Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Birthday

On the Writer's Almanac this morning, there was this blurb:

It's the birthday of the woman who wrote one of the most popular cookbooks in history, Irma Rombauer, (books by this author) born in St. Louis, Missouri (1877). The author of The Joy of Cooking actually wasn't a good cook at all, but she was a famous hostess in St. Louis, and she wrote a cookbook for people like her, people who needed straightforward directions and simple ingredients.

This is me...I like to entertain. Okay, wait a minute. I "can" cook, and I'm not all that famous of a hostess here in Winnemucca. I do like to entertain tho, people like my parties. And... I have this cookbook in my collection.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

no TWD

I plan to get back on track with Tuesdays With Dorrie next week. Hopefully I haven't been kicked out. I'll be very sad, if that's the case. I've missed the last three. And I'm so sorry to have missed these cupcakes. HEY....I might do them tonight and post at midnight...then, I'm still in the game!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Comfort Food



I needed a comfort meal...and autumn comfort meal. My life feels as if it's been on high speed these past couple of weeks.
My job in the fall is very busy. I am the director for the Chamber of Commerce in our small town. We had a huge fund-raiser two weeks ago, and then we sponsored a local candidates night and now....well, lets just say it doesn't end, until the Christmas parade in mid-December.
I'm not saying I don't like it, it's a great job, but I have just been feeling on a merry-go-round and I can't get off.
So....Sunday came. Ah Sunday. We worked in the yard, raking leaves, read books a bit and I fixed this...comfort food.
Something my grandma would have made on a Sunday.
Pot roast
mashed potatoes and gravy
carrots and brussel sprouts

I made the pot roast just like my mom used to make. Seasoned it with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Browned it in oil and all sides, then added some Lipton Onion Soup. Just like my mom used to. It ends up making a great onion gravy. It was just a nice, warm, old-fashioned meal.

Mashed potatoes....with heavy cream and butter, because, well, we aren't worried about calories this day. We just want comfort.

And finally, I roasted the baby carrots and the brussel sprouts together. Similar to "Kitchen Girl's" great brussel sprout recipe. (it's where I got the idea).

I had some yeast rolls and butter.
The only thing missing was an apple pie. A homemade apple pie. Darn it.... I had apples both in my fridge and on my tree.
It was just a nice day for relaxing and regrouping and...eating comfort food like my mom and grandma used to make.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

answer me this

IF.....if baking is such an exact science.... chemistry and all that.... how come my grandma's recipes say "a pinch of salt" or "a bit of baking soda"? And she was a great cook and baker!?
And she never, ever used a regulation "teaspoon" or "tablespoon", but when she did use them she used the table spoons, the silverware we ate with, that's what she used.

I'm just wondering.
It has been a busy fall for me, hardley any blogging lately. But, I did just stick a roast in the oven, so, maybe later.....

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Taste of Home Cooking School

A Taste of Home


I have been a bad blogger lately. I could list the reasons why, but....... does anybody really care? You just care that I'm back (kind of) don't you?

Still...things are crazy at work, so this is just a short recap and pictures of our "Taste of Home" evening.

We had fun. That is the short of it.
We drove to Elko, in the afternoon, and checked into our motel and then went to the convention center and registered for the show. We got a great little "goodie bag" when we registered. It had all kinds of neat treats and coupons and samples in it.

There were vendors and food booths. And food booths and vendors.

The radio station who sponsored it, had the restaurants in town, serve us.... a buffet!!!
There was salmon and pork and pasta and beef and seafood!
All of it was included in the $7.00 fee for the show. We ate Great!!!

For anyone who gets the "Taste of Home" magazine, you would have loved it. Even for those who didn't get the magazine, it was tons of fun.
She made about 10 dishes from the "fall" magazine, and we all followed along as she went. there was a great camera showing her moves and instructions that showed on a big screen behind her.

We had a really fun evening.....
and....again...not much blog here...
but, some photos.....


Those who went...
(I'm in there somewhere---first photo. And don't forget...the camera adds, 10, no 20...NO 30 pounds!!)



The Buffet before the beginning of the show. I couldn't believe that I was the only one with a camera. And I don't mean, just from my group. I saw no one taking pictures, so I felt a little awkward.


Some of us "won" potholders.
(not me)
At the beginning of the show, they had the audience shout 'BRING OUT THE POTHOLDERS'
and boy did they! they had a huge stack or two, which they tossed out into the audience.
Gina, Mitzi and Julie won a potholder!!



The stage as we saw it.... you can see the big screen there. So we saw our teacher/cook and then we saw what she was doing on the screen.



