Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dried beef and gravy

On a cold winter's night, I can think of nothing better to eat than dried beef and gravy.
Correction. Anytime, anyplace, I can think of nothing better to eat than dried beef and gravy.
My mom and I have been having a disagreement about the stuff. She says that it was always a dinner dish, and I say it was always breakfast. I have been known to have a bad memory when it comes to certain things from my childhood (i.e. my grandma's van was black, not navy as I thought for years), but of this I am certain. She made this for me for breakfast.
Nonetheless, it's one of the best foods I have ever eaten. And yes, I am aware that it is a full-fledged hick entree. Oh well.

Dried beef and Gravy with Biscuits
1/2 package of dried beef
1/2 can carnation condensed milk
3/4 c. milk
3 tbs. butter
1 tbs. flour

Tear dried beef into small, bite-sized pieces. Put in skillet with butter over medium heat. Once butter melts, add tbs. (or more) flour and form a paste. Then add condensed milk and regular milk and cook over low-med. heat until thick.

That's it! Pour over biscuits and eat.

Incidentally, the best biscuits to use are always the cheapest ones.

Friday, December 5, 2008

In lieu of cooking...

I have been very sick this week, and since this is a food blog I don't even want to tell you the exact details of my illness, just that...it was gross.
Since I have been basically out for the count since Tuesday, I will just have to write about something I didn't cook, but I did experience.
There's this burger at Scotty's Brewhouse. Scotty's is an Indiana college bar/pub/restaurant. They've got really good dill chips, apparently - I hate all pickles, so I wouldn't know. Also, they've got a decent (but not Heorot-sized) beer selection.
Usually, I go to Scotty's and I get the same thing. That's how I am. I find something good at a place and I stick with it. Because usually I find that if I try other things, they taste like shit. Take for example, when I decided to deviate from my usual order at Thai Smile and go for the spicy noodles. They tasted like wet dog.
But, I decided to take a risk and change my regular order of Mo'Fo Buffalo Chicken Wrap with a side of Macaroni and Cheese (seriously), and get a burger.
I know. Burger? Is that really a big risk?
Well, it is with this burger. Apparently, Scotty's has a competition in which you make up a burger, and if it's good, they put it on the menu. And somebody had the urge to submit a burger with peanut butter and jalapenos.
No, I'm not pregnant. But I decided it sounded intruiging. And honestly? I loved it. I wished it the meat were more cooked, but that can be easily fixed. I found myself just wanting more peanut butter on the burger, because I couldn't taste it enough. And the jalapenos were okay, but the kicker was the peanut butter.
The burger was huge. And weird. And I couldn't finish my mac and cheese for the first time in a very long time, but it was an enjoyable (if not completely weird) gastronomic experience.
If you're in Muncie, and you are feeling adventurous...go ahead and try it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A cross-cultural Thanksgiving

Usually, I stay in Indiana where it's cold. This time, I went to Florida to visit my dad and my stepmother (Yaz from now on, for the sake of typing ease).
Yaz's family is Lebanese. I have had Thanksgiving with them before, but not in Florida. This time, there were about 30-40 people crammed into a house outside of Tampa. Several conversations I overheard were going on in either English, French or Arabic, or some combination of the three. I'm used to listening to a combination of English/Arabic (Araglish?) because of Yaz's mom (known as Sitto). I will talk more about Sitto in a minute, but for now I will just say that she likes to switch languages in the middle of sentences, and according to some actual arabic-speakers, she makes up a lot of the words she says (anyone know what "yarab" means? We're pretty sure it isn't a word).
The French is a new thing for me. Only recently have I heard it spoken within Yaz's family, because some distant North African relatives have started to be more present at family functions - at least the ones I go to, now that I'm in Florida more often. Some of them speak French better than English. It appears I decided to learn the wrong romance language after all.
But anyway, onto the food.
Lebanese cuisine is definitely one of my favorite types of food. I don't know how to spell any of it, but maybe if I describe it, you can all follow along.
Until recently, it never occured to me that having Ruz lahmeh snubar right next to the turkey and dressing was a little bit weird.
Ruz lahmeh snubar: Rice, finely ground beef, cinnamon, pine nuts. It's lovely, but cinnamon and turkey? Surprisingly, it's really good together.
And oh, the fattoush. Fattoush, of course, is arabic salad with toasted bits of pita bread, but Oh. You have never had fattoush (or salad, for that matter) until you've had fattoush made by Sulwa (I also don't know how to spell names). She makes it with very nice, fresh vegetables, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and spices, but she adds pomegranate oil. Yum.
I think those were the only Arabic dishes present for the actual meal, but of course for appetizers and dessert we had hummus and fig tarts alongside other classic non-Arabic yet Hakim/Yazback family traditions: Taco dip and pudding pie - both of which deserve their own post.
There's no recipe. So what's the point of this post? To emphasize that open-mindedness is just as important when applied to non-american food on strictly American holidays.
If I approached my mom's side of the family with anything resembling food that is not American in origin on Thanksgiving, it would NOT go over well. Apple pie, pumpkin pie and brownies. And that is all that is allowed. Brownies are pushing it.