Now We’re Cooking!

I’m sure, for those who know me well, that title really got your attention – because you know I don’t cook!  Oh, I can manage to fake it with a few easy recipes for potlucks or entertaining, but as a general rule, the art of cooking (and it truly is an art) is quite an effort for me and is not something I am good at or enjoy.  My mother, on the other hand, was a self-taught gourmet cook – anyone who ate her fare can well attest to that fact.  Which may be why I am the exact opposite.  For one thing, there was no way I could measure up, so why even try, especially when I had her there to make it for me?  Some of the finest meals I’ve ever eaten were at her table and it was quite costly to take me out for “home cookin’.”

But it is true that necessity is the mother of invention and being here has certainly sparked it.  I have broken out my mother’s recipe box (brought to me in one of my left behind suitcases by my friend, Deanna, for my birthday last year) and made a few easy favorites.  I’ve baked a few batches of cookies too.  But still, for the most part, meal time rolls around and I tend to eat something I can cut up or mix together and not cook (my favorite default dinner is a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich with a glass of milk!) 😮  Lately, however, I’ve been inspired by a few things.

First, I was out at the veggie truck one Saturday morning, when my neighbor, Diane, bought some beets.  Beets are something I didn’t like when I was younger, but grew to occasionally enjoy as an adult.  However, even my gourmet mother served canned beets.  But Diane said she had an easy pickled beet recipe (which I love) so I bought some and asked her to email it to me.  Sure enough, it was easy and oh so good – I’ve made it about every other week since!

The one or two choices in the store ain't worth puttin on a chip , but this stuff is dang good - yeehaw!

The one or two choices in the store ain’t worth puttin’ on a chip , but this stuff is dang good – yeehaw!

The next thing was serious necessity – a Texas girl deprived of chips and salsa for over a year! 😮  The salsa you can buy here just does not cut it for straight out of the jar eating (I mix a little with avocados sometimes for “cheat guacamole,” but that’s the extent of it).  So the other day I was at Bill & Elaine’s, and she broke out a jar of homemade salsa and it was pretty stinking good (especially for a Canadian!) 😉  I asked her to give me the recipe, which she had to guess at, because she had made it up as she went along (I hate those kind of cooks!)  Anyway, I finally made my first batch yesterday while taking bee calls.  I just chopped and simmered while I was talking away on my headset (you gotta love a job where you can make money and food at the same time!)  I got it all finished and put in three jars with sealing lids.  Then a short time later, I opened one back up AND ATE THE WHOLE THING! 😳  It wasn’t quite as good as Elaine’s, but that just gives me an excuse to keep working on it.

I am truly blessed by the plethora of fresh produce I have here (and fortunately, one of the few cookbooks I saved and brought with me was my “Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone“).  Although there is plenty of frozen chicken and ground beef in my freezer, it rarely makes it to my table these days.

Here’s my tweaked version of the beets recipe for those who are interested (I’ll post the salsa when I get it perfected):

1 pound small beets (about 7 beets)
1/4 – 1/2 onion (white or purple) thinly sliced
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Leave root and 1-inch stem on beets; scrub with a brush. Place in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Cool slightly. Trim off beet roots; rub off skins. Thinly slice beets; place in a large bowl.

2. Combine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salt, and pepper. Pour vinegar mixture over beets; cover and chill.

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