Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

It's the day we celebrate the most depressed nation on earth. And beer. We all wear green and eat corned beef and cabbage—whether we are Irish or not. I am. Both of my parents have Irish ancestry; not much, but enough to count. Nick also has some Irish in him.

I think this holiday should be about loving your enemies. Really, what could be more fitting? There are very few people in history who showed more love—real love, sacrifice and patience for his enemies than St. Patrick.
Imagine, a young man—still more of a boy, only fourteen years old. Old enough to start looking into things and question his beliefs. His name wasn't even Patrick, it was some British thing that I can't pronounce. His parents had hopes that he would enter the church, and he began to rebel. Legends tell us that he was at a party, a ceremony of animal sacrifice to a pagan god, when Irish pirates attacked. He was captured and sold as a slave.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Creamy Asian


I've told you that we recently bought a lot of dry food stuffs. And I do mean A LOT. 25Lbs each of flour and oat meal, 10lbs each of egg noodles and tricolored rotini, and a 1lb block of yeast. I've only just today realized that while we now have food in the house, we still need to go shopping for the perishable stuff. So Nick went to the store and bought broccoli, onions and carrots. We're still going to need to go out later and get more milk, eggs and butter. And sugar. I couldn't find bulk sugar at a price I liked without getting so much that I couldn't store it.

I felt somewhat rich tonight as I cooked dinner. I had enough of a variety of stuff to feel like I didn't have to stretch myself or the food. It was fun cook tonight in a way that it hasn't been in a while. So I decided to re-create something that I'd made earlier in the week and see if I could improve it a bit.

Nick had bought the broccoli, onions and carrots, and we already had a pack of mushrooms that needed to be used up as well as sour cream and a new bottle of soy sauce. I sauted the vegetables in oil and butter and seasoned them with garlic, ginger and honey. I tossed in some cooked noodles and finished with generous amounts of soy sauce and the last of the sour cream. I think I used a little too much sour cream, and I should have added some cayenne pepper. But it was good. I'm thinking next time I do a creamy asian thing I'll use rice.

--Zizi

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hotter Pockets


Nick made a thing the other night, and I'll let him tell you about them, but what he made had me recall a recipe given to me by my godmother, Sandi. The recipe is titled 'Gloria's Kraut Burgers' for her friend, Gloria, who gave it to Sandi. The gist of it is that it's ground hamburger and sour kraut wrapped in dough and baked (I can't remember the exact recipe).

We recently took a weekend trip up to see friends and family and I decided to combine the two recipes for some travel food. Nick bought the ingredients and on Friday I set to work, baking and packing.

The ground beef was 75/25 lean to fat, and I used the grease to fry the onions and mushrooms—which I cut in a rough chop rather than a fine dice (like Nick did). I seasoned it with LOTS of sage, some garlic, paprika, salt&pepper and a little ginger. When the onions and mushrooms were done (I had added them to the beef just before it was done and let them finish cooking together) I added three small spoonfuls of cottage cheese and three large spoonfuls of sour cream. Then I turned the heat off.

I opened a can of biscuits, the pre-made dough kind that you just place and bake. I rolled them out flat and put a few spoonfuls of the beef mixture in the middle. Then I pulled the edges up and pinched them together. They baked according to the directions of the biscuit can. I, myself, don't like a lot of dough at the bottom, so I shaped some of them as rectangles to thin that out. They came out like "Hot Pockets", and were really good. The sage and cottage cheese really added something to the beef.

Happy Cooking!

--Zizi

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spinach Casserole


I forget what I was thinking that I'd write to go with this recipe. I should probably update you on the antics of our children.

The Amazing Omnivorous Child still eats much and often. His interests are beginning to branch out in other areas though. He has many toys, and enjoys playing with them. Every toy is either a boat, car or plane—even the dinosaurs. He received a set of building blocks for Christmas and a car rug for his birthday (both of which we just recently picked up) and we've been having fun building ramps and hosting monster truck rallies. He also helps me cook a lot. We made cookies today. Right now he is sitting on my lap, munching on a carrot and sounds very much like Bugs Bunny. Except for the adoring looks he turns to give me every other minute.

The Amazing Flying Child has taken off and now chases us around the house. The motivation for his flight came in the form of a bowl of carrot sticks that The Amazing Omnivorous Child was carrying around. The carrot sticks were dropped and the Amazing Flying Child was suddenly there. The Amazing Omnivorous Child was so distressed that his brother had gotten his carrots that he just stood there and screamed. I picked up the carrots and from then on, The Amazing flying Child has been chasing people who have food or are stupid enough to sit on the floor with books or cameras.

