Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mr. Bagel Head


All that greenery and only a few radishes-but look at the size of them. I have a couple dozen more still waiting to be picked-then I can convert the spot to fennel. So far, so good. We lost a few tomato and pepper plants on the transition from peat-pot to garden, but so far the ones that survived are doing well-one tomato plant already has flowers.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Too Many Peas? And Two Perfect Strawberries

Scrolling down, I just realised that almost every dinner for the past week or two had featured peas, pea-shoots or tendrils. Gee whiz. As my husband noted while observing me placing pea-tendrils atop potato salad for a photograph:

"I'll bet twenty years ago you didn't think you'd be standing in a kitchen in Rural Nebraska adjusting pea tendrils on potato salad."

Hey, we're eating seasonally. The borage just started blooming, so pretty soon all the salads will have pretty purple flowers too.

I found the first two strawberries in the patch today-and we ate them right away! You can't turn your back on berries for a minute around here or the phesaants will get them-or the farm cats. So this was the first year we got to them first and they sure were delicious.

Ha, ha pheasants!

Fried Catfish

This was the first time I've made catfish, and probably the last. There wasn't anything wrong with it, but it wasn't all that special either-at least according to Mr. Eat The Blog, as I didn't try it. If he's going to eat fried fish, it will probably be cod from now on. Personal preference, I guess. He did eat it, but I suppose that was only because he insisted I buy it-at that point you're sort of obligated to finish the meal.

I tried out a new coating recipe and it worked well. I've never used Wondra as a coating, and I can see doing that again. You can find the recipe HERE.

The tartar sauce recipe at that link makes a whole lot of tartar sauce. That said, Mr. Eat The Blog really thought it was the best part of the meal. There's plenty of leftover fish so he'll have ample opportunity to use it up. The only change I made was substituting sweet pickles for dill because we all know how I feel about the smell of dill pickles(I'm making the scrunched-up-icky face).

And just because I know you're wondering-yes the potato salad does have radishes and scallions from the garden-all atop a bed of freshly cut pea leaves. Dang, I love my kitchen garden!

Vintage Saturday

This dress looks better in person as the taffeta takes on a coppery glow. It also looks better worn than on the hanger, as it has a fitted waist.

Circa late 50's-early 60's.

Happy Weekend!

Friday, May 29, 2009

My Danny Wanted Garlic Bread

Danny is still getting over a pretty awful virus. He had been sick with a sinus infection for about ten days, and then picked this up towards the end. By the time we got to the doctor he had 104 degree F fever and couldn't stop coughing. And no appetite.

So after a couple days of living on juice, Danny seemed to get his appetite back and requested garlic bread. He took a few bites and apologised-he still can't stomach much food. That's OK, I have a freezer filled with ice lollies, malt cups and other things that go down easily.

In what I'm sure is completely unrelated, but kind of funny-he's in the living room playing cannibal/zombie/dinosaur/Godzilla and I heard:
"Uuuugghhh, I just vomited a missionary!"

Thank god he's homeschooled-can you imagine the telephone calls I'd be getting from teachers?

You Will Need:

Bread(mine is a mixture of white, wheat and rye)
Finely chopped garlic
Hard Cheese (I used Pepato)
Salt/Pepper/Missionaries to taste

Mash the butter with the garlic and spread it on bread. Top with cheese and set under broiler for a couple minutes.

Pierogi and Peas

I'm still raiding the garden for pea leaves and shoots-they are just such a treat.
If you cook pea leaves, just toss them in the pan in the last minute or so until they wilt-they don't require much cooking. Then, to be all fancy-n-stuff, scatter the tendrils over the completed dish before serving.

Last week, on a day where I was feeling unusually strong, I made 10 dozen pierogi. We now have a freezer filled with them, and on nights when I'm feeling less than wonderful (like, tonight for example) I can have dinner together without much work.

You can see the recipe and technique in an earlier post HERE.And HERE.These particular pierogi are filled with mushrooms, red potatoes and sage. I also put in a bit of grated hard cheese as a binder, but it really isn't necessary.

