Thursday, November 27, 2008

Being Thankful

(Cross-posted from the other blog)

Most years, giving "thanks" feels like a kind of automatic exercise-not quite meaningless, but pretty generalized nonetheless. This year, our town was hit by a tornado-two actually. Nothing makes a person thankful like seeing their town hit by a tornado and then finding out that everyone got through it alive and even more miraculously-uninjured. If that isn't something to be thankful for, I don't really know what it. Sometimes, I still can't believe we got out of that alive. I try not to think about it too much (except when I find large pieces of glass still sticking up in the yard, or the dog drags in a piece of the now-gone barn) but I admit to feeling uneasy every time the sky gets yellow and weird, or heavy rains come in.

If you walk through our town, as we did on Halloween to go trick-or-treating, it is hard to believe it was devastated back in May. I can't say enough nice things about all the volunteers that came to help, the Red Cross and even (incredible, I know) the response from FEMA. Every single power line was knocked down for a five mile stretch of the main county road through and out of town-like the funnel cloud(s) went along knocking them down like dominoes. Within days (five actually) power was restored which is kind of amazing when you think of how much work had to be done. They had crews out there day and night and the FEMA money came through almost immediately so other power companies could lend their workers to the task of getting the town re-wired. Regular readers know that I'm not one to hold back with complaints and will happily point out inept government responses, but this time they got it right. I realise our tiny town is a whole lot less complicated than New Orleans, but I still never would have expected things to go as smoothly as they did. There's something else to be thankful for.

I'm thankful for all of you as well –er, most of you ;)

Raymond, Jenn, Helen and Harry, the mysterious reader from Calgary, the even more mysterious reader from Germany, Page, JK, Vanessa, the two mysterious readers from Lincoln, and all of the others I've probably forgotten to mention between the two blogs-I appreciate you bringing me into your lives and being a part of mine. Thank you so much for giving me a reason to maintain these two blogs and keep me from spending all my time playing video games and reading comics (ok, I still read the comics, but you know what I mean).

Happy Thanksgiving

Curried Apple Chutney

I had to be in the kitchen cooking anyway, so I cooked and canned some chutney. The recipe is from the Blue Book, but there is something terribly wrong in the proportions. I got five pints-the recipe said ten. Now, being off by a pint or two is common enough, but half is kind of strange. The chutney is fine (a little bit on the tart side for my tastes, but the boys like it) but I've never had a recipe be off by quite that much. Strange.

You Will Need:

2 quarts chopped, peeled and cored apples (about 16) I used Granny Smith
2 pounds seedless raisins
4 cups brown sugar
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped sweet red pepper
3 tablespoons mustard seed
2 tablespoons ginger
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons curry powder (I used Madras because I had it)
2 teaspoons salt
2 hot red peppers, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepot and simmer until thick. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Ladle hot chutney into hot jars. Leave 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and wipe threads clean. Process ten minutes in a boiling water canner. Let cool five minutes in the turned off canner before transferring to counter to cool. Let stand 12-24 hours before checking for seals.

Carmelised Tofu With Green Beans

I learned the carmelising tofu trick from 101 Cookbooks and it is now one of my favourite ways to deal with tofu. I served this with last summer's frozen green beans and some shallots from my mother-in-law's garden.

You Will Need:

1 block extra-firm tofu squeezed and pressed dry of as much water as possible. I cut mine into chunks because I think it is easier to manage, but you may prefer slices
About 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
blanched green beans

Heat the pan and oil and quickly brown the tofu. Add salt, shallots and garlic. Cook a few minutes. Add the sugar and cook a couple minutes more. Remove tofu, shallots and garlic to a plate. Add a bit more oil to the pan and cook the green beans over medium high heat until they brown a bit. Mix together with tofu and serve hot. Normally I would serve this over rice, but the boys talked me into making hand-cut chips, so we had that.

Charles Street Indian Pudding

(Why yes, it is rather unattractive)

Sigh. The recipe said two hours, but it was more like six. Don't stir it-you'll be tempted, but it does sacrifice the texture a bit. This was just on the borderline of being too heavily spiced (the allspice in particular). Mr. Eat The Blog really loved it and had a couple servings (with ice cream-yikes) but I could only manage about a spoonful. Danny was kind of indifferent to it. It was very rich and dense, so you might want to serve it with whipped cream or ice cream (because there aren't enough calories in it already...) to break it up a bit.

The recipe doesn't say just where on Charles Street (Boston) it originated. I knew a real freak of a dude that lived in a basement apartment on Charles Street that was crawling with roaches and always smelled like dirty socks. I don't think this recipe is attributed to him. I think they are trying to evoke the "nice" things about Charles Street like the antique shops and the pretty gas-lit streetlights that every couple of years would blow and there would be projectile sewer covers sailing down historic Charles Street.... come for the recipes, stay for the disturbing stories! Well, anyway, here's the pudding recipe:

From The New York Times Heritage Cookbook by, Jean Hewitt

4 cups whole milk
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
Ice Cream, Heavy cream, or hard sauce

Pour three cups of milk in a large pot. Bring jut to the boil. Moisten the cornmeal with the water and add rapidly to the milk stirring with a wire whisk to prevent clumping. Reduce heat to simmer and cook twenty minutes stirring frequently.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine the spices, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add to the mush. Stir in molasses. Pour into a greased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Pour the last cup of cold milk carefully over the top. Dot with butter and bake two hours (again, mine took a total of six but it might depend on the cornmeal you use). Serve hot with ice cream, heavy cream hard sauce or antacids.

Happy Thanksgiving

And here's something for the vegetarians though I'd snicker to say the, who am I kidding-I wouldn't snicker at all:


I'm off to see if my Indian pudding has started to solidify yet (I might be the only person on the face of the earth that can screw-up Indian pudding).

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lingonberry Jam

You wouldn't believe how difficult it is to find a recipe (in English anyway) for lingonberry jam. The one I did find (101 Cookbooks) sounded lovely but wasn't what I had in mind-so I improvised.

I treated the lingonberries like any other hard berry. I suppose I could have prepared them as cranberries (since they are so similar) but I didn't. What I ended up with is lovely, and not so hard that it needs to be pried out of the jar, yet solid enough to mound nicely on a spoon. I will probably use it for glazing duck, or topping coffeecakes-so the somewhat softer texture worked well. If you prefer harder jam-cook it a bit longer until it really sheets from the spoon. Keep in mind too that it has quite a bit of natural pectin and will gel up as it cools.

