Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 31st, 2011: New pans!

My parents are coming by on Saturday (the 2nd). Tomorrow, the 1st, is Burger Friday, so I highly suspect that I'll make a post about what type of burgers I make. I'll explain why it's almost always "Burger Friday" when I make the post. But I'm ass-excited that I'll be getting the rest of my grandmother's Revereware Copper Bottoms and a Cast Iron. My mother has become disgusted with the fact that I'm cooking so elaborately with so little, so, she's helping me out. It's almost like a torch is being passed. I also feel a bit like Julie Powell... I'll most likely be cooking out of boxes until Blair and I reset the kitchen. I might give my land lord a head ache by putting hooks all around the kitchen to hold pots and pans. In anycase, I'm psyched to be graduating from "1 3qt, 2 Calphalon non-sticks and one odd pan left behind by the old tenants" to a fully stocked set of pots and pans.

Now I just gotta figure out what my burgers will be tomorrow. (edit) PS. I should try that Beer Bread from the Illinois Cookbook with Miller Light for my Parents and Blair

March 30th, 2011: Banana Enchiladas with Mole Sauce and Black Beans

Oh, boy! Banana Enchiladas! I know what that means! I get to go to Las Palmas in Naperville! YAY! I love that place! Wait... I don't have $50 to spend on dinner? And I'm in Normal, Il? Shit... what now? I'll make my own! YEAH! That's what I'll do.

I actually got this idea because I talked to my mother about how she ate as a child, that conversation did little more than confirm my assumption that my grandmother loved chemical laden food of the 50's and 60's. The little more that it did do was inspire me to try using Dona Maria Mole Sauce again. My family has developed a love affair with Oaxacan Dark Mole sauce. My dad orders it on almost everything when we get Mexican food at restaurants (well, at restaurants that offer it, he doesn't try to get it at La Bamba or El Famous Burrito). My mother and I agreed that Rick Bayless' recipe is one of the best out there for the American kitchen, but a coworker of my mother told her about Dona Maria Mole Sauce. My mother had great luck with it, but I didn't in the past. I absolutely abhorred it, but I was using the "Ready to Serve" variety, which wasn't too tasty.

So, I decided to throw together one of my favorite meals from up north, it always reminds me of a simpler time. I can't count the amount of times I'd eaten Banana Enchiladas at Las Palmas along side an 1800 Margarita on the rocks. First things first: heat some butter up in the pan and slice them bananas. While doing this, I place one cup of beef stock in my pan and start to heat it. After finishing slicing the bananas, I placed 1/4cup of Mole Sauce in the Pan and made my sauce.

I generally forget to deal with a side, but this time I didn't. So, what I did was take a can of black beans and some frozen corn and cook them up in that beef broth. All the while I was tasting things as much as I could and making sure that I was seasoning things correctly. The Mole Sauce started out liquidy and disgusting but quickly cleaned up and with the right spices got to a point where it tasted delicious. The beans had to have most of the beef stock cooked out, but took on a very nice meaty taste. The bananas browned up nicely.

Unfortunately, I had no idea what I was doing with the bananas. I assumed that their natural sugars would have come out in the butter and help to caramelize them, no such luck. I should have added sugar to the butter or fried them at a higher heat. I was afraid of them being delicate, so I didn't turn the heat up too much. Looking back, they could have taken a lot more heat, but... oh well. Now came the time to construct enchiladas! I warmed up a few corn tortillas (I have an addiction to corn tortillas), busted out the Pyrex and cheese. I wrapped up half a banana (two pieces) per tortilla, placed them in the pan and then sprinkled them with cheese and sauce. After that I placed them in the over at 200 degrees for 15 minutes to melt the cheese.

