My next Posse
Recipe! Haven’t done much food posts lately, but couldn’t resist sharing this one found today on Allrecipes.com
Category Archives: Food
Humans have very strong scent memory. Tell us about a smell that transports you.
Someone else wrote about the smell of freshly baked bread… and OH how I agree with that; but there IS another smell that I will never forget, smelled it once a good 48 years ago and it’s still so fresh in my head….
…. and that’s the smell of the chocolate at the Hershey’s factory. It was so strong and permeated the air around me. I couldn’t get enough of it. The headiness was not duplicated until my teens when I experimented with marijuana and never again since those days. They say that when you visit the Hershey factory that after a while the smell sickens you. I didn’t feel sick but it seemed LOUD, if a smell can be loud.
To this day, I love chocolate and I can’t seem to get enough of it. Is it more psychological than a physical hunger or desire? I’m not sure, but I know that if giving a zillion choices at the ice cream shop or bakery, or for anything sweet once chocolate is mentioned don’t tell me any more. I choose the darkest chocolate I can. Or, maybe it was my friend John who turned me on to chocolate when he gifted a group of us with Godiva chocolate. Though I forgot the holiday it was representing, St. Valentine’s Day or Christmas, I will never forget the taste of that chocolate. You ruined me for others, sir! My favorite ice cream is Häagen-Dazs Belgium chocolate. The mall by us has a Häagen-Dazs vendor stand in the middle of the food court. Gotta know where those safe places are.
OOH my GOD… Lindt Dark Chocolate Truffles melt as soon as they hit your tongue…. and YEAH the darker the chocolate, the healthier it is for you… HA, like I need an excuse!
I love watching Hell’s Kitchen and Master Chef. If I catch another cooking show like Lydia’s Kitchen, I’ll watch that, too. I’ve become an ingredient snob. The only olive oil I will use is of the “first cold pressing” and I must see the sediment floating around in the oil. It’s a MUST~! That is where all the flavor is. I love to eat tuna steak, shark steak, and swordfish, you know, that fish meat that makes you feel like you’re eating something.
I love what great ingredients can do to a dish! I’m a true Italian in the cooking arena. Creative cooking is so much a part of me that it makes my whole body sing. “Like Water For Chocolate” is one of my favorite movies. The connection Maria has with the ingredients and the food she makes is phenomenal and inspiring. That’s how I feel when I’m cooking, like my whole self is going into it. I’ve got to chuckle because sometimes my experimentation is not appreciated and sometimes for good reason. DH hates mushrooms. He can’t get out of his mind that they are fungi. My dad’s neighbor in PA is from the old country and knows how to forage for mushrooms. He dries them and gives to my dad, and he in turn gives me some. What a different taste. Another item that once you’ve had the real thing, you can’t go back to canned. Canned mushrooms are so bland and scuzzy I don’t buy them anymore.
Herbs. Fresh all the way. I used to have a pretty nice herb garden up until last year… until my landlord’s son pulled everything out because he wanted to make his girlfriend happy and give her a flower garden. Don’t mind the fact that his father gave me permission years ago to plant there, AND that same December they broke up… but I won’t go there. I got over it and we ironed things out. Still, I miss the rosemary and English and French lavender bushes. I miss my lemon thyme and greek oregano. I miss my basil and spearmint. I managed to fit quite a bit in my little plot of clayish earth. This past year or so, I’ve splurged on saffron and two years ago, whole vanilla beans. Once I started grinding up my own spices, I started blending them for my cooking.
Once you taste fresh nutmeg, mace, allspice, cinnamon, etc., you can’t go back to the pre-ground up kind. Mace. I thank my friend Pauline for turning me onto that one! She gifted me with some fresh whole nutmeg nuts, so I had the luxury of trying out fresh mace, and I will not soon forget that. See that reddish web-like stuff around the pit? Thats mace. Smell that? Ah~! I use nutmeg (sometimes mace) on chicken in the oven. I discovered that when I stopped cooking with salt and needed to find other substitutes. Now, while I do use salt, I use much less than recommended in recipes. Oh, and I love using course sea salt.
I’ve always been one to experiment in the kitchen, and now I’m adding home canning, and pickling into the mix. I have my mind set to try out homemade dairy products like making butter, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and utilizing whey and whatever else, oh, cream. There are plenty of tutorials on the net with loads of pictures and that’s right up my alley.
