My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I'm not a great cook. I'm an ok cook if I'm in the mood. I like to cook "clean" using whole foods - you know, things that you can pronounce and would be recognized as food by your great-grandparents. I did have that episode where the worm crawled out of the cucumber and waved at me the other day... but despite my threats I wasn't able to give up eating fresh food. Lately, with it being hot and muggy, I could live on juice. Every now and then, though, I fix a real meal.

Today I thought it might be fun if I shared a recipe with you. I've made this (and probably shared it) before. It's one of my favorite go-to meals. I made this recipe up but it was probably inspired by something I read somewhere. I generally will get an idea in my head of what kind of food I want to eat and if I don't already know how to cook it, I will read a couple of recipes until I have the process in my mind and then I adapt it to my tastes, resources and skills. This is why I'm not good at baking - you have to actually measure stuff. It's also why I'm not a good carpenter but that's not the point.

Here's what we had tonight for Supper:

It's orzo with chicken sausage, kale and peppers. It's probably my favorite meal to eat and in the top ten of things to cook. I tried to pay attention to what I spent to make it and I've got to admit, it isn't what I would consider a "budget" meal - I spent about $22 for the ingredients. A budget meal to me is $5 or less which is why we eat so much frozen pizza. This, however, was filling and relatively healthy and soooo good!

First off... set a pot of water to boil for your orzo. Orzo is a rice shaped pasta. I buy orzo from the bulk bins at Ingles but you can also find it in the pasta aisle. Tonight I had about 3/4 a pound of orzo.   You could use more. Austin thought my kale to orzo ratio was off (because he likes the orzo more than the kale, of course) but I thought it was fine. I imagine you could use any kind of pasta but I like orzo for this because it's so small that it really absorbs the flavor of the sausage and peppers and it cooks fast. You can cook the orzo in a rice cooker but it tends to stick really bad.

Ok... now that the water's heating up. Here are my ingredients:
1 12 oz package of sweet apple flavored chicken sausage
1 package of precut/washed kale
2 bell peppers (I like the colored ones even though they cost more but the green ones are fine)
about 1/2 of an onion
3/4 pound orzo
olive oil
garlic (or garlic powder)
parmesan shreds

Cut the sausage into chunks, coins, circles... whatever you want to call them... I love the sweet apple sausage because it balances out the strong taste of kale really well. The brand I use is Al Fresco All Natural. Publix doesn't carry this particular brand but you can go to the website to find it in a store near you.  I paid $4.98 for a 12 ounce package which is ... I guess... a decent price for a protein source.

Dice, chop, chunk... whatever... the peppers and onion. I'm left-handed and not incredibly precise on my chopping skills but you get the idea. Again... I spent more on the peppers than I had to - they were $2.50 each which is stupidly high. I also like to do this with a mixture of sweet/spicy peppers. Whatever suits your taste. I think the colored peppers give a little bit sweeter taste than the green, though, and again, it's a great balance for the kale. You could use more peppers if you wanted but I think this gives a good balance.

When the water boils for the orzo... toss it in with a little olive oil. Those little bitty pieces really stick together. I cook my orzo for 9 minutes. Some places say less time... some say more... 9 works for me. You're going to put it in the pan for an extra ten minutes or so after it's finished boiling so al dente or a little less than al dente is what you're going for.

Heat olive oil in the biggest frying pan you have. Pop bought this awesome pan and it's my favorite cooking tool (after the microwave). It's great for stir-frys and this is, to some degree, like a stir fry. I have no idea how much oil that is... as Rachael Ray says, one turn around the pan is about all it needs. This pan is really, REALLY non-stick so I could get by with just a Pam spray but I do like the extra level of flavor the olive oil gives.

Saute your sausage, peppers and onions over medium high heat until the onions are translucent.

I accidentally misspelled that as "Sautee" because that's a town up here. I only caught it on my last edit. I do edit these blog entries before I post them although sometimes I read back through them and think that I must have had a stroke while I was writing.

Once your onions are translucent, add your kale to the pan. If you use a lot of kale (I used about 3/4 of that big bag you saw) you may have to add it in two or three stages. I put the lid on the pan for a few minutes to steam the kale down in order to add more.

Here's my cooking tip about garlic: don't add it until you add the greens. Garlic tends to get bitter the longer it cooks. You don't want it to cook as long as you cook the peppers and onions. Typically I like to use minced garlic but for some reason I couldn't find the garlic bulb I bought at the store yesterday. Garlic powder worked fine it's just not my preference.

I always have a problem keeping my kale in the pan.

Drain your orzo and add it into the pan with the rest of the stuff. A nice spray of Pam into your strainer will help the orzo slide out.

I like to let it all cook together for ten minutes or so, stirring occasionally. I'm a big fan of a bit of caramelization but one person's caramelization is another person's burned dinner so... whatever level of doneness suits you. By the time you add in the orzo your sausage is done well enough so... you know, just whatever because I'm not Martha Stewart or anything.

Add a little shaved parmesan - not the cheap stuff that comes in the little green can, real shaved parmesan. The extra is soooo worth it! If you can't afford real parmesan then skip it.

And that's it. Chopping, boiling, stir-frying, cleaning up... all of it takes about 30 to 45 minutes. This meal would probably serve 8 people well. Instead... it fed me and Austin with two generous servings each and it's enough for another meal for us. Good stuff.

I wrote a long post about cooking because honestly, that's about all I've done today. I couldn't sleep last night (again, the whole ambien situation) and was up until 3am so I slept until 9:30 this morning. Little Kitty was exhausted from staying up with me and he protested when I started making the bed. We've been moving slow ever since. I didn't even get up and greet the exterminator today. He knows where stuff is. I told him to do his thing and holler if he had a problem. The fact that I was greeted this evening with a spider the size of a quarter tells me whatever he did... just made the critters angry instead of killing 'em.

Dumb and Dumber are setting up for another Xbox marathon so I'm down in the Whine/Water Cellar catching up on videos and blogs on my laptop and will hopefully go to sleep earlier tonight. Hope you had a great Wednesday. Love and hugs.