The rest of me….

Two years ago, I vowed to write more about the whole of me

and then I dished up more food.

I guess I like food.

I mean, I did give you some other stuff, like music and sewing, but not a lot of the other stuff.

The spooky stuff.

I’m not sure why.

What I do know is that for a long while I didn’t feel like writing anything at all, and now I’ve found a daily practice that has got me excited about writing again.

In the next few weeks, I’m planning on launching a blog that will run congruently with this one (yes, I know, my intention was to put everything here, but… well, I changed my mind). The new blog will have stuff on herbalism, and magick and reiki and energywork and Spirit Communciation and mostly Tarot. And if you are down with that, I hope you’ll read along… And I’ll be plugging along on filling in the blanks on this blog with the things I’ve been doing that are not just recipes. I’ve spent a day at Susun Weed’s Wise Woman Center in May and I have… some thoughts that I refrained from posting until I could sort them out. I spent a week at Omega in June at what I’m calling Hippie Ukulele Camp which was AH-MAH-ZING and I came back so chill that I’m pretty sure my coworkers thought I was stoned… but do you see, how those two topics sort of mush together the mundane and the Spiritual? Yeah, I’m not going to worry about that anymore.. I do what I want.

And I’ve been rambling.

And now I’m going to get groceries because, food.

Recipe Review: Skillet Beef Stroganoff

Skillet Beef Stroganoff from America's Test Kitchen

Skillet Beef Stroganoff from America’s Test Kitchen

I’ve made this a few times… and I really like it.

What I *don’t* like is America’s Test Kitchen promises you “this recipe and more on our website” and then when you get there, they aren’t free and if you want a free 14 day trial, you end up subscribed to so many newsletters from them and their partners that your inbox explodes.  (Which is why, if you were to say, zoom in on that photo, you would have a good glimpse of the recipe.. but buy the book. Really. It’s good)

Sidebar: I’m pretty interested to see what Milk Street Kitchen is all about since Christopher Kimball left ATK and launched MSK as his new baby.   Will he survive in Boston?  What about all the Vermont love?  But I digress.

The next time I make this, I would add more pasta. This has ended up soupy every time I’ve made it.  I also don’t generally keep brandy on hand, so I subbed 2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar for the brandy Also, I used 3 cups of water and dropped in a tablespoon each of chicken and beef “Better than Bouillon” because it is.. better, I mean. Not as good as real stock  which is what the recipe called for (one and a half cups of each) but it’s what I had. Lastly, I didn’t flatten the sirloin tips.  I just cut them thin against the grain.   This recipe is actually quite excellent and easy.  We had it done in 40 minutes.  It’s going into the regular rotation

 

Recipe Review: Orecchiette with Pancetta, Pumpkin and Broccoli Rabe

Here is the thing that happens a lot.  We make a recipe from a book or a magazine or a website or something and say “Hey this is good!  We should make this again! .. only we should change it like this!”

And then we forget all about it.

Seriously.  We forget where we got the recipe, how we made it, what we would do different and end up sitting on the couch while meal planning saying things like “Hey! remember that thing?  That thing with the beef/chicken/sausage/chickpea/lettuce/some other thing thing?  That was good.  Where was that again?”

So I decided to take a hint from FoFacy and Limey  who write  Little’s Bites.   They make a recipe and then blog about it.    What a great way to keep track, eh?  And my blog is just sitting here, being ignored (and run by wind power. Thanks, GreenGeeks.. you rock)

So, here we go.  My review of Ann Burrell’s Orecchiette with Pancetta, Pumpkin and Broccoli Rabe

First of all, I had to Google what a “cheese pumpkin” was and then I was not going to bother trying to find it, so I got a package of precut butternut squash from the grocery store.  And since “half a bunch” is pretty darn subjective for an amount of broccoli rabe and my squash was twice the amount I needed, I basically doubled the entire recipe.

The squash could have been roasted longer and trying to fish broccoli rabe out of the water was nuts so I ended up straining the broccoli rabe and just putting another pot of water on.

I also thought the broccoli rabe wasn’t cooked enough so I put it in with the squash instead of waiting until the end.

Overall, I liked it.  I needed a little zip of something.  I though maybe some lemon juice or maybe more pepper flake.

LB thought it needed sausage.

Next time, we’ll make it with hot Italian sausage instead of the pancetta and roast the squash a lot longer so that it gets a little carmelized… or maybe I’ll use sweet potatoes instead.

Morrocan Spiced Beef

Look.. I know it’s been ages since I posted something.

and this draft has been hanging out forever … so I’m just going to post it.

