The Pot Thickens… Musings of an Amateur Cook
So happy to have you here!
My name is Julie Lancaster-Whann and welcome to my:
The Pot Thickens… Musings of an Amateur Cook
So, what makes me an ‘Amateur?’ Easy! I don’t get paid!
And, because I don’t get paid you have every right to believe my words as being sincere because no one is paying me to sell you something.
I do not have a degree in the Culinary Arts like my husband, Gordon, but I do have a PHD in Life Experiences. I’ve pretty much been eating for the past 59 years. Well, there was that bout of anorexia that I had in high school where I was drop dead skinny gorgeous! (From lack of food.) But, that only lasted for a year or two. And there was that eating disorder I had that lasted a few decades.
I hope to make this blog post fun and informative and I hope you will tune in occasionally to see what I have to say.
So, kick your shoes off and pull up a chair. Wine is mandatory here btw, so fill that wine glass. If you don’t have a wine glass and are using some regular kitchen glass? OMG! Then go out and buy one! We have standards here, ya know!
Me, with my Easy Bake Oven, age 5
What more proof do you need that I am qualified to blog about food?
I was also a Candy Cane aficionado for obvious reasons.
I have been wanting to start some sort of blog post about food and kitchen related/food related interests that I have. I never knew where to place in my website these things. Which is why I created this post. I am very excited to write about it here. I hope you are too. 🙂
One of my favorite pizza’s I buy from Sprout’s.
It’s an Italian Sausage.
Blog Post Musings Start Here
CURRENTLY MARINATING IN MERLOT
(Myself, not some recipe.)
Sushi, Always a Favorite
October 29, 2020
The Pot Thickens…. Again!
November 22, 2020
Nigella Lawson, ‘Cook, Eat, Repeat’
The many ‘Post It’s’ are just because those areas just feel so familiar.
Cook, eat, repeat, cook, eat, repeat, cook, eat, repeat……
The British cook, Nigella Lawson, has just released her 12th. book, Cook, Eat, Repeat. She lives in London, England and her new book did just debut on October 29, 2020 in the United Kingdom. Her book will not be released here in the states until April 2021. She is someone that I have followed since the early 2000’s from when I first discovered her on The Style Network from when we were living in Maryland. That is also when I discovered Rachel Ashwell and her Shabby Chic T.V. shows as well. I’ve been a fan of both women since then.
My Nigella Collection
(My Rachel Ashwell Collection is just to the left on this shelf.)
As you can see I have every one of her books and most of her video’s. When my friend Trish was living she would send me the New Zealand magazines and sometimes Nigella was in them. I also have those above as well. I do happen to love Nigella’s Christmas episode’s the best. The photography/cinematography is excellent! Her Christmas episode’s are very high quality. (All the episode’s are.) I also love the music. Music really does make a show. (One of my favorite movies is Twilight. Only because of the music. You take the music away and I could care less.) Editing is also everything and whoever edits deserves great credit as well. Nigella herself also deserves tremendous credit as these are her show’s that she stars in.
My favorite cookbook of hers is her Nigella Christmas. It’s just so beautiful and festive. Some of the recipe’s just get you very excited to make them and to share with others. I know that we have in the past. She has a recipe for excellent Bourbon Ribs and we adore her Drunken Devil’s on Horseback each year.
But, I do have to say that this particular cookbook, Cook, Eat, Repeat, just has a different feel to it than her last ones. First of all, the title, Cook, Eat, Repeat summons up to me something very easy, fun, and childlike. Something Dr. Seuss would come up with. But yet it isn’t anything he would come up with. And then there is the ‘A for Anchovy’ chapter which comes first. That also summons up a child like book, yet when you read the chapter, there is nothing childlike about it. I have never heard anyone describe their love of anchovy’s the way that she does and all that I can think is that if I ever come back as a fish, PLEASE do not have me be an anchovy! Nigella would eat me! I want to be an unappetizing fish just so that I can have some sort of a life in the sea without fear of being eaten.
I also came to realize that she loves food way more than me. And also, way more than I will ever.
But, I suppose that is what makes her the expert.
