Friday, December 4, 2009

African Peanut Soup

After leaving the kitchen as a baker I went around the corner and started making soup. This was one that surprised me with it's popularity.

AFRICAN PEANUT SOUP (adapted from the More-With-Less Cookbook)

The MWL version is called West African Groundnut Stew and I've taken a few liberties with it. Chicken instead of beef, diced tomatoes instead of paste; adding cumin & oregano; chopped peanuts and peanut butter instead of just crunchy peanut butter. ...just a few liberties

Here's my scaled-down version, but make it as you like. Of course, it's better when made with chicken broth so you have to adjust the salt if you do.

Butter: 1 oz.
Onions, diced: about 1 1/2
Garlic, minced: about 1 T.
Diced Tomatoes: 1 28 oz. can
Water or broth: 1/2 gal.
Nutmeg: 3/4 t.
Chili Powder: 3 1/2 t.
Cumin: 1/4 t.
Oregano: 1/4 t.
Cayenne: to taste
Salt: 1 1/8 t.
Peanuts, chopped: 3/4 c.
Peanut Butter (I used smooth): 1/2 c.
Rice (I used long-grain brown): 1 c.
Cooked chicken, cubed or shredded: about 2 cups

Sauté onions and garlic in butter.
Add tomatoes, water (broth), and spices.
Bring to slow boil.
While soup is heating prepare peanuts.
Add peanuts, peanut butter, rice, chicken and cook until rice is done.
Stir occasionally to keep rice from burning on the bottom of the pot and to break up clumps of peanut butter. Reduce heat once the rice is cooked.

Marie's Scones (as requested)

I never thought I'd actually forget this recipe since I made these 5 days a week for nearly 5 years. At work at 5 am, sometimes 4:30, working alone in the quiet kitchen. Usually all of the scones were gone by 8 am so if you weren't in line when the doors opened, well, you could wait until tomorrow. Or, if it was Friday, you might have been lucky and found an orange-chocolate muffin instead.

With the understanding that all recipes are made for tinkering, here's the original (or at least my best recollection to-date):

Flour 2 c.
Sugar 1/2 c.
Baking Powder 1 T.
Salt 1 t.

Butter 4 oz. (1 stick)

Egg 1
Milk 3/4 c.
Raisins 1/4 c

Lightly grease baking sheet or use baking parchment paper.
Heat oven to 400°.

In one container, whisk egg(s) then add milk & raisins.
(for plump raisins, make this ahead and soak overnight)

In another mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.
Cut in butter until the mixture looks like cornmeal.

Add wet to dry and stir/fold together.
Turn out on floured surface and knead just until dough forms smooth ball.

Make a round approximately 1/2" thick, then cut into 8 pieces.
Brush pieces w/ water (or egg) and gently sprinkle w/ sugar.
Place scones on pan and bake for about 13 1/2 minutes until lightly golden.

Eat immediately. If there are any remaining a day later, reheating in a toaster oven works best.

As for the tinkering, I suggest dried cherries, apricots, or a diced apple are all good substitutes for raisins. Maybe a little cinnamon or nutmeg or cloves. Chocolate chips, chopped almonds or walnuts. Endless options, really...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries


Preheat oven to 400°.
5-6 Fist-sized sweet potatoes, cut into large chunks
½ - ¾ c. chopped red onion

Spread vegetables on large baking pan (big enough so the vegetables aren't piled up)
Drizzle about ½ c. oil over the vegetables. (I used peanut oil)
Sprinkle, to taste, with salt & pepper.
Roast veggies until lightly browned/blackened, stirring about every 15 minutes.

When sweet potatoes are done, add 1 – 1 ½ c. fresh cranberries to pan and return to oven for about 5 minutes. Long enough to let some of the berries burst, but without burning the sweet potatoes or cranberries. Remove pan from oven and finish glaze, if you're not already done with it.

While roasting sweet potatoes, prepare applesauce glaze.

In small sauce pan, combine:
1 c. applesauce
1 c. apple juice or cider
½ c. brown sugar
3 T. flour
¼ t. ground cloves
¼ – ½ t. ground cinnamon

Heat on medium-high, stirring continuously, until glaze is thickened.
Removed from heat and save.
When sweet potatoes are finished, place them in a serving dish.
Stir glaze over sweet potatoes and serve warm.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Friendly dragon and a brave knight

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

My mom has been making this cake for nearly her whole life. And I believe my grandma was making it before then. Needless to say, it's a family favorite and when we're together it rarely stays in the pan more than 2 days. Even when we're not all together! Call us weird, but we like to have a piece in a bowl with milk. Personally, I only do that with this cake. Why? Good question. Habit? Genetics? Of course, in the interest of graciousness, I will still eat it if there is no milk available. Vanilla ice cream is always a good substitute.

Lest I bore you further...

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
(if you're not using a metal pan, reduce 25 degrees)
My experience is to bake 30 minutes in metal pan, 40 in glass.

