Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Empanadas (Hand Pies)

I wanted to make pumpkin empanadas for P on our anniversary (the 28th), but I wanted to minimise the amount of calories in each pie. I was basically successful (each pie works out to ~250 calories). Additionally, this is my entry for October's In The Bag.

This recipe has a lot of "parts" but is actually quite simple to make. I made one part here, and one part there, between classes, and just tossed them all together and baked them once we were both home from school.

Anise tea:

1-2 tablespoons anise seeds
1 cup water

Bring to a boil. Boil down to 2/3 cup. Strain. Chill well (it needs to be COLD!)

Dough:

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup, give or take, anise tea

Cut butter into small bits, and freeze. Freeze bowl of food processor (or your mixing bowl and whatever you intend to cut the butter into the flour with). Toss the flour in the freezer too, if you feel like it. I felt like it. Pulse the flour, salt and butter together (or cut/rub the butter in, in your usual fashion. I personally have given up on doing this by hand because I am getting lazier and lazier, the older I get) until it's in pea-sized bits. Add the anise tea, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dough just comes together. It should take roughly 1/3 a cup, though it could be more or less. Put the dough in a flattened ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Pumpkin Filling:

1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons loose packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt (I actually used about a quarter teaspoon of this huge flake Balinese salt and pounded it down with the allspice, but 1/8 teaspoon regular or kosher salt would be ducky)
1/2 teaspoon freshly (or not) ground allspice
seeds from 1 vanilla bean (optional)

Mix well.

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 350F. Roll out your dough fairly thin (1/8-1/4 inch thick) and cut out circles. I used a 3" springform pan to cut out circles. Place a large dollop of filling in the middle of each circle, then fold in half and crimp with a fork. Make a small slit or two on the top of each pie to let steam escape. If you feel like it, sprinkle a little bit of vanilla or turbanado sugar on top (I used vanilla). If you don't feel like it, don't do it. :) Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 25-30 minutes, until golden. Let cool on a rack before eating. Makes 6 pies.

(P.S. The total cost of this recipe is ~$1.51, unless you add in the vanilla bean, in which case I don't know because I buy my vanilla beans cheaply here, but I don't know where you get yours. For me, it's ~$1.82 with the vanilla)

Monday, October 27, 2008

No-Soup Tuna Casserole

I'm still paying attention to the diet, but likewise, I have a serious craving for tuna casserole. To me, the brunt of what makes tuna casserole not-diet-friendly is the can of soup that's tossed in. Also, I am still using up all the eggplant I got at the farmer's market (plus I was proving to my cast iron pan I didn't forget it lives here). So I decided to try to make my own version that was a little fresher and less soupy.

Here it is. I hope you like it.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1/4 onion, diced
salt to taste
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
5 cloves garlic (use less if you're not a garlic freak like I am)
4 ounces button mushrooms, cut into eighths
2 teaspoons lemon juice, divided
2 tablespoons butter
6 ounces grape tomatoes, cut in half
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, minced
1 tablespoon fresh mint, minced

2 6-ounce (or 5-ounce, if you're buying those now) cans tuna in water
2 ears corn, kernels cut off (you're only using the kernels, reserve cob for other things)
1 12-ounce bag pasta spirals (or shape you like), cooked to package directions
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas (or 1 cup shelled English peas)
1 ichiban eggplant, diced
1 tablespoon lemon pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Heat oil in cast iron pan over medium heat. Add seasoned carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add seasoned onion, cook another 5 minutes. Then toss in the seasoned celery and sprinkle in white wine vinegar, then cook that 5 more minutes. Reduce heat to low and add in garlic, mushrooms, butter and 1 teaspoon lemon. Cook it down until the mushrooms look well-softened and brown. Add in tomatoes, tarragon, mint and remaining lemon juice and cook them down another 10 or 15 minutes, stirring periodically, until a rich sauce has formed in the pan. Transfer to 2-quart casserole dish (including sauce), and add corn, peas, tuna, pasta and eggplant. If you want the lemon pepper, toss it in (I opted to just put it in my own bowl). Stir well and bake for 1 hour.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pickled Okra

As I mentioned before, I made some pickled okra. I can't tell you if it's good, since it'll be a couple weeks before I get to crack open a jar and eat it. It looks yummy, though, and I'm ready to eat it.

