rebeccmeister: (Default)
I might be overly excited about this project.

Porridge 1: 2 parts steel-cut oats, 1 part toasted buckwheat groats, a generous dollop of amaranth seeds. Yesterday evening I put roughly 1.75 C into the Zojirushi rice cooker, added water up to the "1.5 scoops porridge" water line, and set the cooker for 6:50 am completion.

I think I added slightly too much water, and I should make sure to stir everything when I put it together into the rice cooker. I should also only make a single batch instead of a double batch.

The buckwheat groats added some delicious flavor, and I liked the ratio of oats to buckwheat. But now I want to add even more grains.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
Some of the Black Prince tomatoes have been growing in a lewd fashion:


...but the plants have been generating plenty of tomatoes to work with, so we aren't complaining. The fruits aren't as delicious as when I've grown this variety in Arizona, because the Bay Area doesn't get warm enough in the summer. Still - it's good to have homegrown tomatoes to work with.

There's this Roasted Chipotle Salsa recipe in the Ball canning book that has been a great starting point for improvised salsa recipes with whatever peppers and tomatoes are on hand. Hopefully today's batch came out well. I used a miscellaneous set of peppers that [ profile] sytharin brought home from a coworker, red onions that she grew in the garden, a head and a half of garlic, and five or six hot Hatch chilies. Plus maybe 5 or 6 pounds of tomatoes. Everything went under the broiler to roast until skins browned and burst open (this is about 2 sheet pans' worth of stuff in total). I also pan-toasted some dried puya chilies and then soaked them in warm water. After broiling, I threw most of the various peppers into the food processor and blended them into a paste. Then I used the food processor to chop up the skinned garlic and onions and Hatch chilies - just two pulses or so. The tomatoes were watery, so I drained off the water and simmered it down separately. Meanwhile, I cored the roasted tomatoes and gave them a whirl in the food processor.

Everything went into the giant Dutch oven cauldron, along with 2 C of white vinegar, 2 tsp of salt, and a couple teaspoons of sugar. I brought it all to a boil for a couple of minutes, then ladled it into canning jars and processed the jars in the water bath canner for 20 minutes.

In the past, I have tried hand-chopping everything after roasting, and it's a pain, but feasible if you don't have a food processor. That will just make for more chunky salsa.

We have lost 2 cucumbers to mold so far.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
[ profile] annikusrex came to town for a mini-conference on Friday, which meant that I got to kidnap her for Friday night and the better part of Saturday, hurrah! An amusing amount of cooking and eating ensued:

-Butternut squash pizza with goat cheese, romano, walnuts, apples, mushrooms, onions, and crispy sage (fried in butter). For the sauce, I roasted up a butternut squash and pureed it in the Cuisinart along with a bit more sage. In case that wasn't enough, it's also artichoke season, and they're actually available for an affordable price around here ($1/each for organic ones). Yum.

-For breakfast, another feast. [ profile] sytharin has been wanting to have some of our dad's Swedish pancakes, but at some point in her travels her Herman culture perished, and they just don't taste the same without that special little bit of twang from the Herman. I've managed to keep my own Herman going, so on Saturday morning, it was time. Here's our dad's Swedish pancake recipe. Swedish pancakes are like crepes, except slightly thicker:

1 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 C soy flour (you can substitute more pastry flour but the soy protein makes these more filling)
4 egs
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C melted butter
2 C milk
1 C Herman (omit if you don't have any, or you can probably use a regular sourdough culture to achieve a similar effect)

Put everything in the blender or whip it together with a whisk or egg beater. Heat your griddle to ~425 degrees F. Use around 1/2 C of batter to make plate-sized Swedish pancakes. Fill with your favorite fruit filling and top with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. In our case, rhubarb compote made from rhubarb freshly harvested from the backyard.

-Then, Scrabble. RAC played a strong game, including a bingo, but then AKW played a bingo which wasn't a real word (MILKINGS) and we failed to challenge it, so she won. RAC hadn't known about the googly eyes on the J until she drew the J.

-After that, AKW and I tried to go to the newly renovated Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, except there was a "Medical Emergency" on BART (I believe that's code for somebody died?), so we hopped on the 72 bus and took the long route there. Fortunately, the weather was pleasantly warm, and the extended walk up University was scenic. We went past this place, which looked intriguing:

Intriguing Berkeley store

The museum itself was fine. A number of the individual pieces on display were striking, such as the artist who created sculptures out of spider silk by alternately giving solitary and social spiders access to a frame for web-building. When I first saw the pieces, I figured they were synthetically made. I liked how the artist was playing around with the solitary/social concept. The social spiders build interestingly engineered webs. Also striking was Portrait of my Father by Stephen Kaltenbach. There was some incredible colorwork in that piece that can really only be appreciated in person, appreciated even further when you realize it was painted in 1978. It has a holographic feel and shifts and moves as you look at it, plus it deals with some complex subjects.

As an exhibition, however, I felt like the curators were trying a little too hard to put in as many different kinds of things as they could to showcase the museum's collections and ties to other strengths of the university. The University of Nebraska's art museum, in contrast, did a better job of reverential presentation of works from its holdings.

Still, I love going to museums with AKW and it was wonderful to have her out for a visit!


While she and I were larking about, RAC was otherwise engaged. After Scrabble, she ran off to rent a pickup truck, and proceeded to drive all over hither and yon picking up all of the kinds of things one needs a pickup truck to acquire: two bales of straw, a bunch of bags of mulch, sand, pavers, three 50-pound bags of clay, a bag of pottery plaster, and probably a couple of other things I'm forgetting. I'm highly amused by a similarity in our temperaments - like me, RAC is inclined to charge around working on projects until she drops from exhaustion. There's something comforting and nice about being around this kind of work mode, though. There's something similarly comforting about cooking and sharing food with the household network out here, too. Saturday night, for example, after AKW had left for the airport, I joined RAC and M&M for some tasty stuffed onions and roasted cauliflower. Yum.


