Monday, June 29, 2009

Bugger ...

Our ten year old Bradford Pear Tree. It fell victim to the thunderstorm that rolled through town last Thursday night. We never heard it fall. I cried when I saw it. At least it didn't do any damage to the house. It fell on a fence, but that seems to have withstood the weight of the tree. The tree company will be at the house early this week to remove the tree and grind out the stump, and then I'll be able to see if the fence really did survive or not. God, if not, we're screwed. I miss the tree already. It provided our only shade in the front yard. It was a favorite perch for a singing cardinal. It was located right outside the master bedroom window and provided privacy.

Anyone know of a fast growing shade tree that won't be too big to plant near a house?

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Time for Preparation

Love him or hate him, Gordon Ramsay is an awesome chef. Most of the time. I adore his television shows, Hell's Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares and the F Word. The latter most of all. I love that he is so passionate about cooking and about eating. He seems genuinely interested in getting people back into the kitchen and out of the fast food drive-thrus. Though I have read that he absolutely loves fast food burgers. I guess, like all things, everything in moderation. Something he would do well to remember when he starts swearing on camera, not to mention the fact that his ego could use a bit of a down-sizing, too.

So, why am I putting Ramsay to the test? I'm sure there are plenty of critics who have tested his recipes to see if they stand up to the "fast food" test. In fact, many state that the recipes in this book are no time savers at all. I want to test him. He's a professional chef. I'm a wife, mother and office worker. I'm at the office on average 50 hours a week. Can I make his meals after a long day at work and have everyone sit down to a well-balanced meal long before it's time to go to bed?

This is the inside flap of the book jacket. "None take longer than half an hour ... the menus take 30 - 45 minutes from start to finish...." Hmmm, we'll see.

But first, in order create these recipes, I'm going to have to stock up my pantry. I'll buy the fresh ingredients, obviously, as needed. But for the staples, I'm making a list and checking it twice.

page one.

page two.

page three.

page four also includes the ingredients lists for items such as stocks (which, god forbid we actually used store-bought). There are more "make-ahead" items such as sweet and hot chile dipping sauce, pesto, homemade mayonnaise, and vinaigrette. We'll see if I have the inclination to get this involved. Obviously the preparation time for these items are not included in the 30 to 40 minute time span for the "fast food" recipes. So in other words, I would have to set aside probably one if not both days of a weekend to try to stock up on, well, my stocks.

By the way, the lists above do not, except in a few rare instances, duplicate ingredients. For example, I only have honey on there once, even though its in numerous recipes. Those lists were also written on regular 8½ x 11" notebook pages.

So far, do you realize how much time I've placed into just preparing for this project? Any time I will have saved by making his recipes will have already been negated just by this preparation time.
Don't get me started about the time I'm spending trying to track down the fresh ingredient lists. Where the hell am I going to find fresh quail eggs and blood sausage on the far west-side of Cleveland? Not to mention fresh Lychees and kaffir lime leaves. Mushy peas, anyone? Americans don't even know what those are. Obviously some real time and effort is going to go into this. I've found cans of mushy peas on the internet for about $2.99 each -- not bad, but then add on the $10.00 shipping charges. A $12 can of peas from England. There's also the issue of finding other items that just aren't available. He loves to cook with certain fruits and vegetables, that try as I might, I just can't find in Ohio. In London, no problem. But, when was the last time you heard of a Braeburn apple, or Commerce pears or Tender-Stem Broccoli? I'm sure his professional connections make things like that a snap for him. There are things, too, like tahini (sesame seed paste). I only need a tablespoon or two, but I can't find it in the stores in less than a 16 oz. jar (about $10.00). I'm thinking about just grinding up some seeds myself with some oil and calling it tahini. Frustrating to say the least.
A lot of substitutes will be made, I can guarantee that.

Stay tuned.

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