You know, I am not qualified to judge her cookbook as some expert, other than to give my personal opinion on it. I am not a trained chef, or book writer critic. My husband is the one with the culinary degree. I cannot dare to tell you what ingredients go best with this food, or that. I can only offer up my opinion of the foods themselves that are being presented to me. Would I choose to cook them? Do they taste how I would like? Are they easy/hard enough that I am capable of making them? That is about all that I am qualified to write about here.
I will start with this:
Cook, Eat, Repeat
Blue, White, Black and with Touches of Pink
And what is this?
When you open the book, this is what you see: this has no rhyme or reason for being in this book. The color scheme of the book is Blue, White, Black and with touches of Pink. Where does this bold red and green pattern come into play right when you open the cover of the book? In the front and in the back?
Grab a Magnifying Glass! This is Cryptology! If you look very closely you will see lots of lower case “n” and upper case “J”. I can only assume that the lower case “n” is for Nigella. But who is the upper case “J” that she see’s herself second fiddle to? That is the question? The flipping and flopping of the letters is key to this being cryptology. Take a look for yourselves.
Perhaps I should enlist one of the last remaining Native American Code Talkers to decipher it? 🙂
I would like to say that everyone has the right to name their book, or their website whatever they want. I believe there is an audience for everyone whether that audience be 2 million or 2 hundred. But when I first heard that Nigella’s new cookbook would be named ‘Cook, Eat, Repeat’ I didn’t like it. It kind of sounded beneath her. But I suppose that is her life and her mantra, Cook, Eat, Repeat as she insists. It does conjure up that rhyme I first heard a few years ago of these two people in this boat, Pete and Repeat. Pete and Repeat were in a boat. Pete fell out, who’s left? Repeat. O.K., Pete and Repeat were in a boat, Pete fell out, who’s left? Repeat…… I guess you get the picture. 🙂
She also has a Defense of Brown Food Chapter and I can only ask, ‘Why should anyone have to defend brown food? Don’t most people love steak? Hamburger? Roast Beef? Stews? Or are they in some “Red” category that no one told me about? We may not eat Red Meat ourselves anymore but we do recognize that many people do love all the brown food/red meat dishes that are out there.
Cook, Eat, Repeat, does have a mood to it. You can tell is was mostly written during lockdown in London. It just has that feel to it. But, I don’t mean a bad feel to it. But there is a mood and a feeling that went along with it. Similarly to all of us having a mood that has affected us during this Covid 19 era. (Although truth be told we had a blast in lockdown!) 🙂
Although I haven’t finished reading the book yet it does offer up more recipes than you realize. Not all of them come with photos and are not necessarily written in the format of most recipe’s. A lot of the recipes she just writes out in sentences. (I too have been known to do that occasionally in my own website.)
Her T.V. series that goes with the release of her book is airing on one of the BBC channels in the UK, and from what I’ve read some of her audience has been critical of a few of her dishes.
Nigella’s Banana Skin Curry
I like the idea of no food waste in making this recipe. Although this isn’t new to do, she was criticized for adding old banana peels to a curry and making it sound good. This is the future of food. There won’t be enough for everyone to eat so there will be no food waste. It’s actually something our future generations will be struggling with. So, recipes like this are a good idea.
A few years ago on the BBC Food Twitter they had posted how they had deep fried the skins that were peeled from potatoes and found a useful way to eat them without throwing them away. Those kinds of ideas are needed.
Nigella Buttering Toast
Ms. Lawson was also criticized for showing her audience how she butters her toast. One layer of butter when the toast is nice and hot so the butter melts, then topped with another layer of butter. People just didn’t know what to think about that and started saying things like ‘next she’ll be teaching us how to boil water.’
I believe that Nigella is misunderstood at times like these. I think that she just wants to teach her audience how to get the maximum taste out of food, even something as simple as buttering bread.
I myself can give you instructions on how to open a jar lid because sometimes that is a difficult thing to do. For example, if trying to open a jar lid seems impossible then just shake the jar around so that the air isn’t at the top anymore, creating a vacuum. Then try opening it. These are just hints and tips. That’s all. Oh, and do not try that with any sort of carbonated drink btw.