Sunday morning, I'd promised RAC that I would help with some aspects of the ongoing household projects. In particular, it was time to give the workshop a thorough cleaning and round of organizing.

I feel so much better now that things are better organized in there. I mostly had to shuffle around various accumulated piles of abandoned projects to move the table saw back into a corner that would give us all better access to some storage shelves we moved in there when we were renovating the bike garage to accommodate more bicycles. RAC installed plastic sheeting over half of the shelf to ready it for storing ceramics-in-progress:

Tidied workshop I

We also cleared off the worktable and cleared floor space. You can't really tell either of these things from this photo, but before the photo it was getting pretty hard to walk around in the workshop.

Tidied workshop II

RAC was generally on a roll. She managed to apply some copper paint to the kick wheel to protect it from further rust, and she built the last planter box for the front driveway. She also filled it with soil and got tomato plants transplanted, and set the paving stones for the path here:

Front yard tomato beds

We are now tomato-ready.

I did manage a couple of other small projects, like painting more trim for my door-window (to tack down the fiberglass screen along the sides):

Backyard projects

And transplanting a lavender plant and strawberry plant into pots (both plants are being hugged by a kale plant that's going to seed):


The local plant shop (Berkeley Horticulture) carries five or six different kinds of strawberry plants. I got a Mara des bois because highly flavorful French strawberries sound fantastic. But I might have to get even more varieties in the overall search for strawberry perfection. We shall see. I'm still skeptical about whether it's possible to achieve strawberry perfection outside of Washington, but it seems worth a try.

Other than all that, RAC built up a frame for making a plaster wedging table, did a bunch of weeding, and figured out what was wrong with the irrigation system. We've been enjoying the colors of all the different California irises she's planted in the front yard:

Front yard color riots

And with that, it's time for the beginning of another full work week.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
Step 1: Slice and press your tofu for a spell.

Step 2: Gently coat the tofu in a light layer of olive oil.

Step 3: Then sprinkle on / apply a mixture composed of the following: 1 Tbsp cornstarch (or arrowroot powder), 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp salt

Step 4: Broil for a while, turning occasionally

Step 5: Put in a sandwich with your favorite condiments, including some tasty barbecue sauce. Enjoy.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
Squashes are on sale at Open Harvest, what with it being fall and all, so I bought a couple of butternut squashes the other week and then pondered what to do with them. After flipping through the recipe files, I found this recipe for butternut squash bread pudding, which sounded worth a shot. I used milk instead of half-and-half, brown sugar instead of maple syrup (I don't keep maple syrup around), and didn't attempt to remove the baguette crusts (??!!), but the outcome was tasty. If I make it again I will amp up the spices more (especially the cinnamon).

I was also looking for an interesting way to use up cornmeal, and came across this recipe for "Toasted corn bread hash with brussels sprouts". Reading it over, I thought meh to the notion of mixing the cornbread and brussels sprouts, BUT the flavor combination sounded good. The fresh brussels sprouts at Open Harvest were a wee bit outside my budget, so I bought a couple of bags of frozen ones, which I sliced in half, tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salted and peppered, and roasted (at 425 I believe) for a spell. The texture of the frozen ones isn't as great, but overall it worked and I ate those things like candy on Sunday night. I just baked up a batch of cornbread to eat on the side.

But why stop there? This assortment needed some sort of legume accompaniment, so I went back to the good old Cafe Flora Cookbook and made up a batch of these Braised Black Lentils, although with French Green lentils because that's what I could find. Leftovers will be dinner for the week (that's where the last portion of the post title comes from).

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot or small red onion, minced
1 C lentils - black Beluga lentils, or French green (Le Puy) - a variety that retains its texture
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried thyme
4 C water
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper

Saute the garlic and shallot in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent (5-7 minutes). Then add the lentils, bay leaf, and thyme, and give them a stir to coat the lentils with the oily deliciousness. Then add the water, turn up the heat and bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer until the lentils are cooked (20-25 minutes). The original recipe says to drain off the excess liquid, but I say don't bother unless you feel like it.

This whole ensemble was fairly simple to prepare, and any of the dishes would work well for a vegetarian Thanksgiving feast. I love fall cooking that involves turning on the oven and baking and roasting a whole bunch of things. A big tip o' the hat to my mom for teaching me about amazing roasted brussels sprouts. I will also point out that the prepackaged frozen kind were simple to prep, even though I balk at the notion of recommending packaged frozen foods.


May. 6th, 2015 09:40 am
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
I am finding myself tired of both the Baker's Chocolate classic brownie recipe, and Alton Brown's brownie recipe is slightly too rich for everyday brownie occasions. Thus, suggestions?
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
Well, the subject line says it all, really.

I signed up for the 90-hour start, with a 6:15 pm start time. I will probably wonder for forever about the 84-hour start, but I'm okay with that.

On my third try, I finally figured out how to make pretty good homemade whole-wheat tortillas:
Homemade whole wheat flour tortillas
The basic recipe is below the photo (click the photo for the link). I read good things about coconut oil as another fat source, but for some reason I'm more comfortable with butter as my saturated fat. Midwesterners appear to be satisfied with bready, low-flavor flour circles, but good flour tortillas in Arizona and Texas have spoiled me.

