Friday, July 16, 2010

Past few days . . .

"The strands of spaghetti were vital, almost alive in my mouth, and the olive oil was singing with flavor. It was hard to imagine that four simple ingredients [olive oil, pasta, garlic and cheese] could marry so perfectly."
Ruth Reichl
I decided to not share the cauliflower soup recipe I made the day before yesterday. I wasted an entire head of cauliflower, a few potatoes, and more. Lots of time out the window. Tasteless and I don't think any amount of additions could have done much to remedy it!

My daughter made homemade hash browns and they were so delicious! We ate plates of them for lunch...
She just grated some peeled potatoes and added eggs, flour and salt and then pan friend them on a butter greased cast iron skillet. Oh, yeah. She also added chopped onions!

Yesterday, we had four pizzas using crust from mixes bec/ we were in a big hurry. I made a pepperoni and one with a sun dried tomato sauce, mozzarella, extra sharp cheddar, green peppers, onions and garlic. Brandy made one with green peppers and then topped after it was cooling with fresh basil leaves.  Lauren made a "peace pizza" rectangle a different sauce on each side and a peace symbol in the middle made up of chopped green peppers. It was cool and I might be able to get the picture from her cell phone somehow and share it.

Today, we had vegetarian spaghetti and I was surprised by how well loved it was by all ages. I made angel hair pasta and while it boiled .... I sauteed chopped vidalia onions in some olive oil and about a tablespoon of butter. I removed that from the skillet and added zucchini triangles and salted them. As soon as they were partially cooked, I added a few cloves of finely chopped garlic and let it saute for a few minutes before adding to the pot the pasta had been in. I added the onions and some commercial sauce along with a can of chopped portabello mushrooms. We ate with shredded extra sharp cheddar, garlic whole wheat bread (Lauren made) and iced tea (Brandy made) and I added several slices of lemon to mine.

Emily (4 year old grandgirl) went wild for a lemon slice and her 2-year old brother (grandboy:) asked over and over for an apple. . . that is what he called the lemon. Smile.

Braxton ended up wanting lemon in his lemonade so the kids should have a citrus splash of nutrition for the day:)

We flopped two pans of brownies (don't try adding caramel bits thinking they will melt ... they don't!) but savored some hot, fresh coffee while we talked and the children played.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer in the South: A Dinner Idea from my Childhood

When I was growing up, there were times when food had a real impact on me. Things someone might have thought nothing of but meant a lot to me and stored in my heart. Also, I was influenced and my family has been blessed from that as well.

Just a small scattering of these memories:

* A doctor giving me a tootsie pop  and being nice enough to give me more for my sisters when I asked him. I remember Mom and I walking up to the door of our home and opening the door to my sisters and being able to hand them my sweet "gifts" ... it made my entire day and I was only around three years old but still cling to that moment.

* A less warm memory I've used to make sure I always try to make sure no one at any age has to feel bad in any way when eating at my table. My mother was working a full time job and paying good money (so it was skimmed from other areas ... like extras, entertainment, and so on even) to a woman who lived a few homes down from us. She had a school aged child and she worked it out with mom to allow us to come there in the mornings to eat breakfast with her son and then we'd all walk to the school bus together. Mom had to leave a full hour before we caught the bus to get to work on time and it was the first time we had stayed with someone in the mornings so it was already an adjustment.
Anyway, the woman was very nice to mom but as soon as she left... she would stop smiling and she would give us like 1/2 of a piece of bacon and a tiny portion of eggs and maybe 1/2 of a piece of toast but would give her son a full plate and allow him to have seconds or thirds if he wanted them. I remember how bad I felt... my 10 year old heart didn't understand why someone would act that way. My seven year old sister and I just thanked her and eventually we moved. Even if we are very low on food to this day, I will offer any portion we have on our plates to those eating with us... or more. It was a sad time for me but good came of it!

