One Herbivore's Dilemma


I have moved
22/02/2010, 22:25
Filed under: Uncategorized

Check me out at my new address: www.withjamandbread.wordpress.com!



Bread 2.0
22/02/2010, 00:11
Filed under: Baking, Techniques | Tags: , ,

Wow. 2 posts in one day; who would believe it? Well I have made my second loaf of bread, and I must say that this loaf kicks my first loaf’s butt.

1) This loaf had a much better rise. I’m not sure if you can tell by the photos, but this loaf is much taller than the first loaf I baked. I think this is because it used a starter (which proofed for 4 hours), instead of just yeast. The bread is still just a white bread (it is called Shepherd’s Bread in my cookbook, The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook).

2) It has a very nice texture. The outside is crusty, but the inside has a nice open crumb to it, with lots of air pockets, which makes it taste fluffy. This is also a result of the starter. If you look hard you can see the texture in the picture below of a buttered slice.

3) It tastes really, really good. Ian agreed, when we tried it our unconventional post-dessert “bread course” (read: the bread wasn’t finished until almost 10).

The next bread in the book is a wheat bread. I am really looking forward to trying it.



My Newest Purchase
21/02/2010, 16:18
Filed under: Products | Tags: , ,

Look what came in the mail yesterday!

These are my awesome new mesh shopping bags. Over a year ago, I switched to cloth shopping bags for my trips to the farmers’ market and grocery store, and I really like them. The bags I own are part of a set I bought on Amazon. They are large green cloth bags and they fit a lot of things in them. One is even insulated.

However, what I still didn’t like was needing to use bags for produce. At the market, I usually dont need bags except for with greens and beans and the like. At the grocery store, though, using bags is standard and often necessary. I was really happy when I found these bags, also on Amazon (can you tell where I do my shopping?)

Here are the bags again, with one of the last of the year’s pears (the farmers’ cold storage supplies are running dry) for reference. This is only half of them; there are 4 small green bags, 4 medium yellow bags, and 2 large pink bags. They also fold down nice into one of the green bags.

See?

Unfortunately, they didn’t arrive in time for shopping this week, so I will be waiting until next week to try them out. I can’t wait!



A Change is Gonna Come…
18/02/2010, 23:59
Filed under: Ramblings | Tags:

In honor of my return to writing, I have decided to give my blog a total makeover; title, header, layout (maybe), everything.

Stay tuned!



My First Loaf of Bread (plus an apology to my blog)
17/02/2010, 22:14
Filed under: Baking, Ramblings, Techniques | Tags: , ,

Dear Blog,

I have neglected you. I am very sorry. I realize this when I read my last post about what I am doing with my summer, and look outside at all the snow on the ground. It’s not like I haven’t thought about you. There have been plenty of meals that I have wished I had photographed so I could tell you about them, but I forgot. But enough with the with the apology.

I am writing you now because of a very special event. Last night, I baked my very first loaf of bread. Mind you, I do have a bread machine (which I have had since my birthday last November; I don’t just procrastinate with blogging). I do not consider using my bread machine cheating. I am a busy woman with many demands on her time, and the bread machine will allow me to have my freshly baked bread without worrying about kneading and proofing myself.

For my first loaf of bread I followed a simple recipe: Homestyle White Bread from The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook. It was easy to follow and it came out good. As Ian said, “It tastes like bread.” I didn’t want to try anything too complicated, because I was not entirely sure what I was doing.

So there it is. Yummy, right? I thought so. It made a good egg sandwich for breakfast this morning and was really tasty spread with my homemade apple butter.

The only problem I encountered was that the mixing paddle baked itself into the bread. Has anyone else had this problem? The cookbook suggested greasing the paddle first as a solution, and I will try this next time, which will be soon.

And Blog, I promise to tell you about it.

