Saturday, October 24, 2009

An Introduction; Delayed, naturally

Originally I wanted to chronicle the discovery and implementation of a vintage recipe journal given to my by a friend. I have since realized that I'd like to include all or most of my kitchen adventures, and cookbook perusals.

I was firstly inspired by that wonderful movie, The Julie/Julia Project. I find the idea of chronicling ones cooking adventures with all the wonderful surprises, the successes and the failures, and just having fun with food endearing. Besides it gives me a better excuse to cook, since as a single person, I often find myself making simple and easily to clean up meals. Boring.

More recently I've been inspired by another blog I discovered through the blogs of note feature: One Hungry Chef. The writer of this humorous and thoroughly entertaining blog is a professional chef and writes about what he eats at home. Not only are the post entertaining, he includes gorgeous pictures of the various meals and projects, and includes the recipes for some of the more adventurous readers. I can't even begin to compete with this, but will do my best to have fun with my blog none the less. Even if I'm basically "talking" to myself.

Bread, Glorious Bread

Bread is yummy. I like to buy the fresh baked bread from the overstocked section of the local large grocery's bakery, and they are fabulous. I've eaten the best brown bread and butter on a pilgrimage to Ireland. (Granted Irish butter is amazing and would no doubt make cardboard palatable.) But what about making my own bread?

I decided to start a sourdough starter, so that I'd be able to make bread (or pancakes, biscuits, etc...) anytime I wanted to. It will be like having my very own, micro-organism filled, pet. An active starter needs to be fed on a regular basis; twice a day or you can keep it in the fridge once it is well established and only feed it once a week. Joy says you can keep an established starter in the freezer as long as you let it relax in the fridge for 24 hours before making it into a sponge. Sounds good to me!

So after reading through more than a few helpful websites, and Joy of course, I mixed up about 1/2 cup of (AP white) flour with 1/4 cup water and let it sit on the counter overnight. No activity as yet, but I'm hopeful.

So my starter will sit until tonight and I will see if it is good to go!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Soup Success!

Yesterday I used my crock-pot for something other than chili! More soup :) Three bean and Tomato, to go with grilled cheese for dinner with my Dad. I had to be mindful of the salt content due to his dietary needs and I feel I was rather successful despite the bacon.

The soup turned out really well. I was extremely pleased with the taste and consistency, smooth and creamy and just a little rustic. I served it with shredded cheddar cheese stirred in, as opposed to my original idea of having grilled cheese sandwiches on the side, due to timing issues. My Dad liked it a lot, and I think I will continue to make this soup for myself, instead of the store bought tomato soups which I find have way too much salt in them.

Three Bean Tomato Soup

1 cup Bacon, chopped into little bits
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced/crushed
3 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes, no salt added
3 15 oz cans of different beans (I used white beans, pink beans, and a variegated beans.)
2 cups (approx) chix stock.

Start in a sauté pan and finish in crock pot, or make in a heavy bottomed pot:
Render the bacon until nice and crispy. Pull out crispy bits and set aside on a paper towel. If there is an excess amount of grease left, pour off, leaving 1 -2 Tbsp to cook the onions in, until translucent. Toss in the garlic and let them heat through a moment. (* for a healthier and/or vegetarian version, you could probably start the onions in EVOO instead)
(At this point I moved the onions to the crock pot.)
Open, drain, and rinse well your choice of beans then throw 'em in the pot, along with the three cans of tomatoes. Pour in the chicken stock (or veggie) a few turns around, enough to cover the contents by an inch or so. I used half a box (or close to it) of stock.
Simmer away, on a low setting, for as long as you like. (my soup ended up simmering a good 10 hours.)
Just before serving remove about half of the soup to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add back into the pot and stir. The soup should be smooth and creamy thanks to the beans, but still rustic with some tomato bits and beans :)
Garnish with some of the reserved bacon bits and some shredded cheddar cheese (or Colby Jack)

P.S. The leftovers are phenomenal. I was going to dress up a bowl and take pictures but I ate it all instead!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fall food

I almost forgot that I also made apple sauce recently! I'm picky when it comes to the kind of apples I eat out of hand, and of those they have to be ultra crisp. So when the last few apples I had started to get a little soft I decided to take advantage of that and not let them go to waste.

Apple sauce is extraordinarily easy to make: peel, core and dice your apples of choice, then simmer them with a small amount of water until they start to break down and become soft. I mashed them to achieve a more chunky texture and seasoned them with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and vanilla. Yum!

New (to me) Cookbook

I have recently acquired one of my grandmother's old cookbooks; Betty Crocker. That makes two Betty Crocker's that I'd like to flip through sometime. The first one belonged to Grandma J and has many cut out and handwritten recipes, including the famous tomato sauce recipe that is the base for one of my uncle's "Ultimate Tomato Sauce"

On a side note this Ultimate Tomato Sauce is very labor intensive and therefore only made about once a year, making the sauce a rare gem to be treasured. It is slow simmered for 24 hours and has only the best of flavors in it. Not your typical Sunday tomato gravy.

Its fall now and therefore soup season! I've already made a pretty tasty Butternut Squash Soup thanks to a generous co-worker with an abundance of farmer's market squash. And I finally used my new (to me) red vintage pot; the best of yard sale finds. The soup turned out well; creamy and smooth, thick and hearty. Perfect with a side salad and a grilled cheese sandwich.