I got six half pints and about an extra half a pint for the fridge. I'd make extra jars and lids anyway as berries are so variable in the amount of liquid they toss off. If you do pints, process them 15 minutes.

You Will Need:

9 cups crushed berries (I waited until they were cooked a bit to give them a rough mash with the potato masher as they are pretty hard. You could do the crushing before as well, but like cranberries, they also tend to pop as they cook)
6 cups sugar

Combine berries and sugar in a large pot. Bring to a boil over low heat. Once they boil, cook rapidly to gelling point stirring carefully (they splatter like heck) to prevent sticking.

Ladle hot jam into hot jars and process ten minutes in a boiling water canner. Let cool five minutes with heat off and then cool 12-24 hours.

Lingonberries and Caraway Cheese

For a very limited time, the corner market has lingonberries, Swedish-style cheese and the ever popular lutefisk for sale. They aren't taking orders so first come, first served. If you live in Eastern Nebraska and are interested in scoring some lingonberries drop me an e-mail at cornmotherne at yahoo no spam dot com and I will give you directions. Heck, I might even come out and meet you for a cup of coffee at the gas station.

The woman at the market thought they were stinky (but not nearly as stinky as the lutefisk, dear God nothing smells that bad) but honestly, I don't smell it. I mean, they don't smell fragrant like strawberries or raspberries, but i wouldn't say the smell bad. Maybe farm-living has killed my sense of smell.

So anyway, yes I might have gone a bit overboard, but I really do like lingonberry jam for baking and it is so frightfully expensive to buy as an import. I've never tried making my own, but I now have an absurd amount of the stuff taking up space in the fridge so we're all about to find out if homemade is better. Thankfully, Mr. Eat The Blog also likes lingonberry jam, or he'd probably hit the roof when he finds out how many pounds of them I bought.

You lucky people with an IKEA can already buy fresh and frozen lingonberries whenever you want, but for us this is a pretty exciting thing.

The cheese is just a junky processed cheese with caraway that I really like. It is kind of hard to find (used to be common around here but times and tastes have changed) so I bought a large hunk. I mean, it's cheese and the holidays are coming-you know it is going to be eaten so it wasn't that much of an extravagance...not like the lingonberries. Maybe I should go hide them deeper in the fridge before Mr. Eat The Blog gets home and sees how much I spent.

Grab 'em while supplies last.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dulce de Leche

THIS makes so much more sense than cooking a tin of condensed milk for four hours. I know what I'm doing tomorrow.

Chickpea Patties

I've made numerous versions of these, but this time they turned out so well, I wanted to post the recipe so I would remember how to make them. These croquettes are not deep fried like falafel, but they do get a "shallow" fry. They probably aren't health food. I might try baking them next time to see what I get.

I have to point out that I find it hilarious that I can buy store-brand Panko breadcrumbs in rural Nebraska. I'm sure a sociologist could have a great time writing about the internet and foodie culture.

I also have to point out that no matter what I fry in it-from doughnuts to chicken, Canola oil always smells faintly of fish. I do not know why. Does anyone else notice this, or have a reason why?

You Will Need:

2 tins chickpeas, drained rinsed and as many skins removed as possible (yeah, I know that's anal)
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup soft breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/4 cup plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon cumin
alt and pepper to taste
a squeeze of lemon juice
Panko breadcrumbs for coating
Oil for frying

Remove the skins from the chickpeas, place in a large bowl and get out your potato masher. Mash the daylights out of them-I mean really go at them. Don't just put them through a food mill or blender because that will take all the texture out-you want these a little heavy to start. Add half the breadcrumbs, the yoghurt and the spices. Add the lemon juice and parsley. Add the eggs and blend well. What you want is a very soft dough that can just barely be formed into patties. It shouldn't be dry, but you do want them to hold together. Add more breadcrumbs if needed, but go slow so that you don't end up with heavy, leaden croquettes. When formed, roll in Panko breadcrumbs to coat and transfer to a dish. Let them firm up in the fridge at least half an hour before frying.

Heat about 2 inches of oil in a large frying pan. Get the oil as reasonably hot as you can without smoking or creating a fire hazard. The hotter the oil, the less time they will need to spend in it getting greasy. Fry until brown, turn and fry other side. Keep a tray hot in the oven to transfer completed patties to. I got 12 good sized pieces.

I served them with cous cous made with raisins and mint and plain yoghurt with a couple spoonfuls of pomegranate molasses stirred in (another gift from Mr. Eat The Blog's mother-thanks Mom!).

Tomato Salad

I had a few roma tomatoes left from making the roasted red pepper spread earlier in the week, so I tossed them into a sald with great results. I could have blanched the tomatoes to remove the skin but it seemed like extra work that wasn't really needed-you may prefer to do so.

You Will Need:

3 roma tomatoes, seeded and sliced in wedges
1 small yellow onion
1/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4-5 black Greek olives, chopped
1/4 cup cubed hard cheese (I had the end of a wedge of some French sheep's milk cheese that Mr. Eat The Blog's mother generously purchased for us)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Toss it together and chill well before serving. It helps to let the cheese soak up the dressing at least half an hour before serving.

Peas And Carrots-with a twist

I know, I know... peas and carrots-how many plates of these two vegetables have people eaten through their childhoods? I wanted to post this to show you how I liven them up a bit.

I don't buy the frozen peas and carrots. While I do use frozen peas, the carrots tend to get a bit spongy when frozen and besides, I always have a 5 lb. bag or two on hand (we eat carrots quite a bit as they are healthy and inexpensive).

I'm not going to give a recipe exactly, because what you do will depend on how much you make, rather I'll list the ingredients and basic idea. Do give these a try, they're quick to make and most of the preparation work can be done ahead through the day.

You Will Need:

Carrots, peeled and diced small
Frozen peas, cooked and refreshed under cold water to retain colour. Drained well.
Yellow onions, chopped
Dried thyme
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil-about 3 tablespoons to a large pan of vegetables
Zest of a lemon

Cook the peas and set aside. In a large frying pan cook the carrots and onions over medium heat in the oil. Cook until almost soft, add the peas, spices and zest. Cook until carrots are soft.

That's it. I hope you like them as much as we do.

Spicy Apple Cake

I may have a new favourite apple cake. I purchased a copy of Country Cakes, a Homestyle Treasury by, Lisa Yockelson, 1989 for a buck at the thrift store. I liked the fact that the cakes weren't terribly fussy. While some of the techniques sound unnecessary (like sifting onto a sheet of waxed paper) I followed the directions the first time baking the cake. The result is quite good-a very moist cake that made the whole house smell good baking. I hesitate to call anything "foolproof" but this is pretty close.

