Monthly Archives: January 2016

Bits

The assorted Foodways miscellany that is running around in my head…

Parade Magazine this Sunday had a story on

“Muffin Tin Magic”

muffin tin

No ordinary tin – MAGIC muffin tin!

  • Here’s a keeper: take 2 soft 10” tortillas -they used spinach. (Tortillas were on sale last week so I got – dear Lord, I shouldn’t shop before a meal – a high fiber/low carb one and a Light/fewer calories version. The Light ones are smaller than the Lowcarb ones. Neither says how big it is….   And they are between 7 ½ and 8 ½ inches, and they weigh in differently. The low cal one is 39 grams and the low carb on is 62 grams…..Regardless, I’m gonna try the tortilla cups for avocado and blue cheese salad next week) Cut 2 soft tortillas into quarters. Press each piece into a muffin cup. Brush the cups with olive oil. Bake 5 minutes at 350 ° or until crisp. Cool on a rack. Then fill with salad….you can figure out the rest.
  • Using them as freezer molds for broth or stock – freezer broth pucks would definitely work, measure first so you know how much (1/2 cup or so) and label the freezer bag you store them in.(the label it is a note to self)
  • Using them as a mold for cookie bowls….this would be great to serve individual portions of ice cream in, just make sure your cookie isn’t sturdier then your spoon.
  • But wait – there’s MORE
  • It also suggests using muffin tins as a mise en place. Don’t do this. After you carefully measure everything out into the cups, how do you get things out without spilling half all over the table/counter/floor? Unless it’s toppings for your taco bowl salad…
  • GrabNGo Granola Cups – Granola mixed with 1 large egg and ½ cup honey pressed into a muffin tin (the grated lemon peel was a nice touch) baked to make a little cup and then filled with plain yoghurt flavored with vanilla – how is this not gonna run down your arm after the first bite? 1 cup of yoghurt for 12 muffin cups and each get 1 raspberry – and how long before the bottom sogs out? This seems to be in the close, but no cigar category. It’s very close to something.
  • Spaghetti and meatball nests – cook spaghetti add sauce and mozzarella and 3 large egg whites, press into cups and bake. Place 1 packaged frozen meatball…Wait! don’t use packaged frozen meatballs this way. EVAH. If you must use frozen packaged meatballs, use them in a brown gravy (like Swedish Meatballs or Sweetish Meatballs, with the grape jelly and the chili sauce or the one with cranberry sauce where you mix it up and they sit in a slow cooker for a while. Frozen meatballs should NOT go in any kind of red sauce or red gravy.) Put an egg in instead, and bake a few minutes to shirr it….

Meanwhile in the New York Times Magazine….

  • A Winter’s Tale – Project cooking and cassoulets
casoluet NYT 24Jan16

This is the image that went with the story

Cassoulet is really the Mother of all Casseroles, and has become a high end Professional Dish, although beans and bits cooked slowly is the very definition of ultimate peasant food. The bits (pig) in this particular cassoulet include knuckles, belly, lard, ears, but no tail. I feel a little mislead by the title.

The adviser on this story was not an ancient grandmere somewhere in the South and West of France, but an ambassador of the Universal Cassoulet Academy…it also includes 3 pork knuckles (which is what you call the hock before it’s smoked, in most places, and pigs ‘round here have 4) and 3 duck legs (duck round here have 2 – and if you cook 2 ducks you won’t have to go shopping for duck fat, which is also listed). Anyhow – the reason you need to shop so much for this dish NOW is that you’re not using up the bits and bobs you would have left if you were eating seasonally. The ducks, the pig, the sometimes goose  – all part of what’s around for winter. All those different roots – celeriac, turnip, carrot, and rutabaga – would all be in your garden or root cellar, needing to be used up sooner rather than later. The carrots, anyhow. Turnips can stay in the ground even after a freeze, although a thaw may harvest them for you; rutabagas, ditto. Carrots don’t like freezing and don’t last as long as other things. Most people think they don’t like turnips because the cellaring does NOT improve them, but newly pulled from the ground they are sweet and not rank. It is also the second (or is it the third?) recipe I’ve read this week that refers to a slow cooked pork dish as ‘sticky’ as a selling point.

FC Jan2016

From the January Family Circle I had earmarked (actually dog-eared) a One-Pot Cavatappi dish.

cavatappi -

Cavatappi – the corkscrews a/k/a amori, serpentini, trivelle, stortelli….

I proceeded to make it not quite the way it was written…I wasn’t testing the recipe, it was a concept  I was trying out – put the sauce and the pasta in the pan together, and cook them up. No big pot of water.