I used some of the tortillas to make black bean, rice, and kale burritos for the 400k next Saturday. I'm grateful to have the time to plan out food in advance like this, and I'm also glad to have figured out that burritos work so well as an on-bike food for me. I can eat them while I ride, they don't taste like the garbage from convenience stores, and I can make and carry multiple different kinds of burritos so I don't get tired of eating them. I'd like to be enjoying more meals like the ones described here, but I suspect that will be easier to accomplish in France compared to the U.S. I'm still pondering exactly what I will do for food while on the PBP itself. I know there will be heaps of mashed potatoes and omelettes in there. Maybe I should pack some Cholula for myself, ha! Last time I brought along a squeeze bottle of peanut butter, which was good for adding protein to the multitudinous croissants that we ate (also a squeeze bottle of jelly). Hmm, maybe I should bring along an entire roasted Tofurky, heh heh heh...

Black bean, rice, and kale burritos
rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
I don't remember what got me started on this alternative scone recipe, but perhaps it was a desire to use up some leftover buttermilk at some point. Regardless, it's a bit different from the scone recipe I've been using over the last several years.

1.5 C whole-wheat pastry flour
0.5 C oat flour, or coarsely ground oats (I used a coffee grinder)
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 C butter
2/3 - 3/4 C buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the dry ingredients, then cut in the butter with your preferred method. Mix in the buttermilk and vanilla extract, then knead briefly and chop into scones. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

I should really sit down and do some calculations of the nutritional differences between this recipe and the prior one, based on using different ingredients. I tend to do a 50-50 mix of white and whole-wheat flour with the previous recipe, whereas the present one is good with 100% whole-wheat pastry flour. The previous recipe is also most delicious when cream is used instead of milk, and contains two eggs; the present recipe uses the buttermilk instead, but twice as much butter. Eventually I hope to track down some soy flour here, for extra protein.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
We did not go on the cold and rainy 200k brevet on Saturday. I think I could have been mentally and physically equipped to tackle it, but that wasn't the case for [ profile] scrottie or J. Instead, I cooked. Pancakes for breakfast. Leftover delicious lasagne for lunch. A three-course Ethiopian feast for dinner, featuring Atakilt Wat (to use up one of the three cabbages languishing in the fridge), Yemisir Wat (including some berbere), and Gomen (collard greens from the garden).

A couple of years ago, I tried my hand at making injera, and failed. Injera is the flat, sourdough pancake served under Ethiopian dishes. In the U.S. it's generally made with a blend of wheat and teff flours because teff is harder to get in the U.S. The last time I tried making it, I poked around on the internet and read all the recipes about how to make it the real way, which involves some lengthy fermentations, especially if a person doesn't have sourdough starter already on hand. Then I read all of the various ways people have tried to cheat in the injera-making, in the typical way that people try to cheat on sourdough (beer, vinegar, et cetera). My results all just fell apart.

I cooked a similar Ethiopian feast a couple of weeks ago for the roommates, and learned they'd never had injera before, and that made me decide, then and there, that it was time to try again. I went ahead and bit the bullet and bought some prepackaged San Francisco sourdough starter and got it set up a week and a half ago. Now my weekly loaves of bread are sourdough, yum! After reading through these good and extensive injera-making instructions, I came up with my own shorthand version, and got underway. I have two main comments on the whole process. First, with the way the flour and water and worked in these recipes, it's impossible to get a perfectly smooth batter just by working the flour and water by hand - small lumps will persist. That's what the blender step is for. Pretty straightforward. Second, if you lack a mitad, here's what I wound up doing instead - I used a giant cast-iron frying pan with a pizza pan as a lid (my cast-iron lid is in storage). I guess that a lot of mitads are designed to be nonstick, but the cast-iron frying pan most definitely wasn't. So I resorted to applying a small dab of butter and a small shake of salt before pouring every injera. Also, if your batter is a bit too thick at first, don't hesitate to add a bit more water. And make sure to keep mixing the batter because the teff and flour will settle out to some extent as you cook. Oh, and also also - you might think you're making a humongous batch of injera, but that's necessary, based on how quickly it all got scarfed down.

My shorthand instructions:

1. Add 2 C of sourdough starter to 2 C of teff. Knead extensively. Then start adding water, 1/4 C at a time, until the mixture is thin and watery. Leave on counter overnight.

2. Next morning: blend up starter in the blender until smooth.

3. Mix 3 C of self-starting flour with water (=3 C flour, 3/4 tsp salt, 4.5 tsp baking powder) until you achieve a soupy consistency, then blenderize until smooth like the teff. Add to the blenderized teff and combine thoroughly by hand (checking that the consistency is such that the mixture slides off your hand). Add water if necessary. Cover and leave to sit until it rises, up until it starts to settle back down. When it starts to settle, refrigerate for 45 mins / an hour.*

4. Cook on a hot griddle. Coat the griddle with butter and then salt. Cover the griddle with a lid to steam-cook it. Remove with care, cool, then stack.

*Note: I think my batter was more liquid, because it didn't have enough power to rise. However, I left it to ferment for 8 hours and it seemed to be pretty great.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
It always seems like the moment I figure out how to use up copious amounts of some vegetable, suddenly I'm living somewhere different and the hyperabundant vegetable is different and presents its own challenges.

Out here, it's been a summer of okra and spaghetti squash. We might be through the worst of the spaghetti squash, but I'm not sure about the okra. So far, we've made:

-Vegetarian gumbo (time-intensive and not everyone's favorite)
-Pickled okra (tasty, but not something we eat all the time)
-Fried Okra croquettes (.rtf)
-Maque choux, which got turned into a burrito filling in homemade burritos
-Cajun mac'n'cheese: roast the okra plus some onions and peppers for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees, then blend in the roasted veggies along with the cheese sauce

I am thinking the roasted okra could also get added to some other vegetable mixture put into burritos. Roasting okra cuts down on the slime, but doesn't completely eliminate it, though. The main reason the mac-n-cheese works is because the delicious cheesy-ness partially masks the okra slime. All of it takes time.

