Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cooking with Your Eyes Closed...

Wow...thanks to my fourteen year old son, I can now write in a much more user friendly format. Thanks Patchy!

My mission with this blog is to encourage more people to cook and dine together as friends, family and neighbors.

When we endeavor to do this, we will in some small way make our homes, neighborhoods and cities better places. And isn't that our goal in Life, to leave this place in better shape as having "run the race" and been responsible stewards? Not only can we build for a cultural future, we can have one heckuva great time getting there!
Sure, we could get all warm and fuzzy watching 'Grease' from under a quilt with a bowl of popcorn,but, nothing beats the blissful beating of a heart warmed by a Black Bean soup with Andouille Sausage.
What can compare to the euphoria found with a slice of freshly baked bread slathered with homemade Apricot Jam?
How do we put a price on that jar of homemade pickles you made with your son and then decided who could be worthy recipients of such gifts?

Cooking for others makes YOUR body, YOUR heart feel good. I've always felt is some way 'guilty' for deriving such satisfaction, such blissfilled peace in my cooking. Yeah, they get to eat but, I get to COOK! Perhaps it is the pleasure of providing service to someone, a loved one. We could buy clothes for each other and feel just as rewarded, right? We could give them a check for $500 and dial-in the exact soul gratifying feeling of love, right?
Can't we just take them out to a fancy, expensive restaurant, eat and drink to our appetites content, tip the server extravagently and whisk away without the dishpan hands?

Nope. Nuh-uh. Nahhhh...

Nothing comes close to the feeling of completeness to be found cooking for someone, a guest, a loved one.

"But Chef, why the hell should I go to the trouble of sourcing food, schlepping it home, getting the kitchen all hot and make a mess only to have people eat as fast as humanly possible and leave?!"

Excellent question and the answer is as easy as pulling a cork: Because cooking and dining together are cornerstones of every culture, every race on every continent and have been so since man first crawled out of the muck.

Cooking is more important than:

--any movie to be seen or any episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' (Ugly Betty is close, very close).

--fleeting, adolescent sports fame

--the latest auto fascination

--your next fantasy kitchen remodel.

The time taken by one to carefully prepare a dish, either simple or complex, is an outward sign of affection, respect and selflessness. And dang, doesn't THAT feel good?!

A first recipe to be prepared on the Chef BQ Blog is so easy, you'll be cooking with your eyes closed! Honest!
OK, OK, I'm sure you all have some doubts about skill level and that kinda thing. I'm here to tell you, everyone can do this AND everyone will succeed. Guarenteed.

Awright, here goes...first a couple of interview questions; just to see if you think you can do this. Can you:
1) turn an oven to the 275 degree mark
2) shake seasonings from a little glass dispenser onto a piece of meat 6 inches away?
3) safely deploy oven mitts (hint: they're easier than gloves).
4) chew your food with your mouth closed?

If you've answered all of the above in the affirmative, welcome to the kitchen. If not, well...get out the Etch-a-Sketch and wear a helmet the rest of your life.

Slow-cooked Beef Short Ribs with Chinese 5-Spice

5 lbs. Beef Short ribs.
2 Onions, medium, sliced
3 celery ribs, cut on bias
3 carrots, medium, cut on bias
10 cloves, garlic
1 ginger knob, thumb-sized, sliced
1 qt. chicken stock, Pacific Foods
1 lb. fingerling potatoes, whole
1 1/2T Chinese 5 Spice (most large grocery chains carry it).
1T Kosher salt (chef's choice)

Brown the beef ribs in a skillet or saute' pan with enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. We want to get a little crispiness on the meat. If it' smoking it's too hot, if you don't hear a sizzle when you gently place the meat in the oil, then it's too cold. Medium heat ought to do 'er. Used to tell the cooks, "If you ain't hearin' it, you ain't searin' it!"
As the meat is searing, line the bottom of a covered roasting pan with the sliced and diced veggies, ginger and 5 Spice. Place your Fingerlings (cut to fork-size pieces) over the veggies and finish with the gorgeously browned short ribs. Pour the quart of Chix Stock over the meat, pop it with your kosher salt, place the lid on the pan, give it a goodnight kiss and into the preheated (275) oven she goes.
In at 10 p.m., out at 6 a.m.
You will arise to the aroma of a house that smells like a home: garlic, ginger, braised beef...Yay-yus!!!

When you take the pan out, use a slotted spoon to remove all the meat, potatoes and any vegetables that are still hanging out. Place them on a cookie sheet to cool, then refrigerate till dinner. Use ziploc bags if you like. The broth is wonderful and can be placed in a bowl in the fridge. Once it cools, skim the fat off the top and reheat the liquid for a light snack with noodles, fresh greens or use it as the base for your Short Ribs as dinner. Serve up in a nice, big bowl.

Whatever you do, DON'T eat alone. That would be a tragedy.
Call someone to join you or gather the family.
And remember:
"Food, Faith, Family and Friends; the Best Things in Life aren't Things!"

God bless, Chef BQ.

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