Sometime back in December or November, Harold McGee had an article internet floating about the waste of water in cooking pasta, and experimenting with using less. Not entirely sold on this, and as much as I love McGee (I have both editions of On Food and Cooking because they’re each that good) I can’t help but notice that McGee is not an Italian name….so his pasta standard might be a little different than mine.

mcgee

Blue is the first edition, red the second. Known as ‘McGee’

Anyhow – cook the pasta in the sauce.

One

  • I didn’t have cavatappi, so I used fettuccine;
Fettucine1

Fettuccine are little ribbons, not corkscrews. Still good.

  • it called for turkey sausage, I had Hot Italians;
  • it called for grape tomatoes and chicken stock and I used a big (32) oz jar of tomatoes from the Web of Life Farm that I got at the Plymouth Farmer’s Market.
  • It called for 5 oz of fresh baby spinach; I used I package frozen chopped broccoli (I had some baby arugula that I thought I’d use, but I ate it all up in salads before the weekend and Baby Arugula always makes me hum the Raffi song Baby Beluga);
  • it called for ricotta and I used Romano.

Excuse me, I had to stop to laugh out loud. I should have labeled this recipe an inspiration piece, not really a recipe.

Two

  • Using a Dutch oven, brown the sausage; the recipe called for 12 oz turkey sausage out of the casings and crumbled. I wanted some portion control, so I had 4 sausages from a 1 pound package and kept them whole;
  • add some chopped onion and garlic and cook a little more;
  • Because my green veg addition was a frozen block I could have run it through the microwave, which I didn’t think of doing until I was writing this out, I added the frozen brick to the oil, onion and sausage and hacked it around a little until it wasn’t one big frozen thing, 2 minutes or so.
  • Then stir in some broth (2 cups) or a large jar of last summer’s tomatoes and a little broth to make it soupyish (wine would have been a better choice at this point, a ½ cup or a full cup red wine)
  •  I used ½ box fettuccine (about 7 oz). This is the place to add some salt. It called for garlic salt (1/4 teaspoon) which I don’t usually have and I already had a pretty large onion in so I didn’t add more. It doesn’t call for salt in the recipe, but it was pretty flat, and I topped it with Romano cheese. A little salt
  • Bring it to a boil, stirring to keep it from sticking. 8 minutes. I had my colander ready….and then put it back away. Duh. Old habits die hard.
  • Mix in ricotta (which would make it creamy, but blander)
  • I divided the pasta into 4 servings, each serving got a sausage.
  • One for supper; one for lunch Tuesday; one for frittata, one for freezer.
  • Top with grated Romano. Enjoy!

The noodles were a little soggier then I really like them. The sauce really needs to full and rich to get away with this technique. On the try again list.

 

 

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Filed under Eating, Recipe, winter

Winter Blues

Ready for the Snow – George Lucas

 

Snow, snow, snow. Cold, cold, cold. Short days, but getting longer, but not nearly long enough. Long nights getting shorter, but not short enough. Not quite enough sunlight. At least the snow makes the full moon light brighter.

Beth went to  some sort of Publishers Book Fair earlier this month and brought me back some samples. (Thank you Beth! XoX). These are books that haven’t yet been released, the advance reading copies, which makes them doubly delightful, being both new reads and being ahead of their own time, as it were.

One book had menus as chapter headings, and the first chapter was Xmas, so I dove in – what better to read in a snow storm/Jonas/apocalypse?

It turned out to be about a woman pursuing a career (that she’s AWFULLY ambivalent about) with a marriage that she’s outgrown and then she re-invents herself as a single in the city …and since she’s had a career for over 20 years, she’s not exactly a Spring Chicken, but on the other hand she has a young daughter…sometimes….and a non-romantic interest nonagenarian (that’s a 90 something) who is a cook/philosopher. And she finds a Mister Man of Her Unrealized (at the books opening) Dreams before the end.

But of course.

A Twenty-First Century Sleeping Beauty/Snow White/Cinderella Fairy Tale, complete with Disneyesque Princess and unnamed Prince Charming.

disney_live_Three_Princess

Even Disney can’t tell them apart anymore

Each chapter in this fairy tale begins with a menu, and some of the dishes have descriptions or almost recipes written in, and good kitchen advice as well. And drinks. There is plenty of alcohol fueling this fairy tale, too.

As I was reading, I was imagining who would be cast in the movie version…Jennifer Lawrence, perhaps,

Jennifer Lawrence

even though Sandra Bullock would be more age appropriate, and no doubt Dustin Hoffman

dustin_hoffman

could play the Yoda/spatula wielding-leading man… or maybe it could be a limited run TV series, that’s part Drama/part Cooking show with cookbook/life manual to go with it. Since she doesn’t write about his death, and he’s ninety something in 2009, there’s sequel material out there……

And so I went to bed. It’s not until this morning that I realized the name of the leading lady is the same name as the author…both first AND last names, a woman who had done the sort of work that the leading lady had done and that the book is dedicated to someone who has the same name as the darling and mostly absent daughter, and

in a Dawn Breaking over Marblehead moment

dawn over Marblehead

Dawn (or light) breaking ovah Marblehead. We take our figures of speech literally round here.

did I realized this might be

MEMOIR.