The final product was pretty decent. It wasn't anywhere near as delectable as I remember it being at Las Palmas, but... what are you going to do? The bananas had a raw taste and the mole had a bitter taste. Maybe if I had cooked the bananas on high heat with sugar, I would have achieved my goal, and the mole could have used more sugar and maybe cream. One thing is for sure, the meal definitely was not bad. My girlfriend loved it, she thought it was great. I guess I just had higher expectations for it, since I ate these all the time up north. Blair told me that it tasted just like when her friend's mother would make them for her in college, so, I guess I've got that going for it. All in all, it was a worth while excursion.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

February 20th, 2011: Chicken Fried Steak, Beer Bread and Gravy

Ah, this was probably my FAVORITE meal that I have made so far. My Girlfriend, on the other hand, was not too pleased with the meal. Citing the meat as "too tough" and "too chewy." When I tried to explain to her that that's how cube steak is, she didn't believe me. I admit, myself, that I vowed never to buy cube steak after my first encounter with it. I was a foolish college student looking for some meat to make burgers with and I thought that something with the word "steak" instead of "beef" would be tastier. So I made burgers with cube steak. Bad idea. Like a patty of gristle.

This want of making Chicken Fried Steak came about after I watched the Good Eats episode "Cubing Around" and I realized that that stuff looked good when Alton made it, so, why shouldn't it when I make it. I had just received my Alton Brown's Good Eats Volume 2 cookbook earlier in the week and was psyched to start it. This is actually the same recipe from the book and episode. Cube steak is made the way that it is to make a tough cut of meat more palatable by tenderizing it. Chicken fried steak is actually a recipe that came to the US via German immigrants who brought the Wiener Schnitzel recipe with them, only instead of using the traditional veal they used cube steak.

I actually started this meal the day before. While perusing Friar Tuck's (a liquor superstore that's almost competition for Binny's up north) I remembered a recipe I read in another cookbook I got that same week. It was a cookbook of Illinois foods called The Legendary Illinois Cookbook: Historic and Culinary Lore from the Prairie State. That name is a mouth full. I called my mother up (she's like a cooking god that I pray to when things go wrong in my kitchen or I'm confused a little bit) to ask her what kind of beer I should use in my beer bread and her response was simply "You're making beer bread? Really? Why?" which devolved into a conversation regarding my father's attitude that it was a waste of perfectly good beer. Nuts to that, I had already used an entire $40 bottle of Bakon Vodka cooking in the past few months. I settled on a Lagunitas Hop Stoopid ale and then made off to Miejer to make my first baking purchase in a LONG time, some self rising flour.

It was odd to me, going through the Illinois cookbook, that I didn't know any of the recipes from my mother's kitchen, but a few recipes did give me memories of visiting my grandparents in Minooka when I was growing up. I thought about how my mom cooks and how my grandmother cooked. My mother spent most of her time in the kitchen using easy recipes like Chicken and Broccoli Casserole, Chicken Tetrazzini (edit: my mother told me "That wasn't easy, but it was good, right?" to which I replied "yeah, but you always prepared it during your lunch break for us to bake at night." and she replied "well, yes, but it wasn't EASY!" It really was good, I'll have to get that recipe from her.), Baked Mostacolli and Beef and Broccoli. They came from magazines and friends and were designed, mostly, to appease a family of five without much fuss. The way that my grandmother cooked was even more strange compared to this cookbook. My grandmother also used a lot of canned vegetables, sauces and soups. Her bread was always Colonial, which my mother equates to Wonderbread, and a lot of our family holidays were accompanied by Green Bean Casserole and Scalloped Corn, food that I've heard referred to as "Campbell's Recipes." Not once did I see my grandmother cracking oxtail bones or dressing a calf's head to make a Pawn Haas Loaf. But I digress on that regarding my familial history of food.