Love,

Your Author



What I’ve Been Doing with My Summer Vacation
24/07/2009, 15:32
Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , ,

I really expected to have a job by now. However, I am still unemployed, and I have had to find ways to keep busy. Then, I see all the pictures on facebook of the cool places that people have gone this summer and I get jealous because I didn’t go anywhere cool. But I have been doing things. So, here is a quick update about what I have been doing.

The Fruits and Vegetables of My Labor

The Fruits and Vegetables of My Labor

These are the preserves (and pickles) that I have made so far this summer. From left to right (most recent to oldest):

  • Fig Jam (I only have one tiny jar of this)
  • Pickled Beets
  • Rhubarb Marmalade
  • Tart Cherries in Syrup
  • Cherry Walnut Conserves
  • Cherry-Blueberry Preserves
  • Raspberry Jam
  • Raspberry Chocolate Sauce
  • Strawberry Jam

If you want any, let me know. For some of the preserves, I have many jars available. Variations including peaches, blackberries, and tomatoes will be forthcoming. In my opinion, I have far too many red jars. I need to change it up a bit. Pickles would help, also.

I have also been trying my hand at vegetable gardening, but alas, a my thumbs are far from green. My tomato and pepper plants are still (somewhat) alive, but something tells me that the yields will be meager. I do have a few tomatoes (three), and one pepper, forming already. If you saw my plants, you would be surprised that there were any fruits, so I am going to claim whatever I can get from them as a success, and hope to do better next year.

Hanging Plum Tomato

Hanging Plum Tomato

Beefsteak

Beefsteak

Pepper

Pepper



Back in Action with “Fried” Green Tomatoes

Hey everyone! I have not written in a couple weeks, mostly because I was in Florida for a week and a half, and then when I came home, I didn’t really cook anything right away. I have a number of backlogged entries to post, including strawberry jam and a review of restaurants in Florida, so I will be writing a lot in the near future to catch up.

However, here is tonight’s dinner: “Fried” Green Tomatoes with Remoulade Sauce and Vegetarian Gumbo over Rice, followed by Fresh Peaches with Ice Cream

The appetizer and main course

The appetizer and main course

I love fried green tomatoes, and so does Ian, but taking a perfectly good vegetable, breading it, and frying it is not necessarily the healthiest thing to do. So I went online to find a healthier alternative, which I did. I read a bunch of different recipes for breaded but baked green tomatoes, along with eggplant and other vegetables, so I could get an idea for what to do.

The Recipe

  • 2 green tomatoes, sliced 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/8 cup fat free 99% egg product (or 1 egg, beaten)
  • 1/2 cup corn flour
  • Cajun flavored seasoned salt

    My particular brand of Cajun seasoned salt

    My particular brand of Cajun seasoned salt

  • Fresh black pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese (0ptional)
  • Cooking spray
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and spray a foil lined baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Mix the corn flour, seasoned salt, pepper, and cheese together in a shallow bowl. Pour the eggs into a similar bowl.
    Eggs...mmm

    Eggs...mmm

    The flour mixture

    The flour mixture

  3. Dredge the tomatoes in the eggs, and then the flour, then lay on the baking sheet.

    Ready to be cooked

    Ready to be cooked

  4. Spray the tops of the tomatoes with cooking spray.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until they start to brown. If parts still look a little “dusty” spray them a little more and then cook for 5 more minutes. Then flip, spray the other side, and bake for about 5 more minutes.
The finished product

The finished product (I'm not sure why the pic is so small)

I served these on lettuce leaves with a remoulade sauce. The lettuce leaves were not purely decorative; while Ian did not eat them, I wrapped one of my tomatoes with one, and I thought the fresh, crisp taste was a good addition. The verdict: while not as amazingly delicious as regular fried green tomatoes, these were a good substitute for everyday occasions, especially with the remoulade. I see a sandwich in my near future.

The Recipe

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp prepared horseradish
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp spicy mustard
  • 2 tsp chopped capers
  • 1 smallish garlic clove, minced
  • salt
  • pepper
  • juice of 1/3 lemon or so
All the ingredients, before mixing

All the ingredients, before mixing

Mix well. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Just a dollop

Just a dollop

Note: This is just my remoulade, mixed up with whatever I had on hand, and is not a definitive recipe.