As a novel, I’d have more to say about this, but as someone’s portrayal of their life……although my own life is sometimes

A Movie Directed By Mel Brooks,

Mel Brooks

it is not a telenovelas or a soap opera or reality show. And it certainly wouldn’t be  in my written versions. That kind of DRAHMA I can’t sustain for longer than a cup of coffee. If that long.

 

On the other hand, Our Leading Man put a homemade blue cheese dressing on avocados, which make me want that combination in the worst way. And since I have some Blue cheese in the house, and a recipe for blue cheese dressing   This one is a creamy version. I have another vinaigrette somewhere….If I can figure out where the book is -it might be on the shelf of the little bookcase that is still at the ancestral home.

Avocados are on my shopping list, even though I still don’t know how to buy one or keep it or eat it in the place between rock hard and tasteless and brown and slightly oozy and scary bad. But avocados and SuperBowl Sunday go together hand in glove, so there are plenty to go around and at a good price, too.

I’ve also been eating orange and red and yellow food, just for the color warmth.

Squash soup made with the frozen squash and some cranberry apple cider that got much sweeter as it cooked; I searched Anna Thomas Love Soup and she had a version of squash soup that had red lentils in it, so I added some of them, and some water. Her soup also had some spices, turmeric, cumin, red pepper – which sounds a lot like curry powder, of which there was none in the house. And although the vegetarian Anna Thomas wouldn’t suggest it, sausage would cut the sweet…

Love Soup

Curry powder and sausage go on the grocery list.

The lentils reminded me of Simon Mujumdar’s Life Saving Dahl, so find his book and put dahl on the list, too. Is Eating My Globe at the ancestral home, too? Interesting what got save first, and once safe was moved to the no worries list…..ah, internet:

EatMyGlobe

 

Life Saving Dahl – Simon Majumdar

And now, back to blues, as in foods.

 

Stiltob cheese

Stilton cheese – a blue cheese

 

 

I bought the bit of supermarket Stilton for a rarebit….and then  took a little trip down a rabbit hole as well.

Just what IS the difference between rabbit and rarebit? When did this become a dish and not just toasted bread and cheese? Inquiring minds want to know!

The short version of which is: It’s confusing! Both rarebits and rabbits abound and there are also a few other names for cheese on toast.

Hannah Glasse (The Art Of Cookery Made Plain & Easy) has the earliest printed Welsh Rabbit recipe, and it’s a rabbit, in 1747. Welsh not the only rabbit in Glasse – there is also Scotch and English rabbits there. In the next chronological reference I could find (this is all rather haphazard and not the least academic) in 1753 (The Ladies Companion)there is A Scotch, A Welsh A Portuguese and An Italian…. and later on there is also Scotch Buck and English Monkey and Blushing Bunny….and the rabbit/rarebit divide isn’t just between England and the US or even between centuries. Both countries and both 19th and 20th centuries use both names. Rabbit Hole.

Alice in Wonderland Tennial

Rabbit or Rarebit?? And just where are you from??????ONE answer, please!

I’m close to crying ‘Uncle’ in all of this, and then it will be a Wicked  WayBack Wednesday post.

In the meantime, this is the blue cheese rarebit that I clipped from Bon Apetit back in 1994 and have enjoyed numerous times since then, especially since I found that the local convenience store sells milk not only in Gallons and Half gallons and Quarts, but also in 14 oz. to-go bottles. As someone who doesn’t drink milk, buying even a quart means I have to come up with at least one other way to use it, so instead of 12 oz of milk, I use the 14 with no harm.

Stilton Rarebit

1 ½ T butter

1 ½ teas flour

1 tsp Coleman’s dry mustard

1 ½ C milk

1 C Stilton (4 oz)(an English blue cheese)

1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

4 slices WW bread, toasted

Walnuts, chopped

 

  1. …Whisk flour in and cook 30 seconds. Whisk in mustard.
  2. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
  3. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer till thickened, whisking occasionally: 5-10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add ½ the cheese and whisk until melted. Add remaining cheese, whisk until melted and smooth.
  5. Season with Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.
  6. Cut toasted bread slices on diagonal and overlap 4 halves on each of 2 plates. Ladle rarebit over.
  7. Garnish with chopped walnuts.

2 servings.

  • Bon Appetit magazine. Dec 1994 issue (New Year’s supper 1994)Bon Appetit Dec 1994 cover

In my notebook it’s on a page with Dylan Thomas quote:

….there was sherry and walnuts and bottled beer and crackers by the dessertspoons….