The peas are rather plain-some olive oil, dried thyme, onion and garlic. That's it.

You can eat pierogi boiled without additional frying-but why would you want to do that? Save up your calories by skipping breakfast and lunch and eat these the way they taste best-boiled, drained and fried in oil-and then covered in sour cream.

Oatmeal Cake With Coconut/Raisin Topping

It doesn't get much easier than this. The original called for 1 cup of chopped pecans in the topping, which we had to skip due to nut allergy. I substituted raisins, which go nicely with oatmeal and cinnamon anyway-a perfect fit.

This is a nice, not-too-rich cake with only a couple eggs and half a stick of butter. The original called for margarine, but that's not a product I have in the house, and believe me, the butter didn't hurt the cake any. Isn't the popular theory of the moment that margarine is actually worse for you than butter? I can't keep track anymore. UM, the oatmeal and raisins are good for you.

The recipe is from one of my favourite cookbooks:
From Amish and Mennonite Kitchens.
I have literally used this book to the point where it is falling from the binding each time I pick it up. I don't care-I'm not parting with it! It survived the tornado, so I'm a bit sentimental about it. Speaking of the tornado-it will be the one year anniversary on the 4th, and I'm STILL finding cracks in the walls and bits of melted plaster behind furniture! What a mess. Our neighbours had a bunch of lumber delivered last week to re-build their hay barn (the one that ended-up atop our Volvo) so we are all getting back to something resembling normal, but it does take time-a year anyway.

Speaking of the lumber...
I spotted the pile from my kitchen window and the delivery people had spray painted the buyer's name on the side.

"Old _(last name)_____________"
"Wow." I thought. "I sure hope he knows him, to call him "old" that way."

Yeah, the only one getting "Old" around here is me-or my eyes anyway, as it read "SOLD."
Sigh. Maybe I should have baked carrot cake-I hear carrots are good for vision.

You Will Need:


1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup butter or margerine
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt


1/4 cup softened butter
2/3 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 cup coconut
1 cup raisins or chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x13 inch pan and set aside. In a bowl, pour the boiling water over the oatmeal and set aside to cool as you work. In another bowl, cream the butter, sugars and eggs together until smooth and light. Add the oatmeal and mix well. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into prepared pan and bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool completely in pan. Prepare the topping as follows:

Mix everything together and spread atop cooled cake. Place under the broiler for two minutes, or until mixture is bubbling and begins to brown. Remove, let cool before serving.

Make a very large cake.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Homemade Pasta With Chickpeas and Fennel

Fennel is suddenly quite popular, though we've been enjoying it for years. I'm happy though, as it is more widely available now. I planted some in my garden this year and with any luck, I'll be keeping Danny in his favourite vegetable.

You Will Need:

Cooked Pasta (I used homemade fettuccine)
1 bulb fennel, (a tablespoon of chopped fronds reserved)sliced as thinly as possible, with core removed
5 tablespoons olive oil
8 dried apricots, chopped into small pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked chickpeas, skins removed
1 cup chopped pea leaves (tendrils reserved if you have them)
8 scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon preserved lemon peel, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and over medium heat, cook the fennel, thyme, apricots, and preserved lemon peel until fennel softens. Add the chickpeas, pea leaves, scallions, and salt and pepper to taste. Add more olive oil if needed. Cook until fennel is quite soft and flavours permeate the chickpeas-about five minutes. Toss with hot pasta.

Home Cured Corned Beef Without Nitrates

I loathe corned beef, and that is not an exaggeration. My father was a wholesale food distributor and we ate tons of preserved meat over the years. I don't think I will ever eat another hot dog-I don't think I could.

My husband loves corned beef with the same intensity that I hate it. Once or twice a year I hold my breath, open the windows and make him a boiled supper. This year, I decided to see if brining my own would cut down on that god-awful smell. It didn't, but it was considerably healthier without the use of curing salt (it is optional in the recipe) and actually looked better without that fake pinkness that I associate with the stuff we were fed a consistent diet of growing up in Chicago (the hot dogs look the same). The colour was actually pretty good, even with the lack of curing salt. It wasn't pink, but it wasn't exactly grey either.

