Sunday, February 18, 2018

Recipe Reduction #177

New York Bagels
from The Happy Herbivore

I made a bagel. Two bagels. Two charming puffy brown bagels. With whole-wheat flour. They'd have been lighter and fluffier with white flour, but it wasn't a bad tradeoff for the halo effect.

It was round when I took it out of the oven, but I was in such a hurry to try it that I took a chunk out before taking this picture. Sorry; the other bagel wasn't as photogenic.

Better than Einstein Bro's? Not really. But at least I know where it's been.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Recipe Reduction 179-178

Italian Breaded Pork Chops

If anything makes me admit there's such a thing as a weeknight recipe, this would be it. Thirty to forty minutes, max, with nothing prepared in advance. My pork chops were thin so I could cut the baking time short.

Tasted okay despite the mistakes I made. I won't go into details, but let me just mention few choice words like "burned", "over-browned", "cheap", and "quality control" (lack of). What do you expect for a Tuesday night?

Hoosier Pie

Didn't the pecan pie teach me a lesson?  If a custard pie has already been in the oven for ten minutes longer than the longest time specified in the recipe, it's done. DONE. Don't bother checking whether the "sides are set but the center is slightly jiggly." Just. Stop. Right. There.

The recipe said 35-45 minutes. At 65 minutes, the top was set but the underneath was as jiggly as jello. When I finally gave up, at about 70 minutes, and pulled it out, still the same.  But---

On the counter, ten minutes later, hard as a rock.

Okay, that's a slight exaggeration. The center was still liquid; the rest was hard as a rock.  A tasty rock; but nothing worth breaking a tooth over.

At least it fulfilled my Valentine's Day commitments. Husband has a birthday coming up--what dessert shall I destroy for it?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Recipe Reduction Regimen 183..180

Only four recipes last weekend; I'd hoped for six. But I might sneak one in during the week.  I'm trying to get ahead now because when gardening weather hits, I'm gone. I might have to take a vacation day just for the purpose of catching up.

Sweet Potato Polenta

 from Yup it's Vegan

One of the books on food that I read last year, probably The Third Plate, exults over the flavor of polenta made with a heirloom replica of corn. (Sorry, I don't remember if was an heirloom or a replica of one.) But from how he described it, he might as well have said, if you've never eaten this polenta you've never eaten polenta.

So I made polenta. And I ate it. But, I'm afraid, I've never eaten polenta.

I didn't use the cheap grocery story cornmeal, either--it was Red Mill's stone ground. But still no flavor. In the Little House Days, Ma would have heated up some lard in an iron skillet and fried this up into golden cakes, to be eaten with sorghum molasses or maple syrup.  What didn't I choose her recipe?

Hidden Cashew Ranch Dressing
FatFree Vegan Kitchen

It sort of tasted like ranch dressing. Is that good enough?

Ms. Susan Voisin, the author, pointed out that this was merely a starting point and offered several suggestions for changing it up. I'm thinking more cashews, less milk, more parsley, real chives (I had to use onion), dill, and maybe a half shallot. And for a final adornment, a scoop from a jar of Marie's.

Pecan Sandies Melt in Your Mouth
By Missy Wright

Just opening up the bowl to take this picture made me giddy. I had to back off from the aroma in order to stay detached enough to write this note. Maybe I should taste one to see if they're as good cold as they were warm....

(I didn't)  But just to attest that they were as good as I say, I'll point out that the one I broke in half so I could see if it was done in the middle (a bad habit of mine), had disappeared by the time I finished supper and went back for dessert. Should have wrote my name on it.

I still think the best cookie recipe I ever made was for toasted coconut shortbread. But as a vehicle for applying cellulite to your thighs, these were first rate.

Vegan Shepherd's Pie
from Fat-Free Vegan

I'm no expert but I don't think rosemary follows the rule of conversion between fresh and dried herbs. Ms. Voisin specifies 2 tsp fresh or 1 tsp dried; I used fresh and probably a little less than 2 teaspoons, but it was overpowering. I notice that says to use a one-to-one substitution.

Or possibly it's my rosemary. It's been in the pot too long and it's not getting enough humidity.  I'll plant it outside in the summer and see if I can start a cutting.