On to the food:

1 onion
5 mushrooms
1 pkg spinach ( I used frozen chopped spinach)
1 pkg egg noodles
2 cans COMS
provolone cheese

I fried the onion, mushrooms and spinach in a wok, then added the cooked egg noodles. I mixed in both cans of COMS. I should have ( and strongly recommend that you do) layered it in a casserole dish, topped with provolone cheese and baked for 10 minutes or so. As it was I just served it up with the cheese on top. It was really good, except that I had overcooked the noodles.

--Zizi

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Continuing Bread Saga


We suddenly became very blessed throughout February. Our tax return came in, and I was able to purchase 25lbs. of flour, along with oatmeal, pasta and yeast. Katherine, after reading about our New Years Cheese Fondue, gave us her fondue pot which she wasn't using. When we went to pick up the fondue pot she also gave us her bread machine!

The first time I used the bread machine I had tried to convert my french bread recipe, and it was a not quite epic failure. I had a few days of hesitation while I waited for Katherine to send the manual, and eventually I called my mother for her recipe (the manual arrived that same day!).

Mom's bread recipe comes from Grandma, and from there I have no idea, probably her mother and so on. My mom converted the recipe to fit into a bread machine, and then over the years to suit her changing health needs. It's strange that I had to call her for the recipe, because I've grown up making it. I remember her first bread machine, and I've helped her figure out which things work best (like butter vs. oil—butter doesn't work in a machine). But it was an oppourtunity to call my mom and we talked for a while. Then I made the bread.

Grandma, and Mom, have always made this recipe as sandwich buns. I think I might be the first woman in our family to bake it as a loaf. Incidentally, the first time I did that was for Katherine's bridal shower.

The original recipe has probably been lost, as Grandma has converted hers to fit into her kitchen mixer. I give you the recipe as Mom gave it to me over the phone just now.

Ciao!

2-3 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
1c warm water
¼ c warm milk
4 c flour
3-5 tbsp sugar
2 ¼ tsp yeast

This is for a 2lb loaf or two 1lb loaves, on the Basic/White bread setting. The inredients go into the pan in this order. There a lot of sugar because the sugar is what helps the bread to brown properly; Mom said to use brown sugar if you have it. You can use more or less milk if it suits you, the milk helps the yeast to make it rise.

--Zizi

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pumpernickel (What a Name...)


Mom's Pumpernickel Bread

1 ¼ C hot water
2 tbsp light oil
¼ C molasses
1 ½ C white flour
½ C wheat flour
1 C rye flour
4 tsp powdered milk*
2 tbsp sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ C cornmeal
3 tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp instant coffee (decaf)
2 tbsp caraway seeds
3 tsp yeast

Make a sponge with the yeast, water, sugar, molasses and oil.
Combine all dry ingredients and sift well.
Combine dry ingredients to the sponge and mix well. Cover and let rise. Knead and let rise in the pan. Bake.

*If you're using powdered milk add it to the dry ingredients, if you're using liquid milk add it to the sponge.

Enjoy!

--Zizi

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Bleu" Noodles


There is something that we did in the restaurant, and something that I do by habit: cut everything in one dish to the same size. The onions, carrots and broccoli should be julienned to the same size as the noodles you are going to add them to, for example. They will all cook at the same rate, and the dish looks better as a whole.

I'd thought that that was all of it. But Nick was cooking something Saturday night (I'll let him tell you about it, the only thing I'll say is that it was amazing) and he added one more theory to this practice. When you cut everything to the same size the individual flavors are more evenly distributed; no one flavor overpowers the meal. I hadn't known that.

Tonight I julienned an onion and a carrot (I wish I'd had two, but it was the last one), and fried them with a can of corn. I tossed in a box of penne pasta (cooked) and seasoned it with about half of a bottle of bleu cheese salad dressing. I added a splash of milk to thin out the dressing. It would have been better as a cold pasta salad topped with shredded asiago cheese.

The Amazing Omnivorus Child didn't like it. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at that, the bleu cheese is a little strong, and he'd just eaten a tortilla with peanut butter on it. So he wasn't too hungry. We had leftover birthday cake for dessert.

If you're going to try to make this, I recommend you do it as the cold pasta salad—and make an effort to get at least some Parmesan cheese to throw on top. And if you can get it, some diced chicken would make it perfect.

Happy Cooking!

--Zizi