The FedEx man made his way up my drive with a box in tow. I was scared. I was just sure it was something else my husband ordered along the lines of our unused Russian fighting VHS tapes. (Sorry my love but it's been nine years and you still do not know how to take a man down with a magazine).
Foodbuzz had sent another delightful package. They're so fun like that, sending new treats out of the clear blue sky. First it was these Quaker Granola bars. They really are delicious, and dessert like. I like the toasted coconut banana macadamia.
This time it was a box of Wild Mushroom Agnolotti from Buitoni. Now agnolotti are not a gluten free person's best friend so I had to make these when my gluten sensitive love was busy elsewhere. Maybe ordering the boxed set original Naruto. Oh man, these are good (the pasta, not the movie). I was honestly expecting your run of the mill packaged ravioli that always taste a bit flat and dry. The filling was nice and earthy the way mushrooms should taste. It was just the right amount of salty parmesan bite and a soft pasta shell.
It was close to grocery day so I was going with what I had for a sauce. I ended up making a sweet potato cream sauce.
If you hop on over to Foodbuzz you should check out the entries for the Buitoni sauce recipe contest they are having. There are some amazing looking entries that I must try. I'm warning you now that once you enter the world of Foodbuzz you will then have at least 20 other wonderful food blogs that you'll add to your reader. It's certainly a great place to find great food.
Other reasons to love Foodbuzz are coming soon. It involves a ticket, this great event, and me with new shoes so stay tuned.
I think my cream sauce would be better suited for one of Buitoni's other Riserva flavors - Spicy Beef and Sausage Ravioli. But this Wild Mushroom Agnolotti is speaking to me. It says it would love a nice red sauce with some mascarpone stirred in to it. Yes, that's what it says. Here's my sweet potato cream sauce, see what it says to you.
Thank you Foodbuzz. Thank you for your wonderful recipes, numerous foodies, and delicious treats. Thanks for not being the complete set of Rock Hard Buns in a week. I will no longer fear the delivery man.
Spring has sprung and I'm slowly starting to settle in for hibernation. That's right, staying in. Arizona isn't fit for the outdoors in the summer. It's gruesome outside at 110 degrees, so I don't go out. I spring clean my house and start stock piling indoor things to do.
During this organizing and cleaning of sorts I found some meals in my computer that I never got around to posting. I was all excited to share my grandma's depression friendly meatballs but must have got more in to lemons and fried chicken. Since this recession isn't going anywhere and it's the only thing that many people can think about, let's have some more depression style food. This one's good for the wallet and the soul. At least my soul. This recipe comforts me and reminds me of vacations in Oregon along the river, my grandpa's giant Cadillac, and tea in the afternoons. Food that brings you back is worth it's weight in gold.
Here's how you make it:
Cut up 2-3 potatoes and 2-3 carrots all about 1-2 inches thick. Also roughly dice about 1/2 a medium onion.
Add the potatoes, carrots and onions to a medium pot with a lid and add water part way covering the vegetables. Put the lid on and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile take 1 pound of ground beef and salt and pepper it. Now my grandma stopped there but I add a bit more to it. I grate about 2 tablespoons onion in the meat and sometimes I grate a clove of garlic in it. This is entirely up to you and you can add more or less flavorings if you wish. Next form this mixture into golf ball size meat balls.
I realize a good picture raw meat is not, but I just wanted to show you my neat rows of meat balls. Also to let you know that you can do this step in advance and let the meat sort of marinate and you'll get a very flavorful meat ball.
After your veggies were cooking for about 5-7 minutes add your nicely shaped meat balls right on top. You can stir it a bit, but use a spatula and be careful not to break anything up. Put the lid back on and let them simmer away for another 8-10 minutes or until you are sure your meatball is cooked through. Once they are done spoon out the veggies and meatballs to a serving bowl leaving the juice behind.
Next take out about 1/4 cup of the juice from the pan and mix in a tablespoon and a half of corn starch. Pour the starch mixture back in the pan and turn up the heat so your gravy starts to simmer. This will thicken up quickly. Add some salt and pepper to taste and then pour the sauce over your veggies and meatballs.
