Monday, November 24, 2008

Everything you want to know about the kinds of friends I choose, this will tell you....

I asked one of my best friends, John, for his recipe for Green Bean Casserole for Thanksgiving this year. Instead of emailing me the recipe, which would be WAY too easy, he posted a blog about it. Here it is, in its entirety:


My friend Della wanted me to tell her my green bean casserole recipe and since I don't cook by recipe, I decided to do a virtual walk through of how I make green bean casserole.

First, try to figure out how many cans of green beans you will need. And yes, they have to be canned green beans. Frozen or fresh won't work for a number of reasons. I think a can of green beans will feed 2 people. I also smoke crack.

Next, go to the store and get green beans, durkee french fried onions in a can (usually near the green beans), milk, butter, check and see if they have any new beers, go through the international foods section to look for new ideas, check and see what new kinds of Ice Creams Dryers, Ben & Jerry's, and the rest have come up with. I like to browse around a lot when shopping. Don't forget to check the lottery totals when you check out, because what's a buck for a chance at anything over 100 million bucks? DO NOT look at any scratch tickets if they have them. Those things are freaking evil. So enticing and playful looking, but all they do is take your money and don't clean up afterwards, kind of like Bush/Cheney. Man, I hope that McCain can help clean up the Republican party. They should first perform an exorcism, which will hopefully get rid of Karl Rove and his acolytes. If the exorcism doesn't work, and big can of raid might just do the trick.

But, as usual, I digress...

Now that you have the ingredients (plus some lottery scratch tickets because GOD DAMMIT those marketing people for the lottery are good), let's get a cooking. First, if you are a woman, you need to start by taking off your clothes, put on an apron, take a very revealing picture, and then email it to me. Once you have that VERY IMPORTANT step completed, I'll email you the rest of this recipe.







I wasn't kidding...







All right, I was kidding.

I am in my head making a green bean casserole for 4-6 people, with hopefully some leftovers. First I take 3-4 tablespoons of better and melt it in a 12 inch or so skillet on medium heat. Once the butter starts to darken a bit, add in enough flour to make a wet paste of flour and butter. In my imaginary reconstruction, that is a couple of tablespoons of flour. The amounts aren't a big deal, the consistency of it is, and we are going for really wet paste. Now crank up the heat to medium high, and with a whisk, whisk it often to keep it from burning and or forming lumps.

This by the way is a roux, and is a basis for a lot of things, the most important is white sauce which is what we are making here for the green bean casserole.

Once you cook the roux to a golden/toasty/beige-ish brown, crank up the heat again to high for a minute, then start pouring in milk. I don't know if it matters what kind of milk you put in, but I'm guessing that like most things, the higher the fat content, the better the taste. I use skim because that's all we get and it still tastes good.

Anywho, this part is kind of tricky. You don't want the pan to cool down too much, so pour in a cup or two of milk then whisk everything around for 30-60 seconds. At first the roux will immediately soak up the milk and turn into a hard paste. Never fear my friends, it is not a radical religious extremist trap, it is the correct and natural process in transforming the roux into a white sauce. So pour in some milk, whisk for a bit, wait for things to heat back up, then repeat. Do this until you have a thin sauce. I kind of look for a consistency of malt-o-meal/cream of wheat. And like those two fine breakfast products, the sauce will set thicker as it cools.

That's the hard part of the green bean casserole. The biggest thing I have had to learn over the years with making it is "don't be a pussy with the heat". Most mistakes are made by not heating the pan enough at the end, or not keeping everything nice and hot, or not browning the roux sufficiently.

Now you have some room timing wise for how you put this together and what not. I usually layer in some green beans, then white sauce, then Durkee fried onions. Do that again, and if you are near the top of the pan stop just before you put the last layer of fried onions. You want to put that last layer of fried onion on right before you heat it up to serve. So, if you are doing this the next day, you would pop the casserole in the fridge till the next day. Then pop it out again when you are ready to heat it up, put on the fired onions, and throw it in the oven forceful so the casserole knows who exactly is boss. Then cook it (covered if possible, but it's not that big of a deal) at any temperature above 300 degrees, but less than 600 degrees. Keep checking it until it is warm in the center. If you were cooking it covered, uncover it and finish it off until the fried onions on top start to brown a bit.

And there you go, green bean casserole. So, some variations are to crisp up some bacon in the skillet and use the bacon grease instead of butter for the roux. This tastes good, but is really heavy. And I find that my taste buds overload on bacon pretty fast nowadays.

Another variation that I haven't tried, but I think would be awesome is to brown some onion in butter before you add the flour to the roux. That way you would get some more infusion of onion into the casserole and that can't be a bad thing right? I'm totally doing that this year.

See every year I have two dishes to make for Thanksgiving. Green bean casserole and pecan pie. Well, the last two years I've made Macadamia nut pie which is pecan pie with macadamia nuts instead of pecans.

Oh! I thought of another dish for my restaurant that I'll never open. Spaghetti and meat balls. I'll probably do something like ziti and meat balls, but you get the idea. I got a menu going now.

(John wanted me to add that if you feel inclined to send pictures in thanks for the recipe, please send them here: And yes, he's serious. and kidding. but serious.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ben's First Haircut

Okay, so blogger is doing some strange thing where it puts your photos in the opposite order in which you picked them....but ok. Here is Ben! He had his first haircut today! The top one is the "after" though admittedly not a great one, but it does show the difference on the sides. Ben was awesome, though below you can see how he felt about wearing the apron, so we took it off. He got a balloon at the end, and carried it proudly with him for hours afterward.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ben signed his first word!!!

Ben just signed "more"!!!!! He was eating corn puffs, and after he finished he looked over and put his fingertips together!!!! He repeated it several times after finishing more puffs. This is so cool!!!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Poems someone else wrote

These are some of the best parenting poems EVER.

sorry it's not in pretty hyperlink form. I had a kidney stone this morning and I am tired. But do go read the poems.