By 1994 I knew that ‘cracker’s’ in this case were NOT saltines…..

christmas-cracker_

 

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Filed under 1990's, Books, Bread, winter

Laurie Colwin

One of the joys – and distractions – of unpacking my books is finding the ones I had forgotten about, forgotten as “What the heck IS this and when and why did it end up with me?” and forgotten as in, “Well, Hellooo again Old Friend it’s been tooooo long. Let’s catch up”

The vagabonds have been packed up and sent to more appropriate homes, some to friends, some to work, some to Savers. But the Old Friends…some have proved to be the sort of friends that are about a time and place that is no more, that you do lose over time, so after a little visit, when it apparent we have nothing left to say to each other, they, too, will leave with no forwarding address, all on amiable terms and scarce a backward glance.

But the true Old Friends, the friends that are friends from the very first moment, the kindred spirits, the friends that you pick up right where you left off last, like it’s only been an hour even when it’s been forever and a day since you’ve seen each other and then, caught up, you keep going into your tomorrows….on these friends I spend a little more time and attention.

Laurie Colwin is one of those friends.

lauriecolwinNYT

She had a column in Gourmet, which I used to read fairly regularly. Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, which includes some of her Gourmet writing, came out in 1988. I received my copy in 1991 as a housewarming present from a friend who also read her column and knew Laurie was a kindred spirit.

Laurie had a second volume of essays, More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen that came out in 1993, shortly after she died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 48.  My copy is dated 2001. I think I got it on markdown from the amazing and now gone Jessica’s Biscuit. Both volumes are dog-eared and splattered.

laurie-colwin

In re-reading I realize how she articulated so many vague kitchen related topics for me, from “Why I Love Cookbooks” to “Bread Baking without Agony” as well as Red Peppers, Chocolate, Tomatoes and Coffee. It was in her coffee essay that I first learned of Bach’s Coffee Cantata.

There was a broccoli sauce for pasta recipe in some magazine last month, quick and easy way to get more veg in your diet, where you cooked the broccoli while the pasta was cooking, puréed the broccoli with some olive oil and maybe some lemon juice and perhaps some hot pepper at least that’s the way I’d do it…..did do it…..

At this point in the recipe I realize I used to do this. Quite a bit. Like maybe weekly. For years. Not just with broccoli, but spinach and kale and then butternut squash. Any chopped frozen veg. One box. While the macaroni is cooking, microwave one box frozen (preferably chopped) veg. In a pan heat some oil with garlic or shallot or onions or celery, also chopped. Add the cooked veg and stir around. Add some chopped parsley or basil or mint or not. Drain the macaroni and save some of the water to thin the sauce if needed. Put the macaroni back in the pot. Add some lemon or orange or chopped vinegar peppers to the pan veg to zing things up. Add this pan sauce to the macaroni; use the water to thin and spread around. Top with cheese, hot pepper flakes or the jarred hot chopped peppers. Or not. Or chopped olives. Whatever.

antonios chopped hots

One of my pantry staples

I can’t vouch for what the magazine recipe actually said, because they made it look more complicated, like they just INVENTED green sauce. And where did I get it from oh, so many years ago??????

Right. Laurie Colwin.

“Now to broccoli. How some people hate it! However, it turns into a sleek, rich pasta sauce. First you steam it. Then you sauté it in dark green olive oil with two cloves of garlic until the garlic is soft. Then you toss it all in the blender with pepper, a pinch of salt, the juice of half a lemon, more olive oil and serve it on penne or ziti or fusilli with lots of grated cheese, and no one will suspect of what is being served.”

 

Laurie Colwin. Home Cooking. Alfred A. Knopf. NY. 1988. p. 60.

Bingbingbingbingbing.

Since it was raining and close to 40 when I went to bed last night, and there was no snow in the forecast (I’m not entirely sure there was rain in the forecast, come to think of it) I assumed there would probably be ice on the streets in the morning. Sure enough, I woke to the sound of a car not quite getting traction at the stop sign at the slight incline just outside my kitchen. When I looked out the window, it looked like SNOW. While I was making the coffee, yep, it was certainly snow snowing. More snow. Fairly thick flurries through the second cup of coffee. Enough to add snow removal to the list of things to do today.

Which is as good as an excuse as any to make brownies later.

If I make them tonight I can bring some in to work tomorrow and not be forced to eat the whole pan by myself.

Unless I let them cool and wrap them individually and put them in the freezer and take them out to eat them one by one. My Aunt Anne could do that, a diabetic with a sweet tooth. But I know they only take 10 or 15 minutes to be chewable (not the same point as edible) and that with a microwave, you can have a hot brownie in under a minute…..