The recipe for the bread consisted of beer, flour and sugar. While it was baking, it filled the house with the smell of really hoppy beer and fresh bread. It smelled wonderful, unfortunately... it took on the taste of hops. Not just hops, but it was overwhelmingly hoppy. Blair couldn't eat it, as it tasted like beer and she doesn't like beer. (Edit, in the original itteration of this I typed "Hoppes" like the gun cleaner/oil, rather than hops, like what is in beer, kind of funny, I guess. Hoppes #9 smells just as good, just not delicious like beer hops)

The next day she got off of work and arrived home not to find a simple dinner prepared, but a huge mess of the kitchen. Flour was everywhere, my hands were covered in a kludge of milk and flour from dredging the beef and I was in a quickly reaching a state of panic as my oil had started smelling rotten and letting off a black smoke. "What are you doing?" "I'm making chicken fried steak." "Did you have to make such a mess? You have to learn to wipe off the counters when you cook." There really was a crude batter all over the kitchen. This was my first attempt at frying something like this.

After I replaced my oil and let the beef sit I tossed it in the pan and fried it until the breading crisped up. I had to make a makeshift drying rack to drain the steak of excess oil and I plopped that in the oven to keep it warm to serve.

My next task was to make the gravy. I never thought it would be this hard. No matter what I did, I could not get the gravy to cook down. It was always soupy and thin. I couldn't get it to work at all. I was quickly getting frustrated with the situation, a call to my mother was needed. "Make a roux" she said. I just added flour until it thickened. It turned out great. I warmed up the beer bread from last night and plated.

I bit into it and instantly stated "Christ, I made it better than the Colonel could have." Blair let out a sigh, it was too tough. I ate the beer bread up, the gravy made it so much better, she let out a sigh. The gravy was at least good for her. Different strokes for different folks.

February 17th, 2011: Pork Tenderloin with Skillet Roasted Potatoes

Unfortunately, this post is going to be a bit odd. Seeing as I only have pictures of the finished product and how simple it was, this'll be a short one. I don't remember what possessed me to buy pork tenderloin on my grocery shopping trip, I really don't. I'd had an aversion to pork products that aren't bacon or ribs most of my life, I didn't like how boring pork chops are, or how tough. I didn't like how fatty ham tasted without being bacon-like. So I avoided them to the point of making up an allergy to them. I had finally gotten out of eating my mother's pork chops and I couldn't have been more pleased (sorry, mom, but they were pretty dry).

So, why would I make pork tenderloin now? It was weird. My first step was to address the dryness of pork that I don't like. How do you prevent dry turkey on Thanksgiving? Brine it! Thank you, Alton Brown. I'll do that to the pork. How else can I solve this issue? Braise it. So, I tried to make a brine, but it failed. I ended up making more of a marinade. The pork spent about 5 hours in it. In the end, it did solve some of the issues, but the pork still turned out a bit tough. So, I braised it in beef stock (is that weird?) for a while, then slathered it in Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue sauce and seared it to get a good "que" taste going on.

The potatoes were simply seasoned and cooked in the same pan as the pork. It was a wholly unremarkable meal that I just felt fell horribly short of my expectations and hopes. I was surprised, though, by the fact that I ate and enjoyed the pork. I had now added a previously despised meat to my pallet and I had tried (slightly successfully) a new cooking method that I'll have to suggest to my mother when I remember.

Wait.... did I get this idea from this South Park episode? A bit of a warning, in this video there's SEVERAL VERY NOT SAFE FOR WORK references, acts and phrases.

February 10th, 2011: Lamb Rib Tips, Scallops and Bacon with Caramelized Onions

After my excursion with the Alfredo Chicken meal proved that I could produce a meal of near restaurant caliber, I really wanted to do something impressive and push the envelope in my kitchen. I thought that I should cook something VERY nice and/or delicate to work with. I hit up Naturally Yours, our "hippy" grocery store for some Sushi earlier in the week and walked out with lamb "shanks," farm house bacon and scallops. Turns out they were lamb rib tips, they were mislabeled or something. So, I got to looking up recipes. I had no idea what to do.

I read every "Lamb Shank" recipe on Food Network's website, I asked a friend of mine who is a professional cook and the general consensus was to sear them, then braise them. I talked to my mother on the phone while I was wandering around Miejer trying to get ideas for sides/sauce and I had a sudden epiphany while walking down the liquor aisle. Bourbon-Berry sauce! Just like I made for the bread pudding before! And then braise the lamb in bourbon with potatoes and onions, caramelize the onions and serve that as a side! EUREKA! My mom thought I was insane.