Now I don't remember grandma ever doing this, but I like to sprinkle a fair amount of parsley over the top. It adds a nice freshness, and to be honest it looks a bit gray without some green over the top.
Just going back over this meal comforts me. I'm not sure if it's the memories of my family, or the simplicity of the recipe itself. All I know is it's nice to have hidden treasures waiting to be unearthed and used time and again.
A while ago I received some advice from a very surprising source. It was very sage advice about a house we bought that I probably should have listened to. A young rambunctious college kid said;
"You don't live in towns' with the word 'junction' in them. You drive through them."
My first trip to the grocery store solidified this, and I will never again reside in a town with the word 'junction'.
Even before entering and escaping The Junction I had learned to steer clear of 2 other words, fried and chicken. When those two words meet together in my kitchen it was a complete mess.
The term fried has always sent shivers down my spine. My grandmother had a series of very small scars all up her arm and I remember them telling me it was because some grease splattered while she was frying something. So naturally I was deathly afraid of a bubbling hot pot of grease. Those things can have a mind of their own.
Then there's that whole fried foods are bad for you thing. I mean if the hot pot of grease didn't scar me or chase me down the street, certain death by heart attack would.
We all must face our fears at some point and I decided to overcome my fear of fried chicken soon after I was married. I had a wonderful recipe all cut out nice and neat from my Martha Stewart Living magazine. I stepped into my 2 foot wide kitchen and began my homey meal by cutting up a chicken myself. It didn't matter that I hadn't eaten meat in about 6 years and found the thing atrocious. I used to help my dad slaughter the turkeys when I was young, I could handle an already dead one. After two hours, 8 pieces of unidentifiable bloody crusty chicken bits, but no scars, I felt a wave of defeat.
Over the next ten years I would muster up the guts to climb the mountain again. Oh sure the pieces of chicken were now at least representative of what normally comes off of a bird. But I hadn't mastered it. There was always something that just made it those 2 dreadful letters, OK. There was always something just a bit off. Too dry, not cooked through, crust was tasteless or falling off. I pretty much gave up and haven't attempted anything near fried chicken for about 2 years. My pride was squashed, I hated those words.
Every now and then there were some seriously promising turn outs. In fact I loved Giada's recipe for Pollo Frito when all the frying elements lined up perfectly in my kitchen. I suppose this recipe and the fact that I can't just let things go that had me in my kitchen once again trying to erase the stigma I have of those dang little words.
Wouldn't you know it took me to try and make it gluten free to finally get it right. I found the bits and pieces of all my failures that were actually good and put them together to form a gluten free fried chicken to rival any regular chicken.
So let's delve into my redefinition of fried chicken. Don't be afraid, I'm not.
First, to save money, buy a chicken and cut it up yourself. It really is very easy and they charge you too much money just for some cutting. Gluten Free Girl has a good video tutorial. Or a quick Google search and a bit of practice and you're good to go.
The next step is crucial for flavor and moistness. Place your nicely hacked up chicken into a freezer bag and pour in some buttermilk and a good amount of hot sauce (I like Siracha). Let her be. Leave it in the fridge for at least 4 hours but I usually do it overnight.
Even though you have a nice sticky goo going on with your chicken, the classic 3 pan dredge works best. In your first bowl mix equal parts sorghum flour and corn starch. You'll need about 1 1/2 - 2 cups total. Salt and pepper too. One bowl with 2 eggs beaten with a bit of water, salt and pepper. The last bowl has equal parts sorghum flower and corn starch with about 2 tablespoons tapioca starch as well. This one equals about 2 1/2 cups. I also add 1 teaspoon of baking powder to this bowl to create some air in the crust. A sprinkle of garlic powder and salt and pepper.
Now drain your chicken from the marinade. I don't pat dry with a paper towel because this is still good flavor, but they aren't dripping with the liquid. Cover them in the first bowl and knock off as much flour as possible. Lightly coat with egg and then cover them well with the flour in the last bowl.
Next crucial tip; let them dry out a bit.
