Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tutti-Frutti Loaf Cake-Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, 1950

I changed the fruit/nut combination, but otherwise followed the original recipe. I really must say, this is a lovely cake. Not too sweet, certainly nothing fancy, but a terrific way to use up extra egg whites. One can only eat so many meringues and angel food cakes. I'm not a quick bread fanatic (I can't stand banana bread, and the like) but this was really enjoyable. It is drier than most loaf cakes, and I can't wait to try toasting a slice for breakfast tomorrow. I know I have a jar of marmalade around here somewhere...

You Will Need:

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg whites (1/2 cup total)
1 cup cut-up raisins and maraschino cherries tossed with 2 tablespoons of flour(or whatever you like. I suspect it would be excellent with currants and caraway seeds)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a loaf pan (9x5x3)

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, cream the butter until light. Add the dry ingredients, milk, vanilla, and egg whites. beat on medium speed of a hand mixer for 2 minutes. Fold in fruit and pour into prepared pan. Bake 1 hour, to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until cake tests done. Cool in pan for 30 minutes before removing (mine came out easily).

Wheat Bread

This is the world's easiest wheat bread, and in this hot weather, it goes through the rises quickly. Since we have tomatoes ripening on the vine, I thought this would be the perfect bread for tomato sandwiches. It also makes excellent toast.

You will need:

1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons granulated dry yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk, scalded
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
4-5 cups bread (strong) flour

Proof the yeast in a large bowl with the water and sugar. Add the milk after it cools to lukewarm, and add the butter. Beat in the salt, and 2 cups of whole wheat flour. Mix well (I use a wooden spoon, but a mixer is fine). Add the bread flour a cup at a time until you have a dough that is no longer sticky and can be kneaded. Knead well until smooth-about ten minutes. Place in a buttered bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with cling film. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled-about 2 hours. Punch dough down, let rest ten minutes, then divide in two. Shape loaves and place in well-buttered pans. Dust tops lightly with flour, then cover with a dishtowel. Let rise another 30-40 minutes, or until nearly doubled. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake the loaves 35-40 minutes, or until they have an internal temperature of around 200 degrees F. Remove from pans and cool on racks. Makes two generous loaves.

Not Exactly Tempura...

...I beer-battered, and fried green peppers, red onions, green tomatoes, and the prettiest Yukon Gold potatoes you've ever seen. I added a bit more beer than usual to make a thinner batter, which worked perfectly. The coating was thin, crispy and golden.

These vegetables were served with sandwiches of homegrown tomatoes (see above), fresh mozzarella, basil, olives and olive oil. I thought about battering and deep frying the cheese, but somehow managed to resist. I mean, you're heating a kettle of oil-might as well make it worth the effort, correct?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Pudding

This is the dessert you make when it is too hot to cook, and you're exhausted. Stale white bread, frozen odds and ends of berries, and sugar. That's it. If you're feeling fancy, make some whipped cream, or a custard sauce to go with it.

Some people dip the bread slices into the liquid, then arrange them in the bowl. That technique will give you better coverage than spooning it over, so if you care about covering every last white space on your pudding, you'd best dip. Me? I spoon, because I'm lazy. This is a lazy person's dessert.

I'm a huge fan of lining the bowl with cling film, because let's face it-the universe is out to get me. Knowing this, I try not to encourage disaster, and cling film really helps hold the damn thing in place. If you're feeling confident, go ahead and skip it at your own peril. Maybe you're on better terms with the universe.

I made this early in the morning for tonight. Give the pudding at least 12 hours to soak up the juice and press into place. I weight it with a large tin of tomatoes (or whatever) atop a plate, which seems to do the trick.

These work really well in individual sizes as well, so go ahead and experiment with the bowls you have. The main thing is to really make sure the bread is fitted closely together, filling any gaps, and then saturated with liquid. Fill the centre with the slightly cooked fruit (I used blueberries and strawberries) and then place more bread on top for the eventual base. Soak it thoroughly with the remaining liquid, cover, and weight it-that's it. The amount of sugar you add to the berries is a mater of taste, but I prefer it rather sweet for this dessert. I'd go about 3/4 cup sugar to 4 cups fruit, roughly. Adjust as you go.

There you have it, a recipe without an actual recipe, but take my word for it-this doesn't require step-by-step guidance.

Summer puddings are even better the next day for breakfast.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mini Aubergine and Lentil Pizzas (and fried potatoes)

I thought about calling these mini pizzas "vegetarian Lahma bi Ajeen-but that's absurd. Similar technique though. I'm going to post the dough recipe, and give you an idea of what topping I used, but unless you have plans for a pot of lentils and quite a bit of roasted aubergine, the amounts I cooked will be worthless for just baking pizzas.

I also fried some potato crisps. Nothing special, but I do feel that it is worth noting the potatoes really need to soak in cold water, in the fridge for several hours before frying. They must also be drained and thoroughly dried. It sounds so simple, but dry potatoes, hot oil, and not crowding the pan really are the secret steps to excellent fried potatoes.

For the dough:

2 1/4 teaspoons granulated yeast
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup warm water
3-4 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Proof the yeast in a large bowl with the water and sugar. When foamy, add the salt and oil. Add the flour, a cup at a time until incorporate into a soft dough. Knead until smooth. Let rise slowly in warm place until doubled. Punch down, and let rise again.

Divide dough into 12 pieces (or more if you prefer smaller sized pizzas). Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Let the rolled circles rise about 20 minutes, then add topping and let rest ten more minutes before placing in the oven to bake. 8-10 minutes should do it, as you don't want the dough to get too dark, or hard. These re-heat well, and are also good served cold.

I topped mine with a combination of roasted aubergine (with cumin, coriander, garlic and paprika), cooked lentils, carrots, red onion and garlic, and some Feta cheese. I also used a bit of summer squash, and raisins...because we like dried fruit used as a savoury. I know, that's strange-but good, really. The aubergine had enough oil and spices in it to keep both toppings moist, but if you choose drier toppings, you may wish to brush the tops of the dough lightly with oil before baking.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tomato Rice Timbales-Gourmet, July 1973

If you're lucky enough to have tomato plants producing fruit faster than you can eat, this is a nice way to use up three large, ripe tomatoes.

The technique for preparing the rice sounds insane, and I nearly skipped it, but I'm glad I didn't. What I ended up with was the best steamed rice I've ever made. I can't imagine making rice any other way, now that I've seen the results from this.

