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Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Do you ever find yourself missing you? And by that I mean a part of you that you have always enjoyed but for which there seems to be little or no time nowadays?

Walnut-BundtCake2

On the rare occasions that I bake these days, I am reminded of times when I really used to cook and bake a whole lot more … and loved it. So when I do get in the kitchen, and take my sweet time baking a cake, (which may be to raise funds for the local equine rescue I help or when I’m a dinner guest and have offered to bring dessert), I not only enjoy it, but feel like I’ve re-found a part of myself. I call her the “domestic dolly” part of me.

Dolly likes to cook and bake – from scratch, of course – likes to sew, paint stuff – walls, furniture, do crafts – and yes, sometimes, actually enjoys cleaning … or at least the result. But as our lives get busier and stay busier, other things demand our time and attention, and these may fall to the wayside,  and hey, I’m not 28 anymore. Yeah, then there’s that.

So we pick and choose, and try, somewhere along the line, to occasionally rediscover the parts of ourselves that sometimes get lost in the shuffle. It’s a challenge. Life has different demands than in the past. We have different goals. But it’s good to remember ourselves, even if for a little while.

What about you – are you a cook or baker with no time? Love to go out dancing? Travel? Play music? Hike? Just curl up with a good book?

My suggestion? Dust off that `you’ and take her or him out for a spin. Find that time or make that time. If it’s something we love, we can’t afford to go missing.

 

 

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Soup-CloseUp2Actually, to me, almost any winter day is a soup day, but it’s been way too long since I’ve made a big pot of homemade soup. I think about it; sometimes I even buy the ingredients, but end up using them for something that takes less time. Sometimes I’m sure I’m going to make the soup at the end of the work day, and that never happens. So, today, (Sunday), I just got started earlier. My soup? A (vegan) Russian Potato and Bean Soup.

I’d been looking and looking among my many cookbook and recipe sources and wasn’t finding what I wanted. Then I remembered – and was staring right at it! – that I had this great recipe box from years ago from Vegetarian Times. It was a freebie for taking a subscription, I think. There are nice little divider sections and each group is color coded, as you can see below. Definitely a handy item to have.

Soup-RecipeBox2

They had so many yummy soup recipes, and I picked this one. It was already vegan except for the sour cream, and I had a plan for that.

I used all organic produce, and scrubbed and cubed some nice Russet potatoes, thin-sliced some onions, trimmed the green beans, and got ready to cook. I used Imagine brand vegetarian “No-Chicken Broth” which is quite tasty. The recipe called for 5 cups of broth, and this broth comes in quart containers, but, aha! I have a fabulous vegetable base for making soups, and I whipped up a cup of that.

Soup-InPot2

The basic soup ready to bring to a boil.

I sautéed the onions in the broth and a teaspoon of canola oil, then added the potatoes and beans for a bit. I added the rest of the broth, brought to a boil and simmered for 1/2 hour.

The next addition was a mixture of 1/3 cup of sour cream mixed with 2 T. of flour. I had some concerns here because I had vegan sour cream, which has a tofu base, and I wasn’t really sure how that would work out. The recipe asks that you add the mixture to the soup by the spoonful and blend in. Here’s where, if you’re not vegan, I’d go with real sour cream; if you are, go with the time-honored way of blending some of the stock with the flour separately and then mixing it back into the main pot. That’s what I’ll do in the future. Add in 3/4 cup of sauerkraut, 1 T. of dried dill and simmer another 15 minutes. While you’re invited to add seasonings at the end, I found the sauerkraut and dill provided plenty of flavor on their own.

Soup-InBowl2

Bon appétit!

The recipe for this soup is not available on the Vegetarian Times website, however, I did a search and found it on another site. If interested, here’s the recipe — enjoy!

 

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A friend of mine mentioned the other day that every time she saw vegan food, it always seemed weird and like most people wouldn’t want to eat it. I think there are some older, outdated ideas like that but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, many health-conscious people are already eating almost vegan and haven’t even thought about it. Like pasta? salads? Chili over rice?

Anyway, one of the things I came to realize was that if I’m going this way, I am going to have to cook more. So I chose one of the recipes in Main Street Vegan, (possibly one of the best books about food I’ve ever read), and here’s how it went. It’s called a Lentil-Spud Burger, but I’d say “burger” quite loosely.

VegBurger-Ingredients2

First, gather the ingredients … hard to find some of these organic, but I got what I could. The recipe called for whole wheat panko crumbs which I couldn’t find, so I used a mixture of plain panko crumbs and whole wheat bread crumbs.

VegBurger-Potatoes2

I chose redskin potatoes because they have more flavor, and as always, steam rather than boil them.

VegBurger-Garlic2

I sautéed 2 cloves of garlic in just a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Meanwhile, I whisked up a little vegetable broth using an organic vegetarian base that I was happy to discover on my supermarket shelf so I wouldn’t have to waste a can or box of broth for such a small amount.

VegBurger-Mixture2

I mashed the steamed potatoes, and was, of course, happy that there was a bunch left over for some other purpose, then mixed in the lentils, bread crumbs, broth, garlic and herbs. This was a very nice selection with there being twice as much chives as oregano, parsley and basil. I mashed all the ingredients together with a fork and made 4 patties. It held together quite nicely. The mixture did need a bit of salt, but not too much.

I cooked one of the patties in a little oil along with some grilled asparagus and served with fresh-from-the-farm Jersey tomatoes and voilà!

VegBurger-Dinner2

It was quite delicious and not like something my friend described at all. (And I still have more I can cook up!)

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I recently asked blog visitors to let me know what they are looking for when they use the search term “sad place” and come to my site, but I got not one reply. So I’ve decided to do a short post on the opposite end of the spectrum, “happy place.”

Here’s a happy place for me … all the ingredients lined up and ready to bake. This was in preparation for baking a chocolate layer cake for Christmas dinner. I was trying a new recipe as I am often wont to do … so many recipes, so little time … and the recipe sounded terrific. But I made a mistake. The recipe called for shortening. I used butter, my shortening of choice. The texture came out rather strange, perhaps because they meant to use something like Crisco? Not sure, but since I don’t use that, I guess I’m going to have to read more carefully next time and choose only recipes where they specifically want butter. The mocha buttercream frosting, however, came out delicious. Next time I will up the amount I make by 1/2. Who doesn’t love plenty of frosting?

Baking Round 2 was my favorite brownie recipe that I’ve made for years, dressed up with dark chocolate chips and dried cranberries. This was for a gift, but I did have to sample just a wee slice. To make sure they were safe for consumption, of course.

I am a happy baker, always from scratch, and a happy cook. Nowadays, I don’t have the time I once did to bake and cook, and I have to say, I miss it. I have a great collection of recipes I’ve made over the years, and I collect new recipes for all kinds of food, especially desserts. In fact, you might think I was creating extensive meals for a big family 3 times a day, to look at what I’ve clipped, saved, and hope to make.

But we all need to dream, do we not? Me, I dream of relaxed time in the kitchen … a happy place. I wish I were there more often. But it’s always possible. Maybe even tonight.

 

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