Friday, August 26, 2016

Food Friday: Quick Easy Restaurant-like Salsa

Salsa goes well with many things besides corn chips.  Baked potatoes, scrambled eggs, stew, mashed potatoes, just about any casserole.

Here is a very quick and easy one.  The original recipe is here
The little tin with invisible label at the bottom of the photo is the tinned jalapenos.  It was Ortega brand, I am pretty sure.

What you need:

  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic which you have peeled
  • 1 cup fresh washed cilantro (about ½ a bunch or less if you are not such a fan of cilantro)
  • 2 Tablespoons canned chopped jalapenos
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice  (I used lemon juice but it was still good.  Don't forget the lime, though. )
  • Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you like the consistency.  I did it in a blender and had a more mushy consistency than I like but it still tasted very good.
This salsa is more of a mush.  Next time I will use the food processor instead of the blender. If you like chunky, this was a failure....

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gardening: Tomato Harvest is Coming In!

This year we planted mostly heirloom tomato plants: 

Amish paste tomatoes--not sure if these are heirloom.  We planted four of these plants.
Ukrainian Purple
Mortgage Lifter
Black Krim

We planted one plant each of the Brandywine, Ukrainian Purple, Mortgage Lifter, and Black Krim.  They grew pretty well.  None of them had a lot of set fruit though we had quite a few blossoms.

We have started the harvest.

The Brandywine are the big red ones at the bottom.  Amish Paste are on top with the Krim and Purple filling in.  The Mortgage Lifter has already been consumed.  Only two set fruit there, to it would have had to have been a VERY SMALL mortgage...maybe a chicken house...?

The fruit all taste wonderful.  There is nothing like a warmed-by-the-sun tomato sliced, lightly salted on a piece of toasted whole wheat bread.  It is even better with a thin coating of mayonnaise on the toast under the tomato.  I could eat these for every meal.  What am I saying?  I DO eat these for every meal, especially breakfast.  Along with a few leaves of kale.  Yummy!

Sadly,  some tomato disease has gotten most of these plants.  I have not figured out what it is yet.  I know hybrid plants are bred not to have some of the diseases that heirloom plants can get.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Watercolor Painting: The Morrill Homestead. Sort of.

The second painting I started at the Jennifer Brown class was a painting with more colors.  There was a puzzle on the wall of the Morrill Homestead.  I attempted that.

Not very successful, but still, you can tell it is a house with shrubbery around it, I think.  And outbuildings.

Same story on the keyboard: not part of the painting.  Sorry for the distraction.  Have not learned how to use Photoshop Elements yet.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Munchie Monday: An Almost Depraved Chocolate Treat!

We had a Church social over the weekend:  a barbecue which the men handled.  We were asked to bring a salad, side dish, or dessert.  I asked Dear One what we should make. He said, "The Usual".  Just to clarify/make sure communication was happening, I asked what the usual was.  He told me "the Chinese noodles".  Okay!  I could do that.

So I made Orchid's Cool Tangy Noodles.  A triple batch and put them in a nice big round see-through plastic bucket that whole almonds came in at the Coop store near here.  I put in more of the green rings from scallion tops than usual but people still ate up the noodles.  Especially the grandchildren!

Dessert was also on my menu. Potluck meals sometimes have too little of some foods so I always like to bring a savory AND a sweet.  I found a recipe for a great dessert.  If you worry about chocolate overload, don't make this.  If you worry about sweets addiction, don't make this.  If you worry about sugar destroying teeth, don't make this.

But if you want to make it anyway, this is what to do:

Make one batch of chocolate chip cookie dough.
Get one bag of Oreo cookies.  I used Double Stuffed Oreos.  Any family-sized bag will do.
Make one batch of brownie batter. I used Duncan Hines brownie mix...I think 18.2 ounce.  Homemade would work, too.  I was lazy.  Plus I like the way brownie mixes always turn out the same.
Get out a 9 by 13 pan.
Cut a large piece of aluminum foil to cover the bottom, sides, and enough go over the edges of the pan to use as a "lifter" for when the bars are cooked.

These two I saved at home in case there were no leftovers.  There were no leftovers!  The front bar is on its side so you can see the Oreo center.

1.  Put the foil in the pan.
2.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray then set oven pre-heating at 350 degrees F.
3.  Spread the chocolate chip cookie dough in the bottom of the pan.
4.  Lay out the Oreos next to each other to cover the entire top of the pan of cookie dough. (There were enough left over for Dear One to have a breakfast treat...!)
5.  Spread the brownie batter over the top, spreading to entirely cover the Oreos and underlying cookie dough.
6.  Cover with more foil.
7.  Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes.
8.  Remove foil from top of pan then return to oven and cook 30-40 more minutes.
9.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.  If you want nice looking bars, this will take about an hour.
10.  Lift the bars from the cooled pan of treats and cut into SMALL cubes.
11.  Enjoy one bar and drift off into chocolate oblivion.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Food Friday: Barbecue!

Another YouTuber I like is Jill McKeever who is a plant-based eater and cooker. She is a little kooky but just fabulous.  She mentioned Soy Curls.  I had never heard of them but went crazy and ordered some from Butler Foods immediately.  Soy curls are cooked soy beans that are mashed then extruded somehow then dried.  I would be interested in learning exactly how they do it, but I have a picture in my mind...

For supper tonight I followed, more or less, her recipe for Barbecued Soy Curls.

This is what I did.

