Men in Aprons

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Our friend Alan rocking it in their Boulder kitchen

Isn’t that a fabulous photo?  When our friend Jina posted this Instagram shot of her husband, Alan, stir-frying Pad See Ew for their fam, I knew it had to be the “lede” on this blog.  Jina wants you to know that she too cooks, but that they divvy up the time in the kitchen.

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Moss, our younger grandson, wearing aprons and cooking at a very early age

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Our son Travis, focussing on his Belgian heritage as he fixes his famous Brussels Sprouts

How times change….and often for the better.  My dad learned to fix a few meals when he was 81.  His specialty was microwaved eggs and freshly squeezed orange juice.  Other than that, I believe he subsisted on Arby’s roast beef sandwiches.  My brother, at about that same age, is finding the George Foreman Grill a helpful resource in his entry into cooking and the kitchen.  Microwaved frozen vegetables are another healthy addition to his repertoire.

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Andy, on the other hand, is from a slightly-younger generation…a War Baby (alas…he’s too old to be a Baby Boomer).  He’s been in the kitchen since Day 1 of our marriage.  If you believe that, I’ll tell you another funny story.

Really, though, through most of our 52 years together Andy has not only been the faithful clean-up person but he has mastered breakfast – witness our many recipes stemming from his early morning cooking skills.  And then check out today’s Andy’s Corner to see how making Swedish Pancakes can be an Extreme Sport!  But Andy’s cooking has not been put to a serious test until this last month (see our last blog).

Now that I think about it, maybe this blog should be titled: Cooking for Ann.  

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Andy cooking for Ann

For those of you who aren’t cookbook aficionados, that would be a twist on Ina Garten’s 2016 Cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey.  Mind you, I love Ina Garten and almost always love her recipes, but how can a woman in this day and age write about cooking for “her man!?”  Consequently, I am delighted to be blogging about how Andy has been cooking for “his woman” the last month or so….all the while believing in my heart of hearts that there should never be one mate who is always in the kitchen!

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My criteria for recipes to help Andy adjust to his new super-simple evening meal cooking included the following:

  • no sautéing
  • no dicing
  • no prep time longer than 15-20 minutes
  • a recipe good to freeze or re-warm
  • healthy (ish)

Sandy and Stacey, our neighbors, joined us for Andy’s first foray into cooking for others:  Roasted Chicken Thighs with New Potatoes (for this Mini-Dining In, they brought a scrumptious salad to share).  When we warmed up the leftovers from this sheet-pan dinner a few days later, we both declared it (again) a keeper!  Delicious, easy, fast to prepare, re-heats well.

Chinese Jook Chicken is a no-brainer, fulfilling my criteria with ease.  Chicken Pozole Verde can be streamlined to come together quickly and easily.

When all else fails, we revert to Andy’s standby – grilling.  Nothing could be simpler than a grilled steak or pork chop – and a simple salad (the Broccoli Edamame Salad fits our criteria and is healthy and delicious) .  And we often add a Japanese baked sweet potato.  After all, this is Cooking for Ann – and baked, mashed sweet potatoes with butter could totally be my Last Dinner.

We’re not Crock Pot people generally speaking, since we’re usually around and can just as easily simmer on the stove-top or slow roast in the oven.  But the Crock Pot sounded worth a try for simplicity’s sake – and a bit of a new adventure for Andy in the kitchen.  These two recipes are easy, yummy – and even a little exotic.

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North African Crock Pot Lamb Stew

North African Crock Pot Lamb Stew

The spice list may seem lengthy but it gives the stew its special flavor.  Besides, those are all spices you can use over and over.

  • 2 lbs lamb stew meat (shoulder is best) cut into about 2″ pieces
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red chile flakes
  • 2 tsp Diamond kosher salt
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c chicken broth
  • 1 15.5 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • about 1/2 bag (4-5 oz) frozen spinach (either chopped or whole) – or use it all
  • rice and pita bread for serving

Mix together all of the spices and then coat the lamb pieces with the spice mix.

Put the spiced lamb in the crock pot along with the water and chicken broth.  Cook on high for about 4 hours – or until the lamb is just fork tender.  Don’t cook it so long that the lamb becomes mushy.

Add the white beans and spinach and continue cooking for another 20 minutes or so.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.
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Korean Crock Pot Pork Stew

Korean Crock Pot Pork Stew

I can find the Korean chili paste “gochujang” at our large local markets, including Whole Foods.  Of course, there are many brand choices if you go to Amazon.

  • 2 lbs pork shoulder cut into about 2″ pieces
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • a 1″ piece of ginger, sliced and smashed a little
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 2 T gochujang – or a little less if you’re not a spicy kind of person (or use sriracha – which works but the taste will not be the same at all)
  • 1/4 c cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 c hot water
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
  • rice noodles – cooked according to package directions – or cooked rice

Rub the pieces of pork with the salt and the pepper.  Place the ginger, garlic, and onion in the bottom of the crock pot; then place the salted pork on top.  Mix the soy sauce, gochujang, vinegar, and hot water together and then pour it on top of the pork, then add the apple.  Mix all the ingredients well.

Cook the stew on high for about 4 hours or until the pork is very tender.

Serve over rice noodles.

You might top it with the following for added pizzaz – but it’s not necessary:

  • 3 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 1 T soy sauce, 2 T rice vinegar, 1 T sugar, 1/4 tsp chile flakes – all mixed with the cucs and carrot
  • a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds – if you want to be fancy

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

 

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