primsong: (ship)
Golly Moses it's hot today - 102+ at the moment and supposed to hit 106, unusually toasty for here. I've been working on replacing rotten boards on my back deck but it's too hot to be outside so I ended up learning to make quick no-corn-syrup marshmallows. These things Happen when I end up in my kitchen unscheduled.

Did a recipe mash-up and made it with 3 pkts plain gelatin softened in 1/2 c. cold water. Added a generous dollop of vanilla, a dash of salt and about half a cup of honey then 3/4 c. boiling water. Dissolved, cooled and whipped with beaters for 15 minutes - ta-dah!

Ate too many marshmallows. I regret nothing. Wish I had graham crackers.

Tonight our dancers are going to the local high school to teach the football teams some Greek dance steps, we go each year and the coaches swear it helps the teamwork and footwork. O-PAH! They sent us a message promising they'd have the A/C cranked up.
primsong: (hamster smooch)
Working on tea stuff, I wanted some lavender in there somewhere and also wanted a pound cake to slice and serve, so I tried this Lavender Lemon Poundcake as the best of both worlds.  It was good enough I wanted to pass it along!

Added a little extra lavender, as I had some from my yard as well as what I got at the health food store, they had it there in bulk for people who make their own teas, ,then reduced the cholesterol a bit by using half margarine, half butter and only putting in half of the egg yolks...doubled the vanilla and dumped in a dribble of lavender syrup we had left from our lavender latte binge.  It's AMAZING - we snarfed the baby size loaf I'd made for us to sample it, the rest are cooling to go into the freezer for next week's tea.  We'll top it with glaze, lemon zest and sparkly purple sugar there. ^_^

Yay!

primsong: (pi)
Messing around in the kitchen my daughter and I added the following to our mugs of coffee:
a pinch of ground cardamom
a bit of rosewater
a sprinkle of cinnamon
cream (in our case, soy creamer)

Oh. My. Gracious. This makes my eyes roll around in a good way, and little happy noises keep involuntarily following sips.  Add a northwestern foggy morning outside, a cheery candle burning in the kitchen window and a cat who wants pettings - This is the Life.
primsong: (zucchini)
We're trying to incorporate more veggies again here, having slowly drifted off into meat-and-starch land for a time and doing a course correction in tandem with our annual church fast.  Today's dinner is cabbage wedges roasted with sweet onion slices and a drizzle of olive oil - which made me wonder, cabbage being such a versatile thing, what are some of your favorite ways to put a bit of cabbage in your life? 
primsong: (lunch)
When I went out to a local farm seeking an "autumn fix" I soaked up the happy harvesty atmosphere and also came home with a jack-o-lantern type pumpkin (which we dutifully carved) and 2 sugar pie pumpkins.  One sugar pumpkin is for pie, but the other was for a favorite autumn-time easy dinner we do, to wit:

Dinner in a Pumpkin

1 4-5 lb. pumpkin
1 lb. ground beef
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 c. uncooked instant rice
3 T. butter or margarine
1/2 t. salt (optional)
1/2 t. pepper
1 t. thyme
1 can diced tomatoes (undrained)
2 c. beef broth
1/2 c. grated cheddar (optional)

Wash the pumpkin and cut a nice wide lid on the top (you want to be able to scoop yummy things out later).  Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.  Brush the inside of the pumpkin with the butter and sprinkle it with a little salt if you like.
In a skillet, saute the beef and onion until browned. Drain fat. Add the rice and remaining ingredients except the cheese. Put your pumpkin in a shallow dish (I use a casserole dish) and fill it with the meat mixture. Put the lid on the pumpkin and stick the whole thing in a 350 degree oven.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until the pumpkin is tender.  You can add more broth if needed.  Take off lid and sprinkle with cheese while hot. 
Serve right from the pumpkin, scooping out pulp with the beef mixture. 

For lower sodium people like me, just use no-salt tomatoes and unsalted beef broth and reduce or even eliminate the table salt too. Still very tasty and homelike.  This is the only time of year I buy instant rice, just for this, and sometimes use dried minced onion instead of fresh, though fresh is always better if you have one handy.

Enjoy!
primsong: (lunch)
Gosh I love them.

Starflower and I made a batch of popcorn balls this evening, the easy peasy kind where you zap marshmallows, butter and vanilla in a bowl in the microwave then stir in gobs of plain popcorn.  We sprinkled some with little festive candy bits and then put each in a sandwich baggie tied with a bit of curly ribbon.  They look so cheery stuffed into the crevices on the tree.  I love an edible Christmas tree I can graze from.  One year we made sugar cookies with holes in them and strung them up with ribbon, but they didn't last long enough to be worth the effort and broke easily - maybe I'll try again with gingerbread, as it is sturdier and fewer people in the house like it.

