Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Taking Stock

Before I start talking about homemade stock, let me first say that I have store-bought stock in my pantry. A lot of it. Mostly, it's the little juice box-sized containers of stock. Not only do they taste better than the canned stuff but they are also the perfect size for most weeknight recipes. I am not a stock snob.

That said, the stock in my pantry is just back up. Most of the time, I cook with the homemade chicken stock in the fridge. Making stock shouldn't be production. Once you get into the habit, it can become just another part of your cooking routine. Here's what you need:

  • Chicken bones
  • Water

Everything else is a bonus. Aromatics – garlic, onions, carrots, and celery all help but in a pinch you can live without any or all of them. Thanks to my deck garden, I always have fresh herbs in the summer. In the dead of winter, I have dried. They work just fine.

I buy a rotisserie chicken pretty much every week. It's a staple in my "Oh crap, what am I making for dinner tonight" repertoire. As I eat it, I throw the bones in a bag in the freezer. And as I cook, I save all the ends from the onions, carrots, and celery (save the leafy parts, they taste great) that I cut off and throw them in another bag in the freezer. If I use fresh herbs like thyme, I save the stems. See a pattern here? Then on Sunday afternoon, I pull out the bags and see what I have got.

The curse of the cloudy stock

I have a stack of cookbooks with dire predictions like, "you have to skim off the scum every 15 minutes or it will be cloudy" and "never let stock come to a full boil or it will be cloudy." Whatever. I suppose if I were making a soup for a fancy dinner party, I would care more about the relative transparency of my stock but most of the time I am using it to make gravy or grits or something else opaque that really won't suffer from dreaded cloudiness. Screw the rules. Throw everything in the pot and walk away.

NOTE: I have tried making stock in my crock pot. I did achieve perfectly clear stock that tasted good but it was totally liquid. Yes, I realize by nature, stock is a liquid but this is what separates the homemade stuff from the stuff in the pantry. When you boil bones, the collagen comes out. The longer you boil it, the more collagen you get. Let it go long enough, you get chicken jell-o. It sounds disgusting but when you use it to make gravy or sauce, you have a built in thickening booster. But if your goal is perfect clear stock, chuck everything in your crock pot, set it to high, and walk away for six hours.

Chicken Stock


  • Chicken carcass – skin and edible meat removed
  • 1-2 carrots (depending on how many ends you have)
  • 1 medium onion (plus ends/skins)
  • 1-2 stalks of celery
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • Herbs – I like thyme and sage, but use what you like
  • A handful of peppercorns (~12)
  • Dash of salt
  • Water


Break or cut the main part of the chicken into a couple of pieces. Put the chicken bones in a 3-4 quart pot on the stove and crank the heat up to medium high. I like to brown the bones up a little but this step is totally unnecessary. Cut up the carrots, onions, and celery so they fit in the pot. Smash the garlic cloves. Throw them in the hot pot. Throw in the herbs, salt, and pepper. Pour in enough water to cover everything. Let it come up to a simmer and then turn the heat down low. Now walk away and let it go, for a couple of hours if you can. The longer you let it go, the better it will taste. Strain out all the bones and veggies and peppercorns. Cool and store in the fridge. It's easier to scrape the fat off once it's been in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tastes just like chicken

Since the economy tanked and our income halved itself, our insane habit of eating 2 or 3 meals out a day, every day, has come to an end but I am still completely unmotivated to actually "cook" anything during the week. What's a girl to do? Buy a rotisserie chicken, of course! It is amazing what you can do with a whole chicken. I thought about buying one of those "101 things to do with a rotisserie chicken" cookbooks but I still haven't run out of ideas. Here are just a few of the things I have made lately:

