Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Coconut Macaroons


Every once in awhile, when you read a book, that you've never read before, you'll notice all sorts of allusions and references and quotes to the book happen all around you once you've finished it.
The question is...did this happen "before" you read the book, and you just didn't know it? You didn't realize it because you had no point of reference?

I have a circle of friends who get together every few months for a BBQ or potluck or lunch, but sometimes if we are asked to "bring a dish to share", inevitably two or more of us will bring the same or similar dishes. (we once had 3 hot artichoke dips at the same party).

These two instances above are examples of this post. I had been thinking of making coconut macaroons. I purchased the ingredients. I took pictures as I was making them.
And then.... I logged on to my blog.
There on my sidebar was an update from "Lori" of "Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness". She had posted about "Coconut Macaroons".

How odd is that? Is there really a collective unconscious? Do great minds think alike?

You'll have to check out Lori's cookies, they look great...better than mine. Mine taste great tho. Like "Mounds bars" in a cookie.
Our recipes are very similar, only she uses more flour...which I plan to do the next time I make these. Mine spread a bit too much.

My cookie recipe comes from this cookbook (so this can count as my cookbook goal also)

Rosie's Bakery
Chocolate Packed, Jam Filled, Butter-Rich, No-Holds-Barred, Cookie Book
by Judy Rosenberg





The Cookies are:
Chocolate Coconut Scoops


THE COOKIE
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups shredded sweetened coconut

THE GLAZE
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate
4 tsp vegetable oil

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat mat.

2. Using a whisk, vigorously stir the sugar, egg whites and flour together in a medium sized bowl. Then stir in the coconut.

3. Using a melon baller or a mini-cookie scoop, scoop mounds of the mixture onto the baking sheets, placing them 2-inches apart. Bake until the edges and tops just begin to turn golden, about 12 minutes. Cool completely on the baking sheets.

4. When cookies have cooled, prepare the glaze: Melt the chocolate in the top of a double-boiler placed over simmering water. Stir in the oil.

5. Place the chocolate mixture in a small deep bowl and dip the bottom of each coconut cookie in the glaze. Set them upside down (they will tip slightly) on a plate or rack and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

6. If you plan to snack on them the first day, place the cookies on a plate. After that, layer the cookies in an air-tight container, using plastic wrap, parchment or waxed paper between the layers and store in the fridge.



*******************
This recipe says it makes 14 scoops, but I got double that...without doubling the recipe. they must have a bigger scoop, than I do.

I only baked them for about 11 minutes. I guess you'll have to test your own to see how your oven works.

You'll notice that I dipped half the cookie in the chocolate and not the bottom. You can dip however you want. (or drizzle like Lori did)
I've done it both ways, so whatever you like to do is fine.
The cookies are even good without the chocolate.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Friday Friend Button

I have a button!! A link.
Courtesy of my friend and neighbor, Karen, of Karen Cooks.

We say neighbor because we are only 8-9 hour away from each other and out here in the west, that is pretty darn close.

I liked Karen's new button (check my sidebar...check her site.....grab her link), and commented on it and the next morning was I surprised to find a few "buttons" for me to choose from in an e-mail.

The Friday Friends are a group of my old, new, dear friends from far and near, so I took a quick vote and we went with the "cracked eggs" button, because Barb said we are all a bunch of cracked eggs.
And we are.....

Thank you Karen!!
I thank you, and all the "cracked eggs" in the Friday Friend Forum thank you.

Now....grab a link, mine and Karen's.

Good Books-- Good Eats




Supper and Book-Club





We met and discussed "The Lace Reader" by Brunonia Barry, last Thursday. It was my choice.
I hadn't read it before I made the choice for my book-club.
I know that a lot of people choose a book they have previously read...they want to make sure it's a good book.
But "good" is pretty subjective if you ask me. (see this post)
I used you...the book blogging community to make my choice, and you did me good.
I chose a book that seemed "hot" on all the book blogs a few months ago, and the fact that Barry self-published at first, and used the Internet to promote her book to book groups around the country, intrigued me.