You Will Need:

For the steamed rice:

3 quarts boiling water
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 cups rice
More hot water for steaming (about 1 quart)

Bring the water and salt to a boil and sprinkle in the rice. Cook for 18 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain rice in a sieve. Prepare a pan of simmering water. Place sieve over it, with a tea towel draped over the sieve. Steam 15-20 minutes, or until dry. proceed with recipe.

For the timbales:

preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Have ready a pan, 6 buttered ramekins (6 ounce size) and enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins in the pan.

The rice from above
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons dry white wine

Combine the cooked rice with 2 tablespoons butter and cheese. Mix well. In a small saucepan, cook the tomatoes and 2 tablespoons butter over low heat, with the lid on for two minutes. Remove lid, add wine and tomato paste and cook over high heat, stirring to prevent sticking, until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 5 minutes). Add to rice mixture. Mix well.

Pack mixture into moulds and place in water bath. Bake 20 minutes, or until hot and the tops are golden. Run a knife around the edge, and unmould onto a serving platter.

Mimi-Pot Pies

No real recipe here, just vegetables, baked tofu, and some cream sauce in pastry-but I wanted to show you how cute they turned out. These were baked in a regular, old muffin tin. I should think anyone would be happy to find one of these in their lunch box.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rainbow Learned To Write Like Cindy

I employ the occasional one sentence paragraph, key word being occasional. I should give it more of a try...maybe get a paying writing gig, as it seems to be some sort of Nebraskana...anyway, here goes.

I like to write.

Sometimes, I think stuff.

Funny stuff.

Scary stuff.

Mostly just stuff, like that guy over there, who's thinkin' stuff.

Do you think that guy over there, thinkin' stuff, is thinkin' stuff about me?

Probably not.

I was thinkin' some other stuff, but the editor says I wrote enough.

Oh, ha, ha, ha. We don't actually have editors.

I bought a Fowlers.

And a copy of Strunk and White.

Nah, I'm not going to use them.

I get paid for this.

Dudes, I get paid for this!


Vintage Saturday on Sunday

I have a thing for white, costume jewelery. I know, my inner-grandma is active again, what can I say? I do tend to wear a lot of brown, and white just looks so terrific with brown, or it did in the early 70's which is where my fashion sense seems to be mired.

These cost three dollars, which I admit seems like a lot, but the beads are individually knotted which seems to indicate a somewhat better quality piece of costume.

In other consumer-related news:

I bought a tube of "lip stain", which is another recently re-discovered thing from the 70's (remember the gel crap in the little squeeze tube you could use as lipstick or blush? I loved that stuff). I don't think it looked terribly alluring though. I think... I look like I just ate a strawberry snow cone. Eh, whatever. Anyone that isn't turned-on by the sight of someone that might possibly have been eating a snow cone on a hot, Midwestern day is probably some sort of asshole. Damnit, I guess I really would rather have a snow cone.

Anyway, hope everyone had a nice weekend.

Blueberry Pancakes From Thibeault's Table

These were about at perfect as pancakes get-and there weren't any left. A nice recipe for when you don't have any buttermilk on hand, or anytime, really. The boys loved these. I put the berries into the batter, but that's probably why my don't look so beautiful. This recipe is a keeper.

Recipe HERE at Thibeault's Table.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pasta With Broccoli, Pattypan, Olives and Feta...

-and a ton of garlic. I mean, a whole damn head of really fresh garlic chopped up, and cooked slowly in olive oil with rosemary and thyme.

I took Danny to a new farmer's market this morning in Omaha. For locals, it was the one at Village Point (e). Parking was easy, and although there were less vendors, what we found was of decent quality. We also got there before most of the jerks showed up, though we did get to observe a really doozy example of poor behaviour as we were leaving.

As we were getting back into our car, the woman (late 20's I'd guess, but she had one of those haircuts that make young women look fifty) parked next to us was publicly (and loudly) scolding her mother for not locking the doors to her SUV properly. Then, with great, dramatic gestures, proceeded to aim her little remote locking device at the car to illustrate how she wanted it done. She thrust it into her mother's hand scolding her:
"The black button is for locking, mother."

When we got in the car, I told Danny if he ever used that tone with me, he'd better find a new mother. Really, who speaks to another person that way, much less one's mother? I felt so bad for her. She probably did everything right and still ended up with miss wonderful for a daughter. I hope she at least got some good vegetables out of the trip, since she obviously wasn't getting quality time with her daughter.


I bought four beautiful pattypan squash because Danny adores them, and they were reasonably priced. This week's grocery bill came in at $49.75, which is pretty damn amazing, considering I bought quality cheese, two containers of tofu, and tons of fruit and vegetables. So yay for me, and my budgeting abilities. Believe me, no one is underfed around here (well, OK I am, but it isn't for lack of trying-I mean, I even got up at 1 AM to eat ice cream, but could only manage a few bites. Know what I do like? I like those frozen sugar-water popsicle/ice lollie things in the plastic tubes. No really, I do-sometimes I sit up in bed at night eating one after another, which seems like a perfectly menopausal type of thing to do, but then the dog sits there staring at me, because he's hot too (though not menopausal, of course) and frankly, I think my husband would hit the fucking roof if he knew I were feeding the dog popsicles, even if they are inexpensive. Gosh, that was really off topic, eh?).

So here's what I did, since this isn't the sort of thing that requires a recipe.

I cooked some pasta. I steamed some broccoli. I cooked a head of chopped up garlic in 1/2 cup olive oil with rosemary, thyme and pepper until soft. Then, I added the olives, squash, and broccoli. I chopped up Feta cheese and tossed that in too. I mixed it all with the cooked pasta, and had dinner. Tomorrow, they can it eat cold over lettuce.

I really like the pink frozen popsicle things in tubes, but the blue are pretty good too. Danny's partial to grape and cherry, so I leave those for him. The dog is less particular.

Friday, July 23, 2010

No-Bake Peach Cheesecake in Coconut Crust

The problem with cheesecake recipes is that they all want some ungodly amount of cheese, or sour cream, or condensed milk, or all of the above. I like to make a special dessert for our Friday night dinner (it isn't Shabbos without cake) but I draw the line at five packets of cream cheese! Actually, I draw it well before. Besides, cream cheese is expensive these days, and five packets turn it into quite a fancy dessert.