You Will Need:

1 1/2 cups unsifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (I used already ground)
1/4 teaspoon allspice (this I had to grind as I don't keep the ground on hand)
1/4 teasppon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 extra large egg (room temp)
2 extra large egg yolks(room temp)
1/4 cup milk blended with 2 teaspoons vanilla extract at room temp
1 1/2 cups peeled, grated, tart cooking apples (I used Granny Smith)

Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch spring form pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cloves onto a large piece of waxed paper. Cream the butter on high speed for 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat for 2 minutes. beat in the egg. Beat in the egg yolks. Blend in the milk/vanilla mixture, and beat for 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the flour mixture and beat until all has been absorbed before adding the rest. Fold in the shredded apples. Spoon into pan and with a small spatula push about 1/4 inch of batter up on the sides of the pan to keep the batter level as it rises and bakes.

Bake the cake on the lower 1/3 of the oven (I goofed this, but it still baked fine) for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the centre clean. Cake will begin to pull away from sides when done. Note-I put the cake on a baking sheet to catch any drips-do as you think best.

Cool cake 10 minutes in pan, then remove ring and cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar before serving in wedges.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Apricot and Date Chutney

This is a very sweet, unchallenging chutney. Mr. Eat The Blog thought it was kind of bland and sweet, but he thought Danny, or anyone that really likes dates will go crazy for it. It isn't spicy and unlike most chutneys does not have any onion or garlic in it. I can see it being really nice with a roast. It was a breeze to make, and perhaps because of the lack of onions, I didn't need to open all the windows and doors as it cooked. It still has 2 cups of vinegar, but because of all those sweet dates it came out pretty mild.

The recipe claims it will make 12 half pints. I got five pints almost exactly. Adjust as needed but have extra jars at the ready.

You Will Need:

2 pounds dried apricots
2 1/2 cups pitted dates
3 cups brown sugar
2 1/2 cups raisins
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon coriander
2 cups white wine vinegar
2 cups water

Soak apricots in water to cover for 30 minutes. Drain well and place in pot. Chop the dates and add to pot. Add everything else and cook over medium-low heat until thickened. Stir once in a while to prevent sticking.

Ladle hot chutney into hot jars and process 10 minutes for half pints, fifteen for pints in a water bath canner. Cool five minutes in canner before transferring to counter to cool. Let cool 12-24 hours before checking for seals.

Apple Jelly

Making this jelly gives me an appreciation of why pure apple juice is so expensive-it took four pounds of apples to get four cups of juice to get three half pints of jelly. I'm making another batch tomorrow as I have enough apples, but it is quite a bit of work for such a small yield.

The colour is actually much lighter than this photo suggests-a very pale yellow.

I used Granny Smith apples, so I omitted the extra lemon juice. If you're using a sweeter apple, add the lemon juice to give the jelly some interest. Because apples are loaded with natural pectin, it tends to reach the gelling stage quickly-so keep checking because nobody likes jelly that bends a knife prying it out of a jar.

The recipe says it makes 4 half pints, but I ended up with three and a half (the half is now in the fridge waiting for breakfast).

You Will Need:

4 cups of apple juice from four pounds of apples (directions for making juice at end of recipe)
3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)

Prepare juice as directed below.

In a large pot, combine juice and sugar (and lemon juice if using it). Stir until dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat stirring constantly. Cook rapidly to gelling point. Remove from heat. Spoon hot jelly into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe threads clean and seal. Process in a boiling water canner ten minutes, then off the flame, let cool in canner five minutes before removing. Let cool 12-24 hours before checking for seals.

To Make juice:

Remove stem and bottom ends from apples and then quarter leaving on skins and cores. For each quart of apples add 1 cup water. Place in pot and cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until fruit is soft. Drain through a damp jelly bag until you can measure 4 cups. Resist the urge to squeeze the bag because it makes the jelly cloudy (if you don't care about that then squeeze away because you can probably get quite a bit more juice out of it if you don't care about clarity).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Roasted Red Pepper Spread

This is quite a bit of work (took about four hours start to finish) but well worth it if you like roasted red pepper spread-which we do. Open the windows while you roast the peppers, because it does tend to set off the smoke detectors.

Note-the spread will become darker as it cooks so although it begins as an apricot colour, it does turn a deep orange at the end.

The recipe said I would get 5 half pints-I got seven. As always, prepare a couple extra jars.

You Will Need:

6 pounds sweet red peppers
1 pound Roma tomatoes
2 large cloves garlic
1 small white onion
2 tablespoons minced basil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Roast peppers under a broiler or on a grill until skin wrinkles and it has charred spots. Turn peppers and roast the other side. Place peppers in paper bags and secure opening. Roast the tomatoes, onion and garlic in same manner-about ten minutes. Transfer tomatoes to paper bags and let cool fifteen minutes.

While peppers and tomatoes cool, mince the garlic and set aside. Chop the onion finely and measure 1/4 cup. Set aside. Peel the red peppers. Peel the tomatoes. Puree the peppers and tomatoes in a blender. Transfer to a heavy pot. Add everything else. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower to simmer and cook until thick (like a sandwich spread) which took about an hour for me. Meanwhile, start heating jars and canner.

Ladle hot spread into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe threads and seal. Process in a water bath canner for ten minutes. Let cool five minutes in open canner before removing to cool 12-24 hours. Test for seals when cool.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Am Not A Size Six

I almost never wear dungarees, or trousers for that matter-they simply do not suit my figure. For some strange reason (probably the cold) I decided to wear an old pair today, and while they fit, I'm afraid they are about fifteen years out of date. Why this would bother me, I don't really know as none of my other clothing is contemporary, but with dungarees it seems a bit more obvious.

I needed other items at Shop-Ko (I love that I can purchase flashlights and batteries in the same place as clothing and automotive supplies), so I wandered over to the clothing department to look at what they had in denim. First, let me point out that those dungarees that claim to be "instantly slimming" are not. It's a lie. A bloody lie. Lie, lie, lie. Not a bit of truth. They have some sort of built-in girdle which is horrible enough, but they are also sized in such a way that you end up buying them in a much smaller size than one actually wears. I am 5'2" and I weigh 135 pounds. I am most certainly not a size six. My left leg alone isn't a size six.