I found the recipe at The Bitten Word, and they found it at Martha Stewart. I'm linking to the guys at The Bitten Word because I like them better, and I still owe them for the rest of my life for that soaked coffee trick. They preferred corned beef pink and used the curing salt, but i won't hold that against them as they didn't grow up in Chicago with a father that was a food distributor. Have I mentioned I can't be in the same room with someone eating dill pickles? What can I say, good thing I moved, eh?

So the corned beef was enjoyed and appreciated (it had better be) by Mr. Eat The Blog, who you will remember, purchased the brisket for me as a mother's day gift because he couldn't find any mutton. I took a pass on it, but I don't think he will have any difficulty finishing it off.

Since this worked so well with brisket, I suppose the next logical project is tongue. Cured tongue is actually much better than corned beef, but I'm having difficulty convincing Mr. Eat The Blog of it. Anyway, if you have a corned beef lover at home this will pretty much knock their socks off, and if you have someone that can't tolerate a nitrate cure, this makes a good substitute.

Fresh Peach Cake

This cake was really very easy to make, but the cookbook said it needed thirty minutes to bake and mine took closer to fifty! It also called specifically for vanilla sugar, which I had on hand so it wasn't a terrible inconvenience, but I thought it an odd specification in addition to vanilla extract.

The instructions also said to place the peach slices atop the cake in a pattern, which I did and then they promptly sunk into the cake and were largely unrecognisable. Not a huge problem, but I wouldn't have spent the time and care placing them, had I known.

The recipe comes from a book that I've had both wonderful and terrible results from: Country Cakes by, Lisa Yockelson. This cake is somewhere in the middle. It is OK. I can elaborate by noting that Danny, aged 4, ate his slice by picking out the peaches and leaving the cake behind. This isn't typical of my son.

I'm not going to post the recipe because I can't honestly recommend it. If you're hell-bent on trying it and can't find the book at your library, drop me an email and I'll send you the recipe.

I do still recommend the book, if only for the wonderful apple spice cake.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Perfect White Bread

This is not my usual white bread recipe (which is quite dense and heavy). While I would hardly call this "light", it does have a softer crumb than what I normally bake. Everyone loved it with jam. In fact, for a jam sandwich I don't think I could suggest a better bread. Mr. Eat The Blog has requested a fried egg sandwich for dinner to see if it is good toasted, and I might go ahead and try it. I didn't expect much (particularly when they declared it "Perfect" in the cookbook), and was really very surprised at just how good this bread is. Makes two loaves.

From The Better Homes And Gardens Homemade Bread Book:

2 1/4 tea
spoons granulated dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons solid shortening
2 teaspoons salt
5-6 cups all purpose flour (I substituted bread flour)

Soften yeast in warm water. In a smal;l pot, heat the milk, sugar, salt, and shortening just until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. Beat in 2 cups of the flour. Add the yeast. Add as much extra flour as needed to make a stiff, no longer sticky dough and knead until smooth. Place in a buttered bowl, turn to coat and cover with clingwrap until doubled.

Punch down, divide in two and let rest ten minutes.

Place in well-buttered pans and dust the tops with a bit of flour if you like. Cover lightly with a towel and let rise again-about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake about 40 minutes (but start checking at 35) or until it sounds hollow. I baked mine to internal temperatures of 205 degrees F. and they were, as the title suggest, perfect.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Really Useful Engines and the Flesh-Eating Bacteria!

Yeah, that's the "Untold Story." You wouldn't believe the dirty looks other parents will give you for screwing with the Thomas narrative. It was a sad, sad day when Sir Topam hat came down with the flesh-eating staph. He wasn't very useful then, was he kids? Preachy, self-important, moralising prig-he totally had it coming. "Look kids, Sir Topam has a festering wound that won't heal...whoa! What happened to his arm? Didn't he used to have an arm there?"