I realized yesterday that my freezer has no shelf. When it was totally empty, I couldn’t quite figure out why it was so BIG, and kept telling myself it’s because it’s empty. But now that there’s 10 pounds of squash and a few other frozen veg and some nuts and Cuban coffee….I went to put an ice cube tray in and THAT’S when I realized – no shelf.

Back to brownies.

Laurie Colwin on brownies:

“There are as many brownie recipes as there are flowers in the meadow. Some are fancy, some are plain. Some have nuts, which I consider a bad idea, because children seem to hate them and end up picking them out and getting brownie crumbs all over everything. I also have several friends with fatal nut allergies, and so I leave the nuts out. I have been served brownies with chocolate chips and brownies with raisins, but what most people want is plain old brownies. Some people like their brownies on the cakey side and some feel they should be more like fudge. I myself like brownies that are what I called ‘slumped’ and the English call ‘squidgy’ which means slightly undercooked and not quite runny in the center.”

Laurie Colwin. More Home Cooking, HarperCollins, 1993, 95, 2000. p. 75.

I wholeheartedly agree with her brownie assessment. If you want cakey brownies, you really want cake, so just make cake and move on.

Brownies…..brownies are the place between fudge and cake.

Since in my youth, the center was the part of the brownie  went to the bake sale or the covered dish supper or whatever function the brownies were really for…. we usually had to share the edges or the brownie bones, which may be why I think of them as good coffee dunkers and really feel like I’ve won a blue ribbon when I get the squidgy part.

BROWNIES-NYT KH

New York Times version of Katharine Hepburn Brownies

The recipe Laurie gives is Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies, which she got from a friend who got it from a magazine. I remember that magazine article. I clipped the same recipe. I have made those brownies.

Katharine Hepburn  was the cover girl of August 1975 issue of The Ladies’ Home Journal.

152817Beside the brownie recipe, the thing that stood out was that she had no door on her bathroom. She said she lived alone so that it wasn’t necessary, and she wasn’t about to look if someone else was there. Growing up in a house were the only one minute of privacy you ever got in a day was when you closed the bathroom door behind you, I just couldn’t imagine it. Now that I live by myself, I can see it….sorta. Old habits and comfort zones die hard.

In fact, I had pretty much made brownies with no nuts for years, but Katharine Hepburn persuaded me otherwise. It became my brownies with walnuts go-to recipe. Yes. I have more than one brownie recipe, because they really are like the flowers in the meadow…or more like the trees in the forest, changing with the season and some have nuts.

On the internet there is both a baker’s chocolate and a cocoa versions of this recipe. From a  letter that appeared in the New York Times (July 6, 2003) after Katharine Hepburn’s death, it seems that she made them both ways, depending on what she had on hand.

Both good.

KATHARINE HEPBURN’S BROWNIES

1 stick (8 Tbl) butter

2 squares unsweetened chocolate (or ½ cup baking cocoa)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup AP flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

  1. Melt butter and chocolate together and take saucepan off the heat (or melt butter and add cocoa )

  2. Stir in 1 cup sugar, add 2 eggs and ½ teaspoon vanilla and beat well.

  3. Stir in ¼ cup AP flour, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 cup chopped walnuts.

  4. Bake brownies in a buttered and floured 8” square pan at 325 for 40 minutes. Cool completely and cut into squares.

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Filed under 1990's, Books, Influencers

Expiration Dates

Expiration dates

… Christmas rather peters out at Twelfth Night or Epiphany,   even for those of us who have managed  to keep it going THIS long.

Although, technically, you might continue the Christmas Season until February 2nd – Candlemas – The Presentation of Jesus to the Temple –

candlemas

Candlemas  is  also 40 days after Christmas.and the official official end of the Christmas season. So, my  door wreath is staying up as long as it doesn’t look shabby or it’s February, whichever comes first.

***

I bought new toothpaste and there was an expiration date on the box… toothpaste has an expiration date?????? Best by Au 17….I’ll be sure to use it up by then. It’s marked on the the end of the tube, so  I’ve been missing this for quite some time.

toothpaste barcode

See how subtle it is – and once you turn that end under…

toothpaste-used

barcode – hidden from view

***

Shrimp was on sale and it was too cheap to leave behind – the post-holiday good news!

shrimp ring

I ate  ½ as shrimp cocktail (is it true that fruit and shrimp cocktails are Prohibition stories????) as a starter for my supper. I then has some spaghettini  with olive oil and the rest of the cocktail sauce as the dressing for the pasta, and then a salad  of arugula dressed with  blood orange olive oil  and honey ginger balsamic vinegar. The rest of the shrimp (and the leftover spaghettini) will be my fritteta supper for tonight.

Hot chocolate with marshmallows as my dessert.