In the real world, I wear a ten or a twelve, sometimes a fourteen in a dress because I'm top-heavy, but never a six. I didn't wear a size six after a life-threatening bout of amoebic dysentery (which if you're ever looking to lose a large percentage of your body weight in a hurry, I highly recommend it as a diet plan, except that you'll look rather pale and be completely wiped out when not doubled over clutching at your abdomen...or having explosive...well, anyway, it hurts to be beautiful, right?). I mean, for heaven's sake I know how many inches my waist is-and I'm capable of looking in a three-way mirror.

I tried some other brands and it was much the same story-suddenly everything is sized much smaller and we now have size zero and double zero. Really, do they think we're fooled? Anyone fooled by this is a fool. Is this some sort of American phenomenon, or has the rest of the world gone mad right along with us?

I don't have time for this sort of nonsense. It is difficult enough to try on a few pairs of pants in a size that ought to fit without having to guess. I suppose a seamstress might be able to look at something on the rack and know if it will fit (my grandmother could do that, but she could also run you up a skirt in fifteen minutes from a remnant without a pattern) but I cannot.

Disgusted (and tired!) I made my other purchases and left without the dungarees. I suppose if I only have the desire to wear them every decade or so, perhaps they will be back in fashion next time I'm struck with the urge to squeeze my well-fed behind into denim. I look better in skirts and dresses anyway.

As for the "Age Defying" makeup...well, you probably know how that one will end as well.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cranberry Wine Jelly And Tangerine Jelly

I ended up doing a couple batches of canning this evening (why waste the water in the canner?) and I'm pleased with the way both turned out. In fact, Mr. Eat The Blog scraped every last residual bit of jelly out of the pot before I washed it because the wine jelly is just that good.

Both recipes come from the Blue Book, but I used a different type of wine than the Burgundy called for. Remember my power-shopping trip through the liquor department of my local grocer? Well, that paid off but somehow I bought every sort of wine except Burgundy. No big deal, I used Pinot-and it is delicious.

The tangerine jelly is out-of-this-world good. In fact, it is so good I'm not giving any away. That's right-keep yer mitts off my jelly. I suppose now I have to make crumpets. Oh dear, it is good jelly. Pretty too.

For the Tangerine jelly:

6 cups chopped tangerine pulp (I did 7 to be on the safe side and came up with exactly 4 cups of juice. Use your noggin-if the fruit seems a bit dry, dice up some extra.

1 cup chopped lemon pulp (about 4 lemons-more if rind is thick)
1/2 cup thinly sliced peel of tangerine with as much pith removed as possible
1 cup water
1 package powdered pectin
5 cups sugar

In a large pot, combine the chopped tangerines, lemons and rind. Add the water. Cover, and simmer ten minutes. Strain juice through a damp jelly bag into a bowl. Measure 4 cups juice.

Combine juice and powdered pectin in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add sugar stirring until dissolved. Return to full rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. remove from heat, skim foam and ladle into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe threads clean, seal and place in boiling water canner. Process tn minutes then remov lid and with heat off, let cool five minutes in canner. Cool undisturbed for 12 hours before checking for seals. Makes about 5 pints (I got 6).

For The Cranberry Wine Jelly:

2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 pouch liquid pectin
1/4 cup Burgundy (or other red wine)

Combine cranberry juice and sugar in a large pot. Stir until dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in liquid pectin and return to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat, stir in wine and then skim foam. Ladle into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process ten minutes in a boiling water canner. Let cool 5 minutes in canner with lid removed and heat off. Cool on counter for 12 hours before testing for seals. Makes 4 pints.

Next Up-Tangerine Jelly

I was surprised how fast the Mandarin orange jelly was devoured and snatched-up to take home. Obviously, it was good (it was really good) but I also think it is unusual to find a citrus jelly rather than the more common marmalades. Tangerines went on sale here Wednesday, so I was at the store early to get the heaviest, nicest ones. We tasted one last night and they are indeed juicy, though less tart than I would have expected from a tangerine. These are from Florida.

It was kind of a stupid project to pick when my hands are all cracked and cut-up from the drier weather and bread baking. Oh well, it hurts to be beautiful...or a home economist. Same thing, really.

I'm off to chop tangerine pulp. I hope everyone has a terrific weekend.

Chocolate Challah

Unfortunately, the loaf split but it is otherwise a delicious loaf of egg bread filled with chocolate. Here's what I did:

After the second rise, I divided the dough in three and shaped into long ropes. I flattened each rope and topped it with semi-sweet chocolate chips. Then, I pinched them shut and braided as I always do ( except this time it split).

This is going to make great French Toast tomorrow.

Golden Apricot Bars

My mother-in-law brought me some wonderful gifts last week, this cookbook being one of them. She must have bought it on a trip to visit my father-in-law's family in Baton Rouge. Published in 1959, many of the recipes call for things that probably no longer exist. Still, I wanted to make something from it. Hand-written in the inside cover is a recipe for Grandmother Annie Lizzie's Chicken and Dumplings with Bama (Ala?) jelly that doesn't actually contain any chicken save for the cooking broth. Seeing as it calls for both butter and lard, I don't expect to be making it any time soon, but it is wonderful to have it as a family memento.

I had to laugh, it was difficult to find a cookie/cake recipe that wasn't swimming in booze. Not that I have a problem with baked goods swimming in booze, but I'd just baked three large fruitcakes this week and I wanted to make something Danny could eat for dessert tonight. Since my little boy is an apricot fiend (no exaggeration-the kid is wild for the stuff) the recipe for Apricot bars sounded like an obvious choice.Besides, the recipe is attributed to a Mrs. Edwin Chubbuck, which has to be one of the best surnames...ever. I substituted flaked coconut for the nuts in the topping, which gave it a weirdly familiar smell from childhood not unlike Play-Doh and Manila paper. Yeah, I know-I can't explain it either, sometimes baked coconut does that, particularly in granola.

So anyway, I made the apricot bars. They were simple enough to do, but time consuming as each step had to be done in order. In the end, what I ended up with was a rich shortbread base topped with a very moist, sugary fruit. Not the best bar cookie I've ever made, and not the worst. Still, it was great to be able to bake something from a cookbook that was cherished all these years and then gifted to me. There's a recipe for a grilled steak that is coated in granulated sugar before grilling which is intriguing. I read the recipe to Mr. Eat The Blog and he was ready to go out and purchase charcoal and a steak at 10 PM-so I suspect that will be making an appearance at the blog soon.