So yeah, ten in the morning. That was fun. I looked at the poor actors trying to sing and dance and thought, " That's why you don't major in drama". Imagine a summer touring all the really exciting cities of the American Midwest like Lincoln, and Duluth, and Racine.
"He's the one, he's the one, he's the Really Useful Engine (with only a little flesh-eating bacteria) he's the one...."

It was kind of amusing when halfway through Danny started making "talking" motions with his hand and stated "Too much jabbering, not enough trains." That was great. I do think the show was aimed at slightly younger children, but overall Danny seemed to have a good time.

I do hope they get that flesh-eating thing under control though.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pea Pasta With Figs

I have a thing for using fruit as a savoury. I also have a thing for using what I have, which in this case was a large amount of pea shoots, leaves and tendrils. I might just keep plucking them as a green and forget the peas altogether-they are that good.

The figs are dried (dried out, actually having been long forgotten at the back of the fridge) and they worked well against the sweetness of the peas. With preserved lemon and a bit of saffron, the colour of this dish was really lovely. Perfect for a late spring dinner.

You Will Need:

1 lb. cooked pasta
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads soaked in a few tablespoons hot water for at least two hours.
4 cups peas, blanched and refreshed under cold water (this can be done ahead)
3-4 (or more) tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped(3 if small)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons chopped preserved lemon (pith removed)
1/4 cup dried figs, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup pea leaves, tendrils and shoots

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and cook the onion, garlic, thyme, sugar and salt for a few minutes over medium heat until the thyme and garlic become fragrant. Reduce heat and add the lemon, figs and parsley. Cook until figs have softened. In the last few minutes, add the pea greens and blanched peas. Add more oil if needed to coat well and toss with cooked pasta.

A Raymond Oliver Rip-Off

Danny has pulled this stunt before-approaching me clutching a cookbook and pointing to a photograph. I still remember the strawberry bavarian. (I did actually make that for him HERE).I can at least say his taste is improving, and the Prior's Cake in La Cuisine is mercifully simple-provided you don't live in a 100 year old farmhouse with uneven floors. Looking at it, I really should have sharpened a knife and trimmed those layers better-and thinner. Still, considering everything it went pretty well.

I cheated. I made a genoise cake, and I made buttercream-but I did not follow his recipes. I also used apricot preserves for a layer and melted bittersweet chocolate for the top. It is, as my post title says, a rip-off. I'm still far too anemic for making my own fondant for the frosting base. No, no, not that rolled fondant garbage you buy at craft stores-the real stuff that involves upper body strength and endurance I no longer possess. While I believe that the original is delicious, this isn't exactly horrible. Danny was impressed, and had a grand time devouring the cake scraps. I'm sort of shuddering at what he'll want next.

I really should have done thinner layers, looking at it. Eh, happy Friday Cake Blogging!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Austerity Cooking

If I have to read another "recipe" involving condensed soup or taco mix packets I am going to go apoplectic. So in the spirit of "You think you can do better?" here is what I made for dinner tonight. If you bake your own bread and cook your own beans it is even cheaper. What's more, it tastes better than the frozen meat substitutes which are all TVP anyway.

The coleslaw is a departure for me as I usually make mine without mayo-I ended up with more of the stuff than I can use, so I am actively seeking out recipes for it. I may have to bake the dreaded mayonnaise cake at this point.

I froze a few of the prepared burgers-I'll post again when I use them to let you know how it went.

Black Bean Veggie Burgers With Cole Slaw-serves 6-8 with leftovers:

For the burgers:

3 cups black beans, soaked and cooked with three bay leaves until quite soft.
2 thick slices of bread (three if using store-bought) crumbled
1/2 cup (more or less) all purpose flour
1 cup frozen peas, cooked and drained
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
cooking oil
Salt, pepper, ground cumin, chili powder to taste

In a large bowl mix together the beans and crumbled bread-let sit while you fry the onions and garlic in a bit of oil. When onions are cooked through, add to the bowl along with peas and seasonings. Mash together. At this point, begin adding flour until it comes together and will hold shape as patties. Form into patties and put on a plate. Chill at least fifteen minutes before frying.

