Sanitation & Jazz

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I have a 17+ year old calico cat, she has aged well sleeping with me every night since 6th grade.

Recently my little furry friend has taken to drinking from the toilet (gross!) & tub after we shower (double gross!) luckily we don't leave any chemicals in either, so she is still alive.

But, this morning my husband caught her doing something a bit more surprising.

That is my kitchen sink! Those are dishes my husband used to warm up his dinner last night. I'm not sure if she was eating dried bits of steak or a pool of water from the drippy faucet. And, I really don't care. I think it is NASTY. Mostly because I watched her drink from the tub just a few hours earlier.

I don't wash my dishes in toilet water, and I don't like the idea of Ms. Jazz spreading bathroom germs to the kitchen. (Note: I'm not really worried about common cat germs)

So, after class tonight, and after I scoop the KL for trash night. I'm cleaning the kitchen... and maybe installing a door into the hallway to our bedroom so she can't visit the kitchen when I'm not looking.

Oh, and we do provide her fresh water on a daily (mostly twice a day) she apparently likes these "fresher" sources better. Maybe it is time for a kitty fountain.

Vodka, Shrimp & Okrah

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Last night I needed to make a quick dinner. We haven't been grocery shopping in over a week so options are limited to begin with, but I hadn't thawed anything. The solution?

Shrimp Tempura, Misc Tempura Veggies & rice (I think we have rice or pasta with every meal)

Cook's Illustrated had an interesting recipe for the coating - it included Vodka. My husband, a former bartender, appreciates anything that includes alcohol. (bread pudding coating in rum sauce, beer bread, tiramisu, me after bottle of wine, etc.) So when I finally returned home from class I/we got started with the quick and easy dinner. Of course I was missing seltzer, so Jordan ran off to the store as I chopped veggies and cooked the rice.

The result (after quite a few minor burns from popping grease) was a delicious plate of fried food. Not our healthiest dinner, but it sure was delicious.

Note: Subscriptions to Cook's Illustrated are 50% off right now. I DO NOT get any kick backs for you signing-up (but if you get the 2011 Buying Guide I'd love to see it)

Naan Bread

This past Sunday I had the pleasure of getting together with some dear friends from grade school. The menu for the night was something unique that could please eveyone's pallet.

Naan Bread
Chicken Tikka Masala
Bread Pudding (made by Nikki)

For quite a long time Naan bread has interested me. The texture, the taste, and the fact that only fresh naan bread from a semi-authentic Indian restaurant would ever fulfill my craving. After careful research (a quick google search) I found a recipe with over 1000 positive reviews on

I tried cooking it two different ways. First, in a skillet on the stove top using olive oil and a nonstick pan. It looked great and tasted delicious (when you add the butter is tastes familiar maybe like a flat bread version of Little Caesars Crazy Bread) Then I thought I'd get creative and cook the rest in the oven on a pizza stone.

Both methods worked well - however the stove top cooking gave me more control (and I was able to keep a MUCH closer better eye on it)

Culinary School...well SafeServ Sanitation & First Aid Class

My first day back to school was quite exciting. The elevators at IVY Tech (I think there are only two or three) had quite a line so I took the stairs.... to the 5th floor. I arrived a bit early to my class and met Chef Angie & Dave (a fellow student)

Chef Angie was engaging and dynamic something I think will come in quite handy.

I was reminded again that I don't have a clearly articulated goal for what I am doing. I know I want to "learn to cook" but I also want to enter the world of nutrition (biology classes her I go ::gag::) I'm not sure if I want to be a private chef (cooking in your home when you don't want to ... the collective yous not just one person) or if I want to run a corporate dinning hall (not the kind run by Armark with fried junk, and stale bread) or maybe I'll do what my mom suggested and run a highend food truck service.

At this point it doesn't matter, I'm going to take some classes and enjoy learning new things. I don't have to have master plan, and I don't have to know where I'm going. I just know that being in that class last night was where I wanted/should be.

It's kind of nice... kind of peaceful.

BJ's Oatmeal Muffins

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Just last week my MIL gave me a wonderful recipe for Jordan's favorite muffin. This super easy recipe was the perfect thing to make this morning as Jordan headed to Chicago for a Bachelor party. I was able to use my new food processor to make the Traditional Oats I had on hand "Quick Oats" by pulsing them a few times and re measuring. This saved me a trip to the store, and let me use something I always keep in my pantry (aka one of the various cabinets I stash food and not an actual pantry)

I was a little worried when I checked on the muffins after 10 minutes the outsides look as if they were rising but the middle wasn't peaking. Luckily I didn't ditch the batch and just start over because they turned out wonderfully.

