Friday, April 30, 2010

Things I Hadn't Thought Of

Out of the blue, my husband exclaims:

"Hey, did you ever notice asteroids sounds like, "Ass Turd Roids?"

Honestly, I hadn't. I wonder, can you get them in Uranus? On SaTURDday?

I don't know...shouldn't he win a prize or something for coming up with that?


There's a new restoration of Metropolis, incorporating 25 minutes that were edited out of the original release. The work was done on an unedited print found in a museum in Buenos Aires. I know this won't end up showing in Omaha, but I would actually consider a road-trip to the nearest screening.

Challah With Saffron

This is my first four-strand braided bread-isn't it lovely? I still can't believe how well it worked. I also used a new challah recipe that called for saffron. I made a few changes such as using both bread and AP flour, and it was well received. I had intended to give it a second wash with egg after ten minutes of baking, but forgot. I think that would have given it an even deeper colour.

Adapted From: Sunset Breads, Step By Step Techniques

2 1/4 teaspoons granulated dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup salad oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Pinch of saffron threads
2 cups bread flour
2-3 cups (or more) AP flour
Egg was of 2 egg yolks with 1 tablespoon water

Soften yeast in a large bowl with the warm water and a pinch of the sugar. When foamy, add the salt, sugar, oil, eggs, saffron, and bread flour. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Add the AP flour a cup at a time until you have a soft dough that can be kneaded without sticking. Knead well. Place in a buttered bowl, turn to coat and cover. let rise until doubled-about 2 hours. Punch down and let rest ten minutes.

You can pull apart enough dough to make a second smaller challah, or two individual sized ones that can be eaten as rolls. Danny likes having his own challah to bless on Friday night, so I always bake a smaller, "Dannycake."

Divide into 4 strands. Butter a large baking sheet. Braid, starting with the strand that falls on the right placing it over, under, over. Start again with strand at the right. Continue until done.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. With rack in centre position.
Let rise while oven pre-heats -about 40 minutes. Before baking, brush with egg wash. You can give it a second wash after ten minutes in the oven for a deeper colour. You;f can take anywhere form 30-40. I baked mine to an internal temperature of 195 degrees F.

Cool on racks.

Beer Battered Onions and Fish

I had not planned to make onion rings, but at the last moment realised I had more batter than the fish needed. You know how it is-you start looking around the kitchen for things to batter and fry, and if your brain works like mine, onions start sounding like the least outrageous choice. Really, it isn't like I'm going to eat it.

The batter is simple enough to do, but you need to plan ahead as it requires a couple hours sitting on the counter before use.

Also pictured along with the fish are carrots with parsley and lemon zest,and kasha with mushrooms and lima beans in sauce. Obviously, they didn't need onion rings to make this a balanced meal. The boys both raved though, and they still ate the carrots.

You Will Need:

1 cup of beer (I used Moosehead. I would stick to cheap beer for this.)
1 cup AP flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarb)
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder (you can use more, I tend to be cautious with the stuff)
3/4 teaspoon salt
A generous grinding of pepper.

Beat it all together in a bowl until smooth (you can use a wooden spoon-no need to haul out a hand mixer). Cover, and let sit for an hour at the least, but preferably two.

Be sure to dredge your fish in flour first-it will help the batter stick. You can just dunk the onion rings as-is. I like to fry in very hot oil so it does not become greasy.Only do a few pieces at a time so that you don't crowd the pan-this really seems to be the trick to successful frying. Drain on a rack over a baking sheet. Serve soon after frying.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Meyer Lemon Individual Pies

I believe the term is, "Hand Pie", but that almost sounds vulgar. Anyway, I baked THIS recipe as individual pies in muffin tins to great effect. The Meyer lemons really worked great-much softer and sweeter filling. Almost tastes like a marmalade/custard.

I'll keep the posting short tonight as we're looking at potentially severe storms tonight. Gosh, I love Spring in Nebraska.

Gratuitous Dinner Photograph

I made ravioli and homemade sauce and it was just too pretty not to share. I've posted the recipes for both before.

Pretty, huh?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Does Anyone Try A Recipe...

...before posting it anymore?

Twice in one week. This is actually kind of pissing me off. This time, it was from Martha Stewart. I mean, you'd kind of expect better, or I would have anyway.

The cookies were inedible. You'd think anything with half a pound of butter would at least taste good, but no-these were ass. I'm sorry, they were. The cookie is so freaking tough it isn't worth risking dental work on (not the candy part-the cookie itself).

It isn't like I have all this extra energy to stand around rolling out dough and coating them in royal icing. I think for the near future, I'll stick to trusting my gut feeling with baking. If it sounds wrong, there's probably a good reason for it.


Fatty Fatt Two By Four...

...bit off a guy's ear on the living room floor.

They never did find the ear.

How About That

I was in the mood for some sweets, and when i saw the bags of Brach's candy on sale for a dollar each, I couldn't resist. A woman was standing in the aisle beside me selecting other candy. As I turned to put the Orange Slices, Wintergreen Lozenges, Kentucky Mints, and Cinnamon Disks into my cart, I caught the woman's eye. She was about my age, and we both started laughing.

"Oh my god, I'm buying old lady candy."

True, isn't it? When you're young, you don't carry around candy in your purse to deal with a dry mouth. I don't think people under forty get "dry mouth." Seems to show up around the same time as those wiry eyebrow hairs that make you look like Brezhnev, and bunions on your feet.

You do realise, I completely skipped becoming my mother, and went straight for granny. If I start developing the annoying habit of clicking my thumbnails together I want someone to shoot me.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fifty Dollar Flannel Shirts

Aw geez.

I want to print THIS article off for my neighbour. He should just get out of farming, and go into fashion consulting. Did you know there's a certain way to roll the sleeves? I'm really worried now-I've just been tossing mine over a crappy old t-shirt, and wearing it with jeans. I had no idea I was supposed to be wearing it with lace. Crap. I hate it when I'm not on trend. Hate it.

Fresh Green Beans, Part Two

This was the last of them. There's enough leftover for Mr. ETB's lunch tomorrow.

You Will Need:

Green Beans, French cut (I used about a quart)
2 large carrots, matchsticked
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, matchsticked
1 bunch scallions, chopped
8 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon sesame oil
5 tablespoons cooking oil
1 heaping tablespoon 5 spice powder
3 tablespoons hoisan sauce
A generous squirt of hot sauce
1 block extra firm tofu, fried (see instructions below)

Combine everything in a plastic ziplock bag and place in a bowl (really, you don't want to chance it, having the fridge reek in sesame oil is a pain). Give it a turn every so often, but let it sit for at least an hour. Overnight is good too. I like planning ahead. The only vegetables I don't like using in a prolonged storage like this are cabbage and mushrooms as they tend to throw off quite a bit of water. Otherwise, feel free to use what you like. Keep in mind, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots will absorb the brown colour and look drab, but if that isn't an issue for you (and really, if it IS an issue for you...well I don't know, you're probably related to my mother)go ahead and toss them in. You can give this treatment to just about any vegetable you have. Maybe not eggplant.

