Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Leftover Leftovers!

We are working our way through the Thanksgiving leftovers and are almost at the finish line--sort of.  Today we made broth from the turkey carcass and I put two quarts of that and a small container of turkey in the freezer to be used at some unknown moments in the future.  With the rest of the broth and the meat that came from the carcass, I made a big pot of soup, using mostly veggies from the farm.  I used some frozen peas and the rest of the celery I had bought for the stuffing, but the rest was from the farm.  I used a couple of onions, carrots, the last two celeriac bulbs, beans I had frozen from the U-pick field, and almost half a head of purple cabbage.  There is enough soup for tomorrow's supper and probably a lunch after that.  If there is any left then, I will freeze it.  This means we will have eaten for a week from the one Thanksgiving dinner.

As for the rest of the leftovers, I did not really do much with them--we just ate them, mostly.  I did make potato pancakes for breakfast one day using leftover whipped potatoes (from the farm).  I was going to use the rest of the potatoes in bread, but Bill wanted them for lunch, so he finished them today.  I had a couple of pieces of peeled (and wrapped) squash that I had bought but could not fit in the Crock Pot, so did not cook for Thanksgiving.  I needed to get those cooked before they went bad, so I did that yesterday.  I figured I could freeze the squash and use it in muffins or bread, but again, Bill wanted to eat it, so he had some for lunch today and has the rest in tomorrow's lunch.  The sweet potatoes, oatmeal bread, and pie have been gone for a few days.  There is a little bit of stuffing left, but not sure whether that will actually get eaten.  I love stuffing, but at some point every year, I hit the wall and feel like I cannot take one more bite of the stuff.  I will decide whether I have reached that point tomorrow!  Oh yeah, I did make a Mexican-style thing with some of the turkey.  I had a can of enchilada sauce in the cabinet, so on Sunday, just for a change, I put some olive oil in a pan and added a chopped onion, some diced turkey, frozen corn, some chili powder, garlic powder and oregano, and then put in the can of sauce.  I served this with a little cheese over brown rice.  We had it for supper last night, too.  So our Thanksgiving dinner has provided us with plenty of leftovers and even some leftover leftovers!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Peaceful Thanksgiving

I am sitting here in the middle of this very peaceful Thanksgiving day watching the snow melt off the roof and trees.  The turkey has been in the oven for a few hours.  The extra pan of stuffing is in the fridge waiting to go in when the turkey comes out.  It is basic stuffing, just the way I like it.  Whole grain bread cubes (the paddle ends of my bread machine bread are great for this--I stick them in the freezer to use for stuffing or put them in the food processor for bread crumbs), onions, celery, turkey broth, garlic, and poultry seasoning.  That's it.  I cooked the butternut squash and sweet potatoes yesterday using my Crock Pots.  The potatoes baked beautifully in the big one, while the smaller one cooked the squash.  We got the squash already peeled this year so it was easy to cube and cover with water.  We usually buy them whole and Bill cuts them in half, then I scoop out the seeds and bake them.  A couple of years ago I was trying to cut one in half and I buried the tip of my knife in the palm of my hand.  That wasn't very festive!  This was much easier and cooking in the Crock Pot used much less energy than the oven would have.

I made Heather's banana cream pie earlier this morning and I just took the oatmeal bread out of the machine, so all I have left is the potatoes and gravy.  Nice.

I wish everyone a wonderful day of enough.  Not excess, not extravagance, but enough.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup in the Crock Pot

Yesterday I used my big crock pot (7 quart) to make split pea soup.  The plan was to have it for supper last night, tonight and then to eat the rest for lunch over the next couple of days. 

Into the crock went the following:
a one-pound bag of green split peas (about 2 cups)
1 cup of dried lima beans
a large onion
3 potatoes
a bunch of carrots
2 stalks of celery
water to within an inch and a half or so of the top

I turned the pot on high for an hour and then down to low for 6.  When there was an hour left, I added garlic powder, dried basil, and dried thyme.

