52Weeks · Baking · Random Recipes

The Queen

Apple Scones

Confession: I have a huge fan of British history.  In fact I can name all the Queens/Kings of England from King Henry I to present day, but could probably name only 30 or so presidents and only the first dozen or so in order.  With that said I didn’t realize my lack of British cooking material until this past Random Recipe challenge, hosted by Dom of Belleau’s Kitchen.   This time instead of picking a random book and then a random recipe, the books were to be narrowed down to those containing Tea Time recipes as part of a partnership with the Tea Time Treats link-up hosted by Karen and Kate.    I have a single Nigella Lawson book, but even that contains only a handful of Tea Time recipes.  So I decided to switch things up a little bit by allowing DV fans on facebook to decide what item I would be cooking.  In this case scones won, and in order to keep the random factor I then pulled all my cookbooks featuring a scones recipes.  From there Joy of Cooking was selected and then the classic scone recipe.  I decided to add some fresh fruit instead of the optional dried fruit, and it was a smashing success.  These scones were buttery and oh so moist, so now I’m wondering why this was the first time I ever attempted to make scones.    Below is as adapted for making only 8 scones with the apples, for the original recipe which serves 12-14 please check out Joy of Cooking.

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I’m also submitting this for /52weeks baking challenge, since this is probably one of the simplest things in the world to bake.  From prep to eating maybe 30 minutes elapsed, which is probably why they are such a popular breakfast item.

In other news, someone needs to write an American Historical Fiction series on par with Cynthia Harrod-Eagle’s Morland Series.

52Weeks · Home Cooking · Italian

We’re Gonna

(My attempt at) Homemade Pasta

I’m a horrible Italian.  Why?  I can’t make homemade pasta without cursing, yelling, and occasionally throwing something.  I can do pie crusts and when the moon is properly aligned with Venus I can roll pizza dough, but there is just something about pasta dough that I can’t quite conquer.  I’ve attempted pasta a dozen or so times and have had something edible at the end of it maybe three of those times.  On all those other occasions I had to call in Chinese or Thai in order to insure there would be dinner.  I have tried a variety of recipes, from Pioneer Woman to Joy of Cooking to Martha to Fabio and the end result is always the same: super sticky dough that requires so much flour that they turn in to a gluten mess once cooked.  However last week I tried again, thanks to the /52weeks homemade pasta challenge.  I thought about skipping it and just moving on to the baking challenge, but I had promised myself that I would give every week my best try and so I did.

The bad things:

  • few survivors – had to make some dry pasta to supplement
  • very chewy
  • I can’t make pasta

The good things:

  • great ricotta filling made with the last of the fresh basil and assembled by my amazing husband
  • delicious onion sauce
  • awesome arm workout trying to roll out the dough

I used the standard 1 cup to 2 eggs ratio, and doubled it with the idea that there would be enough for two dinners and two lunches.   For the filling I had two cups of ricotta cheese, 8 basil leaves, and a touch of pepper.  Once I finally figure out this pasta thing I promise I’ll post a real recipe…just not sure when that will be!I’m thinking that if I had a stand-mixer I could get the pasta attachment and then maybe (maybe) I would finally be able to make homemade pasta on a semi-regular basis.  Until then it will be good old store bought pasta for this family!

52Weeks · Asian · Quick Weeknight Recipes · Vegan

My First

Japanese Soba Noodles with Ginger Soy Sauce

When I first saw the /52weeks of cooking challenge for last week was Japanese, I was all sorts of excited.  While I have had Japanese food a number of times, outside of some girls nights doing “sushi” I have no experience cooking the cuisine.  So off to the cookbooks I went to get some ideas!  Unfortunately my cookbooks turned out to be very light on Japanese recipes, which is probably why I haven’t cooked it.   I might have over a dozen curry recipes but I was only able to find locate one Japanese recipe that didn’t have a notation about being fusion or “in the style of”.  So I start Googling Japanese restaurants, hoping that I would find inspiration in menu items, something that I have done before with some success.  After seeing a few dozen recipes calling for Soba Noodles in some type of sauce I decided to give them a whirl.  I also decided to go out of my comfort zone and work with ginger, an ingredient that has caused problems for me in the past.  For the vegetables I decided to keep it simple and green, since I wanted the noodles and the ginger to be the start of the show.   I grabbed bok choy, which I had never cooked with before, and kale, and old friend, and headed off to heat up my wok.

