Tales from the Kitchen

Kitchen table discussions with recipes and ideas for shopping on a budget, cooking for a family, meal planning.

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I'm happily married, mom to four boys and four girls at home, with one in the presence of God. We are slowly working on raising our own food and making much of what we need. I knit, cook, read, pray, think, write, crochet, and I'm trying to sew, too.

Monday, January 22, 2007

It's Been a Long Long Time

I started this blog to try to keep my knitting and cooking content separate. In reality, trying to maintain both blogs and take care of the kids and home has been too taxing. So, I will no longer be posting to this blog. I am going to move over my recipes to my main blog, Arabian Knits. I will leave everything up here, as it is now, and I'm not deleting this blog, but if you want to see anything more about my cooking (or knitting, or family), it will be on Arabian Knits.

Thank you all and goodbye!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

English Muffin Bread for the Bread Machine

After much fiddling around with the recipe I was given, this is what seems to work the best.

3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons yeast
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Run on large/normal cycle.

Two Meals for the Price of One

If anyone out there still checks this blog, here is something new for you!

Tuesday night, we had smothered pork chops, mashed squash and scalloped potatoes.

I started the scalloped potatoes first, because they take the longest. I pulled out the fake mandoline I have, and sliced eight Yukon Golds. I layered them in a 9" X 13" pan, salting and peppering each layer. Then, I took two cups of heavy cream, tossed in two cloves of garlic, minced and a teaspoon of thyme. Tossed that in the microwave for something like two minutes, and poured it all over the potatoes, spreading the garlic around. Put the pan in a preheated oven, 375, and baked for an hour.

For the chops:

I sliced two onions and sweated them in olive oil, peeled, cored and sliced a pear and tossed that in as well, stirred it all around until they were soft and starting to brown, and put them on a plate. I then browned six one inch thick pork rib chops in the oil, after salting and peppering them generously (these were all natural, non-injected chops, fed with no medications in their feed), turning once. I had to do this in two batches, because even my largest pan wouldn't hold six chops in one layer at once. I put the first three chops on the plate with the onion and pear, when the second batch was browned on both sides, I added the onion and pear back, and stirred it all around a bit to cook them down some more. Then, I grabbed the apple cider vinegar and put a couple splashes in, half a cup? One cup? Something like that. Sprinkled the whole thing with two teaspoons of dried thyme and brought it all to a boil. Covered and reduced heat, cooked for about 15-20 minutes.

For the squash, I took two sweet dumpling squash, poked them all over with my knife, and put them in the microwave for 20 minutes. Pulled them out, and while burning my fingers, peeled them and removed the seeds, put all the flesh in a bowl with about four tablespoons of butter and some salt and mashed them up.

This provided dinner Tuesday and lunch yesterday.

Last night, after our mechanic fixed the starter on our car, we had him over for dinner. The beans and rice I think I've posted here before, let me know if I haven't and you want to know how I did it. I took a 1 1/2 pound flank steak (bought in the cheap meats section) and rubbed it with a tablespoon of chipotle powder and a teaspoon of kosher salt. We were going to grill it, but I ended up broiling it, something like 15 minutes. Sliced it thinly across the grain, served with the beans and rice in flour tortillas, with lettuce, sour cream and salsa. This went over really well.

For dessert I made the lemon pudding cakes from Fine Cooking, except I increased the lemon zest by quite a bit. Those were so good, we will definitely be making them again.

Next up, the recipes and food descriptions from my last post.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Back for a Second

Some of you may have wondered where I have gone. Some of you may have given up on seeing another post. It all started innocently enough, we had house guests, and I thought I'd post some of the foodie reports after they were gone. By then, though, I was so hot and tired from the baby (did I tell you I was pregnant?), and just didn't want to sit at the computer that long.

So, bug me for recipes and techniques for:

  • Roasted Corn with Chile Butter

  • Lemon Blueberry Poundcake

  • Not Spice Cake Zucchini Bread

You can also ask about the wonderful grilled salmon meals we had, all the shortcakes we consumed, the three birthday meals we had and any other assorted things you think of to ask.

Meanwhile, I'll tell you what we ate for dinner Monday.

