broccoli and carrots and more

Thoughts:

Hello readers. Let’s face it, 2020 has been a pretty awful year all around. I’m sure we can find bright spots but it’s been grim. And now hurricane season has arrived. Yikes! But I did not decide to write again because of “all the bad stuff”. No, I figure I like to write so I should write. I’ve cooked and I’ve baked and I’ve taken pictures of food but that’s been it. I’ve also been sewing, clothes for me, and masks for everyone!

So what is new with me? We did find some campgrounds open this summer and have had a few camping weekends. Finally my daughter and the grandchildren were able to join us for two nights this month in their humongous tent.

Earlier, in the middle of the summer, I fell off my new bike and broke my wrist, the one on my dominant hand. It’s hard to do many of the things I enjoy without the use of my right hand. Hubby has been, literally, my right-hand man! After surgery and physical therapy I am on the mend. I have been out of work but will be returning soon. Returning to work will be an adjustment. Teleworking was an adjustment earlier this year, and now going into a new office space (they moved us around, the space is not really “new”) and then figuring out how long and if partial teleworking will still be in place. This bit of a taste of “retirement” will come to an end.

Food:

Hubby recently decided he would like to reduce carbohydrates to address the pandemic weight gain. I, too, have gained. Any change in eating habits in this household must come from Hubby. I have not been able to induce him into any changes such as less meat, lean meats, more fruit and veggies, vegetarian fare, etc. I was thinking of eating in a semi-vegetarian way, vegetarian during the week and meat on the weekends. That would be 4 days vegetarian (not vegan, I like my eggs and cheese, and need the calcium) and three days of meat. Sounds reasonable to me. I’ve also been getting produce delivery from Imperfect Produce and have need to use the vegetables in a timely manner.

So I got out my One Pot Vegetarian (by Sabrina Fauda-Role) cookbook and browsed. So tonight I cooked an adaptation of her recipe for Sauteed tofu, broccoli and butternut squash on pages 82-83. I do not have tofu in the house, nor do I have butternut squash. I’m also cooking this just for me. So here’s my list of ingredients:

  • 3-4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 small head of broccoli, sliced
  • nub of ginger, peeled and chopped, about 2 tablespoons
  • 2 small carrots, cut in rounds (original recipe calls for a pound-plus of grated butternut squash)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce!!! this was too much. Use 2 tablespoons at most, maybe even two teaspoons.
  • 2 ounces goat cheese with herbs (original recipe calls for 9 ounces of herb tofu to be sauteed in the first step with the veg.)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut flakes, to serve

Heat oil and saute the broccoli, ginger, and carrots for 10 minutes, stirring as needed. Then add the soy sauce and cook for another 5 minutes at the end of which I added the cheese and stirred until melted into a nice sauce. Serve in a bowl and top with the coconut.

This was tasty but clearly there was too much soy sauce for my taste. If I used twice the vegetables, the amount given may have made more sense. The original recipe’s butternut squash would have absorbed more of the soy sauce along with herb tofu. My single serving did not need all that soy sauce.

This cookbook is excellent. These one-pot dishes can be adapted easily. I have mine covered with post-it notes and commentary on what I have made and what I would like to make. I hope to make more vegetarian dishes to round out our eating habits, both for our health and for the planet.

Be well, stay safe, avoid crowds, wash your hands, and wear the mask!

 

 

Ginger snaps and waffles: part one, the cookies

This week’s Betty Crocker’s Cookbook makes are Crisp Ginger Cookies (page 276) and Crisp Waffles (page 196).

I was reading about how to reduce the sugar in cookies and got inspired by this to make ginger snaps. Hubby likes the crisp ones and I like the chewy ones. These are crisp. The recipe says one can roll them out 1/8-inch thick or paper-thin. I rolled them into a log and cut them into 1/8-inch-ish rounds. The majority of the sugar in these is the molasses and I did not reduce that at all. And the original recipe calls for shortening so I use butter instead.

  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • dash of ground nutmeg
  • dash of ground allspice

Mix the molasses, butter, and brown sugar. I whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then add this to the butter mixture. Beat until combined. This makes a smaller amount of cookie dough than I expected. The recipe said it would make 1 1/2 dozen 1/8-inch thick cookies or 3 dozen paper-thin. Once the dough is mixed, put in refrigerator for 4 hours. I left mine in the fridge for almost 24 hours.

Instructions say to roll out and cut in 3 inch rounds. As I was preparing to do this, I found the the dough was just as easy to shape into a log. I figured this would be just as good, so that is what I did. I carefully sliced the dough and put it on parchment paper and baked these in 375 degree F oven for 8 minutes. I was not sure if that was enough time, they looked soft, so I left them in the oven for one more minute. I slid them off the parchment onto the cooling rack. As they cooled they became crisp.

Yummy with a cup of hot cocoa!

Cook’s Cookies: Gingered Sugar

I have forsaken Sister’s tried and true sugar cookie recipe for the magazine’s. Cook’s Illustrated Holiday 2007 boasts The Best Sugar Cookies. Well, I thought I would see about that. They had a gingered option and because I love all things ginger, I made that version. I always have fresh ginger root in my freezer.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (someday I am going to make everything with whole wheat pastry flour but not today)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (I always use unsalted butter; I suppose if you use salted butter you could leave out the salt, but I am not certain of that.)
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup for rolling dough
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

And for the gingered version:

  • in food processor, process 1 teaspoon (I used 1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and minced) with the 1/2 cup sugar for rolling the dough for about 10-20 seconds. place this in a shallow bowl
  • add 2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger to the sugar along with the eggs and vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk dry ingredients together in medium bowl, set aside. In bowl of electric mixer, beat butter, 1 cup sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy about 3 minutes. Add egg, vanilla, and crystallized ginger and beet about 30 seconds until combined. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined; scrape down sides of bowl as needed.