Prepare the tofu ahead:

Get a stack of cotton towels handy-you'll need them. Press the block of tofu gently, but firmly between a towel. Grab another towel and repeat. Slice tofu into four slabs. Press between towels. Repeat with a fresh towel. You'll pretty much follow this routine until the towel is no longer wet when you exert pressure on the tofu. Proceed to cut into cubes (and blot off any additional moisture). Heat a small amount of oil in a heavy pan (I use my cast iron pan rather than the wok, but use what you have). Once oil is hot, add the tofu in batches, turning with a fork until deeply golden on all sides of each cube. Remove to a rack over a baking sheet. Proceed with next batch. When all are done and cool, set on a plate and place in the fridge until needed. Tightly wrapped, it will keep for a couple of days.

Heat a large wok or pan and dump in your bag of vegetables. Cook until nearly done (I cook them a bit softer than desirable because I'm cooking for a young child, but if the grown-ups at your house can manage crisp vegetables, I think green beans are nicer still vibrant. If you think it needs more oil at this point, go ahead and add it.

In the last few minutes, add the cooked tofu, just to give it a coating of sauce.

Serve hot over rice or noodles (I served it over Jasmine rice).

A Nation Of Drunks Choking On Vomit

2,500 of 'em died that way last year.
Well, OK they said "asphyxiation", which could be of the erotic variety ("A ballet skirt!")but I really think they mean drunk and choking on vomit.

Really, I just don't know what's happened to Britain. I mean, sure-alcoholism was always an issue, but not like this. Anyway, FYI-if someone is passed out, and throwing up sit them upright rather than have them lie down.

There's some other helpful first aid advice in the article as well, in case you run across a sober Englishperson (unlikely) and they need your assistance.

Good Tart, Terrible Pastry

It would have been terrible even if I didn't over-bake it. I had a feeling, as I read the recipe and then brought the dough together that it wouldn't work. The subsequent rolling and baking directions were impossible with this dough. I wouldn't usually make a point of complaining, except the crust recipe came from Bon Appetit. Don't they test recipes? I'm not a novice when it comes to pastry, and I'm certain that the recipe was faulty, not my handling of it (except for the burning, but I still set the timer for ten minutes less than their recommended time. If I'd followed their directions, it would have been charred). OK rant over. Use whatever blind baked tart recipe you prefer, but I'm not posting this one.

I should have simply layered the filling and topping into ramekins and served them with a piece of shortbread. In fact, the filling and topping are so good, they really don't need any pastry as accompaniment.

For The Pastry Cream Filling:

2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour (I used Wondra)
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten in a medium bowl.
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a sauce pan, combine sugar, salt, cornstarch, and flour. Slowly, whisk in the milk and cream. Over medium heat, whisking constantly, bring to a boil. Cook one minute longer. Remove from heat. Whisk about 2 ladles full of custard into the eggs, very slowly. Slowly, add it back to the custard and return to heat. Whisking constantly, bring it back to a boil and cool an minute longer after that. Remove from heat. Beat in butter and vanilla. Pour into a bowl, cover with cling film and poke a few holes in the top. Cool slightly, then chill.

For The Rhubarb/Strawberry Topping:

3 large stalks rhubarb, cut up
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup strawberry jam (I had freezer jam which is uncooked, and very fresh tasting. It worked perfectly)
1/8 cup water

Mix together in a sauce pan over medium heat until rhubarb breaks down and sauce thickens. Remove from heat and chill thoroughly.

Assemble in a baked and completely cooled tart. Chill several hours before serving.

Tuna Sub

Years ago, there was a small bakery in East Boston that had a deli-counter in front. They sold a few meat and cheese items, and made takeaway sandwiches. I don't know who discovered the place first (Mr. ETB thinks it was he) but once we started bringing home containers of the green olive salad, it was pretty clear that we wouldn't be making our own again.

One day, on the way home from work, I stopped for a vegetable sub. The woman behind the counter was concerned that I wasn't really getting a meal, so she suggested letting her make me a tuna sub.I have a habit of not arguing with Italian grandmothers (because it is futile-really, you won't win, so you might as well sit down and eat whatever is being forced on you-it'll probably be really good anyway). What I got was a fresh baked roll, smoked Provolone cheese, a whole tin of Albacore tuna packed in oil (dumped directly onto the roll, oil and all) and some of that magical olive salad, chopped up. It was the best sandwich I've ever eaten. I immediately clued Mr. ETB in on the tuna sub and pretty soon he too was eating an entire tin of tuna (oil and all) dumped on a roll with cheese and olives. If it had been a little closer to our end of town, I think we'd have made it a daily stop.

After we moved, I guess tuna just didn't seem worth the bother. I mean, without the olives, and the good cheese and someone to wrap it and hand it to you...well, it just wasn't the same. Ten years passed, and I forgot about it-until Danny asked to try a tuna sandwich. I should mention that Danny has recently become a great fan of fish, so once a week (on Monday) he gets fish for lunch. Last week, I introduced him to the joy that is sardines on toast. Thankfully, he really enjoyed it because now I have a really quick lunch that costs almost nothing. Hooray for sardines on toast!

Because of the mercury issue, Albacore is out of the question, and where I live, tuna packed in olive oil is non-existent. I improvised by adding my own olive oil, chopped olives and herbs. This is in no-way even close to the sandwiches we were getting in Eastie, but for a five year old, it was a pretty good introduction to a fish that has been so mistreated with mayonnaise, pickle relish and all manner of ungodly additions. I remember my mother returning home from some society luncheon in the 70's blathering on about the addition of cut-up green grapes in a tuna salad stuffed tomato. That was around the same time people started adding tarragon vinegar, and avocado to every salad.

What I did here is very, very simple. I only cooked the celery and onions because children don't always chew as well as they ought to. Grown-ups could probably skip that part, though it does give the tarragon a chance to combine with the olive oil.

You Will Need:

1 tin tuna in water, drained
1 stalk celery, trimmed and finely diced
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
2-3 green olives with pimentos, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
Smoked Provolone cheese
A sub roll

Drain tuna and set aside in a bowl. Slice cheese and place on roll. Cook celery, scallions, tarragon, parsley, olives and pepper until celery has softened. Pour into bowl with tuna. Mix well. Spread on roll with cheese and serve still slightly warm.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Stuff You Can Do With Fresh Green Beans

I shop for produce based on price. Some weeks we end up eating cabbage and carrots, other weeks cauliflower. This makes meal planning a bit more challenging, being a household of two vegetarians, but you can do quite a bit with carrots, parsley,and some garlic. By building meals around a protein (fish, eggs, beans, lentils) and a grain, we can eat pretty well for a minimal amount of money. I don't spend very much money on food. We really do eat well, but it does require cooking from scratch, and managing my time.

Tonight, it was chickpeas in sauce, cous cous with dried fruit, and the carrot/green bean dish in the picture. I have a ton of green beans to use this week, but that's fine-they work really well in stir-fry with tofu and sesame.

