Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hi!
 

My name is Ashley. I live in Ontario Canada, with my family. Everyone in this house likes different foods, and usually no one likes the same thing. So, I am always on the search for new recipes, always testing out foods on my family. I came across a copy of More-With-Less and it really sparked some interest. I like the idea of simple meals, that cost less, and are homemade. I also like that the focus isn't on a huge piece of meat for every meal. I am on a limited budget, and meat prices are getting to be insanely high - take yesterday, I went to buy hamburger/ground beef and it was priced at $6.95 for 1 pound, hot dogs an 8 pack was $5, these are supposed to be the cheaper meat items. Roasts were $27. Seeing this at the store caused me to pick up More-With-Less again.
 

I'm not going to be cooking my way through the whole book, there are many recipes that I  know my family just wouldn't eat. There are a few that include nuts, which I won't be making because we have a nut allergy.  And there are recipes that include ingredients that we just don't have in this small town.
 

I will try to post pictures when I can (when I remember to pull out the camera!), and I will give my views and the views of my kids as well as we cook up some of these recipes.
 

And also if you have made some of these recipes and took pictures, feel free to send them my way and I will post them as well!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

A little bit less...for more, hopefully

Yes, summers are normally busy times of year...with trips, gardening, and general basking in the sun.

No, I've not been posting much.  Partly because of busyness, partly because it's so hot in our kitchen that I never want to cook, and partly because I am finding that I feel like I've personally learned most of what I set out to learn.  More-with-Less was a mostly undiscovered cookbook for me a year ago, save a few bread and cookie recipes, and within a year I've branched in a direction I don't typically branch towards: simple, "home-cooked-tasting" meals (versus the normally crazy what-looks-awesome-with-seemingly-a-long-list-of-ingredients meals).

In brief, I am feeling that my personal journey with blogging about MWL is ending.  Not having to write may even make my life simpler...which, is totally in the spirit of MWL, is it not?

I gladly leave open the opportunity for someone else to pick up where I left off -- drop me a line, and we'll get you started. 

I have enjoyed writing very much and sharing stories with each of you about the food we eat.  I'm grateful for the press I received from Mennonite Publishing House and for the new people that came around because of it.  I hope you are not too disappointed (if you are, see the paragraph right above this one...you can turn that frown upside down!), but that you can appreciate any new insights you've found along the way.

Good luck and good eating to each of you, blazing your own culinary paths!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cabbage!

92.  Formosan Fried Cabbage, pg. 226

It seems slightly culturally insensitive to call this "Formosan" when even the author is not sure if this recipe is used in Taiwan.  I grew up knowing this dish as "Bee Chee" (or spelled something like that...), which isn't necessarily great for describing what's actually in the dish, but at least there are no cultural assumptions. :)

Issues aside, I love the fact this recipe has only four ingredients.  It makes life so much easier.  And then it all is served over rice.  Perfect.

I used bacon that I bought from a farm that sells at the same market that I do.  (It's such a lovely treat to be able to buy food straight from a farmer and go home and cook it! :)) I've used different kinds of cabbage for this dish before, and they all turn out very similarly.

I ain't got much to say other than that.

Overall: 4 out of 5  If you're craving salt, say hello to dinner!

93.  Creamy Cabbage, pg. 226

Yup, I had leftover cabbage, and this is where it all was finished up.  Though I'm very normally a vegetarian, I always think of cabbage alongside a pork dish (like above :)).  Perhaps that's the German in me.  We didn't have meat with this dish, but I can envision it alongside kielbasa or spicy sausage.

After cooking the cabbage and onions for about 7 or 8 minutes, I dumped in the cream cheese and paprika.  I didn't see the need to add more fat in the way of butter, so I nixed that, and I don't have (nor do I like) celery seed.  (Which, again, really only leaves me with 5 ingredients, not counting water.  Yay!)