I got home and started cooking right away. Well, I started cooking after I poured myself a glass of Evan Williams on (quite literally) the rocks. My first task, I decided, was the sauce. I melted some butter, poured in some whiskey and cranberry juice and let it reduce.

So, what next? Simple. Sear the sides of the lamb for a couple minutes a side, but don't cook it through. Then pour bourbon over a bed of potatoes and onions (Edit, I believe I put bacon in there, as well, in order to create a blanket of subtle bacon flavor across the meal) with other spices and flavors and plop them pieces of lamb down on it.

Looking back on it, this meal was VERY heavy and VERY big. The next thing I did was idiotic. I wrapped the scallops in the bacon and then skewered them. Why? I have no idea. I've eaten bacon wrapped scallops before, I've eaten bacon wrapped fillet mignon. For some reason I simply wanted to make something bacon wrapped. So I did... but I used ALL of the scallops I had, instead of making a small side of them. They could have been a meal on their own. More than likely, I simply wanted to have that much more impressive food made.

The way that I cooked the scallops was entirely unremarkable. I poured some bourbon and butter in a pan and seared them on it, then threw em in the dish the lamb was cooking it. The entire meal picked up on hits of one and other and really worked well together. I watched an episode of Worst Cooks in America before this and was really impressed with the way that they plated their lamb and I tried to emulate it. My sauce, on the other hand, turned out a bit oily and didn't reduce as thick as I would have liked it to. It was good and edible, but didn't look all that great.

My girlfriend arrived home from work to find this dish on the counter waiting for her, her exact words when she saw it was "holy shit, you actually made this?"

I learned a very valuable lesson from this meal that I haven't forgotten. How much food to make. I made WAY too much food for this meal and we ended up with leftovers. The left overs weren't nearly as good as they were when they were first made and I felt like they went to waste.

February 7th, 2011: Alfredo Sauce, Chicken and Salad

I've decided to pull myself away from Great Gatsby for the NES long enough to make a legacy post. I'll be taking about a meal I made after the Superbowl and Snowpocalypse. I remember this day. It was an interesting day. The first time I cooked after the Superbowl. The last thing I made was some delicious Sloppy Joes with Fried Plantain Chips. This is one of the earliest photos of my excursions of cooking in 2011. And it was delicious.

So, on the 7th I had found myself watching Ina Garten on Food Network between my classes. I don't remember what she was making, but I remember one thing quite clearly: she made her own vinaigrette dressing with Red Wine Vinegar and Olive Oil (but in her case, it was "Good" Olive Oil). After I attended my class on food that day I ran to Meijer and texted my girlfriend with "what do you want to eat tonight?" Her only response was "Chicken." I suddenly felt like I was in Iron Chef and my secret ingredient was chicken.

I raced around Miejer seeking ingredients for my challenge. I decided that I liked Alfredo Sauce. So I looked at the ingredients on the back of a jar of it and went around the store buying stuff off the label. Next, I needed chicken to cook. So I bought some chicken breasts. I wanted to make a salad, I decided. I suddenly remembered Ina Garten making a salad dressing. I bought lettuce, red wine vinegar and eggs. What else do you need for a full meal? BREAD! I remembered something from my past that seemed quite odd when I bought "Artisan" bread and Olive Oil to go with it. When I was a little boy my Grandparents had a 50th anniversary party at an Italian Restaurant. I remembered how they served the bread, with Parmesan cheese and garlic in olive oil to dip it in. And I had my meal set.

I got home and unpacked all the food with a fervor. I wanted to get cooking! The first thing I did was realize that I didn't know how to cook poultry. I thought back to Food Network and remembered that they braised a turkey on Worst Cooks in America by placing it in a steel pan, pouring liquid in with it and covering it. So I did this. I poured chicken broth in the pan and then spiced it, scored the chicken breasts and threw them in.

