Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Homemade Chili Seasoning

Last time I went on a big grocery trip, I planned a menu and made a shopping list.  Chili was not on it.  At some point yesterday though I decided that we must have chili for dinner, and I would use the TVP to keep it vegetarian.  I thought to myself "surely I have beans and tomatoes on hand, and I can figure out chili seasoning..."

The recipe I found that most closely resembled what I thought I was looking for still needed some tweaking to fit personal preferences.  Mostly because I am too wimpy to handle any kind of heat.  And I dislike black pepper in just about EVERYTHING.  I think it tastes like dirt.  Yes, I know what dirt tastes like (thank you, Basic Training).

Here is what I came up with for the best chili seasoning:
(adapted from mybakingaddiction)

4 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion flakes
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
dash of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons sea salt

Mix together all ingredients.  Makes about 1/2 cup.
Mmmm, chili seasoning with no hidden ingredients.  Store in an air tight container.

Now for the Vegetarian (actually Vegan) Chili:
Start with Onions.  I used 6, but they were small.  They came from the Farmer's Market in Haleiwa. Don't be fooled by their tiny size.  Half way through I had to take a break for onion tears.  Chop them up and saute them in olive oil. 
TVP = Textured Vegetable Protein.  This ingredient is best not thought about.  When I think about it too much, I end up thinking of the scene in The Matrix where everyone is eating the slop that gives them all the nutrients they need.  So you can pretend to be sci-fi about it, or you can use ground meat. (Note: there will be no Vegan Super Powers gained by eating meat)  I used 1 cup of TVP and 2 cups of water.  Throw it in with the onions once they cooked as much as you like them.
Beans.  I used what I had on hand.  Which was 2 cans of black beans and 1 can of kidney beans.  Make sure you rinse those things.  Bean sludge is disgusting.  Add to the onion/TVP mixture.
 Throw in a can of diced tomatoes, including the juice in the can.  2 (8oz) cans of tomato sauce should be added too.  Unless you like dry chili.  Then add 2 tablespoons of the chili seasoning mixture.  Or more if you want.  This would also be a good time to add more heat if you can handle it.
Yum, finished chili.  The TVP looks like ground turkey.  Because of the chili seasoning it tastes like chili.  However, TVP all alone is gross.  Like tofu all alone.  You just shouldn't do it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Limoncello Sorbet

A recipe for Limoncello popsicles got me all excited for a lemony treat. Of course, popsicles sounded silly given the fact my kitchen is equipped with an ice cream/sorbet maker. Doug always seems interested in Limoncello gelato when it can be found. That option didn't seem likely though; all the recipes were too high in rich dairy products for his consumption. So... sorbet!

Finding a recipe is easy. Unless you are me. Then you notice that about half the recipes you are finding suggest doing things one way, while the other half suggest another way. Many have ingredients you don't want to use or omit ingredients you do want. Solution? Take some notes about the things you like and head to the kitchen without a recipe.

Turns out the basic idea for sorbet is all you need. Some type of fruit juice and/or fruit puree and simple syrup will do the trick. The amounts of each depend on personal preference for flavor and consistency. Your simple syrup can be made with lots of sugar or a little, but it is important to cook the sugar into simple syrup. Otherwise your sorbet will be gritty instead of smooth.  Flavored liquors can be added to help boost the flavor and to help keep the sorbet from turning into a giant ice cube. Or in the case of Limoncello sorbet, to give the treat the nice bright lemon flavor of Limoncello.

So enough about my method and onto my recipe (makes about ten 1/2 cup servings):
2 cups water
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup Limoncello
Zest of two lemons
1 cup lemon juice (preferably fresh squeezed)

1. Mix water and sugar over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
2. Mix Lemoncello, lemon juice, and lemon zest. When sugar mixture has cooled to room temperature, add to Limoncello mixture. Refrigerate 2 hours.
3. Follow ice cream maker directions with mixture.

(just so you know, I ate this scoop after taking its picture)
Ta da! Limoncello sorbet. If you want, you can pour a shot of Limoncello over each serving. We ate it without, and it was wonderful. No sharing from this batch, though I may make some for the next potluck get-together. And I'm already having ideas about other fruit/Limoncello combinations.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Millet Salad

As mentioned yesterday, I was planning on Tabbouleh for dinner last night. But the recipe looked rather bland, so the only part I followed were the directions for cooking millet.

