31 March 2009

Late Night Baking


This is really some of the best cornbread I've ever had, and I wish that I could post the recipe. I'll do my best to get in touch with the author to see if I can post the recipe here or not. It's absolutely delicious, and worth the 40 minutes to bake it. It's about twenty minutes to prepare it, if you do your preparation as slow as I do, and 20 minutes to bake it.
This cornbread is not your old fashioned dry cornbread. It's sweet(agave sweetened), it's moist, soft (sorghum and brown rice flours), and absolutely not complicated.

I will tell you that you can make this recipe gluten-free, vegan, bean-free, and soy free. I don't know about substituting other flours for the brown rice to make it rice-free, but you could give something like buckwheat(not a wheat, and contains no gluten) a shot from what I've read.

For the cornmeal I like to use Bob's Red Mill cornmeal, but it's a little coarse and expensive. So, I end up getting Quaker cornmeal (if you're extremely sensitive to gluten and are unsure about this product please call or e-mail them, I'll do the same and get back to this as soon as I can, but I've never had any issue). The Quaker cornmeal is a finer grind and so I end up with fewer hard pieces of corn in my teeth. It is not whole grain though, and that's why I like the Bob's Red Mill better. Whole grains are healthier than the stripped and enriched grains. They've also been linked to weight loss.

I highly recommend this cookbook to anyone who can't eat gluten or dairy. It's full of wonderful recipes from baked goods (like cornbread, scones, and biscuits, and various quick breads) to pizza crusts (it's terrific, especially if you do like I do and use ground flaxseed for the egg replacer, always good to add a little extra fiber), an amazingly simple yet delicious pizza sauce, puddings, pies, healthy salads of all kinds, vegetable dishes galore, and "dive face first into your bowl" soups, plus a lot more.

I'm not getting paid to say this. I wish I were. I'm a broke college student.

Seriously good cornbread worth posting about while your face mask cracks on your face.

Julia's Kitchen Wisdom

Tonight, as a break from my chemistry studies, I am reading
Julia's Kitchen Wisdom by Julia Child. So far it seems like it would be a very useful book for me to keep around. It gives the basics for how to start a soup, how to make a stock, mayonnaise, dressings, how to roast meats, etc. I haven't made it past the dressings yet. These are all of the things I need to memorize. The basics are so important, yet I don't know them. That's the problem with following recipes all of the time. I've come to rely on someone else to tell me what to do, when it's time to do it, etc. That's not right for me in the kitchen, especially if I want to make it out of my own kitchen some day.
I'm not sure yet if I want to pursue a culinary career, but it's an option. All things are possible.
I have so much to learn. I don't even know how to properly handle leeks. I just rinse the outside and chop up the white parts into small pieces. They've never looked dirty to me, but everything I've read states that I need to cut them a certain way to rinse the dirt out from between the layers.
I don't really know how to dice versus chop, or julienne, or chiffonade. I want to go take classes to learn these things. I know that in culinary school they'd teach me the basics, but for now I need to learn what I can at home. Culinary school is a possibility, but not until next spring. I need to be 24 years old before I can start getting grants for school, and no I don't want loans hanging over my head for the rest of my life. I already owe the bf money for my education.
I do worry that if I start working and get stuck in a job that I'll end up being 40 or more before I start thinking about culinary school again. That is just so sad a thought.
I am scared of culinary school. I'm scared of commercial kitchens. I'm scared of the way things operate, the stress, the frustration, the high energy. I like to cook slowly. I do wish I could chop an onion or carrot faster, but it feels like a great labor of love to do things slowly. I also get to listen to audio books or The Splendid Table while I am preparing the mise en place.
I love trying out new and exotic recipes, but only recently have I started making my own stock, and just last week I made my first beef stew from what I had lying around (I had to look up how to do that!).
I suppose I am being too hard on myself for not knowing these things. I've been having to study everything else for the last 3 years, and I only started to really enjoy cooking a year and a half ago.
Given time, energy, and some brain power I think I could do pretty well with cooking. My family is always telling me that they'd love to see me go to culinary school and/or start cooking professionally. They say that chefs make good money, and that I have the passion.
I may have the passion, but the basics and a lack of fear are what I'm missing.
Maybe writing here to you all will help me get them.