So what did I do here? At various points through the afternoon (because I can't do everything at once)I cut carrots into matchsticks, French cut the green beans, and chopped scallions and parsley. Some preserved lemon peel, chervil, and thyme filled it out.

I gave the green beans and carrots a quick steaming first. This helped keep the colour and crispness. Right before serving, I heated a bit of olive oil in a large pan, cooked the scallions, parsley, lemon peel and chervil for a minute, then tossed in the steamed vegetables to coat. A couple more minutes is all they need-at the most. Sure, it takes good time management, but I was already in the kitchen keeping an eye on the biscuits in the oven. This is probably the hardest thing when learning to cook. It took me years to understand how long things take (well, we all know that isn't set in stone) and how to coordinate them. Some things can be kept warm, where others can not. Trial and error-you'll learn soon enough if you spend time in the kitchen.

I'm going on at length about this not to brag about my time management skills, but to point out how these things do not come easily. Some blogs would have you think anyone should be able to whip up a dinner wholly from scratch to save money. Sure, that's true, provided you didn't just have a two hour commute home from work, that you have the necessary staples in your kitchen, or even the right pans and utensils. It is fine and well for me to tell you how simple it is to make a sauce from a roux-quite another without a good whisk and heavy bottomed pot to keep the sauce from scorching. Don't get too discouraged by the do-it-yourself crowd. People being people, we tend to think everyone lives as we do. I promise, I'll never sneer at you for using store bought stock, or soup cubes. I'm a big fan of dressing up boxed cake mix. Most people don't bake regularly and have flour, baking powder and other ingredients on hand. I've made perfectly good cakes from mixes, and anyone that turns their nose up at your cake should be told to bake their own damn cake. I mean, you're baking them a cake, right? What sort of an ass turns their nose up at cake? The kind of ass that can bake their own damn cake. You just trust mama on this one, I know about these things.

There's a very real learning curve for most people, and poor Mr. ETB had to endure quite a few pre-made pie crusts and dinners based on condensed soup before I figured out what I was doing. Believe me-he didn't starve. Raymond will back me up on this-Mr. ETB never went hungry when we lived in Boston. He might have been sneaking a second dinner at the sub shop, but he wasn't underfed.

I never would have learned any of this had we not moved out to "the country." Maybe twice a year we have a meal away from home, and it is usually at Hy-Vee. Now with Danny being so allergic, I take our lunches with when we are out for the day. This isn't really as much of a trial as it sounds, but again-it takes planning and good use of time. If I could pick up the phone and order dinner, I would do it. Since I cannot, I learned to cook.

Meyer Lemon Lemonade

Since bags of organic Meyer lemons were cheaper than two conventional ones this week, I bought a couple bags to experiment with. Danny wanted to try lemonade (he's previously been pretty insistent that he doesn't like citrus)and I thought these might be a gentler introduction to tart flavoured things.

The recipe is adapted from the one in Amish and Mennonite Kitchens. It calls for a whole lot of sugar. I mean, really, much too much sugar. Adjust accordingly to your tastes, but really, three cups is overkill. I used two and it was still quite sweet. Make sure you have a large bowl for mashing, and a large pitcher (or two) to hold over 4 quarts of lemonade.

You Will need:

6 Meyer lemons (or 4 regular) scrubbed well
3 cups of sugar (I used 2)
1 quart hot water
3 quarts cold water

Slice and seed lemons. Place in a bowl and cover with sugar. With a potato masher, crush until lemons release their juices. Add hot water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add cold water. With your hands, squeeze each lemon slice to extract pulp and extra juice. Discard peels and pith.

Serve chilled in a pretty glass. I posed that glass with water and ice cubes rather than lemonade because I didn't feel like drinking lemonade and I knew I'd end up spilling it if I re-opened the large pitcher. Still, I like to show off my collection of pretty glasses and swizzle sticks so...use your imagination and pretend it is a glass of lemonade. The stuff in the large pitcher is lemonade. I swear to god, it isn't pee. Really. But the glass? Yeah, tap water. Aren't you glad you read this all the way to the bitter end? The people who come here to just look at the pictures, well, they miss out, don't they? Indeed they do.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Roasted Dandelion Roots

I must try THIS.

I've been unable to win Mr. ETB over to dandelion greens, but I think roasting the roots and using them for a warm drink would be something he'd agree to.

I have at least an acre's worth of the things growing out back.

Severe Weather

The first real storm of the season is setting up at present. Danny was getting a bit nervous, so we put together our emergency kit today, and replaced all the flashlight and radio batteries. Everything we might need is in a bag by the door to the storm cellar. I doubt very much it will be needed (I think sometimes they overreact early in the season, just to keep people on their toes) but knowing what to do, and being ready for the worst is reassuring for a small child. He's in charge of flashlights, should the need arise.

Funny, you'd think after being hit by a tornado, I'd be all paranoid at the first dark cloud, but I'm really not. I'm not ignoring it, but i'm not freaking out either. I really, really hope we don't get hail though. Large hail sucks.

It looks bad from both the South, and the West. Most of our storms come in a path from Columbus, and David City-so I'm not going to spend my valuable time looking out the South window ;)

I really hope we don't get hail. My grapes are just coming to life, and the radishes and lettuces are finally looking like real vegetables instead of weeds.

Sweet Cinnamon Pretzels

These are really just cinnamon rolls dressed-up as pretzels. The nice thing about them is the make-ahead dough. I pulled it from the fridge when I got up, and by mid-morning I had freshly baked rolls. Not bad.

You can see another sweet pretzel I made, HERE. Those are more like a cookie.

The recipe comes from Sunset Breads, Step by Step Techniques

You Will Need:

2 1/4 teaspoons granulated dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
3-4 cups AP flour

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons softened butter
Confectioner's sugar and water for glaze

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in warm milk,egg, sugar and butter. Stir in the first two cups of flour and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the rest of the flour slowly until you have a soft, not sticky dough. Knead until smooth. Place in a buttered bowl, turn once to coat and then cover top with cling film. Set in fridge at least 8 hours, or as long as 2 days.

Remove from fridge and punch down. Roll out dough into a 12x14 rectangle. Cover entire surface with softened butter. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon. Cover half of the dough with it. Fold over and pinch sides together. Cut lengthwise into 12 strips. Roll each strip together, pinching shut as well as you can (there will still be cinnamon poking through-that's OK). Shape into pretzels and place on greased baking sheets to rise until doubled-about 35 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until rolls are golden. Remove to a rack over a baking sheet and drizzle with a glaze made from confectioner's sugar and water. I added parlsocker to give it a more "pretzel" look.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spinach Noodles With Carrots and Preserved Lemon

Can you tell I need to go grocery shopping? This is made from all the odds and ends that I collect in the freezer and vegetable bins. You can easily get your five servings of vegetables a day with a dish like this.

