Monday, February 28, 2011

Feeding the Fairies

We went camping this weekend at one of our favorite spots... we don't just love it because of the swimming... although the sparkling spring water is delightful... but we love to hunt for fairies. Here is my oldest with net in hand waiting near a sprinkling of fairy dust to catch one coming out of a hole in a rock.


They like to eat grapes...or at least that is what the note said...


There is often a note exchange between the magical folk and the kids. My daughter who is usually the scientific type... believes in these magical creatures with all of her heart. She wanted to catch one... but she was just happy that they liked the food she left for them... She might have actually caught a glimpse of one fleeing the scene...

Translation for those of you not fluent in Kinderwrite...Can you have a party with me?

Once we even found a pair of fairy shoes in a hollow tree.





This little lizard was so friendly that my daughter thinks it might have been a fairy in disguise...


Apparently they live in holes in rocks... so be on the lookout next time your out in nature.

Jenn




Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

I'm not really sure where the first chocolate covered strawberry came from... there is much debate on the subject... all I know is that the flavors while excellent on their own somehow gain something in their combination. The first time I tasted this miraculous coupling wasn't until I was in college. I broke my leg right before final exams... and it seemed that everyone was giving me these tasty treats as get well gifts. I think I received 6 dozen in total... and I ended up using them to bribe the hospital nurses to let me sleep a few extra moments between check ups. I still managed to consume a large number of these delicacies myself... and despite the bad memories I've been hooked ever since.
I bought a product called Dolci Frutta on Valentine's day to make chocolate covered strawberries as a special hands on dessert for the girls. It was in the produce section next to the strawberries and it seemed like a fool proof way to make a special treat. The kids were pretty excited about it... but due to a rather hectic schedule we didn't get around to it until the weekend after the holiday. It was certainly fun and the chocolate tasted wonderful... but I think next time I'm going to try a different product. I couldn't find a way to get the chocolate to the perfect dipping consistency... and when I finally gave in it was really difficult to coat the strawberries. It wasn't as kid friendly an activity as I had planned (the chocolate was super hot... and then when it cooled down it was too thick)... But all in all it was a success.


Does anyone have any recipes for a good chocolate fondue??? or have experience with a product that might produce a more kid friendly result? As you can tell by the photo nobody was disappointed... but I'd like to do it again in the future.
Cheers,
Jenn

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rasam

Recently I made up a batch Rasam. Rasam is a soup that is popular in Southern India. It is usually a brothy soup that is made with lentils... but there are other varieties as well. Rasam translates to mean juice or soup... so technically I guess any soup would be a Rasam... but the ones I've tried are usually a tangy spicy lentil broth. They have a tangy flavor that is often a result of the use of tamarind... but since I didn't have any tamarind on hand I used lemon juice (a common substitution). The texture of a Rasam ranges from slightly chunky to a thin and broth like consistency... Mine fell somewhere in between.

Like dals all over India, making this soup requires that you cook the lentils until they are the desired texture and then add a mixture sauteed in ghee (clarified butter) that usually consists of onions, garlic, chilies and whole spices like cumin and mustard seeds. Other possibilities are curry leaves and asafoetida (a really smelly powder that tastes somewhat like onions and garlic)

Rasam in it's many variations is a year round favorite in Southern India... and it is also used as a folk remedy for a variety of cold and flu like symptoms. I can speak from experience... this nice spicy broth really clears your head and make you feel better when your feeling under the weather.

Here is what I did to make mine....

First I gathered together my ingredients:

1/2 C. pink lentils (washed several times and then soaked in 1 cup of water for 30 minutes)

water

1/4 t. turmeric

1/2 t. salt

a good size chunk of fresh ginger (grated)

1-3 green chilies

1 medium tomato

2 whole dried red chili peppers

1/2 t. black mustard seeds

1/2 t. cumin seeds

1/2 t. black pepper

1 small onion

a few cloves of garlic

2 T. lemon juice

1/2 C. chopped cilantro


Transfer lentils with soaking water into a pan and add turmeric. salt and 2 more cups of water. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes. The dal should be very soft at this point. I then used a hand held mixer to make the mixture as smooth as possible. in the meantime blend the tomatoes, ginger and chilies for about 30 seconds in a blender. Add to the dal to make approximately 4 cups of soup. Simmer for another 5 minutes or so.


