October 16, 2016
Sweet Potato Soup
With the colder weather, I have a hankering for vegetables other than my usual summer fare of salads. Last weekend I picked up some sweet potatoes, but never did anything with them because I had also made a huge stew in the crockpot, and lived on that all week. Yesterday, I picked up a few more items at the store, planning on doing "something" with them.
I finally decided to do a crossover between a breakfast "cereal" type mixture (I regularly make "cereal" out of cooked bananas cream and cinnamon) and a vegetable soup. I looked up on the net for recipes, and found a few good foundations, and then went and did my own thing :)
The ingredients were simple; sweet potatoes (2), winter squash (butternut in this case - about half that package)), Macintosh apple (1), cauliflower (1 bag of frozen), onion (1), carrots (baby cut), bell pepper (1 - that I had gotten from a guy at work), Cinnamon, ground ginger, pumpkin pie spice, and a dash of vanilla.
The sweet potatoes and apple were peeled and diced, the squash was diced - all into about 2" chunks. I layered all the vegies and spices (not the vanilla) in the crockpot with about 1 cup of water.
Now, every "soup" recipe wanted me to use 5 cups of broth (vegie or chicken), then after cooking place in a blender to puree'. Since I knew I wouldn't do that, I wanted to steam the vegies to soften them. After 4 hours on high, I used a pastry cutter to "mash" the vegies. I still left lumps so it was a cross between a bisque and a soup. Then I added a bit of cream and cut in an 8 oz block of cream cheese (I use the 1/3 fat stuff to reduce calories). You could easily use coconut milk or almond milk if avoiding animal products. It is at that point that I decided to add the vanilla to complement the spices
After adding in a few more spices and another cup or two of water, I cooked on high for an hour, after which the appliance went to "warm" until I woke up this morning and turned it off (yes, I started the soup late). The visual result was a nice creamy soup with soft, small chunks of vegies, in which the green peppers add a nice variation to the color.
The results were great! I had a bit straight - which makes for a slightly sweet lunch/dinner type soup.Then I added a bit of real maple syrup, which makes it into a great breakfasty type dish. I can see adding in oatmeal for a hearty breakfast too.
This could be fun to play with in a desert too; leave out the water added at the end and add some sort of setting agent, pour it on top of a cream cheese mixture for a healthier cheesecake, or pour in a pie crust and bake until set.
Oh, and for a more complete meal type dish, I could see adding in sausage for protein - especially a mapple or apple sausage, but I think a savory sausage would work as well. Not sure about a hot sausage - although could be interesting to try.
I'll be eating well this week - hope you all cook up some good autumn foods to welcome you to the cooler weather.
December 01, 2012
A Little Promoting
The best cook in our family has put out another cook book, European Tarts: Divinely Doable Desserts with Little or No Baking. There is also a great write up on her, her professional history, some family history, and the book. Part of the write up shares the fact that she and her husband recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary - WOW!
And, for a lady that is past retirement age (who clearly cannot slow down enough to retire), she is very communication savey. She has a blog, the Ardent Cook, a Face Book Page and I see she is on Pintenterest too.
If you love to cook, know someone who loves to cook, or are even interested in finding some recipes that make you look like a genius, while not having to kill yourself in the kitchen, pick up her book.
August 10, 2012
Everyone loves strawberry shortcake - everyone should anyway, and if you don't, you are just plain weird!
However, have you ever had cherry shortcake? I'll bet not, but you should - it is excellent! A couple of weeks ago, the store had a big sale on bing cherries. We bought a bunch and I figured I needed to do something with at least half of them to ensure they didn't have time to spoil. While we were at the store, I also saw makings for strawberry shortcake and had an epiphany. So, without further ado, here is the recipe I made up on the spot (no, I didn't look up anything online).
- Cherries, washed, pitted and diced
- Honey - mild
- Splenda - about 2 tsp.
- Almond extract - 1/8 tsp (the only thing I actually measured by the way)
- the super secret ingredient (see below the fold)
- Pectin (Or Xantham gum, which is what I used)
- Whipped Cream
- Pound Cake slices, biscuits or angle food cake
In a sauce pan, combine the cherries, water (1/4-1/2 cup, depending on how many cherries you have), and honey. Bring to boil and simmer about 10 minutes.