J has gotten good at roasting up the spaghetti squash and doing different things with it. One of the best items has been spaghetti squash pancakes, but if you make them without the onion they're tasty served either savory or sweet - I've mostly been eating them with a mixed vegetable sautee and vegetarian gravy. This recipe might convert some ambivalent spaghetti-squashers into true believers.

Now we've got a big pile of acorn squashes and butternut squashes. At least those will keep for a bit longer. I'm certain there's soup in our future.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
Yesterday, the kitchen was busy from 7 am until 9 pm. I was woken up, for the second morning in a row, by the five-year-old. This time he came in to announce that two glo-sticks were still glowing from the night before. We will continue working on establishing boundaries, like knocking and asking before coming in, even when I leave the "cat gap" for miss Emma (she yells at me if the door's completely closed, even though she doesn't actually want to leave the room).

So I got up, headed to the kitchen, and made the usual Sunday morning pancakes with whipped cream. Also, yogurt. More lentil-pecan pate happened the day prior. Actually, I guess there was a gap in cooking after that. Then it was J's turn: he made pesto with basil, pesto with sundried tomatoes, grilled cheese sandwiches, and Maque choux with soy-rizo, to use up the week's okra and the final soy-rizo sausage from the abundance earlier in the summer. Oh, and chocolate ice cream. We also reheated the leftover okra croquettes from the night before, and I opened one of the last two containers of green tomato relish to mix up with mayo as tartar sauce to eat with the croquettes. So much okra these days. The spaghetti squash pile also keeps growing faster than we can figure out what to do with them. Spaghetti squashes are mostly a chore and a source of fiber, as best as I can figure it. There are better vehicles for delivering salt, cheese, and butter to my face.

Someone made the suggestion of turning the maque choux into burrito filling, except there was a slight problem: no tortillas. I've learned, over the past month and a half, why my friend J all of a sudden declared a strong and passionate love for corn tortillas: he no longer wants to buy any bleached flour products because the chemicals used to bleach flour are nasty business. This should indicate to you that I am living with someone who has the same kinds of food neuroses that I seem to have developed. So 'twas time to learn how to make homemade, whole-wheat flour tortillas, with this recipe. They were tasty, although a bit tough; I'll need to be more strategic about kneading them next time. I wish I could just buy all this stuff from someone. In the very least there's someone selling good whole-wheat sourdough sandwich bread at the farmer's market.

We also pulled my medium cast-iron skillet and J's cast-iron waffle iron out of their week-long lye bath, scrubbed them down with salt, oil, and a potato, applied a thin coat of flax oil, and baked the pans at 500 degrees for an hour. Layer 1 seasoning complete; only 6 or so more layers to go. The iron of the waffle iron is red and smooth, in places, and the red isn't rust. J thinks that means it may have been overheated at some point, maybe in a fire, and the red spots don't appear to be taking the seasoning quite as well as the rest of the pan. The internet isn't saying much about the phenomenon, so it remains to be seen whether the waffle iron will be sufficiently functional. No harm in re-seasoning it, in the very least. My cast-iron skillet looks fantastic even with just one coat.

I convinced J to put three identically-sized non-cast-iron frying pans into the Goodwill box. They hadn't come out of the cupboard in a very long while.

Tonight I will make more carrot-raisin muffins (link is an .rtf, for...reasons). The five-year-old, like many five-year-olds, prefers to subsist on a diet of cereal and milk, but gobbled up two muffins in rapid succession a few days ago, so they appear to be a good way to get him to ingest carrots.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
[ profile] gfrancie will be pleased to hear that last weekend's peaches did indeed get turned into sorbet, and the sorbet was, indeed, AMAZING. I actually made a combination mango-peach sorbet because I'd frozen a bunch of lusciously good, ripe mango cubes, and thought sorbet would be the perfect use for them. On top of that, when I told J about the sorbet plans, he declared that they would require something with coconut, so he cooked up some delicious coconut rice pudding, and he was absolutely correct. The peach-mango sorbet was creamy and fruity, and paired beautifully with the warm coconut rice pudding.

So, if you have access to these things, I would suggest that you follow suit as well, should you come across some deserving peaches. I couldn't tell you everything that J put into the rice pudding, but I know it involved coconut milk, cinnamon sticks and cardamom.

The sorbet and rice pudding all happened at a housewarming party on Saturday night, where we all stuffed ourselves silly on a number of other incredible nibbling things. Good times.

Sunday was devoted to other cooking projects. First, waffles for breakfast, with more peaches and some of the frozen strawberries and a dab of whipping cream. Then I used up all of the corn flour in making mediocre corn tortillas (ah well). [ profile] scrottie went out and picked the week's tomatoes - two enormous grocery bags full - and then cooked up a loaf of bread (in parallel with a loaf I made), a half-gallon of marinara, an enormous pot of black beans, a huge bowl of fruit salad, and a big batch of enchiladas plus enchilada sauce (with the tortillas). The marinara and enchilada sauce barely put a dent in the tomatoes. After he wrapped up his 7-hour cooking bender, I dove back in and made a luscious half-gallon batch of ratatouille.

Between the two of us, we've managed to cook up ALL of the squashes, and we have enough food for dinners for the week. The tomato pile, however, is still wonderfully big, and we'll be getting more CSA veggies today.

I'm glad to have had this much success with the tomatoes this year, although I feel like the success has much to do with the vagaries of the weather - a good winter freeze to kill a lot of insects, plus frequent spring rain, plus relatively cool summer temperatures. On the other hand, it's also very much a product of having invested a couple of years in learning how growing conditions work here, and how to manage the challenges particular to this place. As my friend T put it, you just have to plant and grow things while remembering that you'll be sharing a substantial fraction of your crop with other animals, no matter what you do. If you plant with that in mind, you CAN finagle things to ensure you get a meaningful harvest for yourself while the birds and squirrels and snails also have their fun. On top of that, it really does take YEARS to build up good soil fertility, but in some ways that just makes it even more rewarding to finally reach that point.