Although Nigella isn’t very popular over here in the states, she is popular in Europe and Australasia. Although I do believe that pockets of America are familiar with her and enjoy whatever she has to present. My wish would be for her to do something different. Her show is always the same format in the same sort of kitchen. I would love to see her doing something different yet still maintaining the quality that does come from her and her shows. I just don’t know what that different format would be? That is something for her to figure out. She is 60. Not that there is anything in the world wrong with that but you don’t usually tend to grow an audience at 60.
What you do hope to do is to maintain the audience that you have had for years to bring them along on the journey with you. Someone like me. Someone that has been there from the beginning.
I will say that this cookbook is more for a sophisticated audience and not your average American. Not that she should dumb herself down to appeal to the average, but maintain that intelligence and bring your audience up to your level. I believe we need more of that in all areas, not just cook books and cooking shows. Having said that, her vocabulary will leave most people behind and confused.
So, am I enjoying the book? Well, I find parts of it very interesting. Is there anything that I would be interested in cooking? Perhaps the Black Treacle (Molasses) Sausages, the Vegan Gingerbread, (I have a ton of Ginger that I need use up and was thinking about making lots of Gingerbread/Gingerbread cookies/etc. for this year), the Brown Butter Colcannon looks good too. Just to name a few.
Would I recommend the book to an American audience? No, it would be over their heads and most of the food they would not be interested in eating. But, as I said above, there is an audience for everyone whether that audience be 2 million people or 2 hundred people.
I know that I don’t cater my website to the average person. It’s funny but my Indian guys that protect and work on the technical side of my website were trying to give me hints and tips on appealing to more people and one way they wanted me to do that is to not post as many photos when we do recipes. I told them that that is just my way and I don’t want to do it differently. You see, they are under the impression that I am trying to appeal to a large audience and that I want to grow some business, etc. I don’t! Although it would be nice to have reader’s to donate money here and there to help us keep the sight going, that just never happened. (We had to remove the Paypal button on the website because it kept getting hacked but that didn’t matter because no one ever donated money anyway.)
But, if I were to pick up some sponsor of our website the first thing they would probably tell me is to delete all my blogs in order to make my sight less personal and more professional. Deleting all that would be like deleting myself. Because here in America once you take money you lose your voice. You are then beholden to whoever has the money. That is just how it was in my family growing up. My step-father always threw in my face that because he was paying that I had to do what he said. The person who pays is always in charge. I’ve heard that my whole life. Which is why I like my website just as it is. Because I am beholden to no one. And that is how it should be for all of us.
September 20, 2020
The Pot Thickens…. LITERALLY!
I couldn’t not post a recipe of ours cooked in a pot that was literally thickening without posting it here……
Thus, The Pot Thickens
This is a delicious Drunken Clam Chowder that Gordon and I created starring some Clam and Corn Fritters with an accent of Fried Clams topped with Bacon.
Clam and Corn Fritters
We created this Drunken Clam Chowder for our Family Guy Halloween post, in honor of The Drunken Clam.
The recipe will be on our Family Guy Halloween post.
But until then, The Pot Thickens…..
August 2, 2020
I love salads!
They are healthy, delicious, beautiful, crunchy, everything that I love about good food.
I love the alien looking Romanesco.
Salads are also very filling to me.
I’m not one of these ‘salad with dinner’ kind of person.
I am a’ Salad FOR Dinner’ kind of person.
I also love eating a variety of lettuce leaves.
The more the merrier.
Toasting some Pine Nuts….
Adding Hard Boiled Eggs and my favorite Manchego Cheese….
And lots of croutons. My weakness. These are Pumpernickel croutons.
But my biggest weakness is in the creamy salad dressings. Oil and Vinegar just doesn’t cut it for me. Sometimes it does when I am in an herby Italian kind of mood. But most of the time I prefer the richer salad dressings. I discovered this one and now it is a favorite.
My new favorite salad dressing.
I had to get this image online because we ate ours so quickly I never got to photograph the jar.
Whether in a bowl or a plate, I am so there!
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Our Beautiful Basil from our Herb Garden
Fresh Herbs for Dinner
Gordon’s Spaghetti Dinner on the Left, Mine on the Right
Eaten with our new favorite vegetarian meatballs.
I like to share products that we come across and enjoy. We don’t eat red meat but we decided to try these and we love them! Looks like now we can have meatballs with our spaghetti.