  1. Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
    1. Strip all the meat off the chicken and throw it in a pan with some BBQ sauce. Heat it up and slap it on hamburger buns. Or hot dog buns. Or leftover naan…
    2. This is an excellent way to disguise dark meat from people who claim they don't like it.
  2. Chicken Tetrazzini
    1. Sauté some mushrooms, make a béchamel, boil whatever pasta you have, mix it all together in a baking dish with whatever chicken you picked off the carcass, slap some breadcrumbs on the top and you've got casserole heaven.
  3. Chicken Chana Masala
    1. An international "can of this, can of that" recipe. Rinse a can of chickpeas and chuck it in a pan. Throw in a can of diced or stewed tomatoes. Add a bunch of your favorite Indian spices (I love Penzey's Rogan Josh Seasoning) and a bunch of cut up chicken. Let it sauté until the tomatoes break down a little.
    2. I once found myself completely out of chickpeas and made this with a can of black-eyed peas instead. Still terrific.
  4. Greek Cous Cous Pilaf
    1. This one is based on having some leftover grilled veggies in the fridge also. It originated with some excellent grilled zucchini I made when it was at its peak one summer. Make a pot of cous cous (I like whole wheat cous cous because I can pretend it is healthy) with chicken stock and a little lemon juice. Let the cous cous cool a little and throw in the grilled veggies, cut up chicken, and some chunks of feta cheese.
    2. I make boatloads of this in the summer and eat it right out of the Gladware every night until it is gone.
  5. Quinoa Pilaf
    1. This is a variation on the cous cous recipe I had to invent because my husband hates cous cous. Last time I made it, I had half a bag of spinach that was on its last legs so I chopped that up and threw it in the hot quinoa as soon as I pulled it off the stove, along with the feta cheese and chicken. Quinoa's good but nothing beats cous cous for its 5-minute prep time.
  6. Chicken Pot Pies
    1. My tiny kit house has no central AC. The oven goes off as of Mother's Day and does not come back on until Halloween. The official Halloween meal is idiot chicken pot pies.
    2. Unroll a sheet of pie crust and cut it in quarters. Shove each quarter into a muffin tin, leaving the excess hanging out. Add some cut up chicken and some frozen veggies. Pour in chicken gravy (the kind in a jar will work) and then fold over the excess. It so doesn't have to be anything close to perfect. Bake then until they are done.
  7. Quiche
    1. My quiche recipe is as follows:
      1. 4 eggs
      2. 1.5 cups of some combination of milk and half and half
      3. 1 cup or so of the cheese that needs to be eaten most urgently
      4. Whatever leftover vegetable matter is in the fridge and is about to go bad
      5. Whatever leftover protein is in the fridge and is about to go bad
    2. This week we are having Chicken and Mushroom quiche with a combination of smoked mozzarella, fontina, and something else I didn't remember buying but was pretty tasty
  8. The most holy sacrament in chickentarianism is not to waste any part of the chicken. Every Sunday night, no matter what I make, The bones get broken up and thrown in a pot with whatever aromatics I happen to have and some salt and pepper to make a fresh batch of stock. Of all the great things you can make with a rotisserie chicken, great stock is one of the best. Don't forget to scrape in the chicken jelly from the bottom of the container!

Total Pot Roast Domination

I basically used the same recipe I use to make my beef stew adapted to pot roast. Here's what I did.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Take the meat out of the package and season it well with salt and pepper on both sides. Let rest while you prep everything else.
  3. In a big dutch oven, cook up 3 slices of bacon, sliced into small pieces.
  4. Once the bacon is crisped up, take it out and throw the meat in. leave it alone until it has developed a nice sear, then flip it and do the same on the other side.
  5. Once it is good and browned all over, take the meat out and throw in some big chunks of onion (I actually used shallot b/c that's what I had), carrot, celery, a whole head of garlic (peeled in individual cloves), some more salt, a handful of whole black peppercorns, some dried thyme and some fresh sage leftover from Thanksgiving that really needed to be used up.
  6. Give the veggies a few minutes to get going, then toss in whatever leftover red wine you happen to have. In this case, I had about a cup and a half of some nice Greek Demestica red.
  7. Let the wine work on all the stuff on the bottom of the pan and scrape up what doesn't come up on its own.
  8. Put the meat back in (with all the juices that have accumulated on the plate).
  9. Pour on one carton of good, low sodium beef stock and enough water to cover the meat.
  10. Bring it to a full boil on the stove then cover it and chuck it in the oven for 2.5 hours.
  11. After 2.5 hours goes by, take the pot out and put the meat on a plate so you can decant the liquid to a bowl and strain out all the solids.
  12. Put the strained liquid back on the stove and put the meat back in. I threw some sliced mushrooms in for flavor at that point.
  13. Leave it on a low simmer while you make the potatoes/carrots/whatever you want to go with the meat.
  14. I had some of those tiny Yukon golds, which I either cut in thirds or halves, and some sliced cremini mushrooms. I cranked the oven up to 350 degrees and threw them in a roasting pan with some olive oil and a few good spoonfuls of the strained jus. I guess it took about 15-20 minutes for them to brown.
  15. Serve the meat and veg in bowls with plenty of the reduced jus to moisten it up.