I started by toasting 1 cup of whole millet in a tiny amount of oil.  After a few minutes of toasting, I filled the pan with water, brought it to a boil, then simmered the millet for about 15 minutes.  When it was finished simmering, I drained, rinsed, and drained again.  Had to get it cold before mixing with veggies.
Meanwhile, I chopped veggies.  Lots of veggies: tomato, cucumber, onion, garlic, and bell pepper.  I had about 1 1/2 cups of chopped tomato, 1 1/2 cups of chopped cucumber, 1 cup of chopped green onion, and 1 1/2 cups chopped pepper.  Plus a few cloves of garlic.
Add about 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1/2 cup crumbled feta, and 1 tsp dried cilantro.  Give it all a stir and store in the fridge until the millet is done.  None of these measurements are accurate.  I poured olive oil and lemon juice straight from the bottle.  Same with the cilantro.  And the cheese was the end of a container.  I also added salt.  Before putting in the fridge I tried a bite and it tasted great so I left it alone.
Add the millet and eat.  Turned out pretty good.  Doug thought the onion was a little heavy.  I really liked the sweetness of the bell pepper.  We both agreed less olive oil and more cheese would be an improvement.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Veggie Fare

Doug mentioned while we were on the mainland this summer that he would like to try eating vegetarian more often.  Maybe even more often than not.  As someone who ate primarily vegetarian (because it was easy and I was lazy) in college, I have no problem with this.  We're not doing it because we feel bad for animals.  In fact, bacon is my primary reason for not being vegetarian.  If I could make the entire pig into bacon and waste none of it on pork chops, I would.  Then there are the lambs.  If it weren't for needing fiber for my knitting habit, I would eat ALL of them.

But, back to the vegetarian thing.  It won't be 100%.  Some meals will be planned with meat.  Many will not.  And I'm using the term lightly.  Eggs and dairy are just fine.  Fish is a grey area.  I might call bacon seasoning and pretend it isn't meat.  Doug said he'd like to try to be about 90% meatless.

My last post was on the veggie pasta with homemade cheese.  Last night we had Rice Noodle Salad; eggs were the only animal product.  The recipe was fun because I used rice noodles for the first time.  At first I was a little concerned about the lime juice.  I could smell it in the sauce and worried it would be over powering.  It wasn't though, and Doug ended up eating 3 bowls of the stuff before he could stop himself.  He would have had more for lunch today, but he forgot his lunch at home.

Half way through his first bowl.

Tonight I'll be trying to make Tabbouleh with millet.  I've never used the grain before, but have a small amount on hand.  A recipe in the current issue of Vegetarian Times was my inspiration for what I plan on making.  The recipe itself looks rather bland, but I think I can fix it up with garlic, bell peppers, and cheese.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, July 25, 2011

I Made Cheese!

I've always thought making cheese seemed like a fun idea. The dinner I made last night had a quick, 3 ingredient version of ricotta. It was super easy. I'll be making it again. The recipe it was in is called Linguine with Quick Lemon Ricotta.  The lemon flavor was different from anything I've made for dinner before, but not bad.  Next time I'll put in garlic instead.  We like that much better around here.

The actual cheese part was 2 cups 2% milk, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, and 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar.  Microwave for 4 minutes on high in a quart-sized measuring cup, stir gently, and drain.

First, you need cheese cloth to make the recipe.  Having none on hand, I decided a coffee filter in a strainer would work just as well.  I was right.
The cheese as the whey drains out.
Finished cheese.  Ready for seasonings.  In this particular recipe that was salt and grated lemon rind.  I have a feeling that the smoked garlic salt we acquired in New Zealand will make a much better addition.

And next: pictures from the rest of the recipe...
Golden grape tomatoes, grown locally in Hawaii.  The recipe called for plain grape tomatoes, but I brought these home instead.
The joys of a teeny tiny kitchen - the pans are teeny tiny too.  You CAN cook a 12oz box of noodles in a 1.5qt pan, but it's kinda messy.  Now I remember why most pasta in the last few months has been shaped pasta instead of long noodles.  They cook easier in small pans.
The other veggies of the meal: summer squash, zucchini, and bell peppers.  Garlic was also added.
Ta Da! Dinner.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Adventures in Wine Opening

Before getting to the wine part, I need to share my excitement about buying a lamb roast.  While the cost was comparable to other decent cuts of meat at Costco, it was still a huge splurge for our grocery budget, but totally worth it in my mind.  I cut the thing in half to make two roasts.  Then each roast fed us several times,  so I really stretched out that lamb.  Sadly I took no pictures of the meals that followed.

