*SECOND LIFE CHICKEN POT PIE

I was a very enterprising home chef during my 2.5 year relationship with Sonodoro. During that time, I had three entry-level jobs and figured out how to make the little money I earned work for our best interest.

During our first year together, I was working part-time as a page at Paramount, giving tours and wrangling studio audiences. (People from all over the world visit L.A. and when they do, they often include a taping of a TV show. Sometimes groups from various half-way homes (drugs, jail etc) took excursions off campus to visit see a TV taping.) While I was paging, Paramount had a number of multi-camera sitcoms and one talk show  (Dr. Phil),  all of which had/have a studio audience.

7-25-14 Paramount

Each tape day, the personality of the audience was unpredictable, but when there was a favorite guest star, the audience would go into “Toddler Mode” (unruly, winey, rambunctious). Most notably, this would happen when Smokey Robinson was a guest star on “One on One.” As soon as his scene was done, women ALWAYS requested to use the restroom. And me standing at 4 11.5 was usually the wall that would stop them and their nefarious plans.

No, you can’t use the rest room.
Yes, I know the scene is over and Mr. Robinson left.
No, I won’t give him a message.
Yes, I think he is a very handsome man too.

7-25-14 Smokey Robinson

Besides the abundance of unpredictability, on many tape days there was also an abundance of food. Besides the meal we got to eat with the crew, sometimes we were permitted a snack from Craft Service. While the audience may have been difficult for One on One, that show had some of the best food. Their on set caterer always warned us before he threw out the leftovers and invited us to help ourselves. Sometimes this proved difficult since he did not provide to-go containers, but with a little planning, I could build several meals around these “scraps.”

During the second year of dating, I was working two jobs: A part time job working in customer service at The Museum of Television and Radio (now known as the Payley Center for Media) and a full time job as a Carrier in the Paramount Mail Room. Working as a carrier my hourly rate was $0.50 less than what I made as a page, BUT it was full time with benefits. In addition to health insurance, a benefit I often received was an extra copy or two of the New York Times, which meant, DOUBLE COUPONS! (All of the carriers were on a tight budget, so we would divvy up the papers so we each had at least one edition.)

I am too prideful to ask for help. During these times of entry-level jobs, I was also too impressed at my creativity and awesomeness that I was able to still be a good home chef and girlfriend by taking care of my man.

I’m making it work, by golly: I get leftovers from the shows I work on, special events I staff and stolen double coupons.

When Sonodoro’s mom insisted on using her food stamps to buy us food I was conflicted….

  1. I didn’t like it because she was insinuating I wasn’t able to take care of my man.
  2. I was worried that she was spending money she didn’t have.
  3. Mostly, this magnanimous act of generosity was often leveraged against Sonodoro to encourage him to do something for her (which usually involved spending more money than the charity she bestowed upon us).

I knew that she didn’t like that Sonodoro lost weight because of my cooking. (Standing at 5’7”, he went from 250 to 228 during our relationship.

Clearly my cooking that minimized fat, sodium and sugar was not good for him. And, clearly Sonodoro’s weight loss was a problem for her.

I had the reverse problem with her food choices. When she took Sonodro shopping, she would choose her favorite foods, which were laden with salt, sugar and/or fat.

Knowing my discomfort at accepting help, the food stamp shenanigans of Sonodoro and his mom only happened when I was at work. I asked Sonodro repeatidly, to stop his mother’s generosity. He insisted asking her to stop would offend her. Eventually, I gave up and settled for a compromise

She can buy some of what she thinks we need and I sent him with a grocery list.

Stews or casseroles were easiest to combine vittles purchased through food stamps and table scraps from caterers. The meal I most often cobbled together from the throw-away food days was Chicken Pot Pie. Ratios and types of ingredients were contingent on the leftovers, what I had coupons for and what Sonodro’s mom purchased for us.

Insider’s tip:
Frozen piecrusts that come in their own tin.
When baking the pie or casserole, put the dish on a baking sheet.
As an alternate to pot pie, top the casserole with pull and peel biscuit dough.

INGREDIENTS:
2 carrots
2 celery
1 potato
1/4 onion
1/2 cup green beans
2 pre-made pie crusts in their own tins
1 cup cubed Chicken (I like my pie with a greater ratio of veggies)

 

Chicken Pot Pie - Ingredients

DIRECTIONS:

Sauté onion
Add cubed potato
Toss potato w onion
Cool gently for two mi
Add 1/4 cup water
Cover
Cook 10 min
Add other veggies
Cook another 5 minutes

 

Chicken Pot Pie - Sautéed Potatoes

While sautéing and lightly cooking onion and potatoes bake one pie crust for 10 minutes on 350* (middle rack).

 

Chicken Pot Pie - Gravy/Stock

In a large pot, make a roux using chicken broth.  When your roux is complete, add the rest of your veggies and lightly cook for 10-15 minutes until they’re slightly more cooked than raw.

Then add your chicken and cook a little longer.

