A Tale of Two Ovens…

I am by no means a professional cook, I, much like thousands of others, just enjoy creating food for the people I love.  I’ve enjoyed it since before I can remember.  That being said, in the many (won’t tell you how many) years I’ve been dabbling in the kitchen I’ve come across tools, gadgets, pots, pans, etc. that I love and some that I don’t.  Dutch ovens (don’t get me started on Dutch vs. French ovens)….love them.  I bought my first Le Creuset from Costco, 9 1/2 quart oval in flame.  I loved it and was hooked.  How could I have been cooking without this?  How you ask?  Well, when you are in your 20’s and not making enough money to where you have an extra few hundred dollars for a pan you go without.  After using my beloved Dutch oven I knew I needed more, but without the Le Creuset budget I decided to try less expensive ovens.  And here is where a tale of two ovens begins…

During the holidays everything seems to go on sale, this includes Dutch ovens from less expensive manufacturers.  I thought, what the heck, I’ll give one a try.  While strolling Macy’s, I spied some Martha Stewart pieces that really looked similar to the Le Creuset.  They were heavy, had some very attractive colors and an even more attractive price tag.  I honestly don’t remember exactly how much they were, but I vaguely remember them being over something like 60% off of their sale price.  There are a few other Le Creuset type ovens, but since I haven’t tried them I won’t be commenting on them.

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Both brands were very heavy, VERY heavy, some state this a con, but how do you have a nice oven that works well without it being extremely heavy?  The Le Creuset was heavier, but not a significant difference.  Both come in round and oval.  Both have really nice colors, I tend to not stay with one color, I like having a variety so they both provided that.  Both work in the oven and stove top.  The one difference I saw pretty early on was in the chipping of the coating.

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These are the Martha Stewart handles.  They started chipping first, with other chips around the oven following.

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This is the chipping on the Le Creuset oven.

Would I say not to buy the Martha Stewart brand, no.  Would I say go for the Le Creuset if it’s in the budget, most definitely.  Overall, I think the Le Creuset you will have for a lifetime, and beyond.  The Martha Stewart, well, probably not as long, but it does get the job done.  Having a Dutch oven to use rather than say a regular heavy metal pot will still give you better results, be it Martha Stewart or Le Creuset.

I’m sure this holiday season I’ll try out other Dutch ovens to test their quality, but for now, these two brands will do.

 

 

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Japanese Curry Rice

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I first had this about 5 years ago when my Japanese neighbor made it for my family.  I couldn’t believe how good this was, I knew I must have this recipe and make it at home.  But she was a lot like me, and really didn’t use a recipe, I asked her husband to help translate the ingredients and their amounts, but let’s just say that didn’t get me much closer to this delicious recipe.  So, in RHOS fashion, I did my own research on the internet and found literally hundreds of versions.  So in true RHOS I made a couple, then took a little from each, adding a little of my touches to come up with what I find to be a delicious Japanese curry rice.  Even my neighbor thought it was good.  WINNING!!

I do this recipe in little steps.  Most overlapping in order to save time, so I’m going to list the ingredients in the grouping of steps.

For the Recipe:

2 large onions, chopped

2 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. garam masala/S&B curry powder

1 tbsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

Heat the butter and olive oil in a heavy bottom pot, add the onions.  Cook over medium heat until the onions are nice and brown.

*****While the onions cook…

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3 lbs. beef, I use sirloin steak

1 tbsp. olive oil

3 tbsp. garam masala or S&B curry powder

1 tbsp. salt

4 c. beef stock

In a pressure cooker, heat the olive oil and add the beef.  Give it a good stir, add the garam masala, salt and the beef stock.  Cover, cook for 30 minutes at the second line.

*****With the onions and beef happily coming along, time to make the roux

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3 tbsp. butter

3 tbsp. flour

2 tbsp. garam masala or S&B curry powder

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. ketchup

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Heat the butter and flour in a small sauce pan.  Stir to make sure the butter and flour are well mixed, cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat.  It should get a little golden, but not much.  Add the garam masala/S&B curry powder, cayenne pepper and black pepper.  Mix well.  Add the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, mix well.  It should be quite dry and somewhat crumbly.  Set aside.