That was it. It really couldn't have been simpler.

Take that "Light Dinners"!

Chili Rellenos Stuffed with Grits

The inspiration for this recipe was an article about "Light Mexican Dinners". I went ahead and screwed that up by adding the bacon and cheese. You are welcome.


  • 2 to 4 Mild Peppers (poblano, pasilla, Anaheim)
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 slices Bacon
  • ½ cup Frozen Corn
  • 1 cup Chicken Stock
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 dashes Hot Sauce
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
  • ½ cup Quick Grits
  • 1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese


  1. SLICE peppers in half and remove seeds and internal ribs.
  2. BROIL peppers on HI on a lightly greased baking sheet for 2-3 minutes on each side until they start to blister.
  3. SET peppers aside to cool.
  4. CHOP bacon into small pieces and put in saucepan to RENDER.
  5. When bacon pieces are crispy, REMOVE bacon with slotted spoon and SET aside.
  6. ROAST frozen corn in hot bacon grease.
  7. When corn is browned on one side, REMOVE from oil and SET aside with bacon.
  8. ADD the chicken stock to the hot pan.
  9. ADD garlic powder, salt, pepper, and hot sauce (adjusting for your personal taste but remembering that plain grits are really boring).
  10. When the stock comes to a boil, ADD the grits.
  11. STIR constantly until the grits start to set up (a minute or so).
  12. If your grits are too loose (you want them thick enough to hold their shape when you stuff the peppers), ADD more grits. If the grits are too stiff, ADD some water.
  13. Once they are the proper consistency, TAKE the grits off the heat and ADD ¾ of a cup of the cheese.
  14. STIR vigorously to combine.
  15. FILL each pepper half with grits. (see note below about leftover grits)
  16. SPRINKLE filled peppers with the remaining shredded cheese.
  17. BROIL on HI just until the cheese is bubbly.

Depending on the size of the peppers you use, you will undoubtedly have left over grits. This is not a problem. Spread the leftovers into a flat container and stick them in the fridge. Come the next weekend morning, cut them into hash brown-sized rectangles, dust with flour, and fry them up in hot oil. Perfect for mopping up runny yolks (according to my husband who actually eats his eggs with runny yolks).

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Cure for anything that ails you

