2.) I made Beef Wellington and it is so good I honestly believe I may have just been promoted to minor cooking deity.
Beef Wellington, modified
...okay, it's not true Beef Wellington, though the recipe says it is. From AllRecipes.com, Individual Beef Wellingtons.
I went for a cheaper cut of meat for my first run through, since we all love tenderloin but not at $18 a pound for the first run at a dish that also involves me working with wine. Using two round steaks instead, I did pretty much the rest of the recipe as-is, but salted the meat on both sides and very lightly peppered one side of each. I sauted fresh mushrooms, half an onion, a stick of butter, and one half cup of red wine instead of sherry (I am not of the fondness for sherry), the mix never did hit paste level, but it worked pretty well anyway. I'd recommend three-quarter-thawed puff pastry at minimum--partial thaw was not easy to work with and it didn't quite puff as it should have. Side new potatoes boiled in their skins then mixed with parsley and butter (we are not a margarine people) and green beans. Total time prep to cooktime is about one hour, including thaw time for pastry. I'm thinking I'll be ready for tenderloin near a major holiday, or when I really want to impress someone.
It's excellent this way, tbh. My next step up will be with ribeyes and add Worchestershire sauce and mix a couple of the recipes together, since I don't like making anything the same way twice. I'm seriously considering one of the variations with pate. I don't like liver and I am not fond of meat in the pate form, but as a layer between the meat and the pastry, it may not be as objectionable. I also want to try a wine reduction instead of cooking it all down and then browning the meat in the saute before wrapping in the pastry; this cut was too thin to bother, but when I upgrade I'll get thicker cuts, as this one cooked well-done and we're more a medium-rare to medium family.
I really don't cook enough, but part of it is, by nature I'm an experimental cook but by inclination I'm a conservative eater. And people get weird when you won't eat what you cook, even though I've explained that really stupid things turn me off food and the entire gall bladder thing cause enough bad food associations that I'm fairly limited (am adding things back slowly, but it's, well, slow) that I can't afford to lose much more off my menu without a raw foods diet. Unusual flavor-texture combinations throw me; I love snow crab like whoa, but my tongue gets really rebellious really fast at how it feels, so I have to eat in small amounts very infrequently so I can keep liking it. This means once a year during beach time with the family. I have similar reactions to most fish (once a year, at the beach), shellfish (every few years), and some kinds of popcorn (don't. Ask. It's not consistent, but cheese popcorn and some kinds of powdery buttered popcorn are insta-nausea; I know they taste fine, but some part of my digestive-brain function short circuits).
One of the few dishes I always love to cook is chicken hash, because it's basically the equivalent of "What vegetables mix well with what leftovers in the oven for an hour?" and then I add onions, rosemary, and mushrooms to it, as mushrooms, let's just all say it, go with everything, and I have yet to find rosemary fail at anything.
Author's Random Aside
Latino, Mexican, and Venezuelan relatives stare at me in horror when I'm trying to convince them to put mushrooms in the napolitos con huevos omelets (delicious, still surprised by the fact I've been eating these for years and never realized the green things were cactus, just go with it), breakfast burritos (delicious) and um, fajitas, which does not end well for me (but? Delicious). Last time, they threatened to quiz me on my barely working, not really working all that well Spanish, which can only end in me having to look pathetic to my coworkers so they'll drill me, and okay, put it this way, my aunt is from Venezuela, my uncle's family is from Mexico, Spanish spoken by first generation citizens in Texas is not like the border which is not like the interior, and as it turns out, while I like making people laugh, I don't want to give everyone heart failure. At least, I would regret it later. Probably. Plus, my cousins are either quadrilingual or linguists who speak like, more languages than I have fingers so it's--okay, no mushrooms in fajitas in public, is what I'm saying. What I do in the privacy of my home is--private. Please God don't let them read this entry. They quiz me on second person plural. Which--why?]
Right, this is not my personal monolinguist's lament. Well, it is, but ignore it.
Besides hash (all hash, any hash, all hash is good hash), my core dishes are:
1.) Pot pie (hash with a crust)
2.) Chicken noodle casserole (involves cheese and very fine noodles)
3.) Beef Stroganoff (I finally gave up trying to add sour cream to the pot and hoping for coagulation, but mix flour and butter lightly in a separate pan, add a tiny bit of milk and then sour cream, create a thick paste, and add to pot; yes, I'm basically adapting a cream sauce recipe, I have no regrets, and it's delicious.)
4.) Wild rice and Chicken Casserole (you have the ingredients right in the name. Add mushrooms, water chestnuts, and broccoli for a minor but delicious religious experience).
