Monday, September 13, 2010

Yesterday in my kitchen....

Have you ever woke with you day all planned in your head? As your senses came awake you had all of it coming together? I did that yesterday morning.

I pictured a chicken parm type dish, done in individual one serving casseroles, one to eat now, the rest for the freezer. As I made my way to the kitchen, I pictured bran muffins with dried fruit in them. By the time I was putting my coffee on I had rice pilaf planned. Then I thought of a lovely Tuscan bean soup and I was hooked, my day was planned.

With coffee on, I got the dogs and went outside. They roll on the grass and I look at my garden, some tomatoes ripe, a couple of zucchini. My peaches look ready, squeezing one it gives a little, so I pick it. Coming back into the house with my bounty, I taste the peach. Too firm still but wonderful flavor, I eat it all.

Muffins first; fresh ground whole wheat flour, organic bran, ground flax seed, old fashion oats, molasses, honey, coconut oil, buttermilk and eggs and the baking powder, soda, spices and dried cherries. How lovely they turned out. I kept some out to eat and froze the rest.

On to the rice, olive oil in a pan, various herbs and spices, then the nice organic brown rice. stir a bit and add broth, cover and simmer. As the rice cooks I go on to other things. Simmer a chicken thigh, add canned white beans, carrots, tomatoes, some herbs. By the end of the day, I have lovely Tuscan bean soup to eat and in the freezer, rice packaged in baggies and froze and all those lovely muffins.

What a lovely day I had.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Things your mother never taught you (and some they did).............

Did you know why directions on cake mix boxes say to reduce the temperature of your oven 25 degrees if using a glass pan? I was so proud of myself when I realized the reason a few months ago (slow learner, lol). Glass is a better conductor of heat then most of the materials that pans are made of. You don't want to burn your cake, do you?

Measure your oil before you measure honey in same cup and the honey will pour out easily. Alternatively, spray some Pam or other cooking spray in the cup before you measure honey.

Rolling stacked spinach into a tube then making small cuts is an easier way to chop spinach.

Never cut homemade bread until it cools at least 15 minutes and preferably 30 minutes. The slices will be gummy if you do.

My mother taught me that there were 16 tablespoons in a cup and the easy way to measure shortening was with a spoon, ie 1/4 cup is 4 tablespoons, 1/3 cup is 5 and a bit more.

Some flatware sets have spoons that are exactly a teaspoon or tablespoon and easier to measure with (check the measurement against your measuring spoon to be sure).

An 8 cup coffeepot doesn't hold 8 measuring cups. The cup size they are referring to is a 6 oz teacup, those were the standard years ago. (makes you think, doesn't it)

If your homemade cake came out tough, it is probably because you overbeat it and developed the gluten in the flour.

I'm sure once I publish this post, I will think of more. What are some of yours?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Food and the Rhythm of Live..............

What is it about certain kinds of cooking and baking that feeds my soul? There is an earthy sensuality to the rhythmic kneading of the smooth, supple bread dough. The aroma fills the kitchen and I pull the loaves out of the oven to see, with pleasure, the "oven spring" and the crust color.

This past few days have been involved in several food related activities. Besides baking bread, I cut herbs from my herb garden and picked zucchini and tomatoes. I also roasted a chicken.

I was happy, with the advent of cooler days, to be able to use my oven again. It was with pleasure, I snipped the rosemary, basil and thyme to fill the chicken cavity I raised the skin on the breast and lovingly slipped still more herbs under it. The rosemary, still on its stem, looked so pretty. I baked it in my cast iron dutch oven, at 450 degrees for 15 minutes and an additional 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees.

Happiness and contentment come in all forms, this indeed is one of them.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My search is over...............

I recently thought about a recipe I used to use and after searching off and on for months I finally found the one I want. It's a slightly florescent french dressing recipe, made with tomato soup and MCP pectin. I found I still like the taste of it, more like some that were around when I was a kid, back in the dark ages.

While finding this recipe I found several others using pectin that I will be experiementing with soon. The plus with some of them is supposedly you can use less oil. The french dressing one, however does have a good amount. Since it makes about a quart, it still is lower fat than many you buy. I'll be testing in the future to come up with a lower fat version.

I am a single senior, my kids all grown and on their own. I am also fairly frugal and like to try to find ways to save money while eating better. I had this today with a spinach salad, yum.

2 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/4 C sugar
1 package MCP Pectin
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups salad oil
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can tomato Soup
Combine all dry ingredients
Add to soup and vinegar (I did this in my blender)
Add onion, garlic and Worcestershire sauce
Mix well.
Add oil one-half cup at a time and beat well after each addition

Keep in refrigerator (this made about a quart)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bread, the staff of live.....................

I am attempting to make free form bread. This loaf of bread, although amateur in it's shaping,  was delicious and based on the no knead recipes that have swept the web the past couple of years. The particular one was done, step by step according the the directions at breadtopia

My usual daily bread is 100% whole wheat bread, made with fresh milled whole wheat. I make it 5 loaves at a time usually and freeze what I can't use right away. I will devote a future post to how I do it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

In defense of zucchini..........

I checked yesterday there was only 3 tiny ones. They are taking over my life. The wonder of the first small miracle of life that I harvested so lovingly and ate with such pleasure is dim in my mind. I've made zucchini bread, zucchini fritters, sliced it, diced it, shredded it, sauteed it. I even made an omelet with it (very good actually).

What other plant grows so lovingly for us? I have never saw a beginning gardener fail with zucchini. Here are some ideas for you who are stalked by the zucchini plant that took over your garden.
  • pick it small, eat it raw. Zucchini is surprisingly good cut in slices like a cucumber and eaten raw with ranch dressing. Pair them with carrot sticks and other veggies and keep them ready in the fridge. They also are good in salads and recently I made a zucchini salad with cherry tomatoes and a vinaigrette.
  • zucchini bread and butter pickles. My sister makes a refrigerator variety. Here is a recipe to get you started zucchini bread and butter pickles  I have also eaten, in the past, a surprisingly good zucchini hot dog relish  zucchini hot dog relish
  • zucchini fritters, shredded zucchini in a light fritter batter. (corn also makes a good fritter)
  • add shredded zucchini to your favorite muffin recipe.
  • chocolate zucchini cake, amazingly rich and moist a chocolate lover's delight.
  • freeze it. Shredded zucchini freezes well in baggies. When ready to use it, thaw, drain  and use.
  • zucchini bread, everyone has a favorite recipe. I'm looking for a lower fat and sugar version. Do you have one? 
    Chocolate Zucchini Cake
    1 cup oil (or 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup oil)
    1 3/4 cups sugar
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    2 1/2 cup flour
    1/4 cup cocoa
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk
    2 cups of shredded zucchini
    3/4 cups chocolate chips
    3/4 cups brown sugar

    cream together sugar and oil (or butter/oil), add eggs and vanilla, mix dry ingredients, sift if desired, add to sugar mixture alternating with buttermilk or sour milk, stir in shredded zucchini. Spread in an ungreased 9x13 pan. Stir together chocolate chips and brown sugar and sprinkle dry over the unbaked cake batter. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool and serve directly from cake pan.
    Don't skip the brown sugar and chocolate chips. They melt down into the cake making the wonderful caramel/chocolate tunnels. If you love chocolate, I guarantee you will love this cake!