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Friday, November 30, 2012

Random Food Fridays - Breakfast Rice

So, as you can see, it's pretty hard to make rice pudding look exciting and pretty. You'll just have to take my word for it - This stuff is good!

People always talk about oatmeal as something that "sticks to your ribs." But I find that most cereals leave me searching for snacks by 10 AM. I wanted a hot cereal, but with ooomph! I remembered this yummy rice pudding, but wanted to make it again using fresh spices and less sugar. What a difference! I also made it a larger batch and reheated my serving each morning. You could make this vegan by using almond milk rather than regular milk. Do use the fresh spices. They are so warming and delightful on these wet and chilly mornings.

Breakfast Rice
1/2 cup raisins
2 cups cooked brown basmati rice
2 cups milk (I used non-fat)
1 stick cinnamon
2 big slices fresh ginger
4 green cardamom pods, whacked and cracked
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup toasted, slivered almonds

Place raisins in a heat-safe bowl or mug and top off with boiling water. Set aside.

Place the rice, milk, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods in a saute pan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, until most of the milk is absorbed. Add the remaining ingredients except the almonds. Continue to simmer until the pudding reaches the desired consistency. Fish out the spices and add the almonds. Store in the fridge with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

This makes four generous breakfasts for me.

Update 1/28/13 - I just made this vegan, substituting the 2 cups of milk with 1 1/2 cups coconut water. Worked out just fine!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cranberry Sauce with Quince and Ginger

We have had a great Thanksgiving. I hope you have too. I don't know about you, but every time we have a turkey feast, I wonder why we don't do it more often. It's really not that hard or complicated and then we eat yummy food for DAYS! One of my favorite post-turkey day meals is a lunch of turkey sliders on the rolls leftover from dinner. I never did get into putting stuffing on bread. Kinda redundant, right? But the cranberry - oh yeah!

Lucky for me, All Four Burners Can It Up is all about cranberries this month. This inspired me to search for a way to use cranberries with the quince I picked up from my "Quince Guy" at the farmers' market. I found this lovely recipe from Tigress. I cut it in half and altered it a little. Boy-Howdy, it's good. You can can this in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, but I knew we'd have no problems eating up. This sauce is more toothsome than most and I like that. Each berry, chunk of quince and nugget of candied ginger brings a new taste.

Cranberry Sauce with Quince and Ginger
1 lb. of quince that has been peeled and cut into half inch cubes
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 strips of orange zest
1 1/4 lbs. fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup Ginger People Ginger Chips

Place the quince, water, sugar, cinnamon and orange zest in a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer until the quince is tender and slightly pink. Add the cranberries and ginger chips and return to a boil. Cook until the cranberries have popped and it begins to thicken. This took about 15 minutes for me. Don't over cook this because quince and cranberries both have ton of pectin and getting a set is no problem. Remove the cinnamon stick and orange zest strips and store. Either process in a boiling water bath in clean hot jars for 10 minutes or place in your fridge. This made about 8 cups.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Three Sisters Stew

Here's another soup for your consideration. One of my favorite cookbooks is the Farm Journal's Country Cook Book.  It is loaded with very tasty recipes and is a snap shot of mid-century and mid-continent America. If you want to know how to culture and churn butter, bake a cake or pit roast a whole cow, this book is for you. One of the funny things about these kinds of books is that they often talk about the "energy" in food, aka calories. I guess if you are working a farm instead of a desk, you need to make sure lots of calories get into your food. They have one recipe for Supper Waffles that includes a whole cup of melted butter! Now that's some energy!

One of my favorite recipes from this book is called Indian Beans. As this recipe is obviously not from India, I'm afraid the name is not so PC. However, the taste is delicious. They are rather like baked beans but seasoned with cinnamon, a little sugar and apple cider vinegar. This stew started out with these beans in mind.

Lucky me, I have some serious gardeners in my life. My friend, Miss Pauline, had just about the most amazing garden ever this spring. She brought me a whole cooler full of yummy veg - all organic and completely beautiful. Her gift to me included two sugar pie pumpkins. I've never cooked pumpkins before, but I love orange squashes. To prepare these, I cut them in half, scooped out the guts, cut the halves in half, rubbed with some oil and roasted in a 350 oven until tender. These took about 45 minutes. I like the caramel flavor that developed from the toasty parts.

After I let them cool, it was easy to use my fingers to pull off the shell and then I cut into chunks. For this stew, I used one quarter of a pumpkin. The rest was processed for pie. This pumpkin was less dense than butternut squash, but just as sweet. You could use either.