Form dough into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls and roll in the ginger sugar. The sugar was moist probably because my ginger was from the freezer. This actually helped it stick to the dough nicely. Place 2 inches apart on lined baking pans. Now butter a bottom of a drinking glass and dip in the gingered sugar and flatten each cookie to 3/4 inch thick.

Bake 15 minutes. Edges will be lightly browned. These spread some in the baking. My second pan kind of spread together but not too much. That doesn’t affect the taste.

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These have a nice sugary crunch on the outside and are slightly chewy on the inside. The ginger is very subtle. I like them and so does Hubby. And we tend to think of sugar cookies as rather bland, but not these.

Ordinary cooking!

If you are like me, you, and mostly it is the woman—not to negate the men who do so, just go about fixing dinner without thought to innovation and creativity. Those of us who rarely use processed or prepared foods or take out fast-food, there is a general routine and rotation from pantry and freezer staples. What are yours?

In my kitchen pantry I usually have canned tomatoes, several types of canned beans, sometimes canned fruit, pasta of a variety of shapes, rice and grains, vinegar, oils, etc. in the freezer there is a variety of meats (fish filet, chicken breasts and thighs, small pork roast, the occasional rack of ribs, and burger patties) along with the various packages of frozen vegetables. Sometimes there are pie crusts or pie dough, frozen pirogi or ravioli, and the occasional pizza. We like the cheap but tasty pizzas available at the Aldi discount grocery store. Actually in my freezer I still have some venison sausage from the deer my son-in-law shot earlier this year. Breakfast strata anyone?

I don’t know how some of you are so creative all the time. I get tired, tired, tired! So I just make things up to cook, or to liven up the ordinary food. So browsing on Facebook I saw one of those videos on quickly preparing ginger chicken. I rarely pay attention to all the ingredients or the amounts or the directions.

So I try it on fish. Why not?

There is garlic (yes, I bought the jarred kind. My fresh garlic kind of got old and decrepit on me), fresh ginger root (this keeps in the freezer for millennia), soy sauce, and mixed vegetables on the side. I minced a nub of ginger root, added a pinch of garlic, and dumped that in the ramekin with some soy sauce. Trust me, I used those “exact” amounts! 🙂 I baked the four fish filet and brushed on the juice toward the end of the baking time. It smelled very good. I may have added a squeeze of honey as well.

So then I tried it on chicken…two chicken breasts, one onion, peas and carrots, and quick cooking mixed grains (from Aldi). This worked out well too.

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Directions: dice chicken and cook through in a bit of olive oil. Mince the ginger root, bit of garlic, add soy sauce, a bit of honey, and add to the skillet with the chicken. The amounts depend on your taste. Separately I saute the onion in a bit of olive oil for a few minutes, then add the peas and carrots. Remove to a bowl. Cook the grains as per the package. I had planned to have a “rice pilaf” type dish as a side, but at the last minute dumped the almost cooked grains and the peas and carrots into the big skillet with the chicken. This I covered and let simmer a bit more until Hubby came home and dinner was served.

 

Ginger Cake

We are expecting a blizzard. I’ve already been given a snow day from work. Hubby will work from home so he’ll be no fun at all!

My kitchen is a mess; I wish I had a housekeeper every other week to do the baths, the kitchen, and the floors. Would be nice; not going to happen! Meanwhile it is good that we are not allergic to dust or pet hair. We will do a super cleaning when the grand-kids are coming down.

Dog doesn’t like his standard dog food anymore. He used to like it just fine. We buy his dog food at the pet store. It is for the mature dog. We made the mistake once of buying a specialty human grade dog food. Now he’s trying to hold out for the good stuff!

So after taking our cable box back to the cable store and coming home with a new one (but less monthly cost!) we spent three hours setting this thing up. And we now only have 45 channels but we don’t miss many of the previous 300+ channels we had. So we found a few things to watch and are being careful not to binge watch too much because when all the episodes are gone, they’re gone. Then what will we watch?

But that is not what this essay is about.

There was plenty of time during the rest of the weekend to putter around the kitchen but I did not. It is cold out there, my kitchen, and I do have heat in my house. I heated water for tea, took a beautiful teacup down from the shelf above the sink, and poured in the water. Hubby heard the fine porcelain crack from across the room and then the water came pouring out. Oh no! So learning my lesson, today I have warmed the teacup before making the tea. And a nice cup of hot tea with lemon goes very nicely with ginger cake.

By the time dinner time on Sunday rolled around and Hubby was fixing twice baked potatoes and in charge of cooking the salmon, I needed something to do. I flipped through one of my UK published baking books and found this ginger cake that I had been wanting to bake. It is entitled Preserved Ginger Cake but I did not have a jar of preserved ginger. I have crystallized ginger and since that is for the garnish I figured it would be just fine.

This is baked in an 8 inch round pan, not a 7-inch square pan that the recipe called for. Be sure not to use a 9 inch pan or it will be as flat as a pancake. Prepare the pan with parchment paper and cooking spray. Preheat oven to 325 F.

  • 4 ounces butter
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour; make this by using 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder per 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk; I used half-and-half.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in the mixer bowl. Soften the butter for 30 seconds in the microwave. Mix butter with the dry ingredients. Put the eggs, corn syrup, and milk in a separate bowl and whisk together. Mix everything together until smooth. Spread in the prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes. Let cool a little and then turn out onto plate.

For the topping I used 1/4 cup powdered sugar and a tablespoon of lemon juice to make a small amount of glaze. I let the cake cool some but not completely. I poured on the glaze and then snipped a piece of crystallized ginger around the top. Warm ginger cake was a nice treat.

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Not as pretty as the picture in the book.