As to the dish, it's okay. Not much difference between eating mixed vegetables alongside mashed potatoes. It needed a big scoop of gravy.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

My Dorothy Sayers fiction reading is complete

The Documents in the Case
by Dorothy L Sayers and Robert Eustace

Very peculiar arrangement--I guess she was trying an experiment. And I guess it worked--it kept me reading, anyway. She used the "letters" approach in the first part of Busman's Honeymoon and it was an amusing way of showing what other people were thinking about the matter. But in this book, it's all letters and statements. Luckily, the statements are written informally, as if a person was talking or copying down his own experiences, rather than speaking to a policeman.  That would have been horrid.

Here are some notes I made while reading it:
Page 45 and no murder yet. But I can't stop reading--clearly, something is going down.
Over a third through, and still no murder. The mystery deepens.
Page 134 (out of 261) and nothing has happened!  Well, no, a lot has happened. But no murder. There has to be a murder, doesn't there? It's called The Documents in the Case--you wouldn't assemble documents for a case if there was no case, would you?
(Actually I know the answer from the blurb on the cover. I wish I hadn't read it; it tells too much.)

If you're a die-hard Sayers fan, you'll have already read this. If not, then my suggestion is this: start with The Nine Tailors, read all the others, then finish with this.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Recipe Reduction #184

Chickpeas Romesco
adapted by someone from Veganomicon
How's that for a weeknight dish? 45 minutes from start to simmer.  But--looking at how simple it was, I'd have estimated 20 minutes. Here's what it took:

Mince a little scallion and hot pepper and garlic--but you have to double that time because I forgot the garlic and had to do it separately. Open two cans. Roast and peel, tediously, a red bell pepper. Grind almonds into powder with an electric chopper. (Should have used the spice grinder, but I saved a step by using the chopper for the bell pepper, too.) Chop up some fresh rosemary because my dried rosemary had lost its stuff. Throw it all in a pan; turn on the heat. Simmer. Smile.

This Recipe Regimen may have been a bad idea. I just counted--326 days to go / 184 recipes to go. That's still four recipes per week.  And I just found six buried in a folder labeled "save for later".  Should have been labeled "save for when I go insane." Like this: Stuffed Pumpkin!!! Who did I think I was going to stuff it for, Vegetarian Santa Claus?

If I'd culled them out before I started, they'd be gone with no apology. Now, according to the rules of the game, I have to replace them.

Monday, February 12, 2018

We should all be (a little) more like the Danes

The Year of Living Danishly: 
My Twelve Months Unearthing the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country

I say! She doesn't skimp on her research.

Ms. Russell and her husband are transplanted to Denmark for a job opportunity with Lego, so she decides to continue her free-lance writing work while taking up the quest to discover why "Danish people are the happiest in the world." In her search, she discovers that they love to play, do hobbies, sing, and attend traditional festivals ranging from New Year's Eve fireworks (set off by themselves) to turning out the cows on fresh grass in spring. They pay high taxes but don't seem to mind because that guarantees them benefits ranging from free education to top-of-the-line medical care. Danes attempt to respect all jobs equally and ensure that all jobs, from trash pickup to pastry shop cashier, pay a decent living.

She does uncover a few oddities--there seems to be a lot of fighting, especially among kids, drug use, drinking and unprotected sex. But on the opposite pole, there's also a high degree of trust between peoples. She is shocked when she first notices people at a restaurant who left their baby's tram outside in the pleasant weather.  It's not uncommon, either!

I won't say I didn't doze off from time to time, but it's so awesomely refreshing to hear about a country where they don't think their fellow citizens are all lazy, self-interested freeloaders who want to rip off the system. Where they know that if you give people a decent education, valuable jobs, and security against accidents and illness, people will choose to work hard, support their community, and pay their taxes on time. When did Americans forget this?

Not wanting to steal her thunder, I won't repeat her final conclusions. But I do believe she ended up believing, in the end, that Danes really are the happiest people in the world. And she knows why.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Gardening Roots Are Cold

Nothing new in the garden. I was going to plant but it's too blame cold. Nothing is up, which is good. I'll start watering again tomorrow.

On the other hand, every robin in America is in my front yard today.  The seven below are just the few who paused to pose for me.