Originally, I was going to write up the whole dinner in one post, but I am tired now, so I will leave the rest until tomorrow…



Strawberry “Shortcake” Parfaits
04/06/2009, 00:51
Filed under: Desserts, Recipes | Tags: , , , ,
Strawberry Shortcake Parfait

Strawberry Shortcake Parfait

I promised you dessert, and here it is. This parfait-like dessert, which went over quite well I must say, was loosely based on strawberry shortcake. However, the strawberries were soaked in amaretto and the whipped cream was homemade, and therefore the layers did not say separate. It still tasted great, though.

Instead of using a shortcake base, I crumbled a couple buttery tea cookies into each glass. The particular ones I used are Persian and shortbread-like.

Persian Tea Biscuits

Persian Tea Biscuits

The strawberries, which had been picked fresh that morning at Larriland Farm, a lovely little farm in Woodbine, Maryland where they let you pick your own fruits and vegetables – essentially paying them to do work they would otherwise pay migrant workers to do. I marinated the strawberries in amaretto and sugar for about a half hour before I assembled the desserts.

Soaking Strawberries

Soaking Strawberries

Finally, I made the whipped cream. I have never made whipped cream before, and it is not particularly easy. I just couldn’t get it to set, even though I chilled the bowl and whisk beforehand. When it started to form peaks, I added a tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar and a teaspoon of amaretto to match the flavor in the strawberries.

Whipped Cream

Whipped Cream

To assemble the parfaits, I started with the crumbled cookies, then added a little whipped cream, then the strawberries, then the rest of the whipped cream. I sprinkled more cookies on top, and then garnished with a fresh strawberry and a square of 86% dark chocolate.

The Recipe:

  • fresh strawberries, a couple of handfuls per person, washed, hulled, and sliced
  • 1/4 cup amaretto
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp amaretto
  • 8 cookies
  • 4 fresh strawberries
  • 4 squares high quality chocolate
  1. Mix sliced strawberries with 1/4 cup amaretto and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium mixing bowl and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare the whipped cream. Whisk heavy cream in a chilled mixing bowl until peaks start to form. Then add 1 tbsp confectioner’s sugar and 1 tsp amaretto. Continue to whisk until it begins to firm up. Do not over-whisk. Chill until ready to assemble.
  3. When ready to assemble, crumble about 1 and a half cookies into the bottom of each of 4 parfait glasses. Add a heaping teaspoon of whipped cream. Divide the strawberries among the glasses. Top with the remaining whipped cream. Garnish with a fresh strawberries and chocolate squares.


A Small Summer Dinner Party
03/06/2009, 01:26
Filed under: Main Courses, Recipes, Salads | Tags: , , , ,
Oh the joys of summer. This morning I went strawberry picking, (more on that tomorrow) and that got me hankering for fresh produce. So I gathered a couple friends and put together a nice, simple meal to highlight the flavors of the season.
We began with a simple dinner salad.
Dinner Salad Dinner Salad

The salad was a combination of mixed baby lettuces, shredded parmesan cheese, toasted slivered almonds, and my simple Balsamic Vinaigrette.

The Recipe:

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp brown mustard
  • salt and pepper

Whisk all the ingredients together. Serve immediately.

The main course was baked chicken (both real and fake) with roasted early summer vegetables and polenta wedges, garnished with a little crumbled goat cheese.

IMG_0444
Chicken with Polenta Strips and Roasted Vegetables
IMG_0445
The same polenta and vegetables, but with Quorn fake-chicken

There were two vegetarians in the group and two meat eaters, so I made two of the plates with real chicken and two with Quorn fake chicken. “Naked Chik’n Cutlets” are what I think they are called. Both the fake chicken and the real chicken were brushed lightly with a mix of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper while they were cooking. I, personally, really like the Quorn fake chicken, and I thought the light marinade was nice.

