These days have been the peak of this year's winter. We got mixture of ice pellets, rain, and snow when temperature was below freezing. The result was beautiful shiny branches and oh not so pretty ice covered cars and roads... and of course we got cold days!
On cold days, I always think of having hot soup. I wish I could go to warung soto or warung bakso. Having enough with the dreaming, I remembered having ginger-looking vegetables called Jerusalem artichokes from CSA. A member of my CSA made soup out of them for a potluck dinner and shared the recipe. I finally did something to those artichokes that I'd let to sit in my refrigerator storage bin for more than a month! My concerned with them was they were small and I didn't have patience to peel them. But hubby had a brilliant idea. Don't. Peel. Them. So I didn't.
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup
Peel and dice: 2 lbs Jerusalem artichoke
Sautee with: 1 Tbs butter
until onion is translucent
Add: 2 cups chicken stocks
Until the artichoke is tender. Puree the soup using a hand blender or food processor.
Add: 1/2 cup of milk or heavy cream
Salt and pepper
The soup tasted really good. In case you are wondering, although looks like a ginger, Jerusalem artichoke has consistency like potato but sweeter and nuttier. I can't wait to get them again hopefully sooner than next year. Next time I make this soup again, I will not brown the onion to get bright cream color.
How many hours is the longest time you have ever spent in the kitchen?
I often thought that I wanted to make something simple but then I was caught in the flow and couldn't stop. Then I realized that I'd been spent hours in my tiny kitchen. That one afternoon on a national holiday was an example. I planned on making steam buns. But then I got an idea of shaping them like little chubby piglets.
The pink color was made out of pureed steamed beet. I used the smallest beet I had from my CSA. The different shades of pink were results of the length of steaming. The longer the buns were steamed, the lighter the pink color was! That's one new thing I learned that day.
Starter: 250 gr all purpose flour
1 sachet instant yeast
150 ml water
Mix all of the ingredients, let it rise until doubled.
Main ingredients: 100 gr all purpose flour
50 gr rice flour
70 gr powdered sugar
1 Tbs baking powder 1/4 tsp baking soda
5 Tbs beet juice from 1 steamed beet
50 gr salted butter
Mix all of the ingredients with the starter dough. Mix until the dough is well blended and shiny. Set aside some of the dough for the pig's ears, noses and tails. Divide the dough to 25-30-gram balls. Fill each ball with meat or mung bean filling. Shape the dough. Attach the body parts. Poke the nose. Glue 2 black sesame using white egg for the eyes. Steam for 10-15 minutes.
We celebrated Christmas this year with our brother's family in Indiana. We didn't have presents underneath Christmas tree because it is not part of our culture and I found difficulty to understand its meaning, but we had a great time together as a family. Other than going to a Christmas Eve service and visiting Chicago, we left our schedule open when we were there because we wanted to spent time with our brother's family. However, dinner invitations from some old friends and catching up with some friends made our visit much merrier.
Before it gets too late, I wish you a Merry Christmas. I hope your Christmas was filled with joy, peace, and love from God alone. I also hope that each Christmas event, whether it's church related events or gathering with friends and families engraved sweet memories for you.
Speaking about sweetness, I want to share what I made for our dear friends weekend before Christmas day. It's cranberry-pistachio cornmeal biscotti using Martha Stewart's recipe. I chose the recipe because I loved pistachio and I had bags of corn meal from CSA. Some people may prefer finely ground cornmeal, but mine was mixed of fine and coarse and we loved it. Combination of sweet from dried fruit, sour from lemon zest, and salty from pistachio created a nice "Christmasy" taste and look. I hope our friends enjoyed them as much as we did.
I was still amazed that fresh cranberry could be really good for bread. I thought its shiny skin wasn't easy to soften that it needed to be boiled and never eaten raw. I was skeptical when reading a recipe that called for fresh cranberry. I was glad I tried it anyway, because those cranberries were softened as the bread were baked; and blended really well with the texture of the bread. Furthermore, the sour taste of the berries complemented the sweetness of the bread.