Take a taste (careful to let it cool a bit first) and determine if you want more sweetness. If so, ad Splenda. TIP: a little tartness is not bad if you are using whipped cream on top.
Once the desired sweetness has been achieved, add the almond extract and super secret ingredient. Simmer another 3-5 minutes, then stir in pectin or xantham gum. Simmer another 2-4 minutes and turn off the burner. Transfer to a glass container (jar) to cool and refrigerate until ready to use (this will keep for several days). TIP: I made extra and froze some of it.
Serve cold on top of pound cake (or angle food cake or biscuit), topped with whipped cream - no cherry on top needed.
Super Secret Ingredient: Cherry flavord vodka - just get a nip bottle for like 99 cents. Use 1/3 to 1/2 of it per batch.
February 05, 2012
Sweet Wine - Baby
While at the store a couple of weeks ago, I saw some wine at the end of an aisle, and I took a look at what it was (as a side note, my pallete is not very sophisticated - I usually buy the boxed wine), as the sign said it was made in NH. The name was interesting, Sweet Baby Vineyard, so I read the labels to see what was special about it.
It turns out that the wines are mostly made of NH produce (only some of the grapes, in a few of the wines are imported). I ended up buying the NIagra White and Apple-Cranberry wines.
i wasn't overly impressed with the NIagra White. Probably not the wine's fault, just it was a strong white, and strong wines are not usually my thing (even though I cut them hard with Seltzer Water). The wine was drinkable however, so I did finish the bottle (I have poured out bottles of wine before - another reason for me NOT to buy more expensive stuff). As noted earlier, my pallete isn't all it should be, so I didn't taste the citrus and honeysuckle the description promises.
Niagara A light bodied white wine that is rich in fragrance and flavor. It has hints of citrus and honeysuckle. The perfect wine to compliment salads, lighter fare or as a stand alone sipper. Best served chilled.
Oh, and to add to my faults at wine drinking, I don't drink wine with meals, but between the time I get home and mealtime; I change to water when it is time to eat.
The Apple-Cranberry wine, however, was fabulous! Even after chilling (I don't like warm wine), it kept a nice, crisp taste and I could definitely tell it was made from (surprise) apples and cranberries.
Apple-Cranberry This lively wine is the perfect combination of 100% NH grown apples and cranberries fermented together to give and excellent balance between the acid of the cranberries and the sugars of the apple. The result is a dry fruit wine that is clean and fresh on your pallet. Pair with turkey, lamb, salmon, swordfish or a variety of cheeses such as swiss, havarti and gouda.
This was so good that I will have to try the blackberry, white peach, strawberry and pear (I'm not ready for blueberry wine - maybe if they made it a cordial).
No, I won't give up my boxed stuff as my everyday wine, I will definitely be on the lookout for more of their wines to enjoy on the weekends.
January 29, 2012
Not Diets and Exercise
Why do people jump to the conclusion you are on a diet if you refuse chips with a meal, or volunteer calorie information? I had three people ask if I was on a diet Wednesday, just because of those two things.
First Case: I had made popcorn Tuesday afternoon and the other woman who works in my area, said how good it smelled. I let her have a handful and she brought some pack of popcorn in on Wednesday, offering to share it. I asked if she got the 100 calorie pack, and she said it was the snack size - and what, "are you on a diet?" No, I just try to be aware of what I am eating. Although popcorn can be a somewhat healthy snack, most people buy the regular bags of popcorn and eat most of it. Well, those bags can be up to 500 colories (and be meant as 5-6 servings). I get the 100 calorie pack as it makes sure I don't mindlessly overeat.
Second Case: A former co-worker took me to lunch at a well known sandwich chain, and I had pre-scouted the offerings online. I had decided what I wanted, and looked at the nutritional information. It hit me that the bread, for that particular sandwich was loaded with 1200 mg sodium (that is 1/2 recommended salt for a day - and that was only the bread). I don't like a lot of salt, so looked at the bread substitutions I could make. The whole grain bread was only at 360 mg and as a bonus, it cut off 200 calories.
So, when we got there, I ordered the sandwich with the substitution. The former co-worker asked about the bread, and I explained about the sodium and calorie difference. Then I was asked if I wanted chips. No, thanks. The cashier said oh, you are on a diet and want an apple. Yes, I would like the apple, no, I'm not on a diet. Geeze, I just don't really like chips all that much, and they usually have too much salt for my tastes.