The dish was simple, but satisfying.  I liked that the cabbage was still crunchy, but had mellowed just a bit.

Overall:  3.4 out of 5  Good, but not particularly beautiful.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I'm in a rush to clear out some of my canned and frozen goodies from last year before the same things come back into season...But a few things have already gotten ahead of me, like beets.  I still have nearly a dozen pints of pickled beets sitting in our basement, and yet, tonight, I am cooking the first two beets we'll eat this summer.  Ahh, well, I guess that just means I'll not have to can those this year.  I'm also, more than happily, helping clean out my mother's cellar.  I've become reacquainted with my undying love of tart-apple applesauce.  And though a good deal of my fruit servings these days goes towards ungodly amounts of sweet cherries, I've also found space in my stomach for the hearty bowl of cold applesauce on hot nights.  I like food a little too much, it seems...

90.  Bierrocks, pg. 144

A grateful nod to Rocky Mountain MCC Relief Sale for introducing me to this dish nearly 8 years ago.  Before my service group's trip there, I'd never known that hamburger, cabbage, and onion could be enclosed so nicely in a soft, wheaty bun.

So, last night, with meat-eating friends coming over, I dove headfirst into tackling this cultural delight (and tried to gear up my stomach to ingest beef for the first time in a very long time.)

I halved the recipe since there were only four of us.  In the dough, I still used a whole egg, and it turned out fine.  I used one cup of whole wheat, and the rest white.

I used a whole pound of ground beef, since it was frozen and I wasn't patient enough (or had enough foresight) to use just 3/4 lb.  I did end up with extra filling, but I think I could have put more than 2T. in each pocket.  I got 6 large bierrocks out of the recipe.  Be forewarned that the dough really expands when it bakes!

Served alongside hot sauce and ketchup, these bierrocks were very tasty.  Not as good as I remember them from the Relief Sale, but not having grown up eating these, I can't say I did too bad for a first go. :)

Overall:  3.6 out of 5  Good.  A fun substitute to boring ol' hamburgers!

91.  New Potatoes and Peas with Ham, pg. 140

In my opinion, creamed peas and potatoes are The Quintessential Summer Dish.  Their combination signals the beginning of something very good.

When you're getting your veggies together, I don't think it's super important to maintain the proportions listed.  I often don't use onions at all, sometimes use fewer peas (depending on what I have on hand), and will use medium-sized potatoes and cut them up.

Normally when I'm making this dish, after cooking the veggies, I drain all the liquid and just add a little bit of butter and milk.  But I have to say that I really liked making the roux with the extra liquid.  I liked the thick, almost-gravy it made.  I will definitely do this again.

And I completely nixed the cooked ham and cheese.  I suppose if this is your entire dinner, you might want that protein in there, but for a main veggie dish, doing without them is completely understandable.

(The leftovers are great for breakfast, too. :) )

Overall:  4.6 out of 5  Simply Summer.  Yum.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I'm all for changing the status quo, and here in our house, that means involving my husband in making food occasionally.  He does a couple things really well in the kitchen:  chop veggies, season dishes, and make Annie's mac and cheese.  He's also quite good at loading the dishwasher (but rarely unloads it), adding too much garlic to a concoction (just did that last night), and now, as I've come to find out, putting beans on the stove to cook while I'm gone (and I've asked him to).

Unfortunately, with this last "gift", the only part he's good at is the actual physical action of putting the beans on the stove and turning the gas on. :)

I had been gone for part of an afternoon when I asked him to do these things for me when he got home from work.  Upon my return, I smelled something burning.  Now, I've burned a pan of beans before, and so I was more or less (ha!) instantly clued into what was happening.  I run to the stove, find the pan dry, and the beans looking up at me, helplessly.  I performed as much emergency aid as I could, and then let the beans cool down before I would try one to see if the burny smell had turned into burny taste.  (This also gave me time to yell at said husband.  In a kind, thoughtful, and forgiving way, of course.)