The other wonderful thing my mother-in-law brought were shallots from her garden. Now, bringing a dozen shallots in your luggage from Washington State could be a gift with potential stinkiness-so she placed each bulb in a half-pint jar and packed them in her checked baggage! As a bonus, I get my canning jars returned from jams I've sent them, ready to be refilled. People who return canning jars always earn extra points in my book, but I didn't really expect them to be lugged halfway across the country in a suitcase. How awesome is my mother-in-law?

We are also still enjoying a fridge full of exotic cheeses, fig preserves, organic sauerkraut (um...that's my husband's) and turkey liverwurst. Danny has new clothes from both his grandparents and auntie ("the yellow-haired auntie from New York") and we can't thank them all enough.

You Will Need:

2/3 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup soft butter
1/4 cup sugar or confectioner's sugar (I used granulated)
1 1/3 cups sifted flour (1/3 cup held aside)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
2 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or brandy flavouring (I used vanilla)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I substituted flaked coconut)

Rinse apricots, cover with water and boil for ten minutes. Drain, cool and chop finely.

Mix soft butter with sugar and 1 cup of the flour. Press into a greased 8 inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 minutes.

Sift remaining flour with baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat the eggs well and then slowly beat the brown sugar in mixing well after each addition. Stir in the flour mixture and the fruit and nuts (or coconut). Spread over baked layer. Return to oven and bake 30 minutes more. Cool completely in pan. Cut into squares.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Baked Oatmeal

I should probably warn you that making THIS baked oatmeal from Canadian Living is so simple you will be tempted to make it every morning. I put the dish in the oven as soon as I woke and by the time I was showered and dressed I had a nice, hot breakfast waiting. I make oatmeal every morning for Danny, but this is much better with raisins, maple syrup and milk-at least I don't think anyone but the most die-hard oatmeal haters would dare to call it "gruel."

I told Danny that all Canadians eat this for breakfast (with buttered bannocks, of course) so they have the energy to go out ice fishing.

"But mama, how do they dig worms if the ground is frozen?"

"Don't be silly Danny, everyone knows Canadians don't use worms for bait, they use Timbits."

Now, if only I had a nice weak cup of freeze-dried tea…

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cream Cheese Frosting Good Enough To Eat By The Spoonful

-but don't do that, it is awfully bad for you and probably gauche.

I've been baking Christmas cakes this week but it is rather unsatisfying baking as we won't get to sample them for a month. Danny had been craving chocolate so I made a very small batch of cupcakes. There's really nothing special about them-I used the cake recipe from the back of the Hershey's cocoa box. I made cream cheese frosting because I had a recipe for a small amount. I topped them with maraschino cherries because I had a few left in a jar. The whole thing from mixing to frosting took under forty minutes.

Still, when Danny woke from his nap and wandered into the kitchen, I might as well have baked a ten tiered cake by his reaction. As has been previously observed, I'm not very skilled with decorating cupcakes-so I don't spend too much time worrying about it. I probably don't have a career as a cake decorator in my future. Still, the very basic components of chocolate cake, cream cheese frosting and a bright red cherry convey rather well most people's expectations when it comes to a cupcake.

Don't misunderstand, I'm not dismissing extravagant cupcakes as some sort of silly bourgeois thing …OK wait-scratch that, I am dismissing them as a silly bourgeois thing-whew, I very nearly went over to the dark side of Fleur de Sel and $100.00 Balsamic vinegar…well anyway, I just can't be bothered to put that much effort into miniatures. Funny, I don't have any qualms with a big fancy cake, but presented with fancy cupcakes I just go into Marxist mode. So where was I? Right, cupcakes are simplicity itself-unless you fancy-pants them fancy, fancy pants Fleur de Sel huffing bourgeois swine. Sorry, I got sidetracked again but I just had the most wonderful mental image of Bob Avakian eating a cupcake. So hey, since I know you're wondering, I'm not actually on drugs-thanks for wondering. What was I talking about before before I strayed off into chairman Bob and Magnolia bakery? Oh yeah, that's right, the cupcake thing. Got it. If you think this is bad, you should try having a conversation with me in person.

I won't bother printing the cake recipe as it is widely available on the net (and chocolate boxes everywhere) but the cream cheese frosting is worth sharing. It makes a rather small amount (plenty for a couple dozen cupcakes) and works best spread on still-warm cake. It is particularly good spread on carrot cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

4 tablespoons softened butter (optional-just take it and rub it on your thighs)

3 tablespoons softened full-fat cream cheese (because my great-big bourgeois behind needs more calories)

1-teaspoon vanilla

2 cups confectioner's sugar

Whip everything together until light and spread on still-warm cake. Then, chill before serving.

*OK I confess-I just want to see what kind of hits I get from mentioning Bob Avakian and Magnolia Bakery in the same post. I also now have a tag for Bob Avakian which will probably get me on some sort of watch list.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Vegetable And Bean Casserole With Homemade Noodles

I found an interesting recipe for homemade noodles that was ever-so-slightly different from the one I already use. It comes from my 1960 edition of The Farm Journal Freezing and Canning Cookbook. According to the cookbook, the noodles freeze well which is good to know if I ever make them in quantity. I let them dry out a bit more than the recipe called for just because previous experience has led me to think this is a good idea. The noodles were wonderful. In fact, I prefer these to my regular recipe.

The rest was just tossing together what I had in the house.

You Will Need:

For the Noodles:

Beat three egg yolks and one whole egg until very light. Beat in three tablespoons water and one teaspoon salt. Stir and work in with your hands two cups of flour (I was only able to add 1 1/2, so go slowly) until you have a stiff dough. Divide in three parts, roll out into rectangles and get them as thin as possible. Cover with a towel. Repeat with other two parts and layer between towels. Let dry until partially dry like a chamois skin. Roll up the dough and then cut to the width you prefer. Shake out the strips and let dry (I used a rack) before using or packaging. Makes 6 cups.

For the sauce:

2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
Pepper to taste

Whisk everything together in a pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and thin with additional milk if needed.

For the vegetables:

in 3-4 tablespoons of butter, saute 4 thinly sliced shallots, 4 thinly sliced carrots, 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 2 cups thawed frozen peas, 1 tin of pinto beans, rinsed and drained, and 1/2 teaspoon thyme. Cook over medium heat until soft. Adjust salt and pepper as desired.

Cook the noodles in chicken broth until tender-about 25 minutes. Drain. Toss with vegetables and sauce. Keep warm in a casserole dish in the oven until ready to serve.

I've Been Tagged For A Meme

JK at Prosperine Goat Hill has tagged me for a "Six Things" meme. If you haven't been by her blog-do so, you'll be glad you did.