I'll cut to the chase, because while I'm an avid reader, I'm a horrible reviewer. I liked the book. As did everyone at the book-club who read it. There were 8 of us at the book-club and 5 of us had read it. All 5 of us really enjoyed the book...and after the night was over, I think we convinced the other 3 to give it a try.

If I had a footnote that said "if you liked this, you might like this"
I would say, that if you like "The Lace Reader," you might like "The Double Bind" by Chris Bohjalian. There was a common theme, that is not apparent until the very end.
Both of these books are good. I think you will enjoy them.



It was Rene's birthday!!
We bought her.... a book!


The Tale of Two Soups

I hosted another book club at my house on Thursday. For this book club, we also serve supper. I love to cook for people, as do most food bloggers, BUT, I had just hosted a different book club on Wednesday night (see post below), and I have a job, so I didn't have much time to make a full meal.

I decided on soup and salad. I could make the soup the night before, or early in the morning before work. Soup always tastes better the next day anyway.

It's always been a dream of mine to own a soup restaurant. Nothing but soups and breads. And desserts. (and I would be so popular that I wouldn't have a menu, I would just make 3-4 different soups that I wanted to each day and that would be the soup my customers would get) And there would be books, so people could eat soup and read a book.
Oh, well, this is what we did at book club on Thursday!!!

I made clam chowder and chicken soup....in my two big red pots. (please disregard the old 1980's stove :~)
I "made" the soups, but I opened a bag of Caesar Salad and a loaf of French bread. And I opened a couple of bottles of wine.
It was the perfect evening....soup, salad, wine, books.... and chocolate cake!



If I'm giving credit where credit is due...this "Clam Chowder" recipe comes from an "Original" Friday Friend, Barbara Brown.
Besides being a great cook, Barb has a great sense of humor and a good attitude. She once said, of dieting, "it's been so much fun to find good recipes to make on this diet."

I've never used the words "fun" and "diet" in the same sentence. Maybe that's why she's "fit" and I'm not.

On to the soups....
I will say one thing about both of these soups....they are REALLY GOOD!!!

Heavenly Clam Chowder (that's the name Barb gave me)
(and this is how she wrote the recipe for me)

Cut 5 slices bacon into 1-inch pieces and cook in the soup kettle till limp.....about 5 minutes.
Add 1 large chopped onion and 1 cup chopped celery and cook until onion is limp...about 10 minutes.
Add 3-4 potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks, 1/4 cup parsley, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and 1 quart chicken broth.
Cover and and cook until potatoes are tender...about 30 minutes.
Stir in 2 10oz cans of minced clams with liquid.
Stir in 1 quart of milk and cook until soup is hot, but not boiling.
Blend 5-6 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1/4 cup water until smooth and add to the soup.
Continue cooking until soup boils and thickens.
Taste and add more salt if necessary.
***************
Things I did differently
I used only 1/2 onion
I used half and half instead of milk
I used "new" potatoes and left the skin on
I used 3 cans of minced clams with juice
I used more than a quart of chicken broth/stock

I don't usually pat myself on the back too much, but this was really a great soup.





_____________________________

Do you have recipes that look like this in your kitchen notebook?


Or are you one who always writes on a nice recipe card? I love recipe cards, but I don't always have them ready when someone is giving up their treasured recipe, so I grab what I can. I have thought often of typing them all so they look the same and putting them into a more organized notebook...but I never have gotten around to it.
My oldest son....YES, my son, gets my cookbooks when I die. (he's the only one who calls me and asks serious questions such as: how do you cook artichokes? How do you make pepper steak? My youngest one will call and ask what they should have for dinner. I make suggestions and he'll say, no....um nope, uh not that. LOL )
Anyway, I digress. My oldest son will have fun deciphering all my recipes written on funny scraps of paper.

My friend and Pastor Gayle, gave me this recipe for turkey soup. It's sooo good. I made it into chicken soup tho. For the most part, they are interchangeable, aren't they?

Turkey Soup (really good!!)

