Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

image from
Are you familiar with this classic Clint Eastwood movie?  It seems like I grew up watching it, along with a Fistful of Dollars and Hang Em High, of course  What can I say?  We liked spaghetti Westerns at my house and Clint could rock a poncho like no one else - except my good friend Aloysius, perhaps.  The movie, like myself, premiered in 1966.  Maybe that fact, along with an excellent  theme song*, are why I am always willing to invest nearly 3 hours watching this terrific film. 

I haven't done much cooking in recent weeks, but three things I recently attempted personified The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  I thought I should share my failures with you as well as my culinary successes - a gentle reminder that none of us (other than Barbara Lynch) are perfect.

The Good
Let's begin with The Good - not only is that consistent with the title, but you all know I'm an optimist at heart.  Today was my first 5:30 a.m. wake-up call for the school year, and I used my time wisely by preparing dinner 12 hours early.  I've done brisket a number of ways, with varying degrees of success, but this "technique" always results in tender, falling apart, flavorful meat.  And, talk about easy!  Combine a can of beef broth with a jar of chili sauce in a slow cooker.  Add brisket (Get one bigger than you think you'll need - it cooks down and you'll want leftovers.) and top with some sliced onions, toss in some carrots if you have them, chopped potatoes would be lovely, too.  Cover.  Turn on low and cook for 10 or 12 hours.  There you go - delicious, easy dinner in one-pot.

The Bad
And now for The Bad...we had a surplus of red and yellow peppers in the crisper drawer so I decided to toss them on the grill and roast them.  Which I did.  For a long, long time because I completely forgot about them.  What I ended up with were absolute fossilized peppers - they were completely charred and lacking even the slightest amount of liquid. Aren't they kind of cool looking though?  Obviously they were inedible, but I'd like to think that the neighborhood squirrels ate them and became really sick.  Squirrels, too, are Bad.

The Ugly (but delicious)
After an August filled with succulent tomatoes and sweet corn, I'm ready to begin enjoying root and cruciferous vegetables.  One of my favorite cooler weather veggies is cauliflower.  Ugly is perhaps too  strong a word but work with me here, ok? Compared to perfectly round, glossy tomatoes and corn with shiny silk, cauliflower just isn't as visually appealing to many folks. After years of attempting to replicate my mother's mustard sauce, I've abandoned that folly and decided that I am more than happy with roasted cauliflower - again one pan and very little attention required.  Perfect. Break up your head of cauliflower into florets and toss into your favorite roasting pan.  Drizzle with  olive oil and liberally season with coarse salt.  Roast at 400 for about 40 minutes, occasionally shaking the pan to toss the cauliflower.  Remove from the oven and enjoy - tastes great hot or cold or even pureed as the foundation of a soup.  Don't they say the ugly girl is usually the nicest?

* Because of some ridiculous pissing match between Apple and Adobe (which I obviously don't understand) I can't embed the song here, but click here for your listening and viewing pleasure.


  1. I love, love, love how crunchy cauliflower gets when it's roasted.

    Ya know, I haven't had home cooked brisket since I lived in Texas... maybe I'll venture out and get some. Did ya get yours at BJ's?

  2. The brisket was from the chopper - nothing special, but it served its purpose. We aren't members of BJ's, but we do truck it up to Falvo's sometimes to get something a bit more upscale.

    And - have you ever seen the movie of which I speak?!?

  3. I love roasted cauliflower too, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle some curry powder on it a wonderful flavor and transports the kitchen to somewhere exotic. Oh, and btw, I saw Hannaford had brisket the other day for $2.99 a cryovac, so probably untrimmed. I should have gotten one, but I usually get mine from Sam's club for around the same price...oh well, next time.

  4. @llcwine - oooh curry powder! What an excellent idea which I am going to have try asap. And, thanks for brisket tip. I don't do the grocery shopping and haven't trained my husband to always buy brisket when it is on sale. He's a work in progress :)