Grease a 9 x 13 pan

Combine in mixing bowl:
2 c. flour
2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. cocoa powder
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

Combine the wet ingredients:
1 c. sour cream (light sour cream works too)
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla

Measure and reserve:
1 c. hot water

Make a "well" in the dry ingredients then add wet ingredients and the hot water. Mix with an electric hand mixer just until completely blended. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, depending on pan. Spread on the frosting when the cake is completely cooled. Serve, devour, and try to share.

I've also made this cake in two 8" round pans. You'll have to adjust the baking times accordingly.

Icing/Frosting for whole cake: (or buy ready made)
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar (sift out any lumps)
1/4 c. cocoa powder
3 T. butter, very soft, almost melted
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 c. milk

Combine the first 4 ingredients, then pour in some of the milk and continue stirring the icing. If needed, add more milk, but just enough to keep the icing firm, but still spreadable.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Spaghetti Squash Recipe

Spaghetti Squash Gratin
from Vegetables by James Peterson, p. 197
Makes 6 side-dish servings

1 2 1/2 lb. spaghetti squash
9 fresh sage leaves
1 garlic clove, minced/crushed
2 1/2 c. grated Swiss gruyere cheese (about 8 ounces)
3/4 c. heavy cream
salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

Cut the squash lengthwise and place halves, flesh side down, in a baking dish with enough hot water to come 1/4" up the sides of the squash. The water prevents burning and helps steam the squash so it cooks more evenly. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the squash is soft when poked with a knife - about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Spoon out and discard the seeds. Scrape along pulp with a fork and pull out and reserve the shreds. Leave the oven on at this point unless you're baking the squash in advance.)

With butter, rub the bottom of a medium (8 cup or slightly larger) gratin or baking dish.

Finely chop 6 of the sage leaves and toss the "spaghetti" with the chopped sage, garlic, 2 cups of the cheese, the heavy cream, and salt to taste. Spread this mixture in the bottom of the dish -- the squash layer should be about 1 inch thick -- and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Arrange the remaining 3 sage leaves on top of the gratin. Bake approximately 45 minutes. If the top of the gratin doesn't turn golden brown in the oven, slide it under the broiler for about 1 minute to brown it. Remove from oven, grind fresh pepper over it and serve immediately.

I've adapted the above recipe in a few ways. Since gruyere is, here at least, nearly $16/pound, I've been known - or maybe unknown - to substitute asiago for half the gruyere. Sometimes I've even completely replaced the gruyere with half asiago and half romano. Do what you like. Also, being that I like garlic - as do most of my friends - I use at least 2 cloves, depending on their size.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bike Train

I'd been considering it for a while and today I hooked everything together for the first time. I'd been hesitant to try it, but then saw the same setup used quite successfully by a Roosevelt parent. So this afternoon we set out for the first bike ride in a long while. An hour and a half later we arrived home - about 4 miles in all. Not very far, but a good trial run for the train. Looks like we'll need to get a least one new tire and a possibly a few tubes. That, or bring the pump along. Joe was a champion pedaler which made my job a little easier. My tire has a slow leak, but when I'm pulling an extra hundred pounds (and that's just the boys) it makes a difference to have fully inflated tires!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pizza Night

Enjoyed dinner with friends this evening. Bob fired up the brick oven to about 1000 degrees and we had home-made pizza, roasted veggies, fresh bread, and chocolate chip cookie bars. The pizza was done in about 5 minutes and this was a first for cookies in the oven, but it's hard to go wrong with chocolate chip cookies. Elaine made a platter of garden vegetables with feta cheese. Perfect. Joe even helped get the coals in place inside the oven. (don't tell mom!)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A new addition

This week my typewriter collection entered the late 20th century with the addition of an IBM Correcting Selectric III (thanks Chris & Marci).

With the IBM, I now have 10 in all and only 3 are electric. This "hobby" is one of no effort as the typewriters just seem to find me - and I only remember the origins of 5 of them. The oldest is, dare I say, the original laptop. A gift from my father-in-law, it's a folding Corona with a wood & leather case. It was made in Groton, NY and has a recent patent date of February 8, 1910.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Homemade Granola

Ten years ago when I worked at a cafe, I made a very similar recipe. Mine adds ground flax and omits the chopped, dried apricots. Add/delete as you wish. I use parchment paper on the baking pan, but I suppose it would work to bake on a greased pan. It may seem expensive, but one bowl of this keeps me full till lunchtime.

Mix together:
4 1/3 c. Rolled Oats
1/2 c. Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 c. Sunflower Seeds
1/2 c. Shredded Coconut, Unsweetened
1 1/4 c. Wheat Germ, Toasted
1 c. Sliced Almonds, Toasted
3/8 c Ground Flax Seed
3/4 t. Ground Cinnamon

In different bowl, combine:
5/8 c. Honey
5/8 c. Oil
1/2 t. vanilla

Warm liquids until honey and oil are no longer separated.
This takes 10-15 seconds in the microwave.

Add wet to dry and stir until thoroughly mixed.

