Cooking with BGIM

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that despite the fact I rarely talk about cooking on the blog that I actually cook a great deal or rather as time allows. I am not a very crafty person; I can’t sew, knit, crochet or make anything other than meals and kids. Oh, I am rather good at running non-profits and turning them into financially solvent organizations. But how many folks really want to read a blog about how to make a struggling non-profit organization not only financially stable but to see it actually grow? Yeah I thought so.

Anyway in recent weeks I have had several twitter followers ask me for some of my recipes, even real life friends have asked for a few recipes. So as I struggle yet again with direction for this blog, I figured I would institute a new feature called cooking with BGIM. Like many who read my blog, I work outside of the home, so as much as I like to make everything from scratch the reality is that it’s impossible for me to do that every day. However I grew up with Sunday dinners, that one huge meal of the week where my mother cooked the equivalent of a Thanksgiving dinner every Sunday and often we had friends and family over to share the meal with us.

When the Spousal Unit and I moved to Maine, for a brief period of time I attempted to have my own version of the Sunday dinner but as we had no family or friends to invite over when we first moved here, a huge spread for only the three of us (kidlet was not around at that time so it was me, the Spousal Unit and college boy who at that time would have been called only kid) simply made no sense. I attempted to re-start the Sunday dinner tradition when my Mom died but at that point it was simply too painful and until recently Sunday dinner was just like any other night.

However the kidlet is growing up and with my father’s impending move to Maine, Sunday dinners have made a come back. I have very little family and while my son was blessed to have direct connections to my family, the kidlet has none and the act of the Sunday dinner is a way to share one of the many traditions I grew up with her, to connect her with the ancestors so to speak.

So without further adieu here are a couple of items I have made recently. Last night we had lasagna, tossed green salad with local produce and Italian bread and for dessert pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. These cookies were delish though my attempt at using fresh pumpkin was a bust; in the end I used canned pumpkin puree. My fresh pumpkin adventures are another post…let’s just say I applaud folks who take whole pumpkins and turn them into something edible. It’s easier to make bread in my humble opinion than to make a pumpkin edible.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 cup white sugar (if you decrease this I would not go below ½ cup)

½ cup vegetable oil

1 egg

2 cups all purpose flour (I use King Arthur)

2 tsp baking powder

2tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

1tsp baking soda

1tsp milk

1tbsp vanilla

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F

1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, oil and egg together. In a separate bowl stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

2. Dissolve baking soda w/milk and stir into pumpkin mixture. Now add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.

3. Add vanilla and chocolate chips, mix well.

4. Drop by spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 mins or until lightly brown and firm.

Note: These are soft cookies, also due to a wonky old stove I baked for closer to 15 mins.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

A few Sunday’s ago I made apricot orange pork chops with roasted fingerling potatoes and sautéed collards with mushrooms and onions. This meal sounds a lot fancier than it is as far as prep time in part because the chops are cooked in the Crockpot. A Crockpot is a lazy cook’s best friend, seriously in winter mine is used at least 2-3 times a week.

Anyway here is the pork chop recipe

Apricot Orange Pork Chops

6 chops (any kind will do though the meat when done is falling off the bone so after making this several times I now get boneless chops)

1 cup apricot jam

3tbsp brown sugar

1tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground clove powder

1-11oz can mandarin oranges

Mix all ingredients well in a bowl, put the chops in the Crockpot, pour mixture over chops and cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high in the Crockpot. They are done when the meat is fork tender.

Apricot Orange Pork Chops w/Collards and Fingerling Potatoes

Note: Neither of these recipes are my creations, sadly I cannot remember where I got them so can’t give proper credit but did want to let ya’ll know that.

As a cook, who has been cooking a while I will admit I often take recipes and tweak them to my own taste buds but generally the first time out I will follow a recipe as it’s written unless there is an obvious issue. Happy Eating!

Cooking is a radical act

I read a pretty diverse assortment of blogs on a fairly regular basis. I have my political blogs, black blogs, cooking blogs, you get the picture. Anyway recently I was reading one of my regular blogs and the blogger made an indirect slam towards women who cook and do crafty work, the implication being that women who devote their blog energies to such endeavors really don’t have a voice as far as more serious discussions.  For some reason that comment stuck with me, to the point that yesterday as I was cooking a batch of chicken soup for the girl child, that it hit me…cooking and doing crafty work is not only radical in today’s world its downright empowering.

I admit this is going to be disjointed since its late but stay with me. Two images of my mother who has been deceased now 5 years both are around cooking. When my mother was starting chemotherapy, I went home to visit, well the day I was to arrive she was having chemo so the night before she started chemo, she stayed up late to cook one of my favorite meals. See, my Mom showed her love through cooking and here I was coming and despite the emotional roller coaster she was on, it just would not do to not have her daughter’s favorite foods prepared.

A few months later after we learned that despite chemo, radiation and lung surgery, we received the heartbreaking news that the cancer had spread to her brain…it was not a good time, and my folks decided on brain surgery. I went back home and at this point my Mom was not in good shape, yet the night before her surgery..brain surgery, out of nowhere she got a surge of energy and made me my absolute favorite meal, chicken and noodle stew. It was the last meal that my Mom would ever cook for me as she would only live 7 more weeks and would never return home.

It was funny because the night she made the stew, I watched her (she had never shared the recipe before and in her condition she wasn’t writing the recipe down) yet she cooked it as perfectly as she always had despite having horrible headaches and a fast growing tumor in her head.

Prior to my Mom’s death, I was a proficient cook but I was not passionate about it, yet through her last days I realized that cooking is about nutrition but its also about love. After my Mom’s death, my cooking has grown to the point that even my family and that includes my picky Dad have all said its as if I started channeling my Mom when I cook. I enjoy cooking, when I prepare meals for my family I see it as showing love. Last week I was rushing two hours before elder boy left to go back to the Midwest to prepare his favorite breakfast, he told me not to worry about it but I know how much he loves fried potatoes and onions, so I cooked them.

I look at the blogs of women who share their handicraft and culinary talents and think that for so many of us who are so busy that we have no idea what the stove actually does, that perhaps we should step back and learn something. Once upon a time family meals were the norm, yet how many families no longer break bread together?

In the Black community, broken families are the norm, in many cases headed by a single Mama, sometimes there are issues with kids running amok, would things be better if families ate together? I know I sound hokey but I do believe there is something special about family time. In my house even when its pizza night we sit and eat it together at the table where the table has been set. My son jokes I am one of the only folks he knows who does this; for us setting the table and sitting together is a norm. The type of norm that if we saw more of it maybe there would be less violence in our communities.

So to all the ladies who cook, knit and sew…you are changing the world, maybe not on a large macro level but on a level that indeed makes a difference. Cooking and taking care of one’s family is a radical act in this time.