1 pound okra
1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
1/8 cup kosher salt

2 pint jars

In each jar: (this is PER jar, not total)

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/4 teaspoon dill seed
pinch dried chile flakes
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

Sterilize your jars. In each jar, put the spice combo listed above (and feel free to add anything to your own tastes too, such as coriander seed, allspice, what-have-you). Pack the okra tightly into each jar, alternating right-side-up and upside-down. Smoosh them on in there, seriously. About a half pound per jar. Bring the salt, vinegar and water to a boil, then pour into the jars, leaving about a half inch of headspace. Process in a water bath for 10-15 minutes (at sea level to 1000 ft). Makes 2 pints.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

American Day, plus Shrimp

Today I voted. So that's good, and I'm happy to live in a state where I can vote early.

In addition to voting, today I will be canning. It occurred to me that I actually had more stuff to can than just the remainder of that stew I made last night (which we are actually eating again for dinner, and I'll can the rest). I have the leftover pumpkin soup, which is ideal as an appetiser-soup more than it is as a full-meal-soup, so I'm canning the remaining quart in two pint jars (I made the very unpleasant discovery that my canner is not actually large enough to do quart jars. This is mostly disappointing because I just bought quart jars, but it's also sad because I can't spend the money on a 16-quart canner right now). I also have all that okra remaining to can (P actually did like the okra in the stew I made though he typically will only eat it fried or pickled). I intended to cook and can some beans, also, for days I don't feel like cooking them, but I think I don't really have time for that because I'd like to make more dolma today. That, and I'm supposed to start reading King Lear for my lit class.

Oh, I got 100% on my calculus test.

So, with all that stuff in mind, I leave you with a recipe I never took a picture of, because I forgot (once again). We had this the other day with the leftover vegetable casserole. Enjoy.

1/2 pound shrimp
1 1/2 tablespoons tamarind, soaked in 2 tablespoons of warm water*
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon each: wasabi powder, cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce

Mix together all the ingredients and marinate the shrimp for 30 minutes or so. Grill or pan fry the shrimp. Serves 2.

Note: If you get tamarind paste, it will have seeds in it. Even if it says "seedless." I'm not sure why it says seedless when it's so obviously a lie. But it always does and it never is. Anyway, to use the tamarind paste, take it and mix it up with some warm water. Then strain out any bits (seeds, seed skins, etc) and discard. Use the liquid for your cooking.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Garden Stew

Or at least, this would be a stew from my garden if I had a garden that grew more than just chives and parsley. From my dream garden, I'd make this. Instead, I bought this stuff from the farmer's market, where it came from someone else's "garden." Mostly, anyway. I've also resigned myself to the inability to make a small pot of soup or stew so I've just gone with it and intent to can the remainder tomorrow or the next day. Enjoy!

Oh, by the way, this is awesome with freshly made bread.

1/3 cup wild rice, presoaked in 2 cups of water (or not presoaked, with 2 cups extra water added to the pot)
8 ounces fresh button mushrooms (or 1/3 cup dried of your choice)
3 carrots
2 red potatoes
5 sliced cloves of garlic
2 small turnips
2 cups celery chunks
2 ichiban eggplants
2 yellow squash
3 cups rough chopped turnip greens (or greens of your choice)
1 yellow onion
large handful okra
1 bay leaf
2 cups water
1 15-ounce can each: stewed tomatoes, diced tomatoes (liquid included in stew)
1-2 tablespoons salt
2 cups cooked kidney beans

Chop up all the vegetables into large pieces. I wanted this to be fairly rustic, so I just sliced the squash and eggplant thickly and cut everything else into big chunks. Toss it all into a big pot and simmer for a few hours with the lid on, until the liquid has risen and the vegetables are all cooked through (for me, it was about 3 or so hours). Serves 6-8.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Harvest Roast