The second half of the lamb roast does bring me to the wine adventure though.  I decided that the leftovers from the roast should be made into Shepherd's Pie.  The recipe calls for dry red wine.  I chose a bottle of Pinot Noir.  It had a cork.  I couldn't find my corkscrew.  Up until now, all wine bought to use at my house has had a screw top.  This was a problem.

I thought the problem would be solved by a quick stop at a cheap store. Turns out you shouldn't buy corkscrews at discount stores.  The one I bought was nothing like any corkscrew I've ever used before, but the directions looked easy enough.  I removed the packaging and the first thing that happened was the handle fell off.  No big deal, I could hold it in place to get the job done.

Then the glue holding the whole thing together gave out.  Ahh, now I know why this was marked down half price, in the discount store.  Now the screw is not attached to anything, and I'm holding some rather useless plastic.  Enter the Husband.

He managed to get the screw part into the cork.  Then put a bunch of effort into pulling it out.  But a screw without leverage won't budge.  I know: A hammer!!

 Trying to get the hammer lined up on the screw and bottle.
 I'm actually really nervous about wine going EVERYWHERE.
 Ta Da! Cork out of bottle.

Only one other time have I opened a bottle of wine without a proper cork removal device. It involved shoving the cork into the bottle with a wooden spoon.  It resulted in wine all over the kitchen, including the ceiling.
 Doug snapped a picture of his food.  He mixed the potatoes into the gravy.  To be fair, much of the gravy bubbled up over the potatoes while cooking.  I will be making this recipe again, and looking for a proper corkscrew in the meantime.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cooking in a Campervan - Part 2

Back to the food of the honeymoon.

Not actually something I cooked.  Rather it was something we found at Reefton, at the horse races.  A hamburger patty on a slice of bread with some grilled onions and tomato sauce.
Of course, had to get some chips and a soda.
Doug being annoyed again at such a tiny handle. Look at his giant man fingers! How is he supposed to pick that up?!
Lets give BeaNZ a chance.  (Turns out we've had better baked beans)
Mmmm.  Steak with caramelized garlic and red wine sauce.  Seeing this picture again makes me think I should be on the hunt for good steaks and a bottle of red wine.
Our last Farmer's Market.  Onions, avocado, bell pepper, zucchini, banana, mushrooms, and pirate ship coffee.  Their claim to fame was that they actually roasted their beans on a boat.  The coffee was alright, but not the best we had in NZ.
Just what is an "American Hotdog?"  Answer: a corndog.
More chips.  I love chips.
Roasted garlic and roasted garlic salt.  I'm not sure if we ripped this guy off or if he ripped us off, but the original deal was two bags of smoked salt, a head of smoked garlic, and a salt shaker.  I asked to exchange the salt shaker for an extra bag of salt and ended up walking away with four bags of smoked salt, two heads of smoked garlic, and no salt shaker.
One of the wineries did olive and olive oil tasting with their wine tasting.
Pretty tasty wine.  I asked if I could buy a glass, but they said they didn't have any to spare.
Another winery.  Had a great conversation about New Zealand with the woman who owned the place.  The conversation was so good she accidentally bagged a bottle of Pinot Gris for me instead of a bottle of Riesling.  Though the Pinot Gris was good, it didn't have the lemony finish of the Riesling, which was my favorite part.
Doug sniffing the smoked garlic.  I think he even told the clove it was to become dinner.
Oy! My lettuce is alive!!
A tiny plant.
Breakfast outside, the camper is getting cramped.
Easiest cleanup? Grill ALL THE THINGS.  Grilled onions, zucchini, bell pepper, and of course, LAMB.  All with a healthy sprinkling of that tasty smoked garlic salt.
A fancy last meal for the campervan: cup noodles and a glass of white.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Holy Giant Bread!

So, back to that starter I started 3 weeks ago...

 After 24 hours it was already starting to bubble nicely.  I think it helped that I put it in the oven over night with the light on.  It gets nice and warm in there with just the light.

