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Old 09-05-2006, 07:23 PM   #1
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Boosting Bland recipes

Okay folks, I think I've made it fairly clear that Mirs. Big Dog is not fond of spice. Not even salt and pepper, let alone anything interesting. I, on the other hand, play with spice like a kid in a sand box (bad metaphore, but oh well). I'm trying to figure out how to add to the basic bland food we eat most of the time.

For example, breakfast this morning was home made homefries with eggs and cheese "scrambled" in just before they were done. For myself, I normally add Emeril's Southwest Essence while the potatoes cook. Otherwise, some garlic powder, onion salt, fresh ground black pepper, ground white pepper, parsley, and maybe some paprika, cayenne, or crushed red pepper (the southwest seasoning has all three, so I use that if I want to turn up the heat), Today I used the first group of ingredients, quite reduced from how I would prefer, and it was met with a scrunched nose.

As I look at a lot of our normal dishes, the ingredients are pretty blah. Meat of some sort, often made in a cream type sauce (maybe with cheese too) and potatoes or bread. Chicken, with cream of chicken soup, cheese, maybe some milk and potatoes or bread (i.e. crescent rolls) can only be done so many ways, and they all taste about the same. Pork isn't commonly found on the menu, but what is either is bacon or a pork chop recipe that actually does involve some seasoning (worcestershire, ground mustard, and a couple other things). Beef usually consists of being ground, and the famous layers of beef, creamed veggies, and potatoes (including tater tots) gets kind of redundant. Pasta is usually spaghetti with traditional jar sauce, fettuccini alfredo (heavy cream, butter, white pepper, and parm cheese make the sauce), or a pasta bake with spirals (I forget the proper name), traditional jar sauce, and ground beef. Any time I try to add anything to the ground beef, it is not liked. Welcome to the Big Dog house menu (not by choice).

So, what's a guy to do to try to snaz it up, jazz it up, or otherwise prepare delicious dishes involving more then meat, dairy, and starch?

Any and all help and suggestions are appreciated. I've not experimented much with herbs, and I wonder if that may be a way to go. I've thought about having my own herb garden, but since we rent and have cats, I don't. Maybe during the warm weather I could, but if I brought 'em indoors, one cat would at least sample 'em all, and likely make a mess of the soil, etc.


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Old 09-05-2006, 07:30 PM   #2
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Oh you poor Big Dog! I wish I had the magic answer for you. Herbs are a wonderful touch, but are quite flavourful, as you know... But...fresh herbs are usually added at the end of cooking, so you can always remove Mrs. BD's portion and then herb the rest to your heart's content.

What about cooking with wine or other spirits? They will surely add some additional flavour and mayhaps they will be greeted with more open arms?

I recently had a wonderful piece of fish with a vanilla rum sauce.... While I'm sure it was more complicated than it sounds, you could do a simple white sauce (as it seems you have done) and then flavour the sauce with spirits.

I hope you give it a try...and are met with success.
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Old 09-05-2006, 07:47 PM   #3
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Do some digging for new (and different) recipes using familiar ingredients and introduce them slowly, like once a week. Don't shoot for big changes. Think baby steps.

Herbs are a good way to go as they can add subtle flavors that Mrs. may enjoy, rather than a slap in the face from strong spices.

Keep trying.

How about making a chicken dish with a veloute instead of a white sauce. Just substitute chicken broth for the dairy. Add some thyme skip the pepper. Keep the other item on the menu familiar.
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Old 09-05-2006, 07:49 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VeraBlue
What about cooking with wine or other spirits? They will surely add some additional flavour and mayhaps they will be greeted with more open arms?

I recently had a wonderful piece of fish with a vanilla rum sauce.... While I'm sure it was more complicated than it sounds, you could do a simple white sauce (as it seems you have done) and then flavour the sauce with spirits.

I hope you give it a try...and are met with success.
I've seen countless recipes with various spirits involved that look wonderful, but my problem there is Mrs. Big Dog is 100% anti alcohol. That's how she was brought up, as well as observing her oldest sister marry a guy that became an alcoholic. Simply put, she's a prohibitionist when it comes to any alcohol. I hate it, because not only do I see these recipes, but I enjoy drinking beer.

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Old 09-05-2006, 08:27 PM   #5
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A- Do you two ever go out to eat? After a meal that she particularly enjoys, you may want to rattle off to her the spices that are likely to be in the dish. It may help her realize that spices aren't all bad.

B- Could it be that when you cook with spices you go a little heavy on them? I like very bold flavors, so when I cook for myself, I often go very heavy a certain strong spices/flavors. I lay off quite a bit when cooking for others though. You may want to gradually introduce some new flavors.

C- As for cooking with wines and spirits, normally the beverage is reduced, and the actual alcohol it contains is cooked out of the dish, leaving the flavor of the alchol, but no actual alcohol.
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Old 09-05-2006, 08:31 PM   #6
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Some people just never like anything that differs from what they're used to, and most of those folks never will. To me, and fortunately to my wife, it's a fundamental issue of compatibility.

Anyway, I agree with the "baby steps" advice. How about onion and garlic? Try sauteing some onions until they carmelize, then add your eggs. Oy, vey! Heaven! Onions make almost anything better, and I don't trust anyone who won't eat them. Try garlic bread and maybe a little red pepper in the spaghetti sauce -- if she eats such weird things.

It may also be helpful to tell her that you want her to expand her tastes, that it's important to you. Honest to god, it would be a deal breaker for me.
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Old 09-05-2006, 08:34 PM   #7
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Big Dog, I feel your pain. My other half, and her mother, do not use any kind of seasoning whatsoever. That's how they were raised, and that's what they like. Now, they will usually eat what I cook, and they like it, but if they cook, it's the way they know how. They aren't interested in learning how to use stuff.

Someone mentioned wine and/or spirits, and you explained the your wife won't accept that. Have you tried adding a little lemon juice, or lime juice? Some things take to that very well, like the Supreme sauce that was already mentioned, as well as some Mexican dishes, and fish.
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Old 09-05-2006, 08:47 PM   #8
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I really wish I could offer some advice - but I don't think I can - other than cooking two different dishes with seasonings only in one. The only thing that comes to mind is when you can use a very nice extra virgin olive oil. I know it's expensive but I cook with mine almost every day. It imparts a lovely flavor too!
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Old 09-05-2006, 09:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDog
Okay folks, I think I've made it fairly clear that Mirs. Big Dog is not fond of spice. Not even salt and pepper, let alone anything interesting.
Not even S&P??? That's really tough! My sympathies are with you BD! I was going to suggest using oyster sauce to add oomph to your dishes but... this probably won't work with her huh?

Maybe you can try making home-made chicken/beef stock to add tastiness to your food without going against your wife's palate. Also, other subtle taste enhancers in cooking that she might like are butter, cream, milk, tomatoes, egg...

Good luck!
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Old 09-06-2006, 06:20 AM   #10
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Does mrs. B D enjoy eating ? what are her favorites? Iam am 61 and still learning to like differant foods. You may have to fix two meals, hers very simple -- yours spiced up. People who can not have sodium can taste it so prominate in anything ! Not going to change her I think - cooking is a joy , cook for you too. Good Luck B.D. !!
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