Do you guys ever just roast a bunch of veggies and pig out for dinner? That's the plan we had today after a lovely soujourn to the farmer's market. I wound up getting 10 eggplants and 7 yellow squash for 8 dollars from one vendor, a huge mess of turnips and greens, plus daikon, for 3 dollars, a massive bag of okra for 5 dollars. Etc. So this seemed a good time to just revel in the freshness of the food which was available, and also to clean out a couple other items from the fridge. P wanted this on rice, because he felt rice would fit better in the diet he's made me put him on (he claims to have gained 30 pounds since he met me, which is probably true but which I consider to be a sign of good eating rather than of weighing too much. This is not how he views it) than the simmered spelt, couscous or other type of pasta I'd originally planned to serve it with. I haven't had rice in a while, so really, it's a win. My mother sent me a big 2.5-3 quart ceramic casserole, and this is how I broke it in. I stuffed it so full I actually had to bake it for a while to cook it down a bit, before adding in all the other goodies. The thing I didn't like about this was that it actually didn't have quite enough lemon for my tastes. If I'd thought it through, I'd have added a whole preserved lemon instead of half, or just the half and some extra lemon juice. If you're not a lemon freak though, this should be just right for you. I hope you enjoy.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large handfuls whole garlic cloves
1 medium red onion, sliced into thick half moons
1 small head cauliflower, cut up (about 2 cups worth)
2 cups celery, cut into 2" pieces
1-2 yellow squash, cut into thick rounds (maybe 3/8"?)
1-2 ichiban eggplants (or whatever you've got), cut into rounds like the squash
3-4 turnips, scrubbed and cut into 6ths
1 large beet, peeled and sliced into sticks
1 large red potato, sliced into rounds
1 large roma tomato, sliced into rounds
pinch salt

1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 preserved lemon, sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoons rinsed capers
pinch saffron
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon crushed grains of paradise (sub: black peppercorns)

Heat oven to 400F. Put the whole first group into a large casserole dish and toss with hands to evenly coat with oil. Roast 40 minutes. Bring the second group of ingredients to a boil and simmer until fragrant. Pour over vegetables and stir to coat evenly. Roast another hour, stirring every twenty minutes. Drain all the juice in the bottom of your cooking dish and boil it down to a thicker sauce. Serve with rice or other grains (I spooned the sauce over the rice, too). Serves 4.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Beet Stem and Potato Quiche

This is another recipe I'm using to illustrate the kind of really good food you can feed your family for a tiny amount of money. For this one, I was trying to optimise my usage of the ever-so-lovely beet. Also I am stalling on studying for my biology midterm, and this is a lot more fun. One nice thing about the quiche is that you can eat it cold, so it's perfect for P and I to munch on all day. One meal that makes many.

Also, I was craving quiche. For like, the last couple months. I just didn't feel like making it despite the craving until today. Which is, naturally, when I discovered I was out of milk, so I had to use evaporated. If you have real milk, use 1 1/2 cups.

I used to only buy bulk beets, but it occurred to me I should stop doing that. So this last time, I bought a bunch of beets with the greens still attached. The peels of the beetroot go in my bag of vegetable leavings for stock. The greens I wilted down with lemon and some other veggies and used them in a simple pasta (I make a lot of these pastas with whatever-veggies-are-in-the-fridge and tons of lemon meals. I've shown you guys a few of them). When I was trimming the greens from the beets, I put all the little stems in another bag to use elsewhere. Plus of course the roots, which I will either roast or pan fry on another day. A large bunch of beets cost somewhere around 2 dollars at the store, so I'm estimating each part of the beet bunch as costing $0.67. I used almost half the stems for this recipe.