5.) Potato soup (many types of potatoes, light grating of cheese on top, sometimes yes, mushrooms, sue me)
6.) Turkey (Thanksgiving only)
7.) Hamburger steak (extra mushrooms, many, many extra mushrooms)
8.) Breakfast casserole (eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage, ham, mushrooms (surprised?), onion, green pepper, thyme, sometimes only one meat, ideally any meat in the house I can kidnap for breakfast use)
9.) Omelets and scrambles (no one yet cottons on to the fact that I use the mixer and add milk to get that combination of fluffy deliciousness and malleability.)
10.) Bread, any bread, yeast or no (not a dish, just something to make up for the next section)
My Utter Failures
1.) Deep frying -- There's no reason I fail at this. But I do. I have been under the eye of my father (genius), my mother (genius), my little sister (I hate myself), and various Texas relatives who have thoughtfully considered I was actually born north of the Mason-Dixon due to my utter failure with fried chicken, chicken fried steak, porkchops, and gizzards (don't even judge). It's--weird. Like, once in a blue moon I can do it, but then it's all fire and panic and a lot of wasted flour.
2.) Cookies -- I honestly to God do not know what's wrong with me. I burn Nestle Toll House Pre-Made Dough. Burned on the outside, raw on the inside. This extends to all cookies. Exception: Peanut butter blossoms and any cookie cooked between December 15th and December 25th. Christmas fucking magic, that's the only explanation.
3.) Cake -- I'm not bad at it, per se, just--like, average. My sisters are both magic with cakes and decorating. Mine are--there.
4.) Greens and cabbage -- To be fair, this requires practice. Collard greens are fragile and delicious and I nail mashed turnips, so I have faith. A lot of my cabbage issues come from teh fact my grandmother was like a Cabbage Goddess and I mean, she had eighty years to get it right. It could be I'm not Slavic enough; my grandmother was Slavic-German-descended on both sides then married a guy from Oklahoma and then Dad married into a family that very possibly originated in New York six generations ago, and while I'm not aware that the Wends or the Berlinese carried a racial cabbage memory, I'm saying, I'm running out of explanations on why my cabbage is not cabbagey.
My Life, Oddly Enough
It's a shock to realize how much of the last year I lost.
I knew, theoretically, that I was depressed, and I even managed to admit it eventually, but the stupidest things are coming back suddenly and with a vengeance, and I don't mean just showering regularly and reinvesting in expensive hair care products.
I mean, I did like, five loads of laundry instead of my lackadistical approach of washing just enough to get through a day or two, and then hanging things up. I cleaned out a metric ton of old Amazon boxes, cleaned out my closet, hung up old winter coats languishing in piles, and realized I was competitive with Imelda Marcos for shoes because wow, I have a ton and I haven't worn most of them in a while. At work, I whirlwinded my desk and organized a year's worth of files that I'd just stacked and forgot and realized my cubicle actually has a ton of desk space. I updated my office supplies. I carried on normal conversations with coworkers.
I actually pulled out my makeup for use and tried waking up early enough to fix my hair instead of just clipping it up. I started cleaning my bathtub and let's not talk about that because what the fuck, and I threw out empty bottles and cleaned up after myself and actually took a moment to think, I need some new towels.
I'm find all these bits of myself I kept discarding because I just didn't care enough to deal with them.
I really want to try a new red on my hair now. Maybe have it done professionally, even.
I turned my server on. I even started charging my phone again. And now I feel like my projects are fun again, not ways to keep outrunning myself. I want to post the fic I finished months ago, and maybe then, I want to start something new.
I want to write a sequel to War Games. I really need to know how that vote went on Vulcan. It's bothering me.
Fanfiction for the Kindle
Iolokus by rivkat and mustangsally - still in my top five sheer comfort fic. X-Files! Plot! Action! Serial killers! Dectuplets! Domesticity! Evil cats!
Bowiebharata by mustangsally and rivkat - in my top three since season five Buffy when a friend sent me The Heart's Filthy Lesson and then Rivka ended up in Smallville and I thought God had like, answered a prayer. Buffy! Spike! Plot! Action! Moonlight! Egypt! Giant spiders! Um, all of it, I'll be honest, I re-read both series over the last week. I think I might commit murder for just one more in this series. I will still say this on my deathbed, pretty sure.
Identical by Lanning - Clark and Lex! Evil clones! Action! Adventure! Family! Um, the Smallville fic of my heart. And still in progress, thank you God.
Rough Edges by basingstoke - the Sherlock fic of my heart.
Intemperance by basingstoke - the other Sherlock fic of my heart.
The entirety of butterfly's AIRPS work.
The entirety of lightgetsin's Fullmetal Alchemist work.
That's like, barely a start. Calibre is so getting a workout.
...so that was rather long.
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