Thursday, October 20, 2016

Homemade Hamburger Helper

I made 20 quarts of this yesterday for the kids and not a drop was left.  This year I am cooking for 25 kids each day.  That's almost a quart per kid!  They sure can eat.  And what kid doesn't like this stuff? 
 I dice lots of vegetables really small so it's a very healthy version of the store bought kind and the kids really don't notice how many veggies they are eating.

 I used my tomato sauce that I made from my garden.

 And my homemade chicken stock.

 There was 5 pounds of pasta in it too.

I also added lots of fresh parsley too.  25 full bellies!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Cranberry Sauce and Emergency Food for the Kids

 I'm making Thanksgiving dinner again this year.  I like to do as much prep ahead of time as I can because I'll be hosting about 15 people.  Cranberry sauce is an easy menu item to prepare in advance.  This is the best cranberry sauce I've ever had and I make the same recipe each year.  I can it so I can give everyone some to take home so they can have it with their leftovers.

Put 2 cups of sugar in a heavy pot.  Add 1 cup of water, 1 cup port, 4 star anise and 2 cinnamon sticks.  Bring this to a boil and whisk until the sugar dissolves.

Add 6 cups of fresh cranberries.

Add the zest of 1 orange.

Add the juice from that orange.  Cook it until you hear the cranberries popping.  turn the heat off and stir.  You want some of the cranberries to remain whole.  Fill jars to 1/2 inch below the rim, add the lids and place them in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.One Thanksgiving menu item down....about 50 more to go!

On occasional Tuesdays, a cook goes to the after school program to teach the kids how to cook something.  He was supposed to be there yesterday so I had not prepared food.  I got a call an hour before the kids arrived and was told that the cook canceled.  There was no food for the kids.  I quickly went through my food stash and put together a meat and cheese platter.  I found a loaf of frozen pumpkin bread, some frozen French bread, nuts, apricots and crackers.

I had jars of homemade pickles, homemade mustard and some sweet chili sauce I made recently.  My sausage hording finally paid off.  The kids loved it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Honey Buttermilk Bread

Yesterday I made the after school kids one of their favorite treats;  homemade bread with apple butter.  None of these kids had ever had apple butter until last year and it was an instant hit.  I make sure to only buy the good stuff which is made at festivals with no added sugar.
I tried a new bread recipe that went with it perfectly.  You can use any kind of honey you have but the darker the honey, the richer the flavor.  I used the healthiest honey of all, buckwheat honey.  Here are the ingredients:

  • 1T. rapid rise yeast
  • pinch of powdered ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups  buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 T. softened butter
  • 6 cups white bread flour, 
  • Mix all of the ingredients together except the flour and then add the flour 2 cups at a time.  Mix until you have a smooth elastic slightly sticky dough.  Place it in a buttered bowl, cover it and let it rise until doubled.  It will take about 1-1/2 hours.
Remove the dough from the bowl after it has risen.

Split the dough in half.
Press each half down into a rectangle.

Roll it tightly into a loaf shape.
Place the loaves into buttered pans.  This recipe will make 2 loaves.

Cover the loaves and let them rise for about 30 minutes until they crest the top of the pans.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the loaves for about 35 minutes or until they have an internal temperature of 190 degrees.  I always check the internal temperature...why not?

Cool the loaves on a rack.

I sent them some caramel apple lollipops too which they really liked and gallons of good local apple cider.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Rainy Festival

 Last weekend, we headed towards Maryland to go to a folk festival.  The closer we got, the more it rained.  By the time we arrived, it was pouring.  That booth on the left was selling Thanksgiving in a cup.  They put a scoop of mashed potatoes in the bottom of a cup and layered turkey and stuffing and ladled gravy over the top.  We split one and it was very good.  Click any of the pics to enlarge them.

 This was the sauerkraut booth.  Most of the festivals we attend sell fresh sauerkraut.


 Fortunately, a lot of the booths were indoors.

This man was selling wonderful pottery.  I didn't buy any but I sure was tempted.
 And this sweet woman was making intricate paper folded ornaments.  I bought some for The Blog Tech and his wife to decorate their first Xmas tree.

 Beeswax candle making.

 Wreaths and garlands.

 Dulcimers.  I have several and I still can hardly play them.

 Wonderful Shaker boxes.
 They had a small farmer's market and were selling locally grown produce.

 For 1.00, you could buy a slice of freshly baked bread spread with Amish butter.  My kitchen sort of looks similar to this today.  I am baking bread for the kids and taking it to them with apple butter.

And yes, we got soaked through to the skin.  It can't always be sunny.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Italian Sandwiches

Here is something else that I made for The Chef.  He loves sandwiches and he loves charcuterie. I stopped at a local smokehouse last week and bought some smoked pepperoni and it is wonderful.  Combined with salami, mortadella and prosciutto, it makes a killer sandwich. First I made some good sandwich rolls.
Then I shredded some mozzarella cheese and added garlic, softened butter and spices.

 I spread it on the split rolls and broiled them until crisp. Then I spread them with mayo.

 I added pickled celery which I made a week or so ago.  Have you ever pickled celery?  It's great!  Crunchier than pickles and it has a wonderful flavor.  I'll pickle just about anything these days. Pickled celery is a surprise when you bite into one of these sandwiches but it compliments the meats perfectly.

 I like to add crunchy celery to these sandwiches so I used romaine.  I also slice tomatoes thinly, salt them and drain them on paper towels so they don't make the sandwich soggy.

Good sandwiches are all about layering.  Layering taste as well as textures and always using the best bread you can make or buy.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Spaghetti Puttanesca

Of all the people I have cooked for over the years, some of the ones that are most appreciative to receive my food are those that work in restaurants.  This might seem counter intuitive but when you feed people all day, you never have time to feed yourself.  I can identify with this.  My daughter is dating a chef and the last thing he wants to do after a long day at work is to cook for himself.  I can identify with this too.  So, when I can squeeze it in, I make him some food to eat.  Yesterday I made him some puttanesca.  This is such a simple recipe and comes together very quickly.  Saute 1 diced onion in 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Sprinkle in 1 tsp. of pepper and 1/2 tsp. of salt.

Add 1 tsp. of red pepper flakes.  I really like these Korean ones but you can just use the regular ones.

Add 3-4 anchovies and a bit of their oil.

Add a lot of diced garlic.  I used about 6 cloves.

Add 3 T. of tomato paste.

Add 2 tsp. of oregano and stir it around and let it cook for a minute.
Add 4 cups of tomato sauce.  I used some of what I made this past summer from the tomatoes in my garden.  Ad 4 T. of capers and 1/2 C. of sliced kalamata and green olives.

Boil 1 # of spaghetti to al dente and mix it with the sauce.  This is some of the tastiest spaghetti you will ever eat.