Because you all should make this.  I cobbled together a few Moroccan Beef recipes from the interwebs and came up with this.

So, please forgive my incredibly lame post and just make the recipe… okay?

Let me know how you like it.

Morrocan Spiced Beef

Morrocan Spiced Beef
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
 
I have always had a soft spot for cinnamon and beef together, ever since I had my first taste of kibbeh. The seasoning on this meat reminds me of that delicious Moroccan treat.
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cayenne
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • ¼ cup golden raisins (see note)
Instructions
  1. Heat the oilive oil in a large skillet over medium heat
  2. Add the diced onion and cook until translucent
  3. Stir in the carrot and cook for about 3 minutes
  4. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne over the top and stir to combine. Cook until fragrant, about one minute
  5. Now is a good time for a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  6. Shove all of the stuff in the skillet to the edges and crumble the ground beef into the middle.
  7. Break up the ground beef and cook, mixing in the rest of the ingredients, until the beef is cooked through and everything is well combined
  8. Shove everything to the edges again, and dump the pine nuts in middle and toast, stirring constantly until slightly toasted. Mix the pine nuts in with everything else and turn off the heat.
  9. Stir in the raisins.
  10. Taste and adjust the seasoning
  11. Serve over brown rice with a dollop of yogurt
Notes
If you are one of those people who feel that raisins ruin everything, go ahead and substitute ¼ cup of chopped dried apricots.

 

 

What do you do when you don’t care about winning?

Winning-feeling-Retro620

When I was in high school, I had to be the best at everything (except gym… we’re not going to talk about that).

I had to be the smartest.  I had to be the quickest. I had to be pretty and have perfect hair.  I had to get 100% on everything.

Looking back on that now, I realize how much stress that was…  focusing on making sure I was better than someone else.  Because it wasn’t about being the best person I could be.  It was about being better. It didn’t matter that my “better” was excellent or mediocre.   I just had to blow everyone else out of the water so I could be the best.

And it was easy.  I was actually a really smart kid and I never had to work at anything and it left me ill equipped for the world.  When I went off to college and suddenly there were a lot of people who were better than me at a lot of things, I caved.  I quit. I ran.

I gave up.

I found a job I was good at after drifting for a while.  I went back to being the smartest and the quickest and the prettiest in my little job that fit my skills.  (MATH.. I know.. I LOVE IT)

But I didn’t grow at all.   I settled into this little life and it was… fine.

I’m a perpetual learner so I’m always taking a class here or there but if it wasn’t easy or if I had to work too hard to be the BEST, I would give up and say “well, it’s not like I wanted to do that anyway”.  I didn’t want to look stupid.  I didn’t want to look silly.

Until someone said to me “Don’t measure yourself by someone else’s yardstick“.

It changed everything.  I realized that I didn’t have to beat someone else, be better than someone else or to WIN in order to feel good about myself.  All I had to do was be the best “me” I could be.

The more I practiced this, the better person I became.  The happier person I became.  The less it became about “them vs me” and more about lifting myself up and challenging myself.   I’d goof up and I’d laugh it off.  I’d fall down and giggle…  if I looked stupid, I’d chuckle and try again.  And if someone asked for help, I’d give it.. and if someone wanted to offer me help, I’d accept it.   If someone else succeeded where I struggled, I felt happy for them.  This mindset is liberating.

But it also means that I no longer feel comfortable thinking or saying competitive things or throwing around “smack talk”.   I realize that everyone has their own yardstick and that I want them to be better, happier people too.  At the risk of sounding too hippie dippie, I want everyone to feel like they are “winners” .  To take a look at their own yardstick and decide on their own personal betterment instead of “beating” someone else.

Not everyone is like this and I respect that.  But I find it hurtful and, well,  MEAN when I hear things like “we’re going to beat them” and they can “suck it” and “this isn’t the city of sisterly love”.

And yeah, those have all come up lately.  I get it. That motivates some people.  But not me.  It makes me squirm.  I currently belong to a group that will be competing soon and there is a lot of that going around. And that’s ok.  But it means that I need to find a way to motivate myself to do better without having this negativity or old habits take hold again.  Because it would be way too easy to fall back into the ugly mentality of beating someone else.

Recently, my friend Bing was at the International Blues Challenge and I was watching him advance and advance (via the internet…  the Challenge was in Tennessee after all) and every time he would post about it on his Facebook Page,  he would be talking about how great the other acts are and what an honor to be among all this talent.  And that every time that he’d advance, he’d have to dig a little deeper into himself to pull out just a little bit more.

