make something today!

July 1, 2007

I’ve been wanting to make something special to celebrate Canada Day.  No, it’s not going to be something practical, like a picnic lunch or a snack to take with us when we watch the fireworks.  I’m going to hang around after the fireworks making a peach cobbler.  Yum.

I looked up some recipes online, but couldn’t find a specific one from the Joy of Cooking – it has a really soft topping like a tea biscuit dough that you drop onto the fruit with a spoon.  I’m going to try to add more milk to the recipe I have found, and make it work somehow.

We’ll see what happens!

When you’re low on money, but starting bbq season – you’re going to want some sauce.  I remember making my own bbq sauce once when I was a kid from a recipe in a magazine.  It involved soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar…  I remember thinking how great it was that you could make it yourself from things you already had around the house!  This came back to me when I was considering barbequing – and so I overcame a little argument with Jim about “why wasn’t I just buying the sauce???”  I explained that we could have “sauce for free!” if we just made it from things we already had.  Then the search began for the best recipe.  Sure there are recipes for sauce that involve complex ingredients, but I wanted one that captured the essence of my childhood memory of mixing up the bbq sauce in a cereal bowl with a tablespoon at the kitchen counter.  It was my creation, and I was the master of the bbq. Being a “Joy of Cooking” fan at heart (literally, it is my bible) I was not happy when I had to do without it this month while I’m away from home.  It would have been my first and most trusted reference. This has left me open to explore another endeared reference manual of all good homemakers:  “The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook” from 1963.   Here’s a recipe for a really good bbq sauce that will make you proud to say you didn’t need to buy it from the store: Sauté in a small saucepan 6 tablespoons of minced onion and 3 tablespoons of butter until soft, but not brown.  Stir in 1 cup of ketchup, 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons mustard, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce and a 1/8th teaspoon of salt.   Simmer this little saucepan on the stove for 10 minutes, stirring every once in a while…this is the most satisfying part, and it makes your house smell yummy too. 

The real snub to me at the end of the recipe is a note from the editor: “p.s. excellent sauce now comes in bottles too”.  Okay, maybe Jim and the Ms. Marsh have a point.  But nothing satisfies me more than making something 🙂

Marsh, Dorothy B. (Ed.) 1963. “The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook” Harcourt, Brace and World Incorporated: New York. 


Hand-me-down Food

May 17, 2007

I’ve been striving to add more wholesome “whole” grains into my diet.  Most conveniently, when I moved into a new place I inherited a mysterious bag of bulgur.  It was unopened/new, but didn’t have any instructions on how to make something with it on the package.  This left me hunting for a way to use this mysterious product.  I have been surfing a little for recipes, went to the product website…and finally checked out a really cool book on Mennonite cooking – with a great, simple recipe for bulgur pilaf.  I sautéed a small thinly sliced onion and one cup of bulgur in one tablespoon of canola oil until the onions were translucent.  Then I added one can of beef consommé soup and enough water to make 2 cups.  I turned the heat to low, and simmered with the lid on for 25 minutes, only stirring once.

I thought I could substitute the consommé soup instead of broth/stock – to use up those other inherited mysterious cans I’ve been carting around for a year.  Great – I’ve just made something for almost next to nothing, and it was good for me too!  To tell you the truth, it was fabulous.  Yum.  Hand-me-down food can make for an interesting adventure.

Longacre, Doris Janzen. (1976) “More-with Less Cookbook: Suggestions by Mennonites on how to eat better and consume less of the world’s limited food resources.”  Herald Press: Kitchener, Ontario.

I tried the company muffins recipe I was thinking about making, after making another trip back to the Bulk Barn for some more supplies…  Got to love the Bulk Barn for baking 🙂  I was in the aisle with all the types of flour and saw a woman looking really closely at all of the titles on the boxes, I said “You must like baking too”.  That started a little discussion about how it was a great day to  make your own muffins because it wasn’t too hot, and you wouldn’t have to heat up the house with the oven… you get the picture!  It was so nice. 

On to these company muffins, as they’re called.  My intention was to make them really healthy and still yummy and moist.  Of course I always change a little something in the recipe to make them my own, so here’s what I did:

Stir together in a big bowl: 1/2 cup white flour, 1/2 cup 7 grain flour (I had to try something new at the store), 1 cup oat ban (I heard it was super good for you), 1/4 cup wheat germ (not sure what this is like, but I wanted to be really healthy), 2 tsp baking soda, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp cinnamon (to crank up the flavour!)

