Monday, December 13, 2010

Mission Success...for Me at Least

Part 1:

Phew...I made it back. I wasn't sure if I would, what with all the snow, but here I am. Kraig. Your guest rambler.

Some of you may be thinking, "Why are they letting him back, he didn't even say how to make the bread in the last post? He basically said just throw stuff together?"

Well who asked for your opinion anyway....But you are right. I was just testing to see who was paying attention. But when it comes down to it, I feel like all cooking ever is simply throwing stuff together and hoping it turns out OK.

So for those whining about the last post I hope this helps--Inventory for "Irish" Soda Bread:
-Oil or cooking spray for the baking sheet
-3.5 cups of flour, 0.5 cup uncooked oatmeal, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda
-8 ounces sour cream, 0.75 cup skim milk, 3 tbsp sugar (mix together separately, then combine with above mixture)
-5 tbsp melted butter (4 for the mixture, 1 to be brushed on top of the bread before putting it in the oven

Now, on to bigger and better things (or so I thought)

Cheddar Cheese Soup-aka. Onion Soup (and some Cheese)

This part of the recipe didn't start out very well for me right from the start.

"Peel two onions and cut into thin slices."

Peel an onion? I know you can peel a banana. Or even peel an apple or orange. But I didn't know you could peel an onion. The only think I knew about onions was that I asked for them to be held when I order a sandwich and I pick them off of my salad.

The problems started even earlier when I was buying the onions. There is more than one kind of onion! Who makes all of these things up anyway? Isn't one type of onion too much? Needless to say I bought two purplish things under a sign that read, "onions."

I didn't know where to start with peeling this thing, so I attacked it like a corn husk. That worked for a bit, but when I got off what I thought was the husk it was still purple. So I decided I should probably peel that off too. I mean everything else looks different after you peel it.

Apparently that's not the case with onions.

So the onions are now more or less peeled (less would be my guess). I sliced them up the best I could (smaller I think is better), decided two full onions was way too much (and too much work), and went ahead and moved on to the next step.

Next, I took 0.25 cup of butter and melted that in a large saucepan. I think it was a saucepan; it could've been a pot, but definitely wasn't a kettle. Anyway, you throw the cut up onions into the saucepan, stir occasionally, and do this over medium heat until the onions are translucent (15-20 min).

Then, it's a bunch of steps in a row so be ready. 0.3333333 (rounded of course) cup of flour added in and stirred constantly for 1 min. Follow that by stirring in 2.5 cups water, 1 vegetable bouillon cube (which I was very sad to find out is not the same as bullion), and 2.5 cups of milk. Bring the mixture to a boil.

After that, season with salt and pepper and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently for 5 min.

At this point I have a few more problems with the recipe. First, what does season mean? Is that a unit of measurement? How much salt and pepper is in a season? Do you pour salt and pepper in until the spring thaw rolls around? I don't like how recipes aren't exact. Tell me how much salt to put in, what temperature medium heat is, and what kind of onion to get. Some people may like the art of cooking, but for those of us who are cooking challenged, we need to be told what to do.

Second, for Cheddar Cheese soup, there is a large amount of cheese that is not in the recipe. But don't fret; that's coming up next.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and mix in 2 heaping cups of grated cheddar cheese (I added the heaping part), stirring until it is completely melted.

Done, and all I smell is onion.

At this point the bread should also be done (you should start making the soup just as you put the bread in the oven). Wait until the bread cools before cutting, or the piece will just crumble apart. Then serve immediately with the soup. It will feed about 4-6 people, depending on the level of hunger of course.

Not to brag, but it was pretty darn good. The soup was a bit too oniony for my taste, but still good. I paired this with a Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier, which was good, but I think a fuller fall beer would go very well with it.

Looking back on this whole experience, I'm glad I tried something new and it does make me want to make this again and "fix" the soup. For hating cooking, this was pretty fun. So thank you Culinary Conquistadors for the encouragement to vanquish some vittles. Keep cooking! (I'll try to stay out of the kitchen, for everyone's protection)

Friday, December 10, 2010

"I'm making....TOAST!" Not really though...

Part 2:

Haha! I tricked them. They are letting me post on their cooking blog "Culinary Conquistadors" and, most of the time, I'm usually getting conquistadored by the culinary.

To introduce myself (the guest blogger) to this world of cooking blogs, I'm Kraig (aka Draig or Reiberger) and the one thing you need to know about me is: I don't cook (I actually fancy myself a photgrapher; check out my blog at Id Est)

For me, preparing a gourmet meal is making a grilled cheese sandwich. I didn't make scrambled eggs for the first time until I was 23. Yes, I know it's embarrassing, but when it comes down to it I don't cook because it takes too long. When I start thinking about food, it's already too late to start cooking. I want food now.

So as far as cooking goes, I'm the microwave master. "Why am I posting on this site?" you ask. Well, I'm living on my own now, I've cut meat out of my diet, and, believe it or not, I'm starting to get sick of pasta and peanut butter and jelly. My hand has been forced, so the following is my feeble attempt at cooking something new. (It turned out to not take too long, was kind of easy, and tasted good.)

Cheddar Cheese Soup with Irish Soda Bread
Misnomer Bread with Onion Soup (and some Cheese)

This comes out of my vegetarian cook book, and I vastly underestimated it's difficulty (meaning it had more than three steps).

Supposedly, this is how they are made (I don't understand cooking, so this is my interpretation of the cookbook): First, you need to be hungry (and not Hungary, there was some initial confusion about this) because without this there is no drive to make food. Next, you buy lots of items that have never been in your house before (i.e., flour, sugar, baking soda) and will likely never be used again.

As a side note, who knew that there was baking soda and baking powder?! I was also very worried about using baking powder in food. I thought it was only used to make small volcanoes explode and absorb smelly refrigerator smells.

Anyways, the first few steps were easy (and actually, making the bread was surprisingly very easy); throw some flour, uncooked oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda into a mixing bowl. People typically use mixing bowls, so I'm told, but a large tupperware container works just fine for people who don't have "real" cooking tools...utensils...whatever. Then, in another mixing bowl (i.e. cooking ware container that has never been used before) you put sour cream, skim milk, sugar, and melted butter.

The final step for the bread is to mix the two bowls together. The easiest way to mix it (read the only way I could mix it due to lack of "equipment") is to use your hands. Pour the sour cream mixture over the flour mixture and knead it with your hands. It is really sticky and you will know when it is mixed when all the flour is in the mixture and doesn't stick to your hands as much (it will still stick a lot). You should be able to put it into a cohesive shape. This then goes on to a baking sheet that is lightly coated with oil or cooking spray. (Note: Do this before mixing the bread with your hands or your cooking spray will have stuff all over it. I speak from experience.)

The bread should be put on the baking sheet in a mounded circle about 8 inches in diameter and put in an oven preheated to 375 degrees.

I was absolutely amazed to look in the oven, after 40-45 minutes or until it browns, and see something that resembled bread.

Thus concludes Part Two of our story. Stay tuned for scenes from the next post...

As a bit of an explanation for my title of the recipe: the first part of the cooking process is making the bread, even though it's the second part of the name. As my teachers taught me, the introduction should always follow the order of the story, therefore, I put the bread first in my title. Second, Irish Soda Bread is not Irish. The Native Americans invented it.

...Tune in to the next post for...
"...ONIONS!!!!"..."OMG! I'm making soup."