Soon enough, we discovered the beans were somewhat salvagable, so all had not been lost in the quest for the night's dinner.

89.  Crusty Mexican Bean Bake, pg. 101 featuring the crust from Soybean Pie, pg. 111

Starting off with the crust:  since I didn't have yogurt or sour cream, and didn't feel like going out specifically for it, I decided to go with the crust for the Soybean Pie, which is a corn-based crust versus the flour-based crust of Bean Bake.  The final crust product reminded me of cornbread, which was nice, as we oft pair cornbread and chili...which takes us to the Bean Bake.

To make it vegetarian, I subbed about 1 c. of cooked soy beans for the ground beef and sauteed them with the onion.  The remainder of the filling is straight-forward, but I used (nearly burnt) pinto beans instead of kidney beans.  Since I didn't have any juice left from the beans, I simply rinsed out the tomato paste can with water and used all of that liquid instead.  As I didn't have chili powder, I subbed 1 1/2 t. cumin, 1/2 t. cayenne, and 1/2 t coriander.

After baking, I sprinkled a little bit of cheese on top as well as a few garlic scapes (for color.)  At the table, I had extra cheese and lettuce available, and had salsa available instead of tomatoes. 

As a whole, it was a good dish, and solid.  I would air on the side of saying it serves 4-5 adults, at least if that's all your serving for dinner.

And I guess we can say that all's well that ends well.  :)

Overall:  4 out of 5, Husband rated.  I would have gone slightly more conservatively in the mid-3s.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

88. Marinated Soybeans, pg. 113

This was my first time cooking with actual soybeans.  Sure, I take in soy in many, many other ways on a daily basis, but this was absolutely The First Time that I cooked up soybeans and then used them in a recipe.  Oh, More-With-Less!  The places you take me! :)

I had high hopes for this dish.  I typically like marinated things and salads in general.  I don't know that I've ever had enough bean salad to be able to compare this recipe to a standard 3-bean concoction...so I'm quite new to this.

It was pretty.  I used fresh basil from the garden, and combined with the parsley, it looked spunky and fun.  I had to sub here and there...didn't have garlic salt, so minced an extra clove instead and added a dash of salt.  I didn't have dill pickles, so I threw in a tablespoon of sweet relish.  And I didn't have green pepper, so it didn't get any.

Stuck in in the fridge to chill, and got it out to use as my side dish for dinner.  The first bite was okay.  But the more I ate it, I felt that it was ending up:  too sweet, too heavy, and had too many competing flavors.

My advice is to reduce the amount of honey, eat small portions of the stuff, and tailor the spices to your typical delights.

Overall: 2 out of 5  Bearable, but not great. 

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Just a quick plug for the new MPH book, Saving the Seasons:  It looks gorgeous, scrumptious, and full of new ideas!  If you're looking forward to learning how to put up food, I recommend a look into it!

87.  Lentil-Barley Stew, pg. 107

Another rainy day, another soup.

I doubled this recipe to serve a crowd of 9 (just to be on the safe side), and we had plenty of leftovers.  Pairs nicely with a salad, and I even pulled out Simply in Season to make Rhubarb Muffins (with rhubarb fresh from the garden!)

A quick few notes on what I did differently.  Towards the end of the saute time, I added three cloves of minced garlic.  Then, I added a few cubes of veggie bouillon with the water, and then didn't add either the salt or garlic salt.  I actually used less water than what it called for, as the pan looked like it would overflow if I used the full amount -- I probably used about 10 cups instead of 12.  Also, when I added the lentils, since I was using wheat berries instead of pearl barley, I went ahead and added the berries, since they take a little longer to cook.  Other than that, I made the recipe as written.  The smells that gradually filled the kitchen (alongside the cinnamony-muffins) were delightful!  The meal was heartily eaten, and the stew was a hit!

Overall: 4 out of 5  Great for larger groups, and a solid meal even on its own.