Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tablespoon Pork Dumplings ~

Seeing color, happiness came to my eyes, seeping to my heart

It happened again, last night.  I fell in love with myself.  There was silence from children intently eating.  This went over well.  Better than a previous experiment with dumpling recipes.  This is a keeper.  

It seems whenever I find an Asian recipe for almost anything I want to try, I am missing much of the list.  I don't keep fish sauce in the house, I've learned I don't care for it.  I may or may not have soy sauce in the house - it's awfully high in sodium.  Coconut aminos is good, but it's shelf life, even in the fridge, is not long.  I certainly don't have napa cabbage on hand.  I do, however, almost always have a purple cabbage in the recesses of my fridge stock.  Curious.  Anywhoo....what I didn't have made me substitute what I did for these pork dumplings.  As I was adding various bits...I noticed I was adding items in did take a tablespoon of this...a tablespoon of that.  While mixing pork dumplings,  I started humming and singing and swaying ~~

Tablespoon Pork Dumplings ~

1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. tapioca flour
1 T. minced fresh ginger
1 T. minced garlic
1 T. hoisin sauce
1 T. Vermouth 
2 T. minced shallot
3/4 lb. ground pork
1 c. thinly sliced and finely chopped cabbage
Wanton wrappers
  • In a small bowl, mix salt, pepper, tapioca flour, ginger, hoisin sauce, Vermouth, and shallot.
  • In a larger bowl, add pork and cabbage.  Add the flavorings.  Mix thoroughly.
  • Using a tablespoon scoop, place the pretty colored pork mixture in the middle of a wanton wrapper.
  • Wet half the edges with a wet finger.  Press out the air and seal.
  • Ready a pot of boiling water.
  • Slowly add dumplings.  Do not crowd.  Depending on the heat of your water, cook on a low simmer 6-10 minutes.  Test one.  They will still be pink when done (the salt does this, I believe). 

Sad picture, delicious dumplings
Eskimo kisses ~ real ones

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

After school snack ~

I need more white dishes.  I do, I do.
I cannot believe my children liked these.  I didn't care for them.  *laughing*  I made them whole wheat.  There was a low amount of sugar compared to other scones.  Annabelle and Little Bit asked for a second one.  Amazing.  I'm happy that my children will eat something that low in sugar and entirely whole wheat.  Nic...well, I got the "so-so" sign with the hand when I asked him if he liked them.  Me?  Not the tolerant one again, I see.  I ate the middle and tossed the rest.  *blush*  This recipe is by no means close to the oh so flaky original in the end result...but there it is...our after school snack today.  Cleaned up away from white flour.

 With a couple substitutions and a minor change - -
  • Recipe cut in half, sugar amount remains at 3T. to 2 c. flour.
  • Whole wheat pastry flour instead of white.
  • Marionberry jam, of course. 

Lil' nose rubs, Eskimo kisses...real ones ~

Black bean burgers ~

Our Meatless Monday without a ringing endorsement for this recipe?  Annie liked it quite a lot.  Nic got into the taste 1/3 way through. Sofia was being Sofia, kinda picking at her plate once again, her eating style has mood of it's own.   I wanted to make a great veggie burger and came up with that will need tweaking.  I analyzed as I ate.  
  • Maybe some nuts or whole grains such as some barley.  With as long as barley takes to make do I want to make some just for 1/2 c. in black bean burgers?  No.  
  • Taste for not only salt, but overall savory flavor before adding the egg.
  • What the particular brand (Trader Joe's) of whole grain buns good?  Meh.  This is where I miss white flour, for burgers.  And now burgers of any sort, including veggie burgers.
  • I thought a good intensely flavored tomato compote would have done wonders for the burger overall - along with a change of bun.  
  • A whole grain artisan bread, sliced and toasted would have been better. 
  • A smothering of carmelized sweet onions would have been delicious.
  • Olive oil sauteed mushrooms...uh huh.
  • Now I'm just dreaming in children were perfectly happy with this it as served.  When I experiment, my mind wanders if it needs tweaking.  Just the bun and the burger, with a little cheese...was not flavorful enough for me.  Next time...more add-ons.  :)
In a meeting today I was told I had high expectations of my children.  I do in all people really.  That is a two sided coin, most certainly.  When I don't let some things (and people) be good focus on appreciation is blurred.  These burgers were good enough and enjoyed last night.
Meatless Monday dinner
Black bean burgers ~
 Makes 4-6

