Source: Mother Dearest

How many ingredients does it take to constitute as a recipe?

This is the question that came to my head last wednesday and one that has been there many times before. I was browning the meat for the sloppy joe dinner I was preparing for my family.

Sloppy joes were a Benz family staple when keeping up with the schedules of four girls did not allow my mother much time to prepare for dinner. It takes four ingredients and about 10 minutes. Meat, ketchup, Worscestershire sauce and onions.

I asked my nephew about his adventure to the zoo that day as I browned the meat.

Me: Cale, what animals did you and Gaga (his grandma, my mom) see at the zoo today?

Cale: We did NOT see lions.

I guess Cale was feeling a bit glass half empty after one of his favorite animals chose to hide out the day he went to the zoo. Talk about bitter. And I guess I was feeling a bit glass half empty that day too, because four ingredients was too much for me. The prospect of cutting the onions seemed to daunting that day, so mom approved that I could go with out.

It tasted like home. And the recipe counts. It because my mother is a darn good cook and she made it. It counts because a family with four daughters is chaotic and wonderful and requires the occasional sloppy joe.

Source: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Grilled-Salmon-with-Lime-Butter-Sauce-1222181?mbid=ipapp

Listening to: Dale Earnhart Jr. Jr. (album: It’s a Corporate World)

I have a tendency to constantly come up with autobiography names for myself. It’s become a go to joke for me, which is usually only amusing to me. “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time”, an autobiography by Mallori Benz. “I Don’t Know, Is There Bacon In It?”, an autobiography by Mallori Benz. “Then I Realized I Was In Public”, an autobiography by Mallori Benz.

If I had to choose an autobiography title today, it would be: “Things To Not Say To A Complete Stranger”.

My friends Mary and Lanzy and I planned a dinner together this evening. I picked salmon as the main course, and stopped by to pick some up after work.

When I was leaving the grocery store, a random old lady decided we were friends. It was one of those “I like you, but you crazy” situations. I have no idea what prompted her to start talking to me as we walked through the doors with our carts, and I have no idea what prompted me to respond to her inappropriately.

Lady: I gotta make sure there’s none of those damn bugs (cicadas) in my hair before I walk outside!

Me: Yea, totally.

Lady: I guess that’s what happens when your hair is as dirty as mine.

Me: Yea, totally. (Accidental rude statement 1.)

Then she taught me a lot about cicadas that I didn’t want to know.

Lady: The cicadas keep getting in my car! I can’t hear my music over their buzzing. That’s what happens when you’re as old as I am.

Me: Yea, totally. (Accidental rude statement 2.)

Lady: I’m so ready to get out of this weather. It’s not even summer yet! I’m glad to be going to Alaska this month with my husband.

Me: Oh wow. That sounds wonderful!

Lady: Yea, except for the fact it’s freezing!

Me: Ok, Bye!

This actually happened. I went home feeling a bit overwhelmed by my previous conversation. Lanzy came carrying fresh kale from her garden and the ingredients for a soy sauce based dressing. Mary brought over some mashed potatoes.

The salmon glaze was very simple to make with my food processor. I slathered it all over the salmon filets with my hands. It took me five minutes to wash the butter off myself after. I topped it with some more pepper, and they sat in my George Foreman grill for about five minutes. Then, they were just right. I topped them with a lemon zest and we ate up.

It was quite a delicious meal. I think it’s hard to lose with salmon. But it felt good to handle fish for the first time. In the words for Shania Twain, the greatest singer/songwriter of all time, “man, I feel like a woman”.

On to the next one.

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100 meals in 100 days.

This was the initial goal in my initial post. And now my days are in the seventies and my recipes are in the fifties.

So what happened to me these last three weeks? Projects at work, friends in from out of town, family dinners and celebrations, my nephew misusing adverbs (“I want to go very faster to the sky”), my other nephew learning to crawl, a wedding of two of my dearest friends and all associated festivities, attacks from killer cicadas, runs, walks, conversations, candy eating, puppies, sandwiches. Life happened. There’s not much I can do about that, nor would I want to.

This is not the end of the blog. Far from it. My goal is to finish the next fifty recipes in about fifty days. But I’m not disappointed in myself, and I won’t be if I fall behind again. I’m learning how to cook. In however many days, I am. And that’s the point.

Good evening kitchen, it’s good to be back.

On to the next one.

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Source: (will post links as soon as stef gives them to me)

Last Thursday night was all for the dogs.

Stef has a puppy, as you probably know if you have seen any of the many pictures of the beagle puppy or read any post regarding Daphne, which is the puppy’s name.

Daphne is currently in training mode. Stef is teaching her all sorts of tricks, which requires a lot of treats. So naturally, we decided to count it as a recipe and make some ourselves.

I love that my niece-dog is so talented so young. Its a pleasure to watch her twirl and sit and lie down and kind of play dead.

And then there’s Kaia.

Kaia is three and a half. She’s an alaskan malamute, and she’s not intelligent. Or maybe she is. I don’t know. Let me describe some of her habits.

1. When I want to go running with her, she runs to the basement and makes her body dead weight the second she sees my running shoes. And I have to lift all 100 lbs of her off the floor.

2. In her life she has eaten more things that dog shouldn’t eat than any other dog I know. I’m not going to go into them, because animal control might think me a bad mother. I don’t give these things to her, she just FINDS them. Wherever they are. Its like when she walks into a room she asks herself: What dangerous thing in this room can I eat to make my mother a nervous wreck and then not even let it phase me? Bitch.

