Posted in Food, Meatless Monday, Recipes

Dinner Tonight

Easy, fast, delicious. Greek pasta with spinach and feta cheese.

  
All you need is a can of tomatoes, canned white beans, spinach and feta cheese. I added fresh basil, oregano and garlic. Dump a large can of chopped tomatoes into a frying pan, add the herbs, garlic and beans and cook for ten minutes. Wash and chop 10 oz of spinach and add. Cook another 10 minutes. Serve with crumbled feta on top of chunky pasta.

Good and sans meat.

Posted in Food, History, Recipes

You Know You’re a Foodie When…

You spend most of the day reading the new copy of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, cover to cover. You have the facsimile 1896 version for comparison sitting right next to you.

image

This copy replaces the paperback version which is cracked in half and missing pages. This one is hardback and even thicker. And we won’t mention all the other editions sitting on the bookshelf.

Nuff said.

Posted in Boston, Food, History, Home, Massachusetts, Recipes

Something Old, Something New

coal stove
I think we’re out of coal, dear

Well, here we are at 2015. I’m ready for it to be a fine 12 months. I started the year by going back in time. I had to order a new version of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. Mine falls to pieces the minute you open it. I didn’t get the requested item for Christmas, so I ordered it online. While I was browsing around I came across another book, intriguingly entitled: “Fannie’s Last Supper.” The author is Chris Kimball, the host of America’s Test Kitchen. He wanted to recreate a meal from the original, 1896 edition. I’m a sucker for stuff like that, so I ponied up and got myself an ebook copy, which I’m reading on my iPad (talk about juxtapositions!).

The book got some bad reviews on Amazon, mostly because the author found most of the recipes in the cookbook to be absolutely terrible. I think he’s being a bit hard on the old girl. That was then and this is now. If you can’t deal with soggy, overcooked vegetables and heavy cream sauce over everything, then do something else. Still, it’s an interesting read with lots of social and culinary history thrown in among the revised recipes and admonitions.

I have a few historical versions of this cookbook: a reproduction of the original, a reprinting from 1918 (with wartime recipes and suggested substitutions, another version from 1951 and another from 1965. The menus change pretty radically along the way, so I guess jellied salad and fish boiled for an hour didn’t withstand the test of time. At some point they swapped out coal stoves and added baking temperatures, thank God. Really, I don’t need to learn how to light and maintain a stove. Checking oven temperature is an absolute necessity, particularly in my crappy old stove. See? If I had the cast iron coal stove, I could have switched it over to gas and it would outlast me by 100 years. So, there, Chris Kimball!

Fannie's Last Supper
Nice cover

I have to say, I like the book, although he’s very snooty towards Miss Farmer. He did acknowledge her marketing and business sense, since the book is a classic and has been for over a century. It sold like hotcakes the minute it came out. It had precise weights and measures, suggested menus (holy cow!), information about cooking classes at the Boston Cooking School and even a section on cooking for the sick. Toast water, anyone? And how about this for brekkies:

Raspberries
Shredded wheat biscuits
Dried smoked beef in cream
Hash browned potatoes
Baking powder biscuit
Coffee

Burp. I’ll get a cramp in my hand if I copy down her suggested dinners. Would I make anything from the original cookbook? Probably not. Some of them really do sound kind of gross and the method of preparation would cook every bit of nutrition right out. Boil that sucker for an hour! Get the deep frier ready and pass the cream sauce.

Posted in Blogging, Bouncing Tigger's Vegetarian Recipe Challenge, Food, Recipes

Death by Chili Pepper

I’m trying to knock out a few posts while I have the energy and before my desire to run downstairs and finish my book finally overcomes me. I’ve been meaning to spend some time with Tigger’s Veggie Challenge and I think I may have found a fun post for this one.

I really like Indian food but my tastes, all with all westerners probably, are pretty calmed down compared to the real thing. I also love to watch cooking videos and came across a chef who I can’t stop watching. He’s a really nice, respectful guy and at the same time brimming over with enthusiasm about the dishes he demonstrates. He calls himself the VahChef (prounounced “Wah Chef”) and he cooks stuff from throughout India. Yes, I know there are a lot of different cuisines and there’s really no such thing as “Indian” food, just like there’s really no such thing as “curry.”

The VahChef invites people to upload their own cooking videos, too, which is rather cool. He also prepares some western dishes, but doesn’t seems as excited about them as the “Indian” stuff. My favorite part, though? This dude is NOT afraid of hot peppers. It’s hysterical: “first you add some chili, then you add some chili powder and then you add more chili if the dish is not tasty enough.”

Yow! It sounds great and deadly. I might try modifying his recipes so that I can actually make them.

On another note, I’ve been following some really ugly issues regarding women and women’s right, not only in India but in Nigeria, too. I know women in both countries have gone into the streets to protest these atrocities and I stand with them. I want those kids in Nigeria back and I want women in all parts of India to be able to walk the street unmolested.

Posted in Bouncing Tigger's Vegetarian Recipe Challenge, Food, Recipes

Meatless in May. Want to Help?