I recommend that everyone should go to a "Taste of Home" show if they can.
It was fun.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pasties...or Pastys

Pasties. (or pastys)
a meat and vegetable hand held pie, associated with Cornwall England. Favorites of Miners.


They are a legend in my husband's family. (that and spaghetti), but I've been in this family for over 30 years and no one has EVER made them for me. 30 years and I've never seen a pastie. I've never eaten a pastie, I've never smelled a pastie. But my husband talks of old, favorite dishes that his mom made and how much he loved them...pasties were on the top of the list. His aunt makes them, his brother makes them. They all make them and get together and have pastie parties. And then write and talk about them and tease us.
We don't live close....a couple states away, so, no, we are not invited. And no one has ever made them while we were visiting.
The Stone/Belcher/Solaro/Brklacich Family Pasties are a legend....just like big foot. Do they exist or don't they?

So, I decided to make them. For my husband. I have never even laid eyes on them. I must say here, that YES, I am a cook, but I had trouble understanding this recipe without a picture.
The "advice" I got from my Mother in law, Aunt in law and Brother in law, was to "put" the meat, onions and potatoes on the crust.
They used phrases like "mound the meat and potato mixture in the middle of the dough."
I asked... "How much?" I needed to know this. Exactly.
They said..."just mound it in there."
I needed a specific. 1/2 cup, 2/3 cup? I couldn't get past "the mound" or "just put 'some' in there".
They would not share this with me. Not on purpose, mind you, they just are used to making them and it all comes easy to them, but this pastie conversation was all thru a series of e-mails....and the communication is more difficult.
I should have just called... but that would have been too easy. My mother in law sent me one recipe she found that said, put 1 cup in the dough, but I tried that and it was WAY TOO MUCH for mine. The dough split while it was cooking and they looked like open faced tarts. Maybe I should have spread the mixture around more and not left it in a "mound".
Oh well, practice makes perfect.

Since one cup of filling was too much, I used a rounded 1/2 cup, and it wasn't enough. It was mostly crust...the pastie was. Lots and lots of crust. and lots of crust. BUT, I made homemade chunky applesauce too, so if you took some applesauce (which tasted very similar to applepie filling) and a piece of crust, it was great!
I used pre-made pie dough. My husband, Rich was used to his mom's homemade dough. (HA--used to? It's been over 30 years!). but now they all say they use the pre-made pie crust dough as a convenience.
And the pasties tasted good. I just need to put more filling in next time. I also didn't know if I should make them "pretty" (which I didn't).
So.... when I make them again, I'll pretty them up.

So, first....my fall dinner, and then "advice" from my family in law.

My fall dinner
pasties with brown gravy to put over
chunky applesauce
simple shrimp salad
bread
brownies


The official pastie recipe calls for dough, cubes of meat, (sirloin tips), cubes of potatoes.
Things you can add.... almost anything you want to.
onions,
mushrooms
shredded carrots
etc.
(see advice/recipes below)

the stuff you need (by the way, I swiped the "hand written" recipe from my mother in law, the last time we were up there)




all together

my little mound of stuffing.....with butter. (it looks so sad and alone)

the pasties before going into the oven


And check out this picture! I asked my husband to take a picture of me brushing the tops with an egg wash. I said...take it close and just get exactly what I'm doing in the frame.
So...bless him...he took the picture and got EVERY SINGLE THING ON THE COUNTER AROUND ME in the frame. LOL
the cookbook, teaspoons, carton of cream, telephone, as well as the sheet of pasties. (sigh) , oh well. (It's very washed out too)



The pasties after coming out of the oven



My fall dinner



Pasties with gravy, shrimp salad, chunky applesauce and bread. (I need some darker colored plates---observant mothers and mother in laws will note this for the holiday season. LOL )


THE IN-LAW ADVICE (I love them!!)

My mother in law, Teresa:
Dear Debbie,
yes you can put raw meat , onion and potato, with a touch of butter on top of the crust and it will cook in about an hour. We now are using Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust that you get in the case by the biscuits. It's faster and works just fine. Let me know if you need any more information on these.
love you

My brother in law, Scott:
Debbie,
I tried to find the recipe that mom gave me but I must have lost it. Yes can really put raw beef in a pastry and cook it through without burning the pastry. I cube up the ingredients and season them. I place them in a bowl and cover them overnight. I use the rolled pie dough from the store, like Pillsbury. I unroll the pie dough and fill it with the ingredients, usually beef, potatoes, and mushrooms. I then place a small of butter on the tops and seal the dough. I cut vent holes in the dough to release the steam. I brush the pastry dough with beat egg to make it shine. I cook it for about an hour. Darleen says that I need lots more practice. She offered to sample each time I make it until I finally get it right.


