English Muffins for Breakfast with Lynda

November 19th, 2009 / Comments 1

Lynda came yesterday afternoon so that we could hear Judith Jones speak about her new book in Norwich, Vermont.

eng muffins breakfast 011 English Muffins for Breakfast with Lynda

Judith Jones was Julia Childs’ editor and she was talking about her new book, The Pleasures of Cooking for One. I enjoyed her earlier book, The Tenth Muse and look forward to learning from her new book.

I was delighted that Lynda spent the night and that we had time to play today before she returned to her home and husband in the Northeast Kingdom. Breakfast this morning was simple, we sat in the sun and had pears and clementines, tea, English muffins, homemade marmalade and fig jam.

I made the English muffins yesterday afternoon while Lynda was traveling on the interstate. Like so many other things, homemade English muffins are so much better when you can pronounce all the ingredients used to make them and count the ingredients on one hand and a finger if you count water.

Here’s how I did it:

… read more

Going Metric – The One Centimeter Rule & Crackers

October 21st, 2009 / comments 8

When the ingredients list on the side of the box of any prepared food is longer than a centimeter (half an inch) I don’t buy it. This pronouncement was the beginning of a grocery store game for my sons when they were too young to “sound out” words like disodium inosinate or monoglycerides. Rather than dealing with arbitrary decisions like, “No,” imposed by a tyrant, (me), the ingredients list was undeniable. My sons are grown now and my grandchildren play the game and I still check the length of ingredients lists.

The cracker aisle at the market is a special challenge. The ingredients list for simple, no frills saltine crackers is longer than three centimeters (one inch) and includes partially hydrogenated cotton seed oil and high fructose corn syrup. Not what I want to serve with soup made with carrots, onions and dill from my garden and milk from a nearby dairy.

According to the Farmers’ Almanac, hardtack, the predecessor to crackers, originated in New England in the 18th century. It is a simple cracker made from flour and water. Baked hard and dry and stored properly, it lasts forever, or at least long enough to be a dietary mainstay on long sea voyages.

Legend has it that crackers were the creation of Massachusetts’s baker, Josiah Bent. He combined a common kitchen mishap, over-baking a batch of biscuits, with Yankee ingenuity.  Inspired by the sound they made when chewed, he introduced the crisp biscuit as a cracker.  More than two hundred years later, the G. H. Bent Company in Milton, Massachusetts is still baking hard tack with just two ingredients, wheat flour and water.

Alas, the cracker has changed radically since it simple beginnings. There are whole grain, gluten free, low fat, no fat, salt free, cheese, herb, poppy seed, sesame seed, naturally flavored, and artificially flavored crackers waiting in the cracker aisle hoping for a ride in your shopping trolly.

rye cheese twigs Going Metric   The One Centimeter Rule & Crackers

You can turn away from the fancy boxes and follow my centimeter rule if you make crackers rather than buy crackers made by faraway food corporations. You can say no to crackers shipped hundreds of miles, in excessive packaging, supplemented with un-pronounceable ingredients and preservatives and sold at prices that rival designer chocolates. Homemade crackers are delicious, simple to make, and won’t make a shocking dent in your food budget.

Crackers can be seasoned and shaped to suit the occasion. Served with local cheese they are an elegant snack. Homemade crackers spread with butter and jam will be welcomed with a smile. Rye cheese sticks and a glass of wine say welcome to friends. I have two cracker recipes that I modify to suit my needs. Here’s how I do it. … read more

Good Keeper Squash Dinner Party

October 14th, 2009 / comments 7

Gossip has it that Peter Peter the pumpkin eater, and his wife were having domestic difficulties.

Scare Crow 01 c egbert Good Keeper Squash Dinner Party

Perhaps Mrs. Peter would have been happier if Mr. Peter had been willing to expand his diet to include other squash rather than sticking to the somewhat dry, perhaps a bit boring, pumpkin. Don’t get me wrong. Pumpkins have an interesting past, after all Cinderella would have had to walk to the ball if there hadn’t been a pumpkin in her kitchen.

bowl of squash1 Good Keeper Squash Dinner Party

Pumpkins, like all winter squash, grow in the summer and are harvested when the fruit and seeds have matured fully and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. Summer squash is in the market all winter and winter squash is available in the late summer, fall and winter. It might be less confusing if winter squash were called Good Keeper Squash and summer squash were called Eat Soon Squash.

