Eat Something

{October 19, 2008}   Martini Mixer

Ok, so I’m late again posting Joelen’s latest challenge–The Martini Mixer… Oh well. At any any rate, I composed two original drinks (though one isn’t a martini, just in a matching glass… LOL) so here goes…

Nothing says Disco Duck like neon orange... made possible by the signature day glow yellow of the Galliano's...

Nothing says Disco Duck like neon orange... made possible by the signature day glow yellow of the Galliano

First the martini, The Disco Duck… So do you remember Rick Dees (or is it Deez) and his 70s mad lib of a song Disco Duck? Complete with Donald Duck impersonation?

Well, I desperately wish I could say I cracked open a can of Donald Duck orange juice to make this super niftily kitch but alas, I did not… I did however contemplate what type of martini such a creature would have though… well, what I came up with is the Harvey Wallbanger was one of the it things of the 70s and Disco Duck would have been very certainly drawn to what he thought would make him seem popular and hip… so that was a start… a martini of course updates it just enough to exemplify that suaveness he was so certain he possessed… but let’s not forget he was not exactly a cautious seeming fellow so it would most undeniably not faze him to bruise the gin, hence it must be shaken not stirred… really a lot more things occured to me, because I can be a loser about thinking deeply on off topics… but on to the drink…

The Disco Duck
1.5 oz gin
1 oz ea: orangecello and orange juice
1/2 oz Galliano
splash of vermouth (about 1/4 oz I guess)

And since I don’t drink martinis but it was our anniversary weekend, and I’m not one to let anyone feel they must drink alone, the not a ‘tini specially for yours truly was born… So for that I pondered what would appease me–complete with brownies of course as what else would round it into the perfect dessert??

Umm, know someone with a sweet tooth?

Umm, know someone with a sweet tooth?

The Pecan Pie
2 oz Bourbon
1 oz pecan liqueur (you could sub frangelico but obviously it wouldn’t be “pecan” at that point but similar enough to be tasty)
1/2 oz Sweet Lucy (Duck’s Unlimited Bourbon Liqueur)
[optionally, stir in a tiny dab of blackstrap molasses… because the calcium makes it healthy… just kidding, it because that’s delicious in a pecanut pie and it’ll ironically enough help cut the sweetness…]

Swirl and enjoy…

PS. The Round up is here (and Cara’s awesome sounding Pumpkin one won… cool!!)


{September 29, 2008}   Papa-style Red Beans and Rice
hydrated pintos and Casa Nueva

the key players tonight: hydrated pintos and Casa Nueva

Ok, so Saturday I treated the fam to real deal red beans and rice which I haven’t made since before the 6 yo was eating table foods… And I am doing it the way my Pops would, aka soaking them in red wine… We had every intention of submitting this for Joelen’s Fall Foods/Red Wine Challenge as it is THE staple fall food we had growing up, nearly once a week. (And as a quirky side note: I almost my this an Eat to the Beat with Red, Red Wine just because I got the whiny UB40 song stuck in my head while open it and wanted to pass it on and get it stuck in someone else’s since I’m wicked like that… but alas, it’s not really got anything to do with the song beyond the obvious, so I won’t… but you can still have the song in your head free of charge… no need to thank me…) and Jo’s wrap up

Now briefly, if you are wanting to salvage the most beans a gentle slower soak from cold or tepid water is ideal but I rarely plan in advance so well, so hot tap it is and it is gentler than a quick soak (boil). But as always there is a better method than I exemplify… So you can negotiate less if you want, now on to it…

Wine soak...

Round two: Wine soak...

Papa-style Red Beans and Rice
1 lb red beans (I had only pinto and turtles in the pantry, so the pintos won for obvious reasons)
1 bottle red wine (I used a Cab Sav)
about half a dozen cloves garlic, peeled and split
half a yellow onion cut in wedges
1 T ea: salt and bacon grease
1/2 T ea (or more to taste): blk pep, oregano, and sage (and I do garlic and onion powder but that’s me, most people don’t do both dried and fresh together but I do)
some fresh parsley if you’ve got it, completely optional so no biggie if you don’t (please don’t use dried parsley and invite me to dinner though)
1/2 tsp cayenne (this will not make it spicy so if you seek that use more–I would but the kids would let me–for me this is just to round and balance the pepper flavor but normal people aren’t so anal so feel free to drop it too if you are hesitant)
bay leaves (1 do 4-6 but you don’t really have to use that many)