I improvised, with pretty good results. There was no possible way I would be convinced to use the oven in this weather, but I've had rather good success with stabilised whipped cream over the years-why not in cheesecake? I did toy with the idea of using gelatin, but I thought that might be getting into chiffon/Bavarian territory, and then I'd have to cook eggs. This was much, much easier, and I didn't need to waste my precious ice cubes for an ice water bath to cool custard.

I'm going to give aproximate amounts because it will depend a great deal on what sort of cheese you use, what the weather is like, what sort of confectioner' s sugar you have, etc. I can assure you, from experience, if you make extra whipped cream you will be unlikely to hear much complaint. I can honestly say, in all my years of baking for this family, I've yet to hear anyone whine:
"Mama made too much whipped cream! Now, we'll have to eat it all!"

The topping was just some over-ripe peaches, lemon juice and ginger cooked until thickened. I have extra of that as well, but I'm sure it will find the way to some toast at breakfast.

You Will Need:

For the crust:

2 cups well-toasted sweetened coconut flakes
4-6 tablespoons melted butter

I toast coconut in a pan over high heat on the stove, stirring with a wooden spoon. Again, you can light the oven and do it on a tray...but you don't need to.

Combine enough of the butter into the coconut to make a mixture that will stick together and press into a 9 inch spring form pan (you can of course use a larger or smaller size, the height will be slightly altered, but no terrible problem there). Chill while you prepare filling.

For the filling:

20 ounces (2 1/2 packets) full-fat cream cheese
2 cups heavy cream, whipped
1 cup confectioner's icing sugar (I prefer cane sugar for stabilising whipped cream, and I use a brand that includes cornstarch which also helps)
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip the cream until soft peaks form, then beat in confectioner's sugar until stiff. In another bowl, beat the cream cheese with cinnamon sugar and vanilla until very light. Add the whipped cream and beat on high speed with a hand mixer until smooth. Pile into prepared spring form pan, and chill several hours. Top with fruit preserves, or topping as desired before serving, with extra on the plate.

Griddle Corn Bread

The other day, I made a large batch of the green beans, and tonight we ate the leftovers cold with these corn pancakes. I wanted something very thin and crepe-like to soak up the salad, but you could make a thicker batter using 1 egg, or even replacing the buttermilk with sour cream. The boys devoured them, and wanted to know if they are difficult to make (they are not). That's usually a good sign they'll be requesting a dish again soon.

The heat is expected to break for a bit over the weekend, but I still don't feel inspired to light the oven any time soon. I don't really feel inspired to eat anything any time soon, though I did recently re-discover how much I like puffed wheat cereal. That's a nice, non-challenging dinner for me. I've also re-discovered how much I like Richardson's Pillow Mints (no, they aren't paying me to say so). They're still made with sugar, not corn syrup, and they aren't painful to eat like an Altoid. I just looked at what I typed-puffed wheat and pillow mints. Geez, I really am turning into my grandmother.

You Will Need:

1-2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon bicarb
1/4 cup AP flour
3/4 cup corn meal (not the coarse stuff used for polenta, just the plain stuff)
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat together the eggs, milk and bicarb. Sift together dry ingredients and beat-in. Beat the butter in.

Grease a griddle, and heat it well (I used my cast iron pan). Fry as you would pancakes, turning to brown on both sides. I served these with strong flavoured molasses at the table.

What Courtney (Love) Wore Today

Presented without comment.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Goody Solves Your Problems

There's a new electronic device on the market for parents to manage how much television their children watch, and how much time they spend playing electronic games.

I'm not sure I'd take to heart the studies suggesting your child will be obese, stupid, grow a second head, and turn into a pumpkin if they watch too much telly, however you need not spend perfectly good money on a device to do what God already gave you two hands for;
switch off the box, pack it up, and return it to your child when you have sufficiently established enough trust in said child to permit them "screen time" without an electronic nanny to do your parenting for you. Very long run-on sentence (sorry) but consider your problem solved. Note, monitoring your child's activities via an electronic nanny probably won't help establish that parent/child trust bit, but it will probably get them ready for the world of work. You have to weigh the benefits, I suppose. Someday the IT person will be reading their emails, and see them surfing porn at work.

Why the devices anyway? If you can take the time to select which shows/games are appropriate and permitted for your child, isn't it simple enough to express that to them without resorting to locking devices and timers? I mean, I wanted to watch Dark Shadows as a child, but wasn't permitted. I can't imagine disobeying, and watching it anyway. My mother would have killed me. Wait, let me repeat that: my mother would have killed me. No television show would have been worth enduring listening to her scream at me for however long her stamina would permit (and she had surprisingly good stamina for screaming, what with all the heart attacks and such). No, you just didn't pull that sort of nonsense-and I seriously doubt any of my friends would have either...because their mothers would have killed them. You get the idea then? Good. Problem solved.

And if you'd please,

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Individual Flourless Chocolate Cakes With Chocolate Gelato

This is a nice dessert when you don't want many leftovers. Perfect for mid-week.

For The Cake:

4 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 unsweetened cocoa powder

Grease an 8 inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small, heavy pan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar. Whisk in the eggs. Whisk in the cocoa without over-beating. Pour into pan and bake 25 minutes or until a thin crust forms on top. Cool ten minutes, in pan on a rack, the remove from pan and cool completely. When cold, cut into rounds with a doughnut cutter, or deep cookie cutter. You can also simply cut it with a knife into wedges.

For the Gelato:

2 cups whole milk
5 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons corn syrup
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 lb. dark chocolate
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Chop chocolate finely and sift powdered cocoa into a large, heat-proof bowl. Set a fine sieve over it.

Heat the milk until it steams. In a heat-proof bowl, beat the egg yolks with the corn syrup and sugar until light. Slowly, add the milk to the egg mixture. Return to the stove and cook, whisking until it reaches 175 degrees F.

Strain through the sieve into the chocolate mixture. Whisk until smooth. Place bowl in ice bath until mixture cools. Pour into a freezer tray and stir every 30 minutes until finished (about 2 hours). Transfer to a freezer container to ripen. If you have scraps from the cakes, chop them up and fold them into the gelato at the last stir.

I served this with lashings of chocolate syrup and cherry syrup.

For the chocolate syrup:

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup powdered cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine sugar and water and bring to a boil. Whisk in cocoa and cook over medium heat until desired thickness. remove from heat, whisk in the vanilla. Pour into a clean jar and store in fridge-lasts about a week.