I took about 18 eggs, about two or three cups of leftover cheese sauce from the baked potatoes from Friday, basil from the garden, minced, and mixed it all up. Greased a 15" X 11" pan, dumped in the egg stuff, chopped up a head of broccoli and mixed that in, topped with shredded provolone, mozzarella and parmesan. Baked at 425 F for about 20-25 minutes. While that was cooking, I put in about two tablespoons of olive oil into a pan, heated it up, chopped up six stalks of celery and about six scallions, tossed those in the pan with a cup and a half of burghul, cooked a little bit, then added probably two cups of beef broth, some salt and lots of pepper. Brought to a boil, covered, reduced heat and cooked for about 15 minutes. Normally, I toast some pine nuts and throw it into the mix with the pilaf, but I didn't feel like it that night. This made enough for two days.

Our garden is doing quite well, though all we managed to get in this year were herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers and tomatillos. I have a crock of fermented pickles going, and we are enjoying eating the overgrown cucumbers, pear tomatoes and are starting to get the first of the large tomatoes and tomatillos.

That is probably the last real food news you will hear about for a while, since I am going in to have the baby on Friday.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Tortilla Casserole

Wednesday we had this tortilla casserole, based on something I saw in Martha Stewart Living. I changed a couple things, based on what we had at home already, and ease of preparation.

I left out the spinach, didn't precook the tortillas in oil, used more poblanos than the recipe said and would make half the tomatillo salsa in the future, even with serving some with the torta, we have tons left.

6 fresh poblanos (recipe called for 4)
18 corn tortillas, cut in half
Sunflower seed oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 small onion, thinly sliced (I used sweet onion)
6 cloves garlic, minced (they said 4)
2 cans black beans, drained (you could easily use two or three cups of cooked black beans)
1 cup crema (we didn't have any, but did have sour cream, so I used that)
2 1/4 cups tomatillo salsa plus more for serving
1 1/2 cups grated queso fresco, Monterey Jack or a combination (I used the pepper jack we had in the fridge, I think it would be best with the queso on the inside layers and the jack on top to melt nicely)

Roast chiles over open flame, or under broiler on baking sheet, about seven minutes a side, until blackened and blistered. Put in a paper bag to steam about 15 minutes.

Peel chiles, remove seeds and stems and slice into about 1/2" wide strips.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Heat two tablespoons oil large skillet over medium heat, add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt, cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Stir in chiles and cook to heat, about a minute. Transfer to a bowl.

Heat two tablespoons oil in same skillet, add garlic and cook stirring about 30 seconds. Add beans and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, mashing the beans a bit with your spoon. Set aside.

Line the bottom of a large round casserole, about three inches deep, with 12 tortilla halves, overlapping slightly. Layer with half of chile mixture, half bean mixture, and half the crema. Spread 3/4 cup salsa over top. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat for second layer. Top with remaining tortillas, 3/4 cup salsa and 1/2 cup cheese.

Bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with more salsa and crema.

Tomatillo Salsa (half the original recipe)

1 tablespoon sunflower seed oil
1 small onion, diced (again used a sweet onion)
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 pound tomatillos, husked and washed
1/2 cup water
1 fresh serrano, stemmed
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped (or just torn up, like I did)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat oil in a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cook about a minute, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatillos, water, and serrano. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatillos have softened, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Working in batches (that's from the original, you could probably do the whole mess in one shot with half the recipe), puree tomatillo mixture in blender or food processor. Add cilantro and salt. Pulse to combine. Salsa can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to three days (probably more).

Tonight I am experimenting with a feta cheese and leek tart, to be served with a salad. If it turns out well, I'll post the recipe.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Just for the Halibut

Last night we had grilled halibut, a tossed green salad and watermelon for dessert. I had been planning on making some cous cous for the fish to sit on, but decided we would fill up quite a bit on what we had without it.

I based it on a recipe from Bon Appetit, but didn't really worry about measuring everything, increased the amount to feed the family and used the sauce entirely as marinade rather than brushing it on and spooning reserved sauce on top at serving. It was perfect. Not over done, not dry and flaky, but perfectly grilled, slightly smoky, meaty fish. We devoured it. It helped that there were wild Alaskan halibut steaks on sale.