Rinse and sort the beans of stones and obvious bad beans. Cover the beans in 1.5-2 qts hot tap water and scoop off any floaters and set aside to soak. When doubled, I drain, rinse and resort the beans… Put the beans that pass muster back in the pot cover with the bottle of wine, throw in the veg and seasonings and soak until 3 times the starting volume (you can use the handle of a wooden spoon to gauge this)… Then bring to boil and reduce to simmer until tender, about an hr I guess… I’m a ’til it’s done kinda girl if you haven’t noticed by now… Serve this over rice which you of course will cook in some chicken or fish stock (and feel free to throw some fresh parsley or some dried cilantro into this for a big more color and flavor, I usually do but it is fine without it too of course)… And no this doesn’t contain the secret seasoning blend, not because I’m holding out on you but because both me and daddy just tinker and sprinkle until it smells right so you’ll have to adapt this to taste and I probably even added some other seasonings but all the ones in larger amts are accounted for and I have seasoned beans precisely like this when on vacation without my spice rack before so they’ll be fine this way, just not quite like at my table at home… I often need hubby to serve as notetaker to keep me on top of these kinds of things as I don’t pay attention too much…

and YES I said put in the salt before the beans are cooked, and yes every other recipe will tell you after, and yes they turn out fine and are better seasoned with less salt when you do it before… we honestly made beans every week, sometimes a few times a week, I swear you can cook them with the salt nothing bad will happen and you’ll probably like them better that way anyway… but you can of course salt them afterward if you wish, nothing bad will happen that way either really (outside of likely consuming more salt to get the same flavor)… so feel free to do with that what you will…

we cooked it drier than I normally would due the wine/children thing... but I prefer leaving them saucier and just pulling them as soon as the beans are tender...

over rice

PS. and since I was gonna make Daddy’s Cornbread until we realized we had no cornmeal I also threw in the 1lb of browned pork sausage designated for that… but growing up this would usually either be meatless or have slices of kilbalsa in it… and while I’m sure if you asked my father would tell you he’d put a whole package in but I can vouch that it is not remotely close to true as I was a horrid, horrid food theif and occassionally would recruit my little brother in the snatching process as the Pops would grow too suspicious of me hanging around too much around sliced kilbalsa (or sliced cheese for the mac and cheese or cheese dip) and shoo me away… LOL So if you want meat I’d suggest using the kilbalsa insted of the ground sausage, it is better that way…

{September 29, 2008}   Grandma’s Rolls
told you, not cute... but they are not long for this world so no one shall care or remember this...

told you, not cute... but they are not long for this world so no one shall care or remember this...

These are the rolls my grandma is always ask to make, and I am always asked for the recipe when I make them (which is much, much more rare I can assure you)… so when I posted them on the menu from the holiday/hurricane weekend, someone I have made them for before asked for the recipe… I thought I’d try to get a good picture of them (though it’s not that good) and I even made them in cloverleaf since that is how my grandmother does it… Her’s are infintely more cute than mine turned out, as yours probably will be if you make them, but I really am too impatient for yeast breads and it’s that impatience that you see… The title is not my claim, or hers, but rather the name they published them under in the 2 local cookbooks… While it has times, what we do rise them overnight, then shape them first thing before breakfast, let the rise again while we head off about the day (usually to church as this was often a Sunday staple at her house) and make them for lunchtime (bakes around 15-20 mins)…

Only make these for others if you think you can bear the clamour, otherwise you shall slave at this huge batch and be lucky to get 2 or 3 for yourself… They seem so humble and basic, they are the only non-store bought rolls I grew up on so I just assumed that was there charm…

But as a lady would bakes incessantly once enthusiastically asked me for the recipe I guess they could be different somehow, but they are and always have been the only homemade rolls I ever remember eating as everyone always used her recipe… and everyone always wants more of them so here, enjoy the much desired secret as I can assure you I won’t be easily cajoled into making them for anyone… I make them only once a year at either christmas or thanksgiving, the rest of the year I buy my bread… (And I usually eat them spread with jellied cranberry sauce instead of butter… and they are really good that way, one of my holiday favorites really…) I occassionally dip the balls in melted butter to shortcut having to grease the pans and the tops of the rolls (making the cloverleaf is painfully simple, put three balls of dough in the muffin cup) so it just gets recovered with a towel dampened with warm water and is ready for the oven… That is my only secret (and I didn’t do it this time, nor did I remember to butter the tops, but oh well), so go enjoy them if you’d like…

now this is not at all a necessary step, but I always flip them and let them cool upside down in the muffin pan... this lets the steam escape, no getting out the rack, and the tops rise out enough that you do not need to worry about them sinking back in the pan anyway... this is one of those helpful lazy times, you know the mother of invention type...

now this is not at all a necessary step, but I always flip them and let them cool upside down in the muffin pan... this lets the steam escape, no getting out the racks, and the tops rise out enough that you do not need to worry about them sinking back in the pan anyway... this is one of those helpful lazy times, you know the mother of invention type...

