Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ethiopian Food?

Dear Turkey,

As you know, I love Ethiopian Food. If only I could make it taste as good as it does when we go out. I had a realization: I've made beans and rice thousands of times. I've made Ethiopian food 5 or 10 times. So, I need to practice.

I did some research, and a message board on food52 directed me to an Ethiopian recipes website. For the injera, I pretty much followed the directions, except, instead of fermenting the dough, I added some of my sourdough starter and just let it stand at room temperature for about 8 hours. I cooked it in a nonstick pan with a tiny bit of oil and it turned out pretty good. 

The yellow split peas were tasty. The only change that we made was that we pureed them (and they required a little more water than the recipe said; maybe because I cooked them hotter). 

We still need practice the stew. We think that maybe this recipe is more "busy" tasting than what we are used to; it turned out like Indian curry (which makes sense because there are Indian influences on Ethiopian food). 

For dessert, I blended frozen bananas, a few dates, soymilk, and cinnamon. Then I froze it for another half hour or so. I topped it with my easy chocolate sauce: maple syrup with cocoa stirred in. 

I moss you,

Saturday, December 28, 2013

What Do Vegetarians Eat On Christmas?

Dear Turkey,

In order to keep my mom young, my family members and I like to add lots of weird dietary restrictions to her holiday planning. As usual, she (and her magazines) did not disappoint:

This recipe from The Washington Post (I guess it's famous). I used soy milk instead of real milk, veggie broth instead of chicken broth, and added a few T of maple syrup. (Vegan version obviously not pictured here; this is the one I ate.)
A little something from one of my mom's favorite magazines (we didn't make the salad on the recipe, but I want to).
Salad, of course.
More pumpkin stuff. We just held the butter (and the creamy garnish) for the vegans. 
Same plate, different day, different salad.
Mazel Tov,

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

People's Diets

Dear Turkey,

Here is some advice for when your Lt. Veggie Nugget comes home and proclaims the good word about her diet: no animal products, no sugar except maple syrup. First, make some of your usual delicious Mexican food (and you can put your own cheese on):

But what to do for dessert?

In a microwave-able bowl, combine 3 c peanut butter and 3 c maple syrup. Microwave until peanut butter is basically melted. Be careful and don't get burned! Add 2 t baking soda, 2 t salt, 4 t vanilla, 1/2 c cocoa, and between 2 and 4 c whole wheat flour. Add it 1/2 c at a time and stir after each addition. When you can't stir any more in, stop. Bake on parchment paper at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
Trust me
I moss you, 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I Finally Made Decent Hummus

Dear Lt. Veggie Nugget,

I think that you will agree that it was worth it to watch my baby while I "made hummus" yesterday, and then again while I actually made hummus. Below you will see the hummus constituents:

The tahini was absent on the day that this photo was taken. Actually, I forgot about it until I tasted the hummus for the first time. The secret? I did not drain the chickpeas. Next time, I will drain a little liquid out of one can, and save it to add later if necessary. I used about 1 T of garlic, 2 T of cumin, 1 T paprika, 1 t pepper, 1 t salt (also absent from photo), 1 T of olive oil, many T of lemon juice, and 3-4 heaping T of tahini. 

I blended it up, and, finally, a hummus that wasn't too thick. Lifetime quest.

Despite what I might have said before, I don't really like crumbleexcept for this kind. But I do like this pear tart. I just made a pie crust (3 c flour, 1/3 c water, 1 egg, 1 t salt, 1 t cider vinegar, 1.5 c Crisco -- that makes three crusts) and sliced the pears on top. I drizzled/plopped maple syrup and orange marmalade on that, and then baked it at 425 for about 15 mins.

Enjoy your nap,

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Look, I Made Something Else With Seafood

Dear Lt. Veggie Nugget,

Thank you for watching my baby while I write this, especially since you think that I'm making hummus for you right now. Instead, I'm going to tell the world about how to make cheap/healthy/fast/delicious mussels marinara.

First, make a broth of water, white wine, salt, and lemon juice (don't be afraid to use a lot of salt, like the ocean). Put it in the bottom of a pot with a steamer basket on top. While that's heating up, melt some [like, maybe a tablespoon or two] butter/oil/salt/pepper/dried basil/dried oregano/garlic/onion [okay, well, more than a tablespoon of butter, onion, and oil]. Sautee it for a bit and then add a can of tomatoes, a few small fresh tomatoes, a cup or so of red wine, juice of one lemon, and cook until the wine doesn't taste like alcohol anymore -- five or ten minutes. Meanwhile cook some pasta and toss it with plenty of oil and salt. When the mussels broth boils, dump the mussels in the top of the steamer and cook until they open. If you're not sure if they're fully open, they're not. It will take five or ten minutes.
To plate it: pasta, sauce, cheese, mussels, lemon.
Here is the recipe for our favorite cookies for dessert.