While the chicken was cooking, I made my salad. I whisked red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and an egg yolk together and place the lettuce on top of it, I'd toss it when it was time to serve.

My next step was to make the sauce. I had no idea where to start. I remembered hearing sometime on food network that you need to cook pasta in the sauce to really make it great. I boiled the pasta and poured what I thought would be acceptable amounts of pees, milk, oil, Cheese vodka, and cheese into one of my calphalons and proceeded to watch it boil up. Then I added the pasta and cooked it down some more. It was deceptively easy. A little too easy...

At this point I realized that I had made the entire meal in less than an hour. So I made my bread sauce, which was simple, and I was done. My girlfriend was greeted by an elaborate meal, complete with sides, when she got home from work. She was pretty excited.

I also realized that I didn't like chicken when it's not fried. How did I forget that? I was so bored with the chicken breast when I ate that I don't think I finished it. I thought the pasta was delicious, with a nice and creamy sauce. I'd have paid someone for this. The salad dressing was very acidic, which I liked until it gave me heart burn. For my girlfriend it was much too vinegar-y, she didn't like it. And the entire loaf of bread was gone by the time we went to bed. It was all such simple food, yet was extremely elegant. Now the shit really hit the fan and I really started to cook a lot.

March 25, 2011: Welsh Rarebit Pub Style Burgers

Not "rabbit," "rarebit!" Jeez!

I found this recipe in a burger cookbook I purchased at Barnes & Noble on a recent "vacation" to Naperville. The recipe, itself, is rather odd and I found it to be a very interesting endeavor. I sent my girlfriend to Miejer to pickup some "prepared mustard," which I assumed to be Grey Poupon, and Worcestershire sauce and the next day I was cooking away. What an odd cookbook...

Before you think I butchered my own bunny or went out hunting with my .22 to get some rabbit meat, let's talk about what "Rarebit" is. Welsh Rarebit is an interesting concept. As Toki (that adorable Mini-Rex I put in the pan) so beautifully demonstrated, it is phonetically very close to the word "rabbit." And there's good cause. Citing the Oxford English Dictionary like the English nerd that I am, we see that the word actually comes from the word "Rabbit" and refers to a dish of cheese and toast. The origin of this slant on the word rabbit is believed to have originated from the fact that the Welsh people were so oppressed by the British that the closest thing they had to rabbit to eat was melted cheese and toast, according to this British newspaper article. But, I'm making a burger variation.

Our first step is to make some burger patties. Simple enough. I use 80/20 ground beef and I often spice my burgers the same way: brown sugar, paprika, ancho chili powder, garlic, salt and black pepper. Next, brown them patties up.

After browning the patties, the next step is to add in the sauce. The recipe called for these ingredients.

Taking a page from Micheal Ruhlman's time at the Culinary Institute of America, I tasted the sauce every step of the way and ended up adding beer and flour to it, making it a bit more like Alton Brown's Welsh Rarebit.

I really should have forgone the Cheddar Cheese sauce and just made a b├ęchamel or roux and melt cheese into it, but... ah well. The way the sauce was made was by pouring off the excess fat/grease from the burger and combining the ingredients in the pan with the burgers. The burgers then completed cooking in the sauce in a sort of braising method.

I ran into a couple of problems, though. Instead of incorporating the flour as a roux, I simply placed it in the sauce. This produced horrible clumping. I had to remove the burgers from the sauce, pour the sauce in one of my glass bowls and whisk it until the lumps came out. Unfortunately, I don't have a non-stick safe whisk, so this awkward step had to be taken. Another issue I ran into was that I put too much liquid in the sauce, so it took extra long to cook down. I also put in too much Grey Poupon and made the sauce extremely "mustardy." When mixed with the meat it tasted great, but when served on toast like traditional Welsh Rarebit, it was very overpowering. Also: my fries didn't make it. They were done about 20 minutes before the burgers and were eaten before then, so I threw some Green Giant "steam in bag" veggies in a pot and called it a day. I also neglected to get any "buns" for the burgers. Usually I just toast bread and place my burgers on that, akin to the original Louis' Lunch, the birthplace of the hamburger. I intended to place these on English Muffins, like the recipe called for, but due to my habit of eating burgers on toast, I completely forgot.