On his blog, he says :

Joe Whitmer likes to tell the acts, at orientation, that the IBC is a “challenge” and not a competition.  We’re not in some kind of battle of the bands where we’re out for each other’s throats.  We’re competing against the score sheet; against ourselves, basically.  It’s in the spirit of the blues family that the acts have a camaraderie with each other, helping out with set change overs and wishing for spectacular sets.

You can read his whole post about his experience here:Big Time in Bluestown: Bing Futch

As a Patron I got to see the raw footage of the quarter finals, the semi finals and then the finals.  I have seen Bing perform live several times so I’ve seen him do some of these blues songs before and they are always great. But at the semi-finals and then the finals, I saw something amazing.  He kept pulling out more.. and more.. and… more.. I don’t know where it was coming from but holy shit that dude was on fire at the end of the finals.  He took best guitar, by the way, which is pretty funny considering he plays a dulcimer but he earned it.  He earned it by being the best Bing he could be.

This has been my inspiration.  My reminder that I don’t have to be the better than everyone. I don’t need to rub anyone’s nose in it. I don’t have to beat someone else.   I can just be a better me.  I can work at a better personal performance every time.  To see where I can go.  To see if I can dig up just a little more… and a little more…

This is my motivation.  This is my kind of winning.

Puddles: The Reckoning

reck·on·ing  ˈrek(ə)niNG/  : archaic -a bill or account, or its settlement.

Way, way back in 2014, Marisa from Food in Jars included my picture of the Puddles that my mom made for me in her link round up.

Here, let me show them to you again:

Puddle Cookies

Puddle Cookies

No one knew what these cookies were and no one I asked had ever heard of them.. and after Marisa linked to my picture, lots of people were asking about the recipe.  So I asked my mom where SHE got the recipe and she said from someone she knew who was an excellent baker (I forgot her name and now I feel bad because I feel like she should get credit.. after all she MADE IT UP)

I have a special place in my heart for these cookies. They are from my childhood… and I love them. But I rarely make them.

Anyway, I promised to share the recipe as soon as I found it.  But.. I didn’t.

I held onto it for a while.

And then I baked them.. and they came out.. wrong.

Really wrong.. and then I realized it was because my cookie sheet was too big.  I forgot that I have switched to using a half sheet pan which is larger than your standard issue cookie sheets or “jelly roll pans” (which, incidentally, is why the last time I made pumpkin roll, it came out all wonky)

When we moved, I found my jelly roll pans in the attic. I think they were there for all 12 years we lived in that house.  Take a gander at the difference in size and I think you’ll see why I had a problem.

 

See how much smaller the cookie sheet is than the half sheet pan!

See how much smaller the cookie sheet is than the half sheet pan!

So,we moved.. and I forgot about the puddles again.. but then.. THIS WEEK Melanie asked me for the recipe.   And I was totally surprised than anyone was still waiting for it.

So, two years and a few days later,  I’m making good on my promise…

At LONG LAST! The recipe:
20150307_170701

But, don’t make them with Oleo.  Does anyone even know what Oleo is anymore?

Make them with butter and thank me later.

Also, a few tips.

  1. Bring your butter and eggs to room temperature. They cream better that way.
  2. Cream the butter, eggs and sugar until fluffy…REALLY.  There is no leavening in the recipe.
  3. The batter will be thick.  I mean…  THICK.  Kind of like frosting.

    See how thick the batter is? This is correct

    See how thick the batter is? This is correct

  4. I turned the pan halfway through baking and they were done in 25 minutes in my oven.  The middle will spring back like a cake when touched.
  5. They have sort of a crispy crust on top when they come out.  After the powdered sugar sets in and they sit for a day, they are like a dense cake and the top softens.

    I sort of.. forgot and made 12 instead of 20. Make 20. These are huge

    I sort of.. forgot and made 12 instead of 20. Make 20. These are huge

  6. You can, for fun.. or VALENTINES if you’re into that kind of thing, use cookie cutters to cut out heart shapes (or other shapes).  Plop your jam in strategic places in order to do that.  Bonus: you get to eat the scraps.

Puddles
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups white sugar
  • 1 cup salted butter, room temperature
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Powdered Sugar for dusting
  • Jam (about 20 teaspoons)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Grease a jelly roll pan or rimmed baking sheet with butter
  3. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy
  4. Add the eggs and beat well
  5. Add the vanilla and flour and mix until combined. Batter will be thick.
  6. Spread batter evenly in the cookie sheet.
  7. Mark out 20 sections and put a teaspoon of jam in the middle of each section
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the center springs back when touched. Edges will be crispy.
  9. Dust with powdered sugar while still warm.
  10. Cool and cut into 20 squares.
  11. Store between sheets of waxed or parchment paper in an airtight container.