Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A kind of Ragu - I guess

On Friday my dog got into the drawer where we keep the Benedryl and Motrin. Somehow she opened this drawer - all on her own - and managed to get the child proof top off the motrin and swallow some. At first, I thought she'd only gotten into the Benedryl, but it turns out she must have gotten into the Motrin too because by Sunday at 3am she was wildly drinking water and peeing every few minutes. Smith took her to the doggie hospital. Yesterday Mads and I drove down to see her, and had to wait an hour before they could bring her out and by the time we got back home we were so cranky and tired (plus Mads had a test she was freaking out over - did I ever freak out over a test in 5th grade?, no, I don't think so...my kids are so much more stressed than I was) that we ordered Chinese.

Have I mentioned that she's my sous-chef? I think I have. It's hard to cook when she's not by my feet.

Today, the Vet Hospital told me I could pick her up at 3pm. One of the beautiful things about having a 13 yr old is that she can walk over to the elementary school, pick up the 11 yr old and walk on home. Of course Em forgot her key this morning and I had to drop it off at the elementary school (because Middle School is a little like prison and won't let you see your kid at all during the day). So, I left later than I wanted, then got lost on the way, then got to the Animal Hospital and had to wait for the dog to be released, then drove home in rush hour traffic, and walked in the door only to fight with the girls because they'd been watching TV all afternoon and wanted to watch EVEN MORE because TV is like heroin when you're a pre- and a teen and the more you watch the more you absolutely must watch. Those two would watch TV 'til their eyes bled.* And they weren't even watching good stuff - like the Simpsons, or The Office (their usual fare) - but total crap - ie: Wizards of Waverly Place and Look Alike. God.

At least it wasn't "My Super Sweet Sixteen."

I wanted to make meatloaf tonight. I wanted to make meatloaf and mashed potatoes and green beans with orange slices (from the Lee Brother's new cookbook). Because I'd established a craving for this. But by the time I got back, I only had 40 minutes before Em's guitar lesson and that is simply not enough time for meatloaf.

So I made another one of my "throw it all in one pot and hope for the best meals" - and this one turned out ok and I decided to call it "Ragu" - after a recipe in a Nigella Lawson cookbook that has very little resemblance to the one I made up tonight, but what the hell.

Before I even started to make dinner tonight I needed a little bit of this:

Because it's been a crappy week. And it's only Tuesday.
*(by the way, Mads declares she wouldn't watch TV until her eyes bled, she'd play on the computer until her eyes bled - so, my bad)

Once again, I had all this stuff in the fridge that I wanted to use up: some 2 week old baby peppers - not quite wrinkly; cauliflower; some ground bison; some frozen green beans; an onion. Tossed it all in and it wasn't half bad. The beauty of the thing was that I didn't have quite enough meat for a whole meat loaf, but throwing it all in a pan with a pile of vegetables stretched the meat far and wide so that there were even leftovers for Smith to bring in the next day. Oh, and I threw these itty bitty potatoes I had left over from that bag of potatoes I bought last week into the toaster oven at 425. They were so small they cooked in about 40 minutes.

I went a little wild with the pictures today, so bear with me.

Not Nigella's Meat Ragu

1 lb of ground meat (whatever you've got: bison, turkey, chuck)
1 yellow onion
1 or 2 carrots (I chopped up a pack of baby carrots just to get them out out out. I get so sick of baby carrots - I don't know why I ever by them, no one ever eats them - and they're always dry as dirt)
1/2 head of cauliflower
frozen green beans snapped in half
1 tblsp of Worstershire
1/2 - 1 cup of Chicken broth
3 sprigs of fresh thyme (if you have it, which I did tonight)
1 bay leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste
sour cream (optional, but nice)

Pull out your biggest skillet and brown the meat in a little swirl of olive oil. Brown your meat, take it out, swirl in more olive oil if need be, return pan to heat, dump in onions, cook until almost translucent, dump in rest of vegetables except green beans (if frozen, if they're fresh dump them in now), add Worstershire, broth, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste. Bring up to a simmer, and cook a few minutes until the vegetables are tender-ish (the cauliflower will be crispier than the rest, but I like it that way). Return meat to pan along with green beans. At this point you can either add the sour cream and stir it into everything, or you can plop it on top of the whole thing later.

You could also add a good handful of shredded cheddar if you have it, or maybe a little chutney (I didn't have either one. Damn.)

Here's the finished thing:

Here's pictures of the girls hands, because they liked these pictures and asked me to put them in:

And here's my sous-chef cleaning up:

I missed her.
Glad she's home.