So here is Brenda's recipe.

BJ's Oatmeal Muffins (16 large or 24 regular)
From: Brenda

Cooking time 25 minutes
Preheat oven to 400-425

1 1/2 Cups self-rising flour
1 Cup Brown Sugar (I also now add 1/4 - 1/2 cup White Sugar)
1 1/4 cups Quick Oats
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 Cup Milk
1/4 veg. oil (or 1/2 cup applesauce)
2 eggs

Combine all dry ingredients mixing well, Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Pour into prepared (buttered) metal muffin pan.

Italian Beef Sandwiches - Susie Wiseman (perhaps also from the Gold & Black team that shall not be named Tailgate Cooking Contest)

This recipe made enough for Jordan to have left overs for several lunches and dinners. He LOVED it. I used a smaller roast than called for, and used about half the juice to make a gravy for mashed potatoes. Seriously delicious!

Recipe: Italian Beef Sandwiches
From: Susie Wiseman

Cooking Time Low 10 - 12 hours in the CrockPot

4-alb Beef Roast (boneless)
1 tsp. (cayenne) red pepper
2 tsp basil & 2 tsp oregano (or 3-4 tsp mixed Italian Spices)
1 pkg Onion Soup Mix (Lipton or other)
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder) I used quite a bit more garlic
1 1/2 - 2 cups water

Put all ingredients & water in crockpot. Add Roast. Cook on low 10-12 hours, or until meat falls apart (- or you can cook on High for less time). You can cut roast in smaller pieces & it won't take as long.

Shred beef & refrigerate w/any juice left in crockpot.

Make day before game. Before using, heat beef & put in large mouth thermos serve on sub buns. (Leftovers freeze well)

Monkey Bread - Kristin & Jeff

My dear friend Kristin gave me this amazing recipe for Monkey Bread. It is a Christmas Morning Tradition in her family. A super simple recipe that can be made as kids unwrap presents this delightful bakery treat was a HUGE hit with the guys over for Beer Night last weekend.

Jordan was quite upset I had waited a year + before trying this super simply recipe. (My bad) It is amazing.

Recipe: Monkey Bread - A Christmas Morning Tradition =)

From: Krsitin & Jeff

Cooking Time 30 min.
Preheat oven to 350

2 Cans Biscuits
1 Cup Sugar
Cinnamon to taste (I used 2 tsp)
3/4 Cup Butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 TBSP maple syrup (I used the real stuff)

Cut each biscuit into quarters. Put 1 cup sugar & cinnamon into Ziploc bag, add cut biscuits & shake until well coated. Grease Bundt pan put biscuit pieces into pan & let rise.

Mix butter, brown sugar syrup & a little cinnamon in sauce pan over medium heat, bring to a boil.

Pour liquid over biscuits.

Bake at 350 for 30 mintues, remove from oven & let stand for 5 minutes.

Invert onto plate/platter - serve warm!

Can you make this 7-day menu with your grocery budget?

Friday, June 3, 2011

"WASHINGTON, June 2, 2011 – First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today unveiled the federal government’s new food icon, MyPlate, to serve as a reminder to help consumers make healthier food choices. MyPlate is a new generation icon with the intent to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at meal times and to seek more information to help them do that by going to The new MyPlate icon emphasizes the fruit, vegetable, grains, protein and dairy food groups." excerpt from the USDA Press Release

Let me first say I am completely in favor of an updated symbol of healthy nutrition, the new-ish food pyramid (not pictured above) was confusing. This new plate graphic does work, but I'm sad to see the pyramid I grew up with go.

I was quite surprised by the Sample Menus for a 2000 Calorie Food Pattern. This document can be found on under News & Media.

The menu says that "While this 7-day menu provides the recommended amounts of food and key nutrients, it does so at a moderate cost. Based on national average food costs, adjusted for inflation to March 2011 prices, the cost of this menu is less than the average amount spent for food, per person, in a 4-person family."

This menu uses over 100 ingredients and quite often just a portion of a canned item... And, while I understand you would need to multiply that quantity by 4 I don't think the math makes this cost effective.
So - I've made a summary of all of the ingredients, and during lunch today I am going to try and price common sizes. What do you think, could you feed your family this 7-day menu on your current grocery budget?

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