1 tablespoon oil (~15 cents)
1 small red potato, sliced thinly with skin left on (~20 cents)
1/2 large orange bell pepper (these were on sale 2/dollar, so 25 cents)
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided (25 cents)
1 cup sliced scallions (20 cents)
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (5 cents)
1 cup (roughly) chopped beet stems (33 cents)
3 eggs (60 cents)
1 can evaporated milk (85 cents)
salt and pepper to taste (2 cents)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (2 cents)
1 cup grated farmer's cheese or mozzarella ($1.20) (if you happen across a Syrian farmer's cheese, get it. It's perfect for this)
1 pie crust (I am too lazy to make my own, so $1.25)
1/4 cup parmesan, optional (30 cents)

Prepare or thaw one pie crust. Line a glass tart pan with the crust. Preheat oven to 450F. In a pan, heat the oil. Add in potato slices dusted with salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook until they are just beginning to become soft. Add beet stems, garlic and half the lemon juice, plus a touch more salt, and cook until firm but soft (raw, the texture of the stems is similar to rhubarb so you want to cook it down a bit). Add in bell pepper and scallions with the remainder of the lemon juice. Cook down. Turn up heat to thicken/cook away any extra liquid in the pan.

Whisk together eggs and milk, then add cheese and a bit more nutmeg. Pour veggies into pie shell and spread out evenly. Top with egg mixture. Bake 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 and cook another 25 minutes. If you see fit, top with parmesan and cook another 10 minutes. Otherwise just cook another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest 10 more minutes, then eat. Serves 8.

Total recipe cost: $5.67 (less if you make your own crust or use less/less expensive cheese. Why do my cheap recipes generally cost 5-something?)
Per serving cost: $0.71

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dolma

I got this recipe from my good friend and "nephew" Y, who lives in Haifa. This is, hands down, my favourite dolma recipe, and the one that ruins most other dolma for me. They take a couple hours to make if you're doing it solo, so just be sure to reserve enough time for them. Or even better, get a friend to help with the rolling and it'll go more quickly! Enjoy!

I use pickled grape leaves, and I've found this recipe makes closer to 100 units than 50, so I just buy the larger jar of leaves.

Around 80 young and fresh (pickled is also an option)
5-6 tablespoons of olive/corn/sunflower oil, divided
2 chopped onions
100gr of pine nuts or sunflower seeds
1.5 cups of washed and then dried rice
1 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons of chopped mint leaves
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of sweet or spicy paprika
1-2 lemons
1.5 cups of water

The recipe is for 50 units.

If you have used pickled vine leaves, then the leaves should be soaked 10-20 minutes in large bowl of water and then thoroughly rinsed to remove any excess salt.

To prepare the stuffing -

Fry the onions in 3 tablespoons of oil until they turn golden. Add
In the pine cones or sunflower seeds and continue frying for an additional
2 minutes. Mix with the rice and take off the stove. Add salt, mint
leaves, black pepper, paprika and the juice from half a lemon. Mix.

Cut off the vine leaves's stems. Take a wide and shallow pot and cover its bottom with the largest leaves. Now, you prepare your stuffed leaves - you take the vine leaves and place them with their shiny side down, put a teaspoon of the feeling on the side that is close to the stem, fold on the sides and role until it is tight and solid where the shiny side of the leaves is facing the outside. You should get about 50 units or so.

Arrange the stuffed leaves in the pot in about to squeezed layers
And again cover with whole vine leaves. Boil in a frying pan the water with
juice from half a lemon, a tiny amount of paprika and about 2-3 tablespoons of oil. Pour the liquids into the pot until they reach the height of the rolled leaves. Cover the pot and warm on a medium flame. Boil for 20-30 minutes.

Turn the fire off and leave the pot covered for at least another 30 minutes at which point you can add more lemon juice if you wish. Serve warm or cold.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pumpkin Ginger Soup

So here's that soup I mentioned the other day. It's very, very simple. This soup is based off of Dalva's soup (Dalva was the housekeeper where P lived in Brazil), which appears to have used a different variety of pumpkin.

Additionally, this is my October entry for No Croutons Required.