Jun. 22nd, 2014 02:29 pm
rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
Let's see here -

Friday night, I made a big ol' batch of vegetarian chili. It's the best method I've found so far for using up excess vegetarian soy-rizo ([ profile] scrottie and I freegan'd three packs of it from BNF about a month ago). Plus, it's a good vehicle for several of the most-abundant produce items I have lying around: onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes, corn, garlic, and peppers in multiple forms. Oh, and more of the chipotle peppers that S got for the purpose of making chipotle-ranch salad dressing. Thing is, I don't really eat salads at home when he isn't around, so the salad dressing making hasn't happened yet. Soon.

And when there's chili, there should be cornbread, amirite? Almost all of the cornmeal is gone, now, which is good.

So then, Saturday. What with the peach-buying and tomato-buying, it was time to do more cooking. First, some vanilla ice cream custard, so there would be ice cream to go with the peaches. Then, a pair of peach galettes:


I used the Smitten Kitchen nectarine galette filling, with a cornmeal pate brisee. Use up more of that cornmeal, eh, eh? However, I don't think I'll be adding this pate brisee recipe to my recipe collection - the cornmeal is too crunchy for my tastes. Otherwise, the galette is DELICIOUS. And almost all of the almond flour is used up.

After that, it was just about time to make dinner. It figures that the year I finally manage to plant zucchinis, our CSA is also giving us oodles and oodles of zucchinis and other summer squashes. There is nothing to be done but to pull out all the stops and phone it in and mix all the metaphors with all the zucchini recipes in the arsenal.

I'd been thinking, the week prior, of making some version of Three Sisters Rice, so it was time to put thoughts into action...with some modifications. I went ahead with some un-chicken broth (Better'n Bullion) and toasted wild rice, adding in as much chopped-up zucchini as I could stand to add. In a second pot, I sauteed together carrots, celery, onion, and garlic, and threw in a few chunks of tomato just because they were there and needed to be cooked up (after I chopped off the bad bits). I then added a cup of green lentils, to use them up, some more corn, and three cups of water, and simmered this mess, too. My friend DM says she often winds up making "swamp curry" when trying to cook things Indian-style, and it made me realize that what I wound up with in this case was basically "swamp lentils." They were tasty, filling, and vegan, so I had no complaints. I should have added even more zucchini. Or maybe part of that patty-pan squash. I still don't understand patty-pan squashes.

Tonight, I'll make ratatouille and more lentil-pecan pate. They and the galettes should feed the troop of hungry bicyclists on Monday evening. Plus the two kinds of cheese and some crackers, plus spaghetti to go with the ratatouille. And the ice cream.

Other than all that, I canned tomatoes.

Farmer's market tomatoes from Saturday
Farmer's market tomatoes

Garden tomatoes - this week's harvest (probably peak harvest)
Garden harvest

Midway through the canning operation:
Home canning factory
I was pleased with myself for coming up with the plan of freezing water in the bottom of the white bowl overnight. That minimized the hassle of the post-boil ice bath. I'm also still pleased with my tomato-chopping system - I work on a small cutting board angled down into a baking dish, which catches the juices as I work and helps prevent excess splatters.

Quart-size jars of tomatoes take 45 minutes in the canner. The only way it could ever be economically worthwhile to can tomatoes would be if there were a huge fire sale on tomatoes and they only cost like $1 a pound. On the other hand, I have a feeling that these tomatoes are going to taste amazing.

N.B. that the jars to the right were from last weekend. The flowers are from the garden.
rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
Last year, I struggled with Thanksgiving, in part because I just didn't feel like I had a good sense of how to approach the holiday from a vegetarian perspective. It's one of those holidays that can become rather awkward because all of the side dishes to accompany the turkey tend to be pure carbohydrates. While some people don't seem to mind ([ profile] scrottie), I do. I want a centerpiece that I can enjoy that involves the same sort of drama and suspense as a roasted turkey. Tofurky just won't cut it.

So, to the Cafe Flora Cookbook I've gone. The crew team had a Thanksgiving party yesterday evening, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to try out an option, Portobello Wellingtons with Madeira Sauce. I've never had Beef Wellington before, but it also sounds like a lovely little centerpiece for the meat-eating sect: a side of beef wrapped in pastry and roasted, served up with some gravy.

Whatever. Anyway, I've written about the Cafe Flora cookbook a few times. It tends to specialize in amazing vegetarian dishes that are mostly amazing because they're carefully constructed and take a considerable amount of time and effort to prepare. Among the dishes, this one is by far the most complex one I've attempted to date. Good for special occasions, not good for a last-minute supper idea. I started on Friday night by preparing the Mushroom Pecan Pate, roasted portobellos, and pan-braised leeks, which took around 1.5 hours, altogether. I already had some mushroom essence in the freezer, but if I hadn't had any, I would have made it then, as it takes a good hour or longer to simmer down. I continued on Saturday afternoon with the Madeira sauce and Wellington assembly and baking, which took another 2 hours altogether.

The result was tasty and satisfying - the mushrooms, mozzarella, and pecans make the pate proteinaceous, while the sauce and leeks add rich flavor. And it is indeed great with mashed potatoes, as promised by the Cafe Flora cookbook. I'm glad I brought it, too. There weren't many vegetarian items at the Crew Thanksgiving, aside from the pies (though those were tasty, too).

Recipes are below the jump. )
rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee) baking a couple of varieties of bread.


