Baby steps

I managed to not get anyone sick with Easter dinner, which was a really nice confidence booster considering that I haven’t been enjoying most of what I cook lately.  However, I had two days of bad smoothies, I tried adding avocado to my green smoothies this week and it didn’t work out well by day three I decided enough was enough and went with a “traditional” breakfast of an omelette.

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I’m not going to attempt to tell anyone how to make an omelette, I’m not an expert and the way I make them is not in line with classical teaching, which you can see demonstrated by Wolfgang Puck, Jamie Oliver or Daisley Gordon; I will say that the omelette and Easter dinner successes are helping me to regain my kitchen confidence.

Baby steps.

Dabbling

“And this is what comes from dabbling; I mean you can’t practice witchcraft while you look down your nose at it.”
~Aunt Jet, Practical Magic

I feel like I’m dabbling with my cooking lately. I made polenta with a sausage puttanesca sauce last week. The sauce, easy peasy, frying the pre packaged polenta – not so much. In the end all turned out fine as you can see.

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But this dabbling is wrecking havoc on my cooking intuition. Perhaps a cooking challenge is in order.

Little bit of soup

So I realized that I haven’t actually posted anything here since the holiday’s, totally unintentional.  Although to be honest the only thing I really made this winter (this long unending snow filled winter) has been soup.  My favorite was asparagus, which can be eaten well into spring.

Asparagus Soup

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into small pieces

2 cups vegetable broth

2 tsp minced garlic

In a large stockpot bring asparagus, garlic and broth to a boil; then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Blend with immersion blender or in traditional blender (remember to vent for heat) until smooth.

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

Melt butter in stockpot, sift flour into butter to form roux.  Add

1 ½ cups milk

Incorporate until well mixed season with salt pepper and nutmeg.

Add blended asparagus mixture to milk mixture.  Stir until well combined.  Add

2 tsp lemon juice

Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Simmer for 15 t0 20 minutes.

Serve with cornbread or crusty roll.

Adapted from Soup Bowl:  An Inspiring Collection of Soups, Broths and Chowders © 2008, Lovefood.

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The Great Christmas Baking mini-meltdown of 2013

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I have just managed to work my way through a baking meltdown. I volunteered to make our Christmas dessert (7up Pound Cake), piece of cake mom – I got this. Oh the arrogance of this humble blogger.

sidebar: have I mentioned that I’m not a natural baker before? That I require concentration to bake? I digress

So recipe in hand and full of concentration I began creaming my butter and sugar. And I got a lump, yes a huge lump of butter and organic sugar. Apparently someone (me) should have checked to see if there were any differences to expect when baking with sugar that’s not tiny crystals. After much cursing (my grandparents would be so proud) and praying, I think the cake will turn out okay. I’ll post a picture, if all turns out well. If not, I’ll be off to any store that’s still open to bake again (with tears as a special ingredient).

UPDATE:
There shall be no tear filled cake this Christmas!

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Winterizing

Happy Winter Solstice!

12:11 pm marks the official start to winter, although it has been really cold (for me) since early November.  Winter, without fail, makes my inner food craver go nuts.  All I want to eat is soups and stews; and bread.  Crusty bread with sweet, slightly salty butter (I’m getting hungry just typing about it).

I can’t make bread to save my life, but I’m a decent soup maker and getting better at stews, where I really shine though is chili (yes, that was a complete brag).  I know that chili isn’t that difficult to make, but a good chili can be altered into a multiple of varieties and mine does that.  My chili is based on my mom’s and can be altered to be meatless or meat heavy, it’s entirely up to you.  Here’s the base recipe:

1 lb ground (turkey, chicken or beef)

3 – 15.5 ounce cans of beans (I use 3 types black, red and – kidney, pink or pinto)

1 – 28 ounce can diced tomatoes

1/2 large onion, diced

Chili powder

Cumin

Garlic powder

Instructions:

In a large stockpot, brown meat (if using turkey or chicken put a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of the pan to help prevent sticking and for flavor).

Once meat has browned, add beans and onion.  Season with chili powder, cumin and garlic powder (I eyeball my measurement in the palm of my hand, its approximately 2 tablespoons of each).  [You could also just use a chili seasoning].

Next, add your tomatoes and stir.  Let chili cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  You want a thick and hearty consistency.

Variations:

Here are a few:

– Meatless:  add a 4th or 5th variety of beans and mushroom (you can also add mushrooms to the above).  I’ve never used seitan or tofu in this chili, but i’m sure you could.  You can also add additional vegetables.

– Use real garlic in place of the garlic powder.

– Make it extra spicy with hot sauce.

Finally,  if you have a small family or are single, don’t be afraid to make this or other large pot meals most freeze really well.

Stay warm.