1) Saute` green onion, green pepper and red pepper in olive oil
2) 1 lb turkey meat
3) 4-6 red potatoes
4) 1 quart of chicken broth
5) Add 1/2 bag frozen corn, salt, pepper and a bay leaf
6) simmer until potatoes are tender
7) and some half and half and heat
8) serve

so, those are the instructions on the orange sheet of paper...I did this:
I used rotisserie chicken from the deli
I left my potato skins on again
I used more than a quart of stock





______________________________

The good thing about soups, is that you can really put your own signature on them. You can add things you like, take away things you don't.
And if you make a really good soup....people remember it for a long time. Or they remember the experience....soup is very hospitable....a casual, great tasting, great time, experience on your tongue!!

And then, if you throw in a glass of wine and a book.... ah, life is good!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Totally Lit




Book club and the reason I'm not a book reviewer or an author.

Because this is how I would describe last night:
It was so much fun!! (and then I wouldn't know what else to say)

I have a hard time with description.

We, the Totally Literature book-club, read "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" and met last night to discuss it.


Our friend Kathy made  a REAL Potato Peel Pie! 
It was great!

It was a consensus...we all loved the book.
And we all took on a British accent and a jaunty air... okay, so we didn't really, but we all loved Juliet and wanted to be just like her. She was a protagonist that we all admired so much. We just loved her and the rest of the characters on Guernsey.

What else is there to say? I'm not a book reviewer.
But, have you ever read a book, that just made you feel good? That's what the Guernsey book is like. Bad things happen...it takes place shortly after the end of WWII in both London and the Guernsey Islands. England is starving, families have been separated, homes destroyed, but it is the strength of the human spirit that comes out in this book. The comfort of friends, the power of the written word.
That's another thing. It is an epistle...written in a series of letters...book. Sometimes that is really difficult to "get into", but a few pages into the Potato Peel Pie Society, I was hooked.
Before we had e-mail, text messaging and IMing, I was a letter writer. (see pile of letters in photo below). It's a lost art. We talked a bit about that last night...the lost art of letter writing.

I live in Winnemucca, NV. I moved away for 5 years and then we moved back. In that 5 years, my friend (also named Debbie) and I wrote to each other every week. I saved every single one of her letters. And the letters of anyone else who has ever written to me. But because we are taking about book-club and Debbie was there at book-club last night, we will not be mentioning, Theda or Sally or Tomi, whose letters I also have, saved in ribbons in a box...in chronological order. (I'm a bit of a dork. )
I have every letter that Debbie ever sent to me. And you know what? I think we are great writers. Letter writers!! It takes practice is all.
People will say, that they don't write good letters.... but I say, it's time to practice again. That's all it takes.
I got those letters out last night after my friends left and read a few.... it made me cry. Happy tears. We wrote about our struggles raising jr. high kids .....who now have kids of their own.... and aging parents.... and silly neighbors.
We never thought that 15 years later, we would be sitting together in a book-club, talking about a book, that we both loved that had all these great topics:
friends, food, books, and letter writing.

You should read the book! That's my recommendation.

One of the most fun things? Our real "Potato Peel Pie"

Bookclub friends below....







Oatmeal Pie part 2



The Book-club meeting held at my house last night was one of the most fun ever. We laughed and talked and ate.
There was a real diverse group of ladies--some of us are "friends" outside of book-club and some of us are only acquaintances.
(if you want to see my book club post, go here . It's my other blog)

This particular book-club has been meeting since 2003, but there are only 3 of us who have been with it since the beginning. It ebbs and flows on members. 3 of us since the beginning and a core group of 6 who are always in attendance. It can grow to 12 and I think if everyone came there would be 15 of us there.
I encourage people to invite their friends, because I like diversity.
It's fun to have that "stay-at-home" mom and that lawyer discussing the same book (These girls are the same age and went to high school together. Same age as my sons)

A group like this doesn't always work for everyone. Most times, it's nice to have some common background, but in this group we have mothers and daughters, old friends, new friends, doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs. It's fun.

But you really want to know how the oatmeal pies turned out, don't you? They were "okay". I don't think I would pre-cook the pie crust next time. Even tho it says to. They were a bit overdone (as you can tell by the pictures.) But the crust itself is good and flaky, like a homemade pie crust should be.

