Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Starbucks for dinner?

This was one of those days that I didn't think much about food. Was too busy running around. I'm on autopilot with Andrew's eating. I can make his meals or snacks in my sleep, and have probably done so at one time or another. He had yogurt and I had fruit for breakfast, then headed out the door. Andrew went to Mimi's for the day, and I went to my unpaid job. I treated myself to lunch to Atlanta Bread. Their Basil Pesto Pasta is a current fave of mine. So, afer that and a couple rows of knitting, I was back to busy-ness.

On my way to the second shift of the unpaid job, I had a chill, so I drove through Starbucks for a Chai Latte to warm up. Non-fat, half-sweet, of course. Yum. It wasn't until I arrived at Mimi's a few hours later and smelled fresh cornbread that I realized I had not eaten. I really wasn't hungy, but she had also cooked a pot of Great Northern beans and roasted some potatoes too. Delish. A small bowl of beans, slice of cornbread and little serving of potatoes later, I was more than full. Good meal on a chilly day. I enjoyed the latte, but the beans were perfect.

Yesterday Mimi & Granddad joined Andrew and me for supper of pork pot pie. I diced the leftover pork chop from Sunday's dinner, diced some onion, and diced and parboiled a little carrot & potato. I sauted the onion and pork with a little olive oil, added the potatoes and carrots, a handful of frozen peas (Mimi would claim I added the whole bag - but that's another story) and frozen corn and mixed it all till warmed through. Removed that to a bowl and used the skillet to make a pale roux, then added some milk and made cream sauce. Mixed it all back together, dumped it into a pie shell, topped it with a pie crust and baked @ 350 F  for approximately a half hour. Could've been a little creamier, but I thought it was tasty. Mimi & Granddad each ate a small piece. Andrew wouldn't touch it. I ate pot pies all the time when I was grwoing up. Who knew my parents and three year-old don't care for pot pie? The other half goes into the freezer for David's return. He likes it. Maybe I'll just serve Starbucks next time...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Yowza

Where has the time gone? Oh well, if I updated in detail, I'd never get caught up. Let's just say the cookies didn’t make it to the oven, we went to Chicago, we had Christmas, there's been snow, meals out/ meals in, snow, new granddaughter, knitting, lots more snow, cancelled flights, more meals in/ meals out, and a little more snow. There. Caught up.


Recently we spent a week and a half in the D.C. area with my stepdaughter Lin and her family after the birth of their second child Bella. Lin was an inspiration. She is always very organized and tidy, a great homemaker who can stretch a dollar and feed her family very nicely at home, thank you. Being there refreshed my domestic batteries. While we were there, we had a snow storm and lost power one day, but thanks to the gas stove top, we had a hearty pot of beans and cornbread for supper. The oven was an electric pilot, which meant no baking, so we cooked the cornbread in a skillet. I had seen my mother and grandmother do it a hundred times, but had never tried it before. From what we could see by candlelight, it looked pretty good, and it tasted great.

Before they moved away to D.C., I shared my Easy Biscuit recipe with Lin. David calls these “my” biscuits.

Easy Biscuits
2 C flour
3 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/4 C veg oil (I like canola)
3/4 C milk


Preheat to 450 F. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine the wet ingredients in a measuring cup. Pour the wet into the dry and stir just to combine. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead ten times. Roll and cut. Place onto cookie sheet or into biscuit pan with edges of biscuits touching each other lightly. Bake for 10-12 min or golden. Makes approx 1 dozen.

Easy peasy. I use this because I hate cutting butter into flour. Ugh. Lin’s husband B is a Texas guy through and through, thus, he loves good biscuits and gravy. Lin uses the Quick Biscuits during the week, but has started making biscuits with butter on Sundays when she has more time. She also hates cutting the butter and flour. Then one day she used her stand mixer to do the heavy lifting. The one exactly like the one sitting on my kitchen counter. (Her philosophy is that it was a pricey piece of equipment, so she wants to use it as often as possible, and she uses it a lot.) It made the process so easy. I had made the Easy Biscuits for so long, I had forgotten how good regular homemade biscuits tasted. Wow.

This morning, for Valentines, I made my two favorite fellas butter biscuits before church. I didn't use heart cutters, but they got the idea.

Butter Biscuits
2 C flour
1 t sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1 stick (8 T) butter, cubed
3/4 C milk


Preheat to 450 F. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. (In a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment on the lowest "stir" setting.)


Add milk and stir by hand just to combine. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Gently knead a few times, adding a little flour when needed, just until dough is no longer sticky, but is smooth and soft. Roll and cut. Place onto cookie sheet or into biscuit pan with edges of biscuits touching each other lightly. Bake for 10 min or until golden. Makes approx 1 dozen.

These are now “my” biscuits. I would've had pictures to post, but they didn't last long enough. Andrew ate two, even after he'd just finished a bowl of oatmeal. Maybe I'll try them again tomorrow.

Remember, cold butter is better for cutting. Also, you can freeze the biscuits after cutting and before baking. Freeze on a cookie sheet without the biscuit sides touching. Store in freezer zip top bag. Thaw. Then bake as normal. (Just think: Make double batch on Saturday, have fresh biscuits on Tuesday for breakfast!)

Tonight we had smashed Yukon Gold (my favorite) potatoes, collard greens, and pork chops. I could boil Yukons and eat them plain because they are naturally so creamy. But tonight I added a dash of salt and about a teaspoon of unsalted butter and smashed them up. David pan fried the chops with S&P and a bit of garlic powder in a hint of olive oil. The collards are from a recipe that Lin developed and I have adjusted to our taste.

Collards
Couple strips of bacon
1/4 C Onion, chopped
1 clove Garlic, chopped
Red Pepper flakes, to taste
1 bunch Collard Greens, washed, stems removed and leaves chopped
3-4 C Chicken stock/broth
1 T cider vinegar (to taste)
Salt & Pepper (to taste)


In bottom of Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat till browned and rendered. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper (if desired) and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring to prevent garlic from burning. Add collards (in batches if necessary) and stir, allowing the greens to cook down slightly, usually a couple of minutes. Add stock to cover greens and add vinegar. Bring to boil. Cover pan. Reduce heat to simmer for approx an hour. Remove lid. Allow broth to reduce and concentrate a bit. Check greens for doneness along the way. This will vary. Some people like them a bit firm still (cooked less) and some like them cooked to death (cooked longer). S&P to taste.

Last Thursday we were supposed to attend a Valentine dinner hosted by our church's youth department. We had a big snow that day which caused the dinner to be postponed. Thus, I was left to come up with dinner on short notice. I browned a pound of ground beef, used a bag of frozen mixed veggies, peeled and chopped a baking potato and part of an onion, finished off the beef bouillon granules, and threw in a handful of alphabet pasta for good measure. I made my favorite cornbread recipe (in the oven this time) to go with. The cornbread came out beautifully and, all in all, it resulted in a pretty good Alpha Veggie Beef Soup meal. It's great to have those times when throwing dinner together looks like you'd planned it all along. As PeeWee Herman would say after falling of his bike, "I meant to do that."

Do you believe me when I say I meant to wait 2 months between posts?