Stir in 3/4 cup brown sugar (never white sugar!  where’s the flavour in that?)

Grate up: 1 big carrot (peeled) to make 1 1/2 cups grated carrot, and then grate 1 apple (I had a fuji apple on hand, and left the peel on for fibre 🙂  I’m convinced that wet ingredients like these increase the moisture content, help off-set all that fibre that sucks up water in the batter, and also help reduce the amount of fat you have to use to make them moist.  Also, they sort of “melt into” the muffin texture, so you’re not really eating long stringy bits of carrot or apple.

Stir these into the dry flour mixture, and then add 1/2 cup Thompson raisins.  It was hard to give up the raisins to the muffins because I like to just eat them on their own all the time! 

I then tossed in 1/2 cup of dried cranberries – for extra flavour.  I was a little worried that they would be too tart, but what the hell – baking is for experimentation!

Then I took a 2 cup glass measuring cup and put in 1/4 cup canola oil, 2/3 cup of milk, 2 eggs, and 1 tsp vanilla extract (save the real vanilla for when I’m rich).  I beat this up and added it all at once to my big bowl of other ingredients.

Bake at 375′ for 20-24 minutes in a 12 muffin, buttered pan.  They were a little sticky coming out of the pan, so next time I will use more butter and worry less about my arteries in the name of seemingly healthy muffins. 

You should try these – they turned out super good!  

P.S. It’s okay to make them when you’re not expecting anyone to come for a visit – just put half in the freezer and whenever you want a muffin, you can micro-cook them 🙂  Micro-cook,  lol.  I packaged them up in little individual serving baggies for a cheap portable snack for when I’m on the go.

Homegrown recipes

May 12, 2007

I have read about 10 recipes between last night and this morning.  I have plans to make my own yogourt, to make bulger pilaf for the first time, and something called “company muffins” from a book “Recipes for the Young and Old”, from St.Peter’s C.W.L, Port Hood, N.S. in July 1993.  Each recipe in this book has the name of who submitted it beside it.  Last night I made Banana Chip Muffins by Ann Campbell.  I changed only one thing – I used canola oil instead of shortening.  (I can’t use a recipe without changing at least one thing to make it my own.)

I feast over homegrown recipe books that are put out by churches or school groups to make money.  My theory is – if you had one recipe to submit to your group’s recipe book, wouldn’t you pick your best one?  Hopefully you wouldn’t just submit something you read somewhere else and never tried.  It would have to be your favourite recipe, telling people what your family likes to make.  You wouldn’t want to look bad in front of your friends in the group – when they make your recipe and it doesn’t turn out. 

I also see the homegrown recipe collection as a historical document – telling us what that group (of possibly somewhat similar people – with the same sports interests, school location, church affiliations etc.) liked to make in their location at that particular time in history.  One day I might do a study on these types of collections…for now, you’ll have to settle with just knowing my theory about them.

My first homegrown recipe book was given to my family by my late Aunt Rainy (born Lorraine McMillan, my mom’s older sister).  I sat with her while she told me to read out all of the recipes and tell her who made them.  “Oh, that’s my recipe, she stole it….that one’s really good….they left out the baking powder…”  I wrote down her comments beside each recipe.  At one time, it was the only recipe book my family had in the house, other than the recipes in the manual that came with the microwave!

I subsequently decided to adopt that book, and I still make my pancakes and leftover turkey casserole from it.   My Aunt Rainy lived up north, near Owen Sound where my mom grew up and where so many of my relatives are from – so I always thought that the recipes from there would reflect my heritage, and be somehow connected to my relatives.  Like great Aunt Mary Barfoot’s pancakes.  More about those…later.

Making things

May 11, 2007

I read a really funny blog today about a grad student who decided to eat for a whole month on only $30.  It seemed a little too familiar at times, and reminded me of my own ongoing goal – to eat well for less.  Every month I usually have a little more than $30 to spend on my food, but I do take pride in making things with what I have.  Bare, simple ingredients are all I need, and the desire to make good, healthy, no nonsense food.  Well, I must admit I also have an obsession with reading recipes 🙂  I’ll tell you all about it sometime.