Oh. so the reason for this post. This past year, I’ve had to pretty much give up on quality ingredients for my cooking. Or rather, I don’t cook much at all. So what I’d like to do here is tell you how I am getting by on pretty much nothing fresh. I hate it, but I keep telling myself that it’s temporary until things start looking up around here. My pep talk pretty much consists of me telling myself that it could be worse and that others have it much harder than we do. It’s temporary.
My basic goal is to cook everything in one pan. First cook whatever meat, chicken, beef, whatever. Then remove the cooked meat and use those juices as a base for sautéing veggies. I don’t like to cook veggies too long. I prefer my veggies to have bright colors to them. Also, if you recook them another day, they won’t be totally overcooked and mushy. After the veggies are done, I quickly throw the meat back in and whatever extras and serve when everything is hot. You can imagine my glee when I found a recipe online for a one pot pasta dish.
Pasta. Pasta can be healthy and it can be filling. My favorite experiments are with left over veggies and pasta, Pasta Primavera. There is no set-in-stone recipe; but the key, I think, is to have at least one veggie going in there that is not a left over. The cool thing about primavera is that you and use any veggie you want. Another thing that I strive to do as much as I can is “One Pot Meals.” Just found one recipe on Pinterest and it blew my mind to put dry pasta in with all the ingredients into one pot, cover, cook, and VOILA, it’s a meal 20 minutes or so later… and all the water is used, no draining. Pasta, Tomatoes, Veggies Recipe link.
As it stands now, we buy frozen veggies. Not fresh, but much better than canned. In addition to the excessive salt content of can, those veggies are mushy and I hate that. I only tolerate canned corn and peas for their texture. What can I say? We don’t eat as nearly healthy enough as we should. It’s temporary. I throw out nothing. I make use of left overs within the week. Actually, I love repurposing leftovers and creating another different meal from them. Left over broccoli? Broccoli and egg omelet the next morning or for lunch. Stale bread? Don’t throw it out! Make french toast or bread crumbs. Two or three bowls of fragmented veggies hanging out in the fridge? Do I see beans in there? Throw it all together for a primavera dish tonight, or add a bit of tomato sauce and make a nice side dish. Do you have garlic that’s not looking so plump anymore, or onions in the same predicament? Chop up those babies and stick them in a sandwich bag and into the freezer they go. What I like to do with garlic is mix it up with butter in the food processor with some basil, if I have it, and whip up some delicious garlic butter. Add some olive oil and you have a nice spread. Some milk that’s approaching the questionable point? Throw it in a blender with some ice and a packet of hot chocolate mix for a quick summer’s chocolate treat for the kids (or yourself). Add a teaspoon or more of instant coffee and make it a mocha.
Okay, I guess that’s enough to boggle your mind with today. These are just some things I like to do to keep things interesting and useable on a limited budget. Once you try out some ideas, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to just think up something new, delightful and unique to your own refrigerator and cupboards. Next time maybe I’ll talk about how easy it is to make your own pita chips and roti. Oh, and easy slushy-type drinks.
- Hells Kitchen and MasterChef Favorites! (ohhsofattening.com)
- Farmers Market Pasta (fromthebartolinikitchens.com)
- Being flexible with recipes (chillisageandlemon.wordpress.com)
- The Lazy Spinster’s Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables (spinstersunday.wordpress.com)
- Cooking Secrets That Will Turn You Into A Master Chef (easyhomemadechocolate.com)
- Eat Fit Not Fat- Spaghetti Squash Primavera (2fatnerds.com)
- Chesapeake cook aims for veggie TV show (hamptonroads.com)
- Aglio e Olio (missfoodies.wordpress.com)
Okay… A little off the current topic, which is reflecting upon Hurricane Sandy and how I can turn this crisis into a learning moment for my immature self. I want to come back to how a coffee addict survived ten days without power and managed to drink her established amount of amazing coffee each morning and throughout the day.
