A new blog!

Because you can’t have too many blogs, and tracking things by tags
never seems intuitive to me, a new blog!

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Potato and Nasturtium Soup with Lemon-scented herb bread

I got this recipe from our CSA, along with the potatoes and the
nasturtium. Since I had 16 small potatoes instead of 2 large/medium, I
doubled their recipe, and what I made is below.  I also made a variant
of the Dwarven Warbread this time with the lemon-scented herbs that we
identified as “probably lemon thyme” thrown in during kneading.   It’s
very fragrant, and gives the bread a subtle but noticeable lemon
flavor.

4 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 medium sweet onion, roughly chopped
16 small brown potatoes, peeled and chopped
25-30 nasturtium leaves, stems removed
3.5 c water
3 cups milk
1-2 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Melt the butter in a stock pot. Add the onion and cook until soft but
not browned, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes and nasturtium
leaves and continue cooking until the leaves are wilted, about 5
minutes. Add the chicken broth and milk to the stock pot. Add the bay
leaf, salt and pepper, then bring to a boil. Cover and simmer gently
until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and discard. Puree the soup in a blender until
smooth. Serve garnished with fresh nasturtium blossoms.

The soup came out a bit too spicy—maybe 1 tbsp of pepper was too
much. But very good!

Stir Fried Chinese Greens with Unspecified Protein

I’m no longer following the recipe I found *at all*, so I am posting
what I actually am making for dinner.

Mix in a small bowl:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 teaspoons Soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
3 teaspoons dried minced garlic
3 teaspoons dried powdered ginger

Wash and chop 1 bunch (1#?) chinese greens into bite-sized pieces (~
1″ strips, .5″ stem pieces) Chop 2 onions into 1 cm half-rings. (yes,
I’m mixing units)

Melt 1 tbsp butter (or other oil—last time we used peanut, but the
leftovers ended up a little weird-tasting) in a large saucepan. Cook
2 cups rice, stirring constantly, until the kernels are slightly
toasted (~ 3-5 minutes) and then add 4 cups of water. (Don’t burn your
hand, it will spit a little) Bring back to a boil and cover. Cook 18
minutes or until the water is all gone, then turn off the heat, put a
folded towel over the pot and put the lid over that. Let sit 10
minutes.

Heat 1-2 tbsp of peanut or vegetable oil in a wok or large saut?? pan.
Cook the onion until slightly soft (5m), then add the greens.
Cook until the greens are wilted (2m) and add the sauce. Add the
cooked, drained protein of your choice (in this case, we’re trying out
non-chicken chicken strips. Last time it was defrosted frozen shrimp,
which I warmed/finished defrosting in the pan before doing the oil and
then put aside to add in this step)
Cook another few minutes, then serve over rice.

Bok Choi with Shrimp

We got Bok Choi in our CSA box this week. I had never cooked with it
before, so I went looking on the internet for help.
This recipe
got me started,
but (wait for it) I didn’t follow it perfectly. (I know, you’re all shocked.)

I did try soaking the shrimp, but they were frozen, and I didn’t have
rice vinegar. I used regular vinegar, but I think it all washed off
when I had to rinse the shrimp to defrost them further. I also cooked
them too long, because I was trying to keep everything warm waiting
for the rice. They were a little rubbery, which was totally
preventable.

The sauce was delicious: I only had dark soy sauce and used brown
sugar, I used powdered ginger and added some dried minced garlic.
I did not fry the spices first, since they were dried, but added them
to the bok choi right before adding the sauce.

The apparent hit of the meal, though, was the rice. I just bought
Kokuho Rose rice in a *huge* Costco bag, despite having never tried it
before.
I fried the grains in a tablespoon of peanut oil for a few minutes,
just until they were toasted a bit, and (as usual) toasting the grains
makes a huge difference.
(I think we got that from Bittman, but now I do that with ~ any grain.
It just makes the flavor so much better.) It was completely cooked at
17m, and then I let it steam into a towel for ten more. I pulled out a
serving for Emi before the steaming, and it was fine, but it was way
better afterward—nicely sticky.
Brian says we don’t need to order from 3 Fortunes anymore 🙂

Date Bars, September 1945

Date Bars, 1945

The war is over, and Katish (a Russian cook for a California family) has dates in her backyard. This recipe feels like it’s from the 1950s, not the 1940s,  I think because it uses crumbled graham crackers instead of flour. Of course, I managed to get out of the grocery store yesterday without graham crackers, so I was left with three choices:

  • (1) Go back to the store. Totally out of keeping with the “use what you have” feel of the recipe.
  • (2) Use Annie’s Bunny Grahams. They *are* graham crackers, but they are also expensive and Emi wanted to eat them instead.
  • (3) Use some of the Giant Costco Box of Organic Animal Crackers and estimate how many of those is 14 graham crackers.

 

I went with #3, and smashed Pooh and Friends into bits for a little while before I realized that I could use the food processor. That made things go much faster. I ground too much, of course, since I was estimating animal crackers by weight—until I realized that the book editors had helpfully done that experimenting and informed me in a footnote that I wanted 1.25c of crumbs.

Great! 160g instead of the 200g I had guessed (so it probably wouldn’t have been a disaster, either way). Then I put the dates in the food processor. I don’t have a date tree, since I live in New England, so I had to buy mine from Trader Joe’s. I realized 20s into chopping them that they are not *pitted*. Conveniently, it was pretty easy to find the pits in the date mush. Edit: I did miss a couple, and found them in the bars. Also, this method is not recommended for the long life of your food processor blade.

— Modern Adaptations —

This recipe is the most adaptable to dietary restrictions I’ve found in the book so far. It is dairy-free by default (the editors suggest buttering the pan, but I used my oil sprayer instead of messing around with melting butter. Katish just says “grease well”), and could*totally* be made gluten-free if you used gluten-free cookies. The walnuts could be replaced or possibly removed to make it nut-free—the only thing I can’t imagine replacing are the three eggs. I think you’d need a Miracle of Modern Chemistry to replace that binding effect.

— Results! —

These turned out *really* good. Like, “oh, I don’t have a date bar in my mouth, let me get a date bar” good. I’m going to be making them again. The only thing I would do differently (and that I did for half of them) is bake for an extra 10-15m. They were super-gooey and pale after 25 minutes, and after 15 more were nicely rich and browned. However, using the toaster oven to try to brown them before eating or warm them back up just results in burned powdered sugar. (They get tossed in powdered sugar while still warm, after cutting) I will be making these again!

A goodbye letter to Store-brand Organic Tortillas

Dear Store-brand Organic Tortillas,

Our relationship always starts so fresh and lovely. I see you in the
refrigerated case,
and dream of quesadillas, breakfast burritos, or simply warming and
rolling you up with melted butter and honey inside.
I take you home, and lovingly tuck you between the vegetables and
outlandish quantities of milk in my icebox.
At first, everything is lovely—one of you becomes a sandwich,
another feeds the baby. But then days pass,
and I bake fresh bread, and you reliquated to somewhere behind the pickles.

Then, perhaps as little as two weeks after that fateful first day, I
push aside all the impostors and see you again.
Thrilled, I start grating cheese and preparing for a delicious
Americanized Mexican lunch.
But when I open your thin plastic packaging, I am greeted by little
green invaders spotting all over between your tasty brown griddle
spots.
The package reclosed, the garbage opened, you settle in among the
apple cores and organic local corn husks,
and I wonder what I will do with all this cheese…

I can not buy you any more. The heartbreak is too much. Goodbye,
Store-brand Organic Tortillas.