Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Recipe Review - Parmesan Pork Roast

Now Playing -  Brutality by Black Box Recorder
Cookin’ With Kris
Photo from Taste Of Home of the recipe
The Taste Of Home Cookbook
Pg. 129

1 boneless whole pork loin roast (4lb)
2/3c grated parmesan cheese
1/2c honey
3t soy sauce
2T dried basil
1/2t salt
2T minced garlic
2T cornstarch
1/4c cold water

1.Cut roast in half, transfer to 3qt slow cooker. Combine cheese, honey, soy sauce, basil, garlic, oil and salt; pour over pork. Cover and cook on low until pork reaches 160 or 5 ½ - 6 hours.
2.Remove meat to platter, cover with foil to keep warm. Skim fat. Transfer juices to small saucepan. Stir together cornstarch and water until smooth, combine with juices. Heat to boiling – cook and stir until thickened. Slice roast, serve with gravy

Modifications : I didn’t have any dried basil, so I used 2T of italian seasoning, which was essentially just basil anyway. We served ours with mashed potatoes.

Rating (out of 5)

Kris – 4
Linz – 4 ½

Review: An easy to make roast with an interesting mix of flavors. The soy sauce and honey really compliment each other, while bringing out the tanginess of the parmesan. The sauce cooks down to a rich, dark red with pieces of smoky parmesan and basil. I think the sauce could have been improved by using freshly dried basil, rather than the rather old italian seasoning I had to substitute. I should have used my remote thermometer that Linz gave me for Christmas, as the five hour cooking time left the meat quite flavorful but dry. We ended up roughly shredding it and eating it atop mashed potatoes with the sauce as gravy. We’ll try this one again.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Family Album - Maine Oddities

Now Playing -  In The Name Of Love by U2

 We spotted this building while we were out cruising around for Maine Maple Sunday last year. It looked like it had once (And possibly still is) an inn.... The building was BEAUTIFUL and quirky but man, it was a mess. Not exactly the type of place I would cruise up to for a quiet weekend with my wife.
 Maybe a quiet weekend with my knife.
But seriously, We were there in the off season, and the place looked awesome. It's apparently still open and run by some truly unique owners. They don't charge much, have a bohemian nutball personality that I find hilarious and in reality, is probably just the place my wife and I would choose. This is actually one of their "Rates" posted on their website - Almost Broke and Desperate: We have allowed hikers to camp on the porch. If you are reading this on a computer, you probably don't qualify. You should be reasonably presentable and willing to work. It will probably be under $25 a night, but we'll talk.

I love it.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Our New Addition

Now Playing -  Take On Me by Ah-Ha

Life -  
 Back in October of 2011, we bought a little 8x8 shed from Home Depot for our front yard. They came out and installed it and I spent a few days installing insulation, cheap walls and painting it, transforming it into my Fortress Of Smallitude. (The post on that is HERE)

It wasn't the best place in the world, but it was cozy and worked for an afternoon retreat - sculpting, artwork, etc. Eventually, as Deeply Dapper took over our household, The FOS was transformed into a wood prep and painting shack. It's now used more than ever, but every inch of it is covered in paint and sawdust and skull dust in every crack and crevice.

The entire process of getting the shed was awesome though. Home Depot was great to work with and Sheds USA, the company that installed them was professional and fast. SO when we realized Lindsay's room in the house, formerly her office/writing room was going to have to be converted to an office/stockroom for Deeply Dapper, we decided she needed a little retreat and headed back to the Depot.

We went a bit bigger this time, opting for an 8x12 one with six foot high walls. While the 8x8 was fine for my art room, Linz has a nice day bed she wanted to include and the 4 foot walls on the FOS made the place a little claustrophobic. The installation was just as slick as before. One guy, a couple of hours and we had our new room - The Writing Cottage!