The roasted vegetables were really the star, so it is unfortunate that they are not as visible in the picture. I cooked a mixture of carrots, asparagus, red bell pepper, and vidalia onion in the same marinade as the chicken. The flavors blended very well and the vegetables were very tender and colorful. They just shouted: summer!

I have had a hankering recently for polenta, so I decided to make little polenta wedges. These took way longer than I thought they would, so they are not as brown and crispy as I would like them to be, but no one complained. To make the polenta wedges, I just cooked the polenta according to the package instructions, cooled it in the refrigerator, shaped it into a log with a dish towel (thanks Clotilde!), chilled it some more, cut it, and baked it in the oven after spraying it with olive oil with the nifty little olive oil pump my mom gave me for Christmas last year.

The Recipe:

  • 4 carrots
  • 1 large bunch thin asparagus
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 vidalia onion
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel the carrots and chop on a diagonal. Cut off the bottom third of the asparagus stalks and discard. Cut the remaining pieces in half. Dice the red pepper. Halve and slice the onion. (This is how I cut the vegetables because I thought it would look fun. You can cut them however you like.)
  3. Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper together in a small dish.
  4. Line a roasting pan or 9 x 13 baking dish with aluminum foil. Toss the vegetables with the marinade.
  5. Cook in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until done.

We also had dessert, but I’ll write about that later…



Decadent Fruit & Nut Brownies
31/05/2009, 23:49
Filed under: Desserts, Recipes | Tags: , ,

Of course, I go and start a food blog and then immediately get sick and don’t want to cook. My taste buds are all off, and my appetite is almost non-existent. However, I feel I should post something, so I pulled one of these brownies out of my freezer.

Fruit & Nut Brownie

Fruit & Nut Brownie

These brownies, a wonderful fruit and nut and cream cheese concoction, were dreamed up during finals. You see, when I am stressed, I need to bake. My first batch of brownies, from a Ghirardelli box mix, was okay, but not great. Then, a couple days later, as I was wandering around the CVS waiting to pick up a prescription, I happened to see my favorite chocolate bar of all time, the Cadbury Fruit & Nut. These bars were special finds during my days in Saint Petersburg; I only knew one store that regularly sold the dark chocolate variety, and they did not always have them, so buying one was always a real treat. I would eat a few squares on the walk home, and then put it in the pantry for later, but it never lasted long. Unfortunately, CVS, like all American retailers, only had it in milk chocolate (I really don’t like milk chocolate), so I didn’t buy one, but it inspired me to bake these gems.

For the brownies I needed a really rich, fudgy recipe, so I used one from The Crepes of Wrath, (which she in turn took from Weevalicious Recipes) to which I added many fun things.

Note: The Fruit & Nut chocolate bar only contains raisins and almonds. I added the cranberries and blueberries for variety. The cream cheese was added on a whim. I read a number of other recipes for brownies that involved cream cheese, all of which wanted me to make a cheesecake-like mixture. I decided to leave it plain, and I am happy with my decision.

The Recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, melted
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli cocoa powder.)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup dried blueberries
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 4 oz (1/2 regular bar) cream cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or line a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, blend melted butter, sugar and vanilla until combined. Beat in eggs one at a time until combined.
  3. Add the flour, cocoa, and salt and mix until smooth. Fold in raisins, almonds, cranberries, blueberries, and chocolate chips.
  4. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Cut the cream cheese into small pieces and drop onto the top of the batter. (This is messy but fun.)
  5. Bake for 40 minutes, or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let brownies cool, then cut into squares. If you put the brownie pan on top of a wire rack, it will cool faster. (I only learned this recently, so I am telling everyone.)

I personally love these. My mother and friend were surprised by the flavor combination, but liked them, also. My boyfriend, Ian, refuses to try them, because “fruit and cheese has no business in a brownie.” Well, more for me. They freeze magnificently.