Observing whatever tickles my fancy

Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

An Experiment in Sauerkraut Part 2

The attempt to make my own sauerkraut resulted in complete and utter failure.

Oh, I suppose I could have scooped out the moldy bits and let the cabbage keep on fermenting but I have to admit, the smell that permeated the house was getting to me.  And, would it have been safe to let it mold on and then attempt to eat it?  I don’t think so.

So it’s back to purchasing sauerkraut at the store from people who actually know what they’re doing.

Thank you Frank’s for doing what others can not (or will not).

An Experiment in Sauerkraut

Yesterday I decided to make sauerkraut from the huge cabbage that was in my CSA box a week ago.

The recipes online are incredibly easy.  Cut or shred the cabbage, put in a crock, and toss in some salt.  Put a plate on top of the cabbage.  Fill water in a quart jar and place on top of the plate.  Ferment for 1-4 weeks.

What do I expect?   A very smelly house.   Just cutting the cabbage sends out that cabbage smell.

Will it be edible?  Only time will tell.

So far, the cabbage that filled the crock to the rim has shrunk down to half its former height.  I am eager to see what happens in the coming weeks.

How I Forgot the Bacon for My BLT

Early preparedness is a sham.  You know it’s true.

Yesterday I fried up some bacon so I would have that tasty grease to fry liver in.  (Yes, I like liver.)  And the bacon, I thought, would be awesome for my Monday lunch at work, a BLT. 

The bacon was fried up.  A sizzling warm slice was sacrificed to my taste bud gods.  (You can’t let all the freshly fried bacon go without nibbling.)

After the bacon cooled I wrapped it up in a paper towel, put it in a baggie, then put it in the fridge so it would be ready for Monday morning.

This morning.  6:15ish a.m.  I prepped the other BLT bits.  The lettuce was shredded, the tomato cut, onions and yellow pepper were added for flavor.  Into their containers they went.  A large dollop of mayo was plopped in its own container.  The bread was lightly toasted.  (It and the bacon get warmed in the microwave.  Not as good as fresh at home, but palatable.)  Once the toast was cooled and wrapped everything was tucked into my lunchbox.

Work.  11:00 a.m.  My stomach growls.  It wants to be fed.  The brain tells it that it can wait an hour to eat.  The stomach growls in disagreement.

***PING****

The brain stops.  Oh, no!  The bacon is still in the fridge!

“I am so stupid.” I say aloud.

My space mate, used to hearing these sorts of comments on occasion, turns and waits for the explanation.  I explain and she laughs.  I laugh.

“Guess it’s a veggie sandwich today,” I say.

The stomach growls in despair.  A veggie sandwich?  Urgh.  It’s just not the same.  Lettuce, onion, pepper and tomato on lightly toasted bread is not a meal.  It’s a desperation.  No, a BLT is what was wanted.  A BLT; that lovely, hot, greasy, hickory-smoked bacon spread across a plain of lettuce, tomato, onion and pepper.  The bacon is the crunch,  the “mmmmm”ness of a BLT.  Without the bacon all you have is desperation.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Today I baked my first batch of peanut butter cookies.

The few followers I have will say, “What?  You never made peanut butter cookies before?”

No, I have not.

“Why not?”

Because I hate peanut butter cookies.  If peanut butter cookies are the only option on the table I will not eat them.  I dislike peanut butter.  Peanut butter is only used as a last resort when there’s nothing in the house but bread and jam….or a banana.  I will eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches, but I don’t enjoy it.

“If you hate peanut butter cookies then why did you bake some?”

Ah, well, there it is.  A fine young man fixed my fizzled computer.  I suggested that I would pay him in bread or some sweet treat.  He laughed.  I asked what his favorite cookie was.  Peanut butter, he answered.   I grimaced and wondered if there was any peanut butter left in the dusty jar on the counter.  Was there a recipe in the Betty Crocker Cookbook?.

Betty Crocker pulled through and the dusty Skippy jar had enough of the creamy gunk for the recipe.

The first and last batch of peanut butter cookies I will ever make.

You must agree that a batch of peanut butter cookies is a better deal than paying the Geek Squad at Best Buy more money then they’re worth.  (The worth of the Geek Squad, that is, not the cookies.)

Cage Free Eggs

With the summer heat and humidity upon us I have found myself hunkered down in the cavern of my non-air conditioned home.  That is a story in itself. But trust me; one can survive in a house without air-conditioning if you know how to play the weather….and if the humidity stays low.  However, summer survival is not the subject of this entry.  The subject today is the caged egg.

As mentioned above I have found myself escaping the heat of the porch by coming indoors.  If I’m indoors the television is usually on whether I’m actually watching it or not.  It makes for great white noise.  As the summer reruns drone on and what the networks feed us as “real life entertainment” I usually read.  It was while I was reading, or perhaps daydreaming of a good blizzard with whipping cold winds, that I heard an advertisement using the phrase “cage-free egg”.

What the heck is a cage-free egg?