Avgolemono Soup

When we lived on the East side of Baltimore, our favorite late dinner was the thick, bottom of the pot Avgolemono soup at the legendary Ikaros restaurant on Eastern Avenue. Since moving to the suburbs, we don't get there as often as we'd like so I turned to the cookbook I got one year at the Greek Festival at the Greek Orthodox cathedral. But being me, the laborious stock making, egg separating process was no match for my laziness and this recipe was born.
  • 2 Lemons
  • 4 Eggs
  • 3 cups Chicken stock (canned or home-made)
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1-2 cups Cooked rice
  • 1-2 cups Cooked chicken (e.g., leftover rotisserie chicken)
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • Put chicken stock on to BOIL and then REDUCE to a simmer.
  • GRATE the carrot and CUBE the chicken.
  • ZEST both lemons and then JUICE them.
  • BEAT the eggs in a large bowl until they are foamy.
  • ADD the lemon juice and half the lemon zest and beat to combine.
  • ADD ~½ cup of the hot stock to the eggs SLOWLY and BEAT as you ADD it.
  • REPEAT with another ½ cup of stock.
  • ADD the egg/lemon/stock mixture to the simmering stock.
  • ADD chicken, rice, and carrot to the soup and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  • After the soup has simmered for a while, taste the soup (Waiter! Taste my soup!) and add salt, pepper, and additional lemon zest as needed.
This soup must be served with hot, crusty bread or rolls and plenty of butter.
This recipe is very forgiving. The critical part is the beaten eggs with lemon juice, tempered with the hot stock. Once you get that part done, the rest is up for interpretation. The original Ikaros soup doesn't actually have the carrot but our next favorite Greek restaurant (Dmitri's on Frederick Road in Catonsville) makes it that way and we like it. Many places use orzo instead of rice. In an attempt to make us appear "healthy" I stopped buying white rice and I always seem to have leftover brown rice pilaf in the fridge, which works really well. The first time I made this it was a desperation dinner made with canned stock, leftover Thanksgiving turkey, wild rice pilaf, and RealLemon bottled lemon juice. It was delicious.

NOTE: If you are lucky enough to have some leftover, you probably want to add some more stock before you put it in the fridge. Otherwise it will seize up and assume the consistency of wallpaper paste.

UPDATE: I have started making this soup in the slow cooker. It is much easier to control the temp to keep it from simmering too hard and breaking the eggs after you add them. Set the slow cooker to high and get the stock hot (or boil it on the stove and add it to the slow cooker already hot). 

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I suppose this would work with chicken too…

Tandoori Turkey Wings

I made these using spices from the Penzeys Spices catalog. Their Rogan Josh blend can make just about anything taste really good.


  • ~3 pounds Turkey Wings
  • 1 TBSP Rogan Josh seasoning
  • 1 TBSP Tandoori seasoning
  • 1 TSP Smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 TBSP Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup Olive oil
  • 1 TBSP Greek yogurt


  1. Remove the wing tips from the chicken wings
  2. Mix the seasonings, paprika, salt, oil, and yogurt thoroughly
  3. Add to a resealable plastic bag with turkey wings
  4. Marinate for at least an hour
  5. Build a HOT fire, preferably charcoal
  6. Raise the coals as close to the grill as you can let the grill heat for 3-5 minutes
  7. Put the wings directly over the fire, skin side down for 3 or 4 minutes or until they are charred
  8. Flip the wings over and char the other side
  9. Once both sides are charred, move the wings off the heat and lower the coals
  10. If possible, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until their internal temperature hits 170°
  11. Remove from heat and allow to sit for a couple of minutes before serving

These are delicious served with a cucumber sauce for dipping. Store bought naan is a great addition to the meal.

Cucumber Yogurt Dipping Sauce


  • 8 oz. Greek yogurt
  • 1 Cucumber
  • ½ TSP Finely chopped mint
  • ½ TSP Ground cumin
  • ½ TSP Kosher salt


  1. Peel the cucumber and unless it is seedless, remove the seeds
  2. Use the coarse side of a box grater to grate the cucumber
  3. Salt the cucumber
  4. Put the cucumber in a colander over a bowl and let it sit for a couple of minutes
  5. Press the excess liquid out of the cucumber
  6. Add the yogurt, cumin, and mint
  7. Add more salt as needed
  8. Store in refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving

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What doesn't go with bacon?

Apple Oven Pancake

As the weather turns colder, it is time to turn the oven on to warm up the house in the morning. I like to throw a pan of oven bacon in before I start this recipe.


