Deadline Cookery Redux

The looming deadline looms ever nearer, and tonight’s dinner is therefore dazzling in its simplicity:  Crockpot Kielbasa and Cabbage.

For which you need only a crockpot, a head of cabbage, and about one pound of kielbasa.  You cut up the cabbage into small enough pieces that it’ll fit into your crockpot, you cut up the kielbasa into half-rounds, and you slow-cook them together on low until dinnertime.  Some people put caraway seeds into the pot with the cabbage, but we’ve got at least one anti-caraway person in this household, so I don’t.

It’s hard to get much simpler than this.

Deadline Dinners Redux

Yet another dead-simple crockpot recipe for writers (and other people) on a deadline who aren’t yet ready to break out the emergency frozen pizza stash:

Crockpot Orange Chicken

For the chicken:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • olive oil

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (actually, regular salt would undoubtedly do just fine.  But recipe writers love their kosher salt, and we have a box of it in the kitchen, so . . . .)
  • 6 ounces of frozen no-pulp orange juice concentrate, thawed.  (If, like me, you couldn’t find a 6-ounce can, use half of a 12-ounce can and make orange juice out of the rest.  Vitamin C for the win.)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup

Put the flour and the chicken pieces into a ziploc bag and shake it to coat the chicken all over.
Put 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil into a large skillet and heat it up.
Add the chicken and brown it on all sides, just enough to get the flour coating all cooked.  (Don’t worry about the chicken itself; you’re going to be cooking it in the crockpot for hours, anyhow.)
Put the chicken pieces into the crockpot.
Mix up the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and pour the sauce over the chicken.  Use a wooden spoon to mix up the sauce and chicken pieces until all the chicken is coated with the sauce.
Put the lid on the crockpot and cook the chicken on low for 6 hours, or on high for 3-4.
Serve over rice.

This feeds six people once around with lots of rice, or three people if they all have seconds/large helpings.

Deadline Brain

From a fragment of conversation heard this evening in the office:

Me:  Is it Saturday that they want the cake for the church bake sale, or did I completely space out on things and it was today?

My husband and co-author:  Relax.  So long as they have it by 10:30 Saturday morning, you’re good.

In honor of that moment, and in lieu of something more substantive about writing (other than, my goodness writers do get spacey when they’re on a deadline), the cake recipe in question:

Marvelous Mississippi Mud Cake

5   ounces (5 1-ounce squares) unsweetened chocolate
2   Cups sifted all-purpose flour
1   tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup powdered instant coffee or instant espresso
2   Tbsp boiling water
1   cup plus 2 Tbsp cold water
1/2 cup bourbon, or rum, or amaretto, or cognac
1   cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1   tsp vanilla extract
2   cups powdered sugar
3   large eggs plus 1 large extra yolk
1/4 cup sour cream or buttermilk
cocoa or confectioners sugar optional

Generously grease  a nine inch Bundt pan – 10 cup capacity.  Position rack in center of oven and heat oven to 325 deg. F.

Melt chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler over hot, not boiling, water.  (Or, these days,melt the  chocolate in your microwave.) Remove chocolate before it is completely melted and stiruntil smooth.  Set aside.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda and set aside.  In a two cup glass measure dissolve the instant coffee in the boiling water, stir in the cold water, and bourbon or other flavoring and set aside.

Beat the butter with vanilla and sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle beater until  well blended and smooth. (Or use a handheld electric mixer if that’s what you’ve got.)  Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Beat in the extra yolk and sour cream.  Scrape down the bowl and beater.  Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate and beat until the batter is smooth.

Remove the bowl from the stand.  By hand using a spoon or rubber spatula stir in small amounts of the flour mixture and the coffee-bourbon liquid.  Beat until the batter is smooth;  it will be quite thin.  Don’t worry if the batter looks slightly curdled.

Pour into the prepared pan.  Bake until the cake top is springy to the touch and slightly cracked looking and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean — about 65 to 70 minutes.  Do not over cook.

Cool the cake on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Top with another rack or plate and invert.  Lift off pan,  Cool completely.

Top with light sifting of confectioners sugar or cocoa.  Serve with bourbon-laced slightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

I got this recipe from my father; I have no idea where he got it from.  It’s clearly been around for a while, though; you can tell that much from the fact that the original version called for melting the chocolate in a double boiler.

Peeve of the Day

I know you’ve heard this one before.  And I concede right now that there’s no logical reason why “already” should be spelled as one word with a single “l”, while “all right” is two words and a double “l”.

Language isn’t consistent, okay?  It’s in a constant state of change, and not all the bits of it change at the same rate.  At some time in the future, “all right” may well have finished mutating into the single-word, single-“l” form — but that time is not now.

There.  I’ve got that off my chest, so it’s back to the word mines.