cooking/baking

confessions of a baker trying to cook

A few days ago Tracy had foot surgery and will be non weight bearing for 4-6 weeks and only partial weight bearing for 4-6 more weeks after that. She had been in so much pain with her Achilles tendon for so long, I’m glad the surgery is behind her and she is on the healing path. But I feel super bad because with my work schedule I am often gone for 12-18 hours at a time and she can’t even get herself a glass of water. We’re so grateful that her parents are here to help out for when I have to work.

Normally, Tracy does the cooking. She likes it! And I don’t, so that works out great. Baking is more my cup of tea. Unfortunately, most things that get baked are the things that cause waistline and butt expansion, so I don’t do that all too often either. I like the precision of baking and following directions to the letter, which probably stems from my college degree in Chemistry.

Now that Tracy is down for a while, I know I’m going to have to dig deep and cook for us, plus do the shopping, etc. After doing meal planning, shopping for the week, and cooking, I can honestly say that I’ve never been so appreciative of just all she (and all the other home cooks out there) do with seemingly little effort. You guys are amazing. Seriously.

I started off slowly… sticking to my comfort zone initially as a warm up. I started by baking some blueberry muffins. I love the flavor the sour cream gives them and that they are not too sweet. I was able to get about 20 muffins (recipe said 16); more muffins is never a bad thing.

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That same morning, I made a Baked Gruyere and Sausage Omelet, which totally appealed to me because the thought of flipping eggs into a pretty omelet was too much for me to handle at my current skill level. I pulled it out of the oven when it was “golden brown,” at the early side of the baking time, but that wasn’t enough; it was still totally undone on the inside. Here’s when I flip out normally, because things aren’t going to plan and I can’t improvise in the kitchen. My mother-in-law had my back, though; it got covered with foil and thrown back into the oven for another 10 minutes. And let me tell you, this was damn good. Way better than I expected and everyone raved about it. I will definitely make it again for breakfast.

That night, I made turkey chili, from a recipe that is in this month’s Food Network Magazine. I was able to use a recent acquisition to our kitchen, one that Tracy hadn’t even used yet: an oval Le Creuset dutch oven. I’ve always wondered that the fascination is with these pots and pans from Le Creuset. They’re heavy and expensive; are they really worth all the hype? I can now answer a resounding YES. As the chili was simmering down, I was looking at the crust that was building up around the edge and thinking to myself, “I’m going to have to spend an hour scrubbing this to get it off.” Nope. After an overnight soak, it essentially wiped away. Amazing. Now I have to figure out how to get more Le Creuset.

On our way home from Monterey last week, we picked up a half flat of strawberries. It was a little ambitious to think I could eat them all before they went bad, and by this point, I was rapidly running out of time. But I couldn’t resist getting this last taste of summer. These strawberries were the inspiration for our next breakfast dish: Strawberry Shortcake French Toast. I used all the strawberries (I WIN).

This recipe had me concerned on a couple of points:

  1. English muffins for french toast? Yeah, I picked organic whole grain english muffins (trying to be healthy). The English and the French have centuries of not getting along and I’m not sure my breakfast plate is the best place for the next battle…
  2. Top them with yogurt? Still trying to be healthy here; I have Greek yogurt and that just doesn’t sound good.
  3. No maple syrup? Who has ever had french toast without maple syrup? Or at least powdered sugar?

All my fears were unfounded; this recipe is another winner and has earned a spot in my breakfast repertoire.

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Once I had cleaned up from breakfast, I set about doing meal planning for the week. Tracy had pre-made some lasagna, which we’ll have one of the days I’m on call. The other day I found a slow cooker recipe, which I’ll set up before I go. My mother-in-law and I braved the grocery stores on a Sunday afternoon. And just like that, we’re set for the week!

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