For the next few days I continued to put it in the oven over night with the light on.  But on the 4th day it started looking flat.  It would be nice and bubbly after adding the 1/4 flour and 1/4 of water, but by morning all was still.  And when stirred it was very soupy.  So for a couple of days I skipped the water and only added flour.

That seemed to perk it up a bit again, but it would be flat by morning.  I decided it was because I was not feeding it enough.  And I stopped putting it in the oven, letting it get a bit cool at night (around 60 degrees).

When I got to two cups of starter I did a loaf of bread.

 The bread got HUGE.  My oven is small, 17 inches across on the inside, which means only my dinner plate sized stone fits within.  I started the loaf in the bread machine, no need to do all the mixing myself.  When the dough was ready for the final rise I put it on my little stone, covered it in plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, then finished the 30 minutes of the Dr. Who episode I was in the middle of.

I really thought it would take longer than 30 minutes for the loaf to double.  It did not.  And it continued to rise as I heated the oven.
 It's bigger than my head!
 Nice on the inside though, no big holes.
Nice texture too.

And: not too sour.  Could be for a couple of reasons.  Maybe my starter is too young.  Over time it may get more sour.  Or maybe the natural yeast in Hawaii just won't make all that sour of a loaf.  Either way, the starter now has a home in my fridge.  I'll give it a few more loaves before I decide how worthy it is.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sourdough Starter

I really like sourdough, but where I live it seems hard to find.  I've often thought of making my own starter, and then I see a stray ant or two in the kitchen and worry that a starter would attract them.  Then recently I read an article on a quick sourdough starter in Vegetarian Times.  I decided it was time to give it a try.

First I located a glass jar. My last attempt at a homemade sourdough starter was in Colorado.  It took a few days, but I ended up with a bubbly, beer-smelling concoction.  It smelled so right.  And the resulting bread was anything but sour.  I think the problem was the plastic container it was in.  Though I managed to keep it alive for some time, it never got as sour as I would have liked.  Most bread made from it didn't even have a hint of sour to them.  When I gave up and threw out the starter I ended up throwing out the container too.  No matter how much I cleaned it, it always smelled like the starter.

Then I went back to the recipe in the magazine, but realized I did not have the yeast it called for.  My yeast was regular, it calls for fast-acting and has a side note that regular won't work.  That didn't stop me though, to Google!

Google had too many choices.  Then I remembered my book, Forgotten Skills of Cooking.  Her recipe looked to easy to be true.  So I looked in a couple of trusted cookbooks, and then returned to the hers: put 1/4C of flour in a jar with 1/4C warm water. Stir and let sit for 24 hours.  Feed with 1/4C flour and 1/4C warm water every 24 hours for 6 days.  Starter should be complete.  We'll see.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cooking in a Campervan - Part 1

Part of the food adventure in New Zealand was cooking in a campervan.  This thing did not have a lot of space.  The table turned into a bed at night, and if I was in the "kitchen" cooking I either had to sit down at the table or go stand outside if Doug wanted to move to/from the table.  I might have had more counter space in this tinier kitchen though.
Cooking dinner our first night.
Setting it out on the table...
Beef sausages with spaghetti and cheddar cheese on top.
Another night cooking, using all the pots the camper came with. Yep, it only had two pots. And one tiny pan.

Oooh, street side veggie stand. I need this, and this, and this...
Our findings of the day: Bottle of Pinot Noir, Super yummy coffee, zucchini, asparagus, onions, bread, avocado, garlic, tomatoes, and mushrooms.  All of this food is a major improvement over what we find in Hawaii, where most of these items would be local, but out of my budget, or shipped in from the mainland.
A complete meal on wheels!
A New Zealand Ketchup bottle. I brought one home.
Doug is very excited about his breakfast. See, last night we took the ferry from North Island to South Island. That meant dinner was sandwiches on the boat followed by sleeping in a parking lot.  The last good meal we had was dinner two nights before.
Another street side veggie stand. Only this one is more out doors.
And you pay on the honor system.
Though you are threatened by the use of cameras.
Never seen milk in bags before.
One slice takes up the entire frying pan. The only frying pan.
Lamb sausage, alfredo pasta, and green beans. MMM
What to do if you don't feel like eating lamb sausages again? Strip their cases and make them into meat sauce.