Tuesday, July 15, 2008

7/15/08 Dinner and Ice Cream

Are you sitting down? Last night I cooked. I know. It's hard to believe. Ashley will never believe me again when I tell her that I don't cook. It was such a departure from all that I know to be normal. Is it the air in Maine? Is it the after-effects of a guilt-free summer? Enquiring minds want to know. But until we know those results, here are the details:

It's Monday in the late afternoon and I'm sitting in my office pretending to get work done. Suddenly, I'm struck with the desire to eat beef strogonoff. Where did that come from? As a kid strogonoff was always one of my favorite meals. (I think any combination of dairy and pasta is good--mac and cheese, pasta alfredo, . . . ) I never fixed it for myself but in the last 10 years or so, my mom has gotten in the habit (and what a great habit it is, too) of fixing strogonoff one night when I'm in town whenever I visit. That means I only eat it two to five times a year, but that's better than zero which was where I was at before.

Anyway . . . so I get this urge for strogonoff and I start looking online for a recipe. I found one that sounded good and was meant to make only 2 to 3 servings. That's a desirable recipe for anything that can't be frozen when you're cooking for one. But it involved making it from scratch. There was even something called a "roux" involved in the process. Eeegads, what was I getting into? Oh well, I've got the time, why not?

Next, I'm shopping at Wal-Mart because not only do I need the ingredients for this recipe, but I need a pan, too. My little 4 pan set that's barely getting me by for frying eggs and making granola does not have a pan big enough or heavy enough for this task. I finally get to the meat aisle where I'm looking at beef tenderloin which is what the recipe calls for. Eeegads! Have you seen the price of beef tenderloin??! I quickly shift down to the stew meat section which is what my mom always uses. Hmmmm, this looks good but the smallest package is 2 pounds. But even so, 2 pounds of stew meat is cheaper than 1/2 a pound of tenderloin. I decide to rethink the concept. I whip out my iPhone and start searching online for beef strogonoff recipes that use stew meat 'cuz I know when my mom makes it, she "stews" the meat but I never paid attention to how she did that. I find another one, double check that I've got the ingredients for that one, finish my shopping and head home.

It's now 8:30pm and I'm just starting to make dinner. Oh well! It's an adventure! I've decided on some combination of the two recipes 'cuz the one tells me how to do the stew meat part but the other ones sounds yummier with fresh dill and some other cool ingredients. That means I have to triple the one recipe to make it fit the quantity of meat I have. All this for a non-cook. Why not start out simple? Because that would be too easy! And away I go, whisking flour into melted butter and searing stew meat in my tiny kitchen with no countertops. I put a cookie sheet over the two burners I'm not using to create a flat worktop and keep hounding away. Three hours later, the end is in sight. I decide not to cook the noodles that night and in fact, I'm going to eat it for dinner tomorrow. It's too late to eat it now. It turned out fabulous except for the very very last part where I should've drained the concoction the mushrooms were saute-ing in before I added the roux. Now I have very yummy beef strogonoff but very runny beef strogonoff. RATS! Oh well.

Hmmm, if you've read this far you're wondering why I called this post "Dinner and Ice Cream" on the 15th when I'm writing about the 14th. Well, it's just a long lead-in to [thank you Paul Harvey] 'The Rest of the Story'.

This morning as I was coming out of the post office I ran into MRM walking down the street. I love it when that happens! We start chatting and I'm inspired to say, "If you and RBF are free tonight, would you do me a favor and help me eat some beef strogonoff that I made last night. It's yummy but runny so I'm not inviting you to a dinner party, I'm asking friends that I trust to come help me clean out my refrigerator." Even though she rarely eats meat, I promise her I'll have enough salad and veggies that she can get a meal out of it. Then I call Rodney and invite him to the same event.

Of course, it did turn into a quasi-dinner party 'cuz I needed something a little bit more than just strogonoff. I went back to the store for some lettuce and crescent rolls; I had enough other stuff. I also bought some corn starch to see if I could thicken up the strogonoff sauce just a tad. I had spinach and artichoke dip plus the chips left over from Games Night, so they really were helping me clean out the refrigerator. We "dined on the verandah" and had a really good time. MRM was able to make pasta salad out of what I had available so we all ate to our fill. The strogonoff was a little less runny but now had a funny texture to it from the corn starch. I don't think I'll try that trick again. But I will try making strogonoff from scratch again (not during the semester, though) and I will invite friends over for dinner again. All in all, it was a worthwhile and not unpleasant endeavor.

After dinner, we all went to Gifford's for their famous ice cream. It was my first trip of the season to Gifford's. MRM and I split a strawberry shortcake. Wowser was that good! No matter how mediocre the dinner had been, the dessert made up for it all.

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

This is sooooooo many steps up from the fajitas and things made on past camping trips! Great job!