Spring… So Far

I’m making scalloped potatoes tonight. I looked at a few recipes to get the general idea so I wouldn’t have them too wet or dry. Didn’t really reach a consensus on that so I went for the DIY plan. I added a can of Green Pea soup, mainly because it was too sweet tasting to have as soup on it’s own. It might be great mixed with milk and potatoes and some preserved garlic. Salt and pepper too. I thought about cheese but I haven’t used it in awhile and, of course, it’s gotten greenish. Why does that modern cheese that looks and tastes more like plastic than cheese, get mouldy?

So the dinner (scalloped potatoes) are in the oven. Should be about an hour of cooking time. I will give them a few check points along the way. It will be a real massive mess to clean up if that milk cooks up and floods out inside the oven. I’ve got it covered with silver foil. Some said to cover it and some said not to. I decided to cover it based on the lack of plastic cheese on top.

Graham phoned to remind me he is coming out tomorrow. Which I knew. He asked me to remind him cause he is getting the snow tires off the car and then he wants to help clean the house around before Mother comes home. She is leaving on Wednesday she said today in email or Facebook, one or the other. I have let the cleaning slide a bit. Mainly because I really just don’t like it. There are a lot of tomorrows if you keep waiting for tomorrow. But, it’s not terrible. I do live here after all. I’ve got the kitchen and bathroom cleaned. The only things I’ve left are dusting related. Clutter too, but I’ll swoop up everything tonight.

I’ve got the nice box the new computer came in and I will be able to pile a lot in there and closet it away. I wish I had gotten more done this winter, as far as the clutter. If I really got through most of it I’d likely be dumping more out than I’d keep. I can’t just dump it out without checking it though. All those bags are cases of closet tidying – times I’ve stuffed everything into a bag even though some of it is important. There is just too much paperwork to deal with in the modern world.

I almost forgot… it’s raining a slushy snow out there and has been all day. But, I have to go out and rescue Mom’s damn plants. Graham put them all outside a few days ago. Mom said to do it. I said not to. I said it was still not warm enough and there was a good chance they would all be zapped. But, Graham put them out there anyway. He has a clutter phobia I think. Not an actual phobia but as close as you can get to an actual fear without really having a phobia. Anyway, now I’m the one who has to go out into the cold rain and find something in the garage (not my favourite place) to cover the damned plants. I know she is going to tell me most of them are dead again this year. It sounds evil to wish death on plants but I almost do. All winter they fill the laundry room and then in spring I’m the plant murderer, no matter what I do or don’t do.

Anyway, everyone has their thing. My Mom’s thing is plants. So, I do water them and I don’t whack them out of the way over winter. Even in Spring when they start growing and do start getting in the way. It’s not the plants fault. They just grow where they’re put.

Fried Pickles

I saw fried pickles on a Food Network show about food trucks in New York. One of them, Jen and Outlaws, was serving southern US traditional fare. I was surprised to see friend pickles, I’ve never heard of the idea before. It sounded pretty good with buttermilk and crispy coating on them.

This recipe from the Bick’s Pickles site isn’t the same but I didn’t see a recipe for the other:

Spicy Fried Pickle Sticks and Dip
1 jar Bick’s® Baby Dills – Garlic
or Bick’s® Baby Dills – 50% Less Salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) seasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp (5 mL) garlic powder
2 tsp (10 mL) cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 tsp (5 mL) black pepper
Oil for deep frying
Dip:
½ cup (125 mL) Bick’s® Zesty Onion Relish
½ cup (125 mL) sour cream
1. Preheat oil in deep fryer to 375ºF (190ºC). Drain and rinse pickles, cut into quarters lengthwise and pat dry. Lightly mix eggs in small bowl with fork, until frothy. Combine bread crumbs and seasonings in separate bowl.

2. Dip each pickle stick in egg, then in breadcrumb mixture. Fry in small batches, 45 – 60 seconds, until golden brown and crispy. Serve with dip.

3. Dip: Combine ingredients in small bowl.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 minute per batch

Makes: 10 servings

Tip:
1. For a thicker coating, dip in egg, then breadcrumbs, then egg and breadcrumbs again. Cook as directed.