I have a bunch of rye flour, and most of a jar of molasses, so I tried out the Boston Brown Bread from the Laurel's Kitchen Cookbook. It involves steaming the bread rather than baking it, and also includes toasted, chopped sunflower seeds, cornmeal, and raisins. A hearty, rich loaf, and a good, non-dessert use for the molasses, as I've been trying to cut down on my sugar consumption recently. Steaming the bread retains its moisture nicely. Some of the ideas from Laurel's Kitchen are outdated (so much margarine!), but it's still fantastic for its emphasis on multigrain, low-sugar cooking.

I also added more of the rye flour plus some spelt flour to a sandwich loaf, and then added flaxseed meal for more fruity, tooty farts. Flaxseed is moderation.

It's butternut squash season around here, so I mixed together roasted butternut squash, goat cheese, farmer's cheese, nutmeg, sage, walnuts, parmesan, salt, and pepper, and used the mixture to fill some calzones. I'll tuck the calzones in the freezer for upcoming days when I don't have the time or energy to cook.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
So. That tortellini-making over the weekend. I need to write down a few notes about it all. First, the dough. I used my mom's recipe for pasta dough, which goes as follows:

Take one package of Bob's Red Mill semolina flour, and add three eggs. Then add a tablespoon or so of olive oil, and a scant teaspoon or so of salt, and mix. Then start adding water, bit by bit, until everything starts to come together into dough. Don't be shy about getting your hands in there to give things a good squeeze and mix. Once you can, start to knead the dough. Maybe add a bit more water, if necessary. Plan on kneading the dough for around 10 minutes, until it's smooth and supple. Then, refrigerate for a while - at least 20 minutes.

Next, the filling: This time around, I took a small packet of goat cheese (it was on sale at the HEB before I left on vacation, so I popped it in the freezer and then thawed it for this recipe) and mixed it with roasted butternut squash business. I also added about a cup of some ricotta-like "farmer's cheese" that was on sale at Brazos Natural Foods, and grated in some romano cheese (maybe 1/4 to 1/2-cup?). Plus fresh black pepper, crumbled sage, and a hint of nutmeg. And some finely toasted walnuts - from [ profile] sytharin. I gave everything a good mix or ten, and then I was ready for the next stage.

I am certain that any time I set about making pasta, I am going to spend that time thinking about my mother. For years and years, she made ravioli for our family for special occasions, to the point where she really doesn't want to look at the ravioli-making implements anymore and now we have to do it for ourselves. It happens, when one's children suddenly decide to be virtuous vegetarians and one is forced to come up with Thanksgiving and Christmas alternate dishes. I got lucky this time and happened to mention my pasta-making plans to a friend who has a hand-crank pasta roller, so she loaned it to me. Easier than hand-rolling it, for sure.

But boy did it make me miss the KitchenAid version. There's a certain monotonous rhythm to the hand-crank roller, when one is working by oneself. Chop off a piece of dough with a dough cutter, hand-flatten and shape it a bit, then adjust the pasta roller to the wide setting and crank it through. Pause, adjust the pasta roller to the next setting, and crank it through. Pause, adjust the pasta roller to the next setting, and crank it through. At this point, the dough will be long enough that it's no longer possible to roll it all through in one go. Instead, start it through the roller, then pause to adjust the dough coming out of the bottom so it doesn't stick to itself. Then roll some more, pause again to adjust the bottom, roll some more, let go of the rest of the dough up top and catch the dough underneath. Pause, adjust the pasta roller to the next setting, and crank it through.

Once the dough is thin enough, it's time for the next step. I happened across a tortelli recipe in a copy of Food and Wine while I was in the midst of tortellini-making, which divided up the workflow slightly differently, but probably takes around the same total amount of time overall, and seemed to involve a lot of waxed paper. There was a quotation across from the article about how making tortellini just takes time, and would-be chefs just have to deal with it, which made me chuckle internally.

Instead of rolling out all of the dough and then cutting out circles all at once (then taking all the scraps and re-rolling, etc.), I took each sheet of pasta, one sheet at a time, put it on a floured board, and cut out 5-8 circles. Then I took a pastry bag full of the squash filling and piped a teaspoonful in the middle of each circle. I took two fingers, dipped them in water, and ran a circle of water around the edges of each piece of dough, then folded the dough in half, over the filling, and sealed the edges. Lastly, I picked up each half-circle and curled the ends together to make a little tortellini. Once everything is set up, it takes about 10 minutes to make enough tortellini for one person's dinner. I made enough to fill two toaster-oven trays, and then tucked them in the freezer.

Ravioli-making might be marginally faster. It looks like there are a couple of methods out there, but they require more specialized implements that I don't own, and ravioli require more space for freezing (they have to be kept separated from each other so they don't stick together or to the pan they're on). My mom has a tray which is sized to correspond to the width of dough produced by pasta rollers, and which makes 10 or 12 ravioli at once. You roll out a bottom sheet, press a mold against it to make pockets for the filling, fill the ravioli, then roll out a top sheet, run water along the edges of the dough, lay the top sheet across everything, and then roll and cut the ravioli with a rolling pin. For the years she spent making ravioli, my mom always spooned the filling in by hand. When I finally had the idea to pipe in the filling, things got a bit faster, but it's still methodical work.

The whole process is really the best with at least two people involved, particularly with hand-crank pasta rollers, where one person feeds the pasta and catches it, while the other turns the crank.

Regardless, the end result is phenomenal.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
Heading into the weekend is always the time when I start thinking about things on different lists. I've been picking up CSA vegetables on Thursday evenings, which is perfect timing for planning out cooking for the upcoming week: it lets me know what I have on hand before I set out for the grocery store. This was our last week of CSA veggies until the fall, and I know I'll be missing them. I just don't have my act together to produce the same kind of vegetable medley for myself. Sure, I've got eggplants and tomatoes and kale, but when one gardens for oneself there tends to be an abundance of one thing at a time.

