Cooking with BGIM

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that despite the fact I rarely talk about cooking on the blog that I actually cook a great deal or rather as time allows. I am not a very crafty person; I can’t sew, knit, crochet or make anything other than meals and kids. Oh, I am rather good at running non-profits and turning them into financially solvent organizations. But how many folks really want to read a blog about how to make a struggling non-profit organization not only financially stable but to see it actually grow? Yeah I thought so.

Anyway in recent weeks I have had several twitter followers ask me for some of my recipes, even real life friends have asked for a few recipes. So as I struggle yet again with direction for this blog, I figured I would institute a new feature called cooking with BGIM. Like many who read my blog, I work outside of the home, so as much as I like to make everything from scratch the reality is that it’s impossible for me to do that every day. However I grew up with Sunday dinners, that one huge meal of the week where my mother cooked the equivalent of a Thanksgiving dinner every Sunday and often we had friends and family over to share the meal with us.

When the Spousal Unit and I moved to Maine, for a brief period of time I attempted to have my own version of the Sunday dinner but as we had no family or friends to invite over when we first moved here, a huge spread for only the three of us (kidlet was not around at that time so it was me, the Spousal Unit and college boy who at that time would have been called only kid) simply made no sense. I attempted to re-start the Sunday dinner tradition when my Mom died but at that point it was simply too painful and until recently Sunday dinner was just like any other night.

However the kidlet is growing up and with my father’s impending move to Maine, Sunday dinners have made a come back. I have very little family and while my son was blessed to have direct connections to my family, the kidlet has none and the act of the Sunday dinner is a way to share one of the many traditions I grew up with her, to connect her with the ancestors so to speak.

So without further adieu here are a couple of items I have made recently. Last night we had lasagna, tossed green salad with local produce and Italian bread and for dessert pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. These cookies were delish though my attempt at using fresh pumpkin was a bust; in the end I used canned pumpkin puree. My fresh pumpkin adventures are another post…let’s just say I applaud folks who take whole pumpkins and turn them into something edible. It’s easier to make bread in my humble opinion than to make a pumpkin edible.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 cup white sugar (if you decrease this I would not go below ½ cup)

½ cup vegetable oil

1 egg

2 cups all purpose flour (I use King Arthur)

2 tsp baking powder

2tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

1tsp baking soda

1tsp milk

1tbsp vanilla

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F

1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, oil and egg together. In a separate bowl stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

2. Dissolve baking soda w/milk and stir into pumpkin mixture. Now add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.

3. Add vanilla and chocolate chips, mix well.

4. Drop by spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 mins or until lightly brown and firm.

Note: These are soft cookies, also due to a wonky old stove I baked for closer to 15 mins.

 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

A few Sunday’s ago I made apricot orange pork chops with roasted fingerling potatoes and sautéed collards with mushrooms and onions. This meal sounds a lot fancier than it is as far as prep time in part because the chops are cooked in the Crockpot. A Crockpot is a lazy cook’s best friend, seriously in winter mine is used at least 2-3 times a week.

Anyway here is the pork chop recipe

Apricot Orange Pork Chops

6 chops (any kind will do though the meat when done is falling off the bone so after making this several times I now get boneless chops)

1 cup apricot jam

3tbsp brown sugar

1tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground clove powder

1-11oz can mandarin oranges

Mix all ingredients well in a bowl, put the chops in the Crockpot, pour mixture over chops and cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high in the Crockpot. They are done when the meat is fork tender.

Apricot Orange Pork Chops w/Collards and Fingerling Potatoes

Note: Neither of these recipes are my creations, sadly I cannot remember where I got them so can’t give proper credit but did want to let ya’ll know that.

As a cook, who has been cooking a while I will admit I often take recipes and tweak them to my own taste buds but generally the first time out I will follow a recipe as it’s written unless there is an obvious issue. Happy Eating!

Is it really homemade?

Living in Maine sometimes as a Black woman can get lonely as hell. Yes, I do have some Black friends up here but truthfully everyone is so busy trying to survive that free time to just hang out is hard to come by. Which is why yesterday was a treat for me, I spent a good part of the day with one of my sista-friends, she is going through some life changes and as she put it she just needed to chill with someone who got it and that she didn’t need to be the Black ambassador with, believe me I know that feeling well.

Anyway whenever T & I get together, food always comes up since early this year we had a little tiff around her cooking me a birthday meal that I couldn’t eat because my stomach is sensitive as hell. Long story short she hooked a sista up with a southern style meal, fried chicken, collards greens, baked mac and cheese and potato salad. Sadly since my weight loss, too much grease causes a reaction within my stomach that can only be cured with a long visit to the porcelain throne.

So you know how it is, I was irritated that she cooked a meal I told her, I couldn’t eat and she was mad because well she thought a sista was being an ungrateful wench. However this is Maine and the pool of sistas who connect is small as hell, so we both got over it. But as sistas whenever we hang out food does come up, last night she brought her boys over and I had made pumpkin pie since mini-me wanted me to do something with all these pumpkins she has been collecting.

Now I don’t know about you but trying to cut a pumpkin up and turn it into something edible is really not that easy, I know because last year when I tried it after hacking that pumpkin open, the inside was stringy as hell and rather unpleasant. So not wanting to disappoint the little one, I opened a can of pureed pumpkin and used it to cook with and well I didn’t tell the little one. Thankfully she was 2 so she didn’t notice Mama’s subterfuge.

So yesterday when I made the pie, I did it while mini-me was at daycare and simply moved one of her pumpkins away, so she would think I used one to bake the pie with, now I know some of y’all are laughing. However when my girlfriend came over as I was taking the pie out the oven and she oohing over how great it smelled, I confessed that the pie was not really homemade. See, I didn’t make the crust, in fact when I make pies I rarely make the crust, instead I use the store bought ones since as a working Mama, time is at a premium.

While I was confessing to my girl that I cheated with both canned pumpkin and a store bought crust, she started laughing and told me “Black girl get real, of course that shit is homemade”… I love sista-friends we keep it real with each other. Now my girl, we cool but truth is she ain’t much of a cook outside of a few items (she does however throw down with her greens and sweet potato pie).

Yet once again today I found myself thinking about how much true cooking from scratch I do, see this morning I was at the store getting canned broth for the meal I was putting on for dinner tonight, chicken and barley cooked in the crock-pot. Its a simple recipe chicken, veggies, barley, seasonings and broth thrown in the crock-pot and cooked all day. By the time its done, its a simple yet tasty ass meal, everyone here likes it and sometimes I even make drop biscuits to go along, but I use Bisquick for the biscuits.

Now, with thrift and frugality being in vogue, there are many foodie blogs I visit where folks cook everything from scratch, I must admit I get a tad jealous yet while I like to cook, and for the most part do make things myself, things like broth from scratch are simply a pain in the ass to make. Yeah, I know take your chicken carcass and boil, boil, boil. I tried it and frankly it came out like shit and still didn’t net me enough broth plus I rarely eat whole chickens. Shit, I think last Thanksgivings turkey carcass is still in my deep freezer since I meant to use that to make broth but 11 months never got around to it.

In the end, I guess the question is does it really matter if when cooking you use a few aids to speed up the process? I would like to say no, though I know true foodies would say my shit is not homemade. So what about y’all, any regular readers who cook everything from scratch? If you do, please tell me how you make time for it.

Anyway its lunch time here, today’s lunch is indeed homemade, Maine lobster and salad. Not only homemade but all the food is local. Time to get my eat on, so I can get back to work.