Best Rolls Ever(my g-ma, Tylertown’s “Cooking With Friends” 1998, p 94)**
1/2 c sugar
1/2 oil
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1.25 c warm water
1 pkg dry yeast, dissolved in water
4 c all-purpose flour or 2 c white and 2 c whole-wheat flour

Mix sugar and oil. Add beaten eggs and salt. Dissolve yeast in water. Add to mixture. Then add flour until dough leaves the side of the pan. Let rise 4 hrs or overnight [with a wet towel over them–this is not a part of the printed version but a key part in how she taught me to do it so you don’t get a dried skin on top]. Roll out in desired shapes. Place on greased cookies sheet or muffin pans. Let rise 4 more hrs or until double in bulk. Bake at 350 until brown as desired. Makes 2.5-3 dozen rolls.

** This is of course in the Tylertown UMW’s “A Book of Favorite Recipes” as well—and probably any T-town cookbook since she started making them–but I don’t have the page number…

{September 29, 2008}   Grandma’s Chili – Comfort Food
apparently, this is chili mac (despite being chili free)...

apparently, this is chili mac (despite being chili free)...

according to the Hubs, it is important this be INSTANT potatoes not just regular old mashed potatoes...

according to the Hubs, it is important this be INSTANT potatoes not just regular old mashed potatoes...

This is the hubster posting some comfort food from my childhood. My mom called this grandma’s chili. Not really chile so to speak, more like chili-mac. I loved having this on cold winter’s nights, it always warmed me up and after everyone had their first bowl it was always a rush to get seconds. I would always put a pat of butter in the center of the mashed potatoes and I would eat around the mashed potatoes seeing how much I could eat, while still getting everything in a spoonful, without breaking into the center “filling” of melted butter. When I did, it was so much fun watching the butter ooze out of the mashed potatoes and adding more flavor to the dish. This dish just brings up warm memories for me and dinners with my family while growing up.

Grandma’s Chili – Comfort Food
8 oz elbow macaroni uncooked
1 lb ground beef (73/27)
2 cans of dark red kidney beans undrained
1 med onion chopped
2 tsp garlic powder.
8 oz kethchup
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp basil
instant mashed potatoes (Make for six servings)
salt and pepper to taste

Cook ground beef and onions with salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil and oregano. In another pot cook macaroni until tender. Once beef mixture is cooked add kidney beans and kethcup with 1/2 to 1 cup of water mix together and simmer 5 minutes. Add macaroni to mixture and simmer 5 minutes more. While simmering make the mashed potatoes and spoon into a bowl, (add butter and salt to taste), then spoon chili over mashed potatoes. Leave as is or do as my sisters would do, (my 6 year old prefered it this way too), and mix it all together.

how it really looked when served (copius amts of pasta hide the mashed potatoes)...

how it really looked when served (copius amts of pasta hide the mashed potatoes)...

while you can still see the potatoes underneath... (this mind you will not last)

while you can still see the potatoes underneath... (this mind you will not last)

Belatedly submitted to Joelen for the Family Favorites Read, Watch, and Eat (I was a bad wife and went to bed without doing it inspite of all the hubby’s efforts in making it and typing up the post, but that’s no shocker these days unfortunately) and don’t forget to check out the wrap up… And when I finish posting them, you can check out my dad’s red beans rice, or my g-ma’s rolls–hands down a most requested recipe ever, that I frankly tend to delegate because I’m so lazy–which we had with this chili dinner (major carb offense, I know) or Buttermilk Pie from my other grandmother for more of the weekend’s family classics…

{August 24, 2008}   French Tomato Pie

This was an auditioned dish for the french food GTG… it didn’t pass because I wasn’t thrilled with the texture… but it’s still worth a try if the pureed tomatoes and cream pie idea isn’t off-putting to you.

I used a store bought roll out crust, and dropped the sugar (as the tomatoes were good and they mentioned not when or why to add them anyway) and drained of most of the bacon grease reserving a bit to cook the onions in… but more or less stuck with the recipe and since it’d be very hard to get ahold of anyway I’m including the original version…enjoy!