It occurred to me that popcorn balls are a nice cheap treat too - if pennies are tight and we can't afford the nuts and liquor and other goods for fancy schmancy holiday tastiness, this is a fine one to keep on hand.

Next up is pfefferneuse - oh yeahhhhh....
primsong: (lunch)
My daughter, visiting from college and taking some home with her again, recently proclaimed my granola "The ultimate comfort food from home" - so I thought I would post it here where she (or anyone else so inclined including my own potentially forgetful future self) might sample it.

Granola

8 c. rolled oats
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 c. wheat germ
3/4 c. bran flakes, lightly crushed
1 c. shredded coconut, unsweetened
1 c. chopped nuts (salted cashews, regular pecans)
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1 c. sunflower seeds (shelled, of course)
1 c. raisins (I mix regular and golden)
1 c. sesame seeds
(optionals for variation: Add some finely diced candied ginger, some dried cranberries, currants, snips of dried apple, shake in some cinnamon, substitute rolled barley for some of the oats, etc.)

1/2 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. honey (can mix in part agave if you like)
1 T. vanilla

Combine all dry ingredients in a big bowl and mix thoroughly. Stir liquids together and add to dry stuff, mix again. Grease 2 large cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.  Divide granola, spreading evenly.  Bake uncovered in 300 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes.  Watch to be sure it doesn't burn towards the end.  Remove from oven and let cool then chunk up and store in airtight containers.

I usually double this in my giant metal popcorn bowl, which makes a huge amount of granola that nevertheless disappears very quickly.  Extra can be kept in quart canning jars on the shelf with plastic screw-on lids, or in tupperware, etc. A lot of it is 'mix and match' and amounts are somewhat approximate, just slightly increase your liquids if you add a lot of extra dry.

Makes the house smell like cookies are baking when you make it - very nice.


primsong: (cookies)
Our women's group at church had their Christmas wing-ding and as it had an international theme I figured this was a good excuse to make a big batch of pfeffernusse, one of those wonderfully fragrant things that I adore and other people sometimes won't even eat.  Found a faboo recipe at allrecipes, liked the anise extract to tone down the anise slightly, had to crush whole cardamom with my pestle because I didn't have any ground (that took a while) and increased the black pepper to 1 1/2 t., added some buckwheat honey with the clover in the molasses and wow - these about make my eyes roll up in my head, mmmmmm.  They're heaven just sniffing them. Thanks to the strange aversion on the part of others, I even had a goodly lot left over to nibble/snarf at home too.

Life is uber-crazy, rather weird, both very good in some ways and quite stressful in others, very mixed right now - I'm grateful for the holidays and cookies and sparkly decorations, they are a welcome distraction and lift the spirits. 

Now - all of you go bake something super-tasty, but be sure the people around you don't want it so there's plenty left for you. ;-)
primsong: sunrise over Haleakala (clouds)
Discovering a small European deli near my daughter's dance class, I wandered over to explore and pass the time - wonderful little shop, stuffed top to bottom with goods from Bulgaria and Turkey mostly, but plenty of other fun stuff as well. I asked the proprietor what he considered to be the taste of 'home' - what did he associate with regular home cooking when he was a kid, and he directed me to jars of lutenica, a sweet and spicy veggie relish.

"Every year, all the houses, you have all the grandmother, aunts, mothers, everyone comes together and makes this," he said with a faraway and happy look that told me I was on the right track. "You put it on everything, I sometimes start eating a jar of this, just dipping in crackers and cannot stop! Everybody's mother, they all have their own recipe, you know how it is, but yes, yes. This is good, you find this in the country."

I took a big jar home and by golly, he's right - hard to stop when you start dipping in crackers or celery sticks or whatever... we put some on pasta too, mm. I can picture children in Bulgaria, maybe on a small farm, sniffing the air and being sent to bring in more veggies to wash and slice for the aunties - or opening that bright jar later in the cold months and tasting the warm black pepper and sweetness after a long day of chores and school.

But it made me think - if someone from some other part of the world were to ask, what tastes like "home" to you? What do you remember everyone having, making, preserving? Not just common condiments (ketchup), but what was home-made and no one made it quite like (insert loved relative here)?

I had to conclude for me it might be apple crisp or possibly the thick oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips - both from the hands of my grandmother, my mother and now myself. Cinnamon and apple and oatmeal, with a touch of chocolate - that would be 'home'.

What would be the taste of your Home?

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