Category Archives: Food

Seasonal Sounds

I picked strawberries last night after work. The task usually falls to husband, but he was still driving back from the reservation and it looked like it might storm before he got home.

It was quite still while I picked, and I could hear the outdoor sounds in the neighborhood quite well. I heard the harsh sounds of distant lawnmowers getting the grass cut before a possible rain. I heard some birds, and the occasional car driving past. I also heard a sound that I thought was a true summer sound-the distinctive, quiet, sucking  snap of a plump strawberry as it is picked from its stem.  What a lovely sound!

What sounds do you associate with the seasons?

 

 

Learning the Hard Way

Today’s post comes to us from Steve.

It is always interesting, after the fact, to remember the decisions you made that caused some bad thing to happen. Looking back, you can see the errors. But at the time, you were doing things that made sense.

One of the staple foods I have in my kitchen cabinets is honey. I grew up eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches. In the poverty of my first year of graduate school, I sometimes had peanut butter and honey sandwiches three times a day. I couldn’t afford anything else.

But honey has a nasty habit of crystallizing. The honey gets dull and solid until it will no longer come out of a squeeze dispenser. That just happened to me. But I had an inspiration for melting the crystallized goo back into liquid honey. I popped my honey dispenser in the microwave and nuked it for just 20 seconds. The photo shows what happened. The dispenser will never be the same, and I had to mop up honey from all over the microwave.

That’s one dumb stunt I’ll never do again, for I learned that lesson the hard way.

In the summer of 1970 my erstwife (let’s call her Carol in this story) and I lived along the Saint Croix River. We discovered a wonderful fishing hole north of us, just upstream of Osceola, Wisconsin. Night after night we’d go upriver to our fishing spot at the foot of an island and—quite literally—catch fish until our arms got tired.

Then Carol got busy, and I began fishing alone. The canoe wasn’t stable without a person in the front end, so I found a large boulder that I called “Carol.” I put the rock in the front of the canoe to keep everything steady while I fished. The rock worked so well that I safely walked around the canoe standing up, which is not something the experts recommend.

One afternoon in September I enjoyed what I knew would be my last evening of fishing for that season. Grad school and work were about to start up, so I’d not fish there again until next year. I canoed back downstream to the Osceola bridge where my car was parked. I realized I no longer needed my boulder. With the canoe close to shore, I walked to the front of the canoe, grabbed “Carol” (the rock) and chucked her overboard.

In cartoons when Wile E. Coyote has just made a fatal error there is a terrifying pause. Time stops as he processes what he has done and what is going to happen to him. The cartoon is absolutely true to life. On the river I had my Wile E. Coyote moment. For several seconds I contemplated the fact that I was standing upright in an unstabilized canoe. Then the thing spun like a birling log under a lumberjack. I went sailing, my fishing rod flew even further, and soon we were both in the river. I survived. The fishing rod was never seen again.

And I never walked upright in a canoe again. Well, you don’t forget a lesson you learn the hard way.

What have you learned the hard way?

Don’t Cry Over Spilt…..

Photo credit: Associated Press

The news out of Poland last week included an item about a tanker truck that crashed and dumped its contents all over the highway. Its contents?  Liquid chocolate.

Luckily it happened pretty early in the morning and no one was injured in the accident. But that wasn’t really the end of the story.  The fire brigade sent to clean it up needed to bring in hot water because the chocolate was solidifying too fast to be able to scrap it up easily.  And then the story went viral, hitting so many news feeds that people began to think it was a hoax.  It’s even listed (and verified) on Snopes.com.

What unusual thing have you spilled?

What’s in a Name?

My daughter is attracted by Name Brands. She would almost always prefer a Name Brand if possible.  I’m not sure how this happened as I’m the opposite (although having just typed these words, I may have answered my own question!)  With very few exceptions, I go with generic and cheap.  I do buy Prell shampoo because I love the smell and Birkenstocks because how can you argue with sandals that you wear constantly and after 10 years, they are still OK.  But that’s about it.

Except Kitchenaid. I had one of the earlier Kitchenaid stand mixers – the ones made back in the day when the company was still an offshoot of Hobart, the big commercial baking mixer company.  Because I loved this mixer and never had a moment’s trouble with it, I bought several other Kitchenaid products over the years – all because of the name.

I think most of you have heard my sad story about my old Kitchenaid finally giving up the ghost and the new Kitchenaid not being as durable. I did eventually talk Kitchenaid into sending me a check for half of the amount that I spent on the repair, but considering the initial expense of the machine and the expense of the repair (not to mention my angst), I would not call myself satisfied.  Not satisfied as to the durability of the machine, the length of the warranty on such an expensive appliance, the way my complaint was initially handled and the difficulty of finding someone to repair the machine.

So now I have to say that my love affair with Kitchenaid is over. No more appliances in my house based solely on the Kitchenaid name.  And unfortunately I no longer believe that the new stand mixer will be the last one I own (something I thought at the time I purchased it).  What this means is that my next stand mixer won’t be a Kitchenaid.