The shrimp Penaeus vannamie was farmed  in Viet Nam.

Shrimp also has an expiration date, which seems right…Shrimp(frozen) best by 03-11-2018. Beat it.

***

Mac & cheese – the store brand natural style (that means I bought it in the Natural Foods aisle, implying as it does that most of what they offer is neither natural nor food)  was on sale, so another semi impulse purchase.   I checked those boxes every which way, and could not find an expiration date.

mac-cheese box

I wanted to use up the last of the plain yoghurt, which was close to the end AND had been open several days, as well as the beginning to be a little too limpish to want to eat salad-wise salad greens, spinach and kale. This time of year probably  as many greens get tossed into soup and other hot foods as actual salads, maybe more.

Cooked the pasta, added the yoghurt, cheese powder and the greens – popped it into a baking pan (no-stick, saving the trouble of having to grease it up), and sprinkled the top with same grated cheese (I also had had the very dregs of a bag of sweet potato chip to use as a crunchy topping. I even remembered them – and noshed them down as I was waiting for the water to boil…..so close…..then I put the pan in a 350° oven for a little while just to finish cooking the greens and to brown the top.

I made a double batch, so not only did I have both supper and lunch, I also have freezer treasure.

***

Life hacks – sounds like something you’d wish the cat didn’t do….but there’s been  a workplace wave of microwave egg in a coffee cup. I haven’t tried this at home because most of my coffee cups are not the standard up and down, but hand crafter pottery and narrower at the top the bottom which leads to….. extraction issues

coffee mug handmade

Many of my mugs are more like this, and no 2 alike.

micri eggstep-by-step.xxxlarge_2x

This is how to make an omelet in a coffee mug

BUT – I was looking for something new for my morning oatmeal.So I added the egg to my oatmeal, instead of in a coffee cup. Like putting a poached egg on top of your hash….

I microwave it …so – I microwave ½ c regular rolled oats w/ 1 cup water for 4 minutes (instead of 5) on 50per cent power. Take it out and  make a little basin in the middle of the bowl – there’s often one there naturally – crack the egg and drop it on top of a pat of butter and then back in the microwave for another minute on high (sometimes a minute 30) and then sprinkle liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

A nice warm way to start a cold day.

Hacked

You’ve been hacked – but the good hack, not the evil hack,

 

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Filed under Christmas, Eating

Twelfth Day of Christmas

The Adoration of the Magi. Fresco in Lower Church, Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi
And if you’re not entertaining newly arrived Wise Men, you might be the King of the Bean…
beankingGM

The Feast of the Bean King – at the Alte Pinakothek, Munich  Gabriel Metsu 17th century

Le gâteau des Rois, by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1774 (Musée Fabre)

Le gateau des Rois by Jean-Baptist Greuze 1774, Musee Fabre

 

Kingcake

King Cake, 21st century, Louisiana

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Filed under Cake, Christmas

10th day of Christmas

There’s a little flexibility, shall we say, on what the tenth day of Christmas is  all about.

There are10 red

pipers piping

or

lords a leaping

or

ships a sailing

MAYFLOWER-II_Photo-courtesy-Plimoth-Plantation1

Mayflower II.

or

 

drummers drumming

or

cocks a crowing

rooster crowing

But enough about the music…..time to review the FOOD.

New Year’s Day had a food change of plans….so I still haven’t made the Overnight Baked Crunchy French Toast, but since the ingredients are in my fridge, I’ll be making that tonight for tomorrow’s  breakfast. And lunches and suppers and Freezer Treasures.

Usually

I have oatmeal for breakfast, which I started doing a few years ago. One month of oatmeal for breakfast  – and I swear no other deliberate or conscious changes –  it really did lower my cholesterol, just like the ads said it would. Still working.

I put different things in it, but not on a day to day sort of change – I just don’t have enough brain before coffee to make those sorts of choices – but more of a week to week thing. The Gracious Pantry  had a whole run of oatmeal add-in suggestions that I still haven’t run through.

I don’t like mushy oatmeal and I’d rather have salt and pepper then sugar and cream. First, coffee, though. No oatmeal before coffee.

Darth Coffee Roz Cummins

Roz Cummins posted this picture today and asked if the coffee maker  looked like Darth Vader, to which I replied, “I like my coffee on the Dark Side..” Enough Star Wars.

Back to New Year’s Day.

Since there were more then enough leftovers from the New Year’s Eve Chinese Food Feast at the ancestral home, making MORE food was uncalled for.

Redundant.

Just plain silly.

Wasteful, even.

No need for French Toast or Waffles or any other food.

take out carton

Carton, carton, what’s in the carton? And there were the things already moved to Tupperware….

There were egg rolls

Eggroll

There were 2 left, so Mum and I each took one. One carton down and out.