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I’m know this recipe is more “in the style of” Japanese cooking, seeing as how bok choy didn’t make it to Japan until the early 20th century, but it has certainly inspired me to find some vegetarian Japanese cookbooks.  With that said, if anyone has a cookbook, vegetarian or not, that they would recommend please leave a comment!  I look forward to many more Japanese cooking adventures in my near future.

Breakfast · Vegan

Only Light

Tofu Scramble

I’ve mentioned before how I’m not a breakfast person, I’m more the grab a(n iced skim caramel) latte and go kind of person.  However sometimes breakfast is needed, such as when you are trying to cram a million things in to one day and need the energy to get thru as much time as possible before stopping to eat.  On days like that I go for things that are full of protein and low in carbs, and for an added bonus items that are low in cholesterol.  It wasn’t too long ago that I turned my nose up when seeing tofu scrambles listed in the brunch section of menus, and it took til this past April for me to try my first tofu scramble. In fact, I didn’t even order it but rather tried a bite from my best friend’s plate.  I was immediatly impressed by how egg-like the texture was and how I could easily have been told that it was egg and not thought anything of it.  This past weekend I decided to give it a try, figuring that if it turned out horrible I had oatmeal as a backup.  I knew I was successful when Joe asked how I managed to make an egg dish when we were out of eggs. Victory!

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Nothing like a nice, simple, and filling breakfast to get you going in the morning!  I ate mine as written while Joe added a fair amount of Old Bay to his but either way is perfectly acceptable.   Siracha sauce would also go well with this scramble for those looking to add a kick to their meal.

Mexican · Quick Weeknight Recipes

Truth May Vary

Tamale Pie

So far September has been the lost month, filled to the brim with so many activities that I’ve lost total track of time.  Everything this month seems to be coming in pairs: two birthdays, two weddings, and two big decisions to make.  Needless to say I’m looking forward to October when this will all be behind me and I can start enjoying fall.  I am already plotting out my soup recipes and have so many different combinations that I’m looking forward to testing out.  I see squash, black beans, tomatoes, and spuds of all varieties in my future and I’m looking forward to every last one of them.

This recipe is one of my go-to-recipes once the temperature starts to drop.  While it can also be prepared in a slow cooker, there is something about using a cast iron skillet that adds a little something.  I haven’t been cooking with cast iron very often, but luckily my cast iron skillet came with a Cast Iron Cooking for Dummies.  I might not be the best when it comes to cast iron cooking, but with this book I’ve been able to correct most of my issues.    This tamale pie recipe was one of the first I tested out in the skillet, after the standard cornbread recipes.  The first attempt didn’t work very well, but since then I’ve figured out the right ratio of cornbread to fillings so lot more eating lot less turning off the smoke alarm.

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Feel free to top with sour cream, guacamole, or more salsa!  Instead of salsa enchilada sauce can also be used, or a fajita marinade.  The trick is making sure there is enough liquid to keep the vegetables from sticking but not so much that it keeps the cornbread from crisping up.  With my skillet the golden amount is just below the top of the vegetable/bean mixture, but I’m sure different skillets will have different results.

52Weeks · Asian · Vegan

(To)Fu Fighting

Marinated Tofu with Rice Noodles

This is a slightly (two weeks) late entry for 52weeks, however it was cooked in time so hopefully it will still count 🙂  When I saw the challenge was for marinating I drew a blank at first, since most vegetables aren’t prime candidates for marinating.  While some, like carrots, do alright others tend to fall apart and become a messy yet tasty disaster.  Since I still have a fair amount of cherry tomatoes and peppers left, I decided that I needed to marinate either tofu or eggplant and that it was going to have a slight Asian influence.

When Joe and I were in Austria one of our meals had included marinated tofu, the fact that it turned out to be a citrus marinade did not take away from how delicious it was.  Knowing that it could be done gave me the confidence needed to try it myself, after recruiting one of my sisters to find tofu since my local stores were out of it.  Armed with the extra firm tofu I started to plot out how I could get the tofu to retain the flavor of the marinade without falling apart the moment it hit the wok.  I knew that I would need to drain and press the tofu before starting to get out all the water and from there divided the tofu in half to try two methods for the actual marinating step.   I’m only going to post the instructions for method 2, since that method worked FAR better than the other.

