Category: Cooking the redheadedgirl way

So it’s been AGES since I’ve posted- this semester kicked my ass in an annoying way, and I’ve been SO exhausted just going into finals, then doing the finals, then recovering… I’m finally at the point where I don’t fall into a nap-like stupor in the afternoons.

That hasn’t stopped me from watching a bunch of my Lord of the Rings extended edition DVDs with some of the features and commentaries. Also I scrubbed the kitchen floor, so. I haven’t been shiftless, just… homebound. Oh, I made a skirt, too. well, mostly, I still have the hem to do.

So instead of writing about this semester, I thought I’d give you all a recipe. Well, a couple.

I adore the slow cooker more than is truly reasonable. And this summer I’m making an effort to eat better and to cook more- I have some time and stuff. And I really like cooking. So I also really like Stephanie O’Dea’s cookbook Make It Fast, Cook It Slow . She based the first book she did off of her blog, A Year of Slow Cooking. So I’ve done some of her recipes and they generally turn out pretty good.

(My biggest problem with cooking is that I am fundamentally incapable of cooking for less than 4. Which is fine, until I get tired of my leftovers).

Anyway, I had some sun-dried tomatoes leftover from a pasta sauce I’d made the week before, and I found a recipe for Sundried tomatoes and feta tri-tip. Now, that sounded pretty good, but I don’t really like feta. I do love bleu cheese, though…

So off to the grocery store I went, and got the other ingredients along with brocolli and some other stuff, and got to the meat. And I had NO idea what tri-tip was, and didn’t see any cuts that said it was tri-tip, and the roasts were kind of expensive, so I ended up getting 2ish pounds of shoulder cut, I think. It was on special.

Now, by the time I got home, it was 4 pm, (on Rapture day) and my roommate was like “you’re making dinner in the slow cooker when the end of the world is supposed to start in 2 hours? Nice!” (no, she was not serious. Neither of us were terribly concerned about the end of the world.) and I wanted to eat before midnight, so I cooked it on high for like, 4 hours.

I made one of those rice and pasta mixes for one side- the herb and butter one blended well with the sauce. For a veg, I made roasted brocolli with balsamic vinegar, which was AMAZING if I do say so myself (and I do, obviously).

The meat on day one was a bit tough, but aging it for a day or so as leftovers was AMAZING. I want to try this again with a different cut of meat, but the sauce was amazing.


Pot roast!

So, for an example of food to make while you’re doing other stuff, today I am making pot roast in the crock pot. I have all these cookbooks, and I use them for ideas, but rarely really use the recipes. But Make It Fast, Cook It Slow is a good one for crock pot ideas.

My roommate got me some blue potatoes at the farmers market the other day, and I got a hunk of beef (a roast of some kind-the grocery store labeled it as “good for slow cooking!” and that was enough for me. 😛 ) and some veggies and went to town.

1 white onion, handful of blue potatoes, parsnips, celery, mushrooms, garlic, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, rosemary, black pepper, salt, chunk of beef.

Slice the white onion, put in bottom of crock pot.
sear the beef in a par with hot olive oil
Chunk up the potatoes, parsnips, celery, and mushrooms if you didn’t get them presliced.
Throw it all in to the crock pot, pour the broth (I made 4 cups of bullion, because I had that already) and a couple glugs of worcestershire sauce. Add in the garlic, pepper, salt, and herbs.
Turn the crock pot on low for 8-10 hours, or high for…. 4? 5? Until the meat is done.

This should keep me in food for four meals.

Want a nickel’s worth of free advice?

Finals are coming up. For you 1Ls, it’s hellish. I won’t lie. It will suck. But you will survive.

First, study. Make sure you know your shit. If you haven’t figured out the best way to outline for you, it’s okay. A friend of mine last year said she wasn’t sure what worked best, so she tried “everything.” Then she wasn’t too happy with her performance at the end of the semester- I think she was working hard, but not working smart. She calmed down a bit in the spring and was much happier. The E&Es saved my ass in Contracts and Civ pro last year. Use them.

Second, relax a bit. Going into finals exhausted and burned out isn’t going to be helpful. There is plenty of time during finals for that.