Cowboy Beans and Rice

Tonight I made the Cowboy Beans and Rice from $5 Dinners.
I accidentally added the corn and salsa to the dish, instead of making them into a side dish. The ingredients list included them, and being in a rushed mood I put everything into the pot. It wasn't until I got to a later step in the directions that I found my error. Oops.
The beans and rice turned into more of a goulash, which is fine by me. I think it was probably better that way. The beans and rice would have been extra bland on their own. I did find the overall dish pretty tasteless, and I put in 2 jalapeno peppers instead of the canned green chiles. I also used TVP instead of meat. The rice took longer, and a lot more water, to cook than the recipe stated it would. I blame the TVP for this issue.
However, I think the dish is a reasonably good one if you're money is stretched a little tight. I do have leftovers of it in the freezer, but it probably won't be the first thing I reach for from the freezer until I get some hot sauce.
I didn't get any photos, but I wouldn't say it was worth pulling out the iPhone for a snap shot anyway. It certainly wasn't as pretty as much enchiladas. I'm thinking I need to get another shot of them for posterity.

30 March 2009

Vegetarian Black Bean and Pumpkin Enchiladas in Tomato Based Sauce

Vegetarian Black Bean and Pumpkin Enchiladas in Tomato Based Sauce
7 corn tortillas
1 Tbsp Olive oil for sauteing
1/2 onion, chopped (keep a little for garnish)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (keep a little for garnish)
2 cans black beans (or equivalent pre-cooked dried black beans) drained and rinsed
1/4 cup of water
1/2 can of pumpkin puree
1 cup of shredded white cheddar cheese (or whatever cheddar/Mexican shred blend, or cut some cheese off a block)

Preheat oven to 350F

1. Make the enchilada sauce. Make sure it's nice and smooth. Don't over reduce it either, because you're going to want quite a bit.

2. In a large saute pan add 1Tbsp olive oil and almost all of the onion and jalapeno peppers. Saute for a minute until the onions just barely start to turn translucent. Add in half of the black beans, and add a little bit of the water. Use the back of a large spoon, or a potato masher, to mash out the black beans until they start to look like chunky refried beans, keep adding water as needed to get the right consistency. This should take about 4-5 minutes.

3. Add in the rest of the black beans. Cook, stirring occasionally for another 2 minutes.

4. Into the beans mix the canned pumpkin, making sure there is even distribution of the ingredients. Continue cooking until everything is warmed through, about 3 minutes.

5. Pour into the bean and pumpkin mixture 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce. Stir it all together and keep it warm.

6. In a large casserole (9x13) pour in just enough enchilada sauce to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Spread it around.

7. Place a corn tortilla into the casserole and top it with some of the bean mixture. Roll the tortilla up and flip it fold side down. Repeat this step until all of your tortillas or mixture, or baking space, is used (whatever your limiting reagent may be depending on how much filling you use up per enchilada, etc.).

8. Cover your rolled tortillas with the rest of the enchilada sauce. Pour it over as evenly as you can.

9. Sprinkle cheese evenly over the top of the enchiladas.

10. Garnish the enchiladas with the leftover onion and jalapeno peppers.

11. Bake in oven for 15 minutes, or the cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.

12. Eat and say OMG, these are so good.

I am sitting next to a casserole dish with foil over the top, and I've eaten an enchilada and salad, and I am full, but I'm about to rip into that dish if I don't move it to the refrigerator right this second!

P.S. This dish could easily be made vegan if you switch to a vegan sugar in the sauce and use vegan cheese.

Oh, and it's totally gluten-free!