Heat a bit of oil in a pan (a couple tablespoons) and fry the burgers over medium heat until browned. repeat on other side. Serve with cheese if you like.

For the coleslaw:

6 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups shredded carrots
about 8 scallions, chopped


1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons sugar

Mix it all together and chill well before serving.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Parfaits With Five Spice Cream and Ginger Tea Jelly

I thought about presenting this as deconstructed* smears on an Asian style square plate but then, thought better of it. That really does deserve the special place in hell mentioned in the previous post.

The jelly recipe HERE.

For the Five Spice Cream:

You Will Need:

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon five spice powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter

In a heavy saucepan, mix the five spice powder, cornstarch. egg yolks, salt and sugar. Add the eggs and slowly whisk in the cream and milk. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil one minute longer. Remove from heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Cover with cling film, poke a few holes in it, and chill before assembling parfaits.

*Unless you're talking about Derrida, I'm not really interested in your "deconstruction"-particularly if it involves pastry cream smeared on a plate.

Ginger Tea Gelatin Squares

I figured out a way to use fresh ginger with gelatin that doesn't kill the setting properties-soak the ginger in boiling water. I'm sure it wouldn't work if you left it in the actual mould, but this infused with enough flavour that it did the trick.

The squares are not terribly sweet as I am serving them with a five-spice pot de creme (I know, there's a special place in hell for people like me) but you could increase the sweetness by a few tablespoons of honey without much harm.

Photos of the complete dessert later.

You Will Need:

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely minced
1/2 cups boiling water
2 tea bags (I used good old Red Rose, because that's what I drink)
5 tablespoons honey
2 packets Knox gelatin
1/2 cup cold water

Soften the gelatin in 1/2 cup cold water by sprinkling it on top in a small bowl and setting aside.

Pour boiling water over ginger and tea and steep five minutes. Stir in the honey. Strain through a fine sieve. Stir the gelatin, and add to the strained tea. Mix well. Pour into a shallow pan (8x10 works well) and chill until solid-mine took about an hour. Cut into squares.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Next Best Thing To Jaffa Cakes

I wanted Jaffa cakes. Unfortunately, I live in Nebraska and since the World Market closed all of their locations in Omaha (boo on you, World Market) I have nowhere to buy Jaffa Cakes. Oh sure, I could order then by Internet-but I wanted them today. So I baked a decent approximation.

I did a double layer of sponge on mine so that they really are more of a cake than a biscuit (oh gosh, no I'm not going to tread into that old debate of "Is it a cake or a biscuit?") though clearly, mine are cake-like. They're also less dry, having been baked this morning.

You will be left with extra cake scraps and ganache so I mixed the scraps with the remaining jelly and squished them into balls. Then, I dipped them in ganache to make Jaffa-esque truffles.

You Will Need:

For the sponge layer:

3 eggs, separated at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Confectioner's sugar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Grease and flour a jelly roll pan.

beat the egg yolks, granulated sugar and water until very light and thick. It should form a ribbon when dropped from beaters.

Gently sift the dry ingredients into the bowl and fold into the mixture.

Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold carefully into the first mixture. Pour into jelly roll pan and bake 8-10 minutes.

Dust a dishtowel with confectioner's (icing) sugar and gently loosen the cake from pan. Invert on towel to cool. If you were making a jelly-roll, you'd roll it in the towel at this point.

Let cool and then with a round cutter, make as many circles as you can. Set aside to be filled.

For the orange layer:

I melted down some blood orange jelly that I had, but you could melt marmalde and strain it, using only the clear part.

Place a small bit on the centre of a sponge cut-out and top with another. Set aside on a rack.

For the ganache:

13 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons corn syrup

Heat the corn syrup and cream until it just begins to steam. Pour over chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Let stand five minutes, then whisk smooth.

Set the cakes on a rack over a baking sheet. You could use the same jelly-roll pan if you'd like to save dish washing. Pour the ganache carefully over and smooth with a butter knife. Real Jaffa Cakes are not chocolate on the sides, but with two layers of sponge, I thought these needed it to help secure them in place.