2 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
4 cups water
1-2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
pinch salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin skin puree (optional)
couple teaspoons olive oil (optional)

Mix the above, except oil, in a saucepan. Bring to a slow boil, reducing until it's the thickness of tomato soup. Remove from heat and puree using a blender or immersion blender. Ladle into bowls and drizzle with oil. Serves 2-4.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pumpkin Stuffed Shells

One of the things I wanted to illustrate with this dish is how cheaply we can make gourmet-type meals at home. I put the prices for each ingredient in there, as well as the per-meal-breakdown. I feel like it's important to make note of ways we can still feel decadent with our food without increasing the worries our troubling economy has brought. This recipe is one of those, as well as a continuation of my exploration of the joys of pumpkin. I hope you enjoy it.

Sauce:

1/4 cup dried mushrooms (I keep several pounds of assorted dried mushrooms, because they're an excellent value in terms of long-term viability and versatility - in this instance I used black trumpets, so this part cost about 30 cents, as I buy dry mushrooms in bulk)
1/8 cup dried shallot (buy a big bag at any Middle Eastern store for a couple bucks; this cost about 10 cents for this recipe's worth)
1 1/2 cup hot water (penny)
1 teaspoon each: oregano, thyme, basil (free since I grew and dried them)
1/4 teaspoon each: rosemary, paprika, dried galangal or ginger (I used galangal) (couple pennies)
2 peppercorns (penny)
salt (penny)

Simmer it for a couple hours, then immersion blend or blend in normal blender. Return it to the pot and continue to simmer until you're ready to make the shells.

Shells:

Equal parts pumpkin and ricotta (pumpkin was maybe 50 cents, ricotta was on sale for a big tub for 3 dollars, of which I used half and froze the rest)
1 teaspoon-ish rubbed sage (I grew and dried this, so it was free)
1 large egg (20 cents)
salt and pepper to taste (pennies)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (15-30 cents)
Shells - I usually figure 3 shells per person (on sale for 2.19; I used about half the box)
Mozzarella for the top (optional, ~1 dollar's worth or so)

Preheat oven to 350F. Cook shells according to package directions. Mix together pumpkin, ricotta, egg, salt, pepper and sage. Oil a baking pan. As the shells are done boiling, stuff them with the pumpkin mixture and put them in the pan. Cover in sauce (above) and add cheese to the top, if you're doing that part. Bake 45 minutes, covered, then 15 minutes uncovered.

This cost me about 5.38 to make 18 shells. That's actually three meals for us, since there are only two of us. With some in season sauteed veggies and a salad on the side, I spent another 2 dollars, making the first meal 3.80 and each of the other meals 1.79 each. Even if you have 6 people in your family, you can feed them all a nice meal for just a few dollars, which makes this an excellent value. The per serving cost (3 shells = one serving) is 90 cents.

This picture is not one of my finest (again!), since I actually forgot to take a picture until after I'd already plated and eaten. So uh... yeah. It might look a little off.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pumpkin Bread

I think that after pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread is probably the second most thought of pumpkin recipe. I developed this recipe to be able to send a wider variety of breads to a friend of mine and SJ's after Katrina. I actually hadn't made it since then, until today. But P asked if I could make pumpkin bread, so I threw some together while I'm working on the pumpkin shells you'll see tomorrow. I figure before I toss a savoury pumpkin dish at you, I should give this one too. Enjoy!

In blender or food processor (or whatever you use), mix:

2 large eggs
scant 2/3 cup granulated sugar
brown sugar to make the granulated a full 2/3 cup (I just like a bit for flavour)
1/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla (alright... in reality, I use closer to a tablespoon, but if you're a normal, non-vanilla-freak, go w/ a teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon each: cinnamon and ginger
1/8 teaspoon each: clove and nutmeg

Then mix in:

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon pumpkin mash (yum! I measure a little extra so I can eat some)

Then stir in:

1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt (try not to forget this, like I did today)
1/2 cup nuts (optional)

Bake in 4 mini loaf pans for 30 minutes, or one regular loaf pan for about an hour.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Pumpkin Puree, Juice, Seeds and Butter

Today is pumpkin day. This means the next couple days will probably be pumpkin days for you all, in terms of reading my blog. Today I will just tell you all about what I did to process the pumpkin. Tomorrow I will make something with the pumpkin. And so on. I have a lot of pumpkin.

