Category Archives: cookordie

Lasagna in the freezer

Having discovered the joys of being able to pull chicken adobo out of the freezer any time I want to eat, I baked an entire casserole of lasagna this afternoon. Lasagna is another one of those recipes that freeze well.

It never occured to me that cooking and freezing large quantities might be a popular trick, but fortunately Lifehack.org flagged it as a useful tip. Turns out that About.com just posted an article on Once a Month Cooking with loads of useful links, including a recipe selector that puts together a shopping list for you.

Way cool!

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Level up!

Adobo was _perfect._ Or at least it inspired enough confidence for me to store two portions in the refrigerator and four in the freezer. I marinated the chicken in a mix of soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves and pepper for two days, following a Filipino adobo recipe I found on the Net. And it worked! It was wonderfully flavorful. The cost comes down to roughly 75 cents per portion for the chicken, plus some more for soy sauce and vinegar. I used far too much soy sauce and vinegar this time, and I'll probably scale the recipe down a bit the next time I prepare a grand marinade. (Maybe once a week or once every two weeks! ;) )

Rice worked out, too. I have four portions of rice (two in the ref, two in the freezer) ready to be reheated whenever I want to eat adobo or whatever else I want.

I would also like to happily announce that I have found out how to make the lettuce I bought palatable. ;) I threw together a quick salad earlier: iceberg lettuce, crabsticks, tomatoes and carrots. Not only did the salad appeal to me visually, but it wasn't bad gastronomically. I drizzled a quick vinaigrette (some vinegar, lots of oil, salt, and pepper) using a sauce squeeze bottle I picked up for CAD 0.29, and I had a very fun lunch. I _really_ liked the crabsticks. Thanks for the tip, Clair!

To top it all off, I learned how to fold a fitted sheet so that it stays nice and flat. =)

Level up!

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Chicken adobo results

I microwaved the chicken adobo for another minute and a half just to feel slightly better about it, and fried it together with half the rice I cooked the other day. Then there was nothing else to do but to try it, so I did.

It was... recognizable. Well, it tasted cooked, something which always fills me with profound gratefulness. I think I need to add more soy sauce and vinegar—and a different kind of vinegar, perhaps—as the flavor was weaker than the four plates of adobo I cheerfully enjoyed one summer outing many years ago. But it was recognizable, and that makes me really happy.

For those who are not familiar with the dish, chicken adobo is the lazy Filipino cook's best friend. It is rumored to keep indefinitely, or at least for as long as needed (which is not very long, as I can happily eat it day after day). Chicken adobo was what my mother packed into my luggage when she found out I had to go to India; bags of chicken adobo and packets of cream of mushroom soup, emergency rations for a possibly finicky stomach. Chicken adobo is a Good Thing, and learning how to cook it means I can stop buying sausages and start buying chicken. Mwahaha.

I'm going to do my grocery shopping after I do the dishes tonight. I've been keeping a list of necessities on the refrigerator door, which makes shopping far easier. I'll eventually trim this to weekly shopping, but I've come to realize that I urgently need to do some shopping if I am to have a decent breakfast and lunch tomorrow. Corn-based pitas are nice, but the cheese I have—prepackaged cheese slices selected for their cost—can only be called cheese if you stretch your imagination.

I have yet to start on the lettuce. I promised myself that I would eat one individually-sized head of lettuce a day, but so far I have not done so. Why? Perhaps I just need to mix up salad dressing. All the books I've read tell me that commercial salad dressing is an overpriced convenience and that mixing up a batch is easy.

But why do I need dressing? I used to pick leaves off the Caesar salad at Italianni's before my sister drizzled dressing over it, saying I didn't like the sour taste of dressing. Perhaps it was only because the dressing was white and creamy and looked a little bit like mayonnaise, and I still don't like plain mayonnaise. Now I will experiment with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and see how that goes.

(Perhaps I should do that for lunch tomorrow: inflict two small heads of lettuce on myself and see how well I do.)

Incidentally, my cooking misadventures draw the most comments: helpful (and conflicting!) advice on measuring rice for cooking (general consensus: it's up to you, really), recipe suggestions, shared misadventures... I should remember to post something tech-related from time to time. ;) Thank you so much for putting up with these stories! <laugh>

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Chicken adobo and rice

The clinking and clanking of plates and bric-a-brac could be heard clear across the room as I rummaged through the cupboards.

"Are you looking for anything?" asked Ye, my roommate of a few weeks.

"Would we happen to have any measuring cups?"

"You can use the mugs in the drawer. What are you cooking this time?"

"Rice. Let's see... Gah, this rice cooker is too big. And it doesn't come with instructions."

"Use a pot."

"Okay... Hmm. "Step 1: Add rice. Step 2: Add water. How much rice?"

"It doesn't really matter, as long as the water level is 1 centimeter above the rice."

What did one centimeter look like again? I knew other Filipinos have this magic trick involving the joints of one's fingers, but I never quite figured it out and I didn't know if the rule was valid given my small hands. Resisting the temptation to fetch the ruler from my cute pink stationery set, I decided to eyeball the measurements. There, just about right. Oh, wait... "Should I wash the rice first?"