Heat oil or ghee and cook the mustard and cumin seeds until they begin to pop. Add the onions, garlic and dried chilies. Cook until the onions are golden and soft.


Add it all to the pot along with the lemon juice and cilantro. Bring it all back up to a boil and then it is ready to serve.

Enjoy!
Jenn







Friday, February 18, 2011

Feed a cold... Starve a fever...

This is a photo of me Christmas morning with a fever of 102 (lovely picture I know... does that thermometer make my chins look big?)... Now 2 months later once again I'm feeling a little blue... but it is not the flu this time... it is a cold. No fever... just that crappy stuffy nose-chapped lips-sore throat kind of a thing... So last night I started thinking... Is it... Feed a fever starve a cold? or feed a cold and starve a fever? I couldn't remember so I looked it up on my handy dandy computer and low and behold.... I am suppose to feed a cold... Thank God! I was really in need of some chicken noodle soup! And apparently this old folk remedy isn't totally crap. While technically you are not suppose to starve a fever... you naturally experiences a loss of appetite during fevers that is part of your body's natural defense mechanisms... and as for feeding a cold... everybody knows that a good dose of chicken soup will have you feeling better in no time(but chicken soup lore is a post for another day). Check out Dukehealth.org for more about this common wives tale.

Since feeding is what this blog is all about I'll share with you just exactly how I fed my cold. I made a pot of good old fashioned chicken noodle soup and I baked a batch of beer bread. The soup had chicken in it of course... but it could easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth and substituting extra chickpeas for the chicken.

Chicken Soup

Cook 3 breasts of chicken in 4 C. of broth (veggie or chicken) and 2 C. water. While that is cooking you can saute 3 ribs of celery (chopped), 2 carrots (sliced), one small onion (diced) and 6 garlic cloves (mined)... pause for one moment to reflect on the many ways I just indicated that you should cut up your vegetables and then move on to the next step.

Once the chicken is fully cooked remove it from from the broth and cut it into small bits... return it to the broth along with the sauteed vegetables. Add a can of drained chickpeas (optional) and some fresh herbs ( I used rosemary since it is one of the only herbs that survived the recent freeze). Add about 8 oz of noodles in the last 15 minutes of cooking time... and salt and pepper to taste... mmmm Soup is good food!


While soup was cooking I made up a batch of beer bread rolls...
Beer Bread

Sift together 3 cups of flour, 3 t. baking powder, 1 1/2 t. salt, and 3 T. sugar...then slowly add the beer. I also added some minced rosemary and a couple of cloves of minced garlic to the mix.



After that you just plop globs of dough into a greased muffin tin... bake at 350 for about 40-45 minutes and wah-la.... beer bread. My family wasn't too fond of the bread. It had a bitter taste to it... I could have either been the type of beer I used or possibly the rosemary.... I will experiment further and let you know what I come up with.


If you are unfortunate enough to have a cold right now I hope that you can at least enjoy feeding it.
Jenn

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mmmmm Sushi....


I went out for sushi last night with my husband to celebrate Valentine's Day (a day late I know). We had some wonderful yellow tail sashimi... we also had sea bass, tuna, mackerel, snapper and eel sushi, and spicy salmon and tuna rolls. I didn't bring my camera... it was a date night after all... but I did find a lovely picture of sushi on Wikipedia. I love going to the sushi bar... I especially love the sashimi. We sometimes get take out sushi at the grocery store (that is what we did for dinner on Valentine's Day-bonus 2 nights of sushi in a row) or eat sushi at a buffet... but it is never the same thing as actually going to the sushi bar.


Here is a list of Sushi Etiquette that I found on a site many years ago called sticky rice...I even won a t-shirt from them for a story I wrote about catching eel and making my own unagi... I don't know what happened to it (the web site that is... I still have the eel story and will share it some day when I get the word processor on this computer working)... Stickyrice.com no longer exists (at least not in the same form) as far as I can tell unless it is under another name. The credit for this list, however, goes to them...

Sushi Etiquette


1. Do not pass food directly from your Chopsticks to somebody else's chopsticks. The reason is a bit morbid, but this mimics a Japanese funeral ceremony.

2. Do not spear food with you chopsticks.

3. The proper way to dip your nigirizushi is fish side down. Dipping your sushi rice side down is not only bad manners, but it also makes the nigirizushi fall apart.