Well, when all is said and done you have a pie...

Well, when all is said and done you have a pie...

Tarte a la Tomate (by Mr & Mrs. Duwat from the St Anne Catholic Church Tribute to 9/11/01 cookbook, p 56)
1 c plus 1 T flour
1/3 c water
1/4 c oil
pinch of salt
1/2 lb bacon
pepper to taste
1 T herbes de provence** or italian seasoning
2 onions
.9 lb can crushed tomatoes
14 oz tomato purèe
4 eggs
8 oz sour cream or créme fraiche
3 T sugar
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg one remorse is that this gorgeous red gets lost to the sour cream (and you will have more of a penne a la vodka pinkness throughout). one remorse is that this gorgeous red gets lost to the sour cream (and you will have more of a penne a la vodka pinkness throughout).

In a bowl, mix flour and salt. Add oil and knead. Add and incorporate water slowly until it forms a ball. Place the dough in refridgerator for 2 hours. During this time, chop the onions and brown in a little canola oil in a pot. Add the diced bacon and cook over meat heat for a few minutes. THen add the puree of tomatoes. Add the salt. pepper, ginger, nutmeg, and herbes de provence. Cover and let simmer for 45 minutes. While the tomato mixture is simmering, prepare pie shell. Roll out dough, then place in a greased and floured pie pan. Prick the dough with a fork and place a few dried beans on top before placing it in the oven. This will prevent it from rising and bubbling. Cook in a preheated oven (350) for 10 minutes. Add the sour cream and then the eggs, one at a time. Stir with a wooden spoon. Let the tomato mixture cook on medium heat, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove beans from pie shell and fill with tomato filling. Cook in a 350 oven for 30 minutes or until done. Serve warm.

** herbes de provence is essentially a blend of rosemary, marjoram, thyme and summer savory or basil in seats of dominance with a few other herbs and some lavendar thrown in so barring a great affinity for the lavender back note… you can likely make do with things in your pantry, mixing as you will, if you don’t have them on hand…

{August 24, 2008}   “Caribbean” Crockpot Roast

Ok, so I found this recipe claimed it was a Caribbean Pork Roast…I know nothing about carribean food so I dunno if it actually is or if it is even very Caribbean inspired but that’s ok (my beloved Joy of cooking had pretty much just soups so what can you do if you don’t want soup?). I was trying to make something for Joelen’s Caribbean Challenge and really don’t know caribbean food. I’m sure there’s a decent chance that after I read the round-up posted I will learn I knew more than I thought about Caribbean food without realizing it but that’s ok. Oh and for the record, the challenge is long over am I didn’t make the deadline, but I was planning to make this:

And this recipe wasn’t originally in the crockpot, it’s just hot out. And as always when I put a pork roast in the slow cooker I do it in two steps to drain off the superfluous grease (and perhaps that could also be why I always avoid the mystical ‘cat pee smell’ a certain someone finds). But it required little tweaking to do so, however, I think next time I will bypass both oven and crock and do it on the stovetop with pork steaks or chops because of the citrus…

“Carribean” Crockpot Roast
5 lb pork roast
2 c orange juice
1/2 c ea: sweet dark rum, key lime juice (you can juice your own, I just think key limes are such a pain)
1 T ea: cumin, hot pepper sauce [after trying it I would cut the cumin back or out as it was overpowering and a bit too peacockish for a dish with so many flavors…]
1/2 T ea: allspice, blk pepper, salt
1 yellow onion
1/2 head of garlic, cloves halved and peeled
1 green bell pepper
1.5-2 in hunk ginger, cut into sixths
[in theory, I believe this called for finishing off with: 1/4 c dry white rum and 1/2 c lime juice–and I even had 6 limes ready to juice to be sure I could do it… but I decided last minute to nix it, Little Hawk was here and doesn’t like rum and I figured the kids didn’t need it either… but feel free to add it as I think it would work well especially the additional lime…]

Season the meat with s/p and sear the roast on all sides. Put in crockpot on HIGH 2-3 hrs, remove and drain off fat and juices, and refrigerate. Put sliced onions in bottom of crock, followed by roast, pour over oj, key lime juice and seasonings along with garlic and ginger reduce to LOW. When starting rice add chopped bell pepper… [I used the chilled pork juices, minus the fat layer, to cook the rice but you could just use water and a bit of salt]

the pork has reached temp and getting ready to drain the runoff so the fat can be removed...

