nlbarber: (Default)
Cooks Illustrated magazine just sent me a subscriber survey on kitchen equipment. Of the 58 or so items they asked about, I lack 6: charcoal grill (too much trouble--the gas grill does for me), mandoline slicer, food mill, spice grinder (that's a bit of a cheat, as I have one that works so poorly I don't use it), rice cooker, and pressure cooker.

Can you tell cooking is a major hobby?
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IMG_0311 Supper last night: smoked turkey chowder and bacon cornbread muffins (baked in a popover pan) Southern style, which started out from this Peter Reinhart recipe.

To all those recipe-description-writers whose entries I browsed by looking for this recipe: any cornbread recipe with THREE KINDS of sugar (white, brown, and honey) ain't "slightly sweet". To a Southerner, cornbread takes no sweetening at all. I left all the forms of sugar out, upped the butter a little to compensate, and baked it in a popover pan. Moderately successful, but I think it would need more tweaking from a better cook than I to deal with the removal of the sugars, plus my palate can't tell what difference soaking the cornmeal in buttermilk overnight made and I think I prefer my cornbread without corn kernels added. Next time I'll probably just stick crisp bacon crumbles on my standard cornbread, which is Martha White's Cotton Country cornbread mix made with an egg. <g>

IMG_0310The turkey chowder is my second batch of the season, as the first batch was mostly devoured while the family was gathered for Thanksgiving. I didn't get enough, so made another batch with some smoked turkey necks.
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Today was the big prep day, hopefully keeping tomorrow less hectic. We eat the big Thanksgiving meal in the middle of the day, so advance work the day before helps avoid getting up at 4 AM to start cooking on the day.

Today's output: the Turkey Orloff is all assembled, and will just need 30 minutes in an oven to heat and brown the cheese. The dough for the lemon butter crust rolls is in the fridge, ready to be shaped, and the lemon butter to brush on them is in there too. Pumpkin cheesecakes, baked in my new mini-cheesecake pan, are done, as is the bourbon caramel sauce and the lightly candied pecans that will top them. Younger niece came over and tackled the chocolate pecan pie, which we then consumed with dinner this evening. I did grilled chuck roast for tonight's dinner, but younger niece did latkes, and sister-in-law did the veggies, salad, and grilled chicken for those who are reducing their beef consumption.

Older brother, t'other sister-in-law, and one of the two nephews in that family arrived in early afternoon--brother and sister-in-law drove down from Durham, NC, and nephew flew in from Rochester, NY. The other nephew in that family is in Madrid, taking advantage of having a friend doing a study tour there.

Older brother is in charge of Pie, even though I usually make at least one dessert and niece stepped in this year with the chocolate pecan. (Which was really good, incidentally--traditional pecan pie is really too sweet for most everyone in the family. The bittersweet chocolate really offsets the sweetness.) The plan: coconut cake (a Shirley Corriher recipe for an almost-soggy, moist cake. Black-bottom pie. Pumpkin pie. You can infer that Pie has become a family-defined term for "desserts served at Thanksgiving.

After dinner, he took over my kitchen and made the coconut cake and the black-bottom pie, while I prepped brussels sprouts for tomorrow's brussels sprouts with bacon and walnuts, then helped by blind-baking the crust for the black-bottom pie. Tomorrow morning one of us will do the pumpkin, trying to get it done before the casseroles and the rolls fight for oven space.
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Menus are still evolving, but the basics are set. Turkey Orloff, orange-cranberry relish, spinach salad with citrus, older sister-in-law's sweet potato casserole, broccoli with almond topping, lemon butter crust rolls, and dessert. Dessert will be primarily Pie, generally largely under the direction of older brother, but I will do pumpkin cheesecake as part of the Heavenly Cakes bake-along and maybe another dessert.

Some cooking has begun--I've done the rice and onion soubise for the Orloff, and younger niece call me this evening to see if I'd done the cranberry relish, then came over and made it when I said I hadn't. Tomorrow I'll do the caramel sauce for the cheesecake, I think, and will look at what else can be prepped. The big push for the Orloff will be Wednesday, leaving nothing for Thanksgiving morning (we eat the big meal in the middle of hte day) but to put the dish into the oven to heat and brown.