* My grandaddy used to fry apple fritters in a skillet. Nothing compared to them... nothing. They were comfort at it's finest. To this very day, I've never tasted one that came anywhere close to his. He made those or fried eggs with toast or canned biscuits and a few other things in his little kitchen. It was in that little kitchen that my uncle showed me how to hold my fork properly when I was very young and it was there my aunt showed me I could definitely like the white part of the egg along with the yellow if it was cooked this way and cut that . . . and she was right!

* An older woman who was the best homemaker I had seen other than my own dear, mom --- cooked like no one I had EVER been around. The best of the best baking and everything was always served so well. We had blueberry or strawberry pancakes (or plain pancakes) with blueberry and strawberry syrup and I could not EVER get enough of these! We had homemade pound cake served with heated milk and vanilla extract poured over it in a bowl (my most comforting food memory ever, perhaps) and so many things welcomed me in a culinary and homey way from her kitchen and breakfast room nook.

* One meal we had growing up that I was weary of when I first saw it but fell immediately in love with was fried potatoes, crowder peas with ketchup and mustard zig zagged on top, and homemade biscuits with butter. All of that and sweet, iced tea.

The latter was the inspiration for our meal last night!
We had a skillet of fried potatoes and Vidalia onions (DIL request) and a skillet of fried potatoes without onions . We also had a skillet of fried potato peelings bec my son started eating them in Italy or Afghanistan and loved them and we have fallen for them here now! Very delicious.

We also had field peas (crowder peas) from a can and cheddar bay biscuits ... kind of like the copycat Red Lobster biscuits but a world and more better!

This was served with our canned pickles and iced, sweet tea with lots and lots of lemon slices for those of us who LOVE lemon in our tea!

Our changes? LOTS more shredded cheese, buttermilk in place of milk and then a splash or two of milk to make it easier to stir and scoop. Small cookie scoops and less cooking time.

The topping: We added a few cloves of pressed garlic and a lot more butter! ALL ages loved these and after three cookie sheets were slid onto plates --- four tiny biscuits were left.

Todd Wilbur Reveals the Secrets to Great Restaurant Dishes
Order an entrée from America's largest seafood restaurant chain and you get a basket of some of the planet's tastiest garlic cheese biscuits served up on the side. For many years this recipe has been the most-searched-for clone recipe on the Internet, according to Red Lobster. As a result, several versions are floating around, including one that was at one time printed right in the box of a baking mix.
The problem with making biscuits using a baking mix is that if you follow the directions from the box you don't end up with a very fluffy or flakey finished product, since most of the fat in the recipe comes from the shortening that's included in the mix.

On its own, room temperature shortening does a poor job creating the light, airy texture you want from good biscuits, and it contributes little in the way of flavor. So, we'll invite some cold butter along on the trip-with grated cheddar cheese and a little garlic powder. Now you'll be well on your way to delicious Cheddar Bay. Wherever that is.


2 ½ cups Bisquick baking mix
¾ cup cold whole milk

4 tablespoons cold butter (1/2 stick)

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1 heaping cup grated cheddar cheese

Bush on Top:

2 tablespoons butter, melted

¼ teaspoon dried parsley flakes

½ teaspoon garlic powder

pinch salt


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2. Combine Bisquick with cold butter in a medium bowl using a pastry cutter or a large fork. You don't want to mix too thoroughly. There should be small chunks of butter in there that are about the size of peas. Add cheddar cheese, milk, and ¼ teaspoon garlic. Mix by hand until combined, but don't over mix.

3. Drop approximately ¼-cup portions of the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet using an ice cream scoop.

4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn light brown.

5. When you take the biscuits out of the oven, melt 2 tablespoons butter is a small bowl in your microwave. Stir in ½ teaspoon garlic powder and the dried parsley flakes. Use a brush to spread this garlic butter over the tops of all the biscuits. Use up all of the butter. Makes one dozen biscuits.

Recipe courtesy of Todd Wilbur, "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2," Plume Books.
Copyright © 2010 ABC News Internet Ventures

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Canning Pickles: Two Batches Down and A Blue Ball Canning Book To Go!