2-3 hrs into things: the pork has reached temp and getting ready to drain the runoff so the fat can be removed...

Served over the rice... dishing up it is really not visually striking so maybe using more colorful peppers could be... *shrugs*

Served over the rice... dishing up it is really not visually striking so maybe using more colorful peppers could be... *shrugs*










The rest of this dinner was sort of attempting to be in keeping with the theme so feel free to check out the Pineapple Sweet Potatoes and Chili Fried Bananas (sorry but since we’d already eaten the broccoli slaw anyway I didn’t bother with the Mojo).

{August 17, 2008}   Peach Berry Pie
The fruit and crust arranged before the glaze is added...

The fruit and crust arranged before the glaze is added...

Peach Berry Pie
3 peaches, pitted and sliced
1/2 pint blueberries
1/2 lb strawberries
1/4 c sugar
1 T ea: lime juice, grenadine
1/4 c cornstarch
1 pie crust (I just buy the dough, but you can make it)
{2 egg whites, optional–made a fast meringue since I’d only one crust left and extra whites}

Sliced strawberries and let sit with sugar, lime juice and grenadine to release its juices, drained off the berries. Mixed cornstarch into strawberry juice and heated until thickened. Roll out crust and lay in pie pan. Lay sliced peaches in bottom of pie, added blueberries. Poured glaze over fruit and baked 30 min in 400 preheated oven. Add meringue and baked another 10-15 min.

The glaze multiplied under the peach juices and overfloweth... but I sort of recovered it.

The glaze multiplied under the peach juices and overfloweth... but I sort of recovered it.

NB: this got kinda runny so next time I’d either flour the peaches. Or I was thinking I’d split up the sugar and acid…putting half of each on the peaches and strawberries and cook the juices from both (maybe even reducing them some first) with more cornstarch so there wouldn’t be run off. But I did salvage free-reign juices and spoon it over the meringue decoratively so as not to get called out on it and it passed (though perhaps by mercy more so than merit).

I was considering submitting this for Joelen’s pie challenge, but decided not to since it was sort of a flop at the moment but… I’m looking forward to the wrap up for some fun ideas (and I’m making a savory pie next week, testing a potential candiate for the book club GTG).

{August 9, 2008}   Praline Bread Pudding

Well, I contemplated making boiled peanuts since everyone always buys them in spite of the fact that they are sinfully easy but forgot to get around to buying shelled peanuts and didn’t want to go out to the store just for that so I will definitely make some boiled peanuts later and pop them up here (because now I’ve got the itch, hahaha). Then I decided I really wanted to make a dessert anyway, and I really wanted to make buttermilk ice cream (a creole classic that is sublime and would likely not make it thru the night in this house) but I have no buttermilk here. So I remembered my Restaurant Favorites cookbook (p 381-2) had a bread pudding I’ve been putting off making so here is a version of it…

Praline Bread Pudding (slightly adj. from an adaptation of the Praline Bread Pudding a’ la Louisiane at Primos in Baton Rouge)

The remaining pudding, sauced, going in the fridge.

The remaining pudding, sauced, going in the fridge.

1/4 lb (4 oz) french bread cubes, stale or toasted
3 oz pecans, toasted (around 3/4 c halves, I think)
2 T unsalted butter, diced (plus some for greasing)
4 lg eggs + 1 lg yolk
1 T ea: vanilla extract and praline liqueur (or hazelnut liqueur)
3.5 oz sugar (around 1/2 c)
1 c ea: heavy cream and whole milk
1 lg egg yolk
2 T sugar
1 T praline liqueur (or hazelnut liqueur)
2 T butter

Blitz eggs/egg yolk, vanilla, liqueur, and sugar together in blender to a soft yellow. Add cream and pulse a bit. Throw bread in greased dish, cover with half to 3/4 of custard mix top with nuts, cover with cling film and fridge it until enough is absorbed to add the rest of the mix. Top off with the last of the custard mix and fridge it again until mostly absorbed (maybe 45 min-ish).

Preheat oven to 350 dot the top of the pudding with the butter cubes and bake until dark brown and has a slight camel hump of a puff to the center and custard is set. (I know not how long because I opened the oven way too many times and that greatly affects things) Cool on a rack, and set about the sauce.

Heat sugar and liqueur gently in a double boiler whisking until sugar is dissolved. Beat slowly into the yolk and plack the yolk bowl over the simmering water, whisking until fluffly pale yellow and just beginning to thicken, no more than a couple min. Remove from heat and add melted butter, whisking until well mixed and creamy.

