Okay, when I decided to start writing this particular blog I was standing over the stove actually cooking the meal I intend to eventually eat. Those who know me know that I don’t cook, not if I can help it. I need to find me a femme that likes to cook…because I make a real GREAT…reservation!
I have a fondness for Macaroni Beef and wanted to learn how to make it myself, from scratch. (Don’t ask me why, maybe I was ill.) I have in the past purchased Stouffers which tastes awesome…I particularly like that it comes in a package that pops into the microwave and all I have to do is heat it up and toast some toast if I want garlic toast with it…putting the mixture over the toast is a delicious combination. However, for some reason I decided I wanted to make it all by myself…from scratch (still shaking my head at THIS idea).
So, off to the grocery store I went. $70 later I brought home BAGS of stuff I needed from the recipe list as well as other things in case this didn’t go well (see I already had my doubts). I took along the recipe to make sure I got everything in it, some of which (surprisingly) was already in my cupboards. Fortunately some things don’t go bad for a long time.
I have NO idea WHAT website I got this from but it was on my computer for a while (years) so I know the madness of this idea has been germinating for a long time…
While I was shopping to fulfill this list I kept up the niggling thought that it would be cheaper, much less easier to go get a Stouffers box and use that, but I’m no quitter.
I live alone so two pounds of beef is a LOT and I almost NEVER buy meat so this was going to be interesting, that stuff was horrifically expensive! I decided that there would be lots of leftovers and I could put that in the fridge to eat whenever (more like for every.single.meal, since I won’t want it to go to waste, nor will I have the energy to cook anything else).
The Large Yellow Onion, I couldn’t help but wonder why not the white onions that were on sale or the smaller yellow onions that were already in the kitchen hanging there, waiting for my cooking endeavors and frequently sprouting…ending up in the trash from lack of use? But I dutifully purchased the ONE LARGE YELLOW ONION that the recipe called for, after all I want this to turn out right?
Next on the list FOUR LARGE CLOVES of GARLIC! Well, I didn’t realize it but Mom never bought cloves of garlic that I ever recall. I wondered why. I found out later when I was trying to work with them.
For some reason I had to go down several aisles to even FIND the canned and diced tomatoes and sauce. I was starting to get cart rage trying to get around people in the grocery store.
Soy sauce, surprise, I had that in the cupboard.
Dried Oregano and Dried Basil I wasn’t so sure of but then, to be safe, I bought new spices…after all that stuff doesn’t stay ‘fresh’ forever.
Dried Bay Leaves, yep that I knew was in the cupboard because I like to make stew and what is a good stew without bay leaves that you have to remember to fish out or ends up in your bowl and you can’t eat?
Seasoned salt? Now is that different than the common salt I had in the cupboard? I have no idea and I’m not going to worry about it. The pepper too I knew was there.
I also knew I had elbow macaroni in the cupboard, not knowing how much though I decided to get more, ‘just in case’ and let’s face it, uncooked pasta can last forever. Good thing too as I found when I got home I only had ONE cup and not the TWO it called for…now I have a box of it that will last FOREVER!
Carrying all this home on my ‘leetle’ motorcycle is always hilarious and people stare…oh well, I get sixty miles to the gallon and while it is cold, it’s efficient.
I decided since the recipe asks to serve it the next day, I should get right on it…yeah, great idea that.
It occurs to me that maybe, perhaps, my mother should have taught me how to cook. Remember back to the times when I had that opportunity, maybe not. She too didn’t like to cook so I can’t really blame her for not wanting to teach me. I was more interested in business courses and anything but cooking. She grew up during the depression, her mother cooked, baked, canned, and my mom learned it all, but didn’t DO it since she had an older sister who could do it BETTER and frequently DID. As the LITTLE sister she was often pushed away to go ‘play.’ So, she didn’t have to do it all and she found out years later how much her sister resented that…
Well this recipe calls for a Dutch Oven…um, I have NO IDEA what a Dutch Oven is, I’m lucky that my house has an oven and bonus, I have a microwave one too! I kinda figured it was a big pot so I was glad later when I didn’t use a skillet to brown the meat (after all we don’t want to do too many dishes right? (EVER PRACTICAL I AM)).
