Mac and Cheese

So many years ago Erin published her mac and cheese recipe, and I adapted and have made it since, probably close to twice a month. Thank you!

Ingredients:

  • 2 T butter
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 2 c milk
  • 8 oz cheese
  • 1 pound pasta
  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the pasta. If using spinach, add near the end of the pasta cooking time. Empty all into a colander.
  2. In the same large pot, melt the butter and then add the flour. Whisk until the flour is sticking to the butter and has toasted slightly.
  3. Pour in the milk and whisk until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the cheese and stir until it melts completely. Incorporate pasta (and optional cooked sausage) carefully into sauce until it is completely coated.

Wild about Wheat Berries

Earlier in the week I was thinking about what to make for dinner and knew that I had a lot of peppers on hand, as well as sausage in the freezer. So it was obvious I should put them together. Since wheat berries are a little more healthy than rice, I figured I’d toss them in as well.

Then I saw Maki’s post on fried rice and thought I’d try using the wheat berries in a similar way.

It was wonderful! The toasted wheat berries (which I confess I cooked in a little bit of apple juice) were a little crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. The sausage was perfect, as always. The (local) corn sauteed nicely and color-complimented the red and green bells. (I threw in some smashed garlic and a roasted jalapeno which I picked from the garden yesterday.) Twice-cooked wheat berries are the way to go.

Notes from the Garden

The tomatillos have a million flowers and no fruit. (I can’t remember when those started coming in last year.) The tomatoes have about 6 fruit each and are not making any more flowers. I have no idea how to improve on any of that.

I should pretty much assume that the backyard box will have tomatillo volunteers next year and not bother putting any in the nursery.

Eggplants do better on the porch than the backyard box. So do the okra, the squash, and watermelon, but the backyard melon is valiantly taking over the verbena.

The peas were good this year. Figure out howwhen to plant more so I can have some for the fall.

Plant more green beans next year; the dozen or so we’ve gotten have been exceptionally tasty and more would be better.

The pattypan squash are surprisingly coming along. I mean, we ate one. They need pretty constant fertilizer or they’ll die off after the pretty flowers so I’m trying to remember that.

I’m hopeful about the eggplants.

Yesterday the okra put out its first blossom. That’s always wondrous.

Chili Salad

Inspired by Jenn Reese’s Quinoa Chili I invented Chili Salad. It tastes like chili but doesn’t require all the time on the stove and all the heat from having the stove on, so it’s nice for summer.

I didn’t have any quinoa in the pantry but still have plenty of barley and wheat berries, so used the former in place of the quinoa.

I cooked up 1 c of dried barley (in water) then tossed it with 1 can of beans, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 t of Penzey’s Chili 9000 spice, 1 diced jalapeno (from the garden), and 4 oz of cheese.

It was tasty but, as Reese points out, required the addition of salt. In this case, I put in a half teaspoon. In the future, I’d like to try her suggestion about eating it with corn chips.

Other additions I’d like to try include red and green bell pepper, corn kernels, raw rather than canned tomatoes.

It was surprisingly easy and a great way to eat up whole grains.

Cookbook Review: Mollie Katzen’s Get Cooking

I am clearly not the intended audience for Mollie Katzen’s new book, Get Cooking. However, I do usually enjoy her recipes and so it seemed worth picking up the book.

If you’re looking for something to ease you into the kitchen, her introductory section will likely appeal to you. As I already know how to chop things and am not afraid of shopping lists, I skipped it. Happily, the whole book is in a normal typeface, as opposed to all her Moosewood cookbooks which are in a forceably-cheering handwriting font. (The Sunshine Cafe is also in a normal typeface and is what I consider her best cookbook.)

I found a number of recipes that looked like I would make them repeatedly and wanted to capture them here because I’m not sure I will buy the book. The chapter on burgers makes it very tempting and I’m not even that much of a burger fan, honestly.

The twist in this cookbook that appealed to me most were the “get creative” sections. In this sidebars, she suggests easy ways to modify the existing recipe. And since recipes, to me, are all about a good structure and varying the ingredients, I thought this was a brilliant addition to the book.

I made the Mushroom-Zucchini Ragout over Creamy Polenta. Once through the recipe was enough to get the structure (cook awesome veggies in tomato to make stew-like stuff then serve over cheese+corn) although I substituted cheese grits for polenta. Summer squash, mushrooms, and cheese grits are pretty wonderful together.

dmm made the Tuna Burgers. Very excellent and it happily reminded me how cheap tuna is. They are 12 oz tuna, 2 eggs, 1/3 c breadcrumbs, 1/2 c onions, parsley, pepper, and fresh lemon juice.

Ah, the burger chapter. I would buy just the chapter, if I could.

I was underwhelmed by the poultry recipes, partially because the photography in the book is kinda poor, mostly poor color combinations that don’t make the food appear appetizing. The veggie/sides chapter is good if you haven’t cooked with them before but I know most of these structures.

Recipes that I haven’t tried but would like to: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, Creamy Tomato-Basil Soup, all the salad dressing recipes (brilliant!) on p. 36-37, Farfalle with Roasted Garlic, Nuts, and Raisins, Vegetable-Tofu Stir-Fry with Orange-Ginger Glaze (which sounds rather Asian Kitchen Sink, doesn’t it?).

The orange glaze from above is 1/2 c oj, 2T cider vinegar, 1 T soy, 1 T brown honey, 1 T fresh ginger, 2 t fresh garlic, 1 t sesame oil, .5 t red pepper flakes, and 1 T cornstarch. Wet cornstarch then add it to remaining ingredients. Add to the stir-fried veggies after they are cooked.

I would really like to make the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Crunchy Things and the Gingery Gingerbread but it was the dessert chapter that really made me wish that she’d included nutritional information in the book. I like desserts, and I eat desserts, but I’d like to know how much of one is an acceptable serving.

So, my recommendation is that Jmac should read this book and cook something out of it. And that I figure out how to get my hands on just the burger chapter.

Experimentation

When I put the chicken away yesterday, it ended up next to the jalapenos in the fridge. And so I thought, I should cook those two together. I didn’t buy the jalapenos for a recipe; we simply eat them often enough, if we have them in the house, so into the shopping cart they went.

I went to Simply Recipes because Elise always has a recipe for whatever I’m looking for. Searching on “chicken” and “jalapenos” lead me to Spicy Garlic Cashew Chicken. I looked over the ingredients: there’s nothing in the house remotely like cashews, so what if I just left them out?

I ended up putting the following into the food processor:

  • 1 T brown sugar
  • all the parsley in the house (about 2 c chopped)
  • the juice of the single, wimpy lime
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • one very large garlic clove
  • one jalapeno, seeds and all
  • 2 T vegetable oil

I pureed that, then put it into a bag with the 2.5 lb chicken, to marinate. I added a little extra oil in the bag, to make the puree mush around the chicken.

It tasted fantabulous raw. I can’t wait to see how it is with the chicken.

Saturday Food

Today I made the following absolutely yummy things:

  • Oatmeal!
  • Eggplant faux parmesan (which is better with basil than salad mix but still tasty)

  • Barbecue (not local) ribs (from the farm) with parmesan (not local) celeriac (from the farm)
  • 2 loaves of the Joy of Cooking’s Sandwich Bread
  • APPLE PIE (local apples, non-local butter, sugar, and flour)