I named this Three Sisters Stew because I added corn and pumpkin to the original recipe. It is a Native American traditions to grow maize, beans and squash together. The maize would provide poles for climbing beans and the squash would grow around the bottom. Miss Pauline grew them this way. You should have seen some of the beautiful heirloom beans and corn she grew!

This is another soup that starts with dried beans. Do not fear the beans! Here are the simple steps for making dried beans fit easily into your busy life:

  1. Measure, sort and wash - No kidding - I've found bean shaped rocks many a time.
  2. Soak - You have two ways to go with this - Overnight soak - Place beans in lots of water and place in the fridge overnight. Drain and begin your recipe with new water. Quick soak - Place beans in a pan with cold water to cover by about two inches. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand 1 hour. Drain and begin your recipe with new water.
  3. Cook - There are also two ways to cook - Stove top - Add beans and water to a pan with a heavy bottom and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender. Crock Pot - Add beans and water to crock pot and cook on high for about 4 hours for larger beans like pintos or chick peas. 

Tips -

  • If you cook on the stove top, keep an eye on it! I've had beans foam over and put out my gas burner. (This is why I love the Crock Pot!)
  • Do not add salt or acid foods until after the beans have already become tender. Salt and acid can inhibit the beans cooking correctly.
Three Sisters Stew
1 lb. dry pinto or pink beans (I used a combo)
3 quarts water
1 small onion, diced
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced peppers (I used gypsy peppers)
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup diced ham
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 cup sweet corn kernels 
3 cups cooked and cubed pumpkin or squash

Use one of the soaking methods above. Drain and cook the beans in 3 quarts of water, using one of the cooking methods used above. When beans are tender, add remaining ingredients except for corn and pumpkin and simmer, uncovered until it reaches desired thickness. This will take longer in the crock pot. Before serving, add the corn and pumpkin and heat through. Adjust seasoning and serve.

This makes a lot, but will depend on how long you cook after adding the veg. My recipe, pictured above, made about 9 cups. I like mine with a shot of Tapatio.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Random Food Fridays - Chick Pea Curry

Chick Pea Curry was last Sunday's project. I like to go to the farmers' market on Sunday morning and do food prep in the afternoon. It's enjoyable and I have a much better chance of eating a healthy lunch during my work days. Somehow, making a sandwich is just beyond me in the morning. For me, mornings are slow and gentle and, often, not timely. Pre-packed lunches can really save the day.

From left to right -
garlic, sweet potatoes, ginger, turnips, red bell pepper, gypsy peppers, eggplant, shallot, curry powder, coconut milk, chick peas,
diced tomatoes 
Not pictured - Magic (as in magically delicious)

This curry is a hybrid of Indian and Thai curry flavors. I've used a combo of late Summer and early Winter produce. (I guess that would be Fall, technically.) We're getting the last good tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, but sweet potatoes and turnips are now on the scene. I used chick peas and served this with brown basmati rice for a complete protein. I usually use red Thai curry past with coconut milk and diced tomatoes. This time I tried a curry blend I picked up from a vendor at the Auburn Farmers' Market. It turned out delicious!

Like any soup or stew, curry dishes are infinitely variable. Use the veg you like. Use the protein you like. Use the level of spice you like. Eat a healthy lunch every day!

Chick Pea Curry
1 tbsp. coconut oil

1 to 2 cloves of garlic, diced small
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1 to 3 tsp. of curry powder (might want to add one at a time)

2 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes
1 cup turnips, cubed
1/2 of one red bell pepper, seeded, cored and cubed
2 gypsy peppers, seeded, cored and cubed
1 cup eggplant, cubed
1 large shallot, sliced (or any kind of onion you like, of course)
2 cups cooked chick peas
1 can coconut milk
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. salt (for the curry, not the boiling water)

Cooked brown basmati rice for serving
Cilantro for garnish

In a large soup pot, boil the sweet potatoes and turnips in salted boiling water until just tender - about 5 minutes. Drain.

Dry the same pot and replace over the flame. Reduce heat to medium and add the coconut oil. When the oil has melted, add the garlic, ginger and curry powder. Stir quickly to prevent from scorching. Add the peppers, egg plant and shallots. Stir to coat. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the rice and cilantro. Check the spice level and add more curry powder, if desired. Simmer gently until the veggies are done to your liking. Serve with rice and cilantro.

Make 6 servings