Friday, June 25, 2010

The Great Summer Pantry & Freezer Clearance: Day 3

Some recipes (like the two soups I just made) always seem to need a bit of tweaking here and there until they're just right. I expect that. After all, no two people's sense of taste (and food preferences) are the same, so no single recipe will bowl everybody over without some modification. Thus whenever I try out a new recipe, there is always that element of chance: what if I go to all the trouble to make this and I don't like it?* The good thing is that it probably won't be all that bad; it looked good enough on paper to want to try it in the first place, right? With a little adjustment of the seasonings, it'll at least be edible (even if you decide that it's not one you'd make again).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Great Summer Pantry & Freezer Clearance: Day 2

Lentil, Sausage & Rice Soup
I found the perfect soup to deplete my frozen back-stock of stock. There was still a lot of vegetable stock left, and then there was the last of the turkey stock from last Thanksgiving that I found shoved in the back of the freezer. Pooled together they would be just barely enough for this big soup. What I didn't count on was how thirsty the brown rice was. It just kept absorbing liquid and I had to grab a can of chicken stock from the pantry in order to placate the giant soup-sponge it had become. What the soup pot demands, the soup pot gets. But once it gets everything that it wants, it's happy.

That's what I was shooting for - a happy soup, a soup that's everything it should be: warm, filling, flavorful, and full of good things that are good for you but taste so good together that you don't have to pretend to like them. A good soup is always more than the sum of its parts.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Great Summer Pantry & Freezer Clearance: Day 1

White Bean and Pesto Soup
In my freezer you will find a big bag for collecting veggie scraps and trimmings in. When the bag is full, I make vegetable stock and then freeze that to use later. All in all, it's not a bad system. Unless I haven't made soup for awhile... and just finished cooking up another batch of stock. Clearly, I needed to make some soup. What I wanted was a soup that wasn't too heavy. It is summer after all, though most evenings are chilly. I also wanted a soup that didn't have a shopping list of ingredients. Did I mention that I have beans in the freezer too? Yep, two kinds.  Is it soup yet?  Almost...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mayo Cakes

Only one of my many cookbooks had a recipe for mayonnaise cake in it, and it wasn't chocolate. Odd really, since the 1950's and 60's are pretty well represented on my cookbook shelf. I just assumed that it was a 50's-era recipe since mayonnaise (and Jell-o, mini-marshmallows and cream-of-whatever soup) figured so prominently in recipes back then. The Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake must have originated even earlier. So until I can lay my hands on a Depression-era cookbook, I turn to the internet and of course find more Chocolate Mayonnaise Cakes than I could ever possibly wish for... not in a thousand lifetimes.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Whole Wheat Burger Buns

Next on the list of foods to eat with mayonnaise: Cheeseburgers. Admittedly burgers and sandwiches don't use up a lot of mayonnaise, but knowing that my jar of homemade mayo has a brief fridge-life of around 5 days, I'm wanting to get as much use out of it as possible.*

So today, as a vehicle for my homemade mayo, I made whole wheat burger buns. Something a teensy bit healthier than the last ones...

Monday, June 14, 2010

You Want Mayo On That?

Homemade Mayo
Well, we finally finished up the gargantuan tub of mayonnaise we had bought at Costco back in the Winter of '03 (just kidding about the date). We used the last of it a week and a half ago but I've been just the teensiest bit too chicken to make it from scratch (there's a pun in there somewhere). Procrastination only gets you so far though, and so without any further foot-dragging, today was declared.... THE DAY.

Feeling as though my first best hope lay in the direction of Julia Child, I cracked open her tome on French Cooking. Here is where I admit that I've had the two-volume set for almost six months now and have yet to do anything more than just read them. In my defense, they are wonderfully written and infused with the author's subtle wit, so I feel no real guilt. But they are not novels, nor are they kitchen decór. After all, one of the raisons d'etre for this blog is to get me cookin' my books, so to speak.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Patio Pizza

This is the summer that I make my own pizza dough and we try grilling pizza in the great outdoors. Or more specifically, in the back yard on our Weber.

In our earliest attempts at home-pizza baking we would begin with a trip to Trader Joe's for a bag of their fresh pizza dough (it was .99 then, such a deal), and with it we would produce something that could best be described as "pizza-esque". Good as it was, we would have to take a summer break since we didn't want to heat up the already hot house. Now we live much too close to a really great "take & bake" pizza place to even tempt us into making our own from scratch. O.k. I'm still tempted, but now... it's all about cooking it fast over the fire.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Triple Berry Bars


The weather and the calendar are almost in sync. It stopped raining and the sun sort of came out for most of the weekend. Just in time for a big backyard BBQ yesterday. This dessert is the ideal thing to bring to any kind of potluck: it's easy to make, easy to transport, feeds a crowd, and... oh yeah, it's yummy. I do so love an unfussy scrumptious dessert...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Banana Bread (Island Style)

Coconut Pineapple Vegan Banana Bread
This is what happens to banana bread when it dreams of lolling about on a tropic isle. The slightly less-than-exotic reality is that it's June and today it is raining. Looks like I'll just have to toast up a thick slice of this fantastic banana bread, make a steaming mug of coconut chai to go with it... and day-dream of palm trees swaying in balmy breezes and warm sand between my toes. Sigh.*

Coconut Pineapple Vegan Banana Bread from Joy The Baker

My Notes: Argh! I was going to put walnuts in this and forgot. I'm twice as bummed because I doubled the recipe and now I have 2 loaves of walnut-less banana bread. Come to think of it, Macadamia nuts would be even better than walnuts in this (if only I had some!). Even without the nuts, this is a stellar recipe - extremely tasty. If you don't like coconut (we'll talk later), throw in some chopped up dried fruit instead and you'll be all set. I used TJ's baking spray (still trying to use it up), "freezer bananas", and metal loaf pans. Baked for about 55 minutes before the knife-test came out clean.

*Looks like I'd better put on a Mermen CD while I'm at it 'cuz nobody does psychedelic-moody-surf-trance like they do. And trust me on this: if you're in the mood to listen to that, you'll know it. Somehow... you just know.