Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

Harvest and breadsticks

October 10, 2008

Apparently, this baby is off to a start on its Highland dancing career. It definitely is practising the Highland fling in there. Maybe I should knit little argyle kilt hose for it when it comes out. I think my mother-in-law would approve, she loves Scotland.

Ingi has a new job working evenings until 9:30 so I haven’t figured out if it is making me more or less productive to have the evenings to myself. So far I have done a lot of dishes and laundry.

We had some threat of frost (I am not sure if we had frost in my yard, but we had frost down the hill), so I harvested all my herbs and my kitchen is full of bunches of drying mint, lemon balm, and oregano, along with a glass of basil that I am intending to turn into pesto. I also picked all my hot peppers (jalapenos and ancho chiles) so now I have to figure out how to preserve/use them.

I made these breadsticks the other night to go with some soup. The recipe comes from some magazine from 2006 (I tore out the page so that was all the info I had). They weren’t as pretty as in the magazine photo when I made them, but they were really tasty. Another nice thing about these breadsticks is that they have a decent amount of protein (always important for me right now).

Sesame Twist Breadsticks

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups regular flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
8 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup sesame seeds

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add butermilk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

Roll out dough into 15×15 inch square. Brush with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cut square in half and then cut each square into 15 strips.

Twist the strips twice, put on parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake at 425F for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Black Bean Brownies, or why I can still listen to the radio

September 23, 2008

On the public radio station near me, there is a cooking show. I know that the idea of a cooking show on the radio is hard to believe, but it actually works somehow. The other day, the host was interviewing the author of the cookbook Baking with Agave Nectar. She was raving about black bean brownies, one of the recipes from the cookbook which the author had brought in a sample of. Being pregnant, I am supposed to eat a lot of protein. There have been studies to prove that eating a lot of protein can prevent pre-eclampsia, and it’s just generally a good thing anyway. Also, I have a tendency to get low blood sugar (which makes agave nectar a good choice for a sweetener). So I was intrigued by this recipe and had to try it.

Ingi told me if the brownies were disgusting, then I wasn’t allowed to listen to that radio station again, since it was tempting me into trying new recipes and cookbooks. 😉 Well, luckily, they actually were quite good. I suppose it isn’t all that odd, the Japanese and Chinese use beans in desserts all the time, including ice cream! The beans are pureed, so you don’t have a bean texture or anything, and the key (as the recipe says) is to eat the brownies cold (one of the few things you don’t want to eat when it comes right out of the oven).

I look forward to getting the cookbook and trying some of the other recipes.

In other media-related news, we watched some great films over the last few weeks which we stumbled upon at the library. I can see both getting remade horribly into bad American films. The first is Buddy, a great Norwegian comedy with a sweet story. And the other is The Memory of a Killer (a horrible translation of the title), an amazing action/drama from Belgium. It’s really interesting to watch Belgian movies; they switch back and forth between French and Dutch mid-conversation. So I can understand about half (thank goodness for subtitles). Both of these are really good movies, I highly recommend them.

Massachusetts Sheep & Wool

June 2, 2008

I have actually been knitting, but I haven’t been blogging because I have been working in the garden, working at work, and my Safari browser keeps crashing when I try to post. So now I am trying Firefox.

Last weekend we went to Massachusetts Sheep & Wool. I was hoping to find a bunny, because last year I noticed that some of the bunnies for sale at festivals already have a really friendly personality. No such luck, although one breeder had tiny babies so I may go visit her when they are bigger. We did see a very cute black Shetland sheep for sale, but somehow I couldn’t talk K into riding with it in the back seat. 😉 I bought lots of gifts for people in my birthday game, but I bought no fiber-related anything for myself (since I don’t need anymore yarn), I just bought some really nice handmade soap. And then we stopped at a gift store in Northampton on the way home and I found a Moomin kitchen towel.

