Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Though our cabinets and appliances have not arrived yet (and seem to be MIA), and though our 'kitchen" is primitive by all standards (we may propose our sad case to Mennonite Disaster Service) our digestion must go on.  Thankfully, I'm not cooking over a little fire pit, but sometimes it seems just as bad... :)

The first recipe isn't even a recipe...

34.  Pg. 222  Under 'vegetable discoveries'

Having just baked off a kabocha squash (my new favorite!) with no real plan for it, I was happy to find this "throw-whatever-in" idea to use some of it.  I sauteed a yellow onion, a clove or two of garlic, and then tossed in about a half pound of mushrooms.  When all were done cooking, I dumped in a big spoonful of pumpkin (chunked, not pureed, unless you want a more soupy texture) and two cups or so of canned tomatoes with liquid.  Let it cook until hot, add either roasted peanuts or a tablespoon or two of peanut butter, and season with cumin, curry powder, and cayenne (if so inclined).  Serve!

Overall:  4.5 out of 5  Use your creative energies to turn this into Your dish! :)

35.  Chinese Meatballs, pg. 170

But Valerie!  We thought you were vegetarian!

True, I normally am.  But this is for MWL.  And it was "happy" beef from a Lancaster County cow.  Thanks, cow!

We ignored the first half of the recipe where they list what vegetables you should fry.  If you're planning on feeding 8, then, yes, you will need all the veggies.  But for the two of us, we stuck to the meat and sauce part, and paired it with rice.

The sauce, a traditional sweet and sour sauce, was simple and was whipped up while the meat was frying.  We used a small can of crushed pineapple and dumped all of it into the sauce, which produced a sweeter sauce that if you just use juice.

Tester husband recalls eating this dish growing up, which is always fun for me to have those moments rediscovering food traditions from our past.  It's an honor to watch someone encountering a food either for the first time or after many years of not having a certain dish which they had enjoyed.

Veg option:  Sub. extra firm tofu for meatballs.  Follow rest of dish as written.

Overall: 4 out of 5  Good, but time consuming if you're going to do all the veggies....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On hiatus...

Sadly, I must take a short (Lord willing...) break from massive amounts of cooking and baking as our kitchen is seriously under siege.  We are eagerly anticipating all new cupboards and cabinets, new appliances, new wiring and plumbing, and (joyfully!!) new flooring.

A brief update on the oatmeal cookie master mix that I had made once before.  A couple days ago, it found its fateful end in the digestive tract of our dog (where have I heard this before...maybe here?)  Needless to say, that is that. :)

You may have read in The Mennonite or the Mennonite Weekly Review that this Menno. cookbook blog thing has taken off in other realms.  Here's a woman doing Simply in Season: right here.  You can check it out and I will try not to feel jealous.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Grains, grains, grains

I've just re-read the intro section to the Cereals chapter, and find that the question raised, "What is cost-effective?" is as relevant today as when MWL was originally published.  More deliberately, then, Longacre writes about price vs. nutritional value and how that affects us as consumers.  This intro has helped me re-appreciate the joys of eating simply in the morning -- oatmeal with raisins and honey is so satisfying!

I always feel that there is something uniquely sacred in eating grains (sorry if anyone reading this has gluten allergies...), a distinctly different feel than eating vegetables (also sacred).  Vegetables cleanse and add vitamins to your body, but grains fill and nourish you.

On a side note, our kitchen remodel is well on its way, and there may be a brief amount of time where cooking is impossible.  Keep checking in, though, and surely this will keep going. :)  Thanks for reading!

32.  Chapatis, pg. 84

Though not entirely what you might expect if you just ordered chapatis at an Indian restaurant recently, these little dough discs are dense and nutty-flavored.  As the note above the recipe states, they are traditionally used alongside curries and rice, but they proved a tasty dipping device for pumpkin soup.  Basically, you could use them for any meal where you might want biscuits or bread.

I lightly fried each in olive oil (instead of brushing on the margarine), with very happy results.  I can imagine putting a little bit of minced garlic in the dough (or topping the rolled chapatis with garlic) would give a sweet little kick to each bite.

Overall: 4.5 out of 5  Hearty, versatile.

33. English Muffins, pg. 67

If you're looking for flat, dry, and acidic muffins for breakfast, you're better off going to the grocery store and buying them there.

But, if you're looking for light, sweet ones, this is your recipe.  I had never made English Muffins before, and so was a bit surprised when I saw that these guys are actually fried and not baked.  If you've got time to spare and need a fun bread for a meal, these are it!

I halved the recipe which did make about 9 muffins as the recipe states.  If you're concerned about how to split the egg if you halve the recipe as well, don't.  Use the whole egg -- just adjust the flour, if needed.  I didn't need to add any extra flour to no ill effect.

The one cautionary statement I would make on these is that they need a lot of time.  Rising time alone is 2 and a half hours, and if you want to serve them fresh off the skillet, make sure to reserve your energies for watching and flipping them at the last minute.

Overall: 4.6 out of 5  Killer flavor and fun to make...if you have the time.

34.  Crunchy Granola, pg. 92

If you're on a real budget crunch (do you get it? ha!! crunch!), the sight of this recipe calling for three expensive dry ingredients might send you looking for another option.  Coconut, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are all called for, but don't hesitate substituting other cheaper ingredients instead!  Coconut being the worst culprit, I eliminated him altogether from the line-up and dumped in some extra nuts, bran and seeds.  If you're making a lot of granola, save yourself time and money by stocking up on bulk quantities of the typical ingredients, and your average price per serving will decrease a little.

For this recipe, I decided to try using agave nectar instead of the honey or brown sugar with great results.  If you need to steer clear of honey, definitely give agave a try, though reduce the amount to just a hair under a cup.  This recipe could more accurately be called Sweet, Crunchy Granola...But it's good, of course, and turns out a real solid cruncher cereal.

Overall: 3.6 out of 5 As good as most, but a little too sweet.