Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Garlic (fresh or powder)
Carrots (optional in summertime)
A can of Black Beans
A can of chicken stock
Your Favorite Rice
Your Favorite Pasta
It is my belief that if you keep these basic ingredients on hand at all times you will always be able to feed yourself well. You could throw together a pasta dish, dirty rice or soup in no time. If you keep a decent selection of dried herbs on hand, you can also do anything from Italian to Mexican to a good old fashion stew. The bonus is that you can also grow many of the fresh ingredients easily in your backyard or patio. If you really want to get adventuresome, you could even try your hand at mushroom growing (really wanna try this)!
Weeknight BB Soup
5 small Roma tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
handful of rough chopped onion
handful of sliced carrot
1 small jalapeno (optional if you are heat sensitive)
1 can of black beans
1 quart of chicken broth
Salt, Pepper and lots of Cumin to taste
The wonderful part of this soup is all you do is chop everything up, throw it in the pot with grace and style and let it simmer until the carrots are soft (about 20-30 minutest). I served it with a thick slice of buttered bread. The tomatoes can cause a slight film/bubbles to develop on top so you can either just scoop that off or wait until the last five minutes to add the tomatoes.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
If you don't know what I mean when I say this, then you haven't opened your windows this morning. Fall has come. As I sit here bundled up in my furry slippers sipping my second cup of hot coffee, I can't help but think about how nice it would be to curl up with a blanket and one of my favorite fall movies. It's the perfect time for movie watching. The garden is winding down to things that need less care such as greens and root crops, nature will soon take over watering duties and it is finally cool enough to pull out those fleece blankets you got for Christmas last year.
In honor of this wonderful turn in the weather, I'm compiling a list of my favorite fall films so that I don't miss any this year. There is only about a month to watch Halloween related movies and two months for fall movies in general. After that Christmas movies take over and well, that leaves little time for anything else. So I shall start my list here and feel free to add any of your favorites in the comments.
Practical Magic (this one gets multiple viewings in October. Midnight Margaritas!)
The Witches of Eastwick
The Scarlet Letter
The Adaams Family
The Harry Potter Series
The Charlie Brown Halloween & Thanksgiving Specials (I actually hate all the peanuts specials, but lots of people love it so what the heck.)
I loved all your guys' recommendations so much I've added them to the list! I'll keep updating as more come in.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Kristen’s Peach Cobbler
6 cups peeled and cored peaches
1/2 cup sugar5
tablespoons unbleached flour
1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 tablespoons butter or non-dairy butter-cold
1/2 cup milk or dairy-free milk
2 tablespoons butter or non-dairy butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamon
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Peel and core the peaches and put them into a cast iron frying pan(I just used a regular glass baking dish). Mix in the 1/2 cup sugar and 5 Tbsp flour. Set aside.
Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. Add the cold butter and milk and stir until mixed. Spoon the biscuit mixture over the peaches.
Brush the melted butter over the cobbler. Mix the sugar and cardamon together and sprinkle on top of the cobbler. Put into the oven and bake until the top browns, about 45-50 minutes. Cool for about 20 minutes and serve with fresh whipping cream or ice cream.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. In fact, when FOX was a fledgling network they had a short lived science fiction show whose name escapes me, but on one episode one of the characters (a female Space Marine) was waxing eloquent about why she missed autumn on Earth….she said, “There is something so desperate and sexy about autumn….” I have always found that to be a perfectly fitting description. Desperate because it’s the last push to get the harvest in and the household/farmstead/den battened down and sexy because it’s when the vast majority of animals mate in order to ensure a spring birth….lots of action, activity and pheromones in the air! I myself have very fond memories of helping my father’s family with the fall harvest on their farm in Iowa . As a small child I couldn’t help much, but help I did and it was the one time of year that whole side of the family came together to work as a clan. Crisp mornings, sweatshirts, my dad’s big coyote-fur lined winter jacket that I would get to wear once he worked up a sweat, leather work gloves, the crunch and smell of dried corn, the pulsing sound of the combine, the ubiquitous snarl of a chainsaw that we and others were constantly running to try to beat the snow with firewood preparations, and the occasional crack of a hunter’s rifle echoing off the land are all indelibly burned into my brain….desperate and sexy indeed.
