Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Early Work Revealed!

I came across a copy of an old edition of Scioto Images from the 1980s. This was a magazine featuring young writers and artists in Scioto County Ohio back when I was growing up.

I think that when you read my poem, my future path as a mystery writer is clear.

I feel like I'd recently watched "And Then There Were None," but I'm not positive. Nowadays this would have earned me a visit from the SWAT team and a psychiatric hold.

Here's a poem by my former classmate Holly Harold. This one makes a future path pretty clear as well. You can click here to read Holly's IMDB credits. She's worked on some of my favorite shows.

Finally, my friend Suzie's short story.

In this case, it offers zero insight into her future.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet The Singing Sub...

Dream big, kids.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

How Cloud Eggs Saved Breakfast

This is a cloud egg. According to a post that popped up in my Facebook feed, they are the most Instagramable of all eggs. That fact alone isn't going to send me into the kitchen. After all, people Instagram the heck out of all manner of blue food. And you all know how I feel about that. *shudder*

Cloud eggs intrigued me because they solved my only problem with eggs.  I just cannot tolerate the texture of cooked egg white. No deviled eggs or egg salad for me. I like scrambled eggs, omelets, frittatas, runny yellow yolks carefully extricated from the white of a poached egg, and I ADORE meringue. That's why these cloud egg appealed to me. The whites are whipped into a fluffy savory meringue that just firms up while the yolks stay yellow and runny (unless you want them firmer.)

Plus these are super-simple to make.  You need eggs, salt, pepper, and little bit of grated parmesan. That's it.

Preheat your oven. There are two ways to do these. One is to put the oven at 320 degrees and cook for about 7 minutes. This leaves the eggs snowy white, but not stable enough to suit me. I prefer the two step method - cooking the whites 450 for five minutes, then lowering the temp to 320 to cook the yolks.

You can do as many eggs as you please. Here, I did four. Start by separating the eggs. Be very careful not to break the yolks.

Put the whites into a mixing bowl.  Add salt and pepper. (white pepper leave the eggs looking whiter.) Use a mixer or whip by hand (if you have powerful arms)

Whip the eggs until the meringue forms soft peaks. This needs to be stiff enough to make a well for the yolks.

Grate in about a teaspoon of parmesan per egg. Gently fold it in, being careful not to deflate the eggs.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and carefully spoon out the egg whites into equal sized clouds, one per yolk.

Use a spoon to make a well for the yolk.

Bake at 450 for 5 minutes (or less). Don't let it get too brown. You're just setting the meringue. Turn the oven down to 320.

If you don't see well-defined wells for the yolks. Press one out a bit more with a spoon. Now, carefully add the yolks. We don't want to break them.

Put back in the oven for about 5 more minutes until yolks are warmed through. (You can go longer if you like them firm.)

Carefully remove with a spatula. The meringue is pretty flexible and it's easy to break the yolk. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper to the yolk and serve.

These are so delicious. I will be enjoying these for breakfast frequently.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Stuffed Shells: from Aunt Joyce's Recipe Box

When I asked my cousins which one of my Aunt Joyce's recipes they'd like to see me blog, this was the hands-down winner. Everyone had their own special memory of her stuffed shells.  Well, everyone but me, since I never had the pleasure of eating them. I think she must have started making these regularly after I left home for college, I must not have been home when she happened to be cooking these up. So, this recipe was kind of a challenge. Here's her handwritten recipe.

All the ingredients are there, but it is a little short on details. And since I'd never had the pleasure of eating the recipe, I wasn't sure what it was supposed to look like. Please bear with me while I work my way through the recipe.

Here's what you'll need to make it.

1 lb box of jumbo pasta shells
2 jars of spaghetti sauce (or make homemade. I didn't this time, to stick with the recipe.)
1lb ground beef (I used meatloaf mix. You could also use ground chuck or ground turkey.)
1 small onion (diced)
2 eggs
1 15 ounce tub ricotta
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 12 ounce package frozen spinach (thawed with all water squeezed out)
5 Tablespoons of parsley (I used chopped fresh. Joyce would probably have used dried.)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Start by boiling a large pot of salted water. You'll need a big pot. If you don't have one, you may need to do the shells in two batches.

You make the meat and cheese filling separately.  We'll start by making the meat filling. Make sure the spinach is thawed and every drop of water is squeezed out of it. I would salt and pepper the spinach. Joyce would not. Beat the eggs.

Put a tablespoon of oil in a skillet. When it is shimmering, add the onions and a sprinkle of salt. Cook onions until they soften. Then add garlic powder and cook for 10 seconds more.

Then add the ground meat and parsley. I also like to add a little splash of beef broth to keep the meat tender and to stop it from browning too fast.

Once the meat has browned, let it cool for a few minutes. Then put it in a bowl with 4 ounces of mozzarella, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, and one beaten egg. Give it a sprinkle of salt and pepper and mix it together.

Now, let's move on to the cheese filling. Combine the ricotta, 4 ounces of mozzarella, one beaten egg, 2 tablespoons of parmesan, 2 tablespoons of parsley, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, the melted butter and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.

Once the shells are tender, drain them and lay them out on baking sheets lined with paper towels.

Make sure to separate the shells carefully. My package of shells made 34 shells.

Here's where it got interesting. The recipe doesn't say how many pans it makes. It also doesn't say if the meat and the cheese go in the shells together or you stuff them separately. I decided to alternate stuffing them with meat or with cheese. I also went with using two 13" by 9" pans. I might have been able to fit them all into one.

Start by covering the bottom of the pan or pans with spaghetti sauce. (If you're using two 13 by 9 pans, you may want to go with three jars.)

It's time to carefully stuff the shells. You don't want to tear them. Here, I'm stuffing one with just meat.

Here I am adding the cheese.

Place the shells in the pan.

Cover with sauce. Then cover with foil and place in the oven. Or do like me. Put it in the oven, take a picture, then remember you forgot to put the foil on. Then take it back out and put the foil on. :)  Hey, I'm keeping it real here.

Bake for 45 minutes at 325 degrees.

Serve with garlic bread, because that's what Joyce would have done.  These were absolutely delicious, but a lot of work. I'll make them again, but next time with homemade spaghetti sauce with a lot of basil.