Vegetarian Klops (Casserole)

This makes a gigantic casserole of food, which is great as it reheats well in the microwave. Perfect for the lunch box. I haven't tried freezing it, but I suspect if you skipped the topping and just added that before baking, it would do fine. There are many, many recipes that are called, "klops." Some have nuts, others omit rice. You can easily switch out and substitute the lentils, grains and vegetables. Casseroles tend to be rather flexible.

You Will Need:

1 cup dried brown lentils soaked overnight
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 cup brown rice
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 large carrots, grated fine
Olive oil for frying
1 large courgette, diced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons sweet paprika
Salt and pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup soft breadcrumbs
3-4 pats of butter

To cook the lentils:

Place drained lentils in a small pot with the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, skim foam and reduce heat to simmer. Cover, leaving room to vent and cook until tender. Meanwhile, prepare the rice.

For the Rice:

Bring 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock to a boil. Add the rinsed rice and cover. Reduce heat to simmer and cook about 45 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Toss with cooked lentils and set aside.

In a large pan, fry the onions and garlic in a few tablespoons of oil. When soft, add the carrot, courgette, parsley, and spices. Cook only a few minutes to coat the vegetables. Remove to a large bowl, and toss with lentil/rice mixture. Mix in the eggs. Pour into a well-buttered casserole dish (at least a 2 quart). Gently (over a spoon) pour on the remaining vegetable broth, and bake in a 375 degree F. oven for 35 minutes. Toss together the breadcrumbs and cheese, then spread atop casserole. Dot with butter, and bake ten minutes longer, or until nicely browned. Serve hot, or cold with sour cream.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Diet Yoghurt... the devil's handiwork. Blech, what completely vile shit-how does anyone eat it?

I was lured-in by the inexpensive price-sakes alive, they shouldn't be permitted to give it away. The stuff is poison. I'm not convinced it is actual food.

I managed a couple spoons before pouring it down the drain. I really hate to waste, but I think that was an act of self-preservation. There must be a better way to get calcium.

Vile, I tell you. Vile!

I Write Like Margaret Atwood

-according to THIS fun link.

Via Grannymar.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Why So Angry?

We had a few errands to run in town today. The weather has been beastly hot, so we made a quick run into West Omaha.

Why is everyone in West Omaha perpetually angry? I don't mean the annoyed angry people get when the need to stand in line-I mean angry. Hostile, mean, crazy angry. I don't know what goes on in their churches around here on Sunday, but all the nicely dressed, fresh-from the house of worship parents and children looked like they were ready to kill someone (which , coming from church they probably ought to know is generally frowned upon). You have a day to spend with your family-can't you take a deep breath and try to enjoy your children?

Don't misunderstand-I'm fully in favour of anger. Anyone that has spent time in my company has heard me (frequently) lose-it over some outrageous example of stupidity, or rudeness. You don't want to know the sorts of things I scream at cars when driving. No, I'm not one to refrain from anger-but it isn't a constant state. I scream at the idiot in his car passing me on the right at 90 mph, and then, I'm over it. I don't stomp about like some sort of boorish, spoiled child day after day. It must be exhausting.

I do my best to avoid West Omaha, but on the occasions when I'm forced by weather, or convenience to do errands there, I find that speaking to people in a voice you would ordinarily reserve for a slow three year old is rather effective.

Me: (to woman talking on iPhone next to blueberry display, of which she has already selected hers from) Excuse me.

Simple enough request, correct? I was polite.

Mind, I made eye contact-she heard me, knew I was speaking to her, and continued chatting as though I did not exist, or merit a response. She was in her church clothes, and had what looked like one of those expensive streaky hairdo jobs. You know what people around here consider a, "nice person."

So I employed the speaking to a slow child tone, complete with high-pitched, sing-song-y pattern.

"Pardon me, but you see, other people would like blueberries as well."

Well, that got an angry scowl, but she did move along, and at least an angry scowl acknowledges me as a human being, so I take it as a sign of progress. I would never think to speak to an actual child this way, but now I find it useful for dealing with fifty year old middle class women in West Omaha.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Yotam Ottolenghi's Chermoula Aubergine

Danny greeted Mr. ETB at the door tonight with:

"Mama made a sumptuous feast."

I'm not sure that's an exaggeration. I substituted cous cous for the bulgar, and I added some cooked French lentils, otherwise, I prepared the chermoula and aubergine as in the recipe. The results were fantastic (as his recipes always are. Good thing I don't live in London, or I'd be at his restaurant every day and gain three stone in the first month.) You think you dislike aubergine (I know, I know) but this one is different . Really, it is. The chermoula recipe alone is worth bookmarking the page.

Recipe may be found HERE.

I swear, Danny tucked into the eggplant like it was macaroni cheese. It was sumptuous.

Blueberry Gingerbread With Bluberry Cream and Sauce

The light in here is terrible at the moment, as we recently had a mishap, for which the person responsible is really awfully sorry, and has offered to pay for the replacement of the glass top to my table. It took out the overhead light as well. Were I in charge of the world, I think I'd do away with glass altogether, but until then, or at least until the fixture is replaced, you'll have to bear with my inadequate photograph lighting. If you know anyone in my area that does antique glass restoration, I'm all ears.

This cake, I swear I folded the blueberries in, yet they promptly sunk to the bottom of the cake. I even tossed them with flour first. It is still a very attractive looking cake, and rather simple to put together as well. I made a few changes to the recipe (replacing golden syrup for molasseses, increasing some of the spices) but overall, I followed the recipe and the results were nice (save for the sinking berries which is no fault of the author). I also did not sift onto a piece of waxed paper as indicated in the recipe, using a bowl instead. I hardly think it matters, but I drop everything I touch these days, and fumbling with waxed paper wouldn't work well for me. I've made nearly all the cakes in this book, and while a few were less than perfect, the majority were really nice, not-too fancy cakes. I'm pretty sure I've said this before, the book is well worth the price if only for the wonderful apple spice cake which has become a family favourite. I strongly encourage you to seek out the book if you enjoy baking cakes that are lovely without being overly fussy.

The sauce was made from a cup of leftover blueberries, some sugar and water. When the berries were soft, I forced it through a sieve to catch the seeds and then chilled it until it gelled slightly. The whipped cream, is simply heavy cream whipped with icing sugar to stabilise it, and then a bit of the syrup mixed in. If I'd been thinking, a slice of ginger in the berries would have made the whipped cream a nice compliment with the cake, but I only thought of it after the fact.