I’m currently using Keurig’s Single Serve Platinum brewer, but the best coffee comes from perked coffee from a gas stove. Back in the old days, like Ed likes to say, coffee was not brewed, but made as a “decoction,” coffee grinds boiled at a low temperature, then strained out of the coffee. I vividly remember my grandfather making his coffee in this way. He just dumped the coffee into boiling water. The cowboys made it this way, didn’t they? Yeah, sure. There was more coffee grinds at the bottom of the cup than I’d like to admit, but, if you didn’t move the cup too much, they stayed down. Retro. Anyway, I had a much more modern method. I had my trusty Melitta coffee cone. Simple, yet genius. This is what it looks like:
And, this is how I was using it, with Melitta single serve #4 filters. You can get white ones or the brown ones made out of recycled paper, which is what I use. Just set it up like this and add just one coffee measure of grinds, which is like 2 tbs., more or less depending on your preference. More for a stronger cup of coffee, also take into consideration the size cup you are using. This one is a bit larger, so I use just a little bit more. I always use more.. hee hee. So, one coffee measure of coffee is good for a 6 oz. cup of delicious coffee. Next step is to pour boiling water into the filter, then I stand there and stir the grinds. As the water is going through the filter, I will continue to add more water, a little at a time. I’m getting a craving just thinking about it and really wish it was morning, instead of 10:58pm. Dunkin Dark made really, really good coffee for me. I also really love good 100% Columbian coffee. Maxwell House brand is the best choice for me right now, and the best price for my pocket.
See how the grinds expand and settle on the vertical sides of the cone? This is why I keep stirring the grinds, so that each grind stays in play all the while the water is passing through so as to get the most out of my grinds. Sorry I didn’t stop to take a picture of the actual coffee. I just couldn’t wait to drink it~! Also, during the power outage we were prepared, we used powdered Coffeemate, plain. So good… and this was a pointed terrible storm preparation that I made sure was secured before the storm. We were sitting pretty, baby~! We had our coffee.
So, we’d sit there in the dark, sipping our piping hot coffee.
Unfortunately, we did not have cookies…. sigh.
Because I’m an Egg (Electronic Gadget Groupie), I have this urge to have the biggest and the baddest of devices out there. I own Apple products, most beloved of them is my ipad. When it comes to coffee, however, my most preferred brewing method is the old tyme way, perked. I still believe there is nothing better out there than a perked-on-the-stove cup of coffee, timed just right. I collected every pot my mother owned, from an electric Farberware 12 cupper, to her Pyrex 12 and 4 cupper. Loved the Pyrex because it’s made of tempered glass and you can actually watch the water turn into coffee. Totally amazing. I used these pieces for 10 years and then, one by one, they started breaking down and in the case of the Pyrex, I broke the stem, where the basket sits on, while washing it in the sink… Yes, I am our own dishwasher. I was crestfallen. So this was right around the time that the Kuerig brewing system came into my life. It was such a novelty that I had to have it. I waited for Christmas and told myself that was my gift… or no. I purchased it in April and told myself it was a birthday gift (June)… yeah, that’s the ticket. Let me just say now that this was the worst possible decision I could make.
Problems abound. The first and foremost, is that these cups are possibly the most expensive choice one could make when you think that decent coffee grinds to perk coffee cost roughly $6.-$8 or$10.00 per pound and a box of 12 or 18 k-cups just went up to $13.00. You are able to perk a lot more coffee than the, at most, 18 single 6 oz. cups from the Kuerig. Don’t get me wrong the convenience and the maintenance of the Kuerig machine is unbeatable in my opinion, after years of hand washing all parts of my coffee pots, sometimes multiple times per day… BUT it comes at a pretty hefty price. A price I didn’t want to pay. I believe the standard they are using per cup is the inflated Starbucks-type cup that runs, cheapest $2.00?, I’m guessing as it’s been a while since I’ve been there. A pound of whole beans cost what, around $8.00? I’d say that you could get more than four cups of coffee from that. Anyhoo… As luck would have it, just as I literally had this machine packed up in its box and ready to be put into the basement, my darling DH comes home with like 3 boxes of k-cup coffee from the grocer. “They were on sale,” he happily stated. Okay. Now I am confused. This is the most fugal, yet obviously the most generous man I know, who went out and of his own volition, purchased more than one box of not particularly great, yet expensive coffee. Oh well, I’m not going to complain, I thought. So I proceeded to unpack the machine, saying goodbye to the extra counter space I just created, and made us two cups of coffee. Since then it’s hit me that DH, who can’t boil water by himself, loves the Kuerig because he can make himself a cup of coffee in the morning without waiting for me to get up to do it…. YEAH.
Okay, so it’s been running like this. We get the k-cups when they are on sale and I have a Melitta cone filter thing-a-ma-jig for grinds and boiled water. My other problem with the k-cups is that most of the coffee flavored choices brew up too weak for my taste; and so, I’m limited to only getting bold coffee. Recently, and getting to the crux of my post, my sister gifted me with a bunch of k-cups from a sampler she bought and of the flavors she didn’t like… and I’m not going to say no to free k-cups. I got a bunch of Gingerbread and Golden French Toast flavors that smell great, but didn’t taste so great. So, I got an idea. I cut open the tops and emptied two cups of grinds into my Melitta filter, poured boiled water and waited for my coffee. It was terrific!