I have been reading about Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day on Amy Karol’s blog, and I finally borrowed it from the library. This is The Best Bread Cookbook Ever, if you are a working mom. I used to make sourdough bread every week (I don’t even know how I found the time), and I have made all kinds of various fancy breads, some of which take 2 days of prep time. I just don’t have time for that. And I have been less than thrilled with supermarket bakery bread lately (and especially their prices). The way this cookbook works is you make a big batch of bread dough (I made mine this morning) without even needing to knead it. You let it rise 2 hours, and then put it (covered) in the refrigerator. In 3 hours (or longer, but I was impatient to try it), you cut off a piece of dough and shape it and leave it out to rise for about an hour. Then you bake it for a half hour. You can keep doing this rise/baking thing throughout the week (if your husband doesn’t eat almost the entire first loaf of bread on you. ;)). And the getting the dough ready part is really easy too. So as long as you plan ahead, you get REALLY NICE bread in a very short time frame (sure, a little longer than 5 minutes, but an hour and a half is totally doable on a weeknight). I have been using a breadmachine that my mom gave me 6 years ago for my birthday, but we don’t really like the texture of breadmachine bread.

Some of the Amazon reviews of this book have less than favourable things to say about the quality of the bread, but it must have been the ingredients the person was using or something. Our bread was wonderful. I can’t wait to try some of the other bread recipes in the book.

My Knitting Is Going To Be On TV

March 11, 2008

…but I probably won’t see it. Ingi is going to be in a TV commercial for his work, wearing a hat that I knit for him. However, it’s going to be aired on cable channels that I don’t think we get, so I don’t think I will get to see it. (Plus I don’t usually watch much TV anyway).

Friday night I made some really great lentil soup. I used Better Than Bouillon vegetable base instead of broth. It was much cheaper than packaged broth and way better.

I also made a a really nice bread.
Honey-grain buns
50 g pressed yeast (or 17g dry yeast + 24 ml extra water)
3 dl milk
1 dl súrmjólk (buttermilk)
70 g butter
2 Tbsp honey
150 g rye flour
25 g wheat bran (I used wheat germ because I had no wheat bran)
300 g flour
1/2 tsp salt

Heat milk to lukewarm, add yeast, and let proof. Melt butter. Add buttermilk and honey into milk mixture (plus additional water if using dry yeast). Once it is mixed well, add rye flour, butter, wheat bran/germ, and half the flour. Now add the salt (in general, salt retards the yeast action, so it’s nice to not mix them directly). Mix everything well, then sprinkle the remaining flour over the top and let rise, covered, for an hour to an hour and a half. Knead the dough lightly, adding more flour if needed. Divide it into balls (around 22-24) and set into a greased sprinform pan (10 cm). Let it rise for around another hour. Brush the bread with an eggwash and sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Bake at 200C (400F) for about 50-60 minutes.

I forgot the eggwash and seeds because I was in a hurry to get it into the oven, and it actually cooked faster than 50 minutes (maybe 40 minutes), so I would keep an eye on it as it finishes baking. I was amazed that a dough with rye flour would be so light, but it was a very light, airy bread (yet with a lot of substance at the same time). I would like to try it in a loaf form (not really sure if this amount of bread makes one loaf? More?)

Cookbook Review

December 13, 2007

We worked on our Christmas cards this weekend, and it was very sad that three people on our list have died in the last year. But here’s our wreath (pinecones from our yard), and I’m listening to a very crackly copy of Elvis’s Christmas album on vinyl (somehow more authentic?) which we got for something like 50 cents in the cheap records section of one of our semi-local record stores.

I’ve been taking a lot of cookbooks out of the library, which is a great way to evaluate ones that I am interested in, so I thought I would do a few reviews. I’m especially interested in regional seasonal eating after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, so a few deal with that.

Simply In Season – this book is divided into a section for each season, as well as a section for all year. So far we made two things from the Autumn section: brocolli and cheddar gratin (yum!) and sweet and sour Swiss chard (also yum, made with dried fruit and Swiss chard). It seems like a great resource if you have a garden or a CSA membership (I remember when I had a farm share I was trying to come up with yet another recipe for Butternut squash). The recipes are relatively simple and basic, but it’s a good place to get ideas for seasonally appropriate meals. And some sound really great. I am definitely getting this cookbook.