Anyhoo. It's okra season, and apparently, butternut squash season, too. I read not too long ago that butternut squashes and other hard winter squashes will store best in a dark place without too much airflow, so those will keep for a while. Plus, I now have abundant freezer space, so I could just roast and puree them and put them next to the other container of butternut squash puree that's already in the freezer. The cherry tomatoes and okra, not so much.

So! Cooking projects for this week:

-Red lentil curry burgers with tomato chutney


-Okra croquettes (recipe from a friend):

1.5 c sliced okra
1.5 c cooked rice
1 c chopped tomato
3/4 c chopped onion
1 T sugar
1.5 t salt
1 t baking powder
1/8 t pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 c cornmeal
1 c flour
vegetable oil, for frying

Combine okra, rice, tomato, onion, sugar, salt, baking powder, and pepper. Stir in beaten eggs. Add cornmeal and flour, mixing well. Drop mixture by tablespoonfuls into deep hot oil (375 degrees). Cook 1 minute or until golden brown, turning as necessary. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot with dill sauce, horseradish sauce, mustard dip, or any sour cream sauce, if desired.


I generally don't deep-fry things, so I'll see about panfrying these guys. For once, I have almost everything I need for cooking projects, and only need a couple of miscellanea from the grocery store.
rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
This is a quick recipe description for a friend, how to make rhubarb sauce and rhubarb syrup. It's pretty simple, actually:

Take some rhubarb and chop it up. Add some sugar - maybe around a cup of sugar to four cups of rhubarb. I generally guesstimate. Simmer the rhubarb/sugar mixture in a pot on the stove at a medium-low temperature until it gets nice and soft. I like to add in a vanilla bean pod as I'm simmering, for some nice, aromatic flavor. Then remove from heat and strain through a jelly bag or cheesecloth. Congratulations, the stuff you've strained out is rhubarb syrup, and what's left in the bag is rhubarb sauce! If you feel like canning any of it, add it into jars and process for at least 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

I like to treat the rhubarb sauce like a soft jam, and spread it on toast. It's also great on crepes.

The syrup is best for making rhubarb soda - add a shot or two to a glass of club soda, and enjoy. Most recently, I've discovered that strawberry-rhubarb soda is even more delicious - take the juices left over from sugaring strawberries, and add them to the soda.
rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
Sometime during the middle of last week, I hatched a plan to invite my friends S and JM over for dinner and a Scrabble game on Friday night (sneaky, huh)? So then there was the matter of figuring out the menu, with the refrigerator emptied out to some degree, as it was the end of the week. The previous weekend, I'd fed S a butternut squash pizza, and had roasted and frozen a bunch of extra butternut squash puree, so I thought, heck, how about a soup? I could make some bread to go with it, S could bring a delicious salad, and if JM could supply a nice beverage and some cheese, we'd be all set.

But then there was the matter of the bread. After the tragic death of the loaf pan, I was starting to want a change of pace. And a creamy soup deserves a crusty bread. So on Friday morning, I decided it was finally time to give a no-knead bread recipe a go. There was just one slight concern - my previous roommate, RH, used to make no-knead bread periodically, but she learned the hard way that the handle on the lid to my enameled cast-iron dutch oven was not heatproof to 500 degrees (she kindly replaced it, thank goodness!). I also have reservations about heating empty enameled cast-iron to that temperature. But it was time to do something about the lack-of-suitable-breadchamber situation.

I rode over to the hardware store in downtown Bryan, and bought a giant, 7-quart cast-iron Dutch oven. While I was in line for the cashier, the woman ahead of me saw what I was holding and declared, "MmmmmmmMMMM! There's no cookin' like cast-iron cookin'!" You know it, lady. This Dutch oven is on the large side, which is what I was looking for. Its lid fits onto my largest cast-iron skillet - a bonus point for double-use. It will also be perfect for all of the stews I've been trying to squeeze into smaller pans.

And it was perfect for holding this whole-wheat version of an almost no-knead bread. Unfortunately, I miscalculated the timing by a bit, so the bread finished after we'd stuffed ourselves. Somehow, miraculously, we all managed to find extra room for it. Also, somewhat unfortunately, I neglected to turn the oven temperature down after plopping the dough in, so the bottom came out burnt. Thankfully, burnt crust is easily removed and composted.

The butternut squash soup was assembled as follows:
Step 0: Slice butternut squash in half, scoop out seeds, lightly oil it, put it facedown in a baking pan and roast at 350 degrees until soft, about 45 minutes to an hour (check with a fork if you're more careful than me). Then, scoop out the innards and add them plus some water to the blender and puree it. After this point, I put it in the freezer and pulled it back out again to thaw and make the soup.
Step 1: Collect up a spring of rosemary a couple of sprigs of thyme, and some sage leaves. Mince them, and mince up a shallot, too.
Remaining steps: Then, heat some butter in your soup pan, and saute the herbs and shallot until the shallot is soft, ~5 minutes. If you want, you could probably add some mushrooms at this point, too. All those nice, earthy flavors. Once that's smelling good, add the butternut squash puree, and perhaps a bit more water or soup stock, as you see fit. I added water and some vegetable stock. Raise the temperature to a near-simmer, then turn off the heat and add in a splashing of cream. Top with a sprinkling of toasty walnuts.

For dessert, we had some raspberry buttermilk cake, accompanied by Butterscotch-Biscotti ice cream. The ice cream base was David Lebovitz's vanilla ice cream. Once it finished churning, I added in chunks of some almond biscotti dough that I'd made a couple of weeks previously, where I'd forgotten to add the sugar. As I spooned it into some plastic yogurt containers to freeze it, I added some butterscotch sauce (nothing like cream with your cream! Also, I used really good brown sugar) in layers, to balance out the non-sweet biscotti dough.

