Thursday, August 4, 2011

#23 He Respects My Hunger Demon

There is something very unnatural that happens to me when I have not eaten. You might be thinking that everyone is crabby when they are hungry, and perhaps that is true, but I literally become a different person.

It is a good thing my husband knew this before marrying me or life could be very different right now.

This problem seems to come with an obvious solution: if you are hungry, eat something. However, while I am not a picky eater, I am a picky hungry eater. When I've reached that point of absolute hunger (therefore, transformation of my character, also known in my family as going from Jessica A to Jessica B) I want to eat something of quality. I don't want carrot sticks or crackers, I want a meal (that is, after all, why I am so hungry at that point, right?)

In learning how to control this hunger demon, I have also recently learned another important element: cooking when you are hungry is never a good thing. While you might think that this would cause you to eat anything and everything you come in contact with, for me that is not the case. While cooking and extremely hungry every element that goes into my final product makes me gag. That's right, gag.

Yesterday I got this fabulous thought to make two sauces for dinner from scratch: Alfredo and pesto. Over the course of four years of marriage, I've made tons of mock Alfredo sauces. This basically involves using cream cheese rather than heavy cream, not really a huge calorie relief. The only true positive in these recipes is that I often have cream cheese on hand rather than heavy cream. However, the result is always of a lesser quality than true Alfredo sauce. It's like buying a frozen pizza rather than a fresh one. I never made pesto sauce before, but considering that it merely required throwing a bunch of ingredients into a blender--I thought to myself, how hard could it be?

I made the pesto first. The recipe said to add extra olive oil if the sauce didn't reach the desired consistency. So I dipped my finger into the blended sauce, then peeked my nose over the blender and it was all over. The absurd hunger welling up inside of me overcame the incredible delight that is pesto sauce and caused an undesired sensation: the gag. I did my best to avoid the smell and dumped the sauce into a dish and set it aside, choosing not to test taste it, and feeling my dinner a failure before it was even complete.

I then made some chicken, which I guess out of the habit of making chicken so often I was able to avoid my stomach being affected.

And I will tell you, if ever you are in a time pinch and need some yummy chicken that isn't just Shake and Bake (although, I'm not knocking Shake and Bake because I definitely use it when in an even tighter pinch) here is all you need:

*Italian Style Bread Crumbs
*Eggs mixed with a little milk
*Chicken cut up in whatever size you want (the smaller the pieces the more crisp flavor)

Set yourself up a little assembly line and begin dredging the chicken pieces in this order: flour, egg mixture, bread crumbs. Then fry in a liberal amount of oil until browned, set cooked pieces on a plate covered in paper towels to drain, and enjoy your life.

When it came time to start the Alfredo sauce, I learned from my mistakes, and chose to not purposefully smell anything. At that point, my hunger was putting me in a mood of not wanting to eat anything I was making anyway. Part of my problem stems from the fact that when I am desperately hungry I want to eat something familiar, not a fresh new recipe that I've never tried before.

I know, I have problems. I don't choose the problems I have, so don't judge me.

But the good news is, the meal was phenomenal. As I was making the sauces I realized I had two colors of the Italian flag and remembered I had some tomato sauce in the fridge from earlier in the week, so the following was born:

Beautiful, just like the Italian flag. I must mention it is also like the Hungarian flag which shares the same colors and is my other half.

The sauce recipes came from The Old Farmer's Almanac Everyday Recipes, which I love.

Alfredo Sauce:
1/4 cup of butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup parsley

I doubled the recipe because I'm insane and figured there was no sense in cutting a stick of butter in half and having a half a pint of heavy cream left over in my fridge. But, in doing so I realized the amount of Parmesan cheese and parsley was a little overboard for me, so I skimped on it and was pleased.

The sauce is literally a three step process:

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan
2. Add the heavy cream and simmer for 5 minutes
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk quickly. (If you don't whisk quickly, your husband's one complaint will be that the Parmesan cheese was not mixed in well enough)

Pesto Sauce:
(Which will not cause you to gag once the dinner is completely made and you have sat down to eat it)

4 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 ounces Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup olive oil, divided

Reserve half of the olive oil, blend all other ingredients. Slowly add the rest of the olive oil. And, here is where you add even more olive oil if the consistency is not of that which you desire.

The recipe says that the pesto sauce can be frozen, I'm hoping that the Alfredo freezes well too because I had, clearly, too much.

Here's my favorite way to enjoy pesto although it was also great mixed with pasta:

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