Monday, November 21, 2011

The Meal in One

Again this year, SuperTarget has a screaming pre-Thanksgiving deal on almost all the ingredients in a super easy dinner I sometimes make.  It's called the "Meal in One." 

(Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup: 59¢, Campbells's tomato soup: 52¢, Del Monte canned green beans: 49¢, Betty Crocker Instant Potatoes: 89¢)

The Meal in One is a completely stereotypical Minnesota hotdish, but ironically my sister's Montana mother-in-law taught me how to make it.  If you want to give it a try, here's how:  Brown a pound of ground beef.   Meanwhile, in another pan, prepare the instant potatoes above (or if you already have some leftover mashed potatoes in your fridge, skip this step).  Once the beef has been browned, add the contents of the cans shown above (one can of cream of anything soup, one can of tomato soup and one can of vegetables).  Stir together the ingredients and transfer to a baking dish.  Top with scoops of mashed potatoes and shredded cheese.  Bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes or until bubbling.  That's it.  Hearty, tasty, and super easy.  Sometimes I add onions to the ground beef, and sometimes I double the vegetables.  Frozen vegetables are also fine.  It always tastes good.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Chef Ehren

Every once in awhile, Ehren gets on a creative streak in the kitchen.  If you tell him you're making a "secret" recipe, there's a good chance he'll like it {within reason}.  He's intrigued by the idea of secret recipes.  Sometimes, when he really likes one of my "secret" recipes, he tells me, "You should put that on the computer" (he means this blog).  Sometimes he dreams up his own recipes, secret or otherwise.

Tonight, I was trying to introduce the kids to Gravad Lax (cured salmon), which I picked up from Ikea.  I admit that even I have a love/hate relationship with cured salmon and herring.  Sometimes I love it, and other times, it gags me a little.  Anyway, I was pumping up the kids to try it, explaining that it's salmon, but you eat it cold.  I also told them how it's made by covering a salmon fillet with spices and sugar and pressing them into the meat to preserve it.  Believe me, explaining the process makes the food seem ten times more intriguing.  They all tried a little.  Anna liked it and asked for more.  Christian gave me the sideways thumb rating (not thumbs up, not thumbs down), which means it's just ok, but no seconds, thanks.  Ehren tried it and said, eyes lit up, "I have an idea!" 

He buzzed over the microwave and made what is commonly known as a "cheesy pizza" in our house: a corn tortilla topped with shredded cheese and heated in the microwave.  He cut the tortilla pizza into triangles with our pizza cutter and then proceeded to deftly tuck a small piece of Lax under the edge of the melted cheese on each triangle.  "Look mom, it's salmon-stuffed cheesy pizza."  Before you get too impressed, he only ate one piece of his cooking masterpiece.  This often happens with his "secret" recipes.  They don't taste quite as amazing in real life as they did in his imagination, but still, I love his enthusiasm.


Today when I realized it was sixty-five degrees out, I decided it was now or never. Time to plant my garlic and winter onions!  I'm always a little behind with fall planting, but this year I had an excuse.  Dan's been working on building new garden boxes below the main garden.   Because most of our back yard is a hill, we need to terrace to increase our tillable area.. The whole garden has been a disaster area work-in-progress since September.  

Our soil is poor and high in clay content, so before planting, Dan and I worked some dead leaves into the soil to loosen it and provide a few nutrients.  I planted one row of winter onions and one row of garlic.  This year's garden didn't produce as much garlic as I would have liked, so it was painful to raid my garlic jar for planting.  I planted the cloves as deep as I could push them with my finger, and I spaced them about 3-4 inches apart.

As for winter onions, I don't think many people know what they are.  You plant them in the fall and when they come up the next spring, you pull the green onions (scallions) and eat them while they're small (in the spring and early summer).  You leave a few plants, and after they flower, they develop heads of small bulbs.  In the fall, you harvest these bulbs (the sets) and plant them again for the next spring.  My grandpa always grew them, but somehow no one in our family saved the sets from his garden.  A few years ago, I found a seed catalog from Wisconsin that sold them.  The catalog called them "Egyptian Walking Onions".  My dad, my uncle and I have all been growing them now for a few years.  They are not quite as sweet as the ones my grandpa grew, and you can't pull them up easily (you need a small spade), but they're still enjoyable.  I wish, wish, wish we had saved sets from my grandpa's garden!