Saturday, September 25, 2010

Feeling Nostalgic!

 Challenge should be my middle name.  I love a challenge no matter what it is.  My Bible Study group challenges me as I am always trying to be the devil's advocate and anticipate questions that some might have.  I love challenges at work....between environmental and communications.....that is an endless challenge to keep up with changes and the current regs or products.  Then comes my cooking....I challenge myself all the time to find special recipes for friends and their dietary needs; challenges to change great tasting recipes that contain items that I can't eat or my hubby doesn't do well with.  Also, I love to challenge myself to use leftovers from one meal to make another great meal....not just warm up the same meal.  Many times certain dishes actually taste better the next day because the flavors have had a chance to really marry.  So, don't get me wrong, I LOVE leftovers especially when I can take them for lunch and have a great tasting and great looking meal that the whole office can smell as I heat it up! 

But, tonight I made a meal using a leg of lamb which I had cut off pieces to make a lamb shish-ka-bob meal a while ago.  Once I cut off the pieces I needed, I carefully packaged the remainder which included the bone and froze it, labeled it and planned to use to for a roasted leg of lamb dinner.  Well, that dinner was tonight.  It's a long slow roast, so today was a perfect day for me to do this. 

Preparing the meat for roasting couldn't be simpler.  First, I thawed the meat, dried it with a paper towel (this is something I always do with meat, it helps to give a much better sear rather than a steam) and then rubbed it with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Prior to prepping the lamb, I weighed it so I would know which pot to use.  I heated up my wonderful orange-red LeCreuset pot, (I love those pots, they not only cook great, but they clean like a dream).  Once the pot was hot enough I put the lamb in the pot and seared it well on all sides.

The smell of searing meat wafting through the house is so inviting.  Once the sear was complete, I removed the meat and added white wine (leftover from a chicken recipe) and some water.  I stirred and scraped the pot for all the goodies on the bottom of the pan.  While this was steaming I went outside to my herb garden and snipped fresh rosemary and thyme.  I cut a whole garlic in half skin and all, placed all the herbs along with some bay leaves in the bottom of the pot, replaced the leg of lamb on top of all the herbs and placed the lid on the top.  It was time to go into the pre-heated oven.  Two and a half hours later it was ready.  The lamb was then placed on a plate to rest while I strained the liquid to heat and reduce for an au jus.

While the meat cooked, I just had a hankering for thousand island dressing on my salad and also wanted to cook carrots.  So, I decided that this was becoming a nostalgic family meal.  The lamb is one of my mom's favorites, the thousand island dressing I made from scratch which is how my auntie always made it and the carrots were prepared with butter and cinnamon which my cousin and I call "granny's carrots".  It seemed like I was going down memory lane.  Boy, is that dressing good....I love the tartness that I add with red wine vinegar. 

I can taste this just by looking at it!
Auntie's thousand island dressing...

"Granny's carrots"

With this one piece of lamb I was able to prepare two simple meals and also incorporate leftover wine from another dish.  A couple weeks ago I made a whole roasted chicken and then have made four different variations using some of the leftovers; in fact I have another part of that meal as a leftover which I can use for a fifth meal!  This is so much fun.  Less food goes down the drain or in the garbage can while trying to create something different from something already cooked.

Nostalgia makes me think of not wasting anything and eating everything on your plate!