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Feb 15, 2010

"Send in Boxbot!"

Hey there, fellow food-enjoying goons. I've watched a lot of these contests come and go, and when I saw Bartolimu's latest challenge I realized that I had at last run out of excuses. I am actually halfway-good at cooking now, and no longer consider adding Parmesan cheese and flaked red pepper to a Little Caesar's haute cuisine. So, have a vicarious taste of my mother's home cooking.

My mother is a saint. I mean, in hindsight, most of us would probably say that about our mothers for all the poo poo we put them through, but she had the added burden of taking care of my terminally-ill father after he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, right at the time my sister and I were going to college and loving up our lives and our GPAs. Moreover, for seventeen years prior to that, she had to cook to four different palates: my father's (Southwestern, fond of beef, pork, and roughage), her own (West Coast, lots of fish/chicken/vegetables, unable to eat beef or pork without severe gastrointestinal distress), my sister's (vegetarian, with lots and lots of preprocessed junk food), and mine (pretty much anything so long as it wasn't cooked spinach - I had sinus issues, and the texture reminded me of my own phlegm ).

She managed all of this AND drat near every single piece of housework the rest of us were too self-absorbed to do (read: most of it) without a single psychotic episode. Hats off, mom (I am still so, so sorry).

Given all of this, not to mention her own tastes, she preferred to cook food that was hearty, tasty, and not terribly-involved. I'd compare it more to Greek and other Mediterranean cuisine than anything - ironic, since that's just about the only European heritage I DON'T have anywhere in my family tree. With some consultation from the original chef herself (who was thrilled to hear about this competition, by the way!), here's what I made in tribute:

Bread. I forgot to take pictures during the prep, but it's not like there was all that much to see. Buttermilk, cheddar cheese, King Arthur bread flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Stick 'em in a bread machine, set it to 'Light Crust', and let 'er rip. The original recipe comes from Bread Machine Magic, but I found that I had to add a fair amount of extra water halfway through to get the right level of hydration. The result is fluffy, crusty, and absolutely perfect for toasting with butter and eating alongside a soup or stew.

Or fish.

Yeah. That fish. Salmon. Sadly, I could only find farm-raised Atlantic instead of wild-caught Pacific or Sockeye, but flying out to Oregon for another fishing trip would have been a bit extravagant, albeit fun - you wouldn't think it to look at them, but salmon will fight like MOTHERFUCKERS while you're trying to reel them in, and anyone who says fishing doesn't involve actual effort is talking out of their rear end.

But this guy's looking a little bland on his own. Let's fix that.

Dill-Dijon mustard sauce. This was something my mom figured out herself through experience, so getting exact measurements from her proved a little difficult. Key ingredients are dill and Dijon mustard (no poo poo), powdered mustard, sugar, olive oil, and white wine vinegar (not pictured).


Other mustard.


Oh, THERE you are vinegar, of COURSE you show up for your closeup. Fuckin' prima donna.

Olive oil.

Stir that poo poo. No really, stir the poo poo out of it with a fork, if it's not mixed enough it'll turn into a runny, unappetizing layer of oil on top of a sludgy, unappetizing layer of sugary mustard. I gave it my all for this picture, and it's still starting to separate back out. The beatings continued until consistency improved.

Can't have a dill sauce without dill!

Tangy perfection.

Now this and the salmon go back in the refrigerator, because this dish is best fresh out of the oven and piping-hot. First, let's make some rice pudding!

Brown rice, from the local food co-op in which my mother has been a member since...before I was born, I'm pretty sure. Their bulk foods are always a good deal, and even better on Tuesdays when they're 15% off for members.

Most of the other stuff. Ramekins, butter for greasing them, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla extract, sugar (usually brown, but this coconut palm stuff adds a nice, caramel flavor to things), nutmeg, and raisins. Not pictured are three cups of scalded milk, because it was busy getting scalded while I took the picture.

Sugar. Also, an unappealing orange glow from my mixing bowl, which I couldn't fix because I am a much better chef than photographer and adjusting color balance on the fly is beyond my technical skill.



Judicious application of milk and more violence.

Rice - about half the total amount.

Lemon zest, which I have learned to save from lemons whose juice I use for other things. Waste not, want not!


So, Thanksgiving shopping being the craziness that it is, I could not find raisins for love or money. They did send me a text vouching for these dates, however, swearing that they're solid dudes and up to the task at hand.

Alright guys, you're in. Just don't tell your friends, or they'll all be-


...welp there goes the neighborhood.

Pour into ramekins.

Top with a dash of nutmeg apiece.

You are already bread.

Now, back to that salmon.

Cut in half, placed in a well-oiled roasting pan on top of some aluminum foil, and put in the oven to broil.

Not shown: the part where I hastily yanked it out of the oven to flip it over because I'm a dumbass and forgot that the scaled side goes UP for the first half.

Yeaaaaah, that's pretty gross.

Off you come, nasty fish skin!

And on YOU go, delicious dill mustard glaze. Back in the oven with you, aaaaaaand...


Now, here's the part where I forgot to take relevant pictures altogether, so instead allow me to paint a picture with words: half a head of Romaine lettuce, chopped coarsely with baby arugula and minced red onion. Onto this healthy base, slice a big carton of grape tomatoes and mandolin two or three rainbow carrots - yes! They come in colors other than orange! This particular salad happens to include red-black and yellow, as well. Shave some fresh daikon radish for texture, crumble some feta cheese for flavorful goodness, and toast some pine nuts for a little bit of both.

Serve up with a glass of a 50/50 mix of cranberry juice and ginger ale (or, as my mom calls it, "Redneck Italian Soda"), and...


Thesaurasaurus fucked around with this message at Nov 16, 2014 around 21:41


Suspect Bucket
Jan 14, 2012

er, maybe also A DRAGON
or possibly

I love the rice pudding, I'll have to try that. But how on earth does a grocery run out of raisins? Oh well, the dates look delicious. Ooh, crasins would have worked too.

Feb 15, 2010

"Send in Boxbot!"

They were out of craisins too. Seriously, the stock clerks I asked were as baffled as I was! I guess restocking dried fruit took a back seat to the impending turkeypocalypse.

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