Monday, March 24, 2014

Chef Bluzardee

I haven’t really cooked anything for quite a while.  Once I met Pinky, she basically took over the cooking duties and I’ve basically been a “re-heater.”  Even since I’ve been single again, I’ve mostly stuck to things for which “Microwave for 90 seconds” has been the first and only step.

See, when I come home from work, the last thing I want to do is cook anything.  (Obviously, by “cook,” I mean “prepare food in a fashion that requires more than one step.)  I just want to come home, feed, browse the computer, maybe pound out a blog post, and then hit the prime time TV lineup or Penguins game.  So I live on Progresso soups, Chef Boyardee lasagna, chicken tenders, microwaveable rice and string cheese.  Or if I had a big lunch, I don’t eat dinner at all.

On the weekends, I’ve made a few simple protein courses, like steaks, chicken, chops or fish.  (You may have heard about my pork chops… they’re to die for.)  That’s when I don’t just go to Wendy’s, or pick up some grocery store carry-out chicken.

But this weekend, I had a hankering to try something a little more complicated… I wanted to make a big bowl of pasta, with sauce that’s not orange.  I haven’t made pasta from scratch* in ages, probably since before Pinky.

*By “scratch,” I certainly don’t mean making the pasta by hand and rolling it out, or assembling the sauce from the ground up, the way my mom does.  I buy the pasta, like most everyone else.  (Bowties are my favorite.)  For sauce, I start with Prego, and then add our family’s “signature” spices, as well as anything else I have on hand to bulk it up. 

I was kind of excited, and ready to break in some of my new replacement cooking utensils.

OK, only the sauce pan and lid are new.  And the strainer thing.

I bought a sauce pan that’s “porcelain coated.”  I usually favor the Teflon, non-stick surfaces all the health-conscious people shun.  See, I don’t care if the Teflon particles come off and stick in my guts.  As far as I’m concerned, that should make my intestines “non-stick” and the food will shoot right through.  But if I ever want to cook for someone else, I figured I’d use a more palatable pan.

To me, the fun thing about making pasta is having multiple things going on at once.  I browned the ground beef first, (and I curse myself right now, because I realize I had Italian sausage in the freezer I could have used), and then while I boiled the water for the pasta, started assembling the sauce.

I had a quart of sauce left over from my recently departed girlfriend, and I added about a half a quart of Prego.  From there I added black olives and mushrooms, because, well, I add those to everything.  Mom always says I’d add black olives to a recipe for pie

I like putting in the spices because it’s a seat-of-your-pants kind of thing.  I never make the same quantity; therefore I can’t predict the proper amount of each spice.  I just shake some in there until I think it tastes right.  I suppose I could “go to the cards,” and consult the recipes Mom wrote for me when I first moved out on my own.  But then there might be math involved and I don’t have the patience to Google “lowest common denominator.”

It’s funny though… every time I’ve split up with a girl, I’ve always requested to take (or be left with) only the spices needed for my sauce.

The sauce had a nice chance to simmer while the water was boiling, and then the pasta cooked.  I don’t like to let the sauce simmer too long, or it starts to disappear (into the air, not into me.  Although if I had some fresh Italian bread on hand, I’d be telling a different story.)

If only you could smell what I smelled while taking this picture…

I also had a chance to begin the cleanup.  I hate having a huge pile of greasy pots and pans to wash at the end of the meal, so I always try to wash things out once I’m done with them.  It keeps the kitchen area neater, that way.

Since I’m “cooking for one,” I didn’t see the need to keep the pasta and sauce separately, so when it was done, the pasta went right into the sauce.

I’m not going to spell out how hard I hit that pasta Sunday night, so I’ll spare you the pictures of me with sauce in my beard and a bowties stuck to my head.

Somehow, I should have leftovers to last most of the week.



Mary Ann said...

Looks beautiful. Remember a dash of nutmeg and a splash of whatever you're drinking.
Bon Appetite!

bluzdude said...

Oh sure, just give away the family Sauce Secrets...

So I might as well add that ginger, cinnamon and black pepper also go in.

Mary Ann said...

don't you dare divulge the SECRET!SECRET!

Jessica R said...

I love your cooking technique. If you've never tried it, Newman's Own marninara sauce is to die for. We usually make sauce from scratch, but when I'm feeling super tired, I grab that. Doesn't need much doctoring. Also, I use to have those same counter tops in our old town house!

Cassie said...

"That strainer thing."

I died.

Good for you! This makes me very happy. There is nothing better than sauce simmering on a stovetop and fresh bread, you are right. Reminds me, it's been a while since I've made some. Looks like I'm gonna get busy!

bluzdude said...

What technique is that, starting with packaged stuff and tarting it up? That's my specialty!

bluzdude said...

What, does the strainer thing have a real name? Oh, and to be sure, I was talking about the thing on the counter, that you hold over a pan to pour out the grease, not the "colander" in the sink.

I have the fondest memories of the nights when I came home to sauce simmering on the stove, and home-made bread in the oven. Always good eatin' that night, especially stealing hunks of bread to dip in the sauce, before dinner.