Over the years, I’ve developed confidence in my ability to cook just about anything except bread. I regularly search for different recipes online, but also don’t hesitate to come up with my own creations.
My first kitchen experiment occurred when I was about 10 years old, and was trying to earn some kind of Girl Scout cooking badge. One of the requirements was that you had to make your own recipe. I decided to make pepper meatballs. I have no idea where I came up with this one, but my mother — trusting soul that she was — left me to it.
I recently came across an interesting article by Mark Bittman that appeared in the New York Times back in December. It advocates eating “real food,” rather than convenience or restaurant food. According to Bittman, everyone should be able to do three things: a chopped salad, a stir-fry, and a basic lentils and rice recipe. Bittman suggests that by learning to cook just these three things, we can begin to end our reliance on processed and fast foods. In the bargain, he suggests that we’ll save money, eat more healthy foods, and reduce our carbon footprint.
I found Bittman’s article quite interesting, and consistent with many things I do already. I rarely eat out, and no longer rely on convenience foods. Gone are the years when I ate Lean Cuisines every night for dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t completely given up convenience products, but I do use them less than I used to. However, I approach things in a slightly different way than Bittman suggests. Continue reading
Ah, the rutabaga (or swede in the U.K.). They’re ugly. They’re hard to cut into. They’re hard to peel. Most people don’t have a clue what they are. So why bother? Because cooked properly, this ugly vegetable can be really delicious.
I was first introduced to this vegetable as a young girl. My mother was raised in a rural area that had the right type of soil for growing all kinds of root vegetables. In addition to growing carrots and potatoes, most of the local farmers also grew rutabaga. Continue reading
One of my recent favorite places to visit on the web is the Historic Royal Palaces website. The site is so much more than a place to buy tickets or get visiting information about the palaces. It’s full of fun information about the royals who lived at the various palaces, interesting historical events that took place at the palaces, and so much more.
Yes, it’s the time of year when our office is being inundated with cookies. Every few days, someone brings in another plate of festive, holiday cookies. Sugar cookies in every shape imaginable, topped with bright frosting and sprinkles, gingerbread men with dashing silver buttons, candy cane twists, macaroons, and too many other varieties to name.
When I was in school, a group of us used to get together every year about this time and have a cookie baking party. We’d give proposed recipes to one of the friends, and she’d buy supplies for all of the recipes. We’d then spend a fun evening baking cookies, and go away with a mix of different cookies. Continue reading
I recently re-watched Julie and Julia, and it’s got me thinking fondly of the old days of television cooking shows. Before the Food Network and the Cooking Channel existed, the main venue for cooking shows on TV was PBS. I adored Julia Child, but was also captivated by a number of the early TV cooking stars.
One of my first favorites was Justin Wilson. I used to have a Justin Wilson cookbook and would make a number of his dishes. In some move that cookbook was lost. Lately I’ve been thinking about a few of my favorites, including a spicy broccoli salad I used to make. I think it’s time to start searching for a used version.
In my family, the traditional vegetable for both Christmas and Thanksgiving is brussel sprouts. Did I catch you turning up your nose? Then I ask you, what is it about this vegetable that people hate?
Let me start by assuring you that no, we don’t cook them until they turn gray, soft, and, well…smelly. When cooked in water, I just boil (or steam) them until the little sprouts are a bright green. That’s it. Really, just a few minutes of cooking. I then top them with salt and pepper, or some lemon juice, or even a light cheese sauce, and they’re fantastic. But there are so many other ways to prepare brussel sprouts that are truly delicious. Continue reading
Obatzda is a typical Bavarian cheese spread you get both at festivals like the Oktoberfest and in beer halls any time of the year, but it is something you can make for yourself very easily, too. In larger amounts, I have prepared it for a party buffet, but the small amount listed below is just perfect for a Brotzeit (cold meat, cheeses, salad and bread) with the family. Continue reading
While I am a bit sorry the days are getting shorter, I revel in the wonderful fruit this season provides. This morning I got a delivery of apples, pears and grapes. Not to forget damsons and plums. Delicious! Continue reading
Well, perhaps I should call this an un-cooking challenge, because it absolutely can’t involve any heat. Mother Nature has been supplying all the heat I can stand.
I’ve had a particularly busy — and stressful — summer, but was doing all right with making my usual healthy meals. All right, that is, until we started having week after week of never-ending high heat and humidity. Finally, a few weeks ago, something snapped, and I just couldn’t face cooking with any heat, or even eating any warm, let alone hot, foods.
So, I’ve made gazpacho. I’ve had cheese and fruit plates. I’ve had raw veggies and dips. I’ve made salads of every variety I can think of. And I’ve also relied on one of my old standbys, a can of white or black beans turned into a salad.
I always keep several cans of white (sometimes called navy) and black beans in my pantry. To turn them into a salad, I simply drain the juice from the can, and then rinse them thoroughly in a colander to remove all the excess salt and other canned flavorings. Then, after shaking out as much water as possible, I put them in a bowl, add a few other ingredients, either a homemade or bottled dressing, and there you have it, an easy salad with plenty of protein from the beans. Continue reading