Cookbooks?

I'm trying to thin out my cookbook collection as well as some other things. If you're curious, you can check what I have for sale at Friday's Child Books. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Crabby Cook Cookbook

Let's talk about Jessica Harper.

This is the first Jessica Harper I was ever really aware of:


Later, I was amused to see her pop up in one episode of one of my favorite TV shows, Wiseguy.  She was the horrible soon-to-be-ex-wife of main character Frank McPike.


Poor Frank. (I would have done a picture of her instead, but I couldn't find a screen cap of her character. I also looked for Frank in the rain. How has no one posted a screen cap of Frank in the rain?!?)

Anyway, it's not either of those Jessica Harpers I wanted to talk about.  Let's try Jessica Harper, wife, mom and cookbook author.


All the same Jessica Harper, just a little mileage between them.  The first thing that caught my eye was, of course, her name.  Jessica Harper wrote a cookbook?  O-kay...quotes from Ruth Reichl and Valerie Bertinelli on the cover.  We're still in "celebrity cookbook" territory, but you could do worse.

And then I opened it up.  Here, this is going to go *way* too long, but I'm going to type in all of what I just randomly opened it to (except the recipe). I think you'll like it.

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I'm feeling really out of step with the world. While browsing through Real Simple magazine, I stumbled upon the results of a survey of 2,600 women that revealed their top five wishes: (1) a spouse who makes more money than the current spouse, (2) plastic surgery, (3) to tell her boss exactly how she feels, (4) more kids, and (5) separate bathrooms.

As for number 1, it sounds like they want to swap the current spouse for a richer one. I so do not want this. Finding a new spouse would be way too time-consuming and would involve going on dates to places like Hooters. Besides, I like my spouse, although I hate the word "spouse," which makes him sound rodent-like.

As for number 2, I once saw a terrifying documentary of a facelift that totally put me off -- way too much gore -- plus it's barbaric and anti-feminist and also I'd be afraid I'd end up looking like the pilot of a plane that's going way too fast.

Number 3 is irrelevant because I am my own boss and I tell myself exactly how I feel 24/7, which is sort of irritating, but most likely I will not fire myself as jobs are hard to get these days.

And 4? Nope. Had 'em, love 'em, done.

Number 5 is another story. On this one I'm finally in synch with the women surveyed. I believe it's in the best interest of romantic partners to avoid seeing each other doing things involving floss, shower caps, bandages, ointment, razors and...all that other stuff. The bathroom should be like Vegas: what happens in there stays in there, out of a spouse's line of vision. The best way to achieve that is with a his/hers setup.

But I'd give up the separate bathrooms in a heartbeat if someone would grant me my fondest wish (and I'm stunned it's not number 1 on the R.S. list): I wish my spouse could cook.

This shrimp recipe is so simple that anybody's spouse could prepare it, even mine. (And I wish he would, so I'd have more time to look into building that second bathroom.) While he's at it, it wouldn't kill him to make a little rice to go with it.
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Yup, getting long.  And I haven't even given you the recipe yet!  But before I do, let me finish.  I like the book, the recipes look good.  She has a Peg Bracken-like snark that makes it fun to read, although it's definitely a cook book and not a food book.

This recipe I just made last night.  It's kind of like stacking loaded nachos in a casserole and baking them -- and there's not anything wrong with that!  You probably want a salad with it, though.

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Abby's Casserole

Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 can (14 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
6 corn tortillas (8-inch size)
2 cups grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, or a blend

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat, Add the onion, and the jalapeño if you're using it, and cook until they are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

3. Add the beef to the skillet, raise the heat to medium, and cook, breaking it up with a fork, until it has just lost all it's pink color, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper, and cook until well mixed, 2 minutes or so.  Add the tomato sauce, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the mixture to blend the flavors, about 10 minutes.  Then add the black beans and the corn, mix well, and set the mixture aside.

4. Place a tortilla in a 10-inch, straight-sided casserole dish, and spread it with about 2/3 cup of the beef mixture. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the cheese. Repeat these layers five times, ending with cheese. Cover, and bake for 30 minutes.

5. Remove the cover and continue baking for 10 minutes, until the casserole is bubbly. Serve hot.

Variation Once I was halfway through making this and realized I had no tortillas. I used tortilla chips instead, and my daughters actually liked it better.

The Crabby Cook at Amazon


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