Eating Healthier

I'm trying to eat healthier and make my portions more reasonable. I'm from the south of the United States where portions are traditionally very large, and buffets are everywhere.
Having lived away from the southern US for a while now, I can't fork it down quite like I used to, but I can still out eat most everyone I know.
I was doing pretty well a while back, but I've fallen back into too much snacking and too large of portions (according to my mind).
I'm not in need of losing weight. Heck, I've not seen my belly this flat in years. However, I am trying to keep myself from developing unhealthy habits later in life. As I said in a previous post, I don't want to develop a multitude of health problems caused by a poor diet.
So, I am going to be working on that while I blog.
I did pretty well this morning. I had a smaller serving of Bob's Red Mill's Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal with one Kapalua Farms egg (cooked in cast iron without added fats) seasoned with crushed red pepper flakes (Did you know they're quite good for you? If eaten in the morning, according to YOU: On a Diet, they will help decrease your appetite, thus reducing your caloric intake.)
Later I had some Cultured Soy Yogurt by Nancy's, with some organic blueberries from Costco (I thawed them out last night).
For lunch I had some not so healthy Candy Chicken leftovers (see my previous post for the recipe).
I just finished my afternoon snack which wasn't terrifically healthy to me (but the bf thought it was fine) of organic tortilla chips and some organic salsa. I also munched on some leftover salmon- vegan light canola mayo salad with Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thins.
So much for portion control on the afternoon snack. I knew the chips and salsa weren't satisfying enough, and when I spotted the teeny bit of leftover salmon salad I couldn't resist.
Dinner tonight is the Enchiladas. I am thinking of putting some organic canned pumpkin in them for extra vitamins (and because I'm out of spinach, oops).
I'll try to get up a picture when they're fresh out of the oven. I need to go make the enchilada sauce now.

Great Grandma Dot's Potato Salad Recipe

This is the actual potato salad recipe written by my great-grandmother. Her name was Dorothy, but everyone called her Dot. She was a bit crazy, but we loved her. I remember when she would give me little juices in plastic barrels, and she would make me do the "seek and find" (finding the differences) game in the newspaper. We all thought she would outlive us all just to spite us.

So here it is, Great Grandma Dot's Potato Salad:

29 March 2009

Xanthan Gum

I'm currently listening to the audio book version of "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. As I was half listening (because I was involved in another activity), I heard her mention that xanthan gum is made from corn.
I had thought it was made from a bacteria, and so it was a lab thing.
However, it turns out that it is made from corn, and that it gets its name from a bacteria. It's all rather confusing.
Since this is a common ingredient in gluten-free baking, and in salad dressings, I think I will have to do some more research.
Perhaps I should switch to guar gum; it's cheaper anyway.

I have been informed that Xanthan Gum is indeed a bacteria, but it is grown on a corn substrate (molecule upon which an enzyme reacts). Thank you Just Jenn.

27 March 2009

Maui Onion and Tillamook White Cheddar Pizza

No pictures folks, so sorry about that. But this was my first real cheese pizza in a very long time. Because of the high quality of the cheese it was amazing. This pizza was definitely worth the wait. I know that I can buy the more expensive cheeses now because I can't eat as much of it, and I'd prefer that over eating Kraft any day. I know Kraft has its uses, but I'm so over it.
Some of you foodies out there probably think that Tillamook is now on the level for you that Kraft used to be, but it's really good cheese for a great price. I'd never had white cheddar before this month, and I enjoy the heck out of it. I don't know if I can go back to yellow cheese. Okay, yes I can, but I am forever changed.

I made tonight's pizza by following the pizza crust and pizza sauce recipes from "The Gluten-Free Vegan." Instead of using Ener-G egg replacer I used flax seed, which adds some fiber to the pizza, and it still cuts back on the unnecessary calories and cholesterol in eggs.

Neither the bf nor I have to watch our cholesterol, and I want to keep it that way. My parents deal with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar (my mom). I don't want to reach a point where every time I go to the doctor I get lectured about how unhealthy I am and how I should be doing so many different things to get myself back in shape. I send them lots of information about foods they can eat to help with these issues, and they even eat oatmeal nearly every morning with ground flaxseed now (I got some when I was visiting and left it with them to use, their doctor was happy about that).

Dairy is high in fat, calories, cholesterol, etc. but it's a treat around here, not an every day or every meal occurrence. I still drink my soymilk, and the bf eats Yoplait+ yogurt with fiber in the morning and the occasional white Russian with organic milk, although I'm considering switching to local if it will last long enough.

Here's a tangent for you. I was watching a spot with the local milk producer on the news, and I read an article by Michael Pollan(author of "The Omnivores Dilemma"), and I learned that the organic milk is ultra-pasteurized to make it last longer and that the process ends up killing off a lot of the good bacteria and vitamins. Not cool.

Well, that was quite the Sagittarius segway(since when is that not an actual word?).

Pizza. Good. Try white cheddar and onion on your next pizza. You'll love it too.

Oh, and I had to follow it up with a little pineapple gelato from Ono Gelato.

25 March 2009

Cheap Healthy Good: 1 Chicken, 17 Healthy Meals, $26 Bucks, No Mayo

Cheap Healthy Good: 1 Chicken, 17 Healthy Meals, $26 Bucks, No Mayo

This is a great idea, and I may just have to give it a shot in a week or so.