I also made a crockpot full of smoked turkey stock, so we can have turkey chowder even though there will be no leftover turkey carcass.

Now, must go consider meal plans for other parts of the holiday period--(younger) sister-in-law will handle meals on Wednesday while I'm orchestrating Orloff and assisting with Pie, but there's the rest of the week, too. Older brother and family will stay until Sunday, so he at least can go to the Georgia-Georgia Tech football game Saturday night.
nlbarber: (baking)
A food meme! I'm in. I saw it first at [ profile] sraun, specifically this post. Here's the rules:

Share a recipe with your friends list. It should be something quick and easy and without rare ingredients; ideally, it should be something you already know by heart because you've made it often enough. If you're comfortable doing so, post public.

  1. Post a link to the entry where you ran into the meme.

  2. In the comments to the entry where you ran into the meme, share your recipe and link to the entry where you share it with your friends list.

  3. Invite your friends to share their quick and easy recipes.

  4. Explore the recipes posted in the comments to your friends' journals as well as those in your own.

I think I'll post 2 recipes as well, one that's ultra-easy and uses only ingredients you can keep on the pantry shelf, the other needs a little more effort and planning...but not much.

Rotel black beans and rice

1 can of black beans
1 can of Rotel (That's a specific brand of diced tomatoes with green chilies-any brand will do, but be aware that a can of Rotel is 10 oz., others are probably larger. But that's OK, too.)
1 bag of brown "ready rice"--the precooked microwavable stuff.

Drain and rinse the black beans, then dump in a pot. Add the Rotel. Heat. Serve over the brown rice.

If served to obligate carnivores, this also works well with leftover chicken, sausage, etc. stirred into the beans while heating.

Chicken Kyoto

A chicken's worth of pieces--I tend to go with all thighs, but you can use a whole cut-up chicken, or breasts, or whatever. Skin on or off as you want.
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. catsup
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary

Grease a baking dish, and put the chicken pieces in it, skin side up. Mix the other ingredients and pour over the chicken pieces, covering all the upper surfaces of the chicken with some sauce. Bake at 350 degrees about 50 minutes total (adjust as needed for the size of your pieces). It comes out better if you baste the chicken with the pan juices after about 20 minutes and 40 minutes, but it'll do OK without.
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I'm happily buried in food blogs--the main frustration is that there are so many more great ones out there that I have no time to follow. M y problem comes, though, with my habit of clipping interesting recipes. The Web equivalent is to print 'em out, as bookmarking the pages would be overwhelming...but then the printouts are pretty overwhelming, too. And sometimes I don't print something and regret it. Like tonight...sort of.

I recently saw a recipe for brussels sprouts with sautéed onion, sprinkled with some sort of seed. Tonight, having gotten brussels sprouts, an onion, and sunflower seeds (not the right seed, I'm sure, but I had decided they were an available substitute)...I couldn't find the recipe. I'm the type of cook who really wants to have a recipe, even if I deviate from it.

But it worked out well. The onion was halved and sliced, then thrown in a pan with a little olive oil over medium high heat. When it got soft and browned on some pieces, it came out, more olive oil went in, as did the sprouts. When they developed browned spots in went some water and the lid went on to steam them tender. That done, the onions went back in, sunflower seeds, kosher salt, and a littel pepper went on top, and it was done. Very nice combination, and it didn't take all that long--longer than a straight steaming, but quicker than oven roasting. Must add this to the permanent repertoire...even without a written recipe.

Spice meme

Feb. 18th, 2009 08:43 pm
nlbarber: (Default)
Gacked from [ profile] mmegaera, who got it from [ profile] nishatalitha.

This is Bujold list denizen James Bryant's set of spices he gives as a wedding present. James is the one who is known for his curry parties whenever there's a good gathering of listees--the curry chef's slant is obvious.