For the noodles:

1 block frozen spinach, cooked, drained and squeezed dry in a towel
3 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg (I used large sized eggs, but honestly, it really doesn't matter)
3 tablespoons water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semolina flour
1-2 cups AP flour
Extra flour for rolling

Beat the eggs in a bowl until light. Beat in the water, salt and spinach until spinach is well-incorporated and broken-up. Add the semolina flour. By hand, mix in the AP flour until you have a stiff dough. Remove and knead until smooth, adding more flour as needed to keep it from being too sticky. The dough should nearly be too hard to knead. Wrap tightly in cling film and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Flour a work surface very well. Divide dough into four pieces and roll each in flour again to coat. Roll out until 1/4 inch thin and cut (I used my pasta machine for the cutting, but it works fine by hand. Drag noodles through additional flour and dry on racks for 30 minutes. Turn noodles to other side (yeah, this is a pain, just go slowly) and dry another 30 minutes. Transfer to plastic bags and keep chilled until needed. Noodles freeze exceptionally well, just make the package as airtight as possible.

To cook noodles:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and stir to keep from sticking. Reduce heat to medium and cook until done (about ten minutes) Drain.

For the vegetables:

6 carrots, thinly sliced
6 stalks celery and tops, diced
2 large sweet onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped, preserved lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (crumbled)
Salt and pepper
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup green olives, sliced
Olive oil

Heat olive oil (about 1/4 cup) in a large pan. Add everything else and cook over medium heat until carrots and onions are soft. Toss with cooked spinach noodles. Top with grated hard cheese if you like.

Apples and Friends-Another Hot Lunch

OK, this isn't true, "Apples and Friends", which is an abomination of a salad with apples, marshmallows and Miracle Whip. Still, I thought the name would be appealing to Danny, though I did have to put on quite a show of the apple chasing the block of cheddar about the kitchen trying to hold hands. Apples love cheddar.

Danny simply isn't fond of eggs, so I try to get them into his diet via French toast. This sort of falls into the French toast category, yet can be eaten as a sandwich.

You Will Need:

2 slices thickly cut hearty white bread
1/2 apple, peeled and sliced as thinly as possible
Cheddar cheese (use as much as you like)
A knob of butter
1 egg
A splash of milk

Heat the butter in a pan over medium heat. Beat the egg and milk in a shallow bowl together. Arrange cheese and apples on slices of bread. Close to make a sandwich. Dip sandwich into egg mixture coating both sides, letting excess run back into bowl. Fry over medium heat until nicely browned on both sides.

Apple Raisin Crumble

For my tastes, this was far too sweet. Mr. ETB really liked it. I'm posting it with the warning that you could cut the sugar by half and it would still be perfectly sweet.

I haven't consumed artificial sweeteners in years, and I suspect this has something to do with why I gauge sweetness differently from people who consume diet soda and chew sugarless gum. The fake stuff is so much sweeter than sugar, it really confuses the palette after a while. I don't do a lot of corn syrup either, so in fairness I can't lay all the blame at the feet of the artificial products (though calling corn syrup natural is a bit of a stretch...)

My apples were somewhat dry, being out of season and all. You may want to add extra liquid if you make this out of season.

Adapted from The Granny Stark Apple Cookbook

You Will Need:

4 medium apples (I used Granny Smith)peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup raisins
2 tablespoons brown sugar (I used homemade, which was heavy on the molasses. Light might have been better)
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon allspice
1 cup AP flour
1 cup brown sugar (again, I thought this was too much)
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 2 quart baking dish. Combine raisins, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, allspice, orange juice, orange zest, and apples. Pour into baking dish. In another bowl, combine flour, 1 cup brown sugar, oats, cinnamon and cut in the butter until you have crumbs. Spread dry mixture over apples and bake 30-40 minutes or until top is browned and underneath is bubbly. Serve warm.

Malcolm McLaren's Funeral

Sounds like it was fun.

A Good (Time Consuming) Activity For Children

Give a young child a clipboard, paper, and a pencil. Send child around the house writing down every item beginning with a single letter. We chose "B", and Danny spent two hours consumed with it. The activity is great as it works on writing and spelling skills.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nine Year Old Arrested For "Threats"

A nine year old mouths off that he's going to "shoot up" a classmate's family business, and is charged with felony terroristic threats.

Unless they think the child had access to a weapon, or the ability to make good on the threats, charging him with a felony is quite over the top. For a state that can't manage their child welfare problems, moving more kids into the system for essentially saying something stupid...sigh. We all know this kid wouldn't be getting charged with a felony if he didn't live in a poor, minority neighbourhood. His parents probably won't be able to hire a good attorney to call bullshit on these charges either.

It used to be the biggest worry parents had sending their kids to school was the odd dodgeball injury. Today, you're lucky if the kid gets through middle school without a criminal charge on their record.

This is almost as absurd as the teen who was arrested and suspended from school for saying a teacher ought to "be flogged."

Obviously, none of these school administrators, or police were ever children.

Paper Mache and Potato Stamping

It is pouring rain today-break out the crafts!

For paper mache:

Two parts hot water to one part flour. Cook for a few minutes to make a paste. Combine with torn bits of newspaper.

I think we'll make masks built up over cardboard that can be painted later.

In other news:
The hot water heater element has been replaced. Woowie! No more cold showers, though in my hurry to get in and finished, I've been skipping conditioner on my hair. To my great surprise, it looks much, much better (and fuller). Who knew?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Butterscotch Oatmeal Crispies

These are from my vintage Pillsbury cookie pamphlet. I omitted the chopped nuts and coconut. I also used regular old fashioned oats instead of quick cooking. I gave them a light sprinkling of sea salt on top before baking as well.

These are nice cookies. Nothing dramatic, but pleasant enough with a cup of coffee. Be sure to chill them really well before slicing and baking.

You Will need:

2 1/4 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups rolled oats

Sift together flour, soda and salt. Set aside. Cream together sugars and butter until light. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Add dry ingredients slowly and mix well. Stir in oats by hand and mix well. Chill dough, in bowl for 1 hour.

Remove dough, divide in half and roll into logs 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap tightly in cling film. Chill at least two hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a few baking sheets. Cut cookies 1/4 inch thick and place about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until tops are just set and edges are slightly brown. cool on racks.

Courgette Salad

My mother ruined courgettes for me. I doubt I'll ever really like them, but this salad is at least tolerable. Oh, I know some of you will think it delicious, which is why I'm posting it. Your mothers probably didn't stew the poor squash beyond recognition with minced dried onions and V-8 juice. Then, there's the disgusting quick bread people insist on baking with it...

You Will Need:

A courgette
Olive Oil
Chopped preserved lemon peel
White wine vinegar
Lemon juice
Salt and Pepper

Mix them together according to taste and amount you are making. Serve over a bed of lettuce.

Monday, April 19, 2010


The problem with privitisation is that private companies are in business to make money. If they can't do something profitably, they won't. Two of the private providers that were hired to manage Nebraska's child welfare system have pulled out of their contracts leaving the state scrambling to find placements for children in foster care. In the absence of an actual plan, they housed the children temporarily at the county jail. As far as I know, the county jail hasn't been privatised (yet).