Well, okay. I just found a WordPress blogging challenge I can get my teeth into (literally as well as figuratively). Bouncing Tigger’s Vegetarian Recipe Challenge may just fit the bill. So far I’ve been doing pretty well, with no objections from the hubby and I’m looking forward to trying new recipes.

Cauliflower
My, What A Lot of Cauliflower You’ve Got!

So, first: here’s a recipe I put together for soup. Proportions are entirely optional, as are the number and type of veggies. The more veggies the merrier, including members of the broccoli family which often don’t play nice with the neighbors. I’ve done this soup with broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Cabbage would be fine, although I don’t think I’ve ever put cabbage in up until now. I’ll have to try it next time. Come to think of it, I don’t think bitter greens (kale, collards, etc.) would work in this soup.

I also add a handful of lentils and a can of beans of whatever kind. There’s your protein. I add some grains, too, like barley and quinoa. And, just to top it off, I also drop in a small amount of pasta towards the end.

I typically use soup stock for this soup. Sometimes it’s home-made, sometimes it’s from a can. How much? Enough to cover the veggies and still leave room for broth – and the inevitable expansion of the grains.

Here are the veggies I typically use:

Onions, garlic, carrots, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, corn, peas. I sometimes add tomato and mushrooms, although just small amounts of each. I start by sauteing the onions and garlic in olive oil, then add the other veggies until they’re glistening. Then I add the broth, stir it up, then stir in a handful of lentils, barley and/or quinoa and a can of beans. I’m partial to chick peas, but you can add whatever you want.

I usually use frozen corn and peas, so I want until the soup is almost done to add that plus the pasta. If I have any parsley, I’ll chop that up and add it, too.

Now, here’s your part – do you have any vegetarian recipes you’d like me to try? I like to take pictures and videos of what I’m doing, so I’d probably do that and post it here. Check out my new recipe collections page to let me know!

Posted in Blogging, Food, Recipes

Ring of Fire, or Trial by Fire?

Okay, Blogging 101 universe, now I have to write a post based on this prompt:

Do you love hot and spicy foods or do you avoid them for fear of what tomorrow might bring?

I’m going to digress a bit from this, since I’ve decided to try and go vegetarian this month (May). I’m not sure it’ll work, not because I’m game but because the hubby has his doubts. He wants his honey ham on a bagel each morning. So, we negotiated: I’ll make vegetarian whenever I’m cooking, he’s free to do what he wants when it’s his turn. I want to see what happens to our food bill, among other things. More than that, though, I just want a break from the usual routine.

I have a few hot-type items to add to my meals: dried chilis, Sriracha sauce and Tabasco, but I’m not one for a lot of heat. A tiny bit livens things up a bit, but too much and the hubby will end up driving me to the hospital. I have a very picky stomach. It doesn’t like deep-fried food, fried eggs, pork bacon or sausage or very hot food. I manage to do without these for the most part. When I haven’t, I’ve paid a very high price.

There’s so much in the world to eat and enjoy. I’m happy with what I’m eating and, if anything, want more variety along the same lines of my current diet of leafy greens, grains, legumes and all colors of vegetables. I went to a local farm stand to start the journey today and came home with Tuscan kale and collard greens (among other things). I’ve got a very nice recipe in which I can use either or both of those. I’m going to enjoy my veggies!

I also stopped in at Trader Joe’s and got some interesting new rice combinations. I’ve never tried black rice, so I bought some and added another bag of a brown rice mixture. Looks interesting.

Rice packages
The Rice Part of Rice and Beans

So, please do give me some recipes if you’ve got them and I’ll share mine with you.

Posted in Food, Home, Recipes, Seasons, Winter

Simple Dinner For a Cold Night

The wind’s been howling all day, sounding fierce and rattling windows. The snow has that windswept look to it. It’s supposed to go down into the single digits tonight. The house is cold.

It was almost spring a day or two ago. It was so warm I felt overheated in my winter coat. Now we’re back to freezing cold, blustering winds and snow. They’re expecting rain and temperatures in the 50s by this weekend. Go figure.

On nights like this I like to turn to my dinnertime staple: beans and greens. They’ve become our comfort food. It’s incredibly easy to make: saute kale or any other bitter or just-bitter green with four cloves of chopped garlic. Tonight it was kale, but in the past it’s been kale and Swiss chard or kale and spinach. You could do kale and collard greens, too. That would be good.

Step two: open two cans of white beans. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice. I didn’t have any white beans tonight, so I substituted black beans instead. It tasted just as good. Combine the two when the kale is ready. I usually saute it for about 20 minutes or so. It’s up to you. Give the beans a few minutes in the pan to warm up and it’s ready.

beans and greens
Soon We’ll Be Dinner

I usually serve the greens dish over sliced and sauteed polenta. You can buy it in logs, as I did here. You can also make it from scratch, although that’s a lot of work and some very messy pans to clean up afterward.

This time I also decided to add some Brussels sprouts on the side. They were quite tasty, actually. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Both the black beans and the sprouts worked just fine.

After about 45 minutes of prep and cooking, dinner was ready. It was tasty, very filling and nicely textured. I loved the mouth feel.

beans and sprouts
Beans and Greens Over Polenta. Sprouts on the Side.

It looks a little weird with the black beans, but the end result was just as good. Try it and see what you think!