I think you all probably know how to make the pumpkin mash, but if you don't I'll tell you. Most people buy those little pie pumpkins. I like to just buy one huge pumpkin and be done with it. Some people say there's a significant difference in the quality of the mash but I think they're smoking a little something extra. Or maybe that's just because I just like to do the big pumpkin, and saying they smoke a little something extra is one way of justifying it. Either way, you get what you like. I spent $4 on my huge pumpkin. The little ones cost so much more.

The Beginning:

So I cut my big pumpkin in half, from top to bottom. Then I scoop out all the seeds and the stringy bits. Most people throw away the stringy bits, but I have a use for them, so don't chuck 'em just yet. Put the bits and the seeds in a big bowl, and add enough water to cover (it's about three cups). While you're doing that, heat your oven to 375F. Cut each half of the pumpkin into 3 long strips, then cut each strip in half (this makes 12 pieces, total, for the whole pumpkin). I put half of the pumpkin bits on a sheet pan and toss it in the oven for an hour. I don't salt it, oil it, or do anything to it other than stick it in the oven and walk over to the bits bowl. When the first half comes out of the oven, take it out and let them cool until they're easy to handle. Put the other half in the oven for another hour. If you're not sure your chunks are roasted thoroughly, stick a fork in them. If the tines go in easily, it's done. If it's work, cook it longer.

The Butter:

While your stuff is roasting, you may as well start the pumpkin butter. I dip my fingers into the bowl of water-covered pumpkin bits, and I separate out all the seeds. Every last one of those little guys. They just get tossed in a colander. The bits get put in a measuring cup. My measuring cup says I got a full 4 cups of stringy bits from the pumpkin (I'm so glad I didn't get the biggest pumpkin, like I'd originally intended!). Throw it in a saucepan. Then measure out the water left in the bowl after the bits and seeds have been removed. If it's not a full 3 cups, then add enough water to make it so. If you don't have 4 cups of bits, btw, just wait until you make the mash, and then you can add enough pumpkin to make it 4 cups. Put all that stuff in your saucepan, then add:

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 heaping teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 heaping teaspoon each: ground ginger, cinnamon, bergamot (or regular orange) peel, ground allspice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Let it cook for about an hour over medium to medium high heat. Then stick your immersion blender in there and blend away (or put it in a real blender and do the same). Keep on heating it until it's thick and ... uh... fruit-butter-like. I had to ask my mom about the correct texture, since I've never made this stuff before. She said not as thick as peanut butter, but not thin enough to run. Either way, do it like that. I reduced the heat as the mixture reduced, because I'd hate to have burned this concoction. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

You can can this is you like, but I just stuck it in a jar and it's in the fridge. I tasted it, and it's pretty yummy, so I don't think it'll last long enough to warrant canning.

Back to the Mash:

When the chunks of pumpkin come out of the oven, let them cool down until you can handle them. Then cut off the skins (unless you're cooler than me and already peeled them. I used to do that, until the year I lost a chunk of my thumb to the peeler. Now I do it after they're cooked), cube the pumpkin (don't feel bad if you can't help but munch on a few cubes of this sweet, sweet taste of heaven - it happens) and throw it in the food processor. You can use a food mill too, or a blender, or... well, you know. Do it however you like to do it. Then! Then, we make juice. Make your juice. Then portion out the pumpkin and store however you like (in the freezer, by canning, whatever. I'm not in charge of it). I like to store it in one cup and two cup parts, for versitility in recipe selection.

Juice:

Take the seeds out of your colander (hopefully you've rinsed them well, but we'll get to that in a minute too). Line the colander with some cheese cloth and stick the whole shebang in a big bowl. Dump in the puree (I did half the pumpkin at a time), and let it drain. This is similar to what you do if you have one of those cool jelly strainers, but I don't have one so I had to make my own, so to speak. Anyway, let it drain. And drain. And drain. You can gather the tops of the cheese cloth and squeeze the pumpkin too, if you like. I do that when I'm impatient. I think it took around 2 hours total for the pumpkin to be "juiced." Put all that juice in a pitcher. I got around a litre. Chill it. It's delicious. If you like it sweeter though, add in some simple syrup or whatever you prefer.

