Tuesday, February 16, 2010

'Tis yet another snowy day here in Lancaster County, and I think I've finally resigned myself to my current, tragic fate of living in a land with (what I consider to be) harsh winters.

And, while you may think that since we've been pounded with snow here in the last week and a half, I should have been posting like a madwoman, alas, some of our lives must go on...The bakery at which I occasionally help out at (Wendy Jo's Homemade) participated in a fundraiser for the organization called Love146, and I helped pull together over 370 dozen heart shaped-sugar cookies with each one being iced and then having "LOVE146" written on them.  It was a painstaking, three-day process, and as my dearest Husband would attest to the fact that I was exhausted and not in the greatest of spirits when I got home each night.

But, here I am again, and with a whopping four recipes to report on.

53.  French-style Lettuce Salad, pg. 248

I will admit that I laughed this recipe in the face when I first saw it.  "French-Style"?  I didn't realise the French held the trademark for a very simple oil and vinegar dressing...And, hey, they already have a dressing named after them!  Tell me -- when will the U.S. get a dressing named after them? :)

No, I am appreciative of French foods and have enjoyed my fair share of crepes with Nutella and other Frenchie delicacies ... but ... dressing?  Really.

I will give them the rub-your-bowl-with-garlic.  Sure.  That's fine.  The rest of it is a fairly Western/Universal attempt at making greens a bit more palatable.  We used olive oil, a mix of red and balsamic vinegars, and nixed the parsley.  Simple but delightful.

Overall:  4.5 out of 5 C'est trés bien, et je pense que vous l'aimerez. Bon appetit!

54.  Spicy Split Pea Soup, pg. 213

Be forewarned that this soup takes awhile to make -- so if you've got a day at home, this recipe will probably fit well into a dinner menu.  It doesn't take much attention, though, so needing to come and go isn't a problem.

After the initial boil, I let the split peas sit for several hours before moving on to the next steps.  The peas are forgiving and don't mind being left on the stove until closer to dinner time.

In the sauté mixture, I added an extra clove of garlic (we thought it could have even had a third), extra onion (maybe another 1/4 c.), and subbed 1/4 t. cayenne for the red peppers.  You do not want the onions and garlic to be browned -- sauté them only until they start to turn translucent.  When it came time to blend the soup, I probably only blended about half of the pot, which made a thick but semi-chewable stew.  Go for blending all of it, if you're wanting to stretch it by putting it on rice.  I think that the milk is semi-optional (sour cream could be put on the table), so this soup is easily dairy-free.

Overall:  4 out of 5  Great flavor, stretched to probably 8 servings.

55.  Pumpkin Custard, pg. 267

Nixing the labor of making a pie crust, this pumpkin custard is simple and can slide in the oven with just 10 minutes of prep and mixing.  It does taste very much like pumpkin pie filling (you could definitely use this recipe if you're making a pumpkin pie), though this one is just a hair less sweet.  (Is there a word that is the opposite of sweeter?  Sweetless? No...)

I used a pie dish, as it seemed like too much liquid to be baked in a deeper pot, and it baked out beautifully.  You can create a dark, attractive top by sprinkling the nutmeg on top (much like a standard custard pie) before baking.

Overall: 3.5 out of 5  Good. Standard.

56.  Vietnam Fried Rice, pg. 130

If you've been looking for a recipe which emulates the super-tasty, MSG-laden fried rice of yesteryear's (and/or today's) Chinese restaurants, look no further.  While starkly MSG-less, this recipe is a doll.  Especially during winter, I get cravings for fatty foods, and while take-out can be just downright greasy at times, this little gem probably won't cause you great digestive distress.  Probably.

Lacking leftover veggies, I just tossed about 4 oz. baby bella mushrooms, halved, and 2 small carrots, sliced, in with the onions and garlic.  Again, I added more garlic than it called for and this made for much happiness in the land.  Use what you've got, though, and don't hold back that adventourous spirit.

I didn't add any additional salt, nor did I add sugar.  Serve with soy sauce for those who want it to be saltier.  I used white sticky rice, but would like to use good ole brown rice in a future trial.

One helpful hint for the eggy time -- make a well in the rice and let the eggs cook in the center of the pan.  Otherwise, you may end up with soggy rice which never seems to "set". 

Overall:  5 out of 5  Leave the greasy Chinese food in the soggy (though waxed) leftover containers, and come home to this delectable treat.


  1. Is this the first "5" you've given? I do believe it is. Go, Rice!!!

    Icing that many Valentine's cookies? Ugh. I feel ill.

  2. Great blog Valerie ☺ We're hear in Holmes County OH and finally got some sunshine today.. melted some of our 20+ inches of snow. Love yours posts so I can 'see' some of the dishes from recipes I haven't tried...yet!

  3. I just looked at that Split Pea Soup recipe and it calls from 10 cups of liquid with the peas. Is that accurate?

  4. Emmalinda - Yes, it is accurate...this makes a lot of soup! You can decrease the amount slightly if you want a much thicker stew, but keep an eye on the peas when they cook and add more liquid if needed.