This probably ought to be shocking, but it just isn't. I wish it were shocking. I wish I still had the ability to be dismayed by the actions of people charged with "helping" the vulnerable-but I've seen it too many times to view it as anything outside the norm for Nebraska. This is just one more incident in a very long list.

End Of Life Directives

I'm at the age where having an end of life directive is relevant, and I'd bloody well expect it to be followed by the hospital*. I had no idea they could outright refuse to honour a legal document. How horrible.

* Within reason. I always joke that I want Mr. ETB to stand over me as they remove life support screaming:
But I wouldn't expect a hospital to insist.

Cream Cheese Dough Update

I had half of the cream cheese dough (scroll down to yesterday's posts) from the turnovers still in the fridge, so I made a batch of rugelach. We all agreed it is better than my regular dough. You must re-chill the dough after forming the rugelach for at least half an hour so the dough won't spread in the hot oven. Other than that, proceed as usual. I used chocolate chips and the leftover maple syrup for filling. Gosh that was good. Luckily, I only had half a batch of dough, or it might have been dangerous.

Next time, I'll try blind baking this dough to use for tarts-I have a feeling it will be rather versatile. It would probably do well with something like curried mushrooms, or carmelised onions as well.

How exciting-two new pastry recipes in as many weeks that have had excellent results.

So You're Calling Calvino A Liar?

Danny didn't believe the moon is made of cheese, so I read him the first story in Cosmic Comics*.

Danny: Is this really true?
Me: Are you calling Calvino a liar?
Danny:(Looking worried and serious) Of course not.I didn't call him a liar.

Someday, this kid is going to find out how I've been filling his head with rubbish, and he'll bludgeon me to death. But eh, until then-good fun abounds.

*And we learned a new word: Peduncle. No, it isn't the friendly uncle that likes kids. A peduncle is a stem that bears a single blossom...and likes kids.

It Depends What Sort Of Serial Killer You Want To Be

Me: Hey look, textured wallpaper is back in style.
Mr. ETB: I can see it having a if you're killing people in your basement and you want to make a statement...
Me: Well no, then you'd want foil wallpaper.
Mr: ETB: It depends what sort of serial killer you want to be.
Me: Sort of a John Waters vs. David Lynch sort of thing.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Oooh, Pretty

Our Anniversary was Friday. Mr. ETB bought me this lovely dish (which I should have polished up a bit before taking the photo, but I was lazy) and a tea kettle. Now I don't need to boil water in a saucepan and I can be sophisticated-n-stuff.

I feel like I ought to bake something really fancy to display on the plate.

You've Lived In The Country Too Long When...

...your reaction to watching The Day of the Triffids is:
"They should have just hit them with Round Up."

I'm not sure what's worse, Mr. ETB's quip, or the fact that he knows what Round Up is.

Apple Raisin Turnovers in Cream Cheese Pastry

Oh, sure-you can fold them in neat little triangles if you like. These are pretty simple, and truthfully, I only baked them to have an excuse to use up more of that wonderful maple butterscotch sauce.

For the dough:

2 sticks unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
2 cups AP flour

Cut butter and cream cheese into the flour until fine. Without overworking dough, squish together and then divide in two. Wrap tightly in cling film and flatten into a disk. Chill several hours.

For the filling:

2 granny smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced
A generous squeeze of lemon juice
A handful of raisins
!/2 cup brown sugar

Toss all together and mix until sugar dissolves.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet.

Roll out dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Each half should make about six turnovers, give or take. Place a bit of filling in the centre of each. Fold up sides and pinch close. Place on baking sheet and pierce with a knife to vent. Brush lightly with heavy cream and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake about 15 minutes or until golden. Cool on rack.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

End Times

THIS wonderful exhibit needs to be brought to Colon, Nebraska. Yes, there's a Colon, Nebraska. This is something we should all get behind.

Yes, I'm a twelve year old.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Homemade Potato Crisps

I served these still slightly warm with dinner. I didn't have any leftovers, so I can't say how well they hold up next day. As we're on the third day of eating borscht, I thought I owed Mr. ETB something different. I also made a pasta salad that they will likely be eating all weekend. I really like to cook in quantity.

These were simple enough to do provided you plan ahead, and feel comfortable deep frying. I used my large enamel Dutch oven, but a small batch could be managed in a cast iron frying pan. The main thing is to really watch the heat, making sure that it comes back up in temperature before doing the next batch. If the oil isn't hot enough, it will penetrate the potatoes and make them soggy.

Use good oil, and be sure to drain them on a rack over a baking sheet rather than on paper towels. Toss generously with coarse salt while still warm.

You Will Need:


Peel and slice your potatoes as thin as possible. I have a very sharp, thin knife that I'm comfortable working with, but you could also use a slicer. I mean, slice them paper-thin. Place then in a bowl of water to cover and set in the fridge for several hours before cooking. Drain them, rinse off any excess potato starch and then (here's the part where you can really see I'm my mother's daughter) dry each chip completely with a towel. Yeah, I know, but do it anyway.

Heat your oil, and in small batches, cook the potatoes, turning a few times during the cooking. Before they are dark brown, remove them with a slotted spoon to a rack. When all potatoes are cooked, send them through the fat a second time until deeply browned. Remove with slotted spoon to rack. Toss with salt, and serve warm.

Cranberry Raisin Strawberry Pie

Hey look everybody-mama cleaned out the freezer!

I figured it was time to use some of my cranberry stash. I had a few strawberries left from making jam yesterday, so I tossed those in as well. The raisins well...I don't know, everyone seems to expect raisins in their fruit pies around here. Really, apple, peach, cherry-everyone wants raisins in it. Since I won't be eating it, I decided to just let people have the pie they want, rather than the pie I think they should have. I view this more as a sign of defeat than maturity. They're crazy for mincemeat as well-what can I do?

I adapted a couple of old recipes from Food and Wine back in 1992 (which doesn't seem all that long ago, really). I'll warn you, the crust was very difficult to work with, even well chilled. I think I prefer my own pastry recipe, but I'll post the one I used in case you're feeling adventuresome. I did swap out vegetable shortening for the lard, but i don't think that would have changed the texture at the rolling stage much. It really is a delicate dough to work with, so be warned.

For the pie filling I used more raisins, omitted the nuts, and increased the flour. I also added strawberries. It came up lovely. If you like a runnier pie, decrease the flour (the recipe called for 1/4 cup and I used 1/2).

It took a very long time to bake, and I had to cover the top lightly with foil for the last twenty minutes, but otherwise it was a simple enough pie to make.

For the pastry:

1 3/4 cup AP flour
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
11 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter cut into fine pieces
2 tablespoons cold shortening, cut small
(about) 3 tablespoons ice water

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter and shortening until fine. Add water a tablespoon at a time and quickly gather together in a ball. Do not overwork. Divide in 2 parts. Roll each into a disk and wrap in cling film. Chill at least one hour until cold.