Check out more Cajun/Creole recipes at Joelen’s roundup.

Please forgive the darkness (I'll try to toy with it more later), but here's the end result.

Please forgive the darkness (I'll try to toy with it more later), but here's the end result.

So Joelen has a cajun/creole challenge going on (due date is Saturday night I think) and I was figuring I should make something since I know how to make many a something or since “it’s in my blood” as my father would say (though I sometimes feel not a lot of that blood made it into me). But I hadn’t commited and didn’t really no what I would make, so I figured I’d put it off (I mean I did both the others on the fly, with like Friday’s notice or something) but then in a bid to get more entrants she tried to tempt and lure us by revealling the prize. And sure enough it worked on me… so I dunno if I’ll submit this or make something else later that I’ll submit but I figured I’d make something for me tonight (since the kids are taken care of anyway) that was both revuvinating–since I have the last remnants of a sour belly–and comforting. So I settled on a soup, because a) there’s not much that gets to the heart of creole food like soups and stews, and b) I have noticed many a person I know seems to have the impression that it’s all about using the trinity and making it spicy–but we eat all day long and there’s always of course dessert to consider so no that’s not in all cajun/creole food, and c) while people clamour about my soups and it is hands down the most requested thing people want me to make it’s probably the thing that’d most make my kinfolk draw in sharps breathes about because I don’t often make a soup properly. Now in general, I don’t feel much guilt about that dirty little secret, but I might feel a little bad about the “child, child, child” tisks that would ensue from a few if I were to commit some of those usual sins and still put the word creole at the top…plus I don’t want hate mail from strangers who might take offense, LOL.

The most striking thing to me about creole food in general is the method and approach to cooking… It is much less structured by strict recipes (and those recipes that do exist are mother recipes intended for flexibility and multiple uses, more a technique if you will) and much more about what types of things go together and what odds and ends are on hand and/or what’s easy to get access to. And it’s not hung on specialty ingredients but rather exceptionally about making do. It’s rather like that old story stone soup except you start with a bone and everything that goes in the pot is of your own finding…or like that old quilt your greatgrandmother made of everyone’s scraps and outgrown hand-me-downs of the youngest child; it’s taking what you’ve got, the fresh and the scraps, and making it beautiful. It doesn’t start with any grand or elaborate plan beyond just setting out to do it, and it isn’t really something you could specifically duplicate if you tried (it can come close enough for sentimental value, but it’ll always be a little different each time). Some things are slow foods, some things are faster and you don’t make slow food when you are in a hurry, but you also never really watch a timer any more than you’d measure every piddling thing…you just do it until it’s done. You do things by taste, smell, sight, and sound rather than cups and minutes. It’s fluid and resplendent and I can’t help but love it, it’s how you feel cooking was meant to be: unfettered and free to be precisely what you make it… Like when you first ride your bike without training wheels and realize it’s not just about the wheels, everything about it is different the way you hold your upper body, the way you shift your weight, even the way you pedal…but there’s a freedom and a you-ness to it, you will ultimately succeed or fail completely of your own doing and while that might be scary it is in the very same moment empowering…and you falter and try again you just do what ever it takes. It can be the same with food, good or bad, nothing is settled until it’s on the table…(just like mending that quilt or ripping out stiches and moving a square or two) you can tweak it as need be–you don’t have to know how beforehand you just try something, and eventually you’ll know how from experience–you can salvage nearly anything, and nothing is a failure until you stop.

I feel this is a lesson a lot of the people behind me starting this blog really need to hear and try to embrace: Have confidence in yourselves and just put food together and start doing it. you can make it work the point is just to make something to eat it doesn’t have to be any certain way. I’ve worked really hard to try to measure for those fearful of you who wanted measurements, but the truth is even with measuring it’s more about how I made that dish that day…the next time I make it I will probably not use those measurements of things at all. Develop processes, rather than recipes…and then just get in the kitchen and eat something. It’s not something to be afraid of…it’s just life, and every day that it’s there it will be different. You know what tastes good to you so take a bite, and if it’s not good yet make it good. It’s as simple as believing you can. [Of course those of you who know me and how I am about baking, may be laughing hysterically right about now. But that’s different that’s a chemistry-ish and mystical.] So on to the soup… LOL