"On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally's cellar." Thomas Jefferson

Bread and Butter Pickles

Canning has always intimidated me but I've heard it is quite necessary when growing a garden and I am starting to see why. Cucumbers are arriving by the arm load full almost every morning and zucchinis are becoming more and more our morning garden greetings.

Time and again, I read or was told to start with the Ball Blue Book Guide To Home Canning, Freezing & Dehydration. I got one many years ago and never used it and don't know what I did with it and then bought another somewhere around 1998. The info is apparently timeless so I am making this a worn out cookbook already!

I've been reading on boiling water methods, pressure canning, packing, pickling, and putting up foods in all kinds of ways! I'm learning what foods are high acid and which are low acid and why it is so important to pay attention to processing plans between the two. Highly recommend this book!

VERY first canning batch done by myself: (from the above mentioned book) -

Bread and Butter Pickles

4 pounds 4- to 6- inch cucumbers, cut into slices (we don't have a kitchen scale right now so we are using our regular weight scale!
2 pounds of onions, thinly sliced (about 8 small) --- I used Vidalia!
1/3 cup canning salt
2 cups of sugar
2 T. mustard seed
2 t. turmeric
2 t. celery seed
1 t. ginger
1 t. peppercorns (I used a peppercorn blend I had on hand)
3 cups vinegar

Combine cucumber and onion slices in a large bowl. Layer vegetables with salt; cover with ice cubes. Let stand 1 1/2 hours. Drain; rinse; drain again. Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepot; bring to a boil. Add drained cucumbers and onions and return to a boil. Pack hot pickles and liquid into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: about 7 pints.

 2nd batch of canning was today:

Cucumber Chips

6 pounds 4-inch to 5-inch cucumbers, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 cup canning salt
1 T. turmeric
1 quart plus 3 cups vinegar, divided
1 quart plus 1 cup water, divided
2 cups white sugar
2 sticks cinnamon
1 1/4-x1-inch piece of gingerroot
1 T. mustard seed
1 t. whole cloves
2 cups brown sugar

Put cucumber slices in a large bowl; sprinkle salt over cucumber slices; mix thoroughly. Let stand 3 hours. Drain; rinse and drain thoroughly. Combine turmeric, 3 cups vinegar and 1 quart water; bring to a boil; pour over cucumbers. Let stand until cold; drain. Taste cucumbers; if too salty, rinse thoroughly; drain. Combine white sugar, 1 quart vinegar and 1 cup water. Tie spices in a spice bag; add to pickling liquid . Simmer 15 minutes; pour pickling liquid over cucumbers. Let stand 12-24 hours in a cool place. Remove spice bag and pickles. Combine pickling liquid and brown sugar; bring to a boil. Pack cucumber slices into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Ladle hot liquid over cucumbers, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner. Yield: about 3 pints. I got 8 pint sized canning jars! I can't imagine six pounds of cucumbers filling only 3 pints!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Moosewood Fudge (and Peanut Butter) Brownies

We have been baking so much lately!
Lots going on and we do this for serving in hospitality, to comfort others or ourselves, and just for the fragrance swirling through the house!

When Nana and the twins were here last, I wanted to make something sweet and special since we hadn't visited in a long while.
I also needed something quick, easy and not requiring a lot of ingredients.

The well used Moosewood Vegetarian Cookbook my mom gave me years ago came to the rescue!

We made one pan of Moosewood Fudge Brownies as directed on the box (except we used Ghiradelli dark chocolate squares instead of 3 (1 oz) unsweetened squares.
We made another pan and when it was ready to slide onto an oven shelf, I quickly swirled a large spoon of peanut butter in it and added a few "spears" of broken chocolate squares to the top. Both were adored but the second one was the favorite for many of us.