You can use as many or as few of the veggies as you want and vary the seasonings if you prefer different ones.  This took me a few minutes to put into the crock and then it cooked by itself.  Easy and yummy!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Polenta in the Crock Pot

Today I tried making polenta in the Crock Pot.  It worked!  Yay!  I used the recipe on page 156 of Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufman as a guide.  They said to use 7 1/2 cups of water and 1 1/2 cups of coarse cornmeal.  They also called for salt, but I never add that, so I left it out.  I also had regular old cornmeal, not coarsely ground, so I used that.  Into the crock the water and cornmeal went. I whisked it around a little, placed the lid on, and turned it to high.  Since the water was hot when I put it in the crock, I left it on high for 30 minutes (they say you can leave it up to an hour) before Bill gave it another whisk (I had a cat sleeping on my lap at the time) and turned the heat down to low for 5 hours.  It is beautifully creamy and it sure beats standing over the stove stirring for half an hour!  The recipe in the book has you serving this with butter and Parmesan cheese.  I did a more Mexican thing by skipping the butter, adding cheese (you could use any cheese that goes well with salsa--jack with or without jalapenos, cheddar, American--whatever you like), salsa, and a saute of onions and hot sausage from the farm.

Leftovers will go into a container and can apparently be sliced and browned/baked/etc like the tubes of polenta you can buy in the store. This is much cheaper and can be adapted however you wish--you could add herbs and spices of your choice.  Vary the cheese and other toppings.  I had never seen those rolls of polenta before about 20 years ago--when I was a kid we had polenta, but it was soft--the consistency of Cream of Wheat--and my mother topped it with spaghetti sauce that had onions and ground meat in it.  I loved it. 
I am thrilled that I have found this new excellent use of my Crock Pot.  I do love that thing--well, I love both of them, actually :-)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Brunswick Winter Market

I am very lucky to now live in a place where people have great awareness about food issues and support local food producers in a big way.  In addition to many CSAs and farmer's markets, we also have the winter market and today was the opening day for this season.  It is located in a big old mill building at the end of Maine St.  There are farmers, artisans, bakers, and others there each week.  We went today primarily to get eggs, but we got there too late and the egg people were sold out.  We will have to get there earlier next week!  We walked around and saw beautiful vegetables, but I did not buy any because I still have farm veggies that need using first, although next week I will probably buy some kale and maybe some butternut squash for Thanksgiving.  I saw some beautifully soft alpaca/wool and alpaca/silk yarn, but I did not buy any of that either, though I might just go ahead and get some sock yarn before the season is over!  I did buy some local honey because I have been dealing with a dry cough as a result of some allergic reaction I got in New Jersey last weekend. As much as I dislike honey, I dislike being awake coughing even more and honey is supposed to be the best remedy for that.  Guess I will find out.  We also got some peach/raspberry jam.  I am happy that I can support local small food businesses in this way.  The food tastes so much better than the industrial stuff you get in the supermarket.  And this way I know where it came from and can talk to the people who produced it.

It was even fun walking to the market this morning.  Brunswick is an extremely walkable town but it was even better this morning.  First we stopped at the library.  Then we crossed the street to the post office where we checked our box and found an unassuming yellow envelope that contained Bill's Irish passport!!!  Yay!  Then when we got to Maine St, we walked right into the Occupy Brunswick people and dogs right outside the Bank of America.  On the way home, I noticed a flier on a post about a lecture at Bowdoin next Tuesday by the guy who wrote this book:
Foreigners and Their Food: Constructing Otherness in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Law

Needless to say, being exceedingly interested in food culture and religious cultures, I had to look it up at the library.  I have a hold on it now.

So it was a good walk to the market, around the market, and home from the market.  I live in a great little town!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Still Eating from the Farm!

Tonight I cooked once again with veggies from the farm, even though it's been a couple of weeks since the season ended.  Into my cast iron frying pan went breakfast sausage from the farm (it has a little bit of a spicy kick, which I really like) and some olive oil (because the sausage is so lean that it sticks unless I add oil), along with onion, a shallot, carrots, purple cabbage, and wax beans from the U-pick field that I had put in the freezer.  The only thing not from the farm was the peas.  I added only a little black pepper and garlic powder for seasoning.  I spooned this mixture over brown rice and Bill topped his with cashews and a tiny bit of chili sauce.  I skipped the cashews and added chili sauce.  Yum!  Best of all, there are leftovers for lunch.  Yay!

