Friday, September 09, 2011

Comfort and Joy

Well, it's been a long time since I blogged about food.  I didn't really do a lot of cooking in August, I guess.  But, I got a little money for my birthday, and used some of it to get myself a copy of The Joy of Cooking in hopes that I could use it to learn some of the secrets of the Cooking Universe.  

Yesterday was grocery store day, so I decided to try my first recipe from the book.  But this is a BIG book.  4500 recipes.  Good grief, where do I start?

So, I was flipping through, and then I remembered the shocking statement that Kev made the other day about how my cooking rotation lacks casseroles.  WHAT?  Casseroles?  All this time, I was pretty sure Kev was against gooey comforting things like casseroles.  Live and learn.  And if Kev wants more casseroles, that's fine by me, because they are EASY and they are good for several meals worth of left-overs.

I found the recipe for Chicken Rice Casserole on page 96.  Hmm....sounds pretty good and very simple.  So I decided to do some googling to see if others out there had had any luck with this recipe.  I came across a blog called "The Joy of the Joy of Cooking,"  and it turns out that Jessica, the writer of this blog, had tried the recipe.  Awesome.  Her biggest complaint was that it was bland.  And when I looked at the recipe, I wasn't surprised.  There was no mention of seasoning of any kind in the recipe.  Not even "salt and pepper to taste."

So, I used the recipe as a guide, and added some things.  To the melted butter, I added some garlic and diced carrots (and salt!), and cooked that for a minute before adding the mushrooms.  I added some fresh thyme.  I used long grain and wild rice instead of white.  And more salt.  And pepper.  And, following the snooty foodie advice I read somewhere in the book, I passed on processed store-bought bread crumbs, and made my own.  Here is the resulting Chicken Rice Casserole:

And it was good!  Not bland at all.  My biggest complaint was that it was a little dry.  I used whole milk because my grocery store was out of half and half (!?), so it probably took away some of the creaminess I was looking for.  But the crunchy bread crumb topping was great, and the overall flavor was good.

Daphne didn't like it.  I knew she wouldn't.  But at least she tried it.  And now I won't have to cook this weekend because Kev and I can have left-over casserole.  For every meal!  Just kidding, Kev.

Today I am making pumpkin ravioli.  It isn't in the book.  So I'm winging it.  I'll probably use my Giada butternut squash ravioli recipe and just sub in the pumpkin.  Daphne's already turning up her nose.  She's gonna be eating a lot of Peanut Butter and Banana sandwiches this weekend.  That means more raviolis for me and Kev!  I won't have to cook again for a week!

The honest truth is, I rarely experience the Joy of Cooking.  Sometimes I enjoy it, but mostly, it's just a chore.  But I regularly DO experience the Joy of Eating, and since I am the one who cooks most of what I eat, I might as well do it well.

I've heard good things about the brownies in the book.  Maybe that'll be next.  But now, it's off to experience the Joy of Laundry.  Have a good Friday.

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