Why do I cook!?! I mean I could just run down to Subway or Pizza Hut and fill up on something there, buy why cook?  Or more specifically why do I cook?  Initially I started cooking because I liked to cook and it was an easy way to express myself.  Cooking is enough science that it can be replicated reasonably simply, however, it still leaves plenty of room for expression and creativity.  Later on when I moved out I started cooking because I was hungry, but creativity still found its way into dinner.  So today as a married man I cook because:

  • I cook so that Vanessa, my wife, does not have to.  She is a great cook but does not enjoy cooking.
  • I cook for self-defense.  How so?  Ever found a finger in your chile at Wendy’s or a clump of human hair in your hot dog?  Me neither, I plan to keep it that way.
  • I cook to try new things.  Lets face it you can only get so much variety in local joints, especially in a little town.  If I want good food at a reasonable price I will have to be making it myself.
  • I cook because its a challenge.  Once in a while a dish comes up or someone asks me to make something I have never made or even eaten and its a challenge to get it right.
  • I cook because well fed people are happy people.
  • I cook because it relaxes me.  I sit at a computer all day and think about food, when I finally get home cooking is my way to wind down and relax.
  • I cook so that when I work out I have something to think about…whatever shall I have for dinner after I am finished abusing my body?
  • Finally, I cook because I like to eat.

Why do you cook?  Why don’t you cook?  Let me k now I look forward to hearing from all of you!

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After an unsuccessful hunt for small game today we were forced to endure yet another night of chicken, which even though it has been frequents has not exhausted our creativity.  Tonight we had chicken and broccoli linguine which turned out to be pretty good, although had it been made as described online it would have been quite bland.

3 tbsp olive oil
3/4 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast (about 3), cut in 1 inch cubes
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
4 large cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 28oz can of stewed tomatoes
2 c fresh broccoli florets
1 pinch dried oregano
1 lb dry linguine pasta
1 1/2 tbsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese to top

In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat, add chicken.  Cook until done throughout.  Add onion and garlic, cook tell onions are translucent.   Add tomatoes, broccoli, salt, pepper, 1 tbsp basil and oregano, stir well and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile cook pasta in a separate pan.  Once pasta is cooked and drained, combine with the rest of the ingredients, add final 1/2 tbsp basil, mix well and serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

This made for an incredibly easy 30 minute meal that would be great any night with family of when entertaining.

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Rarely to I find Dutch food a treat, I am Dutch and the closest thing that I find that is Dutch that I purposely plan to consume is Rusk and I am not sure why that is, I am usually not a fan of bland food.  However, this Christmas I was asked to make Pigs in a Blanket, to bring to Christmas brunch and so I have.  Using a recipe found online and then confirmed against a family recipe to create a truly Dutch treat, it is possible.

Homemade Pig in the Blanket

For the dough
2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c vegetable shortening
1 egg beaten
1/2 c milk

For the filling
1 lbs pork sausage
1/2 lbs ground beef
1/4 c bread crumbs, made from bread dried in the oven and crumbled
2 tbsp cream
salt and pepper to taste

Sift together dry ingredients, cut in shortening.  Mix in beaten egg and milk.  Turn out onto a floured surface, knead dough about 10 times until uniform.  Divide into two sections, roll each to 1/4 inch thick and cut out 15 2″x3″ rectangles from each, set aside.

For filling, blend all ingredients together by hand, until uniform.  Roll into 30 rolls of meat, think sausage links.  Wrap dough around each “link”.

Place on brown paper bag on cookie sheets with sides, bake 40 minutes at 350°F

If you are afraid it is going to be too bland, spice it up with some hot and spicy whole grain mustard.  This will become a Christmas, and most likely year around favorite for me.  What are you favorite Christmas time dishes?

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Ok well maybe not jerked but, at least jerk seasoned with Penzey’s Jerk Pork seasoning after being bathed in tangerine juice, lime juice, a little oil and a little Dale’s Seasoning, grilled over charcoal with a chunk of hickory and a couple sticks of cherry. Grilled to 160°F.

Jerked Pork SteakFor the record they didn’t look that big when I pulled them out of the freezer this morning.

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Well after our healthy meal yesterday we had a few extra black beans….my bad, so we decided to make some soup with it today and it was incredible, flavorful, hearty, easy to make and wife approved. We topped it with cilantro and a dollop of sour cream.  However it was not very photogenic so we forwent to photo.  Here is the recipe we used:

3/4 c dry black beans
4 strips of bacon (4oz), chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 chopped dried jalapenos
1 carrot chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 ground thyme
1/2 bay leaf
48oz chicken broth
1/2 tsp black pepper
sour cream and cilantro for garnish

Place beans in a bowl and cover by 3 inches of cold water, soak overnight.

Cook bacon in a large pot until golden, remove bacon from pan and discard all but 1 tbsp of bacon grease.

Add bacon back into pan with onion, garlic, jalapeno, thyme, oregano and bay leaf, saute until onion is softened, stirring frequently.

Add beans, chicken broth, and pepper.  Simmer partially covered stirring occasionally until beans are tender usually 2-2 1/2 hours.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro and possibly a little cheese.