Bacon, Egg and Toast Cups

For Mother’s Day from Martha Stewart – Bacon, Egg and Toast Cups.

Try cooked, crumbled sausage in place of bacon or make a vegetarian version with sauteed spinach. Dress things up with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8 slices white or whole-wheat sandwich bread
6 slices bacon
6 large eggs
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter 6 standard muffin cups. With a rolling pin, flatten bread slices slightly and, with a 4 1/4-inch cookie cutter, cut into 8 rounds. Cut each round in half, then press 2 halves into each muffin cup, overlapping slightly and making sure bread comes up to edge of cup. Use extra bread to patch any gaps. Brush bread with remaining butter.

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium, until almost crisp, 4 minutes, flipping once. (It will continue to cook in the oven.) Lay 1 bacon slice in each bread cup and crack an egg over each. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until egg whites are just set, 20 to 25 minutes. Run a small knife around cups to loosen toasts. Serve immediately.

Cook’s Note

Standard muffin pans come in 6- or 12-cup size; if baking 6 items in a 12-cup pan, leave empty space in between. Nonstick pans are nice but not essential. Beware of very thin pans, which often lead to burning. Place pans on a baking sheet to make them easier to get in and out of the oven.

Chili Chocolate Cookies

I added pepper to my recipe for icebox cookies one year. It was surprisingly good. Not a lot of extra taste but they did have an extra something.

Makes About 20 Chili Chocolate Cookies
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 42 minutes
Ingredients:
1/3 cup dried currants
2 tablespoons Kahlua
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup dark chocolate chips
Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the currants and Kahlua in small saucepan and place over low heat. When the Kahlua begins to bubble, turn off the heat, stir and set aside.

Combine the chocolates and butter in a metal bowl. Place over a saucepan containing an inch of water. Place over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted. Remove and set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, black pepper and cayenne in a medium mixing bowl. Stir and set aside.

Using a whisk or electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and pale yellow in color, about 5 minutes. Add, vanilla and melted chocolate mixture, and stir until combined. Fold in the flour, and then fold in the currants/Kahlua and chocolate chips to form a very loose cookie dough.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto silicone-lined cookies sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and the cookies have risen very slightly. Allow to cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to racks to cool completely before serving.

Thursday Thirteen #8 – Queen of the Cookies


Today for the Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen things I put in the cookies I made today:

red and green candied cherries
vanilla
light brown sugar
cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper
ginger
4 eggs
white sugar
unsalted peanuts
flour
salt
canola oil
baking soda

I don’t count the hair that tried to make it’s way in there too. I pulled it out while it was still on the side of the mixing bowl.

Meyer Lemon and Black Pepper Icebox Cookies

I made the cookies tonight, finally. They are wrapped up and in the freezer for at least one overnight now. After reading this recipe online I was inspired to add pepper to them too. But, not the lemon. Seemed too much with the vanilla, cinnamon and ginger. Though it would have gone ok with the candied cherries. Maybe another time. The pepper seems ok, I have only had a little of the batter so far so I won’t be sure until I decide to bake up a batch of them.

Meyer Lemon and Black Pepper Icebox Cookies
The combination of meyer lemon zest and black pepper is a classic pairing in savory dishes, but it adds an elegant twist to the often too sugary icebox cookie.

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/4 cup finely grated Meyer lemon zest
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
* 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 1/4 cup whole milk
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 large egg, room temperature

1. Whisk together the flour, lemon zest, baking powder, black pepper, and salt in a medium mixing bowl to aerate the mixture and break up any lumps. Set aside.
2. Combine butter and sugar in bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add milk and vanilla and blend well. Scrape down bowl, add egg, and mix well. Reduce mixer to low, add flour mixture, and mix until just incorporated.
3. Turn dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape it into a log (approximately 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter), and wrap tight. Place in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour but preferably 8 hours.
4. When ready to bake the cookies, heat oven to 350°F and arrange rack in the middle. Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator and slice into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake until golden brown on the bottom, about 12 minutes.