For The Cake (from Country Cakes, by Lisa Yockelson)

1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2/3 cup blueberries, picked over
1/2 cup unsalted butter softened at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons vanilla sugar, or plain sugar
5 tablespoons light molasses (I used Golden Syrup)
1 extra large egg at room temperature
2 extra large egg yolks at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8 inch springform pan and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Remove 1 tablespoon and toss the blueberries in it. Set aside. In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the sugar, and beat another 2 minutes. Beat in molasses/syrup. Add the egg, and beat it in. Add the yolks, and beat them in. With the mixer on low speed, add half the flour mixture, then all of the sour cream, then the remaining flour. Fold in the berries. Pour into pan and gently push the batter about 3/4 inch up the side to keep the cake level as it rises. Place the cake on a rack in the lower third of the oven (I put mine on a baking sheet-just in case) and bake 40-50 minutes or until it tests done, and cake pulls slightly away from sides. Cool 10 minutes on rack. Remove ring, and then cool completely.

The Happiest Music On Earth

Danny, out of the blue:

"Mama? Mama? Can I get an accordion and lessons? You know, if you have an accordion, you have a party."

I won't dispute that, I'm just a little shocked to hear it out of my five year old. So Internets, if you know an accordion teacher in Eastern Nebraska that you think would be a good match for the future Big Dan The Polka Man, let me know via the comments, or email.

Roll out the barrel, we'll have a barrel of fun...

Carrot and Summer Squash Salad

This salad is best warm, or at room temperature.

You Will Need:
A generous splash of olive oil
5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
1 medium summer squash (courgettes are nice)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 tablespoons preserved lemon peel, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped

Spice Mix:
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder (or if you prefer red pepper flakes to taste)
1 heaping tablespoon ground, sweet paprika
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the carrots, garlic and preserved lemon peel. Cook for a few minutes until carrots begin to soften. Add the spice mixture and then the squash. Cook only a few minutes more (so the squash does not turn to a mushy mess) and toss with chopped parsley to garnish.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chewy Breadsticks

These breadsticks are so quick and easy to make, I don't know why I rarely bake them. They also freeze and reheat-so make a bunch.

Adapted from, Sunset Breads, Step by Step Techniques

You Will Need:

2 1/4 teaspoons granulated yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon honey
5-51/2 cups AP flour
Melted butter
Coarse salt (garlic salt, seasoned salt, Kosher salt, etc.)
Assorted seeds (poppy, onion, sesame)

Proof yeast in water until foamy. Stir in honey and a few cups of the flour. Beat in remaining dough until it is no longer sticky and can be kneaded. Knead really well until very smooth. Divide into quarters, then eight pieces each. Roll each piece into a 10 inch rope and place 1 inch apart on a greased baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Let sticks rise 15 minutes, or until puffy. brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and seeds of your choice. Bake 15 minutes, or until golden. Cool slightly on racks before serving. Makes 32 breadsticks.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cold Salads For A Very Warm Evening-Rice Salad

The heat index was 117 degrees F. today. I was outside for no more than two minutes with the dog, and I thought I might die. That sort of a comment, coming from a person that spent 24 years living in Chicago gives you some idea of how miserable it is here. Now the thunderstorms are rumbling through, but at least it will cool things down a bit.

I made an assortment of cold salads, deviled eggs, fish salad, griddle scones, pickled items, etc. to have as a sort of indoor-picnic. I'm not going to post a recipe for pasta salad (I used everything I had on hand, including a tin of hominy)because any idiot can make pasta salad, but the rice salad was pretty special.

For The Rice Salad:

2 cups cooked, cold Jasmine rice (or any rice you have)
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
1/4 cup raisins
Salt and pepper to taste
2 heaping tablespoons paprika (Sweet)
2 tablespoons minced, dried onion
1 teaspoon dried minced garlic granules (yep, haven't been shopping in a while)

Combine rice, carrots, parsley, raisins, onions and garlic in a bowl. Mix together the oil, vinegar and paprika. Mix with rice and vegetables. Adjust salt and pepper. Serve well chilled.

Cole Slaw With Cooked Mayonnaise

I was editing the photos from dinner, when I began laughing. Mr. ETB looked over at the photo of the coleslaw, and laughed as well. I swear to god, it didn't look that way at the table. The lighting, the camera, the Universe having a laugh-I don't know. I do know that I'll never be able to make it again.

Judge for yourself:

Yeah, that's what we thought as well. If you think you can get past the appearance (after my making the situation all the worse) here's the recipe for the mayonnaise, which isn't really a proper mayo at all. I wouldn't even describe it as a salad cream. I can describe what it looks like, but then almost certainly no one would want to make it, though admittedly, based on the search queries that bring people to the blog, I seem to attract a fair number of degenerates.

You Will Need:

1 large egg
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup cider vinegar

Combine egg, sugar and flour until well blended in a small saucepan. Add 1/4 cup of the water and whisk until smooth. Add the vinegar, and remaining water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil until thickened. Cool before using. Don't take photographs of the end result.

Beard On Bread Scones

It is too hot to light the oven. These scones are made on a griddle (or a cast iron frying pan in my case) and are really pleasant tasting. Danny had one for tea with butter and jam. He would have eaten the whole batch, had I permitted it.

You Will Need:

2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Buttermilk or sour cream (I used sour cream)

Combine dry ingredients, then add just enough sour cream to make a soft dough. Heat your griddle to medium, then bake until browned on one side, turning and repeating until done. I gave the sides a bit of baking too, but you really need not bother. The scones can be reheated by splitting and toasting them, or eaten as-is.

Ginger Plum/Star Anise Ice Cream

If you like ginger, this is the ice cream for you.

You Will Need:

For the syrup:

2 red plums, chopped with skins on
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4-5 tablespoons chopped stem ginger
2 star anise pods

Bring all to a boil, then reduce and simmer until plums are pulp. Force through a fine sieve to extract most of the juice leaving behind the solids and fibre part of the plums. Cool.

For the ice cream:

4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
Half of the plum/ginger syrup (reserve the rest for limeade, or an interesting iced tea)

Whisk together the eggs and sugar until light. Heat the cream and milk until steaming. Slowly whisk into the egg mixture taking care not to scramble the eggs. Return to pan and cook until 170 degrees F. Strain into a heat proof bowl. Add the syrup and place the bowl into an ice bath. When chilled, process in an ice cream freezer, or by hand with a freezer tray (that's what I did). Makes about 1 pint.

"It's About" Looking Like A Strumpet

I loathe the expression, "It's about." Drives me into a fucking rage, it does.