I set mine on cookie rack and start making some potato salad and heating up my grease. This sort of gets your crust nice and friendly with the chicken and if your chicken is very cold it will bring it a bit warmer and help fry evenly. (If you're leaving it out for longer than 15 minutes you should refrigerate it. Salmonella may start lurking around).
Now we prepare our selves for frying. In my house this means every wee one must clear at least a 5 mile radius of the grease. Wee ones and hot oil scare me. I also use my handy dandy fryer/crock pot that someone gave us. They said it was good for camping.
This never seemed helpful while camping, but it works great in my house.
When your temperature reaches 350 degrees throw some pieces in the pool and let them be for about 6 minutes. Then flip them over and sit tight, it's almost time. After 12-13 minutes total gently bring them out onto a paper bag or paper towel and sprinkle nicely with salt. Oh the perfection.
It's a miracle. A fried wonder if you will.
Yes you need a biscuit now too. Go here for a gluten free one that is easy and wonderful and sits so divinely next to the chicken. Go ahead get some iced tea too and potato salad to top it off because we did it. We can say those words again with confidence and joy. FRIED CHICKEN! I'm gonna scream it on the mountain tops, and in my house outside the Junction. Now on to a new scary term; French Macaron.
This day and age it truly takes a village to raise a child. Schools, friends and family. I don't know where we would be without the love and support of both our parents.
Not just do I have it good that both grandmas adore the kids and are very much a part of their lives. I have an added bonus that I get along very well with my mother in-law. At first I didn't know how good I had it until some of my other friends got married and came to me with their frightening mother in-law stories. I mean some of these stories could give you nightmares.
Without Mimi I don't know where we would be. She's always shared so much with us, and I cannot wait for the day that I can pay her back. Until then, I make her cookies. I make her oatmeal raisin cookies with a bit of a kick, and light golden
Mimi's GF 5 Spice Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup butter room temp
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups gluten free oats
1 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon chinese 5 spice powder
1/2 cup walnuts
2/3 cup golden raisins
Preheat oven to 350. Beat together butter, shortening, and sugars until combined. Add in egg and vanilla, mix until totally incorporated. In a separate bowl mix all dry ingredients together. Slowly mix into the wet ingredients until thoroughly combined. Stir in nuts and raisins.
Mound on Silpat or greased cookie sheet with about 2 tablespoons of dough per cookie. Flatten slightly with back of spoon or hand. Bake on 350 for 12-13 minutes.
These certainly don't come close to repaying Mimi back for all she has given us, but I hope they sweeten up her day if just for a moment.
I am a firm believer of getting the kids in the kitchen. I agree completely that kids can benefit immensely from cooking and baking and engaging in all kitchen happenings. But, I must say a wee-one in the kitchen is a bit edgy for me.
I really have to force myself to invite them in. I'm a bit of a type "A" person. I like things how I like them. I like to clean things how clean things. I like to cook my way. But I also like my kids, so we pick things to make together and I take a few deep breaths and away we go. It's a bit of a show; one kid on a chair, one in a swing and one running in between everyone else. Somehow it works and messes are made, every dish is used twice and we end up with really good food.
Grandma gave us this book for Christmas one year, and so far it's one of the better kids cook books I've seen. It doesn't dumb down the food just because a child is in the kitchen. You know like tortilla pizzas, and Popsicles in ice cube trays. It has very real healthy foods; falafel from scratch, naan bread, burgers, cookies, and parfaits.
These were our latest make and they were wonderful. Not too sweet, not too hard, not too easy. I love the sense of completion they feel after eating the food they made. I think they appreciate more what goes on in the kitchen after spending some time getting their own hands dirty (along with counters, floors, and sometimes walls).
What I also hope they learn is that this food, this kitchen and all of the abundance is such a blessing. I have always had more than enough food in my house when I was growing up. My husband did not. They had enough to get by, but things weren't as privilaged in the food area for him. He was telling my son a story about when he was little and his lunch bag was accidentally switched with another little girl from his class. He was ecstatic to open the bag and find Pringles, a turkey sandwich and even juice. He wasted no time digging in to this delicacy while some poor girl at the other end of the table started crying "this isn't my lunch". All she found in her bag was a sad glass jar of milk and toast with butter and honey. The usual for him.