What brands are you loyal to?

Music to Bake By

Photo Credit:  Very Vanilla Baking Book by Sarah Kieffer

I’m a cookbook reader. When I see a cookbook (usually online) that looks interesting, I ask for it from the library and can spend a lazy Saturday afternoon or an evening flipping through the pages, reading through the ingredients, looking at all the photos.  Every now and then I see a recipe that I want, then I mark it with a post-it note and make a copy.  And rarely I will decide that I really need to have this cookbook in my collection.  (This is a hard decision, because my current cookbook shelves are full, so if a new cookbook comes into the house, an old cookbook has to go!)

Yesterday I picked up Vanilla Bean Baking Book by Sarah Kieffer.  Some very nice looking recipes and I did have a couple of post-it notes, but wasn’t really thinking this was something I needed to purchase… until I got to the back of the book. There, on page 323 was “Music to Bake to”.  She even had two columns, one for Morning Tunes and one for Night Grooves.  A lot of jazz as well as some Joni Mitchell and Peggy Lee.  Even some Over the Rhine!

Here’s one of her morning tunes – a wonderful song, although I would probably never have come up with it on my own for baking background music!

Now I’m re-thinking whether I need to get myself a copy of this cookbook.

Any cooking tunes of your own?

 

 

Teaching a Kitty New Tricks?

Today’s post comes from Sherrilee.

All I seem to do is go from one pet issue to another.

For many years, I had to keep Zorro (my old cat) and Nimue (the “baby” kitty) apart during feeding. Zorro learned early in his life that he needed to eat at meal time; an earlier Irish Setter was rabid about getting to food, including Zorro’s food, no matter where I put it.  Even after the Irish Setter had gone to the big dog park in the sky, Zorro still came around at breakfast and dinner for his food.

When Nimue came along, she wasn’t even remotely interested in this kind of schedule. She would show up and have a few bites, then wander off.  A classic free feeder.  Since I was already keeping the dog separated between the kitchen and breakfast room, I started keeping Nimue on the counter near the sink and Zorro on the window ledge.  Then the rest of the time Nimue’s food was on top of the fridge, where Zorro couldn’t reach it.

Now that Zorro is 18+, he has decided he can be more relaxed about his meals and has reverted to free feeding as well.   For a while now I’ve been thinking that I don’t need to make sure they are separated at “meal time”, but hadn’t done anything about it.

As you can imagine, keeping Nimue on the counter has engendered some bad habits – mostly that she thinks being on the counter is just fine. Unfortunately when I am using the counter for something else, this isn’t all that fine.  I spent A LOT of time wiping the counter down and pushing her away.  I know, I know, entirely my fault.

Then last week I was making coffee with my one-cup drip and decided to run down to the basement to do the kitty box. As I was coming back up the steps I heard a “clunk”.  You guessed it – she got up on the counter and knocked the coffee over.  And this was NOT an accident; the coffee wasn’t anywhere near the edge.  Coffee, wet coffee grounds went everywhere.  The kitchen still smells a little like a coffee shop.

That was the last straw, so I took her food bowl from the top of the fridge and put it on the window ledge. Now at meal time, I fill up the two bowls on the ledge and no food is put out on the counter.  She’s 8 years old and having a little trouble getting used to the new regime.  Every morning I end up “showing” her where the food is now located and I’m still shoving her (gently) off the counter 8-10 times in the 30-45 minutes I’m in the kitchen before going to work.  Sigh.  I figure it will be a while before she gets the hint.

Any traditions that you’ve abandoned?

Winter Wontons

Like half of southwestern Minneapolis, on the day before the big storm two weeks ago, I stopped by the store to “pick up a few things”. Just two weeks before that I had come across our wonton presses in the back of a drawer, so when I saw the wonton wrappers in the produce section I quickly put them in the basket.

When YA was younger, we used to make wontons more often, but these days our meal schedules don’t cross much and things like wontons have fallen off our schedule. But when YA came home and saw the wrappers, she was excited to make them.  On Saturday her work was cancelled and she immediately decided we should do the wontons right then.

She made the filling, filled the wontons and then I did the frying. It was snowing like crazy outside and it was a great hour of cooking with YA.  They were yummy and didn’t last too long.

Here’s our recipe for Vegetarian Fried Wontons

Ingredients
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 package of vegetarian crumbles (we use Morningstar)
2 Tbsp. tamari
1 package wonton wrappers (we use the round ones)
Vegetable oil (for frying)

Directions

  • Saute green onions and garlic in olive oil
  • Add crumbles and mix thoroughly
  • Add just enough tamari to moisten the mixture
  • Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wontons; moisten edge of wonton w/ water
  • Squeeze wonton closed in wonton press (or close wonton and crimp edges w/ a fork
  • Fry three or four at a time in hot oil; drain on paper towels (if you prefer, you can boil)
  • Enjoy! 

What’s a good “last storm of winter” comfort food for you?