2 c. black beans, cooked
1/4 c. shallots, sliced
1/4 c. green onions, sliced
1-2 tsp. chipotles in adobo sauce
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
Shy 1/4 c. roasted red pepper
1/2 c. whole grain dried bread crumbs
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
Olive oil or canola oil
  • Saute the shallots with a pinch of the salt, about 3-5 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add the garlic, saute another minute.  Remove from heat.
  • Add the onions and garlic, cilantro, red pepper, bread crumbs and salt into a food processor.  Pulse 3-4 times.  Add the bean and pulse just to combined.  Leave it chunky.  Remove to a bowl.
  • Fold through the mixture so it's combined.  Taste and adjust if necessary.  Add egg, fold to combine.
  • Form into patties.  Refidgerate for at least 30 minutes.  
  • When ready, heat a saute pan on medium.  Heat on both sides, about five minutes each side.
Eskimo kisses ~

Before cooking

Monday, March 28, 2011

Blue Monday ~

Blue bounty

I was sitting at my desk this spring break, alone in the house as my children were gone.  A stillness felt as the sunshine came in the front window.  The window with the view with the reminder that looking at warehouses and tires are a sign that I am poor...and also...that I am happy.  The light of sunshine met my blue desk, the blue on the cover of my current read, my blue reading glasses...I thought, "Blue Monday picture!"  The camera caught my Levi's.  :)  I appreciate the sunlight as it casts light through the front window first...then to the side window facing the street as it rises higher in the sky.  It feels as if it's a gift of a pause in time to remember to slow down and appreciate.  I do.  *love*

A nice place to share blue ~ :)

I was surprised to find the vibrant color inside my weekly flower choice, tulips.  These were especially large compared to the smaller tulips I have purchased lately.  What a happy little find that made me smile...and think of Sally's favored color. 

“Ever since happiness heard your name, it has
been running through the streets trying to find you.”
~ Hafiz

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sundried tomato vinaigrette ~

I like our dressings to be on the tart side, with a hint of sweet...but always ending with the tart remaining on the tongue.  I also tend to use less olive oil in relation to vinegar.   I don't measure when I make dressing, but this time I did - so my children would have a reference of what we used on our salads.  :)  This was my lunch today....oh...light and subtle. 

Sundried tomato vinaigrette ~

6 sundried tomatoes (not from a jar)
1/4 c. spiced pear cider
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 T. blackberry honey
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 T. champagne vinegar
1/3 c. olive oil
3 T. water
  • In a small saucepan, heat the cider and tomatoes together, bringing to a simmer.  Reduce to a very low simmer, simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the cider and tomatoes to a small food processor.  Add the garlic, mustard, honey, salt, black pepper and vinegar.  Process this until smooth.
  • Add the olive oil and the 3 T. water.  Process again until smooth
  • Adjust any season of salt or sweet that you might like.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~

A photo of my photo.    My grandmother, my mother (left) and my mother's baby brother.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Noodle soup with coconut milk and shrimp ~

Close up.  Ready.
I ran across a recipe for this soup in an old copy of Fine Cooking.  As I read the list it quickly became thought of, "I don't have that, I don't have that, or that...".  So, I made do with what I did have on hand.  I used the dried lemongrass I found at the health food store some time back.  I don't know how well it would work alone with additional lime, considering it was not the only tart flavor, having key limes on hand to boost the citrus aspect of this soup.  

I was very proud of this outcome, that doesn't happen too often for me.  I am often very happy and pleased, but this was something so different for me to make because of the scratch paste...I was quietly beaming inside. That and my scratch Thai or Chinese is usually mediocre.  This took a bit of prep time, more than the cooking process...that alone I was proud of because a lot of prep is something I am not always crazy about.   I am so grateful that my children love such a variety of foods, especially seafood.  It makes my heart float at times ~ :) 

The kidlets were very happy with this, especially my little shrimp eater, Annabelle.  She actually lights up when we have shrimp.  Nic came to the stove as I was starting the saute' and asked if he could tell Annie, because it would make her happy, and he wanted to see that.  I thought that was cute.  Not that I let him...I wanted to wait to see her happy face light up at the table.  :)

Linked to this wonderful place to share on Fridays ~ :)

Noodle soup with coconut milk and shrimp  ~

1 small onion, rough chop (approx. 1/2 c.)
2 inch piece of ginger, peeled, chopped
5 garlic cloves
2 heaping T. dried lemongrass
1/2 jalapeno, exterior only - no seed or vein
1/4 c. cilantro leaves
1 tsp. fresh ground cumin
2 tsp. brown sugar
2 T. hoisin sauce
2-3 T. water
2 T. oil 

1 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined (save shells) - I used 21/25 ct.