I've bolded what I have, italicized ones I've never heard of, and left plain ones I know of and either have never used or am out of. Stuff I have that's not already on the list is at the bottom after a gap. My notes are in [brackets].

Allspice seeds [I only have ground]
Asafoetida [I've only heard of this as a medicinal]
Baking Powder
Bay Leaves
Bicarbonate of Soda
Cardamom Seeds
Cardamom powder
Caraway Seed
Celery seed
Chilles [I do have red pepper flakes...]
Chili Powder (blend - not ground chilles [that's Cayenne])
Chives [in the garden...though I need to plant more]
Cloves (ground)
Cloves (whole)
Coriander (ground)
Coriander (whole)
Cream of tartar
Cumin (ground)
Cumin seed
Curry (Vencatachellums - Sharwood's Mild Madras) [not that brand, but I do have a red and a yellow curry powder]
Curry Leaves
Dill [hate it, so I don't keep it]
Fennel Seed
Chinese Five spices
Garam masala
Ginger (ground)
Herbes de Provence (MUST contain lavender)
Mace (ground)
Mango powder (Amchoor)
Mustard (ground)
Mustard seeds
Nutmeg (whole & ground together)
Onion seeds (Kaloni) [I think James has a typo, and this is kalonji, or nigella sativa. My jar is labelled charnushka...bought as an experiment, haven't done anything with it yet.]
Orange zest
Parsley [garden only, or I buy it fresh]
Peppercorns - black
Peppercorns - green
Peppercorns - white [I only have ground]
Poppy seed
Sambar powder
Sesame seeds
Tamarind Paste
Vanilla (pods in castor sugar) [I have pods, vanilla sugar, and extract]

chipotle, ground
cinnamon sticks
garlic, granulated
onion powder
paprika, smoked Spanish
star anise
   fines herbes
   Italian seasoning
   Greek seasoning
   lemon pepper
   poultry seasoning [I seem to have 3 little jars of this at the moment. I do have a favorite recipe that uses a lot of it....]

In the garden, in addition to notes above:
lemon balm
a tarragon substitute, as I've never been able to raise French tarragon
basil, in season
lemon grass, in season--mostly for the cats

I'm one of those who keeps some spices way too long, so not everything marked as being in my kitchen is really fit to use. Maybe that's obvious from the list...
nlbarber: (Default)
Last night, younger niece wanted to make a dessert. We ended up with Cooks Illustrated's Chocolate-Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cherries, though made almost half the size they specified. Really yum. Probably not as yum as the recipe we lacked the time and ingredients for that has a pound of chocolate to a half cup of flour, but still yum. The chocolate cookies will get tried another day...

Tonight's dinner was Apricot Honey-Glazed Turkey Thighs, a crockpot recipe I got from Ben Hensperger's "Not your mother's slow cooker cookbook", with a side of this Mushroom Casserole from 101 Cookbooks blog. Both very good, though I didn't get the turkey sauce reduced and thickened quite enough. Will do both of these again. I'll probably do the mushroom dish as a vegetarian entree sometime when I'm cooking for just me.
nlbarber: (Default)
The day started out with a run to the urologist's office to see if the catheter needed to be re-inserted. Thankfully, no--despite Daddy's bladder getting very distended and painful overnight, he eventually persuaded it to let go of enough fluid to get comfortable. Looks like exercise is essential to keeping that system working while the bladder continues to build muscle tone.

Weather was providing some background excitement, as a good stiff wind blew most of the day. Before I got up the dead dogwood by the driveway toppled over (and was sawn up by city crews by mid-afternoon, wow!). An excursion to the grocery store needed a slight detour around the block where one of the senescent water oaks that line a lot of the city streets had toppled, taking out a slab of the sidewalk and a power pole or two. It's supposed to be windy again tomorrow, but not that cold--high about 69.