The rules of this Meme are:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

So here are six random things about myself excluding that deformed butt crack that people like Jenn have been reading about in various memes over the years. Yeah, yeah, me and my special deformed but...well here's six other things but I can't guarantee they will be anywhere near as exciting:

1) I was named for a popular song.

2) I haven't had a haircut since 2001 (I've trimmed the ends though).

3) I broke my arm twice in one day. The first time I fell off a slide. The teacher waved it around and decided it was fine. Later the same day, I fell down a flight of cement steps where the teacher dragged us to go look at a bird's nest. After that, my mother was called to come fetch me.
4) I love the way a new box of crayons smell.

5) When I was two, I somehow managed to climb out of my crib and eat all of my sister's Valentine's candy leaving behind a trail of empty paper wrappers and a discarded cardboard heart. Then, I climbed back into the crib and went to bed. They found me covered head to toe in chocolate the next morning.

6) The night of the tornado, we came upstairs to find the house wrecked but couldn't leave because there were downed power lines everywhere. We all huddled into Danny's room (the only room left untouched by the storm and with my flashlight, I managed to find a few bowls and clean spoons to serve the ice cream I'd made earlier in the day. Tornado or not, I wasn't going to waste perfectly good chocolate cherry ice cream.

I'm not going to tag anyone (because some people really hate these things) but leave it open to anyone that wants to play.

Thanks JK-this was fun (though challenging to think of anything interesting to share).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What Do You Serve To Talk About Death?

Because we had the whole family together this week, my in-laws wanted to sit down and discuss plans for their declining years and that sort of thing. We set aside an hour to let them discuss things and we set Danny up with a video to keep him occupied. As we waited for everyone to arrive at our house this morning, I suggested making a pot of coffee. Then, I thought about it:

"You can't just serve coffee, we should put out some food." I told my husband.
"But they already had a big breakfast and will be eating Thanksgiving dinner (we did it a week early) at 4 PM."
"Yeah I know, but sitting around a table talking about ventilators and adult diapers is awkward-I'm putting out food."

Turns out, I was right (about the food, not incontinence aides). The cookies, dried fruit and various chocolates and licorice candies disappeared pretty quickly as the talk turned to uncomfortably morbid stuff.

Had I thought of it I could have baked little grim reaper cookies or scythes.

Fluffy Concord Grape Pie and Other Holiday Cooking

I finally made the fluffy grape pie from the concord grape concentrate I had in the freezer. Instructions for the pie and puree may be found in THIS earlier post.

It was fantastic.

Sometimes when you make something like the puree so far ahead, it is difficult to imagine finding a use for it down the road, but I knew we'd be having company in November and I'd want somethng special to serve.

We did our family Thanksgiving today so that people wouldn't have to travel over the busy holiday weekend. My sister-in-law leaves tomorrow and my husband's parents the day after. I'm a little tired, but it was great having everyone together and Danny had a blast with so many people paying attention to him.

The plum sauce I made last summer also made an appearance as a glaze for the roast duck. For some reason everyone wanted to open a jar of the Mandarin orange jelly so we had that with our Sally Lunn and cornbread (yes, I made both because my father-in-law is from the south and likes them).

Having shelves filled with glistening home-canned jellies, jams and pickled things also made a nice way to end the visit with everyone picking a few things to return home with. I'd hoped to have the Christmas cakes baked soon enough that they could take them as well, but I guess I'll ship them out next week.

The apple butter was eaten each morning for breakfast on some toasted Struan bread, and we had pickled beets and onions as well. The green beans I blanched and froze last summer steamed-up perfectly to serve alongside the duck, sweet and white potatoes and all the rest.

I also went ahead and made a batch of goat tamales and then wrapped them in parchment to freeze. This worked really well and they re-heated perfectly in the microwave. Had I known just how well they take to freezing I would have kept the freezer stocked routinely.
One last interesting thing-the chocolate wafer cookies made an excellent refrigerator cake coated in whipped cream. I had a bit of whipped cream left from making my sister-in-law her jell-o "crown jewels cake" (sometimes it's a fine line between horrified and impressed, but she did actually get a kick out of it) and I figured it was worth a try. Not only did it work, it was delicious, and cheaper than buying a package of those chocolate wafer cookies.

And because you have to serve two kinds of pie at Thanksgiving (you do, it's a rule) I made a shoo-fly pie as a nod to my mother-in-law's Pennsylvania heritage. You may prefer a shoo-fly cake.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I cannot make fudge. I realise this is amusing as fudge is probably the simplest candy to make, but I simply cannot do it-something always goes wrong. Today, the brand new candy thermometer decided to not work. That's my other failing-my candy thermometers never work correctly. It does not matter which style I purchase, nor how much I spend-they always break or fail to work correctly from the beginning. My husband is similarly cursed with floppy discs as they tend to erase the minutes he touches them (He's like a human magnet!). So yeah, this time the thermometer was steaming up so I went to wipe away the condensation and noticed it was inside the glass. Great. By the time I shoved an instant read thermometer into it the fudge was grainy and overcooked. I beat in the butter and vanilla anyway and poured it in the pan.

I must have lucked out this time because it is edible. It most certainly is not fudge, but it is a somewhat granular though not unpleasant chocolate that melts well on the tongue and would probably be good sprinkled over ice cream or baked in a cookie.

(I'm sorry, I just lost my train of thought as some jets just flew pretty low over the farm. Usually we just get the *black helicopters* so this is pretty special. As another unrelated aside, we went to dinner with my in-laws tonight and the neighbouring town was testing their sirens at seven PM on a Wednesday night. We looked around and didn't see anything that looked like a tornado or an air-raid so we just went to dinner. See how exciting it is living near STRATCOM? So anyway, what was I talking about...oh yeah, fudge. I can't make fudge).

Lest you think my problem is only with this particular recipe (cream, sugar, salt, chocolate, corn syrup, butter and vanilla) I can't make the no-cook kind either. Or the stuff with condensed milk. It does not seem to matter-I can't do it. Caramelised sugar? Sure, no problem. Spun sugar candy? Easy. Tempering chocolate-absolutely. I just can't manage a freaking pan of fudge. It wouldn't bother me if it weren't such a simple thing I'm unable to master. I don't even like fudge. I think the last time I ate it was in the early 90's when we took a trip to the Cape and Mr. Eat The Blog felt compelled to buy an obscenely large tray of some oddly flavoured stuff. As I recall, they sold the tray with a small plastic knife to cut it into squares, which nobody does. By the second day of the trip he was digging out hunks of it with the car keys, and by the third day we'd dustbinned the rest because no one can eat that much fudge, holiday on Cape Cod, or not.