Cooking with Shelburne Farms: Food and Stores From Vermont – this is more of a traditional cookbook layout, with sections for types of food. It does have some seasonal-type meals but they aren’t labelled as such. There seem like a lot of good recipes, but we tried one tonight and it was really not much of a success: Lamb shanks with wheat berries and parsnips. We had never had lamb shanks before (lambaskankar) and they really weren’t that an appealing cut of meat. Too fatty. And the food was just kind of boring. Oh well. The cookbook may still be good, I’ll have to try other recipes from the book.

Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book – one can never have too many bread books (or at least me). This one is good because unlike the artisan bread books I already own, this one has a range of recipes, including the complicated-multple-day recipes, and quick, basic bread recipes. I made some wheat buns the other day which came out pretty well.

Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe’s Best Artisan Bakers – This book is worth buying just for the baguette recipe. Seriously. It’s that good. Everything else is sourdough, and my last starter was a failure, so I have to start a new one so I can try some more recipes before the book has to go back to the library.

The last of the red hot turkeys

November 28, 2007

When I was grocery shopping yesterday, I noticed something interesting. The supermarkets around me used to have the line that was “10 items or less.” Apparently, the grammar cops came to all the supermarkets, because they have suddenly started using the proper English: “10 items or fewer.”

We finished using our leftover turkey. Here’s how it got used:

Gratin of Penne, Turkey, and Mushrooms (this one uses leftover gravy and leftover swiss cheese if you served cheese and crackers)

Stacked Turkey Enchiladas (if you can’t find chipotle chilis, add some cut up jalapenos from a jar and chili powder or chipotle chili powder to the beans)

Asian Turkey Noodle Soup (I served it with Sriracha sauce — this is a very Vietnamese Pho-like soup. I really want to find a good pho recipe though.)

Lots of sandwiches

Chinese-style turkey omelettes (egg foo yung, which should not be served with brown gravy, despite the American Chinese restaurant’s attempt at proliferating this disgusting trend)

We really saved money by hosting a dinner party at our house– despite some of the more exotic ingredients in our leftovers meals, we still are eating pretty cheaply this week, and believe it or not, turkey pretty much every night is not boring this way.

Now I’ve got to go figure out what my cat did with the sock needle from my knitting.

Process versus product

November 17, 2007

WordPress has a fun feature where I can see what keywords people search on. I haven’t had this version of my blog going for long, but I am already starting to accumulate odd searches. Someone found me with “how to make havarti” so if anyone is really interested, there is a link here. There have been a bunch about how to make a dinosaur sweater. Hopefully people can find that pattern when they have the pattern maker to search on. Or maybe they want to make a sweater for a dinosaur, good luck with that. I have a hard enough time finishing sweaters for myself.

I was thinking the other day about how there are product knitters and process knitters. I am definitely a product knitter, this is why I get distracted from projects, because there is something that I really want to have. Like right now, I really want more knee socks. I have lots of things I need to finish first, but I really wish I could cast on for a pair of knee socks. The same goes for a cardigan sweater. I am thinking of one of the ones from the latest Knitty, I have some stash yarn that I want to use up and everything. But if I were a better “product” knitter, then I wouldn’t get so bored with stockinette. I need enough process to keep things interesting.

I had to bake a pie for a bake sale today. This one is really good. You could decorate it with melted chocolate through a pastry bag if you are feeling extra decadent.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
9 inch diameter pie crust

Preheat oven to 325F/160C. In a large bowl, beat eggs, then beat in flour and sugars until well mixed. Mix in the melted butter. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans, and pour into the pie crust. Bake for one hour. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

(And once again, for anyone keeping track, it’s still Friday here. So I have still posted every day this month in my time zone so far despite WordPress’s attempt to keep me on Iceland time.)

