How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Friday, June 24, 2011

That no pregnant woman should ever have to travel 200 miles to satisfy a craving again

I craved two foods during my only preganancy. Early on I wanted lots of grape juice, although prior to that I was happy to take it or leave it. I accepted this yearning as part of my pregnancy, and towards the end of my first trimester, when James noticed we were out of grape juice and asked if he should go out for more, I thought and minute, then replied "no, I guess I'm done with that." It was not until about two months later that I experienced my only other craving: a Monte Cristo sandwich. James picked me up from work at lunchtime one Friday and asked what I was in the mood for. When I told him I wanted a Monte Cristo, he wondered aloud if there was any restaurant in the Rio Grande Valley that might have them on the menu. Dejectedly, I told him that I doubted it. I don't remember what we ended up eating that day, but I do know that following day, we drove 3 hours to get to Corpus Christi where we thought our chances might be better at finding the sandwich I wanted. I also remember that by the time we got there I was so hungry I was more interested in having any food, than continuing the Monte Cristo quest. We went into a seafood restaurant, mostly because it was open, and were prepared to order anything that looked appetizing. As luck would have it though, the Monte Cristo sandwich was on the menu! I ordered it and ate half, then asked that the other half be wrapped to go. A few minutes later the waiter came out to confess that the other half had accidently been thrown away, and that they would take half the price of the sandwich off our bill. In a rather uncharacteristic move on my part, I explained about waiting a whole day, and traveling 200 miles to get the meal, and inisted that another sandwich be prepared instead. My request was obliged. Later, when one of my co-workers asked if I'd craved anything during my pregnancy and I told her the story about the Monte Cristo, she said me she'd never heard of a Monte Cristo, so I explained that it was an egg-batter fried ham and cheese sandwhich, topped with powered sugar, and served with jam for dipping. She pursed her lips, and said "well, that sounds like something a pregnant woman might crave."

In honor of that day 14 years ago, today we made our own Monte Cristos using the recipe from our new Grilled Cheese, Please cookbook. The one thing this recipe specifically says is that one should NOT grate the cheese "because dipping the sandwiches in the egg mixture is a messy affair." We strayed slightly from the recipe in the book in that we did not use both turkey and ham, only ham, and did not use mustard. Didn't see the point in that at all.  These really are simple, and I don't know why I didn't just make one for myself that day, but that's all amniotic fluid under the bridge now.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Best Cookbooks of 2011

The International Association of Culinary Professionals selected its choices for the best cookbooks of 2011. In over 20 categories winners and finalists were selected from over 500 entries.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dos recetas nuevas

It is "leafy green season" here in New England, so we have eaten a lot of salad thanks to our CSA farm share. We have had quite an abundance of greens the last few weeks, so in addition to salads I have been looking for ways to cook some of the greens. One simple meal was to simply sautee some mixed greens and add leftover rice to the skillet. I topped it with cheddar cheese to give a bit more flavor. That still left us with many, many greens so I went to that doyenne of veggies, Deborah Madison, to find another recipe. I selected "Greens with Potatoes" from the Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone cookbook, knowing that my daughter will eat almost anything if potatoes are included. This was pretty similar to the rice and greens I threw together. I boiled some potatoes while sauteeing the greens with garlic rabe and scallions (garlic and scallions courtesy of the farm box as well), then mashed the potatoes and added them to the skillet unitl the greens and potatoes were throughly mixed. I added two peeled and diced tomatoes before serving.

And, since it was Sunday, I held true to my vow to use my bread machine. I picked Potato Rosemary bread from the Gold Medal New Bread Machines Recipes cookbook. I think we have had mashed potato flakes stored in our freezer for over a decade. We bought them for use in the bread machine, but hardly made potato bread, so I was glad to use them finally. I can't image using them to make mashed pototoes, which I would only do with real potatoes. For my 1 pound bread machine I used: 1 c. water; 1.5 T butter; 1 1/4 c. white flour and 1/2 c. wheat flour; 1/3 c. mashed potato mix; 3/4 T dried rosemary leaves; 3/4 T sugar; 1 t. salt; 1.5 t yeast, and used the regular setting. The bread was delicious. I am going to make it again soon. I'll be glad to use those potato flakes again.

The whole family enjoyed this meal.

Monday, June 13, 2011


This documentary on nutrition featured quite a lot of anecdotes about people who were cured of diseases, from cancer to depression, by taking the right vitamins and eating the right foods. While I believe some of what I heard in the film (e.g. doctors get very little education in nutrition, or that pharmeceutical companies are driving the health care industry, and that most Americans don't eat well) most of this I took with a grain of salt (actually, more like a pillar). There were plenty of stories by alternative health care practicioners about patients they'd cured, but we never saw any testimonials from those who had been cured. And while I am aware that cooking foods removes some of the nutrients, is it really true that cooking them makes them "toxic"? The clincher was at the end of the credits when a very long disclaimer flew by, the gist of which, from the glimpse I got of it, was that the filmmakers were not responsible if any of the viewers decided not to seek medical treatment based on what they saw in the movie. This, ironically, gave the feel of watching an ad for a prescription medication.

Huevos al estilo Español - Spanish Eggs

On May 31, I posted about La Cocina Historica, a blog from UT San Antonio freaturing recipes from its cookbook collection. I selected one, as promised to for dinner last night.

One thing we have trouble getting our teenage vegetarian to eat, is well, vegetables, so we were happy to see her eat a plate full of this egg dish made with onions, garlic, peppers, and potatoes. I parboiled the potatoes, so they didn't stick to the pan they way they often do when I make a tortilla española, and this was simplier in that the eggs were simply scambled into the sauteed vegetables, rather than having them set, as we would with an omlet. We ate this with lightly-toasted, bread-machine french bread. Tasty.

More at:

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Arugula Grilled Cheese?

Yes, arugala grilled cheese! As Pam wrote rcently, we learned about a new grilled-cheese cook book from our local paper. Although this blog is mostly about using cookbooks we already have, I could not resist Laura Werlin's grilled cheese please!, and added it to our collection.

Learn more at of the recipes involve relatively obscure cheese and/or meats. One recent evening, I was looking for a vegetarian meal that would use something from our local farm box, and I found just the thing on page 7. The "burrata with roasted peppers and arugula" recipe calls for an unfamiliar cheese but suggests fresh mozzarella as an alternative. It also calls for French bread and olive oil instead of butter for the outside of the sandwiches. Piled with arugula and roasted red peppers, Pam and I found these sandwiches savory, creamy, and delicious.

It was not, however, a hit with our resident vegetarian, so I will let her choose the next selection from this fun book.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Guest Blogger for "Throw Me a Bone"

In honor of our Min Pin, Perry, turning two (that's 14 in dog years!) our almost-14 year old daughter (that's in people years!) prepared this recipe from Throw Me a Bone, a cookbook for dog lovers!

 For Perry's birthday, I made "pawcakes". As you may be able to tell from the name, they are pancakes for dogs. They consist of flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, buttermilk (or in this case, substituted with milk and yogurt), milk, eggs, vegetable oil, and eggshells. The egg shells are ground up very small, almost into a grain-like substance. This is full of calcium. They were very easy to make, much like normal pancakes. After I was done making them,  I fed a spoonful of strawberry jam to Perry, to see if she liked it. She did. So, I took a small bit of jam, and microwaved it for a minute to make a syrup. I poured it on top, the candles were lit, and the dog ate her birthday cake.