At first, I thought about making a green gumbo because almost nothing is as rejuvinanting as greens IMO, but I don’t really have many on hand in the fridge or in the freezer. Then I decided to still make some thing meatless, since I have protein digestion issues and my tummy’s already a little off, so I figured I’d make something akin to a fasting or lenten soup/stew and some rice. Knowing I will ineveitably make something off what I can rummage up, and knowing I don’t have to appease the kids or the hubby with this dish, I’m just making something that feel up to eating and calling it a fasting soup (and I keep throwing lenten in there because while it’s not lent I don’t want people confusing this with those trendy diet fasts, this is not just liquid, I am not straining off the solids and sipping on the broth I’m just not using meat or meat bones, like for lenten fasting that’s it…it’s still food) by default of it’s nature. And yes, I considered throwing in some TVP and no I decided not to… and not because it’s not a particularly cajun thing to do, and not because my father would say “S*** child, soybeans? That’s what we feed the hogs. What were you thinking?” when he got back from Chicago and read it–although both those things are reasonably true–but because I think I just want something even gentler on my stomach…gentle and light and unfortunately not green gumbo (but that’s probably for the best as gumbo is just so obvious, it wouldn’t demonstrate much of my aforementioned point). I took out the scale and weighed stuff today because I know some of you really want measurements and I really am not feeling so hot and just don’t want to fuss with all that, and I threw in some red lentils because I told myself the transformative powers would pass on to me (as in they turn from reddish to yellow, I’ll morph for sick to well…yeah I know it doesn’t quite work that way but shhhh, I’m trying to use the power of persuation to will myself better) and some quinoa because I decided I didn’t want to make rice after all (oh yes, it’s entirely untraditional and not something you likely find in here, in fact the rice wouldn’t have been cooked in here if I’d made it–so I could have added as much or as little as I’d wanted, I was just lazy, but I didn’t feel good so whatever–but the truth is embracing what you have is the bigger point so yeah, I put quinoa in a peasant soup but oh well).

The 'clove' of garlic = about 3 or 4; and that's the broth before tomatoes you have to caramelize the onions and carrots and brown at least one side of the potatoes to get a dark rich color (the broth was significantly darker than this picture shows, but the image was too dark so I had to lighten it, which lost some of the color but I'll see if I can do better later)--a more yellowy broth is fine too, it'll just take on more tomato color...

The 'clove' of garlic = about 3 or 4; and that's the broth before tomatoes you have to caramelize the onions and carrots and brown at least one side of the potatoes to get a dark rich color (the broth was significantly darker than this picture shows, but the image was too dark so I had to lighten it, which lost some of the color but I'll see if I can do better later)--a more yellowy broth is fine too, it'll just take on more tomato color...

Potage Maigre (aka. Fasting/Lenten soup)
diced onion from a 4 oz wedge (so maybe 3 oz)
1/2 lb frozen leftover braised celery
1 big (6 oz) carrot (I’d love to throw some parsnip in too, but none here)
1/2 lb small potatoes, peeled and diced
1 HUGE garlic clove (ended up being maybe 1 T when chopped)
about 3/4 c red lentils
about 1/2 c quinoa (rice would help me feel better but I didn’t really feel like making it, too bad I didn’t have some in the fridge)
1 15oz can tomatoes
4 oz romaine heart (shh, I’m pretending it’s cabbage, but not throwing it in early like it really is)
the seasonings: a good bit of salt (maybe 1 T), a good bit of tarragon (about 1 T dried),  generous amount of blk pepper (would have like to used peppercorns, but couldn’t find them easily enough), a little cayenne (1/2 tsp or so), garlic and onion powder to taste (and I can’t remember if there was anything else, could have been I suppose but not necessarily)

I sauted over MED the onion, potatoes, and carrot in a combo of safflower oil (it was even a high MU one, for those ‘Flat Belly Dieters’) and butter (which is a necessary component of any feel good food, no?). Meanwhile, I soaked the frozen celery in a few cups of water to thaw it. Then when the potatoes had browned on one side I added the soaking liquid and a qt of water and the salt and tarragon and covered it. Chopped up the celery and added it, the quinoa, the lentils, and the tomatoes when the pot had begun a simmering boil, and recovered it. Later, I taste it and add the rest of the seasonings (then I set about to feeding the kids, maybe 30-45 min-ish). Later again, I taste it maybe/maybe not season it again I can’t be sure, and add the lettuce and turn it off recover with the lid (rearrange the dishwasher, so maybe 5 min-ish). And then I ate about half of it.