Week One

Alright, so here I am trying to come up with a meal plan for the coming week. My week begins on Thursday and ends on Wednesday. Some weeks I don't have 7 dinners to plan for because I know I am going to be going out somewhere and eating away from home. This is about once a month, but it could happen more than that.

My weekly budget is $100 for two adults. For some of you that may seem like a lot, but here in Hawaii it really is not that much. I have a friend who told me that even before she had her child (nearly 10 years ago) she and her husband had a grocery budget of more than $150. So, if that is the case, and food prices have gone way up since then, I'm doing working with a pretty good budget(in the frugal sense) for two people.

This week, because of a big trip to the local health food store on Monday, I am working with 27 dollars. Because of this, I will be doing a lot of cabinet shopping and serious planning to get things to work out.

My bf and I have begun a tradition of hosting a community(friends) dinner on Thursdays. The number of people who attend varies. This week it seems that we could have at most 10 guests. (I'm wishing now I hadn't spent that extra 20 dollars on things that weren't on my list on Monday.) However, I can do this. It's a good challenge for me(it makes me think I'd do alright on Top Chef if I can make it out alive this week).

With those Thursday dinners I also have to work with a variety of diets. Two people are on Weight Watchers (one of them hates chicken), one person is a vegetarian, one person is a serious meat and starch type, and I don't eat much dairy (just starting to eat a little well aged cheese and yogurt) and I don't eat any gluten.

So, this means that I have to prepare 2 dinners. One needs to encompass the W.W. sans chicken, m&p, and GF Lactose-Free. The other is the vegetarian dish.

For the vegetarian dish this week I have asked this friend to bring a big salad, and I will provide some yummy marinated and grilled tofu for her to place on it.
For the other meal, well, I'm still working on that. So far I have one option: Mexican Potato Casserole which is about 6 points on Weight Watchers. However, it meets all of the requirements for the omnivores.

I'll let you know the outcome of that search as soon as I know it.

In addition to planning this large feast, I also have to plan out for next week. Now, as I said $100 isn't a lot in Hawaii, and $27 certainly isn't a lot either (and most of that will be going toward the community dinner).

Well, shopping out of my cabinets has begun, and I just found a great recipe on 5 Dollar Dinners for this week. I'll keep scouring their site, and Crockpot365 as well as Google and my brain for some great dinner ideas straight from my own pantry.

So, stick with me. Perhaps we'll both learn something.


So, I have decided to do a Beef Teriyaki recipe that I have. I got it from a local woman. This is seriously good stuff. My bf says it's at the top of the crack list, and that it's actually the best teriyaki he's had in his life (and that's growing up on Maui). It's kind of a secret recipe, and I'm a little hesitant to put it out there on the web for everyone, so if you really want it, please comment and I will e-mail it to you under the strictest confidence. *haha*

I was afraid that the points value on this meal would be far too high, but as long as the ladies portion themselves to 4 ounces of beef and 1/2 cup of rice then they should be coming in at 5 points maximum. They can also add some salad on the side.

For my vegetarian friend I will do the same teriyaki marinade, but I'll put the tofu in it and then grill it on my little George Foreman. She is bringing the salad, so of course she can have some of that.

And the rest of us will eat the beef teriyaki without worry, and we too can have salad.

Hrm, I should probably make sure my friend is bringing enough salad for 9 people (the m&p person won't touch the stuff).

Oh, and here's this week's meal plan:

*Here's hoping the pumpkin goes okay with the tomato based enchiladas sauce

So, the things I have to shop for then are:

  • 3 pounds of teriyaki cut Maui Cattle Company beef (approx. $10)
  • 1 small bottle of Tropicana orange juice (approx. $3)
  • Scallions (approx. $1)
  • Kapalua Farm Eggs (approx. $4.50 for local free range eggs)
  • Maui Onions (approx. $3 for local onions)
  • Yo+ Yogurt (approx. $4)
  • I think I'll have the bf's mom get the milk this time since we've bought it the last few times.
Approximate Total= $25.50

I wanted to buy some salad mix for during the week, but it won't fit, so we'll make do with something else.

I can't wait to grow my own lettuce again.

Okay, take care! I'm glad I'm done with this for the day, but Chemistry does not sound like fun.