This was the final product:
That brownish color in the sauce is from the beer. It's plated as an open face sandwich, intended to be eaten with a fork and knife and presented in a way more inline with traditional Rarebit than a burger. I also put less sauce on the cheese than most recipes pictured for a semblance of it not being a terribly unhealthy meal.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Formative Years

I never considered myself a "Cook" or "Chef" until the last couple years of my life, and even then, I've been tentative to call myself such. I've mixed a mean cocktail and made a killer Fried Rice dish, but never really figured out what I was doing until recently. There were infrequent spurts where I'd help my mother in the kitchen after graduating High School or seeing Alton Brown make something awesome on Good Eats, but I never really mastered the concept of "cooking" like my mother understood it. I never thought that I would have to.

Early on in my cooking experience I quickly found that baking was not my forte, being a 15 year old wanting homemade cookies I decided to make my own. Two long hours later, I had a cooking pan filled with liquidy, salty dough because I didn't understand the difference between tea-spoon and table spoon. The first time I cooked something successful on my own was probably when I was 20 (that's not including microwavable meals) and that was because of a video-game. Yes, I literally learned to make Fried Rice from Cooking Mama NDS. After I lost my high-paying job that implied that I didn't need to finish college, I started to learn to cook. I began cooking Fried Rice and attempting other odd creations that almost never went anywhere. One of the few creations that persisted in my repertoire was my "Gyro Burger," which was a Lamb Burger seasoned similar to a Gyro and topped with feta cheese, tomato and onion and Alton Brown's Tzatziki Sauce.

When I finally left my parents' house for college at a proper university I found myself mired in cheap beer, microwaveable meals and Easy-Mac. My first night living alone, I literally spilled Easy-Mac all over my brand new couch while watching Star Trek: The Original Series. There was very little real cooking going on in my life for the longest time. I ate like a college student and lived like one, too. I became a vegetarian for a mixture of weight control and to impress a girl that I knew. This stuck with me for a long time and I found myself eating seafood for the first time in my life (growing up, I never enjoyed eating sea-food). I bought cook books all the time, but never took the time to cook food, but I kept inventing new variations on my old favorite: fried rice.

One variation was Curried Rice Noodles. I would use Rice Noodles that softened in ice water and then fry them in curry, cumin, garlic and soy sauce and add onions, peppers and carrots. The food was ok, but nothing to amazing.

I began dating another girl within the year and tried to impress her with my cooking and made an elaborate meal out of my Irish cookbook that consisted of stuffed cod, bacon wrapped lemon juice braised scallops, bread pudding and a whiskey cranberry sauce (I would go on to use that sauce as an inspiration for later sauces). I spent hours that day preparing food according to a cookbook and found that I enjoyed my time in my nice, spacious kitchen. It was that day that I really fell in love with the idea of spending time in the kitchen, the only problem was: I didn't know how to really cook. The dinner went very well and everything was very delicious. After that day I went on to develop my own "low-fat Bread Pudding", but never bothered putting the recipe to paper. Maybe I'll give it to you guys in the coming posts. I started to cook for my girlfriend frequently. Stuffed shell pasta, baked mostacolli and other easy recipes were made.

Following that, I started to fall in love with the Chili Pepper. On the night of my 22nd birthday I ate at a Mexican restaurant and started trying the Habenero sauces on the table and found that I LOVED the taste and could tolerate the burn in order to get a taste. I started experimenting with Chili Peppers and found that I could actually produce a decent hot sauce. It was about this time that I started watching Food Network almost nonstop and developed some important recipes in my repertoire.