I still have sausage, beans, pesto, and different kinds of greens from the farm in the freezer.  There are onions, potatoes, winter squash, and shallots in the kitchen and carrots and cabbage in the fridge, so there is more eating from the farm to come.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Whole Grain Pizza Bread in the Bread Machine

I decided to make pizza bread to have with supper tonight, so I got out my trusty bread machine and threw in the ingredients.  I got the machine at the local Goodwill and it did not have the booklet, but I think this is about a 1 1/2 pound loaf.

Whole Grain Pizza Bread
1 1/4 cup warm milk or a combination of milk and water to equal 1 1/4 cups
2 Tablespoons butter or oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (or a little less) sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
garlic powder to taste
sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese to taste
about 1 cup of grated cheese--mozzarella, provolone, cheddar, or a mixture of what cheese you like
about 1/4 cup chopped turkey pepperoni or to taste
1 cup flour (you can use bread machine flour or all-purpose--I use the latter)
1 cup oatmeal (NOT instant, and preferably not quick-cooking, although you can use the latter if it's what you have)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon dry yeast

Use the whole wheat setting on your machine.

This is good with just butter or it makes great grilled cheese!  Use for sandwiches or just enjoy it on its own!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ravioli and Peaches

I wrote the following essay about my Nana a few years ago and it was published in the Fall 2007 issue of Oregon Humanities Magazine.

“Do you want some peaches?” Nana asked after the lunch dishes had been cleared away. “Yup,” I replied. She opened the refrigerator and took out the canning jar. She put a few peach halves in my bowl and then sat down with the jar, spearing peaches with “her” fork—the one with the short handle and the bent tines with wide spaces in between.
That’s how I remember Nana, my maternal grandmother—through food. She was always in her garden or in her kitchen. The fruit, vegetables, and jam we ate at her house came out of her garden or glass canning jars, not metal cans. Nana was the producer of most of the food we ate there. Cherry, peach and apple trees provided the raw materials for jam, applesauce and our lunchtime dessert. Her large garden served up salads, green beans, marinara sauce, and our Halloween pumpkins. And that wasn’t the half of it. The ravioli we ate—my favorite food—came out of her freezer, but each one was made and bagged by Nana herself. First she made the pasta dough and she rolled it out to be laid in the ravioli form. A small spoonful of filling was placed in each space and then another sheet of dough laid on top. She pressed down on the whole thing so that the form cut through the dough and separated the individual ravioli. Over and over she repeated the process, making eight or ten at a time to put in the freezer so that one day she’d be able to wonder aloud what she should make for dinner that night before turning and asking me whether she should make “raviools,” as she called them.
Why did she go to so much trouble? She could have just gone to the store and bought a bag of ravioli. There are many reasons for her ideas about food and producing it herself instead of buying it, but I think the biggest reason she did these things was that she cared about the people she was feeding. This was her way of showing the love she had for all of us around the table. I learned early on how valuable this kind of work could be. I also saw how little respect she got for this work. It was just expected that she would have breakfast on the table at 6, lunch at noon, and dinner at 5. I could see that everyone just came in and sat down without so much as one word of gratitude. They thought what she did was unimportant women’s work, but to me she made the world go around. At a time when women were being urged to leave the kitchen, I was learning how powerful a place the kitchen could be.
Because of Nana, I came to understand how important and life-affirming some domestic labor could be. I saw how food could be many things—a way to commune with nature, an artist’s medium, and an expression of love and care. I knew early in my life that the work we do each day at home is what is truly important for the planet, our communities, families, and ourselves. Growing up in a society and family where money was god and used in an attempt to buy security, prestige, and the illusion of happiness, I understood early on that I did not fit in. The usual pursuits were utterly meaningless to me. And so, as an adult, I set out not to gather as much cash as I could, but rather to create a peaceful and loving home in which the daily work of living went on. And mostly, it seems to have worked. I’ve had more than one person tell me what a peaceful home I have. I’ve done plenty of other things in my life and even wrote a Master’s thesis on the subject of motherhood and women’s domestic labor. But no matter what I have been involved in, I always look forward to coming home. I don’t can peaches or make ravioli, but I do make bread. When I give someone some rolls or muffins that I’ve made for them and I watch their face light up, I feel the hope that just maybe they feel like I did when I heard, “Do you want some peaches?” © Shari Burke 2007