Saturday, July 15, 2006

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes in the Kitchen

"Another potato recipe!" cried readers. Okay, I can do that.

Here's one that when you read through, may elict a few groans. However, stay with me on this.

3 large baking potatoes, about 1 1/2 lb (750g), peeled and cut into 2-inch (5-cm) chunks
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat an over to 400 [degrees] F (200 C). On a large baking sheet, spread out the potatoes and lightly coat the tops and sides with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with the rosemary and pepper.
Bake, turning every 15 minutes until golden brown and tender in the middle, about 1 hour.
To serve, divide among 4 individual plates.

I'm thinking someone may see the one hour baking time and groan since the potatoes have to be turned every 15 minutes. If you groaned, that's really three times, just three times. This is a very easy recipe and a tasty one as well. I have a friend who uses olive oil for everything and she uses it in place of nonstick cooking spray. I have another friend who grows her own rosemary and she will also use rosemary she's dried in this recipe (and others). If you're a rosemary wiz, you can probably do this with dried rosemary. I'm not a wiz, so I use fresh rosemary.

I asked Betty to try this recipe as a test run because her kids like potatoes and she's a working mom with not a lot of time. She says it took her fifteen minutes to do the steps before putting the dish into the oven and could probably cut it down to to ten minutes the next time. She set the microwave timer for 15 minutes, sliced some tomatoes for a salad, chopped some lettuce, some green onions and was working on doing the same to the carrots when the timer went off. She turned the potatoes, set the time for 15 minutes, finished her salad, checked on the kids in the living room, had a glass of ice water ("sitting down!"), timer went off, turned the potoes, set the timer again and then set the table. By the time she had the table set, the timer went off and she pulled the baking sheet from the oven and began putting the potatoes on plates.

She said it turned out "really good and that was the first time I'd made it." So this should be an easy recipe for most people. And it's from Cooking for Healthy Living by Jane Fonda. There are a number of wonderful recipes in that book. There are "120 Easy Low-Fat Recipes" according to the cover. I haven't made everyone in the book. I got this book in 1996 when it came out (I'm remembering that as the spring, but I may be remembering wrong). My oldest daughter picked it up for me because I love cooking and we love Jane Fonda in my house. She saw it at a bookstore and knew I'd enjoy it. (On Jane Fonda, C.I. knows I love the movie Julia and mailed me the DVD. I had looked for it on DVD awhile back and it wasn't available. So if there are any other Julia fans out there, it's now out on DVD.)

I do too. But I make the point about the recipes because there are three readers who have just purchased their first cookbooks. One's already given up and, I want to stress this, French cooking is something most are not going to master easily. You'll need patience for that. If you're a novice cook and you're interested in learning French cooking, I'd say you have two real choices: (a) sign up for lessons or (b) find a friend who knows how to cook that way. There used to be a number of programs dedicated to that. There may be some new ones now but I know the ship was pulling out of the harbor on that about ten years ago.

If you're looking for a cookbook to buy, I have a few tips. First off, don't buy one. Go to your library and look through the cooking books they have. See what interests you and check that book or those books out. Use those to experiment. Photos aren't what you're going to eat and a lot of cookbooks with lovely photos have recipes that aren't worth the printed page.

Some of the best cookbooks don't have photographs. But what you want to do is get beyond what a photo shows you (where you may be responding to the place setting, quite honestly) and what a book actually offers you.

If you're buying, or you're someone that doesn't have access to a library (with all the cuts these days, I imagine some areas of the country have that problem), I'd recommend you order Diet for a Small Planet which has never gone out of "style" in my kitchen. Frances Moore Lappe is the author and we've noted it here before. Those are tasty recipes you can follow. I'd also recommend Jane Fonda's Cooking For Healthy Living. Other than that, I'd recommend you go to a bookstore and look through the clearance cookbooks (there are always a large number of those) so you're not spending a huge amount on a cooking book you may not end up using.