4. Tipping at the bar… In most sushi restaurants the wait staff and the chef tip share. If you wish to insure that the chef gets his share then while lying the tip on the bar let the chef know that the tip is for him. When tipping the wait staff let them know that you have already taken care of the chef. 15% for the chef and 10% for the wait staff is customary. (I think most restaurants use tip share, however... so I wouldn't worry too much about it... I ususally just leave 20% and let them work it out)

5. Do not rub chopsticks together if implies to the chef that the chopsticks are cheap.

6. Do not pull a dish towards yourself using your chopsticks. Use your hands for you dish-pulling needs.

7. If you take food from a shared plate use the reverse end of your chopsticks rather than the end that goes in your mouth.

8. Never bite into a piece of sushi and replace the uneaten portion on your plate. Once you pick a piece of sushi up eat all of it.

9. It is impolite to leave food on your plate… especially rice.

10. Sushi is meant to be eaten with your hands (except for sashimi)… it is not impolite to use your chopsticks, but it is unnecessary (If you are inexperienced with chopsticks it is impolite to drop you sushi and splash soy sauce on your companion.).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Say "I love you" this Valenetine's Day with Chicken Piccata

For my mother-in law's birthday yesterday I made chicken picatta with angle hair pasta and a mixed greens salad. I think that this would make a wonder Valentine's Day dinner... so I'm posting it today.

Chicken Piccata

6 chicken breast halves
1 t. olive oil
8 green onions
2 cloves garlic
1/2 C. flour
2-3 T. olive oil
2 T. broth (chicken or veggie)
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. capers
2 T. white wine (optional)
black pepper
lemons and parsley to garnish

Rinse and dry chicken and flatten between sheets of plastic wrap.

Heat skillet with oil. Saute onions and garlic. Remove from pan and reserve. Coat chicken with flour. Shake off excess and brown chicken. Add the onions and garlic along with the broth, juice, capers and wine. Saute over high heat for two minutes. Sprinkle with pepper and garnish with lemons and parsley.

I forgot to take a photo of my creations... so I got this picture from Wikipedia

I hope everyone has a great Valentine's Day... Tonight I'm making shrimp cocktail. I'm picking up a small tray of sushi and we are going to have eggrolls and edamame on the side. Check out my Worth a Knit blog to see the homemade valentine's and toys I made for my kids.






Happy Valentine's Day,


Jenn

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Vietnamese Coffee

While my husband and I did our Christmas shopping this year we dropped the kids off at their grandparent's house and went out for a Pho brunch at an Austin Vietnamese restaurant. I love pho... the rich, warm broth with rice noodles and beef...with a big plate of lime wedges, sprouts, chiles, basil and cilantro to add in. All the wonderful flavors mix together and it is usually so economical. I also love the coffee that they serve in pho restaurants....so rich and sweet. I will make pho soon and post my results... but until then here is my recipe for Vietnamese coffee.
Vietnamese Coffee



2 T. sweetened condensed milk
6 oz. strong black coffee (most restaurants in my area use Cafe du Monde chicory coffee)

In restaurants and cafes, dark-roast coffee is brewed in an individual drip pot that sits on top of a glass (as shown here). The coffee slowly drips into the sweet milk. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes for the water to finish dripping through. You can buy this type of pot and the Cafe du Monde coffee at most Asian markets... but any type of brewing method and coffee that produces a strong rich cup will do. Place the milk in the bottom of an 8 oz glass. Carefull pour in the coffee (if your not brewing it directly in the glass). Stir and then pour over ice.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Catching Up in the New Year....

It has been one thing after another lately. We had our computer crash over Thanksgiving weekend and it hasn't really worked properly since... that is until now... I'm saying that with fingers crossed hoping that the stars are aligned in my favor.

We spent Christmas down with the flu. The only person who escaped the plague was my husband. He showered us with movies and gatoraide to keep us hydrated and entertained and somehow we made it through. Thankfully we were all recovered by the new year and we were able to spend the holiday with friends at their lake house. I learned how to clean fish (a new year's resolution already taken care of)... and made a nice Italian style fish soup with the fruits of my labor.




I never got around to making cookies for Christmas... instead we put together a gingerbread house over New Year's weekend. The kids really enjoyed the project.




February is already almost half way over... and this is my first blog entry for the new year... but I have a lot of ideas saved up and I am cooking up new stuff everyday. I hope all is well with everyone.

Jenn

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...