2 c. chicken broth
3 c. water
14 oz. coconut milk
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
1 - 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Bean sprouts - optional

6 oz. rice noodles, thick
  • In a food processor, put the onion, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, cilantro, cumin, sugar, hoisin sauce Make a paste.
  • Heat a soup pot or large saucier over medium heat.  When hot add oil and paste. Saute the paste, stirring often until it softens and the scent is very aromatic...about 5-8 minutes.
  • Stir in the shrimp shells and cook until they become pink, about two minutes.
  • Add the stock, water, and coconut milk.  Let it come to a simmer. Simmer for approximately 30 minutes.
  • Bring a pot full of water almost to a boil, then turn off the heat.
  • Soak noodles in the water for five minutes.  Drain, rinse.  
  • Strain the broth into another pot and put back on the low heat.
  • Add the shrimp, cook through, about 3 minutes.
  • Divide the noodles between the bowls. Ladle the broth and shrimp into the bowls.  Add more cilantro, bean sprouts and cucumber.  

Notes ~ ~ 

  • I took the extra half of the jalapeno, removed the seeds and vein to have it sit in the simmering stock stage for about ten minutes.  Taste the broth as you go along.  Your pepper might be very spicy, mine wasn't.  Monitor your heat ~ excess heat never makes anyone happy. 

Toodles ~

It's latte time

Brown Jasmine rice with cilantro, lime and shallot ~

An uninspiring picture...a good recipe

Uh huh.  Rice -- A Recipe.  (I didn't say that with a whole lot of confidence.  *smiling*)

I made this last the other night with Taco Tuesday.  Annie said, "What did you do to the rice, Mom?  It's great!"  I was looking forward to how that little bit of lime juice would taste in the end result.  The shallots blending into the rice...why Sofia didn't have to avoid one little bit.  :)  I mentioned that next time I might like more cilantro, to which Sofia said, "I thought it was so yummy, I don't think you could make it yummier."  This is a keeper recipe.  As are my children, whom I am head over heels in love with.

Brown jasmine rice with shallot, cilantro and lime ~
This makes a lot, I purposely do this for leftovers

2 c. brown jasmine (or basmati) rice
3 1/2 c. warm water
Juice from two key limes
2 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. chopped shallots, or quarter cut each shallot bulb and slice
2 T. olive oil - or canola
1/4 - 1/2 chopped cilantro - the amount is your call.  Isn't everything?
  • Heat a pan on medium high.  Add the oil when hot.
  • Add the shallots and 1/4 tsp. salt.  This is a fast saute due the high heat, just a minute or two to wilt or brown, but careful to not burn.
  • Turn the heat up to high.  Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil.  Let some of the rice turn white.
  • Add the water, cover.  Let come to a boil.
  • When at the boil, add the salt.  
  • Reduce to a very low simmer.  Cook approximately 40 minutes. 

Notes -- 

If your heat is too high, it will cook too quickly, too low and it will take longer.  Check from 30 minutes on.  When I hit 40 minutes and I can still hear water simmering in the bottom (Oy, I do not care for my new stove with the low flames) I will test a bit of the rice and if necessary leave the lid off to finish with water evaporation.

As mentioned, this makes a whole lot.  Half this recipe for all four of use still leaves leftovers.  I use it later in the week as part of meal planning, lunches, fried rice, etc.

Ending with the other uninspiring picture
Eskimo kisses ~
Sweet nose rubs.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Whole wheat flour tortillas ~

 Oh, the things I do now to pass the time. I do amuse mahveryownself.