So much so --- that we made it again a couple of days later!
Here it is:

Moosewood Fudge Brownies
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 16 brownies

1/2 cup butter
3 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unbleached, white flour

Preheat the oven to 350.
Butter an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan.
In a heavy large pot, melt the butter and chocolate together, stirring occasionally. While they melt, assemble the rest of the ingredients (if mixing by hand, beat the eggs with a fork in a separate bowl).
When the butter and chocolate have melted, remove the pot from the heat. Add the brown sugar and vanilla and beat by and or with an electric mixer. Add the eggs *just crack them directly into the pot if using an electric mixer). Stir in the four, and mix until the batter is thoroughly blended and smooth.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until the brownies are just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan and are fudgey in the center. For more cakelike brownies, bake an additional 5 minutes.
Per 2-inch brownie: 153 calories

Note: Any leftover brownies can be crumbled for a sundae topping. These crumbs freeze very well and can be eaten without defrosting.

Chocolate Chip Orange Zucchini Bread

Chocolate Chip Orange Zucchini Bread

This is a family and friends FAVORITE and has been for years. All ages love this and especially with a couple of delicious changes I've made along the way:)

Changes? I used lots and lots of orange zest and I get creative with the kind of chocolate I use. This time, Ghiradelli chocolate squares were on sale for $1.00 with a regular price of nearly $4. We bought a few bags and put them in the freezer for baking. They were the dark chocolate with 60% cacao and I cut them it pieces. I used a whole bag plus two and I think the bags were around 5 or 6 ounces.

Guess what?! The zucchini came from our garden!

This breads chills SO well. It is beyond excellent cold! Goes well with coffee or cold milk!

Chocolate Chip Orange Zucchini Bread


3 eggs

2 cups white sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups grated zucchini

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 1 tablespoon orange zest

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg DIRECTIONS:

1. Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices. 2. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and fluffy. Add sugar, and continue beating until well blended. Stir in oil, vanilla, zucchini, nuts, chocolate chips, and orange rind. Blend in sifted ingredients. Turn batter into two greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. 3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 50 minutes, or until bread tests done. Remove loaves from pans, and cool. Chill before slicing.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2010 Printed from 7/10/2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Culinary Activities in our Kitchen

"The kitchen is a country in which there are always discoveries to be made."

Grimod de la Reynière (1758-1838)

My daughter, Lauren made some wonderful Kale chips. She actually got the kale (when we finally found some at a whole foods market) for green smoothies but we were out of fruit. I had been planning on trying this recipe so she made all of it that way. The first batch was cooked a bit too long so it was a little TOO crispy but the second was delicious. All of us here loved it and so did my DIL and grandbabies!  

While my daughter and I were watching our youngest grandbaby, Elijah recently, we made a topping for vanilla ice cream. No, I don't always raid the homes of my kids and eat all their food! ;) Our second to oldest son and his wife were taking mentioned grandboy to the beach and they needed to eat the things that would go bad anyway. Hence, the reason we ate their ice cream.
ANYway, I melted some chocolate chips with a bit of butter and when it was glossy, stirred in peanut butter and marshmallow cream. It was different... kind of like a rich, hot fudge.

I made four loaves of whole grain bread and gifted some of the loaves. I prefer making these (or most usually six at a time)  until I have filled a shelf in the freezer with dough logs and/or buns so we always have homemade bread on hand. This time, we ate two loaves in no time and gave away some. 

There are three main recipes I use for a great deal of my bread making. This one and Vickilynn's from RealFoodLiving site so I'll share both.

Nita's Whole Wheat Bread--4 loaf recipe

Recipe By : Nita Crabb

Serving Size : 32

Categories : Yeast Breads

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

4 cups water -- 110 degrees

2 tablespoons yeast

1/2 cup honey

1/4 to 1/2 cup gluten, wheat

5 cups whole wheat flour -- freshly ground

4 teaspoons sea salt

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup olive oil (which is about 5 1/2 Tbsp.)

