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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Here is a photo of those clams we dug up on the camp out. Enjoy!

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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Happy Birthday to Rich and Dominic!

35 and five years ago, respectively, my husband and my second son were born. In 2000, when Dominic was born, this fell on Father's Day.

On the menu for breakfast, chocolate cherry cupcakes for the birthday boys, made from a box mix with melted Cherry Garcia ice cream for all the liquid excepting the eggs. This is the first time I have used a box mix for cake since 1997, but it came recommended from a food snob who did the experiments for me.

The ice cream really improves the cake, though it still tasted more brown than chocolate. However, the Cherry Garcia has chocolate chunks in it, so you get the flavor of real chocolate that way. Bake for a few minutes longer when using melted ice cream as liquid.

The rest of breakfast will be scrambled eggs with cheese, toast, and rice crispies (talking cereal in our home parlance) for those who are still hungry, washed down with milk.

The real birthday party will be Tuesday, and because we let the birthday person choose the meal, we will be eating hot dogs. They are the kosher kind from Costco, at least. I will make a macaroni salad of some sort, a pot of beans and a real cake with coconut pecan frosting.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Never Eat Onion Rings at 10:30 pm

Heed my warning.

When I was 19, I could eat onion rings, fried zucchini, french fries, milkshakes and other various things at times like 1:00 am. Not so at 28 (almost 29!).

The day before yesterday, we had the brilliant idea of making onion rings at 10:00 pm. It seemed like a good idea at the time. We ate our fill and suffered. Much.

The onion rings were great, though.

I made a batter out of flour and corn starch, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and beer. Sliced the onions, dusted them with flour and dipped in the batter, deep fried in the machine. Very nice, crisp, tasty and the onions were just soft enough.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Dinner Tonight

Something involving bacon. We took millions of pounds of bacon with us on the camp out. This is about half of what Rich wanted to bring. I explained that even assuming four pieces a person (including the infants), we only needed eight bags of bacon. We came home with three and a half bags. They are safe to eat, but there is only so long that you can keep bacon in the fridge. So, we ate BLTs, we had bacon and eggs and tonight we are eating beans and rice.

The way I make them, you put pinto beans in the crock pot with water to cover, set it on high and leave it for an hour or two. Add a can of tomato sauce, season with salt and pepper and put it on low for another couple few hours. Cut up a bunch of bacon, a pound or so to use it up, less if you are just using it as seasoning, cook it over medium heat until it is nice and browned and crackly. While it is cooking, dice up some onion or chop up some scallions, and slice up some celery. Toss these in the pan with the bacon and cook until the onion is translucent and soft. Dump the whole mess into the crock pot and dice up a tomato and toss that in too. Cook for about an hour to meld the flavors. Cook some rice in whichever way you like and serve up the beans with the rice. You can make these into tacos by using taco shells or tortillas and adding some queso fresca and cilantro on top.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

How to Make Clam Chowder

Take three adults, buy them shellfish licenses. Bring buckets, shovels and eight children to the beach. Dig up butter clams, manila clams, cockles, horse clams and clams you can't identify by name. Leave sand shrimp on beach, because they are either too small or are carrying egg sacs. Keep clams in large buckets of clean seawater so they don't die while you figure out what you are going to do with them.

Head back to camp. Allow everyone to ooh and ahh over your clamming abilities. Go shower the muck off. Come back to eat lunch, and allow the clams to exude their sand into the water.

At dinner time, steam the smaller clams with butter, lemon juice and garlic and serve up with the hot dogs, bratwursts, cashew chili, potato salad, baked beans and chips. While all the kids are clamoring to make s'mores, thwart them by putting a giant pot of large clams to cook directly on the fire so they have to wait, because you realize they will run out of oxygen in the buckets and die if you don't. Do this twice.

Remove shells and store clam guts in a ziplock bag in the cooler overnight. After cleaning up the campsite the next day, start lunch. Assign someone else to degut the clams and chop up the meat. This includes skinning the "neck" and chopping it, too. Have someone else dice the leftover potatoes. Set the giant pot (washed) over the fire and cook four strips of bacon and the leftover onions (about two cups) from the bratwurst together with some butter and the last of the garlic. Do this until the bottom of the pot appears to be ready to fall out. Add about two thirds of a gallon of whole milk, so you don't have to bring it back home. Stir, stir, stir. Add the potatoes, clams and a bit of half and half. Season with salt and pepper.

Let simmer while you pack up the camp site. When the galloping hordes descend to let you know that they are starving, decide it is cooked enough. Remember after you serve up that there was a whole bunch of celery you could have diced up and sauteed along with the onions, garlic and bacon. Decide that it doesn't really matter.

Eat with lovely toasted whole wheat rolls, leftover potato salad and soggy corn chips.

Bask in the compliments and wonder of those around you who are astonished that you can make such a dish with no recipe, and only the leftovers from camp.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Recipe Contests

I don't believe I ever posted about entering recipe contests. Sunset had a Thanksgiving contest and there was the Pillsbury Bake-Off. I entered four recipes into the Sunset contest and one in the bake-off. It was rather difficult to come up with real recipes for Pillsbury, as they required you to use at least two of their products, and most of the approved products were instant this, canned that, and whatnot. I settled on a variation on my lemon cranberry scones, using Yoplait Yogurt as the liquid. We had fun testing the recipe and seeing what would work and what wouldn't.

As for the Sunset contest, it was much easier. There were several categories, and since I've been doing the Thanksgiving meal for our family for the past eight years, I just had to copy and paste the recipes into the form.

I don't find out until the end of the summer whether or not I am a finalist, so I am prayerfully waiting. The money would help our family and church out quite a bit, and the new kitchen appliances and flooring would be a blessing to us. The Sunset contest also had a year's worth of groceries as part of the winnings. That would save us at least $6000 a year of our own money.

I'll let you know when I find out if I am still in the running by the end of the summer.