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I have a feeling there are other methods out there for marinating tofu, but I have to say this worked rather well.  The tofu had a strong taste to it while remaining as firm as possible for tofu.   I’m looking forward to trying out some pre-made marinades and finding out how well those work as well!

Home Cooking

Remember

 Note: I wrote this post last year but at the time wasn’t comfortable posting it, since I’m not the best writer out there.   However after reading the call for 9/11 stories on BlogHer this morning I have decided to public post this entry.   This is the post as written last year, on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.  

10 years I had just turned 17.

10 years ago I was looking forward to being to seeing “O” at the theater.

10 years ago I was counting down the months, weeks, days until I could leave for college.

10 years ago I saw images on the TV that still haunt me, and probably will the rest of my life.

On that Tuesday morning I was focused on taking a placement test in my AP Statistics class, and since math had always been my weakest subject I was more than a little distracted.  The period before the test was Chargers Mediation, ChaMP, a class that had been established after Columbine as a way to improve communications between teachers and students.  I’m not sure who I spoke to during that period, I just remember reviewing my statistics study guide and then sprinting upstairs so that I could ask the teacher, Mr. King, a few questions.  I reached the door at the same time as my friend John, and as soon as we entered the room we knew something was wrong.  Mr King was frozen right inside the class, right arm raised with the TV remote and left arm clasping his chest.  My first thought was heart attack before seeing the look on his face was one of horror and not pain.  I heard John sharply breath in and then I turned and saw the TV, just as the second plane made impact.  From there every minute felt like hours, filled with classmates drifting in finding seats and trying to come to grips with what we were watching.  Too soon, but yet not soon enough, Mr King turned the TV off and passed out the test.

A few moments into the test this strange guttural sound came from the hallway, the TV was turned back on and tears started flowing as the Pentagon flashed across the screen.   A number of students in my class had parents who worked in the Pentagon, and nearly everyone in the class had at least one parent who worked in DC myself included.  The TV was muted, the test continued, the silence broken only by sounds of grief.  One student was pulled from the class moments later, called in as a member of the Volunteer EMS.  Soon the class ended and we all poured in to the hallways, banned cell phones appearing from every pocket and backpack.  Stories starting coming out from students who had been able to watch all of the broadcasts and I’ll never forget the look on John’s face when we heard that the plane that hit the Pentagon was a flight from Dulles to California, a flight that his father was possibly on.  I’ll also never forget the look on his face when it turned out his dad was still at Dulles Airport, still waiting for his scheduled flight to CA.

As the day continued the school was put on lock-down while I went on a mission to find my sister and get home.  Phone lines were jammed and I had no idea where my dad was, and knew that if I got home everything would be alright.  I attempted to go to my next class but spent 10minutes in there before heading towards my guidance counselor’s office in an attempt to come to terms with what I had seen.   Seeing teachers crying in the hallways brought a whole new dimension to the situation that was unfolding.

Soon after leaving my guidance counselor’s office I found my sister, grabbed her arms and headed towards the doors.  I remember security yelling at me to stop, I remember yelling something back (Sorry Mr. Gallagher), and I remember the sun hitting my face as I left.  We got home and upon seeing my dad’s car in the driveway I released all the emotion I had held inside and started sobbing.  I eventually got inside and he was there with a phone in his hand, trying to find out about his friends worked at the Pentagon while explaining to us that his car didn’t start that morning.

It has been 10 years, I have long since graduated high school and college and have lost contact with many of the people who are a part of my 9/11 story.  I can still name most of the people in that class, and when I close my eyes I can picture many of them as they were that day.  I can also picture the image that caused my teacher to turn off the TV, the image of two women holding hands while falling through space and time.

10 years ago I was 17 and the world was a much safer place.  Now I am 27, I have seen my friends and loved ones leave for war and have been blessed in being able to welcome all of them back home.  I have not allowed the events of 9-11 to change my outlook on life or my passion for traveling.

For more blog posts on Remembering Sept 11th, be sure to check out BlogHer.