The marinade was very simple, six cloves of garlic, the zest of one lemon, juice of two lemons, about a half cup of olive oil, a large handful of basil leaves, finely chopped, about a tablespoon of drained capers. I rubbed the fish with a tiny bit of kosher salt and some fresh ground pepper and Rich grilled them over fairly high heat on a well oiled grill for about five minutes per side, they were pretty thick. The kids loved it, we loved it, and it is all gone today.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Easter Feast

Well, after the Lenten abstinence, and the fast on Good Friday, we were ready to feast on Sunday. We had the Easter Vigil Saturday night, and ended at around midnight.

Sunday's feast was at our house, we've been hosting the church and family for about three years now. About four families couldn't come this year, so we only had about 40 people over including us.

I made four legs of lamb, stuffed all over with garlic and roasted in an herb paste

A roast turkey, roasted with rosemary, lemon, onion, salt and pepper and gravy to go along with it

Laban bi Khiyar, which is a yogurt cucumber salad/sauce with garlic, lemon juice and mint in it


Three batches of pita bread, of which we have much more left over than we thought we would

Taratoor, a tahina, garlic and lemon sauce

Harissa, a spicy red chile sauce


A pot of waraq 'ounab, grape leaves stuffed with meat and rice and herbs and cooked in a tomato sauce

Koubbeh, which is a shell of lamb and burghul wrapped around cooked lamb and pine nuts, all spiced


We set out lettuce, Kalamata olives, Spanish olives, sweet pickles and dill pickles, feta cheese, tomatoes, radishes. Someone brought California olives and artichoke hearts.

Other foods brought were,

Two hams, with a glaze of orange marmalade and peach juice on them that was very nice, but not cloyingly sweet

A green salad with glazed walnuts and pears and a champagne pear vinaigrette


Shrimp cocktail and crackers

Devilled eggs

Pesto pasta salad

Mixed veggies

A kind of pasta risotto with lots of vegetables

A Japanese rice roll type thing

Someone had brought seasoned turkey burgers to grill, but they never were cooked

For dessert: I made a triple chocolate cheesecake, double batch in a huge pan.

My mother in law made a lemon cake filled with lemon curd and iced with a coconut cream frosting and shredded coconut

Other people brought Easter sugar cookies, frosted and decorated

Chocolate covered nuts

Brownies with cherries in them

Chocolate cake (a belated birthday cake for our priest)

A shortbread apple tart

To drink:

Sparkling Shiraz (Lorikeet)

Vacqueyras Red Wine (Clos de Cavea)

Ginger Peach Iced Tea (made from Republic of Tea's ginger peach tea)

Lime Coke

Cherry Coke

Barq's Root Beer


Ice Water

The lemonade never did get made, but nobody seemed to miss it.

Of course, there were all the plastic eggs stuffed with candy for the kids, too. The older kids put them out for the little kids to find.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Lenten Cookery

Tonight I will be making my Accidental Souffle, which is a spinach, egg and cheese dish I made up one night when I needed to come up with something for dinner. That and a salad will be dinner tonight.

On Friday we ate a lovely frittata with potatoes, onions, peppers and asparagus. Also with a salad. Earlier last week, we had Melanzane al Forno, with broccoli raab steamed and sauteed with lots of garlic, and some pasta.

It has been challenging to come up with Lenten meals, and we've come up with some tasty and satisfying meals. Even though we haven't given up meat entirely, only on Wednesdays and Fridays, we are trying to use it less. My goal is that next year we will go meatless for the entirety of Lent. It is a physical discipline preparing us for spriritual discipline. Our priest quoted a saint this Sunday who said that if you can control what you eat, you can control your passions. We think this is really true, as all are matters of appetite. We are still trying to be guided by the idea of leaving the table before we are satisfied.

We did take a feast day last Monday, as Rich's parents were in town and watched the kids while we went out. We had a choice of dinner at a seafood restaurant to which we've been wanting to return and a diner type place with great burgers. Rich had been craving a burger for so long that we went with that place, and did eat a meat centered meal along with (!) french fries.

I am looking for some simple dishes for Saturday's dinner, they can include meat, but not as a main feature. Any ideas?