  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 1-2 Apples
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Tsp Lemon Juice
  • ¼ Cup Sugar
  • 2 Lg Eggs
  • ½ Cup Milk
  • 1 Tbps Vanilla
  • ¼ Cup Cornmeal
  • ¼ Cup Flour
  • ¼ Tsp Salt


  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Put butter in oven-proof skillet (~10") over med heat
  3. Chop apples roughly. You want enough to cover the bottom of the pan completely.
  4. Toss the apples with a tablespoon of sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon.
  5. When the butter is nice and bubbly, add the apples to the pan.
  6. Whisk the eggs well and add the milk and vanilla.
  7. Add the flour, cornmeal, and salt and whisk well again.
  8. Pour the batter over the apples.
  9. Put the skillet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until it is set but still a little jiggly.

The pancake is nice with maple syrup but I prefer it with a little caramel sauce. I suppose I could make it myself but the stuff they sell in the grocery store with the ice cream toppings works just as well for me.

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Mandatory Appetizer

Cheese and Bacon Crackers

This recipe is a bastardazation of Cheese Cookies from the 1931 edition of The Joy of Cooking. I made them once for Thanksgiving and now I am not allowed in the door without them.


  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Pepper
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 6 strips Bacon, cooked crisp
  • ½ cup Butter
  • 2 cups Grated Cheddar
  • 2-4 tbsp Ice Water


  1. Chop the bacon finely
  2. Mix bacon with flour, salt, and spices
  3. Cut in butter
  4. Add cheese
  5. Add just enough ice water for the dough to start to come together
  6. Divide the dough roughly into thirds
  7. One at a time, put each third of the dough on a floured surface and bring it together into a roll, roughly 1 ½" in diameter and 6-8" long
  8. Wrap each dough log in wax paper, freezer paper, parchment paper or whatever
  9. Refrigerate them for at least 2 hours, preferably longer
  10. Preheat oven to 400°
  11. Unwrap one dough log at a time and slice thinly (thinner than a sugar cookie but don't go crazy trying to get them too thin because they will burn)
  12. Bake for 8-10 minutes until they are starting to brown on the edges and the middles are cooked through (if you flip them, you want the bottoms to be browned too)

Notes: Use good cheddar. I like a mix of medium and sharp. You cannot go wrong with Cabot. I make this in my Kitchen Aid but it is basically glorified pastry dough so use whatever method you prefer for that.

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All your cookies are belong to us

I made the first two recipes for a Cookie Exchange party this Christmas. Here's a little tip if you are going to a Cookie Exchange. When the invite says, "Bring a couple dozen cookies." do not make 9 dozen cookies. You will come home with a couple dozen new cookies and at least 5 dozen of the ones you took…

Spiced Cocoa Snowballs

This is based on a recipe from the December 2009 Penzeys Spices catalog. I added some cinnamon and chili in an attempt to make Aztec snowballs but they ended up being warm and spicy without the flavor of the cinnamon and chili being at all noticeable.


  • 2/3 cup Butter
  • 1/3 cup Cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup Powdered hot chocolate mix
  • 1/3 cup Powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup All-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup Powdered sugar


  1. Cream the butter, cream cheese, hot chocolate mix, powdered sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, and vanilla.
  2. Add flour and salt and mix thoroughly.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°.
  5. Roll the dough into 1" balls.
  6. Place them 1" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 15-18 minutes until firm.
  8. Let cool on the baking sheet for 1-2 minutes then roll in powdered sugar and cool on wire rack.

NOTE about powdering: This was the first cookie I've made that required a powdered sugar coating since making hundreds of Russian Tea Cakes for the bake sale table at the film festival in high school and I had lost my touch completely. The first batch came out a grimy, brownish white with spots where my fingers had been holding them and I knew I needed a better technique. I thought, WWCKD (What Would Christopher Kimball Do?) and realized it needed a 2 –step process that did not involve my fingers. After the initial 1-2 minute cooling period, I put 6-8 cookies in a large, round bowl with half a cup of powdered sugar. I took them out and let them cool. They were still only vaguely powdered and had finger splotches. After they had cooled for at least 15 minutes, I put them back in the bowl and swirled them around again. The second coat of powdered sugar covered up my finger marks and turned them a lovely white. CK would be proud.

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Amaretto Pecan Tassies

This was one of my favorite cookies to make as a little girl. When we lived in San Antonio we had a bunch of pecan trees in the yard so any recipe that used pecans was a favorite.