For the filling:

12 ounces cranberries (fresh or frozen) chopped coarsely
1 cup raisins
A handful of strawberries, hulled and cut in half
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup AP flour

Glaze-1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Fit bottom crust into pie plate. Brush lightly with egg white. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour/sugar mixture in the bottom. In another bowl, combine cranberries, orange zest, melted butter, raisins and vanilla extract. Mix well. Pour into pie plate. Cover with remaining flour/sugar mixture. Place top crust on. If not doing lattice crust, cut slits to vent. Brush with egg wash. Place pie plate on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour or until top is browned and filling bubbles up through vents. Cool before cutting.

Beany Paninni

Nah, I didn't use a press-I just held it down in the pan with a heavy spatula.

What you are looking at is the casserole white bread from the other day, a few slices of cheddar, cooked pinto beans and carrots, and steamed broccoli. Pretty much-all the leftovers in the fridge. Grilled.

With the exception of squash and cucumbers the kiddo will eat just about anything if I stick it between a couple slices of bread. That certainly makes my life easier.

Charges Dropped

Well gee, what a surprise, they dropped the "contributing to the delinquency of a minor" charges against the mother of a 12 year old who was arrested occupying her senator's office.

Original article HERE.

What really steams my cheese is that even with the charges being dropped, there' still a record of her being cited. Having the charges dropped doesn't wipe the slate clean in any way. This was still done as a means of intimidation, and to chill dissent-and the officer that cited her hasn't been reprimanded. That's apparently how things are done-absurd charges are leveled against people and no one is held accountable for it. Swell. But don't let that stop you from exercising your protected rights to political speech.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happy Belated Birthday, Jenn

I fully intended to bake you some sort of disturbing cake to enjoy via the blog-but I blew it! But just you wait until your half birthday...heh, heh, heh.

Happy Birthday, and many happy returns.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Potatoes Anna

This is the first time my Potatoes Anna dislodged easily from the pan and were neither burned nor under baked. Hooray for me! Who's pointing thumbs at herself? Me, that's who. I'm strutting around like a rooster too.

Honestly, I think the only thing responsible for this miracle was using an ungodly amount of butter in a really well-seasoned cast iron pan. Well, that and dumb luck-which is mostly what happens in my kitchen.

Here's what you do (hardly a proper recipe, but eh-whatever)

4 large russet potatoes, peeled and sliced as thinly as possible
1/2 cup clarified butter, melted
Salt and pepper
An oven-proof frying pan

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Using about 2 tablespoons, generously coat the pan with butter. Arrange slices of potato in over-lapping circles (start from the centre) taking care not to leave gaps. Brush each layer with more butter, salt and pepper and then proceed with the next. I got four layers, depending on the size of your pan, you may only get three. that's OK.

Put the pan on the burner over medium heat and cook for about four minutes (you'll hear it sizzling). This will brown the bottom. Place in the oven and bake about an hour or until the potatoes feel soft. Remove from oven (carefully) and let stand fifteen minutes. I recommend leaving an oven-mitt on the handle so you don't forget and go reaching for it.

Loosen edges and bottom with a spatula. Send up a prayer to the kitchen gods and unmould it onto a flat plate (so it doesn't sink in the centre). Slice and serve. Strut around like a rooster and point thumbs at self. You just made potatoes Anna.

Maple Pots de Creme With Maple Butterscotch Sauce

This was the first thing I've really eaten in a couple days. Oh I know, I should have transitioned with something like runny porridge, or clear soup but Oh.My.God.This is delicious beyond words. I really expected I'd manage a bite or two at most-not polish off a whole serving. Must be the healing power of maple syrup. Well no, I'm not healed...but I sure am happy! The sauce alone would be an incredible pig-out food.

The genius responsible for this magical maple pots de happy is Eggs on Sunday. I suggest you go over there right now. Go on, I'll still be here when you click back. Good old reliable Goody is always sitting here waiting for someone to stop by and....oh hey, you're back. Was I right? Is that like a magical place or what? God, how am I going to sit here writing about that sauce without...yeah, hang on, I need more.

Sauce recipe, HERE.
*drum your fingers on the desk for a minute while I feed my face some more maple sauce*

Yeah, OK. That's better. Thanks for waiting.

You really don't need to unmould these. I only did the one for the photograph because I was feeling overly-confident after turning out a perfect potatoes Anna. Sure, it came out of the ramekin OK-but you could just drizzle the sauce on top and serve it simple.

*You know, I'm not really a "look for the silver lining" kind of person (because I'm a fucking pessimist. Duh.) but I suppose the bright side of being chronically ill is that when I can actually eat...the calories don't count. Dudes! The calories don't count.

*OK, the casual visitor to the blog might think this is horrible, but really-I have a pretty good sense of humour about it. And really, not that I was looking for reasons to go on living-but if I were, maple pots de creme would be a rather compelling draw.


Oh, I know-they're "beneficial", and all that. I still don't like them in my house. I've never seen this many bees and wasps this early in the season-they're aggressive too, dive-bombing the kitchen window.

The ants showed-up in the bathroom this year. Those giant water-bug-esque things that live outside are finding their way inside *shudder*. Last night, I lay awake listening to something large (cat? Squirrel? raccoon? (God forbid) in the outside wall scurrying into the attic. I mean, come on-the weather warmed up...get the hell out of my walls. Did I mention the mosquitoes? The flies?

I expect a certain amount of this every year (I mean, we live on a farm, it isn't exactly unexpected) but I've never seen an explosion like this, in April. I have a feeling we're in for some serious grasshopper damage this Summer.

Add to all this the solitary mouse who keeps escaping our traps. Maybe I should invite one of the cats in to earn their keep.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Latex Free Products

If you have an allergy to latex, here's a list of latex free products. I can tell you from experience, the stuff shows up in the most unlikely places.

I have a funny/scary latex allergy story to share.

I was having blood drawn, and I asked the technician to use a latex-free tourniquet. After finishing, she utters a loud, "Oh no, that was latex!" Then, maybe thinking I wouldn't have noticed, proceeds to tell me she used it over my sleeve anyway...while my sleeve was still rolled up to my shoulder! Some people have difficulty accepting fault, I guess.


Big Ben's Twitter Feed.

White Bread Baked In An Oval Casserole Dish

I don't think my mother could have imagined all the ways her old Pyrex dish would be used forty years after she purchased it. Best I can remember, she only used it to make macaroni and cheese. Next to my Dutch oven, this is probably the kitchen item I use most-so today I used it to bake bread.

This is just my regular two-loaf white bread, combined into one very large loaf. I think it came up awfully pretty.

Borscht With Cabbage and Potatoes

...and pretty much everything else in the fridge.

Guys, I am so unbelievably wiped-out, I'm going to just give you the link to the recipe I used (more or less). I doubled the quantity so we could eat it all week ("farts-a-poppin'!"). I also made a huge batch of refried beans, about twenty burritos for the freezer, and an absurdly large loaf of bread. I.Am.Done.