{August 3, 2008}   Peach and Blueberry Clafouti
Arrange the fruit in the bottom of the pan

Arrange the fruit in the bottom of the pan

Now look, I don’t know if this is the texture a clafouti is supposed to be, as it’s certainly not the same as the french recipe I had turned out, but can I just say the custardy bit was just silken. (without a water bath might I add)… I can’t imagine why a clafouti wouldn’t want to be this texture. Of couse maybe my tastes are so Anglicized that I just can’t help but favor her version, or maybe I got a lousy french one to start from–I mean duh there are bad cooks so, authentic or not, things can be swill. But this was rockin’ and required no translation, plus it had been hiding in my pantry bookcase since before I even made the french one. Shame on me for not checking there first. Now I would probably not do peach again (at least not white flesh) as it stayed too crisp and the blueberries got a little too soft and everything floated to the top (I guess that happens without the cherry pits to keep it weighted to the bottom though). I think I’d do raspberries next time and just dust the berries in a little powdered sugar and not put in the oven for the first 10 but just arrange and top with the batter. {That said, we made this a couple weeks back for hubby to take to work with stone in cherries and it worked beautifully. Sooo perfectly… *sighs* but I wanted to toy with less traditional ones.}

it's hard to get a pic of this, but here's my best one

it's hard to get a pic of this, but here's my best one

Peach and Blueberry Clafouti (essentially Nigella’s Clafouti, “How to Be a Domestic Goddess” p 136, with different fruit)
1 T butter
1 peach
6 lg eggs
1/2 c cake flour **
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp ea: Southern Comfort and vanilla extract
1 1/3 c ea: heavy cream and whole milk (close your eyes and forget any diet rules, you want to eat this)

Preheat the oven to 375, throw in a baking sheet and while your at it a 9-in pie pan with the butter. When the butter’s melted, brush a little on the sides and start arranging your fruit in the bottom of the dish. When it’s reached temp, pop the pie plate back on the hot bkg sheet, for about 10 min. Throw everything left in the blender until smooth.

When the 10 min is up (if you’re slow like me this is perfect timing), reduce the oven to 350. Pour the blender batter over the fruit, all the way to the top it will be easier not to spill–plus help the oven cool off if you do at least some, if not all, of this pouring while it’s still in the oven on the tray so pull out your shelf some. Bake about 45 min–I can’t remember if this is really how long or not, but it’s near there so it’s a jumping off point–or until just set (should still shimmy a bit when given a jiggle as it will keep setting up outside the oven, but shouldn’t look like raw liquid sloshing under a cooked surface…but if you’ve ever eaten jello you probably know how to test for jiggle). Dust with some powdered sugar and prepare to sing Nigella’s praises.

** if you don’t have it, use 1/2 c ap flour minus 1 T plus 1T cornstarch and at least triple sift before remeasuring, you’ll have a little extra but it’s nice round measurements…and you should have just bought yourself some Softasilk, or better yet King Arthur’s one, and made life easy. Oh and if you have pastry flour on hand, you can use about 1/2T starch and sift less.

Submitted for Joelen’s summer produce challenge. Though it’s the near end of the season for my selections…

{August 2, 2008}   Cookbook and Tool Shot
My beloved stuff

My beloved stuff

         So to christen my blog with it’s my first of Joelen’s challenges… This one was to image your fav kitchen tools and cookbooks. So my nubby wisk (and my ice cream scoop because while it may not be a “cooking tool” it is very me and very well used, LOL) and some of my favorite cookbooks. Although I thought about taking a picture of my butler’s pantry bookcase, because I love cookbooks en masse. So here’s my last minute entry.

The Hubs felt I needed a more artistic shot, so here is his take.

The Hubs felt I needed a more artistic shot, so here is his take.

               And now you can’t say I don’t post pictures, either. Neener, neener. The Gourmet Light has great vegetable ideas; The Red Hat Society may not always be so healthy, but it has some gems; Restaurant Favorites at Home may not be an everyday-er, well not for me anyway, but when you don’t mind shopping or labor intensive it can soooo rock; our Southern Living Breakfast and Brunch is a weekend staple and a keepsake of the world’s most awesome Great Aunt, even if a bit chatty, Aunt Mattie; Moosewood New Classics (as well as Simple Suppers, not pictured) has some tasty veg*n meals but let’s face it I’m a bad girl and often add meat too.

And don’t forget to check her blog out, Joelen’s Culinary Adventures, because she makes some amazing stuff and I can only hope to one day cook anywhere close to as well as she does. Plus if you pop back here around mid-August, I’m going to be attempting to make fish like these now that she’s armed me with some more info and a bit of courage.

et cetera