Love, love, love homemade tortillas.  So did Former Hubby.  As a matter of fact, I still smile when I recall the first time I made tortillas.  He took that first bite, his face lit up...smiling big and happy at me...saying, "These are sooo much better than store bought!!  We now have to have these all the time!"   (There is that "we" again.) He was too cute, because it meant he wanted me to make them...but requests used to make me grumpy.  I didn't make homemade every time we had tortillas on the menu, and he did pout a little when I didn't make them.  That was cute, too.  Sometimes.  :)

Fast forward more than a decade - here I am adjusting the favorite recipe for the myself and the kidlets.  The original comes from Mesa Mexicana cookbook - oooh, how I loved that early FoodNetwork show, Two Hot Tamales.  I've not made or tasted (at various homes by others) a better recipe as listed in their book.   

This is changed by the nature of steering away from white flour.  Whole wheat pastry flour enters.  Crisco be gone.  Welcome palmfruit shortening.

Whole wheat flour tortillas ~~
Linked to the blog Wild Yeast

2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. tapioca flour or corn starch
3.5 oz. shortening
1 tsp. salt
6 - 8 oz. warm water - start with the six ounces
  •  Mix the flours with salt in a food processor.
  • Add the shortening and pulse to a slightly coarse meal.  Remove to a bowl.
  • Pour in the water, mix with hands until it comes together.  This is messy and fun!  Tactile ~ :)  Okay, you can use a wooden spoon to gather it.
  • Dump onto a floured board (counter) and knead until smooth.  It should be soft and pliable.
  • Divide into 8-12 pieces depending on the size you desire.  Roll each into a ball.  
  • Place on a baking sheet and cover with a tea towel.  Let rest 15 minutes and up to an hour.
  • Cut 7-11 squares of parchment or wax paper...these will be the liners for the raw rolled out tortillas.
  • Roll out each one, using flour as necessary.  Stack on a plate using the cut papers.
  • Heat a pan on medium heat.  Have ready a clean plate with a clean kitchen towel folded in half.  This will be the home for the warm tortillas stacked and cooked.
  • Cook the tortillas one at a time, until puffy and slightly brown.  30-45 seconds each side.  Longer if your pan is not hot enough.  Too hot and it will burn quickly.
  • Insert the first tortilla in the towel, add as you go along.
  • Did I mention how much better these are?  And they are fun to make, too.
 Notes - - 

I do use regular white flour for dusting the board to knead and roll.  I divide into 12 pieces and roll these much thinner than I do the white flour version.

For the most part, this took the 3/4 c. warm water because of the cornstarch and less flour than the original recipe.  This will also depend on what whole wheat flour you choose to use.

I added the cornstarch to not have an overly whole wheat taste in the end result.  These are just soooo good.  All three kids loved these just as much as they remember the white flour version.  Good stuff.  :)

Bad picture, delicious tortillas
 Eskimo kisses ~~

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Grilled skirt steak ~ Taco Tuesday ~

I forgot the shallots and garlic in the picture...but not the marinade. 

Because Sofia Mae heard someone on TV say Taco Tuesday and she said that sounded fun, that we should do that sometime.   Okie dokie. The pure happy enthusiasm at the simplest thing is so beautiful.  How is it not contagious?  Taco Tuesday it is.

Marinade for skirt steak ~

3 T. lime juice ***Note added after - less if you don't care for lime taste on your meat, 1-2 T.
3 T. olive oil
1 1/2 T. Worcestershire sauce
3 garlic cloves, rough chop
Shallot, sliced - very scant 1/4 c.
2 T. rough chop cilantro 
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Salt and pepper - 1/2 tsp. each
1 tsp. chipotle in adobo puree

1 lb. skirt steak (we tend to use a 3/4 lb. package for the four of us)
  • Mix the marinade ingredients, pour into a freezer baggie.
  • Add skirt steak.  Let marinade in the fridge at least four hours, but not more than 8.
  • Grill as desired.  I like a little past medium.
  • Cut on the grain in thin strips.
  • Num, num.  :)  I hope.

Eskimo kisses ~

Monday, March 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday ~

I had to have a picture of some sort.  This is a snapshot of my regular morning start, a latte.  Ranunculus makes me smile.