Interestingly, the ruined fudge is actually a bit more interesting than the smooth creamy stuff, so perhaps it was a happy mistake.

Any fudge experts out there care to weigh in and tell me what an idiot I am for missing something obvious?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cookies-Butter, Gingersnaps, and Chocolate Wafer

I was having difficulty thinking of good "snack" foods to have around the house while our guests are here. Sure, I'll make a batch of the caramels, and there's always cheese and fruit, but I thought some "not so sweet" cookies might be welcome.

The butter cookies are actually not sweet at all, save for the frosting which has a pretty tart lemon taste. I didn't have a turkey cookie cutter so I went to Google images and found a turkey drawing in about the size I needed, printed it and cut it out. Then, I glued it to durable cardstock-now I have a turkey template. I took some liberties with the decorating figuring I'd try to reflect the beautiful range of colours on a turkey rather than aiming for realism. Who knew there was so much to consider with decorating cookies?

The ginger cookies are just delightful. I made some in small rounds like a traditional ginger snap, and some larger flower-shaped ones. I even cut a few aeroplane shaped ones for Danny. I considered a plain white frosting for them, but decided to leave them plain, as they would make an excellent base for cheese. They aren't sweet, but they do contain 1-½ cups of dark molasses! We like molasses-have you noticed? (Shoofly pie recipe to come later in the week).

Finally, the chocolate wafers. I wish I could remember where I found this recipe because I make them all the time and would love to give proper credit. I have the cut out recipe taped into my recipe notebook and marked a favourite. These are similar to the chocolate wafer cookies people use to make refrigerator cakes with whipped cream. Instead of rolling them out, I roll them into a tube that isn't quite round, and then slice them as thin as possible. The dough can be rolled out, but it is very soft and this just works better for me. I've never made the whipped cream cake with them, but I bet it would work. I use the store brand powdered cocoa for these because I do not think that they improve that much with expensive cocoa. I know people will disagree and that's fine-use what you like, but either way, try making these cookies because they are delicious.

For the Butter Cookies:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

½ cup sugar

1 egg

3 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

Cream together the butter and sugar until light. Beat in the egg. Stir in vanilla. Sift the baking powder with flour and add to butter mixture. Mix well and roll into a log. Wrap in waxed paper or cling wrap and chill several hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Roll cookies about ¼ inch thick and cut as desired. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 5-7 minutes or until edges turn brown. Carefully remove to rack to cool.

For icing:

2 egg whites

2 teaspoons lemon juice

3 cups (aprox) sifted powdered sugar

Food colouring

Beat the egg whites with lemon juice until blended. Slowly add powdered sugar until you have a spreading consistency. Colour as desired. Work fast, as the icing will harden when exposed to air.

For the Gingersnaps:

(From The Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, 1950 with minor spice changes)

1/3 cup shortening (I used Crisco)

1-cup brown sugar

1 ½ cups full flavour molasses (not blackstrap though) or dark treacle

½ cup cold water

6 cups all purpose flour

1-teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1-teaspoon ginger

1-teaspoon cloves

1-teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda (bicarb) dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water

Mix together the shortening, brown sugar and molasses. Stir in the cold water. Sift the spices with the flour and add to the mixture. Add the dissolved soda in water. Mix well. Divide dough in two and wrap each section tightly in wax paper or cling wrap and chill several hours before rolling out.

Four a work surface generously. Roll out cookies ½ inch thick and place far apart on a lightly greased cookies sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15-18 minutes until they spring back with no imprint when touched. Cool on racks and store in an airtight container.

For The Chocolate Wafer Cookies:

1 ½ cup all purpose flour

¾ cup Dutch process cocoa powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg

1-tablespoon water

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder. Set aside. In another bowl, beat the butter until light. Add the sugar and beat until incorporated. Add the egg, water and vanilla and beat until very light-about three minutes. Mix in dry ingredients and combine well. Roll into a log and wrap tightly in cling wrap or waxed paper. Chill several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Slice very thin (about 1/8th or thinner if you can manage it) and place on a parchment lined pan (This time I really advise the parchment as these cookies have a tendency to scorch). Bake 15-17 minutes, but keep checking, as you don't want to burn them. Cool on racks.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Food Allergies

There's a post at Serious Eats today about picky eaters faking allergies to be able to order specially prepared food. I don't know why it surprises me that people would do this, knowing the world is filled with all manner of awful people. Still, this seems a bit extreme, given the precautions a kitchen must take to ensure your food is safe.

Having lived my entire life with severe allergy to tree nuts, I've learned to never order anything where the possibility of nut contamination exists. Many times, this means not ordering, or having a cup of coffee. I'm cool with that, and I don't expect the kitchen to prepare a special dish for me. Most of the time, I eat at home. We go out to dine maybe three times a year, not counting Danny's one in a while noodles and broccoli lunch at Hy-Vee. I get a soda and keep him company just in case a stray cashew from the chicken finds it's way into other food. I know they can't really control it in that environment and it would be insane to ask-so I don't. I've never felt that my nut allergy is anyone's problem but mine. I do not consider this discrimination because honestly, I don't see dining away from home as a "right" in the same way that oh say, being permitted to vote is.

Sure, it is nice when places do go out of their way to accommodate people with food allergies, and it is something I have appreciated over the years-but again, I wouldn't show up at a restaurant expecting the kitchen to be able to serve a special meal without advance notice.

I do carry an eppi-pen, and it is amazing how many people will shrug and suggest I just order because I have "a shot" in my purse. You know, I'm sure pecan pie is tasty and all, but it isn't worth shooting myself full of Epinephrine to find out. How did people get to become such complete and utter morons? Was it television? Public school? Artificial food colouring? Really, I just don't understand people anymore.

So please, if you hate onions that much-stay home and prepare your own meal. Lying about an allergy makes it all that much more life threatening for people with legitimate problems. Really, I shouldn't need to point that out.

I know people will argue that allergies are a disability that should be accommodated. I agree to a point-if your workstation is being smeared daily with peanut butter, you may have a legitimate complaint...unless you've gone to work in a peanut butter factory. Understand?

Cranberry Sauce

I needed the freezer space (for the tamales) so my bags of bargain cranberries got canned for the holidays. This was super-easy. The recipe said I'd get six pints, I got four. Always best to have extra jars ready.

You Will Need:

8 cups cranberries, rinsed and drained
4 cups water
4 cups sugar

Prepare jars and have them heated and waiting.