If you become someone who frequently uses cookbooks, you'll learn how to flip through one in about ten minutes and know if it's something that you will really use in your kitchen. But when you're starting out, the easiest thing is to get lost in the pictures. My new daughter-in-law and I went book shopping recently and God bless her enthusiasm but after she showed me a photo and said she couldn't wait to make the dish in the photo, I pointed out to her that she was going to be using three pots, a skillet and two hours plus.

She hadn't noticed that. She'd noticed the wonderful photo. They're good about using the photo that hooks you. Then you get home, start making the recipe and may give up half-way through or finish the recipe while swearing, "Never again."

The reader that gave up on the cookbook (a French one) is making pasteries now because when we were all in DC, one morning C.I. made some pasteries from scratch. I was amazed both by how they'd turned out and how quickly it went (for the dish, you have to cut it with butter repeatedly, popping it into the fridge every few minutes). To me, that recipe is one that I will do once a year, in the winter. I'll share it this winter and if you want to try it, that's great. If you want to stick to the bakery, I don't blame you.

But if you get a cookbook and it's not one for you, don't panic. Just set it aside. It may be something that a year's time you're able to go back to. (Or it may be a worthless book, there are a number of those.) But, if you become someone who builds a cookbook library, you may find out what I have, which is that a good cookbook is one that has ten to twenty recipes you're going to use. As you get comfortable cooking, you'll have some set dishes you do quite well and what you'll be doing after that is just adding to those dishes.

When that happens, with new cookbooks, you'll mainly be going through to find recipes you think are interesting and not telling yourself (as I did when I started out), "I'm going to start with the first recipe and cook my way through this book!"

Most people I know who are good cooks tend to make it a point to add a recipe or more a year. That's it. (C.I., who is a wonderful cook, has added five recipes each year which is why C.I. can cook anything. Though frying was never mastered, as C.I. will readily admit.) If you go with one dish or with five and see this as a long range thing, you're looking at, in five years, five recipes or twenty-five that you've mastered.

Again, the point of this site is to provide you with some recipes that will hopefully strengthen the nutritional value of what you're eating and also provide you with a way to eat at a reasonable cost. Good nutrition is always important and with our econmy and our out of control health care costs, you can see it as your first line of self-defense.

I was looking through the morning paper and there's a great deal on the tunnel (Boston Globe, we had a panel in the tunnel to the airport come loose, fall on a car, crush it and kill the woman inside). One thing I heard on Free Speech Radio News this week that I'll note, the tuna situation may be worse than thought. There was a report with a man who recommended that grown ups limit themselves to one can a week. This is something Elaine and I spoke of on the phone yesterday. She called for Mike and we were talking for a bit, as we usually do when she calls. She was a big tuna eater until the warnings. I was as well. I think a lot of women are because it's less fattening, it's easy to fix in a number of ways and it's readily available.

She'd missed the report this week (she's only just returned from her vacation) and I was filling in her in on what was discussed. Another thing I'll note is Iraq. And what I'd like to note there is that when the 'crackdown' in Baghdad (the 'securing' of the capital) began, there was another wave of Operation Happy Talk especially as June closed and July began. If you remember, C.I. was very vocal that this wasn't going to be a calm period, not matter what the Happy Talk stated, and if you've followed the news, you know that's proven to be the case. While it's true that the deaths of US troops is down, it's also true that the deaths of Iraqi civilians continues to skyrocket. My guess is that well over 200 have died in the last seven days. (That's my estimate.) In the paper this morning, I saw some stuff already covered in C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" Friday and a lot that wasn't covered. So I'll note the snapshot and then do some recommended links right after. "Iraq snapshot:"