Third, food. Try to eat as best you can. When we got into the final stetch last year, I got a huge food order delivered from Peapod, and spent a day listening to BarBri lectures on my Ipod while cooking several meals- I made a huge pot of chili, a lasagna, and bbq chicken in the crockpot. Kept me fed for the week and a half I did not have the time or energy to spend on cooking, and did not have the money to spend on takeout.

Fourth, exam week. GET SLEEP. All nighters will only kill you. I stop studying for the next day’s exam around sundown. As my grandfather said, “I always liked the nights before exams. I didn’t have to do anything.”

Fifth, the exams themselves. Most of my exams were mixed multiple choice questions and essays. I learned in the spring that the best method for me was the read the essay question first, jot down a few ideas, and then do the MCQs. Once i was done with them, I would then do the essay questions. That gave the essay time to percolate, I worked through the issue spotting on the subconscious, and I did a LOT better on my exams.

Now if you will excuse me, I have an Evidence outline to deal with.

Duck Soup

I like food. Food is lovely. Food also costs money, and my loans only go so far (and it appears that requiring knee surgery lost me my part time job in a bookstore, which I am really quite livid about. Three years and coming in for two months between injury and surgery WITH A TORN UP KNEE, and following the direction in the employee handbook was apparently not enough to keep the job. FMLA doesn’t apply, because I am…. was…? too part-time and didn’t work enough hours in the past 12 months), so foodie impulses are hard to realize.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I got the urge to cook a duck in the crockpot. Duck is yummy. Duck is ridiculously yummy. Duck is also not the cheapest poultry out there. But it’s so much yummier than a factory raised tasteless chicken. Duck can also be a little hard to find in conventional grocery stores.

My law school is not far from Boston’s Chinatown, and on the way to the T, there is the Chinese grocery store. I often buy veggies there, because they are insanely cheap. I figured that the odds of them having duck were pretty good, even as I was steeling myself to have to buy a duck with head attached. And they did! They had ducks with head, ducks with head and feet, and for a dollar more, a duck with no head and no feet. I decided the dollar was worth it. (I have helped slaughter and butcher chickens and rabbits. It’s one thing to accept that you have to deal with the head of chicken that you… you know what? It’s totally not logical, not at ALL, but I did not want to deal with head and feet. So I didn’t.)

So Sunday I bought the duck, and some potatoes, garlic, and a giant onion bigger than my fist. On Mondays, my first class is at 3 pm, so I assembled the duck in the crockpot before I left for the day.

Here is what I did:

Pull duck of out fridge to discover it’s still frozen solid. Put duck in a water bath in the sink to at least thaw enough to remove the giblets.
Chop potatoes into chunks, put in the bottom of the crockpot.
Chop up onion and the apple you already had.
Peel a small head of garlic
Pull out duck, pry loose the neck. Decide the remaining giblets (not in a plastic pouch) are not worth fishing for.
Shove as much onion, apple, and garlic in the duck as possible.
Put the duck in the crockpot.
Frown when the duck is still frozen enough that it won’t easily mush down to fit in the crockpot.
Twist the legs around so the fit better.
put the remaining apples and onions and garlic around the duck.
Put on lip, and then put a heavy book on top (Con Law is a good bet) to hold the lid down.
Turn on low, go to class.
Come home ten hours later to wonderful smelling apartment, make roasted asparagus, eat dinner of duck, asparagus, and potatoes that have roasted in duck fat.

Later that night, I pulled the rest of the easily gettable meat from the carcass, and put the carcass plus the leg and wing bones in the freezer to make soup later.

Later, by which I mean today. I made the stock Thursday night (take carcass, put in stockpot with a chopped onion, more garlic, bring to a boil, let simmer until bedtime, pull out the bones), and about two hours ago, I put the stock, which has a LOT of meat in it, diced potato, chopped leek, mushrooms and peas (and thyme, rosemary, pepper, salt) back in the crockpot and will have me some duck soup tonight.

So that comes to at least 7 meals (three from the initial roast, four I’m expecting from the soup) from $26 for everything. Not too bad.