Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lemon Pudding, and my sorry excuse for a sink.

I've been meaning to show you my kitchen sink for awhile, but I'm not sure this photo even does it justice. It is shallow to start out with, and then the divider down the middle makes it even less functional. Did I mention that I do not have a dishwasher? What I am saying here is that it is a wonder that I ever make anything BESIDES pudding.

I've been making pudding a lot lately. It is so easy, doesn't dirty a lot of dishes, and satisfies my sweet tooth without making me feel ill. I usually make chocolate, but I recently got the bug for lemon pudding. I wasn't even sure there was such a thing outside of the world of Jello. I finally found a recipe on the Food Network. It was just like any other pudding, only you cook the milk with lemon zest, then at the end you stir in a bunch of fresh lemon juice. This fascinated me - I thought for sure it would cause the pudding to curdle. But it didn't! It just made it taste really lemony, and not at all heavy.

Lemon Pudding - from the Food Network.

- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 2 Tbsp lemon zest
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp butter
Whisk the sugar and the cornstarch together in a medium saucepan. Add milk, stir until smooth. Add the egg yolks, zest, salt and cook, stirring frequently at first and constantly towards the end, over medium heat until thickened enough to thickly coat the back of a spoon.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and butter. Pour through a strainer. Cover and chill.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Aunt Arlene's Chicken and Tough Noodles

Some background: I have been mostly vegetarian for fifteen years. During that time there have only been a few things that I missed eating - one of them was my Aunt Arlene's Chicken and Tough Noodles. This year I have made a few exceptions to my vegetarianism. I had some Christmas turkey for starters. Then a few weekends ago I made a trip to Bonners Ferry, Idaho, for a mini family reunion, AND to get a tutorial in making Chicken and Tough Noodles!

Here's the thing - you know how over time, your memory can kind of exaggerate the greatness of things from your childhood? The opposite was true of these noodles. They are pure heaven. Dense and almost chewy. The closest thing I can compare them to is spaetzle. The best part is that they are SUPPOSED to be tough, so you don't have to worry about over-working the dough!

I was hoping to try making a batch on my own before I did this post, but life has been interfering. However, my stepmom gave it a try the other day, and reported great success!

Here is the general gist, because of course, there was no recipe used:

Day 1:
Boil a whole chicken.
Save the stock; chill, then skim and discard the fat off the top.
Save the meat from the chicken.

Day 2:
Put an egg or two into a food processor. Add flour until a ball forms. If a ball is not forming, add a small amount of milk. Set dough aside and repeat - one egg's worth of dough will make approximately enough noodles for one person.

On a HEAVILY floured surface, roll out a ball of dough to approximately 1/8" thick. (The extra flour on the noodles will help thicken the sauce later.)

Sprinkle with flour, then roll the sheet of dough into a jellyroll shape. Slice off noodles at 1/4" increments.

Bring the stock to a simmer. Unroll noodles and drop into broth.

Add cream of chicken soup and/or chicken bouillon, depending on your mood, and what you have around. Add chicken. Simmer until done (I think about an hour? The longer you cook the noodles, the less tough they are.)

Eat, eat, and eat some more.

The final spread included Chicken and Tough Noodles, mashed potatoes, two kinds of jello salad, green bean casserole with onion topping (yay!), and green salad. Followed by chocolate cake with milk chocolate frosting, which you will be hearing about at another date.

Eleven people, four dogs, and a cat squeezed into this house for Chicken and Tough Noodles!

The view of the Kootenai River from the downtown Bonners Ferry bridge:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Two Tags!