When we got to the table, my former co-worker said that I didn't need to be on a diet. Once again I explained that I'm not on a diet, I just like to make informed choices. I've been trying to eat fairly healthily for the last 10 years. I don't do diets very well because I like food, and I don't do well with deprivation. If I gain weight (more accurately, if my clothes get tight), I move more, I don't go on a diet.
Which, by the way, I have been - moving more that is. I work out with weights for half an hour or so in the morning before getting ready for work (I've been doing this for about 15 years). I don't really have anyplace to walk at lunch, expecially this time of year, so the weight I gained during the holidays was just staying put - and to be honest, there are a few more pounds, than just those that I gained this season, that I could stand to lose. A national chain was advertising a deal for a year membership for $99. On December 30th I signed up; A couple of days later the trainer helped develop a plan, showed my how to use the machines, and now I'm a non-lunky gym rat.
Several times a week during lunch, I go across the street and do some cardio (eliptical or arc trainer) and more weight training for another 30 minutes of exercise. Wednesday nights I have designated as my late night, and go to the gym after work. I have really enjoyed getting away at lunch and it is very handy being across the street. The machines they have are really cool, and a great rotation from my freeweights and Weider machine I have at home.
So, no, I'm not on a damn diet. For all those that say I don't need to be on a diet (or watch what I eat) - if I just ate anything I wanted, or that was put in front of me, I would definitely need to be on a diet. And, looking at the gym goers, at least 70% are those that are much like me, in decent (or better) shape, just trying to stay healthy.
August 14, 2011
Tomatoes and Peppers and Lavender, Oh My
It has been over 2 weeks since I last posted pictures. I know that because when I download them from the camera to adjust the size, the images go into folders named by year and month. I have nothing for August. And, how did it get to be the middle of August anyway?
I'm not going to remedy the picture thing in a big way, but I do have a couple from gardening:
I picked tomatoes Wednesday evening and got a colander full.
Yesterday afternoon I got out the food processor and processed all but a couple of the tomatoes down to a chunky sauce (with peppers, basil and oregano). This sauce is now in the freezer waiting for the rest of the tomatoes to ripen, so I can make salsa all at one time.
Then I decided I better harvest lavender and get it to drying in the dehydrator.
I do believe this is the first time since getting the humongous dehydrator, that I have not been able to fit everything into it. That's okay, I usually dry lavender by the natural method, so I know what is left will still be good for drying tomorrow (when the current batch is done). The house smells fabulous now too.
I have a bunch of basil and oregano that will be ready for drying after the lavender is done. I will probably use it in the salsa when I can it in a couple of weeks, but I needed to harvest the leaves before the bugs got them.
All this talk about canning food and herbs makes me sad - it means fall is just around the corner, which means riding season won't last too much longer.
February 26, 2011
This morning, I started 16 bean soup (with Ham, of course) in the crockpot.
This evening, I fed the dogs, and gave them the last 2 eggs with their kibble.
My plan was to have cornbread with the ham and bean soup.
This may seem like unorganized rambling, but does anyone see a problem that ties them all together?
If you thought that I needed some eggs to make the corn bread, DING, DING, DING, you win a prize (of no consequence, no color, no smell, no feel, I'll send it by air mail).
So thinking I couldn't have been the first idiot to have given the eggs that were for the corn meal to her dogs, I got on the internet. Although no one fessed up to having fed ingredients meant for their evening meal to their pets, there were plenty of people that had no eggs, had a hankering for corn bread, and were to lazy (broke, out of time, other) to go to the store. here is the recipe I decided to go with, along with my modifications:
- 1 1/2 cups soymilk (I used 2% milk)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar (I cut back to 1 TBL after reading some of the comments)
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour or 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I used 2 TBL of soy flour and the rest of the cup filled with rice flour for a gluten-free bread)
- 2 tablespoons raw sugar or 2 tablespoons other artificial sweetener (I used 1 1/2 TBL of Splenda Baking Mix)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt (I used 1/2 tsp)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons oil (I used 2+ TBLS of bacon grease)
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Blend the milk and vinegar (see, you want sour milk) and set aside.
- Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add the milk mixture and the oil (grease), and stir until just blended.
- Spread the batter into a nonstick or lightly oil-sprayed 9-inch square baking dish.
- Bake 25-30 minutes (25 for me).
Test for doneness by the toothpick method, in the center.
It came out very good for use with bean soup (or chili). The taste is low key and won't compete with the soup. If you are looking for something that is more toward eating with just a bit of butter on it, up the sugar content and use butter instead of oil or bacon grease.
December 05, 2010
Hot, No, I Mean REALLY Hot!
Most summers I grow hot peppers in the garden. I don't mean Jalapeno hot, although I do grow them, those are the mild ones and I only start a couple of plants. I tend to groo more of the hotter pepprs; Habenaro, Thia Hot, Serano - you get the drift. One day I will probably forget that I read about the pepper that can reportedly strip pain, the Naga Viper. That sucker is 1,359,000 on the Scoville heat scale, which makes it the current top dog for fieriness.
I am sure one day, while perusing the seed catelogs, I will stumble across this pepper and think it is a good idea to grow it. Hopefully, I will blog about it and someone out there will remind me that on this date, I have declared that it is probably definitely something I should avoid.
Hat Tip to Scott.
September 19, 2010
The new dehydrator came in. I knew it would be bigger than my old one, but didn't realize that it would take up almost the entire top of the stove:
The old dryer could sit between two of the adjacent burners, so this one is much bigger. The one thing that I found odd is that the dial for controlling the thermoset is way in back. Not only do I have to have my reading glasses on, but I have to be standing tippy-toe to lean over and get a look. Not really a horrible thing, especially since my old dryer only had one heat setting, I just would have thought that they would put it toward the front.
Saturday morning I cut up a bunch of Roma-type tomatoes to try out the dehydrator. Now keep in mind, I have never dried tomatoes before, so I was unsure what to expect. I cut up a big mixing bowl-full of slices and used only 5 racks (and that with generous spacing). I would have used all of the racks (and maybe more) of my old dehydrator.
I started the drying process about 6 AM and by 5 PM, I had some respectable "sun-dried" tomatoes. When I pulled out the shelves, they looked fairly empty compared to when I put them in!
The effect is much better when I put them all in a pile on one shelf:
The only "sun-dried" tomatoes I remember having has been on prepared foods that I have bought. I tasted one of these and was pleasantly surprised. Without any salt or oil (as most commercial dried tomatoes have), these are outstanding in taste. I managed to get just under a quart jar full. I think I'll be drying more so they will be ready for stews and to perk up pizzas and tacos.
Next up for experimentation: Green Beans.
September 12, 2010
Last Monday, WS went out to pick the rest of his corn. Some of it had already started drying, so I looked up in my Stocking Up III book, what the best thing to do would be. The book asserts that drying it on the cob, then twisting the cob to release the kernels, then storing in a jar is a good way to preserve corn even for human use. Apparently it can be reconstituted in basically the same manner that is used for dry beans (who knew?), so I thought I would give it a try.
First problem is that my dehydrator trays stack on top of each other, with only about 1/2-3/4 inches of room between them. Not really a problem, just an inconvenience as that meant I could only dry one tray at a time (fortunately the lid is domed, so it would fit over the corn).
I dried one tray full like that, twisted the cobs, retrieved the kernels, and got a couple of jars of corn:
hopefully they reconstitute well and taste good when the time comes. If not, I'll put it in the birdfeeder.
I have always been paranoid about leaving small appliances plugged in while they are doing their thing; the crockpot and dehydrator are always placed on the stovetop or on a marble cutting board just in case something goes wrong. If the heating mechanism freaks out, and the crockpot / dehydrator is sitting on the bare counter, I've thought that would be a recipe for a house fire.
Wednesday morning, I started a new batch of corn ears in the dehydrator. When I got home 13+ hours later, I thought I smelled burning corn but since WS was in the kitchen (right next to the dehydrator), I figured a kernel had fallen onto the heating element and burned (not a big deal). About an hour later, I unplugged the dehydrator, removed the lid and found this:
It had gotten so hot that the plastic tray had cracked and melted, dumping some of the ears on the heating element. Almost all the ears of corn still on the tray were burned too. I have been using this dehydrator for over 20 years and have never seen anything like this before.
Needless to say, I have discarded of the dehydrator and ordered another one.
I'm not sure if anything more would have happened if it had been on a countertop, but am thankful that I didn't have to find out the hard way!