I've seen a few different recipes for Oatmeal Pie, and I really wanted to make the one that has coconut in it, but I didn't. I thought that coconut was a luxury food item, that they probably didn't have on the Island of Guernsey in 1947. So we stayed as close to "rustic" as we could.
I used an Amish recipe from Marcia Adams "Cooking From Quilt Country". She added a bit of orange zest, which I also did. I think if I make this recipe again tho, I'll leave it out. And if we're being true foodstuff that were available, there were probably no oranges to be had on the Island of Guernsey during the occupation. (The truth is, they most likely didn't have corn syrup either. or cinnamon)

Before I post the pictures and the recipe, I have to tell you that my friend Kathy brought a "Potato Peel Pie" which was so fitting as the book was "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society."
She made up the recipe. It was not anything like a Shepherd's Pie, which was what I thought it would be. It was a Potato Peel Pie. And....it was SOOO GOOOD!!
Nothing like the one in the book. No beets to sweeten the pie. Kathy made a savory pie. I'll post pictures of her pie at the end of this. And give her recipe.

I do feel bad....the buttermilk pie that April made? I have no pictures. And it was a great pie!! Very sweet, very simple. I think they call it a "poor man's" pie. It was a favorite. It was SOOO GOOOD too.


Oatmeal Pie

1 pre-baked 9-inch pie shell (I think you can really get by without a "pre-baked" shell)
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon grated orange rind (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup quick oatmeal, uncooked

preheat the over to 350. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Add to eggs and blend. Add the corn syrup, melted butter, orange rind and vanilla and blend again. Mix in the oatmeal and pour into the baked pie crust.
Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool completely and serve at room temperature.

My wonderful photos need no explination.
(or do they?)


***********

Kathy's Potato Peel Pie

She said it she made it like a quiche. With peels from Yukon gold potatoes, a leek, butter, eggs and jack cheese.
And Celtic Sea Salt.
It was really good.
And so much a part of the theme of the book.....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pat in the Pan (it may not look pretty, but it tastes great)



My bookclub meets this Wednesday night (and another one on Thursday. More on that later).
Our book choice for this month was "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society", which is a great read if anyone wants to give it a try. I loved it.

We meet at my house and a couple of my friends and I are doing a "theme" dessert/refreshment.
Kathy is bringing a "potato pie". She said it's savory dish, so I am assuming it will be similar to a Shepherds Pie.
April is bringing a "buttermilk pie" and I decided to make an "oatmeal pie".
Our dessert pies are both pies that are made from just a few ingredients...kind of a poor man's pie.

In the book, the residents of the small town had to "make do" with little or no food during the German occupation of the Guernsey Islands during World War II.
So... we are making very rustic desserts. But they are also very good. I'll take pictures tomorrow night of all the refreshments and desserts.

I have an old cookbook by Marcia Adams called, "Cooking from Quilt Country" and in it she has a recipe for a "pat in pan" pie crust, where you do just as the title suggests.
You put your ingredients into the pie pan, mix it up and then pat it to fit the pie pan.
How much more rustic can you get?

Tonight the pie crust, tomorrow the pie....


Pat in Pan Pie Crust
It make not look pretty, but it does taste great!
makes a single -crust for an 8-9 inch pie

1 1/2 cups plus 3-tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons cold milk

Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the pie pan and mix with your fingers until blended.
In a measuring cup, combine the oil and the milk and beat with a fork, until creamy. Pour all at once over the flour mixture. Mix with a fork until the flour mixture is completely moistened. Pat the dough with your finger tips, up the sides of the pie pan and then in the bottom.
Shell is ready to be filled. If you are preparing a shell to fill later, or your recipe requires a pre-baked crust, pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Prick the pie crust with a fork and bake for 15 minutes, checking often and pricking more if needed.

The ingredients......



Mix in the pan



by hand....that's what it said to do, and that's what I did.




mix the oil and the milk in a measuring cup (oil and milk don't mix well)



pour into the pie pan







mix with a fork until moistened



pat in pan
ready for the oven


cooling until tomorrow...... when we'll add some eggs, oatmeal, butter, corn syrup, etc.
Stay tuned......