Set entire pan, with rack into the fridge for at least two hours to set. Store chilled and warm at room temperature a few minutes before serving.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Gratuitous Pictures Of A Cute Kid Eating A Floating Island

When I was a kid, and nowhere near as cute as Danny, floating islands were made from egg whites and sugar-unbaked. Sometimes, you'd get whipped cream instead. I baked meringue cookies, as I had leftover egg whites. This isn't the sort of thing "grown-ups" eat, though my Betty Crocker cookbook from 1950 suggested it as a "company dessert."

This is just chocolate cornstarch pudding with a baked meringue in the middle. Nothing special, but you'd never know that from looking at Danny.

Floating island sounds kind of exotic, doesn't it?

Oh what the heck, here's one more picture:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Thumbprint Cookies

Really more like a soft, rich baking powder biscuit. From Farm Journal Cooking and freezing Cookbook, 1964

I used Concord grape jelly
Red currant
Apricot Jam

You Will Need:

3/4 cup unsalted butter
3 ounces cream cheese
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup assorted jam/jellies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream together butter and cream cheese until light. Sift dry ingredients together and mix well into the creamed mixture.

Roll out into a square about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares. Get your favourite child to make thumb prints in the centre (make sure favourite child washes hands first). Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Fill indentations with about 1/2 teaspoon jelly and bake 20-25 minutes until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on racks.

Pickled Mushrooms

Can you tell I bought a large quantity of bargain mushrooms? I still have a pound left to make pierogi tomorrow.

The technique for this is a bit odd, but easy enough. Don't be an idiot like me-stand back from the boiling vapours as it isn't so nice to breathe. A quick Google search let me know I'd live, and that some people actually deliberately inhale vinegar vapours as a health thing. All I'm going to say on that one is that some people believe trepenation has medical value too-just because people do it does not make it a good idea (though really, if you're into drilling holes in your head, who the heck an I to tell you otherwise. Anyway, about the vinegar-I warned you.

For a no-cook marinated mushroom recipe, go HERE.

From The Women's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, vol. 8

You Will Need:

2 tablespoons of salt dissolved in 4 cups water

1 pound small white mushrooms, trimmed but not peeled
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups dry white wine (I used vermouth because I prefer it in cooking to white wine)
2 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Wash the trimmed mushrooms in the salt solution, drain.

Mix everything else except the mushrooms together in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the mushrooms and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook ten minutes or until mushrooms are softened.

Carefully, lift lid and remove to a dish to cool along with the liquid. Chill a few hours or overnight before serving and store in liquid. Drain before serving.

Vintage Saturday

This wrap skirt is made from an antique sari that was cut into salvageable pieces and backed with new purple material. The old silk is a very dusty, cornflower blue that you can see at the very edge of the hem.

Happy Weekend.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Kasha Kulebiaka

I've made this before HERE, or a version with carrots HERE. Serve it with plenty of thick sour cream and pickled beets.

The kulebiaka is great cold the next day. You can also boil some potatoes and mix them in with the kasha, or cooked cabbage.

Presented Without Comment...

God Gave Me Cookies.

You can comment, of course.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Marinated Carrots

We eat a lot of carrots. Most weeks, we go through a few pounds. Economical, inoffensive and good keepers, a few bags of carrots can add sweetness and depth to everything from salads to dessert.

This dish originally called for green peppers which we did not have this week. It didn't suffer for their absence, and the salad was met with enthusiastic reviews (and cleaned plates after second helpings). I tossed it together last night and let it soak-up all the flavours until tonight. I expect it to be even better tomorrow.

Adapted From Amish and Mennonite Kitchens, Good and Pellman, 1984

You Will Need:

2 lbs. carrots, cut in half and then quartered
1 large onion, sliced in rings and cut in half
1 green pepper sliced (I omitted this)
1 cup tomato juice
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cook the carrots until just softened. Drain. Combine with onion and pepper. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Pour over vegetables and chill overnight.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Baked Pears With Pear/Chocolate Sauce

The family was split on this. Danny and Papa liked it, while I thought it was just too sweet. I didn't take a picture because poached pears just aren't worth fussing over. It was also late.