Someone (or a consortium of people who decide what something is about) have decided we all need footwear. No really, they have. True, they are probably the same people that decided a few seasons back that it was all about the rubber clown shoes, but they've moved along and now it is heels, gladiator sandals, platforms, geez, you know they're just making this up to sell shoes. You know that, correct? How can it possibly be all about everything? Isn't it the nature of an idiotic expression proclaiming something to be not simply about, but all about to have some sort of exclusivity? It can't be all about everything.

It's all about looking like a strumpet then, is it? Not that there's anything wrong with that, if it is your actual employment situation. It looks a bit silly on women my age wandering about the Target in West Omaha, or Hy-Vee. I mean, if you're going to dress like that, you should at the very least, go to the library or something. I'm constantly approached at the library, which Mr. Eat The Blog thinks is really positive that I attract readers. I suspect a good many of them are homeless.

"Strappy heels are dominating shoe fashion." Well, yes, I suppose. I think what they really meant to say is "strappy heels are dominatrix shoe fashion", a subtle but important difference.

Now, if you'd please:

Get off of my lawn!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bastille Day Cookies

Sometimes, when I post these things I wonder when I'll get, "the letter." You know, the letter that reads:

Dear Mrs. Eat The Blog,

We put it to a vote and it was unanimous. We'd like it very much if you'd leave Nebraska now, please.

Cinder Toffee/Honeycomb Ice Cream

If you've ever wondered about the feasibility of making cinder toffee on a hot, humid day-here you go! I thought it would turn out gummy, but the results were good, and I quickly moved it to the fridge to chill before mixing into ice cream. You need to work fast, but that's generally true of most sugar candies. I did let it cook ever so slightly longer to account for the high humidity-but really, watch it as the stuff can go from a nice golden colour to burnt rather quickly.

The ice cream is essentially the caramel ice cream I made HERE with golden syrup replacing the corn syrup. Once you are at the last stir, fold in the chopped bits of cinder toffee. You can of course coat the pieces in chocolate first, but I think that is a bit much for ice cream. I'm sort of amazed any of the candy made it into the ice cream as I have ZERO self control around the stuff. I've eaten quite a few pieces so far, and am considering making a second batch just for nibbling. I'm afraid the Lyle's Golden Syrup is about to become shit, as it has been purchased by an American company. Mr. ETB sarcastically said they'll start making it with corn syrup, and put it in a squeeze bottle, but I fear he may be pretty near the truth on that one. Anyway, eat up if you are at all nostalgic for the stuff.

For the cinder toffee:

5 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon bicarb (baking soda)

Melt the sugar and syrup together until liquid. Boil until it has a nice, deep golden colour (watch that it doesn't burn). Remove from heat, quickly whisk in the bicarb, and pour it without stirring onto either parchment, or a sillicone mat. Do not attempt to spread the mixture or it will deflate.

When cooled, break into pieces.

Ginger Beer Day Two

OK, we're bottled. I have no idea if it is supposed to look that cloudy, or if it settles to the bottom after a couple days (anyone?). I left plenty of extra room because I'm not in the mood for a ginger explosion.

Updates as it progresses.

Caramel Apple Pie-Better Homes and Gardens Pies and Cakes 1966

The only change I made to the recipe was using golden syrup in place of dark corn syrup, and using toasted coconut for the topping in place of walnuts.

I always wanted to try a pie crust using cooking oil. This one rolled out easily, and while it isn't as nice as an all-butter pie crust, it isn't bad at all. In fact, for a beginner, it might be a good crust recipe to start with. I don't think it would ever become a favourite, but it does work, and the results are surprisingly good.

For the All-Oil Pie Crust:

2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons cold water (the recipe says 4 or 5, I used 4) or milk
1/2 cup salad oil

Sift together the flour and salt. Add the water or milk to the oil and do not stir. Add all at once to the flour and toss lightly with a fork. Gather into two balls, flatten and roll each out between waxed paper.

For The Caramel Apple Pie:

6-8 tart apples, pared, cored and sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons AP flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/3 cup dark corn syrup (I used Golden Syrup)

For topping:
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons AP flour
2 tablespoons softened butter
1/4 cup dark corn syrup (or golden syrup)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (I used toasted coconut)

Arrange apples in a lined 9 inch pie plate. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine, sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, cinnamon, salt, melted butter and syrup. Mix well and spread over apples. Top with second crust and cut slits in it to vent. Bake 40 minutes or until crust is golden. Place pie plate on a baking sheet to catch drips and combine in a bowl the brown sugar, flour, butter and syrup. Mix well and spread on top of pie crust. Sprinkle with coconut or walnuts and return to the oven 5 more minutes, or until topping is bubbling.

Tuli Kupferberg Dies at 86 Years

Break out yer Fugs records to celebrate Tuli's life.

I don't have time or room to reprint the entire 1001 Ways To beat The Draft, but here are some of the better suggestions:

Grope J. Edgar Hoover in the silent halls of Congress

Castrate yourself

Start to menstruate (better red than dead!)

Replace your feet with wheels

Get muscular dystrophy when you're a kid

Join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade

Stretch yourself on a rack so you become over 61/2 feet tall

Marry Mao Tse tung

Stamp your foot in the ground like Rumplestiltskin and refuse to eat until our boys return home from Vietnam.

Declare war on Germany

Tell the Army psychiatrist if he doesn't let you into the Army, you'll kill him

Wear pants made of jell-O

Tell the draft board you're sending your mother to Vietnam to fight in your place

Learn to talk with your anus

When the doctor tells you to spread your cheeks, let him see the firecracker you placed there beforehand.

Develop bleeding stigmata

Run for Congress on the platform that Red China should be invited to send its surplus population to colonise new York and Arizona.

Develop an otherworldly metaphysical system and live by its precepts.

I See London, I See France...

...I see a mannequin without any pants!

Ah yes, Beatrice, Nebraska. I don't even really need to do a post about it, or explain further-the article captures it so perfectly.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Paper Planes

I think these are pretty impressive. Danny's awfully proud of them, and they fly as well. The book is really detailed, so unless you're a serious paper plane geek, you might want to pass.

Ginger Beer Day One

I'm using Nigel Slater's recipe HERE.

I always get odd look from Danny when I make something like this.

"Is this some sort of ethnic thing your Granny made?"