3. When I am not home, it requires a gate in front of another gate to keep her in the basement, because she managed to find her way through gate one. Last week, the gate in front of the other gate fell to the floor, requiring her to simply climb over it to get out. Well, the gate made a loud noise, so Kaia was naturally afraid of it. So afraid, in fact, that she stood at the top of the stairs for a good half an hour, staring at her own freedom, before my sister could lure her out. Half an hour. I got text updates at work. Proud mother moment. Not.

I only mention these things because Stef’s sudden training urge has made me want Kaia to… know more. So these treats were for her too. Or, dare I say, us. I won’t have her shown up by a 3 month old. I won’t.

Dog treats are no harder to make then cookies. We made banana, pumpkin and veggie treats all within two hours, and we have enough cookies now to last us months. The whole situation was also made better by the set of 100 or so cookie cutters Stef got at Target. Winner winner, dog treat dinner.

Hopefully using these treats, Kaia and Daphne will actually know what it means to twirl. As for now, we have to manually move the treat in are hands and force the twirl. Which we think counts.

Ladies and gents, please note, I’m halfway to 100.

On to the next one.

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Source: Aunt Diane

I agreed to go to dinner with my parents on the condition that I MUST cook a recipe. I’m getting behind again after finally catching up. We shall overcome.

After playing with my nephew outside, discovering the baby birds in the front yard and feeding Popsicles to the puppies, I realized that I needed to get in the kitchen.

This recipe is incredibly easy, so I didn’t look at the recipe closely. Which led to the following:

Me: How many sunflower seeds do I need?

Mom: Did you look at the recipe?

Me: Oh.

Mom: That might help.

Me: What kind of oil am I supposed to use?

Mom: Look at the recipe.

Me: Ok. Yes.

Two minute later.

Me: White vinegar?

Stef: LOOK AT THE RECIPE. Seriously.

Me: yes. Great idea.

Mom: did you put the flavoring in the dressing?

Me: (frantically looking at the recipe)

Mom: I’m going outside.

Regardless of my my lack of attention, the slaw was perfect, and so was the weather and the family time.

Lessons learned:

1. Do I have to say it?

2. Time to catch up on my recipes.

On to the next one.

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Source: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pasta-with-Peas-Asparagus-Butter-Lettuce-and-Prosciutto-352093?mbid=ipapp

For mothers day, we visited my grandmothers in Carbondale, Illinois. My grandmothers could choose wherever they wanted to go for lunch, the sky was the limit. For lunch, we ate at a truck stop. And for dinner we ate at Applebees. Dream big grandmas, dream big.

Because we did mothers day in Illinois, we celebrated our mother on Saturday. My mother likes pasta. She likes it so much that when my dad leaves town, she will literally make enough pasta to suffice for lunches and dinners until he returns.

So naturally, on her day of celebration, I wanted to make her pasta. I found a nice springy recipe to coincide with my Dad’s smoke pork steaks (uh…yum).

There were so many vegetables in this recipe, and it was written to be done in a specific sequence. Boil the asparagus, sautée the green onions, take out the asparagus and boil the pasta, cut up the lettuce, blah, blah, blah. It was a really involved recipe, but one that was truly satisfactory when it was done.

The family ate outside on a gorgeous Saturday night. We ate our dinner, and my mom really enjoyed the pasta. She told me many times. We ate our dinner and moved on to brownies for dessert. My two year old nephew, mouth full of brownie and hands and face covered in it, stuck his feet up on the table and lounged in the spring breeze. It was a great meal for a great lady.

And she is. In my weakest moments, my moments of greatest stupidity, my strange antics and the chaos I sometimes bring, she has never ceased to be love in my life. Her motherhood is epic. Hopefully someday I can make her a meal that’s fit for her.

On to the next one.

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Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/black-bean-and-corn-salad-recipe/index.html
Source: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Guacamole-365175?mbid=ipapp

At this point of the evening, the dogs were on the fritz.

It was Cinco de Mayo and my friends were coming for a festive dinner of sorts. My friend Lauren brought over her babe of a dog named Riley. And Riley was invited, mind you. But Kaia growled at her when she walked in the door, and that just led to a bad first impression. So after that there was a lot of growling and snapping and overall bitchiness. Because they’re bitches.

I only mention this to preface the fact that Lauren became the dog whisperer for the evening, and while my friend Sarah and I made the dips for the tortilla chips, Lauren was literally sprawled out on the kitchen floor between the two, trying to convince them that they liked each other.

The dips were generally easy to make. The corn salsa was especially easy because it really just involved mixed together canned and bagged vegetables and some olive oil and spices. Very simple.

There was a lot of pressure on the Guacamole. Dana, who was coming over post dinner, had left me a five word voicemail that said the following:

This guacamole better be good.

Chills up my spine, I knew the pressure was on. I didn’t know how to work with avocado, but luckily Sarah did, so she was in charge of cutting it up. And she did a lot of the cutting (I want to put credit where credit is due). And we realized we share an inability to cut tomatoes. We have no idea how to do it. So we winged it.

I mushed it all together and had Lauren and Sarah taste test before Dana came. I don’t like guacamole, so if I were to have tasted it I would have said: this is disgusting because all guacamole is disgusting.

When she arrived, Dana approved too. (whew!) And we sat and ate chips and drank margaritas and chatted for a long while. By the end of it, Kaia and Riley were real buds and Kaia wallowed in self pity when Riley left. Kaia is a professional wallower.

A great homemade cinco!

Lessons learned:

1. Gotta learn how to cut tomato!

On to the next one.

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