I'm trying!  I'm trying!  Mumble, mumble.  "Organization is the key to freedom."  *sigh*   This goes against my very disorganized nature, my dysfunctional illogical thoughts of what obligation is in reality.  Good for me for any step towards simplicity.  Our menu this week - at least for dinners.  I'm actually excited for these meals this week.  

Meatless Monday ~ ~

    Whole wheat rosemary focaccia
    Roasted veggie & pasta bake (whole wheat penne)
Taco Tuesday
~ ~   Sofie’s request, she heard this on TV and liked the sound of it. "We should do that sometime!"   We.  Me.  :)

    Grilled skirt steak
    Assorted sautéed veggies
    Whole wheat flour tortillas
    Cilantro-lime-shallot brown rice

~ ~

    Shrimp, coconut milk and noodle soup
    Brown jasmine rice

~ ~

    Jamaican meat pies

Friday ~ ~

    Sauteed zucchini

Soft folds with my hope

Whole wheat rosemary focaccia ~

A bell rings...the sort that begs for an announcement.

Still with a hint of warmth lingering on the fresh cut bread at the time of first tasting, the girls say they love it, they asked for "just another thin slice?"  Former Little Dude looked a bit cautiously at me and said, "I don't care for it.  I don't like whole wheat.  I mean...I'll eat it if you use it for a burger, but no, I won't eat it.".  Ack!  Ack, again!  This is not acceptable.  I am now taking applications for a new son.   Because there ain't one thing wrong with this earthy version of focaccia.  Poor boy.  He's going to be hungry tonight.  

My guinea pig recipe for whole wheat focaccia ~ 
Linked to the Wild Yeast blog

1/2 tsp. yeast
1 1/2 c. warmish water - 90 degrees or so
9.5 oz. sponge starter
11 oz. whole wheat pastry flour
10 oz. whole wheat flour
1 T. kosher salt
3 T. olive oil
3T. milk, room temperature
1/4 c. chopped rosemary
  • Mix the yeast and water, let sit five minutes.
  • Add the sponge starter, break it up.
  • Add the salt, then the milk and oil, then the flours.  Knead or use mixer with dough hook.
  • Let the dough rest for ten minutes, then knead for another five minutes.
  • Add rosemary now or wait until the next day.
  • Let rise in the fridge overnight. (I let it go two full nights in the fridge)
The crumb

  • Bring out the dough the next morning, let it come to almost room temperature.
  • Add rosemary now, kneading into the dough, if it was not done the night before.
  • When the dough is room temperature, divide into two well oiled 10" round pans.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Let rise until almost double.  Top with more olive oil, more rosemary if desired and a sprinkling of kosher salt.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • Cool in pan ten minutes, remove.
Notes --

I'm quite happy with this recipe.  The long two night rise with the sponger starter is wonderful for added flavor.  I didn't do two nights on purpose, but didn't make the time over the weekend to take it out after one overnight sitting in the fridge.  Next time I believe I will do less flour, for an even softer, hopefully lighter dough.  

Toodles ~

Blue Monday ~

Showing things of blue on Mondays ~ :)
A garage sale find, several years ago...

Organizing life, weeding out the choas

Whole wheat sponge starter ~

A practice in patience

More or less a pound of whole wheat sponge starter ~
(a basics post)

1 3/4 c. warm water  - 105 degrees or a little warmer.
1/4 tsp. yeast
16 oz. whole wheat flour 

  • Mix the water with the yeast, let sit five minutes.
  • Mix in the flour well, knead or use the mixer - 1-2 minutes.
  • Let sit at room temperature several hours.  Use before it is ready to collapse.  
  • Or put in the fridge to use the next day.
I tend to make this in the late morning.  Then make a bread dough using some of the sponge that evening, the dough goes in the fridge overnight to build flavor.  Inevitably, I have extra sponge starter that goes to waste. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Subtle blue ~

How will you know the difficulties of being human,
if you're always flying off to blue perfection?
Where will you plant your grief seeds?
Workers need ground to scrape and hoe,
not the sky of unspecified desire.

Soft sounds
First down
Blue covering
Blue kayak
Second blue jacket, going down
Blue coverings must be the norm.  Hand paddles.

Sunday wandering - 3/6/2011
Today I'm out wandering, turning my skull
into a cup for others to drink wine from.
In this town somewhere there sits a calm, intelligent person,
who doesn't know what [s]he's about to do!
-- Rumi