What kept me busy the rest of the day? Laundry, a trip to the post office with BookMooch mailings, two grocery store runs (I could get more efficient about this, but I keep thinking short-term), fixing soup and Reubens for lunch, cooking Penne With Chicken, Mushrooms and Asparagus for dinner and a fruit crumble for a semi-indulgent dessert. The pasta was OK--needs a little more punch somehow, perhaps from a significant increase in garlic. The fruit crumble was wonderful. Officially it was an Almond Fruit Crumble from Small-Batch Baking, using a Granny Smith apple and a half a cup of blueberries as the fruit. The recipe supposedly serves 2, but it fed me, my father, and my cousin Cecil with more than any of us though we should have.
nlbarber: (Default)
Thanksgiving came off very well. The menu for the big meal, which we have in the middle of the day, was just as planned, and followed in the evening by turkey and rice soup that was supposed to be turkey chowder, but I completely forgot to add the milk at the end. Oh, well, it was fine as a non-chowder. I supplemented mine with an angel biscuit and smoked turkey, others did variations on sandwiches with bits of leftovers from earlier meals, and then we all had Pie.

More on Pie, and the downtown festival, etc.... )

Friday's activities )

Tomorrow we'll do a little more of the chores-and-shopping before the Georgia-Georgia Tech football game starts at noon. I'm assuming we'll have lunch in front of the TV, then I plan to hit the road after eating (and will listen to the game as I drive). Brother and s-i-l will watch the game in Moultrie before starting home.
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Didn't make it down here yesterday, so today has been full. Cooking details, or why can't I blind-bake a pie shell? )

Most prep is done, so most of us may take a bike ride in the morning on the short rails-to-trails trail here. Haven't made the almond topping for the broccoli yet, but that takes about 10 minutes. Everything else is just heating/microwaving. I'll put off the coconut pie baking until the afternoon.
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Am making lists, checking them twice....for Thanksgiving, that is. I'm not thinking about Hanukkah or Christmas. Maybe I can do some Christmas shopping while at Disneyworld. Maybe I'd better do some Christmas shopping while at Disneyworld, 'cause there won't be much time left when I get back. (The Disneyworld trip is Dec. 6-14--I'm meeting a friend there.)

I squeezed in a blood donation today, though it had to get pushed later because of a conference call. That makes 6 donations this calendar year--best I've done in a long time. Tomorrow has another conference call, start time pushed to 12:30, then I'll see where I am in terms of trip prep. It would be far better to drive tomorrow, then shop and cook on Wednesday...but I'm not feeling like I'll have my act together to leave town tomorrow afternoon. We'll see how this evening's organizing and packing goes.
nlbarber: (Default)
I really thought I'd put this caramel story and recipe (or at least the recipe) on my LJ before but I can't find it, so a possible repeat follows. Just finished making a batch of the chocolate ones, which need another hour or so to be cool enough to cut and wrap. I'll leave this dated from when I first wrote out the story.

Story )

Recipe )
nlbarber: (Default)
With assistance of nephew, the rice and onion soubise is done, and the duxelles are done and stirred in. The mixture is bagged and in the freezer, ready for transport.

Solo I steamed the yellow squash, mashed it, and it's bagged and frozen. Cranberry relish made previously is also bagged and frozen.

Nephew returned mid-afternoon and we made the whole-wheat angel biscuits. Board games, more cooking, first batch of Christmas caramels, and what's left for T'giving )
nlbarber: (Default)
It's started, I can tell. Today had 4 stops at grocery stores.

First was my usual Publix, with a short list for the stuff I can do in advance for the Turkey Orloff, plus some other stuff. Also had the turkey itself on the list (turkey breast cutlets, plus a couple of thighs to roast for those (nephew) who won't eat Orloff). Publix only had whole turkeys, except for smoked bits. Bought some smoked bits to use for stock, which will become turkey chowder.

Stopped at the Kroger across the way before going home: bought the fresh turkey I needed.

Put up groceries, with turkey going in freezer. Made the regular Friday challah dough and set it out to rise in the coolish kitchen. Paused shopping/cooking to move some pinestraw around in the yard, then went to Weight Watchers and lunch. Then back to Publix for the shortening I discovered I needed for pie crust.

