Friday, September 25, 2009

Farina, my best breakfast

With few exceptions, my husband Jimmy doesn't really like the things I cook. One of these (exceptions) is my special farina breakfast. I just follow the directions on the box to make two servings. But I add some things:

A banana, sliced (half in the bottom of each bowl)

Then, I add about 1/3 cup each of the following ingredients to the pan just before serving:

C'raisons (that's a brand name for dried, sweetened cranberries)
Dried blueberries
Chopped walnuts, chopped pecans or chopped almonds (or any combination thereof)

After mixing in these ingredients, I divide the hot cereal equally into the two bowls with banana slices in the bottom, top with pats of butter and some brown sugar, then serve.

This is yummy; Jimmy scrapes his bowl clean. He adds a packet of artificial sweetener to his. I'm a fat lover and sometimes add a splash of half 'n' half to mine.

We have this healthy breakfast with some orange juice.

If you want old-fashioned (slower cooking) farina you'll have to buy it at a health food store (not Whole Foods!) because you can't find it in regular grocery stores. They only sell the kind that's been treated with disodium phosphate to make it cook faster (2 1/2 minutes). I did talk to one grocery store manager and he said he could special order the regular kind, but I haven't done that, partly because I like the fast cooking. Lazy me!

I also make the same basic recipe with quick cooking oatmeal (rolled oats). I think the oatmeal is healthier but Jimmy likes the farina kind best.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Very bad fried okra

I love okra. I really like just plain boiled okra. You know, the slimy kind. I grew okra last summer and again this summer. Last summer, I had about 8 plants; this year, only two. One of these is extremely productive.

The trouble with okra after these start producing is that you have to eat or freeze what the plants produce. I still haven't got the knack.

You can't eat them raw like cherry tomatoes. They're too fuzzy. Actually mine are downright prickly before they're cooked.

I had a old slew saved up in the fridge and today decided to make fried okra to please my husband, Jimmy. I started by washing them and chopping off the ends; then I sliced them.

Then I dumped the sliced okra into a mixture of egg and milk.

Then I used a slotted spoon add them to a cornmeal mixture in a Tupperware container designed for marinating meat. It has a top that seals really well so you can turn it over during marination.
I shake it so the cornmeal get all over the okra.

To the cornmeal mixture, I had added way too much Spike, some onion salt and garlic powder.
I also added some of my home-grown lemon-scented oregano and too much plain salt. My daughter used to fuss at me because I didn't cook with enough seasonings so now that she's out on her own, I've started adding anything and everything to spice things up.

I fried the okra in a Dutch oven like cast iron skillet in a combination of butter, olive oil and safflower oil. I did not deep fat fry the okra. I don't know how to do that and besides I would be terrified of the amount of hot grease needed to deep fry anything.

Despite my dipping the okra in an egg and milk mixture before "dredging" them, most of the corn meal mixture fell off the okra immediately. To make matters worse the loose cornmeal and that stuck to the okra got slightly burned.

Oh, well.

On his way to the kitchen to get his share of the okra and salmon patties I cooked to go with it, my husband said, "I've about decided the best thing to do is eat TV dinners. You don't have all the mess..."

"And they usually taste better," I added as he returned to the living room.

"Yeah," he said after he sat down again, "It doesn't make any sense to make all that mess for something that tastes like squat."

He's right. That fried okra was worse than squat. It was too salty and too grainy. The taste of okra was lost along with the slime.

That's the last time I fry okra.