Monday, March 23, 2009

Dinner in a flash.


We all have these nights...right?


I was feeling rushed tonight...no time to cook.
But I had some round steak that I needed to cook before....well, before you know what (before I had to throw it away)

My mom used to make a Swiss steak with round steak, onions and tomatoes...so that is exactly what I did.

While my grandson Camron watched....he ate his snack. A sliced tomato. His favorite...go figure??




He won't eat spaghetti sauce to save his soul. Or ranch dressing. Or sauce of any kind whatsoever. I told him tonight...you know, you're Uncle Mark won't eat tomatoes. He doesn't like them.
Cam thought for a moment and said, "hmm. He's weird."
But touch this Swiss Steak? Not with a sauce on it....
I took the round steak and dredged it in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.
Browned it in some oil.




Added some sliced onions.




Then a can of stewed tomatoes.




I let it simmer on the stove top, covered, for an hour and a half, made some rice and that was dinner tonight.



It was good. Simple, not fancy, but really good. Just like my mom used to make.

This was my husband's plate...he likes to pepper everything TO DEATH.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Breakfast

I love corned beef and cabbage. I think I might "love it" because I only eat it once a year.
I know that I could eat it more often, (if I did, tho, I might just like it ) but my husband doesn't like it, so he puts up with having it for St. Patrick's day, or around that time. One day a year is his limit.

This year, tho, due to a funny set of circumstances, we had it three times in one week. Even tho I claim to LOVE it, I was tired of it by the time last night rolled around.
And my poor husband....well...he was a great sport. We also had Irish Lamb Stew and Sheppherd's Pie this week. We were very Irish. (and we were also invited to friends homes where we had these Irish feasts this week, or I would have been posting all of these )

Last night...it was at my supper table that we had our 3rd Corned Beef dinner. (I had invited friends a couple weeks before hand and couldn't back out of what I was fixing)
I cooked my corned beef in half water-half apple juice with a tsp of djon mustard and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Not sure if it did anything extraordinary or not, but it was good.
I do a corned beef, potatoes, onions, carrots and then steam the cabbage on top.

I decided to make corned beef hash this morning. Or a quick variation of it anyway. I looked quickly on the "inter-net" and most recipes just called for potatoes, onion, corned beef... with a fried egg on top. Just what I wanted.
Alton Brown's recipe was a bit more complicated and I think he used the leftover cabbage in the hash...which is probably more accurate to the original, but I stuck with the simple today.

Speaking of "accurate" and "original", I forget that I have a cookbook "The Complete Book of Irish Country Cooking" by Darina Allen.
It has a corned beef recipe, but says that in Ireland, the dish is not as popular as it is in America.

And I think the fact that I made corned beef and cabbage last night meets a requirement of cooking from every cookbook I own. I'm crossing this off the list!





Back to my Corned Beef Hash. It was really good.... and really simple

This morning I took the leftover out of the fridge, grabbed an onion and some butter... ( corned beef looks gross cold )



Put some butter and oil in the bottom of a skillet, chopped the potatoes and onions, shredded the corned beef and fried them up. Some recipes said to make a gravy with cream, but I wanted to do the egg...and have the runny yoke run down into the fried potatoes. ( I understand that runny yokes are not for everyone. Too bad...your missing out.) (and sorry if the picture grosses you out)


Our Corned Beef Hash Breakfast




We had a nice evening with our friends....
they have a son who is in the 1st grade, the same age as our grandson. I love the honesty of kids....
I collect clocks (I don't know why..... and collection is probably not the right word. I have a quite a few clocks in my living room. I am just intrigues by the the workings of a clock and "time" )
Last night, Max says, "When I grow up, I'm only going to have ONE clock not 700 CLOCKS like Debbie.
I might have too many clocks.
I might have too many plants.
I might have too many books and cookbooks.
But one can never have too many laughs and that was good for a laugh last night.






My Big Backyard (on Thursday instead of Wednesday)

Because I'm a nerd, I want to see how my backyard changes throughout the year. So! I'm going to take a few pictures of it ea...