Home again, punch down bread dough. Make a 1-1/2 recipe of the Cooks Illustrated pie crust with vodka, but 100% shortening and no sugar--this will be for chicken pie on Friday, if I have the energy to tackle it. I decide to do cheddar chipolte biscuits to go with a soup meal, and to use up more of the chipotles in adobo that have been hanging around the fridge.

Digression: can't chipotles in adobo come in tiny cans? I opened this one for an earlier round of the biscuits (uses 1 T.), made something I can't recall with more, then lima bean soup with chipotle broth, then today's biscuits, and there's still 2 chiles left!

Start checking the recipe--I'd bought the cheese I knew I needed earlier. Grrr...didn't notice the green onions. There are some in the hydrator...but they are slimed. Off for grocery stop #4, green onions only.

Back to biscuits. Pause before blending wet and dry stuff to braid the challah...or was that when the braided challah went into the oven? Not sure. Challah was baked, then biscuits were baked, then it was time for me to make the run to pick up dinner from Longhorns--neither s-i-l or I wanted to cook.

Tomorrow: the soubise. The duxelles. And maybe the angel biscuits. And/or steam the summer squash.
nlbarber: (Default)
Continuing my recent culinary postings....

I've made two good suppers recently with pretty low effort. The first was a version of chicken lettuce wraps, a dish I like from restaurants like Mama Fu's (now departed from my area) and Pei Wei (also not in my area). This recipe showed up in the AJC "5:30 Challenge" column, for recipes with no more than 5 ingredients that take 30 minutes or less to prepare. Very good, really. I'll add green onions next time for more color, and I need to think about more efficient ways of producing "chopped" raw chicken than my rather slow manual cutting into matchsticks then shorter pieces. The bottled dressing (which I've been rather skeptical of as it started appearing in Kraft's ads/recipes almost as often as their Italian, surprisingly did produce a tasty sauce all by itself. Could be spiced up if desired (maybe some chili paste with garlic...), but didn't need it.

The second supper was even easier. A bag of Trader Joe's Prig Khing green beans stir-fried with cut up boneless skinless chicken thighs. Nice amount of spice, good flavor, ultra easy.
nlbarber: (Default)
We've had a lovely 2 days of off-and-on rain, sometimes heavy, thanks to continuing effects from TS Fay. And a tornado warning or two--that's the way it goes. There may be a little more shower activity overnight and tomorrow but then it will be gone. The rain has helped the drought....some. I see Lake Lanier is up 14 inches from the low 3 days ago, and should come up some more over the next day or so as the tributaries bring in more water. However, the lake's about 17 feet below normal summer pool. Fourteen, or even twenty-four inches (if the total were to amount to that much) doesn't get us out of trouble.

The rain pattern was very kind to me this afternoon, stopping shortly before I went out to put the baby back ribs on the grill for nephew's birthday dinner. About 15 minutes after the ribs were done, another heavy shower moved through. The ribs were enjoyed by everyone except the birthday boy, who declared "the ribs taste like barbecued chicken". For him, this is not a good thing. And of course, the ribs were made exactly as I always do ribs, and with the same sauce (which I'll grant is the same sauce both s-i-l and I use for chicken--a recipe my mother collected off a Tabasco box in the dim dark ages). The behavior, unfortunately, is typical of the nephew. The strawberry squares were eaten without incident.
nlbarber: (Default)
The breezy weather Fay brought us abruptly disappeared this afternoon, as I discovered when I emerged from Target into a humidity bath. I resorted to the car A/C as I drove to the grocery store, and again on the way home.

While still putting up the groceries I got a call from nephew, asking if he could come help make his chosen birthday dessert: strawberry squares. This will be for the family dinner Tuesday night, his actual birthday--some different concoction will be made for the birthday party. (Cake, probably, though he was thinking hard about strawberry shortcake, with hot fudge topping for overkill. Or maybe that was just his other option for the family dinner....) Oh, and I agreed to make barbecued ribs for Tuesday night. Must remember to tell my supervisor I will work from home Tuesday, so I can start the ribs early enough.