Open Book from Mama J at Hang in There Babywear:

p 123, sentence/phrase 5 of the book nearest me:

"And if my mind breaks up in all so many ways, I know the meaning of the words I love you." Cat Stevens Complete Songs from 1970-1975, from the King of Trees

List of Four, from Carrie at Rhubarb Sky:

Name 4 Jobs You've Had:
registered nurse
bicycle salesperson
generic office worker

Name 4 Places You've Lived:
Houston, TX
Santiago, Dominican Republic
Jersey City, New Jersey
Seattle, WA

Name 4 places you've been on vacation:

Name 4 foods you love:
raspberries from Northern Idaho (they taste different, I swear.)
Aunt Arlene's Chicken and Tough Noodles
Grandma A's homemade whole wheat bread, with her seedless raspberry jam (made from Northern Idaho raspberries...)

Name 4 places you'd rather be right now:
Somewhere warm. Actually, somewhere hot. Like 100 degrees.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hyacinths are prettier than french toast...

That's why you are getting this picture first. I also haven't shown you the view out my kitchen window for awhile.

Moj momak gave me these zumbul cvijece for International Women's Day. Apparently that is celebrated more in Europe than here, even though it originated in America. (As a result, I got these flowers, and an evening at the symphony.) I had worked that day, so I was nearly in a coma with exhaustion, but I'm pretty sure I had a good time.

I may have mentioned this before, but I'll say it again: I LOVE french toast. I threw some together for dinner tonight, and I wasn't planning on posting about it. But it turned out so tasty, that I changed my mind a few bites in (hence the sub-spectactular photo...)

I recently flipped through a cookbook called American Masala, by Suvir Saran, and saw a french toast recipe that involved a coating of raw sugar. I decided to try it tonight. I wasn't in the mood for cinnamon, so I added a couple drops of coconut extract, just because it was staring at me from my cupboard. Oh my god.

French Toast
- good bread
- eggs
- milk
- salt
- drops of coconut extract
- raw sugar (turbinado sugar? Large, brown granules...)
- butter

Whisk everything together (except bread, sugar, and butter). Heat butter in skillet. Sprinkle sugar onto skillet and drop egg-soaked bread on top. Sprinkle more sugar on top of bread. Cook as usual. Eat.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Red Beans on Laundry Day

I was unable to get a satisfying picture of my red beans, so instead I will show you a few other things.

First, look at the fabulous present I got from my Aunt Arlene this weekend:

It was published in 1946, and is filled with recipes calling for things such as "ground suet", and credited to women with names like "Mabel C. Hamlett", or "Mrs. Walter T. Palmer Jr."

Here is one of the more intriguing recipes - let me know if you have tried this one...:

Grape Juice Custard

- 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
- 2 Tbsp grape juice
- 1 1/2 tsp powdered sugar

Combine egg yolks and sugar. Add grape juice. Cook over hot water, beating constantly , until light and fluffy. Serve at once. 1 serving. -The Household Searchlight.

On to my red beans...

I never got to meet my Grandma F., but from what I've heard from everyone who did, I definitely missed out. My dad remembers her putting a pot red beans on the stove on Mondays (laundry day). This was to take advantage of the fact that the stove would be fired up all day, heating water for doing the laundry. My dad has been trying to duplicate her beans for awhile, and even though I never tried hers, I decided to give it a shot today.

Here is what I came up with:

- dried red beans
- chopped onion
- chopped celery
- spicy sausage (some piece of pork would be traditional, but spicy chicken or veggie sausage is valid in my book)
- chopped collard greens (my addition)
- celery seed
- bay leaves
- dried thyme
- dried basil
- dried parsley
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- maple sugar (or maple syrup)
- black pepper
- canned diced tomatoes
- cayenne pepper
- a dash of apple cider vinegar
- salt to taste
- Tabasco sauce to taste

Saute the sausage, then the onions and garlic, in the bottom of your soup pot. Then add everything except the vinegar and maple sugar. Simmer until done, then add the vinegar and maple sugar.

It turned out wonderfully, and I wouldn't change a thing. I ate it with generously buttered bread, and some mango chutney I had in the frig. I'm looking forward to the left-overs tomorrow.

I don't have a picture of my grandma, but here are dad, grandpa, and Uncle Gene: