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.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Perfect Iced Tea for a Crowd

I like to use flavored teas, like ginger peach or plum, but plain tea is fine. I also like the tea pre-sweetened, you can leave out the sugar if you don't.

4 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 tea bags
12 cups cold water

Bring 4 1/2 cups water and sugar to a boil. Add tea bags and remove from heat. Allow to steep for 15 minutes. Remove tea bags without pressing them (to prevent bitterness). Pour into a pitcher that will hold a gallon or more, and add cold water. Allow to cool at room temperature, then refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice, with mint sprigs and lemon wedges as garnish.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sausage & Cabbage Soup

I know it sounds awful, but it was really wonderful! And even better the second day. It took very little time to put together, and was very tasty. With two whole grain baguettes, it cost all of about $10 to feed us for three meals.

I made this for dinner on Saturday, and we had enough leftover for reruns for lunch the next day, including a babysitter, and a few more bowls for lunch on Monday.

Sausage and Cabbage Soup

12 oz Polish sausage (I used a pound of the Hillshire Farms ring o'sausage)
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups chicken broth (homemade or the box)
1 12 oz bottle hefeweizen (wheat beer)
1 pound thin-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and diced (I used red potatoes, yukon golds would have been nice, too)
1 medium head cabbage, cored and finely shredded
4 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
salt, to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Whole Grain Mustard
Sour Cream

In a 5 quart pan over medium heat, stir sausage often until lightly browned. Spoon out and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from pan.

Add onion and garlic to pan, stir often until limp and slightly golden.

Increase heat to high, add broth, beef, potatoes, cabbage, carrots. Tie spices in cheesecloth and add to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover, simmer until potatoes are tender to bite, 10-15 minutes. Discard spices. Season with salt.

Stir in parsley. Ladle soup into bowls. Serve with mustard and/or sour cream as garnish.

Two Weeks' Menus

I do two vegetarian meals a week (or at least a fish and a vegetarian meal), and since we are doing it anyway for health and budget's sake, we follow the Church tradition of meatless Wednesdays (because of Judas' betrayal) and Fridays (because of the Crucifixion). I have promised Rich not to do vegan, as he really needs lots of protein, so there is egg or cheese in the mix somewhere, for instance the fried rice for tonight.


Fried Rice with broccoli, peas, carrots, cabbage, scallions and maybe corn.


Braised Short Ribs with carrots, celery and onions
French Fries


Spinach Quiche
Green Salad


Ground Beef Casserole
Green Salad


Roast Turkey
Bourbon Gravy
Cornbread Dressing
Sides provided by Church Family - It's a Potluck
Blackberry Desserts


Soy-Glazed Pork Chops
Stir-Fried Broccoli in Oyster Sauce
Brown Rice


Curried Chicken and Peas
Brown Rice


Ricotta Gnocchi
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Steamed Broccoli


Moroccan Style Chicken
Grilled Peppers and Onions
Cous Cous


Macaroni and Cheese
Steamed Peas and Carrots


Tuna Pasta Salad


Shredded Beef
Black Bean, Rice and Vegetable Salad


Chicken Noodle Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette


Italian Beef Sandwiches on Olive Oil Bread

Strawberry Puff

I would have taken a photo of this, if I had chilled it properly and made it look nice, but we are savages who just wanted to eat it, so it was drippy and not so pretty and oh so good!

The recipe was from the March issue of Sunset magazine. Next time, I would use two eggs, rather than three. It's basically a choux pate, and I would normally use three eggs to an entire cup of flour. The cheese filling was so good, and I will use this technique for cream cheese frosting in the future. It lightened up the cream cheese and stabilized the whipped cream, perfect.

Strawberry Puff

2/3 cup water
5 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2/3 cup all purpose flour
3 large eggs
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon orange zest (I left this out, we didn't have it)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 cups sliced strawberries

Strawberry Sauce
see below

1. In a 2 quart pan, combine 2/3 cup water, butter and granulated sugar; bring to a boil over high heat. Add flour all at once and stir quickly until mixture pulls away from pan sides and clumps together. Remove from heat and stir until flour is incorporated and mixture is smooth. Let cool about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. One at a time, add eggs to warm mixture in pan, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition until dough is smooth and satiny.

3. Spoon dough into a buttered 9-inch cheesecake pan with removable rim; spread evenly over bottom and about 1 inch up sides.

4. Bake in a 400 degree oven until puffed and golden, 25-30 minutes. Prick pastry crust with a toothpick in about 12 places, then return to oven and bake until golden brown, dry and crisp, about 10-15 minutes longer. Transfer pan to a rack and let cool completely. Run a knife around pan sides to release pastry, then remove rim.

5. In a bowl, with an electric mixer on high speed, beat cream cheese, orange zest and vanilla until smooth (I tossed the sugar in with it at this point). Add whipping cream and 2/3 cup powdered sugar; beat on low speed until blended, then on high speed just until mixture forms stiff peaks.

6. Spoon filling into puff shell. Scatter sliced strawberries over filling. Sift about 1 tablespoon powdered sugar over the top (I didn't do this, there was sufficient sugar in everything else). Cut into wedges and serve with strawberry sauce to spoon over individual servings.

Strawberry Sauce
1 1/2 cups strawberries, rinsed and hulled
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons orange flavored liqueur (I used Grand Marnier)

Whir the whole mess in the blender until smooth.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Moroccan Style Chicken & Peach Upside Down Cake

Recently, I made the Lemony Moroccan-Style Chicken Kebabs from the July Fine Cooking. Well, we didn't make kebabs, we just marinated chicken breasts in the marinade and grilled them. I used the same amount of lemon juice, but reduced the lemon skins by half, we didn't have any marjoram, so I used oregano. Served it with laban bi chiyar, grilled zucchini planks and cous cous: sauté a finely diced onion in olive oil, add chicken broth, bring to a boil, toss in the cous cous, a pat of butter, reduce heat and cover, steam for a few minutes, toss in fresh ground pepper, finely chopped parsley and toasted pine nuts. Everyone enjoyed it immensely, I might try it with the whole amount of lemon skin next time, but this seemed pretty good to us.

Last night we held youth group again, and two members had recently had a birthday, so I made birthday cake. We had a ton of peaches, so I made a peach upside down cake. It was incredible! The kids liked it so much that they all came in the kitchen to help me make another one. Which we ate with fresh whipped cream, lightly sweetened and flavored with vanilla. Heavenly!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Menu Planning

I am trying to get back on track with menu planning for the week (I usually do it for two weeks). So, today I sat down with the grocery circulars and after checking our freezer inventory and our pantry, made up a plan to take us into next week's ads.


Roast Turkey Breast
Green Beans (probably roasted in olive oil with salt, pepper and garlic)
Wild Rice Dressing
Bourbon Gravy


Black and White Soup with Red Pepper Cream
Spinach Salad with Fried Mozzarella
Olive Oil Bread with Roasted Pepper Anti-pasti from a Jar


Chinese Take Out


Lemony Moroccan Style Chicken Kebabs from Fine Cooking
Laban bi Chiyar (Cucumber Yogurt Salad)
Cous Cous
Grilled Zucchini


Orange Marinated Pork
Chinese Buffet Style Green Beans (we have a lot of green beans)
White Rice


Ham and Cheese Bread Pudding with Peas

I don't know what we're doing from Wednesday on, but it largely depends on the vegetables on sale next week.

Someone out there requested the recipe I used for croissants for Mother's Day. I don't remember if I ever replied. I use the bread machine recipe from Rustic European Breads from Your Bread Machine and have never had any trouble. Although, I do leave off the egg wash, as that really makes them stick to the pan.