One 8-ounce bag soy curls
2 Tablespoons tamari
2 Tablespoons liquid smoke
2 cups water, more may be needed

Put the tamari, liquid smoke, and 2 cups water in a medium-sized bowl.  Stirred well then added the soy curls.  Since the soy curls were not totally covered, I added another half cup of water.  Let set aside for 10 minutes or until done getting the rest of the ingredients ready, whichever takes longer.

In another medium-sized bowl place:

2 cups catsup
3 Tablespoons chopped garlic
1 chopped onion--I used yellow onion this time.
1 Tablespoon oregano
2 Tablespoons molasses
1 Tablespoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon ground dry mustard
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Mix all these ingredients well.  Taste.  If it needs more of anything, now would be the time to adjust seasonings.  This is barbecue sauce.

The chopped onion and garlic should probably be FINELY CHOPPED but they are also okay if you are in a hurry and only chop them up somewhat. If you don't like chunks of onion or garlic in your food, opt to give it some more time and finely chop them. 

After at least 10 minutes the soy curls will be re-hydrated.  Drain them in a strainer then add to the barbecue sauce bowl and gently stir until everything is coated well.

At this point I put the mixture into the stainless steel inner pot that goes with the new Instant Pot.  I turned the pot to Saute and stirred off and on until the mixture was hot, then cancelled the Saute function and turned it to Slow Cook, moving the temperature to High then decreased the timer to 1 hour, covered, set the cover to steaming, and let it go.

After the hour was up I removed the cover and stirred up the barbecue.  I warmed a flour tortilla and put one-quarter cup of this barbecued soy curls on it, rolled it up like a burrito, and was in heaven!  So great to have a bean meal that was satisfyingly chewy!

When Dear One came home from his hike (I might add here that he only went halfway up the mountain instead of his usual summitting.  It was way up in the 90's on the thermometer, and ALSO in the 90's humidity-wise.  I thought he showed remarkable sense in turning back before he had heat prostration.) this barbecue lunch went down well. I will not say how many he ate but more than I at first served him!  That was good.

If you do not have an Instant Pot, I believe you could put these soy curls and their sauce in a casserole and bake it for an hour on 300 degrees F.  Maybe check it after thirty minutes to be sure nothing untoward is happening.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Some Garden Harvested: Zucchini Chips

What a lovely thing to find a zucchini ready to harvest!  I brought it into the house two days ago, intending to make it into spiralized zoodles with some sort of sauce.  That did not happen the first day nor the second day.  Now something had to be done or the zuke would begin to lose integrity.

Out of the blue there was a recipe for zucchini chips in my email.  I have lost it so I cannot give credit but this is what I did which is not exactly what the original called for.

I washed the zucchini then cut a bit off both ends.  I then sliced it up.  Sadly, my slices were rather uneven. I do remember that the original cook used a mandolin.  I do not have such a thing so the knife was my tool of choice.

After slicing them, I put about half a tablespoon of olive oil on a sheet pan then laid the zucchini circles very close to each other, touching, actually but not overlapping.  I then brushed then with another half tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkled on a very little bit of coarse kosher salt, granulated garlic, and black pepper.  I actually hit it rather hard with the black pepper.  That was not the best idea I ever had.

The one zucchini made two sheet pans of chips-to-be.  I put them into a pre-heated 225 degree F. oven and let them crisp up for 2 1/2 hours.  The original recipe said 2 hours, I am pretty sure.  I went off up to the work room and left the guys to dry out/cook/roast.  After a while I went to where Dear One was watching NetFlix and asked if he had heard the timer beep.  He said he doesn't hear it when he is in the room next to it, so he certainly had not heard it two rooms away.  As I went down the stairs I could hear it ringing. had been AT LEAST 2 1/2 hours!

You can see that the thin inner part of the chips stuck to the pan.  Oh well.

This was not one of my more successful baking projects.  The thinnest ones had sort of laminated themselves to the pan.  The thicker ones were intact when I picked them off the pan.  They all did taste rather good but really, they were overcooked.  I think I will try this again if I get more zucchini.  The original called for a Silpat mat or parchment paper.  I do have a Silpat, but did not get it out.  I think I will next time.  Even the thin chips should not stick to that.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Handwork: B's Knitted Dinosaur

Two weeks ago I spent a lovely two days with the local grandchildren.  B, the youngest, asked me if I had brought my knitting.  I had because I was expecting to help 9-year-old C with his hat knitting project.  B then asked if I would make him a dinosaur.  Well, how could I refuse that sweet request that was accompanied with a very merry smile?!

So, we made a trip to see Grandpa, and I picked up some yarn that could be used for a dinosaur.  I had found a pattern on Ravelry and was pretty sure I could accomplish it.  The pattern was for a Diplocaulus,  not a dinosaur I had ever encountered before, but what the heck!  I could give it a try.

Because this looked like a smallish creature I decided to use a double strand of worsted weight yarn (I have a LOT of that weight and am trying to use it up...) and some size 11 needles.

Diplo lying across the couch cushion.  He is a big guy.  Almost as long as B is tall.
It was a fun project.  I brought the finished 'saur to B at Church.  He dropped what he was doing and gave me the most glorious huge happy smile and reached for the Diplo. I am so happy I did it.  An elderly lady friend saw it and asked if I could make HER one!  Isn't that the nicest thing!

A few minutes later I had returned to the front of the chapel to prepare for teaching Sunday school.  B came up, put his arms around me and gave me the sweetest kiss.  What a lovely little boy.  Even if his mom reminded him to do it, though he might have come on his own hook.

Feet and body detail.  Of course the short front legs are an error but I did not feel like trying again...