November 30, 2011

Easy Corn Chowder; or "How to Eat Canned Potatoes and Like It."

Someday, I will be a successful food blogger.  Between the combination of ad revenue, promotions at my so called "real" job, and writing articles for print I will buy myself Kitchenaid stand mixers with dough hooks and paddles.  I will have a walk-in pantry with multiple types of flour, present recipes for dry-aged beef with truffles, and write reviews of restaurants that actually require reservations and shirts that don't profess allegiance to sports teams or alcoholism.

But right now, "Catfish's Dishes" is exactly what it claims to be in the tag line: something between Iron Chef and a package of ramen.  Today we'll be leaning a bit closer to the latter than the former.  See, in the non-idealized world where I am a custodian and not a culinary expert, sometimes money simply runs out.  Boy breaks his glasses playing soccer, or Girl leaves her coat at school.  Wife misses a day at work.  Thanksgiving dinner gets out of hand in regards to largess.  Any number of things could happen to break the budget.  While I can respect the growing sentiment that Occupy should realize how much better they have it than people in third world countries, Wife and I and pretty much everyone I know ARE the 99%.  We have school debt and a non-existent savings account and live paycheck to paycheck.  That hasn't stopped me from trying to follow my passion, but it does mean that I can't always talk about the roast I made.  In fact, as we juggled Wife's shortened hours (from the holiday) and increased visitation from Girl (likewise,) I found myself in a position I used to be in frequently, and hope to avoid whenever possible.

November 29, 2011

Welcome Neighbor!

This post, or at least its title, has been sitting in my "draft" section for a few days now.  I was busy trying to find pictures from an earlier era, or get out a new post of my own so it didn't seem like I was just padding content.  To hell with it.  I have a shout out to make, and it isn't going to wait for the perfect framing device. 

November 21, 2011

Of Food Gone By

A few of you readers, the ones who have been here since the beginning (well, the second "beginning," I suppose) I know in real life.  We've worked together, gone to school together, hung out at parties or talked on Facebook.  Maybe we're even related.  Some of you (more and more, thank goodness) don't know me at all, except as the person who typed what you are reading.  The feature that counts page views tells me that you are there, although for the most part you are just lurking--I don't have that kind of following yet, that people feel obligated to comment on my every post. But like any good Thanksgiving festivity, today's post is about sharing.  Getting to know one another.

I don't have a recipe today. I haven't been to any restaurants, good or bad. I don't even have a grain of culinary wisdom to share. On this, the week of Thanksgiving, I just want to talk to you about something near and dear to all of us: food memories.

November 17, 2011

Gyro Shack (Review)

Wife was having a bad day week, and to be perfectly honest, so was I.  Boy has reached the age where he believes it possible to talk his way out of homework, and despite being a nine year old with a high school reading level, he ended up with a "D" in reading due to lazy and incomplete work.  The "stern parent talk" that happened at the end of the semester seemed to do the trick for a week or two, but he was right back at it, hiding away bits of his worm journal so he could claim to be done with his assignments and play the Wii.  Sunday started with the revelation that he had several weeks of work due on Monday, and each successive day revealed more hidden homework.  Only time will tell if the punishments leveled-from a missed meeting of the chess club to the first spanking handed out in over a year--will make an impact on him, but it was clearly weighing on us. 

It was with this crushing wall of negativity as a backdrop that I decided to relinquish my pocket money and take Wife out to eat.  I'd won a whopping ten dollars on a bet, and while I had intended to save it to feed my obsession, I felt I had to do something to perk Wife (and myself) up. 

November 10, 2011

Other People's Recipes: New Mexico Chocolate Cookie Crinkles

One of the nicest things about the fall and winter months is all the attention paid to tradition; while my family has rituals for the Fourth of July and the whole month of August is pretty much a party (with both mine and Wife's birthdays bracketing our anniversary over a three week period,) none of these things really stands up to the feelings generated between Halloween and the first week of the new year. Some of these traditions, like the yearly Zombie Walk I posted a picture of on Halloween, involve an activity, but whether it is roasting pumpkin seeds as a family or the deliciously unhealthy "sausage biscuits" Wife makes every Christmas morning, many of them revolve around the kitchen. 

That's why when my friend Mouse talked about the cookies her mom used to make for her, I knew I should try and make them myself.  I had been looking for something tasty to make for a friend who was in town, but even when that didn't pan out it I decided I would like to try and replicate the cookies Mouse had grown up on for her sake.  I had already tried to replicate her nostalgia once, on her birthday, with mixed results.  The candied apples I made in lieu of a cake looked beautiful, tasted wonderful, and played hell on your teeth.  My inexperience with candy thermometers made what could have been a perfect treat more reminiscent of the glass Christmas ornaments my punk friends used to eat to freak people out.  I wasn't going to let one mistake in the kitchen discourage me, however, so I set out to find a recipe.

November 9, 2011

Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder with Rosemary Potatoes and Butternut Squash

Fall.  It is perhaps my favorite season.  The Boise State Broncos are dominating opponents on the blue turf, the unrelenting heat of summer fades, and the calendar is filled with family celebrations.  While it is still over half a month until Thanksgiving, the chill in the air was making me pine for the type of food that takes all day to cook, whose aromas fill the house and makes stomachs growl; the type of food that makes dinner an event.  I had to ignore that desire the week of Halloween.  Our house was filled with guests, and we turned to quick fixes so that we could actually spend time with our company.  Pizzas, burritos, and pasta dishes all helped keep us out of the kitchen while satisfying the various dietary restrictions of our temporarily extended household.  The food tasted fine, and I had a great time with my friends, but as the last of them left for Oregon on the second I started planning how I was going to cure my craving.