The sheds come unlined, unpainted, essentially a place for tools or a mower, but with a little bit of effort and a couple of hundred bucks, you can make a pretty comfy room. For this one, we decided to leave the upper rafters uncovered and painted them a nice creamy white. We'd initially planned to run a set or two of net lights along the rafters, but later decided it was too bright and looked bad. For the FOS, we lined the walls in thick, heavy plywood, which was pretty simple and reasonably priced - $18 a panel. While at Home Depot, we noticed a thinner, laminated board that I think is used for underflooring when laying carpet, but I'm not actually sure. It was a lot cheaper than the plywood - $4 less a panel, and quite smooth, so we went with it instead. We also picked up an additional window to install in the side of the shed to let in some light and airflow.
The paneling, while lightweight and looking much better than the plywood, ended up being harder to install. It was quite flexible, so instead of just slapping it up and screwing it to studs, I had to line up the edges with the studs or create a system of supports behind the edges to prevent gapping. It was also harder to cut than the plywood due to its tendency to sag while cutting it. All said though, I still liked it better for the Cottage. It ended up looking nice and smooth. The window went in pretty well too.
I didn't spend as much time with it as I could have - a few of the walls were a bit gappy and not everything lined up perfectly, but that was okay - we aren't really planning to use it for more than a year or so. If this was going to be her writing retreat for years and years, I would have done it up right. As it was, it turned out pretty great. I used the excess panels we bought to add a second layer of flooring, covering the small gaps in the original floor that could have let in cold air or insects.

Then it was Linz's turn. She painted nearly the entire thing by herself, using a pink-beige-orange color called Butternut. Which pretty much looks exactly like a butternut squash. It's interesting. At first I was afraid it would be too orange or pink, but it looks very different at times of the day and now that furniture is out there, it looks quite nice.
After the initial paint job, we hit Home Depot again to buy some cheap trim. There were just enough little goofy jagged lines that we figured that would help tie the room together. Oh yeah, we also needed a rug.

Generally speaking, trim and edging is sold by the foot at hardware stores, which can get quite expensive, quite fast but if you look, there's usually some pretty dirt cheap options that sell by the piece instead. They're usually a composite thing, made to line cheap apartments and mobile homes. (Our entire trailer is trimmed in the stuff.) We bought a bunch and planned to paint them the blue Linz had picked out for the accent color. In the end, it took twice as much time and paint as it should have - the cheap trim is so slick that the paint just doesn't stick. It's meant to be hung without adding color, which is what we'll do next time.
While there, we also noticed some wall panels that were even cheaper than the ones we bought, down on the bottom by the trim. They're all the fake "Board" lined panels that you see in 70's houses, but it would have saved us $70. Oh well.

At any rate, the Cottage looks pretty great now. We've built a couple of shelves that need to have the painting finished and I haven't made her curtains yet, but aside from that, it's pretty cozy. I'll post more pictures later.
Now it's time for her to write some books!


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cooking With Kris!

Now Playing -  White & Nerdy by Weird Al Yankovic
New Series - Cooking With Kris!

I love to cook. Which is a good thing, since Linz does not. I find the entire process fun and enjoy trying different recipes, making modifications or our own versions of things. I tend towards crock pot meals, primarily because its fits our schedule but also because our kitchen and supplies out here in Maine leave a bit to be desired. (We bought a good chunk of our kitchen supplies from Goodwill or on the cheap, because we have better versions out west or plan to buy nice ones once we move more permanently)  

I've decided to start sharing recipes here, both from cook books and our own home & family recipes, along with our modifications and reviews of how they were. When I can, I'll also include photos of the cookbook's version of the food as well as how it actually looked. 

Be warned - I make food to taste good, not look pretty - my photos will be of food that's placed on a plate to eat, not artfully poured tureens of beauty in natural light with colorful sprigs of fairie wings, so don't expect that. I want to share what our actual family's meals look like. And whether it was worth eating.

Also, don't expect a very focused look at specific food - my wife and I like to eat as healthy as we can without sacrificing taste or making silly stretches to avoid types of food. We're both simple people raised in The West with no real dietary concerns outside of watching our weight. Meat and potatoes types of people. We eat meat, cook with butter, salt and sugar. My grandma used to cook her popcorn in bacon grease and I still do occasionally as well. That's the way we roll. I'm also on the constant search to find authentic recipes for delicious Mexican food, something that is sorely missing out here in Maine.

I hope you try out a few of the recipes and let me know what you think and if you see something I might want to try, send me a link!