Seeds:

Is this anyone else's favourite part? I love the pumpkin on the whole, but the seeds? They're like the reward for all your hard work. Most of the time I'm a purist about this, only adding salt and oil, but today I felt rebellious. So I used Tony Chachere's seasoned salt.

Anyway, rinse off the seeds in the colander, and get all the bits off. You need those for the butter. Then spread them out on the baking sheet and let them dry until you're done doing everything else with the pumpkin. Heat your oven to 250F or 300F (what I heat it to varies each time). Pour on a tablespoon of your chosen oil on the seeds, and whatever spices you like them to be seasoned with. Mix it all up, then spread them out evenly. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, depending. Let cool, then eat!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Fridge

Our fridge was delivered yesterday. It was missing a part. And it ... doesn't fit. I am happy to have it sitting in the middle of my kitchen. If it continues to live in the middle of the kitchen, fine by me. If it is somehow made able to fit, even better.

But either way? I HAVE A FRIDGE!!!!!!!!

While I was at school, P went down to Phoenicia without telling me and got some things I have missed. It was a great surprise when I got home (even better than the laundry being done, which I also got!)! Olives! Salami! Cheese! Brussels sprouts! All sorts of fun things!

Then we went to the regular store and we got some other foods. I feel much better having food in the fridge. Today we came home and made sandwiches and are now happily snacking on olives (ok, and some lupini beans). Tomorrow I will be making dinner. I'm excited!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Cherry Pecan Granola

Kevin from Closet Cooking made some granola recently (as an aside, if you have never seen his blog, please go there - it's absolutely lovely), and then SJ made it too. And now, in the aftermath of the hurricane, P and I have discovered our bellies are... not as small as we want them to be. So we agreed that when we get our new refrigerator delivered (Tuesday), we will start a diet together. I am in charge of the food. P is in charge of getting both of us on the Bowflex; I won't adjust it, so he has to ready it for me, for each exercise.

We lost our maple syrup in the flood, amongst a gazillion other foods. So I decided to make a cereal P would really like but which wouldn't bust his waistline further - this means cherries. I wanted to make something he could have with milk for breakfast, or something that he could take to school as a sort of trail mix. I think a larger quantity would be better to make normally, but I want to be sure P likes it before I stick him with 80 pounds of it.

So here is my rendition of Kevin's granola. All quantities are approximate, as truly I did eye-ball all of this (I mixed it on the couch/bed while P wasn't looking). The honey I used is darkly coloured, so my granola is a little darker than you might normally have.

1/8 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/3-1/2 cup dried cherries (seedless are preferable here; at my store you can get either)
1 scant cup rolled oats (farewell, sweet oats; I will miss you until I get a new container)
pinch salt
1/4 cup cherry-infused honey

Preheat oven to 300F. Mix ingredients, then spread on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bean and Rice Porridge

Originally, this wasn't intended to be porridge-like. I mainly planned to serve this not-too-long after the rice was done, but sometimes life gets in the way. I didn't take a picture of it, because it looks really gross. It was delicious, though. Anyway, it was tasty as breakfast, but is probably more appropriate for lunch or dinner.

1/2 cup cargamanto beans (pintos are a fine substitute)
1/2 teaspoon italian spices
1 tablespoon dried onion
1/8 teaspoon: dill weed, garlic powder, dried minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon salt
1 cube chicken bouillon (or vegetarian)

1 can stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup brown rice
salt and pepper to taste
1/2-1 cup water

Soak the beans overnight. Add to them the remainder of the first group of ingredients, and cook until the beans are at their desired level of softness. Then add the salt and bouillon. Cook over medium heat 10 more minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook 2 hours more. Serves 2-4.