Egg foo young (Chinese: 芙蓉蛋; Jyutping: fu4 jung4 daan6*2, also spelled egg fooyung, egg foo yong, or egg fu yung)  – thank you Wikipedia

Egg_foo_young

Again, just one, so we each took half. Another carton down.

Chinese_Chickenfingers

Chicken fingers and Shrimp fingers. We each took a shrimp – which were pretty dang NOT SMALL, downright JUMBO Shrimp shrimp -and then there were NONE.

I’m starting to get groggy…food coma by association …..there was more ….spare me, spare RIBS – boneless spareribs and VERY tasty.

Spare_ribs_with_Chinese_barbecue_sauce

Between the Jumbo Shrimp and Boneless Ribs, these seeming oxymora are beginning to sound  like the opening of a George Carlin routine…

george_carlin_0203

George Carlin 1937-2008

OF course, there were both fried rice AND noodles

Chinese_fried_rice_

Our version had considerably more soy sauce in it creation

 

Chinese noodles

These are more chop suey-ish then the noodles on the table…no flowers in our batch

Keep in mind, there are the leftovers.….

There was also some Beef Teriyaki, but that was put aside for my little brother to eat later, which he did.

Chicken Wings – Chinese Chicken Wings. We took one each.

And we heated the plates in the microwave and sat down and ate.

And ate.

and ATE.

We did not have seconds.

We did have some fruit later, and coffee and charmellas later then that.

While I was there and not stuffing my face, I packed up more of my things to take back to the shiny brand new  place. Which included various jars of beans as well as a jar of lentils that I was going to cook for supper.

mason jar storage

This looks like my cupboards. I have lived in houses with moths (do not store bird seed in the house, that’s why we have garages and steel cans, people!) and mice and I got tired of feeding both.

Perhaps, because of the Michael Pollan ‘In Defense of Food” that aired in December,

defense of food tv

it seems that the internet is full of New Year’s Resolutions

to cook.

At home.

As if you could go out and cook in other peoples house without their invitation or out on the street or ….where else would you be cooking? Because people who go out and cook in  kitchens other then their own do it to make a living, not their own meals. Life is not a cooking show.

And I do cook. At home. Sometimes at work, because that’s my job, too.  But even my recent spate of ‘not cooking’ still include coffee and oatmeal each morning; supper each night, although a few of them have been tea and toast.

(FLASHBACK: Ma and Pa Flynn used to have tea and toast each afternoon as they watched Merv. I’m becoming my great-grandparents. Without the Merv. )

mervgriffin

Merv Griffin . He sang, he danced, he played the piano, he  hosted, he created Jeopardy and he married Zsa-Zsa….

But not all of them.  I cooked down a 15 pound pumpkin and have had pumpkin and potato frittata as well as just plain pumpkin and potato ‘dish’; I made rice the other  night, but that dish also isn’t named, and it wasn’t a recipe per se.

Here’s the directions:

I open the fridge and said to myself,  “What’s a deep breath away from compost? What’s a day or two from talking back to me? What’s about to start walking around under it’s own power tonight?? What is that thing behind the egg nog?”

Then,  I  cooked the things that I had. I started with plain ole white rice cooked in the leftover carrot juice (if you cook carrots in carrot juice they are carroty X ∞ (that’s ‘carrot times infinity’), thank you Kevin from Solstice in Kingston. Cooking veg in veg broth or veg juice incredibly improves them!)

I also had some a deep breath away from perky pea-shoots that we great in salad earlier in the week, but were not quite up to salading again, so I added them in half way through. Topped the whole thing off with a little grated cheese. A lovely contrast of golden/orange  rice and greeny greens.If I had to name it, it would be:

Risi e Bisi : Variation for the Autumnal New England Kitchen.

That’s a name that could be twenty bucks a plate.

Or, as I called it : Supper. Actually, I called it, “hmm hm hmmm yum yummm yea” as part of a happy food hum. There was another veg and fruit and pear cider to drink. Hot chocolate with marshmallows later as both the coffee and dessert course.

Not the flashy production values of a new FoodNetwork Show, but pretty tasty and quick and note to myself to try veg juice with rice again.

I did not cook the lentils because….I ate enough food for 2 days. Seriously, I wasn’t very interested in breakfast the day after.

But I don’t have a dainty appetite, and I’ve since recovered.

Now, to make that Egg Nog French Toast…..

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Gold in them there Gourds

Because,

if you’re house-sitting the week of Halloween and have already been displaced so you’re at your ancestral home but 2/3’s of your stuff is at your former dwelling where the fire was AND you’ll be moving in November….did I mention it was the day before HALLOWEEN…..then you should definitely give into the temptation to buy, not one, but 2 giant and rather unattractive ‘decorative gourds’.