Thanks, Veggie Nugget,

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Look, I Made Something with Seafood

Dear Turkey,

So we've had this bag of frozen shrimp for about three months. We were doing a good job of grilling it until winter happened. It's not that I mind eating shrimp, but after thawing it, peeling it (meaning, asking someone else to peel it, and then having that person ask me to bleach the sink afterwards), and making sure it's done (but not overdone!), I always conclude that tofu would have been just as tasty (but maybe that's why I'm called Tofu and you're not [or maybe I'm just that good at cooking tofu]). Last night I made a stir-fry with leftover veggies (some of them we'd had since Thanksgiving!), the shrimp, and bottled sweet and sour sauce (topped with Siracha). I made the rice really salty and lemony, and everyone liked that.

See how not overcooked my veggies are?

This is what my mom made for dessert. I asked her if this was the kind of thing people ate in the seventies, and she said, "yes, but we didn't know to call it Panna Cotta then. Did you know that Panna Cotta is Italian?" Yes, Mom, that's why you spent all that money for me to study abroad in Italy.
This is the recipe page from Family Circle magazine. You can kind of see that my mom added orange marmalade and amaretto (of course she did) to the sauce, and she doubled the sauce (of course she did). Yesterday she made raspberry, but she said that this version was better. 
I moss you,

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Stone Soup

Dear Turkey,

Here is an experiment that you can try the next time you are hungry:

Show up at that special neighbor's house with the following cheap and scanty ingredients:

And declare that you are making lunch for her. 

Here's how you do it. For the rice, add the following to the rice and water (she will have all this stuff): 1 T garlic powder, 1 t turmeric, 1 T olive oil, 1 T salt. For the beans, sautee 1 onion (sliced), 2 cloves garlic (sliced), 3 T olive oil, 1 large jalapeno (seeded and sliced) until the onions become translucent. Then add two cans of black beans (undrained!) and 2 T honey and cook on low heat until the rice is done, about 30 mins. Add the juice of one lemon. Top with cheese and green salsa. Serve with delicious chips that you also didn't bring. 

Of course, you didn't make dessert either. But you ate it. A lot of it. 

Here is the recipe in the words of your host:

1 box yellow cake mix
1 small box instant vanilla pudding
1/4 c water
3/4 vegetable oil
2 eggs
I cup choc chips or m and ms
preheat to 350
Combine all ingredients.
Pour batter into greased 9x13 pan
Bake for 20-30 min.  May look goopy in middle, but that's because of the pudding!
Here is something else delicious: 

Wacky Cake:
from Terry's kitchen (my ma!)
I made this vegan in honor of meeting Lt. Veggie Nugget

3 c Flour
2 c Sugar
2 tsp Baking Soda
6 Tbsp cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 c oil
2 tsp vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups COLD water
 Use 9x13 pan, 350 degrees, 35 minutes
Cooked Frosting for Chocolate Cake (NOT vegan, but AMAZING)
from Terry's kitchen
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp Flour
Cook until thick, then cool (I usually put pan in fridge for a little)
1 c sugar (NOT confectioner's)
1/2 c Crisco
1/2 c Butter
Beat until creamy.  Add 1/2 tsp vanilla

After lunch, lie on the floor for a while to digest your food, until you have overstayed your (self-invited) welcome.

I moss you,

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

Muffins for Old People

Dear Turkey,

Now that I can sometimes observe the effects of gravity on my face, I think it's time for bran muffins. Actually, it took me this long to realize that bran muffins, like prunes, can be hip and delicious. Especially if you mom gives you a box of All-Bran as a present (still haven't quite decoded the subliminal message on that one).

Bran Muffins (adapted from the actual All-Bran website for old people):


2.5 c flour
1 c sugar
2 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
4 c All-Bran Buds (since that's what my mom eats)
2.5 c soy milk
2 eggs
1/2 c canola oil

Mix but don't overmix. Use muffin papers. 400 degrees, 15-18 mins. Makes 24.

These taste way less healthy than they are. Enjoy with some holiday decorations, also compliments of your mom. 

Speaking of holidays, Hanukkah is not over at our house. Every night our smallest constituent asks for "Ha-can! Candles!" So we light the candles and say prayers, and he says, "Yay! Again!" So we do it again.