Evenly spread granola onto parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake at 325 F for 30-35 minutes stirring every 7-10 minutes
Granola is done when it is golden brown.
Let cool completely on pan then store in air-tight container.
Makes about 12 cups.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Macaroni & Cheese

Here's a recipe for some good mac & cheese. The recipe makes enough for 4-6 adults so adjust as needed.
From scratch and all in one pot.
Boil until done, but don't drain any water:
16 oz. Elbow macaroni
4.5 c. water
1 1/4 t. salt

Measure and prepare:
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
1 oz. parmesan or romano cheese, finely grated
4 oz. cream cheese (neufchatel works), softened & in small pieces

When pasta is done, stirring constantly, slowly add the cheeses.

Choose and add a quantity/mixture/choice of cooked meat and or cooked vegetable.

Diced, baked chicken breast
Ground Beef
Hot dogs/sausage
Diced canned or fresh tomatoes

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Summer begins....

End of school picnic in the park

And a little fun before bathtime.
Trucks & dirt, a nice chair & book. What more do we need?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Elementary School Field Day

What I do while Isaac's napping

With some friendly encouragement from the city, I get to replace the cracked part of our sidewalk. Note the nice tree roots in the foreground. About 10 years overdue, this should be completed in the coming weeks. A good thing really, since a few weeks ago Joe fell off his scooter while trying to manage the cracks and other hazards.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

Bird on a(n electrical) wire

Spring visitors have returned. Hope it's not too disruptive being right next to the back door.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring Break Camp-out

The first camp of the year. We all had fun trying out our new tent and the boys' new bags.

Even Lucy slept in the tent with us and she was amazingly quiet all night. The only noise was from the freight trains and the neighbors arriving home from Aggieville.

Monday, March 9, 2009

More seeds to plant

Started more seeds - petunias, statice, monarda, among others - and discovered that a petunia seed is about half the size of a pin head so I hope they germinate.

Meanwhile the peppers, tomatoes, are doing just fine.

So are the broccoli and cabbage.

Still need to work on the garden outside - relocating the compost bins and planting spinach and potatoes.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Backyard Visitor

Rhonna noticed our guest this morning. It flew into the pine tree when I went out to get a picture so I didn't get a very good shot. A hawk, I think.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Walk on the Konza

Yesterday we took the boys out for their first walk on the Konza. A beautiful 65 degree afternoon with just enough time for a short trek. On the drive out there, a flock (?) of turkeys flew over our van and was quite a site. Then at the start of the trail I was able to identify a turkey footprint and the boys soon had fun hunting for more. Later, we heard an owl "hoo-hoot" in the woods. About a half a mile in and Joe decided he'd had enough. Fortunately, before turning around, we stopped long enough to hear and see a woodpecker.

This is the first of many seasonal trips we plan to make because with 4 seasons and walking the trail in both directions, we have at least 8 chances to see something new. We only walked a half mile of the two mile loop so the possibilities are really many more.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Garden Begins

Started seeds last night - Packman Broccoli, Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage, California Wonder Sweet Pepper, and Early Jalepeno. Using my handy garden planner (bottom center, in white) I can keep track of what I'm doing instead of trying to remember it all.

Pulled out my seedling trays that haven't seen any action in several years. The pots will be for some flowers and herbs.

Ready for sprouting. Once I locate the timer for the lights the seeds will have a regular day and night. I won't have room for all the plants, but I can always give some away.
Next in line - tomatoes, flowers, herbs, lettuce, and the mystery plant: strawberry spinach.

Now to begin working on expanding the garden, renovating the compost bins, cleaning up last year's plants, etc...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Time to start planning...

Seeds arrived last Saturday and the potatoes will follow soon.

I found a free garden planner to help keep me organized.

Now I need to clean up the growing table, buy new lights & potting soil and wait for the right time to plant.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Seeds on the way....

For the first time in several years, I've actually ordered seeds in time to have some plants ready for spring.  They should arrive next week and I can begin planting!  I'm not sure where all of these will go, but I'll find room somewhere.  Since half the backyard is still mud from the sewer project this is a good time to rearrange the gardens.

For the first time, I'm giving up on Brandywine tomatoes and am trying Prudens Purple instead. Brandywines crack so easily it's hard to get them picked at the right time.

With all this seed I may have some extra seedlings so if you're in the area and are interested just let me know which plant(s) you might want to try.


Strawberry Spinach
Easter Egg Radish
Carola Potatoes
Super Sugar Snap Pea
Chioggia Beet
Stowells Evergreen Corn
Packman Broccoli
Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage

Red Sails
Black-Seeded Simpson

Bush Basil

California Wonder
Early Jalapeno

Yellow Currant
Prudens Purple

Perennial Flowers
Panorama Mix Monarda
Lizzy Mixture Eustoma

Annual Flowers
Sea Shell Mix Cosmos
Cactus Flower Mix Zinnia
Bella Apricot Shades Flowering Maple (Abutilon)
Red & Rose Pirouette Petunia

Statice Mixture
Zebrina Malba

Sole D'Oro
Jolly Joker
Moulin Rouge

Sunday, January 11, 2009

No-Knead Bread

Tried making it with 1/3 white flour and 1/8 c. more water.

All went well until turning the dough into the baking dish.

Not enough flour on the towel and the dough stuck.

The dough had nearly deflated by the time I managed to get it off the towel.

Not a bad result, though.

Next time, a little more flour on the towel and a little less baking time.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009