Aunite Darleen:
Hi there..
I use Pillsbury pie crust (in the red box in cooler dept). Cut up round steak, onions, peel and dice potatoes. Lay out crust, put meat, onions, potatoes on crust. Add pat of butter (not CUBE OF BUTTER UNLESS YOU ARE PAULA DEEN!!! LOL). Season with salt and pepper. You may pre-season your meat in fridge with whatever seasonings you want and cover. I do this with salt and pepper and sometimes I put worchestershire sauce in it. Cover with saran wrap if you do this or use zip lock bag. Whatever works for you. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. After pasties are seasoned/butter, close pie crust and poke a couple of holes in the top of each pie. Sometimes I use a whole crust if I make HUGE pasties, or I cut them in half and make smaller pies.
Everyone here loves the biggies!! Place on baking sheets and check after 30 minutes. Usually it takes another 15 minutes for them to be done. If you cut the ingredients into bite size pieces, everything will be done at the same time.
I like mine with catsup but most everyone else likes brown gravy over theirs.
Now you are "officially" in the "family of pasty makers!!"
You can opt to put whatever you like in your pasties as they are meant to be "hand pies" and complete meals. I love them hot, I love them cold, I love them period. They are my very favorite food in the entire world. Need I say more??

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Honestly

Honestly....

I don't know if I can eat/use this sourdough. It smells, kind of "sour".
Buying a loaf of sourdough bread from your favorite bakery or having some sourdough biscuits made by your grandma is one thing (well, two things actually, but try to follow me here), but I..... have a weird idiosyncrasy.
I cannot eat anything the "day of" or past a due date.
I cannot eat food that has been in my fridge for longer than a day or two...and even the 2nd day is stretching it.
I'm weird, I get it.
I so wanted to make a good sourdough and make these cinnamon rolls. But I just don't know if I can make bread from something that is sitting out and getting smelly on my counter.
It's not natural to leave food sitting out and letting things grow in them. Microorganisms, to be precise.
I will try tho. Wish me luck

I will end with what we picked/harvested from our backyard yesterday. We thought it time to not let the birds get them (the grapes). And I have one green tomato left, a few jalepenos, and a bunch of apples that I need to pick.

Maybe some applesauce on Sunday? I'll blog about it.
I'm off tomorrow with friends to go to the "Taste of Home" Cooking show in Elko.
We're excited. We're spending the night. Girl time!!




NOW I'm crazy

I thought this would take longer....It's been 18 hours. A day and a half.... and I have the beginnings of sour dough. It's bubbling away already. Can you tell from the pictures?


Here is what John Ross says:
Within 3 or 4 days (it can take longer, a week or more, and it can happen more quickly) you should start getting lots of bubbles throughout, and a pleasant sour or beery smell.

Okay, it has begun to have bubbles throughout, but it doesn't smell sour or beery yet.
I will give it another day.



Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Call me crazy

Sourdough?

Call me crazy. Yes...crazy. I have no idea why I decided to do this, but I have.
I am making a sourdough starter. Because I have this vision of great cinnamon rolls in my head. Made by a living organism, a thriving colony of microorganisms in fact, that live in my fridge....for years. (we'll see)

I took my cue/recipe/ideas from two sources.
1. John Ross ( Sourdough Baking, The basics)
2. My mother in law, Teresa Belcher (she gave me some recipes from her file)

I am going the "purist" route.....no potato water, no vinegar, but only flour and water. I'll let you know if it works.
And if it does, in a few weeks, I'll try out those cinnamon rolls.

My recipe
Blend 1 cup warm water with 1 cup flour.

THAT'S THE WHOLE RECIPE

Don't use metallic containers or utensils.
keep in a warm place--ideally, 70-80 degrees.
Cover with a lose fitting piece of plastic wrap.
Feed every 24 hours. (throw away half the starter and add 1 cup warm water and 1 cup flour)
Within 3-4 days (may take longer) you should start seeing lots of little bubbles, throughout and a pleasant "sour" smell.
When your starter develops a bubbly froth, it is done.
Then you can put it in your fridge and it only has to be fed every 7-10 days.

so says John Ross.

I'll let you know.


Bookclubs and more Bookclubs!

On Monday, I said this about this book: This one was---just okay.  I read it for book club and tomorrow night I have to go defend my opi...