The assortment of Good Keeper Squash at the farmers’ market this week included varieties I’d never cooked. I bought carnival, acorn, buttercup, butternut, and Hubbard squash. The bag weighted twenty-three pounds!  That’s a lot of squash – dinner party time! I invited friends to a squash sampling dinner party, and began to consider how to include five varieties of squash in one meal. I set guidelines – there would be no baked or mashed squash topped with maple syrup, brown sugar and/or marshmallows. I decided to roast a pork loin to accompany the squash. With others bringing an appetizer, a salad and a dessert I had four hours to cook. Luckily, my range has two ovens.

Dinner was a success, a autumn harvest meal with friends and conversation interspersed with irreverent jokes including one whose punch line was “They’ll call us vegetables.” It’s not a stretch to say that each of our friends is a Good Keeper.

Here’s how I did it: … read more

Patty Pan Squash Cake

August 28th, 2009 / comments 10

It has been too rainy for tomatoes and potatoes to thrive but the patty pan squash plant in my garden has been working hard to keep my spirit up.

pattypan 02 Patty Pan Squash Cake

It is often used as a “pan for baking a patty” therefore the name – patty pan. It is also called sunburst squash, scaloppini, button squash or patisson.

The feminine name and demure behavior of my plant cause me to think of it as a she.  Certainly less insistent than her Italian cousin zucchini, she doesn’t overrun other plants with exuberant vines or produce so many squash that I have to resort to late night squash deliveries to unsuspecting neighbors. Blossoms with long stems, (the male flowers), are plentiful and a tasty treat, either as an addition to an omelet or stuffed, battered and fried to be served as an appetizer.

Small squash, the size of quail eggs, are lovely roasted with potatoes, carrots, oil and garlic.  Medium squash, up to six inches in diameter, blanched in boiling water for five minutes, stuffed with a mixture of sauteed vegetables and cooked rice, topped with cheese or seasoned breadcrumbs and baked, are a perfect vegetarian main course.

Patty pan squash larger than six inches star in my favorite carrotless carrot cake.

note: If you think patty pan squash is a strange ingredient in a cake, take a look at this recipe on my friend Drick’s blog by clicking here.  I’m amazed!

Mixer 02 Patty Pan Squash Cake

Here’s how I did it. … read more

Sweet Yorkshire Pudding for Summer Visitors

August 23rd, 2009 / comments 3

When friends come for a visit and spend the night breakfast often goes on for an hour or two. We start with cups of tea and coffee, sharing the paper and considering how to spend the day. Breakfast is a cooperative affair, I cook, volunteers set the table and pour the juice, and conversation begins in earnest.

tea+cup+MG+ Sweet Yorkshire Pudding for Summer Visitors

When making breakfast for more than two people, I’d don’t make a traditional breakfast like pancakes, French toast, or individually cooked eggs. Often I make a frittata, a savory Italian omelet, in a cast iron skillet. For breakfast when there are berries in the market, a Sweet Yorkshire Pudding is perfect.

blackberries+04 Sweet Yorkshire Pudding for Summer Visitors

A combination of eggs, milk, and flour, the batter is made in a blender or with an electric mixer and can wait until everyone is awake, showered, coffee’d and ready to eat before it is put into the oven to bake. Half an hour later – Breakfast is served.

Here’s how I made Sweet Yorkshire Pudding. … read more

Rhubarb Cake

May 24th, 2009 / Comments 0

This time of year, it’s not easy to keep up with a healthy rhubarb patch.

rhubarb+05 Rhubarb Cake

In order to keep the plant producing, I need to harvest regularly and break off flower stalks as they appear.

Rather than making stewed or roasted rhubarb or a pie with today’s harvest, I decided to make rhubarb bread. It’s easy to make and lovely with a pot of hot tea in the evening or as light breakfast with a steamy cup of coffee.

Rhubarb+mixer+01 Rhubarb Cake

Although I’ve posted a painting of an egg beater, all you need to make this cake is a large stirring spoon, a knife to cut the rhubarb and nuts, and a mixing bowl. Here’s how I made it:/donotprint] … read more

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