"I usually do."

Swished, swished. Poured. Swished. Poured. Swished. Poured. Gave up and refilled pot to former level. "Mmkay. Then...?"

"Boil it, and then turn the heat way down until it absorbs all the water."

So I did.

I thought it would be a good idea to try out chicken adobo while waiting, and I had recently splurged on a pack of chicken breast fillets. I rummaged some more for vinegar (this strange Chinese thing that smelled nothing like the vinegar I remembered seeing back home) and soy sauce. I had the foresight to grab bay leaves and garlic on my last grocery trip, so it was easy to throw everything together.

- 2 pieces chicken - 4 cloves garlic, crushed - 2 tablespoons vinegar - 2 teaspoons soy sauce - 1 bay leaf - 1/4 teaspoon pepper - 1/2 cup water

I boiled that, too, and then simmered it until I felt confident about the chicken being more-or-less cooked (erring on the side of more, I hope) and the sauce was reduced to a fraction. By simmered, I mean that I alternated between accidentally reboiling it and getting some satisfyingly mild bubbling action.

I didn't get to try the adobo, so I don't know if it's really adobo or some weird thing. I did get to try the rice, though, so I feel pretty good about that. Of course, as I started cooking at around 9, I got _pretty_ hungry by the time the rice was done. The chicken didn't inspire confidence at that point, so I did what any sane, starving student would do: I raided the refrigerator for something to eat with the rice. Pastrami may be a strange companion to rice, but I thought it tasted like a rather expensive version of vienna sausages.

We'll see how the adobo turns out tomorrow evening. If I survive, I'll have joined the ranks of adobo-cooking Filipinos around the world!

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Breakfast: Twice-baked potatoes

Two potatoes are _far_ too much for breakfast. I feel stuffed. I feel more than stuffed. I feel like skipping lunch, which might not be a bad idea considering I've got another two potatoes slated for dinner. (It's a good thing I don't easily tire of eating the same kind of food...)

The cause of my current not-quite-distress is something called the twice-baked potato. I have a particular fondness for it because it graced the breakfast tables of my childhood (clearly before the household settled into the corned-beef-and-eggs routine). I remember seeing the crisp, slightly browned grated cheese topping the potato and knowing there would be more pockets of cheesy goodness beneath it.

How do you prepare twice-baked potatoes for breakfast?

Take the potatoes you microwaved last night out of the refrigerator. Baking the potatoes the night before makes them nice and cool by the time you need to hollow them out. Slice open the top and carefully scoop out most of the potato using a spoon, making a small bowl. Mash it together with cheese, salt and pepper and spoon it back into potato. You may need to pack it in tightly if you use as much cheese as I do. Then pop it into the microwave for another minute and a half to make it nice and warm.

As originally prepared:

2 potatoes 0.46
A bit of cheese 0.41
Total: 0.87

Again, two potatoes are far too much. Heck, I started feeling full halfway through the first potato. By the time I finished it, I was wondering if I could put it back into the refrigerator. To err on the safe side, though, I decided to finish it all up. That explains why I'm currently... quite... full...

Next time:

1 potato 0.23
A bit of cheese 0.20
Total: 0.43

このコンピュータは強力で効率がよく使いやすい。 This computer is powerful, efficient, and easy to use.

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Smooth lasagna workflow

My workflow for preparing lasagna is pretty smooth now. No changes to the recipe, just minor tweaks to the process. I didn't waste too much time.

1. Put the ground beef in the microwave and start defrosting it in

the large container you'll use for the sauce.

2. While the beef is defrosting, use the water heater and a saucepan

to boil water for the lasagna.

3. While the water heats, peel and chop the onion.

4. By the time you finish chopping the onion, the meat should be done

defrosting. Throw the onions in and set the timer for 3 minutes.

5. The water should be boiling at this point. Pour a little salt and

(butter? oil?) into the water. Break the lasagna noodles in half and dump them into the water. You can reduce the heat to medium.

6. Give the meat a quick stir.

7. While the meat is browning and the lasagna is boiling, open the can

of sliced mushrooms. Cut open the foil packs of spaghetti sauce. Every so often, check if the lasagna is done.

8. Drain the lasagna. Dump it onto a plate.

9. Drain the meat. Put it back into the container with the sliced

mushrooms and spaghetti sauce. Add lots of Italian seasoning and a bit of salt. Microwave for 5 minutes.

10. Separate the lasagna into individual pieces. If the pieces stick

together, you can use water to ease them apart. If you can't, put the pretty sheets aside for the top layer.

11. While the sauce is being microwaved, prepare the cheese mix by

dumping everything into a large bowl and mixing it with a spatula or spoon. Make sure the serving dishes are handy. You should be done with the cheese at about the same time the sauce finishes.

12. Prepare one dish. Pop it into the microwave. While that's

cooking, prepare the next, etc. Pipelining!

The sauce was just the right volume, too. Using 400g spaghetti sauce instead of 200g gave me more flexibility. I have a little extra sauce, but that's okay.