Chicken Pot Pie - Innards Cooking

 

When your pie crust is sun kissed, take it out of the oven and fill it with your veggie and chicken concoction.
Chicken Pot Pie - Innards

Gently peel another pie crust out of its tin and top invert it onto the bottom pie and filling. Carefully press top and bottom the two crusts together. (Remember one just came from a hot oven.)

Cut ventilation slits in your top shell. (You do not want the pie building up pressure and exploding in your oven.)

Bake your pie on 350 for 45 min – 1 hour.

Remove and let cool slightly before serving.

Chicken Pot Pie - Baked

Chicken Pot Pie - Sliced

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*PARENTS MEET

The first year of dating is exciting. You’ve already established your commonalities, like breathing air… Now, everything you do together is noteworthy. Sonodoro and I were no different. He gave me a promise ring, he attended my baby sister’s wedding as my Plus One, we moved in together… you know, the usual. By anybody’s count, we were moving at lightning speed. But, that’s okay when you’re in love. Don’t question it. Just go with it and have faith that it will be wonderful.

And, it was.

Despite living (and sleeping) together, I still believed the right choice for me was no sex before marriage (as my fornicating college friend decreed was possible). We abstained as much as we could and when we couldn’t, Sonodoro always apologized.

What a caring guy.

Somewhere during this exciting first year of dating Sonodoro, my parents took a road trip to visit, stopping first in Salt Lake City to see my sister and her freshly-minted husband and then to see me and my wonderful new boyfriend.

It seemed as though Sonodoro and I were moving towards wedded bliss and there was a quorum that this would be the perfect opportunity for the families to meet.

The night of the family meeting, while Sonodro was out retrieving his mother, I stayed home to prepare a dinner that blended food traditions of both families.  I don’t remember what Mom&Dad and I talked about; I know I was just nervous as hell. Not only were we crossing the big step of having the families meet, I was cooking for his mom for the first time.

Would my cooking be good enough for Sonodoro’s Mom?

To cap it off, his mom spoke almost* no English and my dad had to repeat Spanish 3 times! (Mom took French, so what good does that do anyone?)

(*Almost meaning: “I love you” and a few choice swears.)

For the appetizer I made my mom’s famous (and fail-safe) “cream cheese mushroom things.”

Once Sonodoro came back with his mom, we introduced the parents. His mom exclaimed that my father is guapo (handsome) and threw a “que bonita” at my mom (how pretty). There was small talk. (Very small). Me mostly gorged on the appetizers.

Dinner conversation was difficult as Sonodoro had to translate between families.

Before dessert, Sonodoro and I turned on music, figuring it would bridge the language gap. His mom was quite eager and more than happy to teach my rhythmically challenged dad how to dance a cumbia. (I know the video is in Spanish, that is what the lesson was like, exempt without the fun graphics.)

This appetizer makes you look like a cooking genius. It is flavorful and satisfies the salty and savory camps. For a party, you never know what last minute hiccups may happen, so I prepare these in advance. I only bake them (in a pre-heated oven) as soon as a couple guests arrive.

INGREDIENTS:

4 tubes Pillsbury crescent rolls
1 60z jar Green Giant mushrooms
2 bricks Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 Egg & ¼ milk (for egg wash)

STEP-BY STEP DIRECTIONS:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350*
2. Soften cream cheese over night (or on a low temperature in a microwave safe bowl)
3. Stir cream cheese so it no longer looks like a brick. (If need be add a splash of milk to help)… This step is necessary to help mixing when you add mushrooms.
4. Drain liquid out of mushrooms.
5. Add mushrooms to cream cheese.
6. Mix well.

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7. On a cookie sheet roll out two sheets of crescent rolls. (The images below are a half-batch)
8. Pinch together the perforated edges and the two sheets, so now you have one big dough base.

IMG_2324 IMG_2326

 

 

 

 

9. Evenly spread cream cheese mixture. Bring it just shy of the edges.
10. Then unroll the other two tins of crescent rolls and put them on top of the cream cheese. Pinch the perforated edges together here too (along with where the two sheets meet).

11. Firmly press top and sheet and bottom sheet together. (You don’t want the cream cheese melting out….)

IMG_2329

A twist and roll method to secure top and bottom sheets.

12. IN A SMALL BOWL COMBINE:

Egg
Milk

12A. Whisk together so the eggs aren’t stringy and the wash is thoroughly mixed.
13. Lightly brush egg wash on top of pastry.
14. Place appetizer in pre-heated oven.
15. Bake at 350 for 10-17 minutes.
16. Remove when golden brown.
17. Let stand for 5 minutes.
18. Cut into squares
19. Put on warm (but not hot) plate. Serve immediately.

 

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Be prepared to put out reinforcements almost immediately.

 

TIPS:

1. When I first started making this recipe, I would roll out the top piece on a separate surface and assemble it into one sheet before I transferred it to my baking sheet.

2. There are several methods to secure your cream cheese pocket, I like the press, twist and roll method the best. It adds a little extra flair while ensuring cream cheese won’t melt out… Mom says this makes the edges too crusty. She prefers the press and seal, so the edge pieces have more cream cheese.