In a large pot, combine sugar and water and boil for five minutes. Add the cranberries and cook without stirring until skins burst. Ladle hot cranberries into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace (it sucked down quite a bit in processing). Remove air bubbles, close and process in a boiling water canner for fifteen minutes. Turn off heat, remove lid and let cool five minutes in canner. Let stand 12-24 hours before checking for seals.

I told you it was easy.

Persimmon Muffins

Good Muffins, bad photo.

I've never understood people that have persimmon trees and just let the fruit fall to the ground and rot-what's the matter with you people? Best that I can figure, they must have once eaten an under ripe fruit and well, that can be awful-and never found out how truly wonderful the fruit can be when fully ripe. There are varieties that can be eaten when not fully ripe (they are shorter looking) but for the traditional type of persimmon found rotting beneath trees all over the Midwest, you need to let them ripen to pulp. I'm serious, the fruit should be liquid and falling apart. That's when a persimmon is ready.

The easiest thing to do is split one, toss on some butter and brown sugar and broil it for a few seconds before serving with sour cream. It's hard to improve on that for both taste and simplicity, but if you feel like baking, they do well in muffins.

The recipe is the exact same one I use for all my muffins, substituting the pulp of a peeled persimmon (say THAT ten times fast) for the fruit and zest. The recipe may be found HERE.

Let's Make A Big Batch Of Goat Tamales

OK, let's!

Since I've posted the recipe before, I won't bother going into detail here except to mention that this time when I browned the meat, I dredged it in a bit of flour which really helped thicken the cooking broth into saucy, goaty-goodness. At least that's what my husband claims (if he keeps helping himself to samples of the shredded, cooked meat, there won't be any to use in the tamales tomorrow. It must be pretty good. We used Guajilo peppers this time which added a bit more spice than the Ancho do, but otherwise, I haven't made many changes to the recipe (why mess with perfection?). I'm serious, this works with goat, beef, poultry, lamb-and would probably work with pork as well. I'm curious to try duck or bison, but maybe that's getting a bit carried away.

I'll steam the tamales tomorrow and then wrap half of them in parchment to freeze for company. A few minutes in the microwave and they are as good as fresh from the steamer. I'll try to post better step-by-step photos tomorrow for the tamale novices, but no promises as we're pretty darn busy around here at the moment.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Meatless Meat-Loaf, and Balsamic Lentils

When I first saw THIS recipe at Once Upon A Feast, I knew it would be good-because Ruth does not post inferior recipes. I really like lentils, but it never occurred to me that Balsamic vinegar would be a good addition. It was. I used traditional lentils, and I pre-soaked them while I was out for a couple hours which seems to help with stomach discomfort. They cooked quick-about fifteen minutes. I live in Nebraska, so "local" vinegar wasn't happening (unless I start growing my own from a vinegar mother, which is actually kind of tempting as we always have extra wine lying around) and I just used what I had,which was Italian. I can't say enough nice things about this dish, so you'll have to go and try it yourself.

The meatless loaf was an experiment. The Light Life crumbles were on sale at the grocer. I'd never bought them before because honestly, I'm just not thrilled with TVP and wheat gluten products. This one looked promising as it had a nice short list of ingredients all of which I'd heard of. To my pleasant suprise, it not only worked well, it tasted terrific-better than any meatloaf made with ground beef (I never could stomach that as a kid). I did use three eggs, so while it is meatless, it is obviously not vegan. I don't know what you could substitute as a vegan binder, but it needs something as the ground crumbles will not stick together on their own.

For The Meatless Loaf:

1 package Light Life Ground "beef" crumbles
3 eggs
3/4 cup finely crushed saltines
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons dried onion
1 tablespoon paprika

Mix, shape into a loaf and bake in a greased pan for 45 minutes-1 hour in a 350 degree F. Oven. Serve hot.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

If Cattle Could Speak

Cow#1: I'm hungry and I'm sick of eating Farmer's mouldy hay.
Cow#2: Me too, but it's practically winter.
Cow#1: (mischievously) I have an idea-let's go to the neighbour's. Their grass is still pretty green and tasty.
Cow#2: I dunno...
Cow#1: It's OK, the kid's even a vegetarian. We're cool.
Cow#2: But the mama will rat us out to the farmer....
Cow #1: I thought you said you were hungry?
Cow#2: OK, but I'm bringing a few friends.

And now a couple jokes:

So did you hear the one about the cow that went to a psychiatrist? He had a fodder complex!

What do you call a cow lying on the ground? Ground beef!

As you can see, the cattle are pretty small, and this has been happening almost daily as they slip out of the fencing and then go back later to their mothers. I'm not thrilled with the situation as they tend to poop all over the sidewalk, but I also know they aren't going to stray out to the road or anything.

I get tired of eating the same thing every day too. At least we don't need to worry about mowing the lawn-look how they worked in such a perfect line.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I Can't Take Them Anywhere

Fortunately, by Remy Charlip as Retold by Goody

Cross-Posted at the other blog because I'm too exhausted to write a new post.

We went out for a drive to the city.

A man was waiting to exit a parking lot into traffic, so we let him noting it is good karma.

As we turned the corner, our brakes went out.

Fortunately, right at that corner was a Firestone, open on a Sunday, with a sign that said "Brake Service."

It would take a few hours.

Fortunately, there was a coffee shop across the street.

The coffee shop was closing in half an hour and they were out of coffee.

Fortunately, the manager felt bad for us, and made a pot of coffee anyway as a kind gesture.

The brake cylinder needed to be replaced.

Fortunately, they could do that. They put in the new cylinder and tried the pressure and the brake line gave way because it was rusted.

Fortunately, the mechanic thought he could patch it. He couldn't, and the whole thing started leaking. We were forty miles from home.

Fortunately, they had a phone book, so we tried to find a car rental at six PM on a Sunday in Omaha. No luck.

Fortunately, the manager loaned us her car to get home.

Fortunately, I had a thousand bucks to re-do the brake line in a car with almost 200,000 miles on it.

I would have gassed-up her car as well, but I wasn't sure what grade she used so I brought an assortment of homemade jams, jellies and preserves along with a bread and some chocolates. That was really pretty awesome to lend complete strangers your car to get home way the heck out in the country. We offered to give her some sort of credit card deposit to hold, but she didn't think we looked like car thieves. As much as I complain about people, it is easy to forget the kindnesses people will show you. Fortunately.

If you don't know the wonderful children's books by Remy Charlip, hurry to your library and get them-they are fantastic in both senses of the word.