I browned the meat in this pot (not the one pictured here, I googled what a Dutch Oven was to show you all) that I inherited from my mother, who, I think, inherited it from her mother…so it has nostalgia. It rarely gets used and I’m thinking of (gasp) replacing it with a stainless steel monstrosity so when I make stew or soup I have more overall space to make these culinary wonders (yeah right, great dreams) but those suckers are expensive and so unnecessary in my household.
While the meat is browning I start cutting up the garlic. Um, what exactly is a clove? Is it the whole piece thing or those little thingings inside?
I wasn’t sure but I didn’t want to NOT follow the recipe (Great double negative, sigh). I’d bought four of these things, surely cutting them out would prove to be easy right? WRONG! Those suckers move all over and they are sticky? Why they are sticky I have no idea! I also had trouble getting the outside peel out of way and had to play with it over and over again to get those in the garbage rather than on the cutting board! They wanted it minced? Yeah right, maybe if I’d put them in a blender…wasn’t going to happen since I was cutting by hand. Btw, having a sharp knife is a definite must when one cooks, just an FYI. Also, those cooking shows on TV if you ever happen to catch them with the perfect little piles of whatever has to be added to the recipe are a LIE! They have assistant chefs who cut up all that so that the main chef, the one ON the TV look GOOD! Trying to get the food to look THAT good, that’s all done behind the scenes! Plus that stuff went EVERYwhere. One of the places it shot under was the electric burner (I do not like cooking with gas, good thing, I’d blow the place up!). While that burned under my concoction I continued to cut and chop. The aroma of burnt garlic was in the air, I’m sure Kitkat loved it…she did get pretty excited when I used the electric can opener on the tomato cans, I didn’t even know she LIKED tomatoes?
By the time I got to the fourth ‘clove’ or whatever they are called, most of those clovlings were tossed, I was sick of washing my hands constantly to get the sticky off and they just weren’t working out. Note to future self, buy the dried minced garlic, probably why my mother never bought these things in the FIRST place!
The onion cut up no problem, now THAT I do on a fairly frequent basis. By the time I cut it all (remember it was a LARGE Yellow Onion) into small even pieces though the tears were coming down in earnest and I was sniffing like crazy. Yeah, I know there are WAYS to get around that, but I never learned any. So, once I could, I got that mess into the pot and cooking.
Now the recipe asked you to fully brown the meat, but it didn’t ask me to drain it, which is a normal way to get rid of all the fat. It also called for the onions to be translucent before you added the rest…what the heck is a translucent onion? It was at this point I took another slug of the Smirnoff’s I’d started drinking during the garlic clove cutting time…one should NOT drink when they are cooking, just saying. Eventually though, I’m certain the onions and garlic sucked up the fat, because it disappeared.
Adding in the rest, I didn’t bother with REAL measuring cups or teaspoons (the one from the silverware drawer should be sufficient right?) and I suspect I threw out my measuring spoons at some point because they didn’t work for me (another long story). I used the tomato paste cans for the water, after all, my mom DID teach me not waste things (let’s not mention that I threw out most of that last garlic clove and wasted it, that was another issue and I was drinking at that point) and I didn’t want use a spatula to clean them out (too many dishes/utensils and I would lose interest), the water worked fine for cleaning them out and then I could recycle the cans.
Why is when you cook (at least for me) when it says medium heat, I want to turn it up all the way? I learned my lesson a long time ago, ruining a pot and about six QUARTS of chicken soup by burning it in a big pot! But the aroma of the burning clove under the burner kept me from disobeying the directions. But really, I do remember science class from high school where they emphasized that higher heat does NOT make it cook FASTER! Experience though is a better teacher!
Well, the whole thing is done, I tasted it, it was okay…I’m sure it will taste even better tomorrow as the recipe calls for…letting it sit…many things need to sit overnight to do what they need to do and they DO taste better as ‘leftovers.’ However, if I need to have my stomach pumped from my cooking, you will know it didn’t quite work out. Meanwhile, food for thought!
This is what it SUPPOSED to look like, mine, not so much!