Sure, I’ve heard of free- range chickens. Happy, hippy chickens dancing around the farm yard chasing their fix of seed. Are the cage-free eggs the “offspring of these happy, hippy chickens? Has Chicken Little given birth to Moon Blossom Little?

Let’s wax philosophical for a moment.  How “cage-free” are these eggs anyway?  Isn’t the eggshell itself a cage?  Isn’t that which makes the egg an egg, the yolk and albumen, locked inside of that shell?  Therefore, the cage-free egg is impossible.  It isn’t until the shell is cracked and what’s inside is released to be boiled, scrambled, or fried in the pan that the egg is actually free.  Alas, that freedom lasts only a moment before its “edible” doom.

Great Garlic “E”scape

The Great Garlic “E”scape!

I’m a member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  This means that every week I get a box load of vegetables, herbs and the like.  Last week we received our first box.  Within it, the garlic scape; a tasty bite of mild garlic flavor.  As I was cutting some of them up this morning they kept falling off the cutting board and rolling across the table.  All I could think was “It’s the great garlic “e”scape!”  Come on, it’s funny.

Ravioli Riot

A few weeks ago my brain was possessed by a rogue Italian gene.  How it happened is unknown since I am a descendent of Norse Vikings and Germanic tribes.   It is possible that one of Caesar’s goons, with the broom-topped helmet and short metal skirt, had his way with a Barbarian wench when the Roman hordes swept into parts of Europe.  Or is it possible a Viking stole a Roman woman and brought her to snow covered Norway?  Either way, this rogue Italian gene survived the millennia and possessed me.

What happened?  Rogueinius, the name I’ve given this Italian gene, convinced my brain that it could make ravioli from scratch.  One more time folks: make ravioli from scratch!

You’ve seen the recipes, right?  You’ve watched the chefs on TV dump a pile of flour on the table, make a well in the center, crack an egg in the center of said well, add some water and then gradually mix it all together into something resembling a “smooth elastic ball”.   They make it all look so easy on TV but let me tell you, it is one messy chore.   When the dough is stuck in chunks on your hands you wonder if it is ever going to mix together at all. 

The German-Norwegian genes curse the gene, Rogueinius, but with their combined stubbornness the G-N genes fight on.  That Roman gene will not get the best of them!  Cursing in languages unknown to me they fight through the mangle of what looks like a failed grade school craft project.   Eventually this mess of flour, egg and water does form into an “elastic” ball.  Step one is done! It’s a downright miracle.

This beaten mound of dough is supposed to rest so I tuck it into plastic wrap, dim the lights and sing it a lullaby (in German, of course).

While it naps I work on the filling.  I looked up recipes online and in the Italian cook book I have but ignored most of those and did my own thing:  garlic (freshly crushed – best thing in the world), onions, mushrooms and the dreaded chard.  Why do I call chard dreaded?  Because I dislike it.  Chard is a tough mean green but I get what seems like truckloads of it over the growing season so I freeze it and use it throughout the year.  (Sure, the rainbow stuff is pretty, but it’s still nasty.)  So I sauté it in garlic and olive oil which helps somewhat but not enough to make me like it.  So, that’s my filling, sautéed garlic, onions, mushrooms, chard and cheese.  After that it’s on to the tricky ravioli making bit.

Take a rolling pin….roll dough ‘til paper thin.   Yikes!  Do you know how hard that is?  How do you handle paper thin dough?  It doesn’t really matter in this case because I never quite succeeded at getting it that thin.  It looked more like that homemade paper you make from dryer lint only it wasn’t blue or red.

The evil Rogueinius forced me on.  Roll out the dough, as thin as possible.  Cut the dough into strips.  Put spoonful amounts of filling x-distance from each other and the edge of the dough. Fold the dough over and join together.  What a sloppy mess.  Chard was sticking out of the edges, onions poking out of the other side.  So it’s all “filled” and stuck together.  Now, cut strips with little crimpy roller thing.  What?  Crimpy roller thing?  Apparently there is a tool out there that creates those fancy little ridgy ravioli edges.  No, I did not rush out to buy one.  I used my pastry knife…is it a pastry knife?  I don’t even know its official name but it’s the thing the TV chefs use to cut dough and scoop things up with.  I suppose I could have used the pizza cutter. 

Anyway, I cut the ravioli into squares.  They were ugly but I wasn’t going to stop and throw them away.  I boiled some water and tossed them in. 

 Once they were done I put them in a baking dish and covered them with tomato sauce and more cheese.  Then to the oven! 

15 – 20 minutes later the ravioli was done.  Stunned at my accomplishment I stared at the steaming dish of ravioli.  Was it edible?  It smelled like it.  It resembled an edible dish of food.  The Italian gene Rogueinius taunted the German-Norwegian genes.   Mangiare.  Eat.

And they did.  And they survived.

But when Rogueinius offered more ravioli and wine the German stepped back and said “Nein, gib mier bier und bratwurst.”

 

Addendum:   I have been asked if the ravioli was any good.  Yes it was quite tasty.   The Norske within said “Det er bedre enn rømmegrøt”.  If you know what rømmegrøt is, you’ll understand.