Dino-mite

November 15, 2007

(Once again, for anyone keeping track of the daily posting thing, it is still 14 November here in my time zone.)

I have finished the dinosaur sweater except one underarm seam (note stitch holder in photo). It was just way too late last night so I have to finish it today.

Christmas knitting count: 2 things finished. Want to make doll clothes for my niece, but the pants by themselves don’t count as a finished gift.

The pattern is by Ewe Can Knit. I only modified the construction, since she had you do something a little weird with the seaming, and I did it like a standard lopapeysa. The yarn is Brown Sheep Naturespun Worsted.

When we were at the liquor store the other day, we picked up Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence Stout. I like stout beer, I like chocolate, it had to be good. Umm. It wasn’t. So I had to find something to do with leftover beer and I came upon this recipe for Chocolate stout cake. It is SO AMAZINGLY GOOD! It’s worth buying beer (any stout, not microbrewery beer necessarily) just to make this cake. It doesn’t taste like alcohol, it’s just moist and amazing. We left the beer out of the frosting to make it family-friendly. Only caveat: use a springform pan like she suggests. I have only one springform pan in that size, so I tried a springform and a regular pan, and I ended up with one pan of crumbly chocolate cake bits and one pretty looking cake. Also, making half the recipe makes a decent-sized cake, there is no real reason to make it two layers.

Day Off

November 12, 2007

I took a vacation day today because B had no school and I had vacation time to use up. What does one do to entertain a bored 11 year old? Make cheese of course! Actually, it was his request. I had bought things to make havarti and he’s been dying to make cheese, but he didn’t really like the idea of having to wait months for the cheese to mature. I said we could make quick mozzarella, so we made homemade mozzarella and ricotta, which we are turning into a pizza. We also made maple syrup muffins, which are very pretty (although do not pass the husband test since they contain no chocolate ;)).

We also went to the fabric store to obtain fabric for a Top Secret Sewing Project. I was able to buy what I wanted and still buy fabric made in the USA. However, the beautiful sale and clearance fabric that I was eyeing for a possible skirt were not made in the USA. I did see some nice corduroy that is made in Japan at the quilt shop around the corner, so if I finish the need-to-finish sewing projects then I might make myself a skirt out of that. But so far I have a curtain to finish and possibly some kind of weatherizing project (lined shades? window quilts?) to help with the heat loss in the living room. Any ideas on what to do with two windows in your living room that lead to an unheated, badly insulated “three season porch”? I was thinking maybe quilt hangings but Ingi thinks they are too country. He did like a quilt with cats in a magazine I had, but I don’t know if I have time to make two big cat wall hangings).

Very vanilla

November 7, 2007

My friend Heléne says that in general, people are tea-and-vanilla people or coffee-and-chocolate people. Do you think that one applies to you? Ingi is definitely a coffee-and-chocolate person. Myself, I like all of the above (although if forced to choose one and only one, I’d lean toward coffee and chocolate).

I was running low on vanilla, so I bought the store brand of vanilla extract. When I got home and opened the bottle, I realised it had corn syrup in it! Yuck. So I decided to make my own.

I wonder if Ingi was worried I was going on a drinking binge when I came home with a bottle of vodka and a bottle of cognac (for the soup). 😉

The recipe I used is really easy. Split 2 vanilla beans (vanillustangir) and put them in a jar with vodka. I imagine you could use nasty cheap vodka like Popov, but I was afraid it would impart a certain yuckiness to my vanilla. (Anyone ever do this before and could comment?) I figured we’d have leftover, and if I didn’t use it to make herbal cough syrup, someone might like to drink it, so we may as well get a decent vodka. I’ve also heard one could use brandy, so perhaps I should have just stuck with the cognac and used the leftover cognac. Maybe I will try this next time and compare. I have seen some recipes that add sugar, but I thought it might be best to leave it out. (ETA: I left out the most important part. Let sit for a month or two before using).

This should be the last food post for a bit. I am felting my bag right now!