The Operation Happy Talk goes on.
Sean McFarland becomes the biggest doofus outside the administration by delcaring, "I think we have turned a corner her in Ramadi." MacFarland is both an Army Col. and a Happy Talker.
In news that's a little harder to Happy Talk,
Antonio Castaneda (AP) reports that of the 1000 Sunni soldiers who made up the May 2006 graduating class "only about 300 of them have reported for duty".
In other news from the real world,
Reuters reports that the US Congressional Budget Office predicts: "The Iraq war could cost U.S. taxpayers between $202 billion and $406 billion more over the next 10 years".
These projections come at a time when, as
Martha Burk has pointed out (Ms.), the US government has cut "[d]omestic-violence prevention by $35 million, Medicaid by $17 billion over five years and child care programs by 1.03 billion over five years."
In other costs paid,
Reuters reports 12 corpses were discovered in Tal Afar. CBS and the AP note a corpse ("shot in the chest . . . signs of torture") discovered in Azizyah".
noted earlier this morning, seven people were killed ("after Friday prayers") when a Sunni mosque in Baghdad was bombed. Meanwhile Reuters reports that a mosque in Balad Ruz was hit by mortar rounds leaving at least two dead and four wounded while a car bomber in Mosul who killed himself and five others. The AFP covers a mortar attack in Baghdad that left one person dead and nine wounded.
Shooting deaths?
Reuters notes that two policeman were killed by a sniper in Tal Afar while a minibus near Kut was attacked "with machine gun fire" resulting in five dead ("including a wwoman and a child"). Meanwhile, the AFP reports attacks in two cities: a car was "ambushed" in Tikrit by assailants who shot the father dead and wounded the son; and, in Mosul, two different attacks left a police officer dead as well as the bodyguard of a judge. And the Associated Press reports a drive-by in Baghdad that killed a taxi driver.
BBC noted the death of several Iraqi soldiers (12 at that point) in Kirkuk when they were attacked with "rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns". AFX raised the number dead to 13 (citing "colonel Mahmud Abdulla").
following yesterday's kidnapping attempt that left wrestling coach Mohammed Karim Abid Sahib dead, the AP reports that: "Iraq's national wrestling team [has] pulled out of a tournament in the United Arab Emirates".
In the United States,
Saturday July 15th is a day of action calling for Suzanne Swift to receive an honorable discharge including a protest, "at the gates of Ft. Lewis (exit 119) beginning at 12 pm with a press converence at 3 pm" in Washington state -- while in Eugen, Oregon there will be a demonstration outside the Federal Building at noon.
In DC (and across the globe -- over 22 countries), the fast led by
CODEPINK and others continues. As Thursday's The KPFA Evening News reported some Congressional members, including Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney and Lynne Woolsey took part in a one-day fast on Thursday. Ann Wright, who ressigned from the State Department on May 19, 2003 and is taking part in the actions stated: "The only reason we fast is to force us to remember what's going on here. That innocent Iraqis are dying every day, Americans are dying every day. We need to get this war ended. So, yeah, we're going to up the ante".
Wednesday July 19th, San Antonio, TX will be the location for a "public hearing held by the the independent Commission on the National Guard and Reserves" -- "in the Iberia Ballroom of the La Mansion Del Rio Hotel, 112 College Street, San Antonio."
There will be two panels with the first lasting from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and focused on "
roles and missions to funding requirements" and the second, lasting from 2:00 pm to 4 pm, focusing on how reserves were "involuntarily mobilized after September 11, 2001".

"Friday "
"A light post (I won't pretend this is deep)"
"What to call it? I'm too tired to figure that out "
"The War Paint Council"
"NYT: The continued decline of Dexy"
"NYT: Trying to give out that peaceful, easy feeling (someone break it to them -- they're a paper, not a rock group)"
"NYT: Worth reports, Dexy role plays"
"My Iraq op-ed"
"Bono's Anti-Chavez Video Game"
"Editorial: American wants the war over now"
"TV: Supernatural -- a tale of bad TV"
"The Hidden War on Women in Iraq"
"The Enduring Logic of Withdrawal"
"Bugging Hillary"