The recipe may be found HERE.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Is That A Hole In Your Head...

...or are you just happy to see me?

You know, it sure has been a long time since I've read an amusing trepanation story. Now remember kids, don't try this at home, but if you do-be sure to eat a steak afterward to compensate for the blood loss.

Chickpeas In Herbed Sauce

When I cooked a pot of chickpeas this morning, I didn't really have a plan for dinner. I did know that I had an unusually full bin of vegetables to chose from, so I seasoned the cooking water to use later as a sauce.

Most of the time, I limit bean seasoning to a few bay leaves-so that I can use them in a variety of dishes. Today, I had only a small batch of beans to cook, and I knew they would all be used in a single dish. If this sounds like quite a bit of thinking to still be uncertain what dinner was going to consist of-you're right. Still, knowing what you have on hand does really start to form a plan in the back of your mind, if not exactly a menu.

I cooked the chickpeas with a whole, unpeeled onion, two cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of dried thyme, a teaspoon of dried rosemary, and three bay leaves.When the chickpeas were soft, I cooled them in the cooking liquid.

Arriving home tired this evening, I was glad to have the main part of dinner ready. In addition to the chickpeas in sauce, I had rice, roasted sweet potatoes and carrots. I don't think anyone left the table hungry.

Chickpeas in sauce:

4 cups cooked chickpeas, liquid reserved
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
A handful of chopped parsley

2 cups cooking liquid from chickpeas
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour

In a large pan, heat the olive oil and add the celery and onion. Cook until onions begin to brown. Add the chickpeas, salt/pepper and parsley. Cook a few minutes longer. Remove from heat. Make sauce.

In a small, heavy saucepan heat the butter until it bubbles. With a wooden spoon, add the flour and cook (about 2 minutes) until foamy. Slowly add the cooking liquid and over medium heat, whisk until it comes to a boil. Cook about 1-2 minutes longer until it thickens. Pour over chickpeas and mix well. Adjust salt and pepper. Serve over rice with roasted vegetables.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Vintage Saturday

I love these shoes-they have a flat ribbon embellishment, and cute little square heels. I think they cost a dollar years ago at a thrift store in Iowa.

The dress was purchased a million years ago (OK about twenty) at the Brimfield fair in Massachusetts, before it became a big affair. I think I bought it with a heap of other dresses off a tarp in the middle of a field. The good old days.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Arthur Is A Smug, Moralising, Prig

We're not fans of Arthur the Heavy Handed Aardvark around here. Apparently, some children (and their parents) love that sort of thing. Colour me surprised.

Anyway, this is an opportunity to share my son's first impression of the Arthur television show when he was about four. Danny had watched about fifteen minutes quietly before turning to me and asking, seriously:

"Mama? What's wrong with him? Is there supposed to be something wrong with him? Why is he like that?"

I love being Danny's mama.

Political Speech

The mother of a twelve year old girl arrested for protesting at Senator Harkin's office, has been charged with "contributing to the delinquency of a minor."

I can't imagine that any judge wouldn't look at this, and decide it is protected political speech, but the police who charged the mother won't ever face reprimand.

Even if it is dismissed in court (which I'm pretty confident it will be) this semi-child abuse charge stays on her record when applying for a job, renting an apartment, and pretty much everything else she decides to do with her life. There's often an assumption of guilt even when the case is dismissed in court. Wouldn't you think twice before hiring someone that was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor? Sounds pretty horrible, no?

I mean, gee whiz-they ought to be giving her a good parenting award for bringing up a child that can think beyond her own life and comforts. I don't think many twelve year olds are that socially aware, and brave enough to occupy a senator's office. I don't know many adults that are.

So uh, enjoy your protected rights to political speech-just don't try using them.

Moosehead Slushie

Really. Funny thing is, I'm really enjoying it. I can't remember the last time I had a beer (OK I'm having half a beer) but I can say, enthusiastically, that I really like Moosehead-so long as it is slightly frozen. You can't let it go too long or it will be impossible to get out of the bottle. Half an hour in the freezer should do the trick. Sure, it ain't elegant but it was 75 degrees F. here today. Break out the frozen beers!

I bought the beer to make candy with, but didn't really know what to do with the rest. If I don't freeze and drink them all, I'm wondering how a Moosehead Bavarian Cream would work? Yeah, I know-I'll probably batter fish with it.

Once a week, I have to take a really awful medication that leaves me nauseated for days afterward. I'm not really supposed to drink, but since I take the medication on Saturday, Friday night is about as far away from "danger" as I can get. So I'm having half a beer...with oatmeal cookies. My liver is probably safe.


Saffron Cauliflower

I always know I've prepared something spectacular when Mr. Eat The Blog mentions it. I don't want it to sound like he takes the cooking around here for granted, but he isn't one to lavish praise on a meal. This dish received a good deal of praise.

Sign me up for the Yotam Ottolenghi fan club. Really, everything I've made from one of his recipes has been astoundingly delicious. I've probably tried a dozen or so of his vegetarian dishes that have run in the Guardian, and they have all been successful-even with the changes in vegetables, oils, etc. I find the dishes to be wonderfully adaptable. I've cooked cauliflower with raisins before (and anchovies) but never with olives and saffron. Knowing this combination works opens up all sorts of other possibilities. This is a million miles away from my mother's boiled cauliflower with (if we were lucky) a pat of margarine.

I used the cheap jar of olives I had in the door of my fridge, added carrots, and served it all over fried hunks of polenta-it was still one of the better meals I've brought to the table. In fact, I made this early this morning knowing I'd be home late, and simply fried the already cooked polenta in a pan while the cauliflower dish re-heated in the microwave. No problems, no trace of "cabbage-y" taste or smell from the cauliflower. After a 100 mile round trip with a sick kid to the doctor today (and subsequent hours of sitting in a too-warm waiting room) I was glad I'd thought to cook this ahead of time.

The hours in the waiting room weren't a complete loss though-they have a large, flat screen television loudly blasting the Disney Channel to a waiting room of newborns and small children. I always like to joke that Danny didn't see television until he was three years old-except at the doctor's office. Anyway, I did get clued-in to what I sense is an important bit of pop-culture. I now know what a "Jonas Brother" is. Apparently, there's like three of them. Brothers. They sing or act or something. Tween girls seem to really like them. When I was a tween I had a thing for the dork at the used record store in Evanston, but he was nice, and always let me know when there were interesting Miles Davis records coming in. He wore knit vests.I was sure we'd be married. I might have wrote his name all over my notebooks or something like that, because what the hell-I was sure I was going to marry him. I hope he found a nice girl to micro-manage his life the way I micro manage Mr. Eat The Blog. The Jonas brothers have nice hair, but I don't think they could pull off the knit vest thing. Anyway, if it ever comes up in conversation (you never know) I'm current on my heart throbs.

Easy Hot Lunch

Really, it took all of ten minutes. If you're going to spend five microwaving something anyway...
Danny was delighted with it, and when five year old Danny is delighted to eat a cup of vegetables, so is mama.