*****Next, time to chop some carrots and potatoes

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4 carrots, cut into large chunks

2 large potatoes, cut into medium chunks

1 apple, peeled and finely shredded

1 1/2 c. frozen peas

Add the carrots to the onions after they have caramelized, cook for about 5 minutes.  Next, add the potatoes.  The meat should be done (or pretty darn close) so add all the contents of the pressure cooker to this pot.  Add the apple and let this cook for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are tender.  Add the peas and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Next, add the roux.  Be sure to stir this in well.  The sauce will thicken, making almost a gravy.  Cook for another couple minutes and tada!!!

Serve over rice.

Enjoy!!

Who Knew Bagels Were So Easy…

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Normally, I like to find several recipes for what I want to cook/bake, then pick and choose parts that I like and combine with my own spin.  This time, I’m sharing a recipe that I followed 100% as it was written.  I’ve never made bagels before, so quite honestly I didn’t feel comfortable changing things up this time, well, except for the malt syrup…I used honey instead.  Will I change it up next time, definitely.  Not because this recipe is bad, more so I just want to put a little RHOS spin on it.

This bagel recipe was really easy to follow, no difficult steps that were confusing.  It was from cdkitchen.com and the recipe was Authentic New York-Style Homemade Bagels.  I didn’t really research any other recipes, which is so not like me, but it turned out well and that’s all that matters!!

Next time I will sprinkle toppings before baking, try different doughs and of course I must try to do mini bagels for my lovey loveys…

Here are a few pictures from my first, definitely not my last, bagel bake.

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The Uninspired Mother

Compared to the moms that have their kids in ten zillion classes, programs and activities, I’m pretty much the uninspired mother.  I’m thankful that I met Poison Ivy, she’s like this supermom that is always doing something with her kids.  She can tell you every park within a twenty mile radius, every McDonalds, zoo hours, the toddler schedule at Jump Planet…I think you see the point I’m making.  Me, I have to look this stuff up.  I don’t drive a minivan, a fact she likes to mention EVERY time we have a play date.  She goes on and on about what a perfect vehicle it is when you have kids.  Still not getting one… SUV says kid friendly all over it!!!

I know I’m not a bad mom, just uninspired.  I’m thankful for a fenced backyard that’s big enough for my kids to run crazy, trees for them to play jungle animal, and dirt and rocks.  We go to the park, but I tend to go to the same ones.  And now that the twinadoes are older, I am brave enough to take them to places that have organized activities (tried it once when they were about 18 months, once was all it took…).  Their latest activity, tumbling, was not a hit.  Maybe the woman leading the class should have read the description before coming in…. tumbling is not walking in a line and watching her do a stupid puppet show.  You know it’s bad when one of your kids gets up in the middle of it, puts on his shoes and says “mama we go home”.  It is comical to watch this woman trying to get a bunch of two and three year olds to line up quietly and follow her in a circle, none are participating, rather, they are all running crazy screaming doing their own thing.  Catch a clue lady, you bore them!!!

I would be doing more with them, if there were two of me!!  My kids are very different from each other and they don’t do the same things.  And since I can’t be in two places at once, this poses a challenge a lot of the time.  Take swimming, they both love it, but my daredevil daughter doesn’t realize that she can’t swim and that the life jacket can only do so much.  My son, he’s more timid and needs you to constantly hold him in the water.  That just doesn’t equal “doable” in my reality.  So we take them swimming when my hubs can come and we can do one parent per child.  As they get older our opportunities will grow, as they have been the past two and a half years. But until then, I’ll continue to be the uninspired mother.  I’ll do what I can with my twinadoes while still keeping my sanity.  I’ll continue to be thankful for large backyard toys, mud and of course Poison Ivy and her two kids, Batman and Robin.

My Misto Madness

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I know this is strange to do a post on a random product, but I love this thing.  I love it so much I own several.  I used to use those spray oils that you purchased at the store, but recently read an article about extra ingredients in them that was not that favorable.  I’ve had one that I used for olive oil, but never thought to get more for my other oils.  You can pick up a double pack of the Mistos in silver or you can get all cray cray and get a cool color.

My one word of advice… when they say don’t fill more than half full, actually follow that.  Just sayin…

Meal Planning, RHOS Style…

There will be meals, mostly consisting of meat, carbs and vegetables, that’s the plan…. meal planning in this Real Housewife of Suburbia’s home.  I’ve never been a meal planner, I don’t do a big shopping trip once a week or bi-weekly with a list of ingredients I need to make my well thought out planned meals.  Nopes, no can do.  What sounds good to me on Sunday doesn’t always appeal to me on Wednesday so how could I possibly stick to some blueprint of what I’ll be consuming over the next week or two.  And people that do it for the whole month?  Yikes!!!  I know they say you can save money by following the sales and all that, but my cravings don’t care about sales, they care about what they want that day.