My husband doesn't even chalk this up to "character building" experiences. Simply just the way it was. All the while I drag my little ones into the kitchen to build and improve our characters. Forcing appreciation upon them, stretching out my patience and smoothing out my up tight kitchen nature.
I both love and hate this story of his. I love how he tells it, and the laugh he gets from it. But I hate the vision I have of a kid bringing such a meager lunch everyday. He counts himself blessed to have what he did, and I know this is warranted.
I was thrilled when Kate from Cooking During Stolen Moments asked me to be a part of Share Our Strength's Virtual Great American Bake Sale.
I'm a bit late posting for others to submit, but I hope that you will check it out and come back on the 13th. I've got some great Gluten Free Chinese 5 Spice Oatmeal Cookies to share with you.
In the meantime be thankful for what you have, grab a wee-one and stir it up, and please check out Share Our Strength's website. They have many ways that you can help and get involved.
I must admit that sometimes I go a bit heavy on my blog with the sweets. Some days it rings true in my life out side of the computer. But much to the chagrin of the rest of the family we try very hard to pack in the nutrition laden foods.
I have met many a food blogger friend that has serious complications with food allergies. Causing many daily changes to their lives. As I've said before we are very fortunate in our house to not have severe reactions to food allergies. But I am very convinced that while food can have such a serious adverse reaction for people, it can also provide intense positive effects
We were watching a small special on the Food Network one day about the power of food. They highlighted a young boy who was having numerous seizures each day. They then changed him over to a ketogenic diet and it seemed to eliminate his seizures all together. None. All from going to a low carb diet. I wish I could find the link to this to watch, but I can't find it anywhere. If you know it, and find it let me know.
This was just more proof that food is power. I've always been interested in nutrition for maintaining health, but this just brought it home that what we put in to our bodies has serious effects. From what it is and how it has come to be, our food imparts countless consequences on our bodies.
Of course the powerhouse, super healthy foods should be high on our lists. But I do believe that the outcome that food has on our mental health should be taken very seriously. Sure bacon isn't so good for the arteries, but how boring would life be with the absence of those special mornings. Those mornings when the crisp salty strips, slightly sticky with syrup adorns your plate. Is it really home without the occasional dense smell of brown sugar mingling with chocolate wafting from the oven? These are the foods that make your insides smile, that comfort you, and yes expand the rear.
I even read this great post from Apartment Therapy The Kitchn. I love this quote:
I have always felt that cooking at home more can solve so many of our society's problems. I said this in higher-rollin' times like 2007, and I still say it now. Perhaps the shift now is in saying that cooking at home is what will help us survive our society's problems.
And I couldn't agree more. Food can bring common ground to the uncommon, serve as an equalizer and provide experiences for everyone to share. Can food save society?
Ok, so maybe a croissant isn't bringing world peace, but maybe my salad will help maintain your night vision. This salad was inspired from this cookbook Mediterranean Fresh. Great cookbook for packing in those aforementioned veggies.
Carrot Salad with Citrus Dressing
3 cups shredded carrot
zest and juice of 1 lemon
zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 garlic clove minced
dash of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup honey roasted peanuts coarsely chopped
baby spinach or mixed greens
Place grated carrots in a bowl. In a small bowl or jar add lemon and orange zest and juice, olive oil, cumin powder, cinnamon, garlic, cayenne, salt and pepper. Mix well and pour over carrots. I usually just add enough to coat the carrots well. Depending on the juice in my lemon or orange I may have some left over. Then I let this sit out on the counter to mingle the flavors while I make some rice. If I have any extra dressing I toss my greens with a very small amount of the dressing, if not I just toss them with some lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. Use the greens as a bed and place you carrots on top. Sprinkle the top of the salad with nuts.
I love this salad with wild rice, but it would be a good salad with chicken tagine, or even a curry chicken salad.
Don't underestimate that turkey sandwich, or your scrambled eggs and sausage. These are powerful entities, use them wisely.