I've threatened him with boiled meat, and overcooked vegetables so that he can have something legitimate to complain about. The child isn't what I'd describe as a timid eater, but something about drinks he can't readily identify the contents of freaks the boy out. You should have seen his reaction to barley water. I don't know how the child arrived at anything he dislikes, or finds too challenging to eat being labeled "ethnic". I mean, he's fine with curries, spaghetti, Mexican food, and Chinese stir-fry. He doesn't call those ethnic cuisines. I find this really amusing, and probably a positive sign he's accepted non-Western foods as the norm, and traditional Western fare as ethnic.

As far as I know, my Granny never made ginger beer, but she did have a fanatical appreciation for ginger ale, though she also had a fanatical fear of foreign contents showing up in bottled goods, and as a result only purchased light coloured fizzy drinks (true story). She also set the table for the next meal immediately after clearing the dishes. As a result, there was always a perfectly set table of Jadeite dishes whenever you happened to show up. I haven't started doing that, but I rarely buy cola, and I'm awfully fond of Jadeite tableware. I'm probably channeling her. I do match my handbags to my shoes.

I'll keep you posted with the progress over the next few days. I'll probably end up consuming most of it on my own as Mr. ETB is now suspicious of anything I "brew" after having a swig of the rhubarb infused vodka. Something about it tasting like distilled grass clippings...I don't know. That's pretty rich coming from someone that drinks grappa.

Dumpling Factory and Austerity Tips

I made dozens of dumplings today (well, I did can all that plum sauce-we needed dumplings) and have a good supply in the freezer for unanticipated dumpling emergencies. Yeah, like you never have unanticipated dumpling emergencies, right?

I've been doing quite a bit of cooking and freezing (dozens of ready to nuke burritos, curries, etc.) so they boys can help themselves to simple dinners, and lunches. This works out well as I've been kind of busy of late.

Anyway, my big discovery is that you can use what we always called "baby pasta" (the small round dots) in dumplings in place of ramen noodles. Because the noodles are all made in factories where allergens are present, I decided to stop using them at home altogether. The tiny round bits of pasta give a nice bite to the dumplings along with the vegetables and baked tofu-you really don't miss the ramen. I suppose it is marginally healthier if you care about fried noodle calories, though really, how many can you get in a dumpling that you're going to fry anyway? Angel hair pasta works OK too, though you need to break it into pretty short strands first.

Seriously though, I spend about 60 bucks a week on groceries, and they eat pretty well. You can turn carrots and cabbage into all kinds of exotic things (like dumplings, for instance). Keeping the freezer stocked with meals prevents impulse purchases of quick ready-to-serve meals. I mean, if you have homemade dumplings in the freezer, they will probably be better than just about anything you can pick up on your way home.

Repeat after me:
"carrots, cabbage, kale, beans, and rice."

You'd be amazed how many varied meals you can build around them.

Eat Them Up Yum

I played Fish Heads for Danny tonight. I watched him listening to the recording, and saw the smile breaking across his face as he processed the lyrics in his head.

"Rolly, polly fish heads are never seen drinking cappuccino in Italian restaurants with Oriental women, yeah."

Right now, my kid thinks I'm the coolest person alive.

I'm Middle Aged

I stopped colouring my hair about ten years ago, and hadn't really given it much thought. On a whim, I purchased some sort of "conceal your grey" rinse that washes out in a dozen shampoos. I don't know why I purchased it, I have no intention of using it. I thought I might this evening-I took the various items out of the box and examined them before returning them to said box, and replacing it in the bathroom medicine cabinet. I know I'm not going to do it.

I never see women my age with grey hair. I've never really responded to peer pressure, so I guess there's no point in starting now. I don't really think anyone would be fooled into thinking I'm younger by an absence of grey hair-not once they caught sight of my neck or hands. I probably should get a proper haircut though-haven't had one of those in about a decade either (hey, I do just fine hacking away at my hair with a pair of office scissors).

Some people can pull off coloured hair without looking stupid, and get the desired youthful effect. I don't honestly think I could. I'm not even sure I'd want to. That's how you know you're old-when being non-conformist goes from colouring your hair strange colours, to refusing to colour your hair.

Anyone want a box of Natural Instincts golden brown?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

That's Mrs. Eat The Blog To You

I've only noticed this happening at one Hy-Vee location (Peony Park), but I now get thanked by name when handed my receipt. I mean, I get thanked by a teenager calling me by the diminutive of my name. My husband isn't permitted to call me that. I really find this first-name basis thing with someone I don't know, terribly offensive. I understand that the management/consultant types have been labouring under the delusion for years that this faux personalisation is going to create shopper loyalty-but it truly is a delusion. I don't blame the poor clerk forced to proceed with this nonsense, and I understand that I'm complaining about something newly occurring in Omaha that has probably been going on for years in more populated locales.

Now Get Off Of My Lawn!

Cinnamon Grape Nuts Ice Cream

The ice cream really needs to sit in the freezer several hours, or overnight until the Grape Nuts soften-otherwise, watch out for your teeth.

I used cinnamon sugar for mine, which is lovely, but you could do this with a really rich vanilla ice cream, which is traditional.

You Will Need:

4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup Grape Nuts cereal

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light. Heat the milk and cream until steaming. Whisk the milk slowly into the egg mixture. return to the pan and cook, whisking until it reaches 170 degrees F. Strain into a heat-proof bowl through a fine sieve. Stir in vanilla extract. Set in an ice bath until cool, then process in a machine or freezer tray. Right before packing it to ripen and store, stir in the Grape Nuts.

Blood Orange Ice Cream

I planned ahead for this ice cream last winter. Last evening, I raided my last jar of frozen blood orange juice to make a sort of high-end creamsicle ice cream.

You Will Need:

4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup blood orange juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat cream and milk until steaming. Beat together egg yolks and sugar until light. Slowly whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Return to pan and cook, whisking until it reaches 170 degrees F. Strain into a heat-proof bowl through a fine sieve. Add orange juice and extract. Set in an ice bath until cooled. Freeze in a machine or freezer tray. Makes about 2 pints.

Sears Clearance Sale

I purchased these at the Sears in Crossroads mall in Omaha.

I scored great stuff again this year. I'm set for Fall. The clearance items I bought were 50% off the original price, with an additional 40% off. That's how I ended up with six dollar dresses. Sears does not in any way sponsor my posts, I just really love buying end of season clothes for the price of thrift store clothes. I suppose I'm getting kind of middle class in my old age, but sometimes it is nice to have clothes that don't smell like mildew and cat pee.

