Playing With My Food

This past Sunday was not exactly a day of rest for me.  (Sorry, God).  I decided that while I had most of the day at home, I’d grab the kids and we’d pre-cook all most of the meals or this week.  We had a blast.  Since I enjoy cooking so much, maybe it’s not a Sabbath violation – I was just partaking in an enjoyable “hobby”.

We’ve eaten out FAR too much this summer (having the kids get home at 5:45 instead of 3:30 really messes up the family schedule).  We’re trying to save money for a Disney World ‘Grand Gathering’ next year with grandparents and my siblings – I must be crazy – and we’ve challenged ourselves to spend a certain amount less per month than we have been so far this year.  That means going back to the envelope system, and eating at home.  I swear, based on past results, just those two actions alone save us over $1K a month.

Anyway, I’ve been in a creative mood lately.  Since I was grilling steaks, I decided to use the free cooking energy from the charcoal and cook a couple of other meals.  Of course there were hamburgers (my daughter has a micro cake pan that forms perfect quarter pound patties!), and I did a little experimentation.  I used my wife’s very simple beef bulgogi sauce recipe as a marinade for grilled smoked chicken.  Soy sauce,sugar,sesame oil, garlic, that’s all.  I left out the green onions because I was using it as a marinade, but added onion powder for flavor.

I cooked the chicken using mostly indirect heat (with the sugar you do NOT want to cook these over high direct heat).  Y’all – they were scrumptious!  I served them last night with steamed rice and southern slow-cooked green beans.  The kids ate all of it!  I have a Korean/redneck fusion hit.

By the way, I suspect that beef bulgogi meat would make an awesome sandwich, with a vinegar-based slaw right on it – just like a pork BBQ sandwich.  I might try that next week. 

Last week, Alton Brown had a rerun of a show about pocket pies.  I thought at the time that it would be really cool to take a few leftovers (new potatoes, corn), and mix them with ground beef and onions and put them in a pocket pie.  I started to do a little research on my grand creation and discovered that there is nothing new under the sun: they call them empanadas.  Duh.  I finally settled on a recipe that was similar, and threw in a little cumin and garlic into the filling as well.  Later this week, I’ll make the dough for the pies (it’s basically well-kneaded biscuit dough), and cook them.  I can’t decide whether to bake, pan fry, or deep fry.  I think authentic empanadas are pan fried (baking would be too dry, deep frying is better for fruit pies).

I finally figured out a way to get my kids to eat salad.  Grow your own.  Trillian’s Aerogarden had been producing herbs nicely, but I sucked at preserving them, so we decided to switch.  We now grow salad greens in the Aerogarden.  This also solves another long-standing problem.  We would buy bagged salad or heads of lettuce over the weekend, and by the time we would get around to actually having salad, the lettuce would be brown.  With the Aerogarden, you pick what you need when you need it.  We’ve got it right there in out dining room.  So tonight, we’ll have steak fajita salads (no tortilla bowl, though).  My kids love it (crossing fingers they never figure out that it’s a relatively healthy meal).

Trillian is on a “cake kick”.  She is teaching herself how to properly bake cakes (please don’t ask how last night’s experiment went), and we’ll be signing her up for a cake decorating class soon.  I hope this hobby sticks.  She could pay her way through college, just doing wedding cakes.

So, anyway, that’s my adventures with food this week (the rest is simple stuff like chicken salad).  Boring, I know, but it was wonderful to actually get my kids involved in the kitchen this week.

Posted in Food. 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Playing With My Food”

  1. Susie Says:

    You are such an awesome dad…they just hope they realize how lucky they are!

  2. Rachel Says:

    Uh, yeah, you can pretty much use the soy/sesame/garlic/red pepper/green onion combination on anything – chicken, tofu, veggies, soup whatever – that’s just traditional flavoring, not limited to bulgogi as a dish. Growing up in a mixed Korean/800-kinds-of-white family, we often had a mix of foods – Thanksgiving would have kimchi, namul, and pajun as well as buttery mashed potatoes, green beans, other standards. I mean, I’ve seen people make a sandwich out of cold leftover bulgogi on white bread.

  3. bridgett Says:

    I have never eaten Korean food in my life. Where should I start? What should I postpone until I get acclimated? I don’t care for really spicy or bitter; I tend to like sweet, salty, and greasy (really? You don’t say? And you’re from where?).

  4. Slartibartfast Says:

    bridgett – beef bulgogi is sweet. Also, galbi (I’ve seen it also spelled as Kalbi) is a sweet meat, eaten in a lettuce wrap.
    When you go to a Korean restaurant, they bring you little bowls of “sides” – some are fishy, some are spicy, some are sweet. If they are offered, try the cucumber kimchi (not quite as spicy), they soybeans, and the spinach.

    If you’re feeling (a little) adventurous, order bibimbap (pronounced bee-bim-bahp). I prefer it dolsot style, (in a stone bowl) because the rice gets crispy. Meat, rice, carrots, sprouts, zucchini or cucumber – it’s kind of a “throw what you have onhand” working person’s dish, like goulash. They give you a very hot chili sauce which you can ignore since you don’t like spicy.

    Rachel might have other suggestions.

  5. Rachel Says:

    bridgett, those sides are called “banchan,” should be offered anywhere that is authentic, and I recommend trying *all* of them unless you get the gelatin cubes! Haemul pajun (an eggy, veggie, seafoody pancake) might be a good place to start, because it’s fairly neutral, or mandu guk (a dumpling soup). I’d have to hear an example or two of your “really spicy” before offering further recommendations, but email me and I’ll try. 🙂

  6. nm Says:

    Bridgett, there are some excellent recipes for Korean barbecue with various sauces on Epicurious.

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