As such I am a sucker for anything “harvest” whether a theme (how about a harvest wedding…sans chainsaws, of course!), decoration, movie or recipe. I received a recipe recently called “Harvest Muffins” from one of my Yahoo user groups. The ingredients sounded like a slam dunk, but the first batch left a lot to be desired….they made the house smell wonderful, however the spices called for were just enough for aromatics and not taste. In addition, the cook temps and times called for resulted in a very dry muffin that resulted in the last two remaining being thrown out. Plus the quantity of raisins called for completely overwhelmed the recipe.
I did a second batch and the only thing that resembles the original is the ingredients list. All spices and the raisins have been significantly adjusted and the baking temperature reduced while the time was increased. This resulted in a muffin that not only smells GREAT while baking, but tastes wonderful and remains very moist inside. Bear in mind that even once the toothpick comes out clean these muffins retain a lot of moisture around the apple shreds and may appear underdone if you eat one right after baking. Give them some time to sit and the moisture disperses evenly through the whole muffin. I store them in a plastic tub with a light dishtowel draped on top to keep them moist but prevent molding. Also keep in mind that these are more like a zucchini or banana bread than a true muffin and as such don’t rise terribly high.
I hope you relish them as much as I do—they are utterly perfect for a desperate, sexy fall morning (or even a mundane, frumpy one!). Serve with hot coffee or plain black tea and enjoy!!
2 c all purpose flour
1/3 c sugar
1 TBS baking powder
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 c apple juice/cider
1/3 c vegetable oil
¼ real maple syrup
1 large egg beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and shredded
3 oz chopped walnuts (1/2 of a big package)
½ c golden raisins
Blend dry ingredients in one bowl. Blend wet ingredients in another bowl. Combine the two until just mixed and fold in the last three ingredients.
Divide batter into muffin pan (the cups will be pretty full)
Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. The apple should still be really moist inside.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
If you enjoy food and the warm feeling of love filling your heart, then the movie Julie & Julia is for you. Its a wonderfully crafted hilarious story, and while it's not as full of completed dishes as one would expect, it is full of yummy looking food preparation. I was inspired by one of the meals that Julie makes, and if you ask anyone whose seen the film, they remember it too.
It's a simple meal of pan fried bread topped with lots of fresh chopped tomatoes and herbs. The best part was hearing the crunch as Julie and her husband ripped into this dish animal style. I was feeling a bit carnivorous when I tried to make it, so I added some Italian sausage. Hope you enjoy my interpretation. Oh and a little warning, this recipe is very bad for you!
Open Faced Italian Tomato Sandwiches
2 Thick Sliced Sourdough bread
2 Roma Tomatoes
2 Small Yellow Tomatoes (Golden Jubilee)
2 Tbsp. Chopped Yellow Onion
3 Tbsp. Fresh Chopped Parsley
2 Tbsp. Ribbon Cut Basil
1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme
2 Garlic Cloves minced
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinaigrette
Tiny Dollop of honey
Salt and Pepper
1)Mix sausage and thyme and cook the sausage through. While the sausage is cooking, chop the tomatoes and all the herbs. Once the sausage is done, drain it on paper towels.
2) Mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette & honey. Toss in tomatoes and onions and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3) Cover both sides of bread with butter. Press the chopped parsley and garlic onto one side of the bread. If you plan ahead, you can also mix the butter, parsley and garlic together then spread that on the butter.
4) Fry both sides of bread in a pan until golden brown. Immediately layer with sausage then tomato mixture. Sprinkle on top with basil.
You'll want to eat this IMMEDIATELY! Within five minutes it will be soggy so have the table set and the beers pours before you put it together. It would go great with a glass of cold Hef or a Pale Ale.
So go see Julie & Julia. Then come home and make this tasty late summer meal.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
-1 empty 32 oz. spray bottle
-3/4 c. Distilled White Vinegar
-1 c. Hydrogen Peroxide
-1 1/2 tsp. Castille Soap (Such as Dr. Bronner )
-30 drops Tea Tree Oil
-30 drops Essential Oil of choice (some of my favorite choices include lavender, lemongrass, rosemary, lemon verbena, spearmint, clove, cinnamon, anise, sage, grapefruit, lemon, and lime; experiment with one or a combo and see what scent makes you want to get lean and clean!)
-Place all ingredients into the spray bottle using a funnel or measuring cup with a spout.