My Happy Dinner Plate
July 21, 2020
Cheese Stuffed Pepperoncini
I love sharing delicious food products that I come across.
It was before July 4th. and I was looking for pickle/relish foods that we had not tried before when these cheese stuffed pepperoncini popped up on the screen when I was ordering online. That red jar looked delicious so I ordered one. I was so hooked! So was Gordon! So was Brodie! That’s when the next time I did our grocery shopping online I ordered several more. They are excellent to eat with our favorite roasted garlic/Feta Cheese/Italian rustic bread/sundried tomatoes/ etc. A great addition to any time you would eat a pickle. The oil is very hot and but so nice that I would love to fry and egg in that oil, or marinate some Feta Cheese in the oil to be eaten with some great chewy bread.
Our new favorite super-duper delicious food!
They taste great with a sandwich too:
p.s. We love sending food items that we come across to people that we love for Christmas. And sort of introduce them to it. Most people that we know are only interested in food for Christmas. This will make a nice addition. Time to stock up!
June 26, 2020
The Baconator, A Love Affair
My Baconator, not it’s real name, was purchased by me last year from an old favorite restaurant of mine in Tennessee through the mail. It is a lovely piece of pottery, handmade by artisan’s from the area of Pigeon Forge. I love it and we use it quite often.
The Old Mill Restaurant
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
The Baconator, and many other pottery and food items can be purchased here. This is one of my most favorite restaurants in the south for good southern cooking. Whenever I go I always order the Corn Chowder with Corn Fritters.
as in Dolly Parton’s, Dollywood
(This is from the mid 90’s when Dollywood wasn’t as grand as it is now and every employee in the park was related to Dolly Parton. I even went to high school in Sevierville with a few Parton’s. It’s a big family.)
Me on the water ride.
We were visiting friends in Sevierville and we went to Dollywood one day.
That is little Veronica and I’m holding little Brodie.
I thought that since I was talking about the pottery and The Old Mill that I would post a few old photos.
I love making bacon in this thing. I just drape the bacon all around it and place it into the microwave. The cooking time depends on your microwave and the thickness of the bacon you are cooking. My pottery also came with no instructions. Typical on the south, we’re just supposed to know these things. Well, I managed and all of us love it!
Potato Skins with Butter, Cheeses, and BACON!
June 5, 2020
Bowls and Platters
These Remind me of St. Augustine, Florida
Gordon Brought ALL of These From Overseas
June 2, 2020
“Is There Something Wrong With Your Food?”
Me: “No. It’s Just How I Eat.”
I suppose that I should have named this post ‘The Pot Thickens…. Musing of an Amateur Cook and Eater, but I didn’t so….. I guess I just won’t worry about it then. However, I would like to share with you something that I have heard quite often throughout my life where my eating is concerned. “Is there something wrong with your food?” And my answer is always, “No. It’s just how I eat.”
I am a picky eater. Not so much in what I eat, but how I eat it.
- I usually don’t like the middle of a sandwich so I tend to eat around it. To me the middle is just too thick with food. I like a nice ratio of bread and filling and not a lot of filling and a little bit of bread.
- I never bite against the grain of a Trisket cracker. (Nothing to do with superstition. I walk under ladders. I open umbrellas in the house, etc. etc. but I will NEVER bite against the grain of that cracker.
3. Although Mackenzie seemed horrified when she saw me spreading peanut butter on potato chips, it is something I do quite often. Peanut butter is my most favorite food in the entire world and I pretty much put it on many things. Not just potato chips. Although my favorite chip flavor that goes with peanut butter, is barbeque. My mother would buy the largest tub of peanut butter when we were growing up. It had to have been a good 5 pound bucket. We would go through that 5 pound bucket in one week. It was the cheapest brand of peanut butter too. JFG was it’s name. But, it was so cheap because it was real peanut butter and not loaded with sugar like all the other brands were.
4. I only like to eat green bananas. I will choke down a yellow one when I have to because I do get foot and leg cramps if I don’t eat one everyday. But I am a happy camper when I sit down to eat my green banana. (I started this habit in Hawaii. I think because we had a banana tree in our backyard and all the bananas would go ripe at once. All 60 of them! So, I would try and eat as many as I could so that none went to waste so I started feasting on the green ones.)