Anyhoo, here's some of the highlights:

This looks better worn. Most of these dresses looked like sacks on the hanger, but they are flattering. I like the neckline on this sweater dress, and the gauge is very, very light. I also purchased it in a bright redish/orange dayglo-because I was too old for the look in the 80's and now I'm...well now I'm well...older. This is going to look so great with boots.

Again, it looks better on. I've lost enough weight where I can wear a cinched-in waist and not have it spill out in a muffin-top. That's nice. The t-shirt material is heavy and nicely cut so that it swings when I walk. I'm of the mind that all dresses should swing a bit when you walk. This is also shorter in the front with long sides. I can't wait for cooler weather.

I know, that's quite a bit of grey clothing. I did buy navy trousers, and there was that dayglo dress, but yeah, I really do tend to favour a boring colour palette. I also really like cardigans. This cardigan was five bucks. It came in a bright dayglo red as well, but I thought it best to draw the line at dresses.

And in other news, I can wear size six trousers, which just seems wrong at 125 lbs. That ought to be at least a size ten, but the clothing manufacturers think we're a bunch of idiots that don't know what size we really wear. Thankfully, years of thrift store shopping has made me pretty good at holding something up, and knowing if it will fit. I'm usually pretty close-within alteration range. I always buy clothes larger anyway, because cheap fabrics have a tendency to shrink. OK-I also have a tendency to grow-at least around the winter holidays. You don't want to squeeze into a micro-fine gauge sweater dress...or I don't anyway.

So get your butts over to Sears before all the good deals are gone.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Pumpkin Chiffon Cake and Pumpkin Ice Cream

Strange choice for the middle of Summer, I know. I had a lonely tin of pumpkin crying out from the cabinet to be used ("You only love me for pie...booo hooo hooo") and frankly, I was getting somewhat sick of looking at it collect dust. I had about a cup left after the cake recipe, so I made ice cream as well.

I don't want any cake. I don't really want ice cream either. If you wanted pumpkin cake, or ice cream, these would make a perfectly lovely dessert.

The cake recipe comes from Amish and Mennonite Kitchens. The ice cream recipe that follows is my own.

For the cake:

2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup vegetable oil
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup pumpkin (drain it well if using tinned)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
8 egg whites

Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add, in the following order: oil, egg yolks, water, and pumpkin. Mix very well until smooth.

In another bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until they hold stiff peaks. Carefully fold the pumpkin mixture into the egg whites. Pour into an ungreased tube pan and bake in a preheated 325 degree F. oven for 55 minutes. Then, increase heat to 350 degrees F. and bake 10 minutes longer. Invert and cool.

For the frosting:

4 tablespoons butter
3 ounces cream cheese
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend together until smooth, and frost.

For the ice cream:

4 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup mashed, cooked pumpkin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Splash of vanilla

In a heat-proof bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar, whisking until smooth. Heat cream and milk until steaming. Slowly whisk into the egg mixture, in a very thin stream. Return to pan and cook, whisking until it reaches 170 degrees F. Strain into a bowl. Add pumpkin, spices, and vanilla. Mix well. Place in an ice bath and cool. Freeze either in an ice cream maker, or as I did, in a freezer tray.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Fried Fresh Peach Turnovers

I modified these slightly by using half apricots, and ginger rather than cinnamon. I also made them larger.

From The New York Times Heritage Cookbook

You Will Need:

2 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons granulated sugar-divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1 large egg, slightly beaten
3 tablespoons melted butter, cooled slightly
1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped peaches
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I used ginger)
Oil for frying
Confectioner's sugar and water for glaze

Sift flour, salt, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and baking powder together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine milk, egg and butter. In another bowl, combine peaches and remaining sugar with cinnamon. Toss well.

Mix milk/egg mixture into dry ingredients to form a soft, not sticky dough, adding more flour if needed. Pat out to 1/8 inch thickness and cut with 2 inch cutters (I did mine larger). Mound a bit of the peach filling in the centre, fold over and seal by pressing with a fork.

Fry in very hot fat, and drain on a rack over a baking sheet. Drizzle with glaze while still hot. Makes 7-14 depending on size.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Comment Feed

I don't know what is going on with Blogger, but I have approved a number of comments that simply are not showing on the blog.

Anyway, didn't want people to think I was ignoring approving their comments.

Whole Wheat Foccacia With Pesto

I had four bunches of fresh basil that needed to get used quickly-I made a large batch of pesto, freezing some for quick pasta dinners later on. The rest, I used on this bread.

I'm not one of these people that feels the need to incorporate whole grains into everything I bake, but I had exactly three cups left in a small bag I wanted to be finished with. Because I used a generous amount of olive oil in the dough, it avoided that toughness people associate with whole grain breads and pizzas. If anything, it turned out quite light.

The pesto is not traditional, but it works well, freezes fantastically, and does not require messing-up my blender. What's not to love? I roast my garlic first, as well as blanch the basil leaves. You can skip both of these steps though the garlic will taste stronger, and the pesto will have a darker hue. Some people insist you should not add the cheese before freezing, but i have never found it to be a problem. I use a hard, sheep's milk cheese in my pesto, so perhaps it holds up better than Parmesan. Again, it really isn't that difficult to shave a bit of cheese into the pesto when you serve it.

For The Pesto:

(About) 1 quart fresh basil leaves
2 heads garlic, roasted and mashed
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated hard cheese to taste
Olive oil to taste

(I know, hardly a recipe at all).

Blanch the basil in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Drain, refresh under cold water and drain well again. Blot dry on towels. Chop very well. Combine in a bowl with mashed garlic, spices and olive oil until you have a texture you like. Freeze any excess in plastic bags, or in ice cube trays.

For the dough:

2 cups warm water
3 teaspoons granulated dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons olive oil (more or less to taste)
3 cups whole wheat flour
3-4 cups bread (strong) flour

Proof the yeast in a large bowl with the water and sugar. Add salt, and whole wheat flour. Add the bread flour a cup at a time until you have a fairly stiff dough. Knead until smooth. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled-about 1 hour. Punch down, stretch onto a greased baking sheet and top with pesto, extra cheese, tomatoes, olives, and whatever you like. Cover lightly and let rise another 30 minutes in a warm place (atop the oven is fine). Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place bread in oven and reduce heat immediately to 400 degrees F. Bake until deeply browned and dough is baked-about 30 minutes. Let stand a few minutes before cutting. Makes 1 very large, or two generous foccacia.