In reality, if I were to try meal planning I would end up wasting more food.  I would buy food, either end up just throwing it out because it went bad or put it in the freezer with every intention of using it later.  The freezer does work for me, and not as much gets wasted, but it’s making sure it gets there before it goes bad that can sometimes be the problem.  The past few shopping trips I’ve made a conscious effort to not over buy produce.  It’s not like I live two hours from a store, but getting the twinadoes through a shopping trip for just a few items is like herding cats.  Yes, I could do it in the evenings after the hubs gets home, but by then, I really don’t want to head out to a store, I want to retreat and have some me time.

All this being said, I have my next three days of meals planned…is that funny or what?  Monday will be Japanese curry rice, Tuesday is stuffed peppers and Wednesday is breakfast.  I have everything I need for these meals thanks to my shopping trip this morning.  Will I stick to this?  Hhhmmm, I would say there’s a 50/50 chance, which is pretty good for me.

And that ends my little spew on meal planning….

Easy Peasy Bread, For 4 Days…

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As far as easy goes, this one is really easy.  Nothing fancy, just some basic bread, but still delicious.  Tonight we are using up some of the last of the tomatoes (I’m hoping for one more day of collecting some) for some marinara sauce, and this bread will be perfect to go along side.  This recipe actually makes a lot of dough, but you can put it in the refrigerator and make a little loaf or boule to have with dinner.  Depending how big you make  your loaf, you could have up to four boules that would be perfect for a dinner for four.  The dough is a little more tacky than a regular dough, which is slightly sticky, but beautifully smooth.  Give it a try, you might just get hooked making homemade bread.  You could even get creative with this and add things to it, maybe some rosemary, some seeds of your choice, you get the idea.

For the Recipe:

3 c. warm water (105 F – 115 F)

2 tsp. sugar or honey

1 1/2 tbsp. active dry yeast

2 tbsp. salt

2 c. whole wheat flour

4-5 c. all purpose flour

In the bowl of a mixer put the water and sugar, then add the yeast.  You don’t need to let this yeast sit as long as some other recipes, as soon as I see it bubble I move on to the next step.  I like to add the salt mixed in with the first cup of whole wheat flour (start with the whole wheat flour first), then add the second cup.  Add enough of the all purpose flour to get the dough to where it’s still a little tacky, not goopy.  Pour it into a bowl that has about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, making sure all sides of the bread are coated.  Let the dough rise for about two hours.  It should double in size.  From here, you can either put it in the refrigerator or you can bake it.  The taste will get even better if you let it sit a day.  Sometimes I make this recipe on a Sunday and make a fresh loaf with dinner for the next four days.

To bake the dough first you need to form the boule/loaf.  Cut off about a one pound piece of the dough, since the dough will be a bit sticky/tacky you will want to put a little flour on your hands, however, you do not want to work this flour into the dough it’s just to help handle it.

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Form the dough into a ball then, holding the dough with both hands us the heel of your hand to stretch the top of the dough down the sides to make a nice taut smooth surface.  Stretch and tuck as you rotate the ball.  Don’t worry about what the bottom looks like, just be sure the top is a nice smooth taut surface.  Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper and let rise for 30-40 minutes.  Preheat your oven to 450 F, then place a cooking stone/pizza stone in and let heat up for 30 minutes.  You can use a baking sheet to bake the bread, but it won’t be as crispy on the bottom, you will also want to skip heating it up for 30 minutes.  Next, place an empty baking dish below the rack that will hold the baking bread.  Have some water close to the oven to put in this dish after the bread goes in.

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Once the stone is heated (which is about the same amount of time for the bread to rise) it’s time to make cuts on top of your loaf and transfer the dough to the hot stone.  If you don’t have a pizza peel, which I don’t, you can do what I do, use a flat cookie sheet in place of the peel.  Once the dough is on the stone pour the water into the baking dish below.  Close the door and bake for 30 minutes or until  your bread has a nice deep golden color.  Take the bread out and let sit, it will be making a crackling noise which is totally what you want.  As tempting as it may be, don’t slice it until it has had time to cool down.

Enjoy!!