5. If given the choice of having something perfectly prepared for me to eat, or having it be a little charred, I’ll choose the charred one any day of the week. You know, just like Mom used to make.
6. I will NOT eat a runny egg! Because they are gross. When Gordon cooks me eggs if there is the least bit of “creamy” to them then I won’t eat them. I also boil my eggs when making deviled eggs until they are powder. Perfectly delicious powder. 🙂
7. I don’t eat red meat.
8. I mainly eat with a fork because I prefer to slide food into my mouth. I hate using a spoon unless it is for soup. I just don’t like the thought of inserting that spoon into my mouth and grasping it. When I do use a spoon it’s mainly just to pour soup in my mouth and not embrace it the way so many people do.
9. I tend to eat Top Ramen noodle soup uncooked. We picked up that habit in Hawaii. When the local children need a snack their mother’s will just give them one of the noodle packets and they eat it while they play outside. So do I. 🙂
10. Whenever we make mashed potatoes I always make sure we have green peas with them because I love it when they touch and I get peas stuck in my potatoes. But not too many peas. I prefer a ratio of 3/4 potatoes and 1/4 peas. That’s important.
11. I use two coffee mugs every morning. I will not drink my two cups of coffee out of the same mug in the mornings. I prefer a fresh mug.
12. Soda just tastes better when you drink it out of plastic as opposed to glass. Therefore, I won’t drink a soda if I don’t have a plastic glass to drink it out of.
13. I wash my hands about 100 times a day which is why I rarely get sick. (However during a highly contagious pandemic I don’t have as much control over my health right now as I would like.)
14. I only like melted chocolate or creamy chocolate. I don’t like hard chocolate and will pass a hard chocolate bar up in a second.
15. Gordon “alleges” that I am like a roach when eating fried chicken. I just pick all around the outside of it and leave the inside alone.
16. I only drink red wine and I only drink it with a straw. Me, Brodie and Mackenzie do that. That way our teeth stay white and not stained. And I only drink wine from a wine glass. Brodie and Mackenzie aren’t as picky as me. Gordon doesn’t drink much wine. He tends to stick to beer.
17. I LOVE Captain Crunch’s Peanut Butter Cereal and have since I first tasted it when I was about 9.
18. I LOVE SPAM!!!!!! (FRIED, OF COURSE)!
19. I have a love/hate relationship with mayonnaise. I rarely put it on a sandwich because to me it’s gross. But, I do put it in my Deviled Eggs, Potato Salads, Macaroni Salads, etc. (It’s because when we were young my step-brother knew mayonnaise grossed me out so he would put it on a knife and lick it off as if he were some mercenary out in the jungle and had just killed an enemy, then licking their blood off the knife.) So you see, I have no choice but to hate it! He also used to mix Mayonnaise with Peanut Butter. Thank God he didn’t ruin peanut butter for me!
20. I hate cracklin’. My step-father grew up poor in Texas and they would put cracklin’ in cornbread so he would have my mother do it occasionally. And when they did I would not eat it. I don’t like gnawing on food, much less a piece of fat.
21. I LOVE SALTINE CRACKERS!!!
22. If I get hungry during the day but I don’t want to really eat something big then I will eat a fork full of peanut butter and that will satisfy my appetite until dinner.
23. I also chew funny. I found out last year from my dentist that my mouth is deformed. That actually explains a lot. I’ve always had dentists to get frustrated with me when they wanted me to bite down so they could try and fit a crown, or take x-rays, only to get upset with me because things didn’t line up like they should. Therefore they blamed me for not doing it right. Finally, I found a dentist that realized the problem and now works with me instead of against me when these things come up.
Well, I guess this is all for now. If I think of something else I will list it here. If you are just as weird as I am then obviously you are not alone. 🙂
June 1, 2020
Make Ahead To Freeze
When the Coronavirus Pandemic was heading our way and we were entering into a lockdown as a society I worried about what would happen to our food supply. Will there be enough eggs? Milk? Butter? Meats?
It was at that time that I started baking for breakfast!