Shortly there after I started experimenting more and found that I could create recipes that actually won me rewards (a $50 Sur La Table giftcard for this) and ended up the number one burger on Recipes Wiki for a while. I fell into a niche of making hot, spicy food. And then I learned about Southern Cuisine. I fell in love with the accessibility and comfortable attitude that items like Corn on the Cob and Blackened Catfish offered. I found myself niched by my own attitudes. I made Fried Rice and Southern Food constantly.

That was one feisty burger.

It wasn't until 2011 started that I really found myself branching out from my old methods. The first of such was the sudden idea to make Gnocchi. But, what kind of sauce should I use? I just started throwing things into my Calphalon. It started with Bacon, then onions, then vinegar, then tomatoes, then Bakon vodka, then Morningstar Farms Sausage. What was this mess? Who knows?! So I threw in a bunch of spices and let it cook. After about 15 minutes it was a thick sauce that tasted pretty good and I realized just what a "reduction sauce" really was. It was the first time I really did anything culinary. And it started a chain reaction. This was the day that my cable bill became almost entirely about Food Network.

When I moved into an apartment with my long-time girlfriend and we had a dishwasher I wasn't afraid of making a mess and had someone to cook for constantly. The first thing I made for her? On Superbowl Sunday I made Sloppy Joes and Plantain Chips. She came home from work to find a good Game Day meal with a Latin twist with some nice cocktails awaiting her. That time spent cooking for her and her reaction to my food was what sealed the deal. I would become the Pantless Chef. Now I just had to figure out what to keep cooking.

Welcome to the new Blog

This blog was founded with academic intentions, to be used as a final project for one of my classes (there'll be more on that later), but I intend to use this project as an outlet for my own culinary devices, opinions, machinations, adventures, readings, stories, tales... I'm starting to run out of synonyms, but I think you get the idea. I'll include, in the coming posts, pictures of food that I make, what I'm making, why I'm making it, what it means to me, its history, where I got the recipe from and, if I can, the recipe. I often find myself in the kitchen not knowing what I'm doing, but relying on certain innate talents that I don't understand. In the past few months I've been trying to help myself grow in the kitchen.

There are already 3 or 4 months (edit: it's actually just 2) of Cooking Without Pants on Twitter and Facebook, and I regret to inform anyone following on either of those mediums, that the first couple days of posts will be regurgitations of those to get this medium up to speed. Here's the Twitter account, be sure to follow, as that gets more odd updates than this one does. The Pantless Cheff

Even though this is being used as a School Project, I'm planning on continuing after the project is done. I imagine I'll probably fizzle out like my last blog, Late to the Game Reviews, which hasn't seen a post since my Fable III review in November. Who knows, maybe I'll bring that back.

But, to describe myself in a culinary way... well, I'm not trained. I never paid a whole ton of a attention to my mother in the kitchen, but I was raised on fresh food and know how much better a fresh made soup is than a can of Campbell's or how much better scratch made Sloppy Joe's are than a Manwich. When I left for school my mother bestowed upon me two Revereware 1qt Copper Clad Sauce Pans (both of which I ruined by forgetting I was boiling water), one Revereware 3qt Copper Clad Sauce Pan (Those Reveware pans had been in my family for over 30 years) and a Calphalon Non-Stick Skillet (which I completely destroyed by not understanding that it needs to be taken care of, it's since been replaced by a set of Calphalon Non-Stick Skillets). I don't cook with much more than that in terms of pans, so I generally have to pay attention to how many vessels I need and I don't have the nicest kitchen equipment (my wafflemaker takes about 15 minutes per waffle) because of my lack of money, but I do the best that I can. I'll include as many step-by-step pictures as possible. There will more than likely be a list of cookbooks that I turned to for inspiration, as well.
Totally hard to get any sense of Mise En Place going on in this kitchen

In anycase, welcome to Cooking Without Pants, the journey of Thom in the kitchen.

And, yes, I really do cook in my underwear. I harbor a deep seated hatred for pants. I personally believe they were invented to make use suffer as people and I don't want that kind of hatred in my kitchen.