  • ½ cup butter
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • tbsp amaretto
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • tsp vanilla
  • dash salt
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Beat butter and cream cheese until combined.
  3. Stir in flour.
  4. Chill for 1 hour.
  5. Divide dough into 24 balls.
  6. Press balls into mini muffin pans and press dough evenly up the sides of each muffin cup.
  7. Beat the egg well.
  8. Add brown sugar, amaretto, vanilla, salt and mix just until smooth.
  9. Add pecans.
  10. Spoon filling into the pastry cups.
  11. Bake for 30-35 minutes until pastry is golden brown.
  12. Cool in pans on wire racks.
  13. Loosen pastry from cups by running a knife around the edges.

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Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies


  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup peanut butter, chunky
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°.
  2. CREAM the butter, sugars, and peanut butter together until smooth.
  3. ADD the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time until well incorporated.
  4. MIX the flour, baking powder, salt, oats, and cinnamon together.
  5. ADD dry ingredients to wet slowly, until mixed well.
  6. SPOON by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheet.
  7. MARK tops of cookies with standard, peanut butter cookie fork cross.
  8. BAKE for 12-17 minutes until bottoms just start to turn golden brown.

Yields: ~3 Dozen

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Peanut Brittle Cookies

On Christmas I found myself with a bounty of peanut brittle (work gifts I think) and came up with this recipe to dispose of it. Now I am always hunting for Peanut Brittle to make them.


  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup cooking oil
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (16 oz.) coarsely chopped peanut brittle


  1. PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
  2. COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.
  3. BEAT butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.
  4. ADD eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Gradually BEAT in flour mixture. Stir in peanut brittle chunks.
  6. DROP by rounded tablespoon onto greased baking sheets (cookie sheets do not need to be greased after first batch).
  7. BAKE for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges turn golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

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Why Perfection Salad?

One of my many obsessions is collecting old cookbooks, especially the ones with scary, Technicolor pictures of dishes made with scary combinations of ingredients. I would never go all Julie and Julia and attempt to make them, I just love reading them. Something about them conjures up the notion of a time when Mom spent all day trying to come up with new and exciting things to feed her adoring family. This was not my home. My Mom worked all day, went to school at night and expected us to feed ourselves from an early age. This was actually a good thing because my mother, with all of her many gifts, is a terrible cook. She is the anti-McGuyver of the kitchen, taking recognizable foods and combining them in such a way that they form nonfood-like structures.

But I digress…

Another unfulfilled dream I have is to actually decorate my house. The plan for the kitchen was to comb through my cookbook collection to find pictures we could color copy and frame to hang on the walls. I got about 10 minutes into this project before I got totally distracted reading. In Better Homes and Gardens, Jiffy Cooking, c. 1967 I discovered something called Perfection Salad, a revolting concoction involving lemon jell-o and a can of sauerkraut, garnished prettily in the picture with a carrot curl and black olive floret.

I wondered if this recipe was unique to this cookbook or if other homemakers had been asked to inflict this torture on their unsuspecting families so I combed through some other cookbooks. Sure enough, there was Perfection Salad. The recipe varied, sometimes calling for unflavored gelatin and lemon juice, sometimes shredded cabbage instead of sauerkraut, occasionally calling for the cook to put the mayonnaise directly in the salad instead of on the side but always… perfection.

Another treasure from my trip though Post War Boom American Cuisine was a chapter of "Tips for the Homemaker" with a cheery picture of a housewife using all five of her arms to offer up delicious treats. Who knew there was a Hindu Goddess of Housework?

The look on her face was so utterly gratified and fulfilled, it occurred to me she must have achieved Perfection Salad. Forty-some years later, we're all adult grandnieces of codependent rageaholics, totally possessed with the pursuit of but completely unable to achieve such a gelatin nirvana. But I keep trying. The fruits of my efforts will be archived here, mostly recipes, but I predict some rantings about food and restaurants and all things gastronomic will show up from time to time.