3 cups whole wheat flour -- freshly ground

2-5 cups additional whole wheat flour for kneading

Dissolve yeast in water and stir in 1/2 cup honey. Add gluten flour and

5 cups whole wheat flour and stir. Let sit about 30 minutes or until


and bubbly (mine comes nearly to the top of the Bosch bowl). Stir; add

salt, 1/2 cup more honey, and oil. Mix; add 3 cups flour. Add flour by

1/2 cupfuls until dough cleans the sides of the bowl. Let mixer knead


low speed 10 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and place in large,

lightly-greased bowl, turning once to coat top. Let rise until double.

Punch down, divide into four equal pieces. Form loaves and place in

greased loaf pans. Let rise until 1 1/2 inches above the rim of the

pans. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes (do not overbake). Remove from oven

and brush tops with butter to prevent crust from getting hard.


"4 loaves"

* Exported from MasterCook *


Recipe By :Vickilynn Haycraft C 2000

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

6 1/2 cups water -- warmed to 100-110

3 tablespoons yeast -- SAF

6 cups whole wheat flour

2/3 cup olive oil

2/3 cup honey

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup vital gluten

9 cups whole wheat flour -- more or less as needed

In a large mixing bowl (I use a Bosch) place warm water, SAF yeast and 4

cups flour. Stir to mix well, then cover and let sponge 30 minutes.

Stir to punch down; add oil, honey, gluten and salt. Mix to blend; add 2

cups flour and turn mixer on low. Add flour by 1/2 cupfuls until dough

cleans the sides of the bowl and is no longer sticky. Knead on low speed

6- 8 minutes. The flour amount is approximate, use only enough flour to

cause the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixer bowl. Do not

add more flour.

Let dough rise in covered bowl 30 minutes until doubled. Punch down

dough place on oiled counter and divide into six pieces. Form loaves and

place in greasedloaf pans. Let rise in warm oven (turned off) until 1

1/2" above the rim of the pans.

With loaves still in oven, turn oven on and bake at 350 degrees for

about 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and cover with clean towel to soften crust.


"Makes 6 loaves, each 12 slices. Each slice is 2 points"

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 121 Calories; 3g Fat (17.8%

calories from fat); 4g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg

Cholesterol; 62mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1/2

Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.


I might have already shared the pizza crust recipes I used but I can't remember!

This time around, I grabbed the two quickest recipes I could find. One was topped with basic pizza sauce and two pizzas were made. One had pepperoni and cheese and the other just had cheese.

Easy Pizza dough recipe

From All

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast (sometimes I use a smidge more)

2 cups warm water (110 degrees to 115 degrees)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 cups all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oil, salt and 2 cups flour. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. (I use my food processor) Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.

Divide dough in half. On a floured surface, roll each portion into a 13-in. circle. Transfer to two greased 12-in. pizza pans; build up edges slightly. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

I make this dough in my food processor. I let the machine knead so skip that step because I don't want the dough to be tough. I let mine stand up to 30 minutes. Then roll out and top and bake. You can back the crust alone first if you like a crunchy crust. I like mine more soft and tender, so don't prebake.

I have lost the Focaccia crust recipe I used but will hopefully find it so I can post it soon. I topped it with homemade garlic, white sauce, two cheeses and sliced Vidalia onions. It was loved by three teenagers and two adults (my DIL and I along with my daughter and two of her friends!) and we gave the other pizza to the kids so we don't know if they liked it or not. Smiles:)

Garlic White Sauce

Butter (a few tablespoons)
Garlic cloves (a few to several, depending on how strong you want it)  ... put through a garlic press
White flour (about as much as the amount of butter you use)
salt & pepper
milk or cream (just enough to make the sauce as thick or thin as you want it

Melt butter in skillet and add pressed garlic cloves OR chopped garlic. Sautee until fragrant and sprinkle flour in ... stir with whisk until blended and smooth. Add milk or cream until desired thickness and immediately take off stove. Salt and pepper and top pizza. I cooked my crust for a few minutes before adding and then add toppings. Cook at a high heat (400 degrees F. or more) until crust is cooked and toppings are starting to brown.

There have been lots more cooked up in our kitchen but this is getting longer and longer and it is getting late. I started it early this morning!

I will try sharing the rest in other posts!