-Add water until contents reach top of bottle.
-Shake vigorously and use with abandon!
Jeff made three baguettes for the evening to go with the brushetta I had made the day before. In our first attempt to make this bread, we learned the very important lesson (or relearned in my case) that you shouldn't bake bread on dark cookie sheets. The bottoms WILL burn. Our first go at this bread was a horrible failure. They all burned, and although Jeff tried to save my terrible bread by lovingly scraping off the black part and saying it wasn't that bad, I knew the truth. I was particularly disheartened because the bread rises for four and a half hours, so it's not like we could just mix up another batch at 10 pm.
The next day Jeff gave it a second try and his attempt turned out far better than my first. Here is the recipe we used, slightly modified from it's original source.
French Baguette a la Jeffry
4 cups Flour
1 tbsp. Dry Active Yeast
1-2 tsp. Salt
1 3/4 cups Warm Water
1-2 Tbsp. sugar
Oil for bowl
How to make it:
1. In a bowl, mix together the flour and the salt.
2. In another bowl, combine yeast, warm water, sugar and half of the flour/salt mixture. Using your hands, mix until it forms a dough. Then, cover with a dish cloth and let sit at room temperature for 3 hours. It should triple in size.
3. Gently incorporate the rest of the flour/salt, using your hands.
4. Place on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. It should be supple and elastic when you stop kneading.
5. Lightly oil a bowl. Place dough in bowl. Cover with a dish towel. Let sit for 1 hour. It should double in size.
6. Preheat oven to 450°F. Knead again. Then cut dough into 3 parts and form each part into a long baguette. Place on a baking sheet. Let sit for at least 20 minutes.
7. Place a bowl of water in the oven. Bake baguettes for about 25 minutes (maybe less, check often towards the end). Remove the bowl of water after 15 minutes of baking and spritz the baguettes.
The other bread we made went off without a hitch. It was an herby pull apart bread which utilized lots of fresh herbs from the garden. The original recipe can be found here.
Herby Pull Apart Bread
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2½ tablespoons active dry yeast
2½ cups warm (120 to 130F) water
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp. each finely chopped sage, rosemary and thyme
1 tablespoon melted butter
How to make it:
1. Grease two 9-x-5-inch loaf pans.
2. Combine 4 cups flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and 2½ cups warm water in a large bowl. Add herbs and stir until well blended. Stir in remaining flour until smooth. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
3.Stir dough for 25 strokes.
4.Separate dough into 16 balls of equal size. Place 8 balls in each loaf pan in two rows. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.
5. Bake loaves 30 minutes at 375F. Reduce heat to 350F and bake 15 minutes longer, or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cover loosely with foil during the last 10 minutes of baking time to prevent over-browning.
6.Remove from pans immediately and brush with melted butter. Cool on a wire rack.
The balls will pull apart to dinner roll sized portions. I served it with butter that had just a bit of honey in it. The sweetness really complimented the herbs.
Monday, September 14, 2009
savory herb bread
Fried squash blossoms
chips and homemade peach salsa
Mashed purple potatoes with herb butter
Brushetta on baguette
1) Trim zucchini blossoms. This means cutting off the little "spines" that are at the base of the flower and cutting out the pistol from inside. Be careful not to rip the flowers doing this. You can still use them if you do, it's just a bit messy.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
1) Place the chicken breast with the bone down on your cutting board.
1) Peel a bunch of tomatoes and cut them into pieces into a regular strainer so the juice will go into a bowl (fresh tomato juice is one of the delightful byproducts of the soup).
You will need 15 cups of tomato pulp to make 8 pints of soup. Depending on the type of tomatoes you use, this should give you over 2 quarts of pure tomato juice for your enjoyment.
A note on the garlic…..since the French use lots of garlic and don’t peel it, I didn’t peel mine either…just popped them into cloves and cut off the root end. They don’t even need to be cut up (neither do the carrots) because you are going to liquefy them in the blender.
6)To serve just add some cream or milk to taste and heat. Goes absolutely great with a toasted cheese sandwich.
After you have cleaned up, sit back and enjoy a big glass of fresh tomato juice (additional ingredients are up to you) and think about how good that Tomato Basil soup is going to taste on a cold rainy day this winter, and how good you feel knowing that you can pronounce every ingredient in it.