duck liver corn flake coating, sweet onion in broth, angel hair pasta with cream sauce

When we lived in Pennsylvania and again when we lived in Louisiana my father was separated from us for months for additional training in Biloxi Mississippi. As kids we just hated these prolonged separations. Our whole family order falls apart. The posting in Louisiana allowed for us to travel to be with him because it's like, what, one state over and very near on the Gulf coast to New Orleans, actually. Heck of a vacation that, we all went there a couple of times, and boy, did we ever get an eyeful. We saw the base, of course, and played on the beaches, went through all the shops, ate out all the time, had fantastic seafood, but one particular scene among many others sticks out for our childhood impressions. We didn't know what we were seeing.

The scene is an old Southern wooden house with very large stacked porches. It reminds me of Streetcar Named Desire. We're looking down at the activity on the street from a screened porch. It's hot and airy up there if not actually breezy. It's noon. Suddenly my sister goes, "Bobby! Bobby! Bobby! Bobby! Bobby! Look it! Look it! Look it. Bobby, come over here and look it this." She was very repeaty when she got excited. We both peered over the edge to a skinny man in his twenties, old to us, rather poor in appearance, barefooted, t-shirt, loose pants rolled up, sitting on the hood of a car and smearing peanut butter from a jar onto an onion and eating the whole thing like an apple. 

Like an apple! 

Smear, chomp. Smear, chomp. Smear, chomp. We watched him devour the whole onion. It was a very large white onion. And that was his lunch.

It blew our minds.

The bizarre sight left a lasting impression. Years later we still couldn't get over that Mississippi guy eating a raw onion. 

How could he even do that? Imagine his breath! We had no concept of Georgian Vidalia onions. And had we just known we'd have been a lot smarter a lot earlier. Those onions are very sweet.

But I learned they do not store very well. When you buy them you must use them rather quickly. No sitting around the pantry in a bag for a month. 

And they lack the onion essence that make the whole allium family so useful in cooking. Although very good raw. They're less interesting cooked.

Now a lot of places hopped the sweet onion bandwagon, notably Walla Walla Washington and Maui Hawaii, Imperial Valley California is one of the leading growers, Carzalia New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, North Carolina, and these here are from Colorado. They're not so sweet as some others but they sure are good and they lack the sulfur component that make your eyes sting.

After searing in butter then chicken stock is added to the pan and covered until the onion is cooked through. The remaining liquid becomes the base for the sauce. Heavy cream is added to that along with additional seasoning. 

The same pan is rinsed out and butter added again to fry the livers. That takes only a few minutes until the livers become firm.

The livers were trimmed and cut into pieces and coated before starting the onions and boiling the pasta which also takes only a few minutes. The activity in the kitchen is rapid for these few minutes. The longest things are the onion halves softening in broth and bringing water to boil for pasta. After that, it's on.

Don't you hate getting down to the bottom of your box of corn flakes to find tiny bits and flake dust, then have to just throw it away? You can relieve the stress of corn flake waste by saving it in a jar. Box by box until you have enough to do things like this with it. It contributes an appealing crunchy texture to an otherwise texturally uninteresting protein. It's also useful for cookies. Imagine brownies with a crunch to them. This crunchy duck liver is very good. I'm glad that I thought of this. 

I love it when the liver is included with whole chickens. I was surprised to see it inside the frozen duck. I appreciate that. It amounts to another whole separate dinner. 

blueberries with cornflakes and whole milk


This is bread dough carelessly brought to its shaggy state.

Let me tell you a secret about bread dough *whispers* if you would bring it together simply like this and then walk away from it and leave it alone for ten or twenty minutes then the dough will be much easier to knead. The reason for that is the water begins to destroy the flour by activating and releasing enzymes within the wheat that ultimately destroys it. The tight protein molecules begin to unravel and that right there is half the work of kneading. Within minutes of kneading the unraveled proteins stick to each other forming a network that actually holds in air. You can feel in your hands the difference between dough that kneaded immediately, tough and uncooperative, and dough that has rested, baby soft and nearly self-kneading, or better stated, dough that just sat there deteriorating molecularly. 

Man, am I ever bummed out. I bought three types of sausages for this but when it came to making it I could find only two in the refrigerator, and I tore that whole thing apart looking for the third package.

Therefore I was forced to compensate creatively.

I have on hand grass-fed ground beef that I can spice up ridiculously intensely, and I have excellent top quality bacon. I also have fresh jalapeƱo peppers and sweet summer onions, and frozen Hatch chiles. 

Sauce can be omitted. 

Or the sauce can be anything. Even tomato paste diluted with water. This is nearly one full small tin of tomato sauce. The rest will be wasted. Or maybe I can use it for dipping.

roasted duck, simple salad

I don't know what I'm doing. 

I have no idea how Chinese make this taste so great.

And I haven't a clue what to do with the package of orange sauce they stuff inside this thing.


Deliciousness comes by deeper shades? 

We'll be the judge of that.

It's tough. 

And I am so tired of tough chicken and duck. 

Therefore I must overcook it. 

Well beyond all recommendations. 

So don't follow what I do here. Because I just flatly don't know how to pull this off. I'd never think about serving this at a party. Not until I learn what's going on. 

Cutting this thing up was a disaster. Its stupid little short duck legs that show are actually a lot longer inside the cavity. And how this thing ever gets off the ground and flies when alive is beyond my comprehension. It's heavier than its silly little wings can lift by appearances. They must get terribly tired flying around up there. 

Its taste is almost gamey, but not quite. I can see children not liking it at all. Whatever flavor imparted onto it must be rather strong. And I did a lot of chewing and tearing without that much reward for the effort. 

I put the rest back into the oven and doubled the time. Perhaps complete torrefaction is the Chinese key to success.

I should mention, I looked for real olive oil. My best bet would be a small jar from California. The type that I found comes in a black bottle, and it really is very good. Much better than anything I've used before. The difference is noticeable. And that combined with rice vinegar in equal portions makes a fine salad dressing. Pure. Simple. Unadulterated. And sweet. I found best to drizzle from a spoon instead of trying to block flow from the bottle with a finger. How gross. And the side benefit is knowing the precise measurements, here, if you can believe it, two tablespoons each. That's not the ratio of oil/vinegar you read in recipes, but that's what works for me with gentle rice vinegar. 

steamed rice with roasted red pepper, baked beans

This is the last of the rice and beans and now that they're gone I want more. 

Right now.

The rice is steamed with a piece of kombu and that really does change it remarkably.

The roasted bell pepper comes directly from a jar. And when you think about it, expensive as it is, it's really not that much for a couple of red bell peppers already roasted as it is for two fresh red bell peppers. Especially red peppers in Maui. Jeeze, those things were expensive. Five dollars for one pepper.

The beans are not baked. That was lie. They were done much more quickly than that by pressure instead. And they have high quality bacon and not cheap @ss salt pork as Boston baked beans do, and they have brown sugar that is made with molasses, rather than straight black strap molasses as Boston baked beans do. And they're boiled from dried beans in half an hour under 7 LBS pressure rather than from beans soaked overnight and then baked all day as Boston baked beans are. 

Two things so basic. So fundamental. So unadorned. Together they make a complete protein. So easy to do. So inexpensive. I miss them already.

Today I saw a tiny woman of Mexican persuasion with a shopping trolly filled with prepared frozen dinners, and I thought, "Now here's a woman who does not like to cook." 

This is a meal she could do. 

I mentioned the woman I saw to another woman while waiting at the deli department, you know how you strike up casual conversation with strangers, and we both delighted in mocking her poor food choices together, bonding right there over our superior choices and our own useful talents. It was fun.

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