Crazy, But That’s How It Is

I like getting those packs of sugar, salt, pepper, ketchup and vinegar from restaurants. Often I bring a few home from those fast food places that have them out for everyone to help themselves. I don’t take coffee creamers (past really bad experience with one of those quietly breaking, being forgotten and then really stinking up my purse). But, I take the others and I’m careful. Sometimes I still forget them for awhile, weeks even. But all those condiment things are really made to last now. I bet they will give that famous Twinkie and the cockroaches a run for their money eventually. Of course, that just makes you wonder why we eat them. (No, not the cockroaches, unless you like them in that way).

Anyway getting those little packs of condiments saves me buying the big containers for things I almost never use. I did break down and buy pepper though cause I have been going to town on tuna wraps and they just NEED pepper. But, I don’t use salt or sugar. Once, long ago, I was addicted to salt but that was when I could count my age on two hands. Nowadays I keep a bottle of ketchup in the fridge and a jug of vinegar in the cupboard cause they are good for somethings, not just edible things. Vinegar is an eco safe/ green cleaner and much cheaper than the other fancily packaged stuff. Ketchup… well ketchup is good to torment your brother with. Also handy for really sick April Fools jokes once a year. Not that I’d do something like that.

It’s not that I’m cheap entirely. I like that bit of the vagabond lifestyle. The idea that I’m living like someone who doesn’t have a lot of things tying them down and could pack up and move with just a moment’s notice. I think the best example of that was Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan. That’s about all I remember from that movie, the lifestyle of the Madonna character.

Anyway, that’s about it for my thoughts for the day. I’m turning my brain down to low early tonight. Painters are supposed to be starting early on the upstairs and I plan to avoid being here for the aroma. I hope it is mostly dry and not so smelly when I get back. I’m allergic to fresh paint. I’m sure I wouldn’t care for having it wedged under my skin dry either but the fresh stuff really does mess me up. I’m not looking forward to tomorrow. But, I hope it will be ok. They say it should dry quick cause it’s latex. I’ve heard that story before.

I will be away Thursday sometime. My Mom needs me to fix her computer. I wish she would try to learn how to run it herself. She does try for short periods of time but forgets everything by the next day. I don’t mind helping her but I feel guilty cause I’m not there to help her right now as if it’s all partly my fault. Crazy but that’s how it is.

It’s Quiet..

The all day destruction constructions seems to be stopped now. It’s quiet. No hammering, no stomping, no sawing, no yapping or yelling. I have the TV on to watch some Christmas movie or other and I can actually hear it.

Nice.

I made a tuna wrap for dinner. So good with fresh salad on it. I have to add pepper to my next grocery list. I missed it on the wrap tonight. It was still really good even without it.

Maybe I will put up the tree tomorrow. Still early, I thought I would put it all up after my birthday but I just thought of a good place to stick it, so it may get stuck there.

Tonight I plan to watch Christmas movies, wash dishes and make hot chocolate. What are your plans for the last weekend before Christmas Eve?

I am Hungry

If you could eat anything and not worry about your health in any way… what would you really eat? The whole meal, not just one thing.

I am cooking salt and pepper sausages which I plan to eat with ketchup. I can smell them cooking. But, if I could have anything at all, I would have a club sandwich with taco chips. Cabbage rolls and lasagna on the side. Then, chocolate, chocolate cheesecake. Along with really good coffee and my Mother’s peach pie. Top that off with vanilla storm ice cream. Maybe some onion rings in there somewhere too, but not the greasy kind.

No doubt there’s something I will think of later that I could have added to that list. But it does sound pretty good as it is.

Canadian Living: Green Velvet Soup

Green Velvet Soup
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 leeks (white and light green parts only), sliced
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 cups diced zucchini (about 1 1/4 lbs)
1 potato, peeled and diced
1/3 cup 10% cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Garnish :
4 thin slices lemon
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; fry leeks, onion, salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add zucchini, potato and 4 cups water; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

In batches, transfer to blender or with immersion blender, puree until smooth. Return to pan. Stir in cream and lemon juice, adding more lemon juice, if desired. (Make ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes. Transfer to an air tight container; refrigerate, uncovered, until cold. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours; reheat over medium heat without boiling).

Garnish: Top each serving wtih lemon slice; sprinkle with chives.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

I typed this one from Canadian Living magazine. It was one of the recipes they had last month, to help use up all that zucchini growing in so many gardens. I like soups and this one sounds really good.