And with some cheese, lovely rolls, pomegranate soda, and a tomato-basil-red leaf lettuce salad, there were the makings of our feast.

I lost the Scrabble game, by a 35-point margin behind JM and a 70-point margin behind S, despite playing a seven-letter word. I blame the neverending vowels that followed the bingo.
rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
Let's see:

Friday night: I baked Alton Brown's cocoa brownies, swapping in white sugar for some of the brown, as I had run out, reducing the total amount of sugar, and substituting whole wheat pastry flour for the white flour. These substitutions do not suddenly make these brownies virtuous. For the record.

I got up early on Saturday, rode over to the farmer's market, and bought: 2 dozen eggs, a bunch of asparagus, a gorgeous and huge head of read leaf lettuce, a bunch of freshly harvested onions, a bird feeder, tomatoes (greenhouse-grown), peppers, a cucumber, and a bag of pecans. That filled the Jolly Roger to capacity, so I stopped by the house and dropped things off before heading over to campus for the Horticulture Department's plant sale. By that point, a plant-buying frenzy had already occurred and there wasn't much interesting stuff to ogle or covet, so I just bought two eggplant plants, brought them home, and stuck them in the ground. I detoured past the Farm Patch to check if they still had any Meyer lemons or plants of interest, but they didn't. I just don't even know where to begin, with ornamental plants and flowers, and their stuff tends to not be native anyway. Then I stopped by the Habitat Re-Store (closed for Easter weekend) and Goodwill (nothing of interest) before heading to Brazos Natural Foods for groceries, et cetera.

I used to buy Burt's Bees conditioner, but after they got bought out, they switched their formula and added a bunch of crap, so I'm on the hunt for a good conditioner. Sigh. I'd been buying the Burt's Bees at Village Foods, but none of their other conditioners appeals to me. The stuff I just picked up from BNF advertised itself as made of fair-trade shea butter, for whatever that's worth. I just hope it does a decent job on my hair. I've been using some grapefruit conditioner from Whole Paycheck in the interim, but it leaves my hair dull and dry.

For lunch, I whipped up a soba salad (substituting galangal for the ginger; note to self, this recipe also looks tasty, as does this one). I also had an apple with peanut butter and chia seeds. A seedy lunch.

Then my friend S came over in the evening, and the cooking continued. She'd prepared some Amish turnips, and we'd planned on collaborating on a quiche, except we failed to discuss who would take charge of the crust. As a result, I had a crust prepared by the time she arrived, and she'd brought along another premade one. The best solution, I determined, was to make two quiches instead of one. We filled one quiche with asparagus, swiss cheese, and onion, and the other with crimini mushrooms, cheddar cheese, and onion. Both of these were topped off with an egg-cream mixture, which had a ratio of 2 eggs to 1 cup of cream - I'm noting this because each crust wound up holding around 3 eggs:1.5 cups of cream, slightly less than the full allotment for the quiche lorraine recipe S had brought over. This was seasoned with a splash of Indian red pepper and salt and pepper. I turned the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and a carrot into a salad in an attempt to at least partly balance out this fat-fest. The asparagus quiche was really good, but the mushroom-cheddar quiche was excellent.

This morning, I baked more of those pecan cinnamon rolls - breakfast for the week. Then I prepared some paneer for dinner (recipe follows) and used some of the whey for the week's loaf of bread.

The only cooking project left at this point is figuring out what to do with some failed biscotti from last weekend, where I forgot to add the sugar to the dough. This has made the dough so crumbly that I can't cut and twice-bake it. I tried turning one of the two biscotti loaves into a bread pudding-like substance, but that only rendered the outcome edible, not delicious. I'm pondering making some sort of ice cream with the remainder - maybe swirling in some chocolate or butterscotch for sweetness. We'll see. I'm not in a tremendous hurry to tackle that project, but need to do it sometime before this pint of cream goes bad - I got it on sale, so it needs to be finished sooner rather than later.

Anyway. Indian Spaghetti's on the agenda for dinner (aka "Shahi paneer korma", though this isn't the page where I originally found the recipe and there are a lot of disparaging comments below it; this recipe looks similar, though with cashews added; I'll be adding in additional vegetables like peas, and will just use canned tomatoes). And once the current batch of muesli runs out I'm going to experiment with making a maple syrup - pecan version. I'd like to start using more pecans than almonds because the pecans are grown around here, and almonds come from giant, honey bee-dependent orchards in California.

How to make paneer
Take some milk, say around a half-gallon. Find a pot large enough for the milk, and lightly oil it so the milk doesn't stick so badly when you heat it. Heat up the milk, over medium-high heat, stirring so it doesn't stick and scorch on the bottom. Once the milk comes to a boil, lower the heat and keep cooking and stirring for one minute. Then remove from heat and add a couple of tablespoons of either citrus juice or vinegar, until the milk begins to curdle. Keep stirring, adding a little more acid as needed if the milk hasn't curdled completely. Don't overdo it, though, or your cheese will taste sour.

Line a colander with some cheesecloth and put it into a bowl (bonus points if it's reusable). Pour the curd mixture through it to strain the curds from the whey. Pick up the corners of the cheesecloth and hold it over the bowl for another minute to drain out some additional whey. Then, put the cheesecloth bundle onto a surface where you can put a bit of weight on it and allow it to drain for another hour or so. Once that's finished, voila! You have a loaf of paneer. Not only that, you also have a bunch of whey. And it's all soooo much cheaper and more delicious than buying paneer at the store.

What do do with the whey (besides some variant on a frothy whey drink [a non-alcoholic original comes from The Healthy Cuisine of India, by Bharti Kirchner]): use it instead of water when making bread, oatmeal, or rice. You'll be sad when it's all gone.


rebeccmeister: (Default)

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