Cooking again

I love to cook, and it’s been very difficult since we moved in here. I do not think I have cooked on a regular basis for at least eight or nine months. It has not been good at all.

I had some major issues in the kitchen when we moved in, because we moved a bunch of stuff in, I started unpacking and then I knocked over a six-foot florescent light (go me) which shattered everywhere. I had to halt everything and meticulously clean glass shards and dust from every surface, out of the stove coils, windowsills, every carpet nearby, and that’s right, every stupid dish, bag, and box that was in the kitchen. I’m still finding glass.

More depressingly, I am still washing dirty dishes from our old apartment. I was fed up at the end, and I threw piles and piles of awkward dishes into plastic totes, so now I’m stuck doing it all now. Which is really ok, since I was planning on washing everything before it went into the new cupboards, but it’s still time-consuming. I’m down to perhaps two loads out of twenty. Did I mention we have a single sink and no dishwasher? Personally, I don’t care about the dishwasher, and I’m thrilled to be washing dishes in a plastic tub again. I can’t stand dishes in the sink, so now my sink stays nice and clear, otherwise we can’t use it.

What this really boils down to is that it has been difficult to find the space to cook, especially before we moved the table in. Now the table is half clear, and I’ve gotten the stove and one counter clear, and I’ve been enjoying cooking the last few days. It’s not all roses, though. I’m out of the habit, so my timing is off. We had some fresh salmon donated by DH’s boss, and the only thing I had in the house to go with it was some frozen cauliflower and rolls. I found a recipe for hollandaise sauce, which I had never made before, and dove in. It began beautifully, but split rather obviously right at the end. Not scrambled, but just split. I looked up how to fix it, and tried again. Fine, fine, fine, split. Damn. I threw a mini tantrum, then got ready to eat. I separated it and resigned myself to an odd, spicy tarragon melted-shredded-cheese-textured thing and set aside the spicy butter for the fridge. I don’t know what made me, but I stirred the egg-stuff and it became surprisingly smooth. Out of curiosity (what was it going to do, split?) I added the butter back in a little at a time, and what do you know! Hollandaise sauce! There was much cheering. And man, was it good! I used tarragon vinegar and smoked paprika, and it was to die for.

I also made a new variant on my mother’s recipe for Chicken Soupa, a sort of “mexican” lasagna. I struggle with this recipe, not because I can’t make it, but because I just think that her version is very… plain. Well, here, let me show you:

Mother’s (bland) Chicken Soupa

  • 1 package shredded cheddar
  • 1 can diced green chilies
  • 10 flour tortillas
  • food-processed onions
  • shredded chicken

In 2 quart baking dish tear up tortillas. Layer ingredients like a lasagna. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

It’s really good, but in my head I’m always screaming “WHERE ARE THE VEGETABLES?!?!?” I’m always trying to add things to make this dish feel right. I’ve probably made this dish a hundred times since I moved out, and I have never gotten something that seems right. I might have hit on it the other night. Don’t mind the frozen and canned stuff, I usually work from scratch.

Heretic’s Additions:

  • frozen celery and carrots
  • 1 can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of salsa verde by Embasa
  • 1 can mixed beans (pinto, black, great northern)
  • fresh chives
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup, mixed with the tomato juice and bean juice, plus:
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder

The celery was questionable, and it really, really needed olives, but I think I finally hit on the perfect update.


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