When Rachel and her friend Michael decided they wanted to spend a grand total of 24 hours up at the Red House, I had to think about what I could possibly make for them to eat. Correction, I had to think about what I could bring up that was cooked and just needed to be reheated. While Rachel will eat just about anything, Michael is still learning to try new foods. First and foremost, he told me shortly after I met him that he doesn’t eat anything green. (Although the other night he did surprise me with the news that he had actually tried a Caesar salad.)
Since we were going up on Saturday morning, I had all Friday night to cook up a feast. I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money on this 24 hour adventure of theirs so I limited myself to what I would make by what was in the fridge and/or freezer.
When I opened the freezer, I came across packages of chicken, frozen goat shanks, a pork tenderloin, duck fat, and two packages of London broil. Since I didn’t think the goat shank or the pork tenderloin was going to fly with either of them, I decided to make a stew out of the London broil.
I cut up the meat into decent sized chunks and popped them in a fry pan to sear. Adding a generous sprinkling of real Hungarian paprika, salt and pepper, I browned the meat in batches and then added the chunks to a pressure cooker where onions had already been sautéing. (Does sauteing have two “e'”s by the way, let me know.) My liquid of choice to get the pressure cooker whistling was a can of beer and a couple of cups of water. I also washed some Baby Bella mushrooms that I figured I could throw in at the end.
Setting the pressure cook on a medium flame, I let the beef stew cook for nearly an hour. That would be dinner for Saturday night. I knew I had some bags of homemade potato gnocchi in the Red House freezer which would be a nice accompaniment. Main course made, I decided to make a quick banana chocolate chip Bundt cake that could double as dessert for Saturday night and work equally well as a snack and/or breakfast sweet on Sunday morning. Following an old New York Times recipe for this cake, it’s a dessert my kids fell in love with when they were little because it had chocolate chips and bananas and was always really moist. (Meaning it was a fool-proof recipe even if you were baking-challenged.)
I put a stick and a half of butter in my Kitchenaid mixer with some sugar, added three eggs, one at a time, two mashed up bananas, the dry ingredients, and finally the chocolate chips at the end. The batter was spooned into a Bundt pan and put in the oven for a little over an hour. With the stew still simmering in the pressure cooker and dessert in the oven, I started backtracking. What could I make for lunch that would be quick and easy to put together if everyone was hungry after a four hour plus drive?
I decided on chicken cutlet sandwiches. I quickly scrambled some eggs, rinsed off the chicken cutlets and dipped them in the egg mixture then tossed them in a bowl filled with breadcrumbs. I quickly fried them in some vegetable oil and then let them cook a tad more in the oven. After the cutlets were done, I started packing.
Sandwich rolls, potato chips, bottled water. Check. Container to put the beef stew in when it was done. Check. Bottle of wine to drink with the beef stew. Double check.
You would think we were heading into the “wilderness” with all these provisions. Not, in the least. Thing is when I’m up at the Red House and not sheetrocking or spackling or either tearing something down or putting something up – I just like to relax. That means I don’t want to do any grocery shopping unless I have to, at least not the moment I pull into town. Since eating and drinking are pretty much sacred activities in my book, having everything I need to eat and drink just makes my life so much easier.
The chicken cutlet sandwiches were a hit and some of us liked the beef stew, others didn’t. ( I won’t say who!) By the time Sunday morning rolled around, I found myself cooking again. This time, I made French toast, from scratch. Luckily at the Red House we always have bread and eggs and milk and real maple syrup that we get from a guy up the street who taps his own trees. HOW COOL IS THAT? But then I panicked thinking French toast by itself wouldn’t be enough so I scrambled up some eggs and cooked AN ENTIRE PACKAGE OF PANCETTA in lieu of bacon.
I’m looking forward to future Sunday morning breakfasts – feasts actually – up at the Red House once I have a “real” kitchen. But for now, I’m still going to be lugging provisions.