Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Guy Food Night, again

I cringe at tonight's menu - Guy Food. I'll spare the details, but suffice to say, it's not in the spirit of the Cottage.

I'll be having something completely different, perhaps a vegetable plate, if the garden has any left of the early summer foods. Otherwise, I may have creamed spinach. I'm just not too feminine to eat greasy, processed food weekly.

Green Onion and Fermented Ginger

Last week's prawn cake variation was fresh green onion and lacto-fermented ginger added to the batter. Yum. Also, I'm frying in a blend of coconut oil and bacon grease. It's a thumbs up from the Vintner. I even got to taste some this time. Good stuff from our kitchen these days - I'm making the prawn cakes weekly, now.

As one might see over at the Cottage, I'm beginning to follow a liturgical calendar. I've been progressing towards this in a culinary fashion for some time, about five years. As it follows, I'm doing this less hesitatingly now that my faith is lining up in this way. Therefore, look for more fish and shellfish recipes on Fridays, and all the time during Advent and Lent, here at the Cottage's Kitchen.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Baking Break

After the St. John's day, I typically take a break from baking bread in the summer. It's not a religious commemoration, but rather a practical one. It's just too hot. I'll make a lammastide loaf, but that usually only reminds me why I don't bake in the Texas heat. Lammas is much more sensible for those much further north than we are. I do continue to feed the starter over the summer, to keep it alive. Now we are in high summer, and summer foods predominate.

Broken Pitcher

Sadly, I just lost my favorite pitcher here at the Cottage. I knocked it off the counter, and it broke the edge. It was so pretty, and is a sad loss. Now, we're going to have to change our beverages for the summer. This was the one in which I made my iced tea. I was drinking about a quart of unsweetened, decaff tea daily. I may use my nice crystal in a pinch. Here's something for the shopping list for Cottage

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Feast of St. John the Baptist

Tonight we're feasting on pork chops and gnocchi for the Feast of St. John the Baptist. Perhaps it's not the most traditional or appropriate, but it's on the menu. I just fry the chops in a pan, and serve with apple chutney. I cover the gnocchi in lots of butter, cream and mustard. Yum! Simple, fast food for busy summer nights.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday Night is Guy Food

Tuesday night is the Vintner's choice here at the Cottage. I cringe at the guy food that is consumed, and try to enjoy a salad or something. It's important to remember how satisfying it can be to have enough guy-space, when the lady of the house spends so much time adding feminine touches. With three of them in the house, I know that I'm outnumbered and defer to greasy fingers shoveling hot wings into faces. A lady just has to learn when to let a man get in touch with his animal self. They can all be perfect gentlemen, when required, but they don't have to be required all the time.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Baking of the Week

I was too busy yesterday, to post the Baking of the Week. It's a white pain au levain bread, and a rose pavlova. Unfortunately, the cream went bad, so I have yet to taste the pavlova. I'd prefer not to go shopping today, but I may such that we get to eat it today. The rose flavoring comes from rose water and my home made rose sugar. My roses are transitional, and not yet officially organic (i.e. we haven't lived here long enough to know definitively, but may have been organic prior to our purchase of the Cottage.)

Adding Ginger

Today, I'm going to add lacto-fermented ginger to our prawn cakes. We'll see how this variation works. Also, for the spice, I'm adding dried hot paprika, instead of fresh peppers. My chili pepper plants have yet to produce, and I'm at the last of last year's pickled peppers. I want to save those for another day.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer squash

Right now, my squash is from the farmer's market. Soon my own garden will be producing. That will be the time for creative recipes. Now it's enough to slice and saute with lots of real butter and sea salt. After the long months without it, it's enough to appreciate the simple pleasure of early June foods in their most simple, natural state. There will be plenty of time to approach these foods with the bumper crop management mentality.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fun Foods

It's not all about healthy eating and nutrition here at the Cottage. Sometimes we just have fun. Tonight it's hot dogs and a baseball game. We keep all things in moderation around here. Especially in the summer time, when we eat so many fresh veggies from the garden, we allow for other foods just for fun. This is real life, not following someone's guide book by rote on how to have a perfect diet.

Eat something fun today!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Baking of the Week

This week's baking is fairly simple, due to the summer heat. I'm baking a loaf of 100% whole wheat, long-rise sourdough, or pain au levain. It's not the wheat that makes it "au levain" it's the long-rise sourdough. I use 100% wild-caught yeast. In the previous post, I addressed feeding the starter. In future posts, I'll address catching the wild yeast and specific baking. For now it's enough to note that this is how I ususally bake. While I still have some commercial yeast, it will likely be my last year using this, and my last jar. Once I finish this, I will no longer buy my formerly beloved Red Star yeast. I used to prefer cakes of fresh yeast, but I can no longer find them. I never really enjoyed buying Fleishmann's after first trying Red Star many years ago. It's just too iffy in quality. Then, after reading about the Fleishmann heiress' political dealings of years ago, I couldn't feel happy supporting them, even with less than a dollar of my money. Since I don't live in the geographic area where Red Star sells it's cakes of fresh yeast, I had little choice if I wanted fresh. Fortunately, here at the cottage I was able to catch quality yeast. At first I only used it for my pain au levain, but now I've expanded my skill set. It's much easier than I feared it would be. The results are spectacular. It's hard to even try baking with commerical yeast now. In fact, I wonder how it ever caught on so pervasively. The bread is nowhere near the quality. Could previous generations not tell? Did they not care? How could this have happened? Here at the Cottage, at least, we'll be enjoying our wild, slow bread.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Prawn Cakes

Today's recipe is a return to a favorite at the Cottage. For years, we only ever at shrimp in the form of fried prawn cakes. Then, our food processor needed a new blade, and it was too much work to do by hand (with small children underfoot.) It's still fiddly with the peeling and deveining, but I don't mind the quick pulse and then deep frying.

Again, it's another Nigella Lawson recipe from her "How To Eat". It's so simple. It's like crab cakes, but with shrimp instead of crab. That's it. I won't post her seasonings, and I experiment with them so often. It may return to a weekly treat for us. I'm not even sure if I'm going to follow the recipe today, or go out on my own flavoring twist. If it does become our weekly treat again, then I might make the flavor variations a weekly feature.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


So, I should have double checked with the pantry before planning a home made version of Hamburger Helper. We don't have the ingredients! I'll have to try again after my shopping tomorrow. We had the beef on Monday, and the Vintner prefers the Tuna Helper tonight. It's neither old-fashioned nor home made, but it's his preference. He's come so far in the expansion of his palate, that I have to pause now and again. Old-fashioned eating is still a shock to him.

All this home made bread, real butter, whole milk and - gasp - home made condiments are still foreign to his taste buds. He certainly likes it, but it takes time to adjust to the absence of MSG, artificial colors and preservatives. Let's not even discuss those green things that I try to offer. That's chlorophyll in that food!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ground Beef

The Vintner has a taste for Hamburger Helper. Sigh. So, I'm on a journey to expand his taste preferences. Not to undo the decades of preference in favor of boxed meals, but just to bring some choices. Previously, I posted my taco seasoning recipe. Tonight, I'm going to brown some meat, add a brown sauce with stock and serve over pasta. Essentially, it's the same as a boxed meal. I may also try it with a bechamel sauce for a romanoff flavor. I'll post more on the results.

Ah, that brings me to the results of the kuchen: great flavor, but the mincemeat should work better inside the dough, rather than on top. It just crumbled off the top.

Also, it's the day to make yogurt.