The pear-infused chocolate sauce was interesting, I guess. The recipe was from The Women's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, 1966.

You Will Need:

6 fresh pears
1/2 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon divided
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Peel quarter and core the pears. Place in a large pan with 1/2 cup sugar, the water and salt. Cover and simmer until pears are tender. Drain, reserving syrup.

Melt chocolate with butter and corn syrup. Add a little of the reserved syrup to the chocolate mixture and mix until smooth. Add to remaining syrup and return to a pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and cool. Chill both pears and sauce. Spoon sauce over pears before serving.

That's Just The Ulcers Cooking-and a Spiced Peach Jam Cake

One of the weird things about having bleeding ulcers (how many cooking blog entries start with a sentence like that?) is a constant feeling of hunger. It sort of feels like the inside of my stomach is being scoured out with a bristle brush. As a result, I tend to crave things like bread and cakes. It does help-for the first couple bites, before the pain returns and I know I won't be eating much more of whatever I've baked. Add to that difficulty with swallowing, and the carbs tend to be even finer crumbed.

Looking through the blog, I have to laugh at the number of carb-dense things I've been baking. They always sound so good until I actually have to eat. I'm reminded of the old Malt-O-Meal commercial of "Edgar, this is your tummy speaking." Except my tummy is riddled with bleeding ulcers and wants cake, not Malt-O-Meal. Actually, does anyone ever want Malt-O-Meal?

So today, the ulcers wanted cake again, knowing full-well that half of it will end up frozen with the rest of the cakes the ulcers wanted. I'm telling you, if company decides to 'drop by", I'm more than set with emergency cake provisions. I could feed the whole county.

Last summer, I did an awful lot of canning, and as a result have plenty of jam sitting on a shelf waiting to be used. Ordinarily, jam cake is made with blackberry jam and a good shot or five of bourbon. Having neither, I went with peach jam and vanilla extract. I really only like gin, and lets face it-it doesn't add much to a cake, though I've seen recipes that use it in frosting.

My only problem with this cake is that it isn't very tall. To my mind, cakes baked in a tube pan ought to have some height, but really I'm just being picky. While it looks rather plain, the spices work nicely with the jam and the result is a very moist, flavourful cake. It also uses up a cup of my lovingly made peach jam.

You could make this cake with blackberry or raspberry jam if you want to keep it traditional. I wouldn't use marmalade or anything with a rind, but keep in mind what spices go well with what fruit. I don't think strawberry or lingonberry would work well with cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Apricot might. Either way, you end up with a nice, moist cake that even the most discerning bleeding ulcers are sure to love.

You Will Need:

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup peach preserves/jam
21/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 2 tablespoons bourbon)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9 inch tube pan.

Beat butter and sugar together until light. Beat in eggs one at a time. Sift the dry ingredients together.

Fold the jam into the butter/sugar mixture. Add vanilla. Alternate the flour mixture with the milk and keep folding in until it is all added.

Pour into prepared pan and place on a baking sheet. Bake 50-60 minutes or until it tests done. Cool in pan on rack, loosen and remove. Cool completely before serving.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cornish Game Hens

These were the first Cornish hens I've made in a good twenty years. It is difficult to find hens that are not from Tyson (which I will not buy) but last weekend, I finally found something that would meet my ethical standards.

When my mother would make them, she used a stuffing of curried rice with fried onions. It was one of the best things she made, and I was tempted to give them the same treatment. After thinking about it, I looked around "the Internets" a bit and found THIS recipe which I used instead. I made a few small changes in the cous cous recipe, and I used preserved lemons because I had them, but otherwise I treated the hens pretty much as the recipe indicated.

They came out lovely. I know you are looking at that picture and thinking the interior looks a bit pink, but it was just perfectly cooked.

One point though-the recipe is for four hens, and I did not get enough drippings to make the sauce at the end as printed. I deglazed the pan with wine instead and then proceeded with the reduction. It was excellent.