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Weekend Recipe Report Card

Not that great for the past weekend. I'd say "C-", "C", and only one "A-".

On Saturday, I tried something based on a recipe for "Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Beans and Ribs." Sounds good, right? And I had a lot of apricot chutney to use in place of the mango chutney, and I used canned white beans instead of black beans, cider instead of mango juice, and a combination of mirin and tamari instead of hoisin sauce (i.e., no blame to the original recipe!). I didn't have a large enough slow-cooker, and we were going out for the afternoon, so I simmered it on the stove for 2 hours and then let it cool and chilled it to restart later. There had seemed to be too much liquid, so I also started soaking some dried white beans to add. We came home six hours later and I added the extra beans. It did not work. The beans hadn't soaked enough and didn't pick up enough liquid from the stew. After 3 hours of simmering, the beans were still hard and the pieces of pork were getting crusty, with the insides drying out, instead of dissolving despite the amount of liquid still around them. So I gave up. I set it aside and back in the fridge and the next day I rinsed out the pieces of pork and dumped the beans and liquid. I shredded the pork, added 1 large can of crushed tomatoes, 1 small can of diced tomatoes, 2 large cans of red kidney beans, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 3 Tablespoons "hot Mexican" chile powder, 2 Tablespoons ancho chile powder and turned it into chili. The pork still had a bit of smoky flavor, which was good, but also some sweet flavor, so I added a splash of rum to blend the flavors together more. Grade: "C-" (it was pretty good chili,  but I ruined the base recipe and only extra credit work pulled it from an "F")

The leftover bit of science nerd in me wonders if it was the amount of sweetness to the sauce that made it more difficult for the meat and beans to absorb it, but, eh.

Sunday, I tried a savory cheesecake with pesto and sun-dried tomato. I won't bother giving you the recipe because it didn't work very well. It managed both to have deep cracks and not set completely in the center. The result was not at all edible as sliced cheesecake (I was hoping for something that would stand in for a quiche), but worked well as a spread on crackers. The problem is that a 9-1/2" cheesecake is an overgenerous amount of cracker spread!  Grade: "C" Needs more effort.

Sunday night, I tried adding some sausage to the Honeyed Noodle Kugel to turn it into a main dish. I split open the casings on 2 pounds of cheese-garlic sausage and pan-fried it till browned and crumbly, then mixed that in with the noodles before adding the sauce. The only problem was that the amount of sausage raised the noodles above the sauce enough to brown a little more than before, but there was still enough sauce that I wouldn't have wanted to make extra (and it wouldn't have fit in the 9" x 13" pan then anyway!). Grade: "A-" or maybe "A" if you love toasty noodles, but even if not, it was very good. 
  

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