralong said...

My time in the kitchen is one of the only things that keeps me sane, probably why I pend so much time there. Or what passes for sane with me.. The need to focus on what you're producing can really be a very zen thing.

October 09, 2007 9:18 AM  
Blogger evilganome said...

It all sounds great. I am a big fan of homemade mayo. Sooooo much better than anything that you can buy in a jar.

Like David, I cook because I really can't afford to buy take out all the time. Also, having been eating healthier foods for the past few years, I have developed and aversion for processed foods. One of my complaints about Boston is that all the little greengrocers, fish mongers and butchers have disappeared and all of the food in the supermarket has become very ho-hum. If middle america won't eat it, they don't sell it.

Thank god for Trader Joe's. Cook on, I just bought a squash to make soup. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Helpful hint: Homemade bread, a great way to get out your frustrations and a delicious reward at the end for pummeling something.

October 09, 2007 9:28 AM  
Blogger RG said...

I've made Hollandaise before. It's easy - you open up the little packet....

I used HATE veggies growing up. Now I love them, with the exception of ocra and lima beans. They still make me gag.

Believe it or not, the best way to cook veggies and keep the nutritional value is in the microwave, the next is steaming and the worst is boiling.

I love grilled veggies - at least the ones that don't fall through the grill plate. You should try grilled sweet potatoes. Just give them a little brush of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sprinkle of S&P and grill on medium-low. Just writing about it is making me hungry.

Loving your blog btw.

October 09, 2007 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Echo previous posts...I, too, luv to cook. Surprisingly, most of my "investigational" cuisine is actually edible. Belle, I would luv to COOK with you. Alas, I am fairly certain you have little interest in heating anything up with me. Too bad. I suspect we could really stir up a batch of something really hot and gooey! YUM

October 09, 2007 2:00 PM  
Anonymous lynette said...

wayne, i have never eaten broccolini! i've thought about growing it a few times in the garden; we don't do too well with cole crops because they bolt with our africa hot days in the spring. maybe i'll try it next year. . .

ms. place: i am actually shocked. i thought there was nothing you were incapable of doing and that you're maybe not quite a top notch chef is simply unimaginable.

david! thanks for the book tip. i found it at the library and it's on order. i am curious about your blender thingie.

DL ~ it is very much a zen thing. really strange how that works. i think i need to get all big and dramatic to get a spiritual shot in the arm and i really just need to chop mushrooms.

tony ~ we don't have trader joe's, just one lonesome organic grocery, the name of which i cannot remember. the prices are i.n.s.a.n.e., but it's a good place to buy bulk nuts and such and they have good sales. let me know how the squash soup comes out.

RG ~ the only way okra is edible is fried. that kind of defeats my healthy purpose. but it is pretty much the food of the gods tossed in cornmeal and thrown in the deep fat fryer, taken out all hot and salted down ~ yum. i do like grilled veggies a lot. and thanks :-)

anonymous . . . thy name is leslie, yes? funny trampy girl ;-)

October 09, 2007 3:00 PM  
Anonymous David in KC said...

Agreeing with Evilganome on Bread baking, except it's more like meditation for me. I love the ritual of it.

I make pasta using my Kitchen Aid and it's pasta roller/cutter, but for bread, low tech rules. A fork, my hands, and two enormous old crock bowls that were my grandma's. One for mixing, the other for rising, covered with a tea towel that she embroidered a penguin on...

October 10, 2007 4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tater, we know you didn't break that Hollandaise. A gay man might as well wear white after Labor Day...


October 10, 2007 10:03 PM  
Anonymous lynette said...

David ~ A fork, my hands, and two enormous old crock bowls that were my grandma's. One for mixing, the other for rising, covered with a tea towel that she embroidered a penguin on...

Her name must have been Wilhelmina :-) because my grandmother (yours?) did things precisely that way. When I make bread, it's the same. It's very sweet to have those traditions.

Freddy: Too funny, honey :-) Of course he didn't break that Hollandaise. He was just trying to make me feel better, my being straight not having the Hollandaise gene.

October 11, 2007 8:10 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I've been munching on a fresh fruit salad I made a couple of days ago- yum. I always try to cook on my day off. Maybe I just like eating something that wasn't made by a giant conglomerate who makes political contributions to the RNC....Bon Appetit!

October 11, 2007 6:07 PM  
Blogger Ms. Place said...

Mine curdled so I never attempted mayonnaise again, but that was years ago. I just attempted steak carpachio and caramelized my onions to perfection. So, like you, I'm itching to cook good food again.

October 12, 2007 7:11 AM  
Blogger farmboyz said...

"And so I am and it feels wonderful and it's such a simple act in such desperate times that it feels right. I am cooking vegetables and the occasional roast chicken or beef, and I will make mayonnaise as the need for it arises."

We are so on the same wave length when it comes to responding to the world around us. Rather than shoot people in troubled times, we coax flavor from roasted vegetables. I think this is healthy.
PS: I've never made mayonniase. I'm suspicious of mayonnaise. It's like having sex with women. Can't say I've never tasted it, but it's not something I'd do at home in my kitchen.

October 12, 2007 11:39 AM  
Anonymous lynette said...

jeff, me too. it's almost political, to refuse that prepackaged garbage that's almost forced upon us. fuck 'em. we'll eat fruit salad, eh?

ms. place ~ i think it's fall that brings it on in me. in summer, i just want to eat raw food, but the chill in the air drives me to the stove. i love the scent of food cooking when i come in from outside. it's heavenly. home.

father tony, though my pistol's always close at hand, i think the better way is to cook. mayonnaise . . . sex with women . . . kitchen . . . only you, honey.

October 12, 2007 9:54 PM  
Anonymous Adam said...

Try the blender hollandaise recipe in the Joy of Cooking, not quite the real thing, but close enough. Fall in Wisconsin, pumpkins and squash are everywhere, I will be making some pumpkin butter this weekend and maybe a batch of squash ravioli.

October 16, 2007 9:23 AM  
Anonymous TedBear said...

Mayo is so easy in the Cuisinart. I have a fab recipe for Sorrel Mayo with Salmon Patties. YUMMY!

We cook together about four days a week. The Overeducated Redneck is a natural chef. I love to bake! His Mom's recipes are amazing. I am the only person in the O.R.'s family that can clone his Mom's esteemed Pound Cake recipe.

Tonight we made Shrimp Maque Choux and a dinner salad. This is not a low fat recipe.

1 Bell Pepper diced
1 Jalapeno diced
1 White Onion diced
1 tsp garlic diced (optional)
1 cup cream
1-1.5 lb fresh shrimp (do NOT buy pre-cooked, ever!)
12-14 oz kernel corn, canned is fine
basmati rice

Start your rice at the same time you start your vegetables.

Saute the peppers, onion and garlic in butter. When they get soft and a little translucent, throw in the peeled and deveined shrimp.

When the shrimp pinks up (a couple of minutes), add the corn and cream. Bring up to just beneath boiling, and cut the heat to a simmer. Add some salt (usually 1 tsp) and fresh ground black pepper (1/2 tsp to 1 tsp) to taste. After that, you can serve over rice with a dash of Tabasco. Not too much Tabasco, or it will obscure the taste.

Great with a baguette and a salad.

Even better the next day!

October 17, 2007 11:20 PM  

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