I just felt that I needed to make ahead breakfast foods to freeze for a later date. Little quiche’s. Perhaps with some sausage, spinach and cheeses. So, I did! I’m still keeping them frozen, for now.
MAY 31, 2020
Our Son Brodie, The Amateur Cook
Brodie Recreating and Even Exceeding Gordon’s Teriyaki Chicken Recipe
Brodie Making Gordon’s Hawaiian Potatoes
Brodie and his Girlfriend Mackenzie Recreated This Ultimate Tots Recipe From one of their Favorite Restaurants.
Brodie and Mackenzie’s Fried Steak
Brodie Making Carbonara
This is probably his most favorite food he likes to eat and cook.
This was so delicious!
Mackenzie and Brodie Recreating a Favorite Pasta Salad Recipe
Brodie in the Kitchen and Me in the Background on my Computer
Brodie Did an Excellent Job on This Pasta Salad
OMG! THE Best Banana Pancakes!
And Lastly, Brodie and Mackenzie’s Italian Chicken
These are but a few of their many delicious recipes!
The reason that I am posting these delicious foods that my son and his girlfriend are making, is because they are so very talented and creative where food is concerned. Their foods are delicious! But, It really is up to them to write down all these recipes. I have enough to do with all that Gordon and I have going on.
But what I wanted to point out to you is that Brodie can watch a video on Youtube on how to cook something and then he can cook it in the exact same way as the chef in the video, Brodie can also expand on that recipe making it into something better, and Brodie can make it look good all at the same time.
Mackenzie has also really grown creatively and the two of them make such a great team. Just like Gordon and I complement each other in our creativity.
These two really do have a food future. I hope they expand on it and do something with it. Perhaps some day I will write down their recipes. But in the meantime, I’ve got plenty to do as it is.
I do love that Brodie seems to understand the importance of carrying on our recipes.
Cascade of Noodles
Just scroll down this post until you come to our noodle recipe. It really is good and you can add whatever you like to it. It is up to your own personal tastes. That’s how all recipe’s should be.
May 30, 2020
My Expired Casserole
Last May, 2019, I was going through our food pantry to try and clean it out and get rid of some expired foods. BTW: They didn’t used to put expiration dates on food. Maybe they did for dairy and butcher products, but not for anything else. It was more of a judgement call by the cooks preparing the foods.
So, as I was tossing all these food products into the trash and looking at all that money we spent on food being thrown away and wasted, I decided to try and cook with some of them just to see. After all, how does anyone know the exact date that the food product is no good? Do they consult a crystal ball?
I had some leftover rotisserie chicken and some steamed broccoli so I decided to throw together a casserole using some of my expired foods. Not anything that had been expired for longer than a few days and even a few months.
Although you cannot see in the photo above, I cooked a box of Stove Top Stuffing and then when it was done I placed it in the bottom of the greased casserole dish above. I then tore my leftover Rotisserie Chicken into pieces and placed on top of the stuffing mixture. I then placed the broccoli flowerettes on top of the chicken. In the meantime, I cooked up two expired Pasta Dinner’s in cheese sauce and when done I poured them over the top of my casserole.
It Looks Good, Huh?
I baked the casserole for about 25 minutes in a 350F oven.
Then I sprinkled some expired Durkee Onions over top and placed the casserole back into the oven for an additional 5 minutes just to brown the topping.
It was actually quite delicious!
Perhaps we should just use our own judgement when it comes to the foods in our pantry and when it’s time to throw them out and not just rely on some dated stamp.
(P.S. In this era of Covid 19 I’m not so sure we should be throwing food out willy nilly. No one knows when they may lose their job and thus their income. Perhaps eating something expired is better than eating nothing at all.)
Because I believe my computer spy’s on me……
I heard my son tossing items into the trash can from the pantry and I immediately asked, “Whadyah doing?” He replied, “It’s expired.” I then asked, “What’s expired?” Brodie: “These cans of soup.” Me: “Put them back.” Brodie: “But they are expired!” Me: “Put them back anyway.”
The very next day this article pops up on my computer for me to read.
THE FOOD EXPIRATION DATES YOU SHOULD ACTUALLY FOLLOW
Don’t tell me someone’s not listening!
Just think twice before you start throwing food away. Especially in this climate. I don’t want anyone to be hungry.