Mazel Tov,

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hello, Lunch

Dear Turkey,

Here are some more translations from my life:

You may remember these old favorites:

Guac-coo-kai: Guacamole
Ha-coo-kai: Helicopter
Cock-coo-kai: Cock-a-doodle-doo

Add to that:

Croc-coo-kai: Crocodile
Eli-goo-li-goo-li: Elephant
Lion-goo-li-goo-li: Lion

Actual conversation:

Him: "Mama Milk, all gone!"
Me: "No, the Mama Milk is not all gone. There is as much Mama Milk as you want. It will never run out. That's what's so awesome about it. And, the more you eat, the more I can eat."
Him: "Mama Milk, all gone!"

Another popular phrase at my house is, "Hello, Tractor" [pronounced "Heh-woah Tractor"]. This can be used at any time, even in one's sleep, when looking for the infamous not-gone Mama's Milk.

"Hello, Tractor" inspired me to create a new category for this blog, called Hello, Lunch [except that Blogger doesn't allow categories to have commas, so it will henceforth be known as Hello: Lunch].

Hello: Lunch is when beautiful ingredients (preferably purchased by your mom) magically combine to form a lunch that is so good that you are ashamed. This magic usually involves butter and salt.

Really, though, I've been trying to make lunches as good as the ones that I get at restaurants, and I've realized that I need to be way more liberal with butter, salt, garlic, and lemon. Even salting by the handful wouldn't make my food anywhere near as unhealthy as restaurant or processed food.

Hello: Ingredients
Yes, this is how much butter and oil I used. I sauteed a few T of minced garlic, plenty of salt and pepper, and a T of Italian seasoning. When the garlic was starting to brown I added a few T of lemon juice, but I should have added more. Then I added a generous splash of white wine. (Mom, was that the one for cooking or drinking?) I let it bubble for a few minutes until it was starting to reduce, and then I added 1 c of frozen peas. I let them thaw and then thew the pasta (I had already cooked it) back into the pot. 

Top with cheese and enjoy with a New Yorker. This lunch courtesy of your mom who provides the ingredients and watches your baby, so that you can dedicate yourself to making more delicious Mama's Milk.

For dessert, a combination that would offend many people.
But not me.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Fake Thanksgiving

Dear Mom,

Thank you for making all of the usual delicious Thanksgiving food, and for inventing Fake Thanksgiving [this is the day after Thanksgiving, where we invite the other side of the family; you know -- the one that's not presentable enough for Real Thanksgiving], which is just as awesome as Real Thanksgiving.

This year, you really outdid yourself; we had celebrations the two nights before Real Thanksgiving. I declare them a tradition and will henceforth expect them every year. Today, we are only going to discuss one of the pre-Thanksgiving meals, since I had a throwing-up-illness and didn't enjoy the other one as much as I would have liked.

Pre-Thanksgiving Risotto:

First, microwave 1 cup of frozen peas, chop up 2 cups of asparagus, and dice some shallots. Sautee the shallots in a few tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of lemon zest. Then add 1 cup of arborio rice and sautee that until you can't handle how dry it's getting. Pour in 1 cup of white wine and let it absorb. Slowly ladle in 4 cups of hot veggie broth (this should take about 20 mins, keep stirring). When you're down to the last ladle (and the rice is not too al dente), add the veggies and the juice of 2 or 3 lemons. Cook just until the veggies are done.

Serve with a beautiful salad without cheese on it because Lt. Veggie Nugget is being vegan (notice I didn't say that she is vegan).

For dessert, Pear Rosemary Cake from Real Simple Magazine [some language changed by Tofu]:

Butter a spring-form pan (if I were making this at home, I would just use a pie tin) and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then whisk together:

1 stick melted butter
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 c cornmeal
2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c sugar
1/2 c buttermilk
2 eggs
Then fold in 2 pears, sliced

Bake 45-55 mins.
Meanwhile, heat 1/4 c sugar, 1/4 c water, and some sprigs of rosemary. Cook until the sugar melts. When the cake is cool, brush the syrup onto the cake. 

Then go running, even though there was an ice storm. 

Bonus Material: Sweet Potato Chili from Fake Thanksgiving That Everyone Loves:

Here is the recipe (we also added some diced red and green peppers, we added 1 T butter to the olive oil, we doubled the honey, and omitted the cayenne [not my idea]). Next year, I plan on puking again so that I'm not available to help, and then have another miraculous recovery right before it's time to eat. Tradition. 

Thanks, Mom,