Thursday, January 13, 2011

Do Blue Skies Inspire Cooking?

Blue skies of San Miguel. This is such a beautiful time of the year. The sky is so, so blue. Seldom any clouds. The days are warm and the nights chilly. No wonder we get so many people from the North at this time of the year. And what is really nice is that they aren't tourists who breeze in for a few days and then out. They come and stay until the end of March or April or maybe even May. This is great because we have time to build long term friendships.

When we picked up the mail I had three Fine Cooking magazines waiting for me. One was the Thanksgiving issue, another Christmas but the last one was the February-March issue with some cold weather recipes like several one-pot dinners and eight recipes for meatloaf.  There are some good variations on these two staple recipes, especially for the meatloaf. Some combinations that I might not have thought about.

Last night I didn't follow one of the recipes for a one pot dinner but they did inspire me to cook one. I had a big chicken so I used the thighs, legs and wings. Seasoned it, browned it in my enameled cast iron pot, then added some minced celery, maybe two ribs of celery. I added mushrooms, carrots, slivers of garlic and some small onions I quartered since you can't find boiler onions here. Then a cup of white wine, a cup of chicken stock and some water to get enough liquid. Also added some rubbed sage and of course, salt and pepper. Put the top on the pot and put it in the oven at 300 degrees for a slow cook. I would have cooked it on top of the stove but I can't adjust my stove low enough for a low simmer. I served it with some couscous left over from the night before.

This issue of Fine Cooking also includes a 30-minute menu for a Special Valentine Supper. Oh, it is so enticing. I love lobster and the recipe is for a Vodka-steamed lobster with tomato-thyme butter sauce. Vodka lobster for Valentine. I love that image so I'm thinking I might have to try Vodka-steamed shrimp since I do not think I'll find a tank of lobster sitting in any market or grocery store in San Miguel.

I don't know why, but I love to cook in San Miguel. In the last two days I have made banana nut bread, red snapper in a puttanesca sauce, carrot soup and the chicken-in-a-pot. Today, I think I'll actually follow a recipe for shrimp with rice noodles. It has a bit of an Asian flare to it. Also, it is time to get back to bread making. This afternoon I'm planning to start a recipe for a no-knead bread of some kind.

Maybe the blue skies of San Miguel inspire me. Or maybe I like the shopping and searching in lots of tiendas to find the ingredients. Or maybe I like having to use my creativity to come up recipes that work here. Or maybe I just like to cook.


Steve Cotton said...

I love to cook in Mexico because I like the smell of a good pot of beans wafting through the house.

Sam and Bob said...

You are one busy go girl!

debbie said...

So glad to hear you're home safe and sound. Couldn't access your blog for several days, something about connections?? Sure do wish we were there with you, any time of year. Yes, Fine Cooking outdid themselves with the meatloaf. Construction here is still noisy but at least I'm down to only one crutch and I can get out now. Fruit Tree Sale on Saturday then I can breathe again. Debbie & Guy

mcm said...

This is not a good post to read when you're hungry! Or maybe it is...
Here in Yucatan, winter is definitely the best time of the year for serious cooking, and especially using the oven or the top burners for extended periods, because of the heat from Spring through Fall.
By the way -- for several months I had thought that my stove (a Mabe) did not have a low (simmer) setting for the burners. It was very frustrating. Then one day, I accidentally discovered that, after turning the burner on to high, if you slowly turn the knob CLOCKWISE, almost to off, the flame lowers to very low level, for simmering. On my stovetop, the low & medium settings are reached by turning the knob COUNTERCLOCKWISE from the high setting, and I'd just assumed that there was no simmer setting possible.

Billie said...

Sam, just like is a fun for me....most of the time.

Steve, your comment is a reminder that I need to get a pot of beans on simmering. It does make the house smell like home.

Debbie, so glad you are down to one crutch.

mcm, the recipe I made tonight was a shrimp with rice noodles and cilantro. Perfect for hot weather except you do have to cook the rice noodles but the rest of the dish requires some chopping, prep time but the actual cooking is about 5 or 6 minutes. I was surprised that Ned ate it when last night he didn't eat much of the old homey chicken in a pot thing....and it was delicious. You just never know with chemo what is going to taste good to the patient. My stove is a Mabe so I'll play with the dial and see if it is as talented as yours.

Anonymous said...

any chance you could post one of those meatloaf recipes? i'm a very good cook but for some reason, i have only once succeeded in making a good meatloaf. unfortunately, i misplaced the recipe.

love the picture of the pinata and blue skies. lots of rain here but it's better than the snow and 18 deg. temps. we had last week!

have a great weekend billie.

teresa in lake stevens

Cynthia said...

There is a cold wind blowing here. I can't wait to get on back to those blue skies!