But they were substantial and hefty and the price was right – and they had the promise of being tasty culinary gold.

And after Halloween ALL the Gourds and Pumpkins  will be

GONE

Gone gone gone. As if they had never been here at all; as if there was no need for a Pumpkin or a Gourd in Winter. Winter is for Squash, alone.

Poor squash. Alone, poor lonely squash.

pumpkin 2015

They actually looked quite a bit like this, a Speckled Hound variety, but there were more warts.

amygoldmancompleat squash

SOMEWHERE I have a copy of this book, which has everything you could want to know about squash and pumpkins between it’s covers.  But think I learned well. Thank you, Amy G.!

The upside is that not only have they been decorative, but once I had time to hack, seed, peel and cook one……I have over 10 pounds of delicious golden squash/pumpkin/gourd (because they’re different names for essentially the same thing) .

You can’t freeze squash or pumpkin without cooking it first (consider the water content – you’ve seen this on front steps everywhere you look every year around a Halloween frost). Keep them indoors where the frost doesn’t go and you have much more lee-way. When the weather is cool  – and this week has been downright cold, and windy and rainy/snowy/sleety – it’s a perfect excuse to keep the oven going, as you roast it up to store in the freezer.

My excuse to keep the oven on and the kitchen toasty on an otherwise far too gray a day . Like John Alden, I shall speak for myself.

In typical fashion, the first quarter of the pumpkin took more  (or at least as much) time as the last three quarters.  I weighed the seeds and peelings when done – a little over 5 pounds. I wasn’t particularly wasteful; it really was that big.

I did have the option of roasting it whole, which I did once several years ago to a giant Blue Hubbard, Hubbard being my Dad’s favorite. That squash had been used for decorative purpose, and I saved it from the Dumpster. It was a carry in both arms /bigger then a big baby big.

Hubbard_squash

Blue Hubbard

I actually brought it to the ancestral home, poked it with an ice pick (evidently the real reason that that was still hanging around. Even though we called it an ‘ice box’ it was an up to date Frigidaire, frost free and everything) and put Baby Blue on the biggest baking sheet in the house and put it in the oven for a couple of hours until it was all  schlumpy. When it was cool enough, we used the stainless steel serving spoons to break in, separate the gold from the skin and the seeds and packed the gold  into baggies. Lots and lots of baggies. Which we stored in the freezer until there was need for gold. And it got us both through the better part of the winter.

But if you roast a squash or pumpkin whole, you end up with pulpy pulp, and I wanted to hold onto a little more structure/texture.

My new kitchen has 4 windows, so I set my cutting board on the table and was able to watch the dogs walking their people on the green, and cars coming and going at the street corner and the sun moving on the  horizon….I was also paying attention to the big knife that is necessary to cut a big squash…and my knives are home! Knives are sharp. No wounds to report.

Cut the giant in half.

Seed with the ice cream scoop. Seriously the right tool for the job.

Ice+Cream+Scoop

Ice cream scoop/pumpkin seed scoop – a multi-tasker!

Cut into whatever shapes make it possible to peel, peel, peel.

Toss with a little oil, sprinkle with a little salt, spread out on a baking sheet and pop into a 375° oven until it’s done…..20-40 minutes – poke it with a fork, you’ll know.

pumpkinNimono_of_japanese_pumpkin_2014

This is what it looks like coming out of the oven. You can eat it just like this. While humming happy food songs.

Some I ate off the roasting pan as it came out of the oven….lunch.

  • I kept  three of the chopped pounds to add to an equal amount of potatoes for slow cooker  for Squash and Potato with Rosemary that I’ve made before.

 

Italian slow cooker book

  • I’m going to use some of the leftovers of this to make a version of the squash and potato soup. I’ll puree the already cooked veg mix with the broth, and since I’ve already seasoned with rosemary I might leave the sage out. Note to self: Next time cook squash and potato with sage instead of rosemary.
  • Some of the squash/potato mixture will be mixed with eggs and fried in olive oil, a golden and easy fritatta. I fried a chopped shallot in some olive oil, added a little more oil, put the egg/potato/pumpkin in. When the bottom was browned, lowered the heat, put a lid on it and waited impatiently for it to be done.I had thought to sprinkle a little cheese over, but I forget and it was LOVELY.A glass of pear cider and a greens salad with pecans and blue cheese dressing made up the rest of that supper.
  • Some will be thinned with a little broth (or wine) and mixed with some hot macaroni, I’m thinking some hot pepper to season that…

Smoke & Pickles by Edward Lee has another version of Squash Mac and Cheese that I’ll be trying with freezer gold.

Gold updates  as they occur.

 

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RabbitRabbitRabbitRabbitRabbit

Intrude by Amanda Parer installed in 2015

And a Hoppy New Year!

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