Anyway, we started on the strawberry squares with the crumb crust/topping, and while that was baking a fairly hard rain shower started. And then stopped, too quickly, but it was hard enough to penetrate the leaf canopy in my front yard at least a little. As we moved on to the stage of beating the strawberries, sugar, egg white, etc. into a fluffly pink mass, it rained again. (Or maybe it was the second try with the strawberry stuff--for the very first time, I overbeat the egg-white mixture and it deflated into thin pink soup.) Last steps on the strawberry squares were folding in whipped cream, spreading the strawberry mixture over most of the crumbs, and sprinkling the remaining crumbs on top, before sliding it into the freezer where it will keep easily until Tuesday.

The rain total might have been half an inch--I don't have a gage in the yard, but the closest ones I looked at show from a third to over a half inch for the late afternoon, adding to the tenths of inches Fay had given us over the last couple of days.


Feb. 15th, 2008 10:13 pm
nlbarber: (Default)
Busy Friday...

Finally get my overdue perm at 9, then stop at the thrift store in search of new-to-me black pants (successful), then home briefly to change clothes and punch down the challah dough rising in the fridge. Off again to Petsmart for cat food, then Weight Watchers, lunch at the newly opened Alcove Coffee & Tea (moved from another location) just down from WW, home again. Quickly off to St. Joseph's medical complex for the annual mammogram. That accomplished, fight the building Friday PM traffic through Spaghetti Junction and around to Northlake to the grocery store. Parking lot cellphone consultation with sister-in-law leads to the purchase of a chuck roast for grilling. Home again, braid challah, marinate chuck roast. Grill the meat, bake the bread, eat both with veggies provided by sister-in-law, in company with sister-in-law and younger niece. Nephew is at friend's for a sleep-over, older niece and my brother at softball practice.

Reflection 1: spring must be approaching. After a brief temperature dip into the 20's and a few snowflakes spotted on Wednesday, we were back to 61 or so today. And there was still enough daylight to read the meat thermometer at the grill at 6:30. And I felt like grilling...and the result was wonderful. We all (well, except the nephew who rarely eats beef of any type) love this barbecued chuck roast recipe.

Reflection 2: on the inefficiency of health care providers. If they make a special call to me 2 days before a scheduled procedure (to my home number, thus requiring me to call back from work the next day), and verify name, address, birth date, doctor, emergency contact, and insurance, and provide me with a 'confirmation number' and tell me I must bring it with me....why don't they ask for the confirmation number? Why have me fill out a form which repeats much of this information, instead of printing it out from their database? I see they've started asking to see and copy a photo ID, too. Insurance fraud by people stealing the card, perhaps?


Feb. 10th, 2008 08:59 pm
nlbarber: (Default)
Sunday: 3 loads of laundry. Read the paper (mostly). Read a book (re-read of a Nora Roberts). Listened to part of Busman's Honeymoon on audiobook, while doing kitchen chores. Mailed a BookMooch request at the Post Office, returned about-to-be-due library books, grocery shopped. (Three stores, none of which had my Kashi Good Friends cereal. I shall be Very Annoyed if this has been discontinued, as it's half of my standard breakfast-cereal mix.) Roasted misc. chicken bits before putting into a stockpot, eventually realized the stock wouldn't be done in time to have soup for supper and made a rice noodle/broccoli/leftover pork chop stir fry. Stuffed hairball medicine down all three cats, as one (Fish) started the Hairball Cough. Cleaned out last year's bluebird nest from the birdhouse--it was a nicely packed base of sphagnum moss, presumably raided from an old flower pot (not one of mine, I don't think), and a neat shallow cup of mostly pine straw. Seemed a pity to pull it out, but I gather parasites are a problem in old nest material eventually. All the instructions say to clean 'em once a year, anyway.

Have not caught up on the trust bookkeeping, started taxes, or cleaned the home desk.

And so it goes...


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