You Will Need:

Olive oil
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
Handful of parsley, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
a few broccoli pieces, and any other vegetables you have in the bin
Dried thyme, salt, pepper, paprika for colour
a small bit of cheddar cheese
A tortilla

In a small pan, heat the oil and cook the vegetables and spices over medium heat until soft-about five minutes. Remove cooked vegetables to the tortilla and add cheese-wrap tightly. In the same pan (don't bother washing it) add the tortilla and cook until browned. Turn, and cook other side.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

And Now Malcolm McLaren Is Dead

Who wants to come over and watch The Great Rock And Roll Swindle?

Geez, he was only 64 huh? I'd have thought he was at least eighty.

Yeah, It Was That Kind Of Day-And Two Kinds of Cookies...Because it was that kind of a day...

I love this picture so much, that I've made it my profile picture. Doesn't Danny look like he's thinking:
"I'll get you someday. Just you wait mother..."
Hard to believe that picture is five years old already. Gosh I've become grey since then., I blame the crying.

So. How are you guys? Everyone enjoying spring? I planted onions today, and I think the lawn ought to get mowed, but I came inside and baked cookies instead. It was that kind of a day. Oatmeal raisin, and chocolate chip cookies with a sour cream dough. I have something like fifteen dozen cookies on hand now. That's OK-the chocolate chip ones do better with some time in the freezer. Danny complained that he didn't like them as well as the Toll House cookies, then polished off three of them. Good thing he didn't like them.

So. Just when I was feeling like crawling back into bed for a good cry, I logged on and looked at the tracker. I'm not sure what the hell the person searching for "Australopithecus Meat" had in mind, but it sure did give me a laugh. Somebody really ought to punk the Tastespotting people by submitting Australopithecus burgers. I dunno, you could call it a "Juicy Lucy."

Okie dokie, here's the cookie recipes.

Both are from Amish and Mennonite Kitchens. I substituted butter for shortening in both recipes.

For the Oatmeal Cookies:

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 large egg
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups AP flour
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup white chocolate chips
2 cups raisins
Extra grind of salt before baking

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease baking sheets.

In a a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Beat in egg until fluffy. Add water and vanilla. Add salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix well. Stir in by hand, the oatmeal, raisins and chips.

Drop by spoonfuls onto greased pans and bake 10-15 minutes. Cool on racks. Makes 5 dozen

For the Chocolate Chip Cookies:

1 cup butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
4 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 packs chocolate chips (I mixed semi-sweet, white chocolate, and milk chocolate)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease baking sheets.

Cream butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs one at at time until well mixed. Add sour cream and mix well. Sift together dry ingredients and add. Fold in chips. The dough is quite soft, so as I made each tray of cookies, I set them in the fridge to firm up-this worked well to keep them from spreading.

Bake 10-15 minutes. Cool on racks. The recipe claims they will be even moister if stored in the freezer first. I'll try that if I don't eat all 8 dozen by myself. I'm having that sort of a day.

Australopithecus sediba

So it IS an Australopithecus. I was confused by the headlines at various news sources screaming : "New Humans Discovered!" Oh wait, some people (well, Don Johanson anyway) think it belongs to Homo genus. Hey, is Richard Leaky still alive? Maybe they could all go on television together, and rip up each other's graphs in a public spat...remember that? That was awesome.

Discovered by a nine year old. Dude, that's some "What I Did on my Summer Vacation" story.

OK, set your watches and we'll see how long it takes before I receive the first comment telling me it is surely a fake, and citing Piltdown as some sort of evidence ("people were fooled! Oh my gosh! Every subsequent fossil must be a fake! Oh my gosh!") OR,I get the really compelling argument that "God made those fossils to test my faith."

I also find it fascinating that the articles I've read describe "walking upright" without using the term, "bipedal." Do you suppose they think it sounds dirty or something? I've always wondered if that's the real issue with teaching human origins in public schools-they'd be forced to say, "Homo erectus."

You're probably correct if you think I sound like I'm in a shitty mood today.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Go Try It On

I like THIS.

The comments are mostly kind, thoughtful, and generally helpful. I of course, would have nothing to ask an opinion on because I stopped caring whether I look idiotic years ago (I wore red cashmere socks over black tights with Mary Janes today. I'm well beyond help). Relevant to my life or not, I think the idea is brilliant, and rather fun to look at.

Missing Link

No, not Internet links. The Missing Link.

Don't tell the Kansans.

Small Batch Plum Sauce

It isn't quite plum season, but I wanted plum sauce and I'd run out of last year's canned batch. What to do? Improvise. This recipe will make a scant pint.

You Will Need:

2-3 large fresh plums (red, black, whatever)
12 whole prunes, chopped, pits removed (duh)
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vinegar (cider, white wine, whatever you like)

Toss it all in a pot and cook the daylights out of it over moderately high heat until thick. You'll need to keep stirring so it won't stick, but the whole thing takes about twenty minutes, so it isn't a huge chunk of your time.

Poppyseed Cake With Orange Curd Filling

File this under: Tastes better than it looks."

I ended up writing. "You Did It" because "Congratulations" wouldn't fit. Danny thought it should say, "Thumbs Pointing At Self", but again, space was limited.

This is the second time I've used a variation of the fluffy white frosting from the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, and I still can't decide if I like it. There's something vaguely marshmallow Fluff-ish about it. Anyway, the recipient was pleased with it which is, what counts, I suppose.

The curd colour came up a bit brown as I used a mixture of Morro, Cara Cara and navel oranges (that was what I had). Against the grey looking cake it was actually rather attractive, but these photographs don't do a very good job conveying that.

For the cake:

Soak 1/3 cup poppyseeds in 1/2 cup water for 2 hours, then drain well.

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups vanilla sugar
The drained poppyseeds
2 1/4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
4 egg whites (1/2 cup total) stiffly beaten (reserve yolks for curd)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 9 inch pans.

Cream together flour and sugar until light. Beat in poppyseeds. Sift together dry ingredients and add, a;ternating with water. Carefully fold in egg whites.

Gently put into pans and bake 30-35 minutes or until cakes test done. Cool 15 minutes in pan on rack, then cool completely on rack. Make curd.

For the curd:

Combine in pan:

1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter

Whisking constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat. When mixture reaches boil, remove from heat. With a ladle, remove about 1/2 a cup to a bowl and one at a time, beat in the egg yolks. Slowly return to pan and return to heat. Cook 1 minute longer until thickened. Strain into a bowl through a sieve to catch any "cooked" bits. Cool before using.

For the frosting:

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/3 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a small, heavy pan bring sugar, water and cream of tartar to a boil over medium heat. Keep covered first three minutes. Remove lid, DO NOT STIR. When a candy thermometer reaches 242 degrees F. remove and SLOWLY, in a very thin stream, beat into the egg whites and add vanilla. Beat with hand mixer until frosting holds shape. Spread immediately.