So another big problem with these cups is the recycling, repurpose, reusing potential… 000, zero. That is, up until now. It’s only one way, but cool. I refilled my cups with grinds, covered it with slip of aluminum foil and sealed it with masking tape. Voila a k-cup ready to go. I know that this type of recycling is not exactly a new idea, I’ve seen it around on the net, but using the grinds that would have normally made a weak cup of coffee and blending it with stronger grinds, with a different brewing system, just about made my day. On second thought, you can also do this to used cups. All you’d need to make sure to do is line up the hole on the bottom with the needle inside the cup basket in the machine. I think the only draw back with this is that the filter on the inside might be ripped if you’re not careful when filling and manipulating it.
I REALLY digressed posting the photo above, but I’ll get it right some day. My idea was to show you the k-cups in three stages: The top taken off and grinds vacated, the middle is a repurposed k-cup ready for use, and on the right one just showing that there was no hole on the bottom. I thought it was important at the time… ugh. I used Dunkin Donuts Dark and I must say it made an excellent cup of coffee.
As my last side note, I want to draw your attention to Michael Bobblehead. I love the show The Office and scored this guy, brand new, in mint condition, for two bucks at the Cranford Townwide Garage Sale last month. On the down side, I had also scored the Dwight Schrute Bobblehead supposedly in the same condition; but when I got it home, the neck was broken…. Oh the AGONY~! I love the Dwight character more than the Micheal (sorry Michael), oh well. Maybe I can fix it? Not sure, this is a BOBBLE head for goodness sakes! Anyway, Michael served his purpose while enjoying a cup of coffee.
Did I mention olives? I’ll be posting about them after Thanksgiving as they are still cooking in their tightly packed jars in the whole left side of the bottom of my fridge….
This just a quickie. Tomorrow will be writing about Little Drake’s (remember him?) birthday; but for right now, I want to share this great little recipe for the most delish homemade pita chips.
Very simple really. You know how sometimes we don’t consume a purchased amount of product, then end up throwing it out… OR feed the birds? Well, we have a bird problem in my neck of the woods, precisely because my neighbor feeds them. Every week my car gets bombed with pigeon doody and it sckseeves me out, totally; and I’m steadfastly refuse to contribute to the problem. Seriously, one time, well, several times there were bread slices on the roof of the garage and whole half loaves of artesian bread sitting in our driveway.
So, last week I had a high volume of breadstuffs left over from a gathering at the house, and one was an almost whole package of pita pockets. Ten big, fresh pockets which proceeded to get hard by the end of the week. I’m an advocate for DIY’ing anything I can and knew that I could do this.
Okay, so before I get into this recipe, please note that there are no exact measurements. Just throw the stuff in, to your taste. If you don’t like garlic, then by all means don’t use it. You can use any herbs you like, as little or as much as you want. Have a problem with salt? You don’t have to use it….
- Preheat your oven to 400 deg., line a shallow cookie pan with aluminum foil.
- Prepare herb oil by heating up 1-2 cups of olive oil, then adding sea salt, garlic-I use Goya Garlic paste in the glass jar, rosemary, oregano. Mix that up real well, then set aside. I had this mixture already in the fridge, so if you are using something you already have, just heat it up a bit in the microwave, just so that all the oil is melted and back into liquid form.
- Cut up your round pita into eight or so triangle pieces. Remember that these will be snackable chips. Arrange these slices all over your lined pan.
- Bush herb oil mixture all over your pita slices.
- Pop into the oven for 7-10 minutes. You must keep checking as these can burn pretty quickly and if I remember correctly, I did not readily smell the pitas toasting. Depending on the brownness, either take them right out, or flip them over to toast the other side…. these will only require a couple of minutes until done.
And that, people, is IT. These are very sturdy chips and will stay strong through the roughest of spinach dips. Want to add a little extra something? Try sprinkling asiago cheese on top before putting into the oven. What I love about this recipe is that anything goes. No exact measurements, all ingredients are added to taste. Don’t like garlic, though it’s good for you, don’t put it into your oil. Want a sweeter taste? I’m sure you can brainstorm and maybe add a little honey into the mix. I’ve never tried that, but I’m thinking it will be some kind of awesome adventure to see how it lends itself to this recipe. I would just experiment on a few pieces as opposed to whole batches for experiments, however.
Well, I’d love to hear about whatever you come up with!