My first cranberry loaf was more like a cake, so I searched for cranberry bread recipe. I ended up using Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Loaf recipe from Baking with Julia cookbook. I still had half bag full of cranberries, pecan, fresh pumpkin from CSA, and other baking supplies. Oh, and I also had a new loaf pan! I'd been wishing to have a straight corner loaf pan. See, I didn't have excuse not to bake this bread
I baked this colorful bread on Thanksgiving weekend, and hubby went out of town at the beginning of the week. When he got back from his trip, there was still a lot of bread left. Although the bread was dried out, I knew it was still good because I stored it in the fridge. A week after I made it, I cut the bread to a size of regular biscotti and baked it with low temperature for about an hour. Now I have strips of toasted cranberry walnut pumpkin in a glass jar. I know it can be stored for a long time because they have very low moisture content, but last time I checked, they were almost gone
After our first try and liked it, hubby and I decided to make another millet salad. For this one, I used broccoli, spinach, black beans (all three from CSA), onion, and curried chicken. This easy, humble, and delectable meal will definitely be on our dining table again someday.
P.S. I've used my rice cooker to cook rice, millet, and quinoa. Hubby thought we should call it grain cooker from now on. Grain cooker it is!
First of all, Happy Thanksgiving for all of my friends who celebrate this special holiday this beautiful weekend.
I must say that Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday. It makes me think about His countless blessings that have been poured out on me. For me, Thanksgiving is also like the opening of Christmas. In fact, the first advent this year is the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I love this time of the year.
While in school, Thanksgiving is also the busiest time of the semester. Most finals project are usually due after Thanksgiving, and classes are usually wrapped up days after the break. I only have 2 days left of classes and the rest will be final exam period. I should have worked on my project and studied this whole weekend, but I chose to take some days off. I enjoyed my break with hubby, spent time with friends, and baked! Surely I have to catch up from now on till the end of the semester, but it's all worth it.
Here is what I baked, Rustic Potato Loaves from Baking with Julia cookbook. I used potatoes and realized that I didn't have enough of it, so mixed those with sweet potatoes. I am glad I did because the sweet potatoes enhanced the bread color.
Stir-fried turnip was my common breakfast meal up to my life in highschool (I temporarily moved out of my hometown for college, so I didn't have the same breakfast ritual). Woke up in the morning, I could hear clanging sounds of grandma's metal spatula and heavy iron skillet in distant. She was cooking, and she cooked more that one dish just for breakfast. Everyday. Among things that she cooked in the morning, there would be either stir-fried turnip or stir-fried spinach. So, I was pretty familiar with turnip. The very first time I did grocery shopping after In moved to the States, I was happy to find vegetable that reminded me of my home.
I thought I knew turnip very well. Apparently it was the upper part only that I was familiar with. I didn't know that the bulb part ever existed until we found the whole turnip plants in our CSA box. I usually separate the bulbs and the greens. I scissors-cut the leaves to 2-inch long, bag them, and refrigerate them as soon as hubby brought the box home. My common way to cook the bulb is by roasting them. That chilly evening, however, I wanted a bowl of warm soup. So I searched for and found a turnip soup recipe online that looked promising. I altered the recipe to make it lighter than it's supposed to.
I was kinda surprised with the taste. It is naturally sweet and... turnipy! I think it would be better to have it with crusty savory bread. I can understand if some people are not crazy about it. I don't think I am, but hubby is. Even when the soup was still half full, he asked me if I would make the same soup again someday.
Ingredients: 2.5 lbs turnip, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbs butter
5 cloves of garlic
3 stalks of green onion/leek (white part only)
1.5 cups whole milk
2 cup chicken broth
3 stalk of thyme
Salt and pepper
Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and turnip. Cook and stir until beginning to brown. Add the green onion, broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Simmer, stir once or twice, until the turnip is tender. Puree the soup in the pan using an immersion blender or food processor. Put the puree back to the pan. Add milk. Bring to a boil. Serve warm.
Our friend Sylvia usually bakes pumpkin whoopie pie in the Fall and brings to our Sunday school class. I love her whoopie pies the first time I tried. I miss her pies, but I especially miss her. I haven't seen her for a long time because she is a nurse that has to work on Sundays. Sylvia and her husband, Ray are a sweet couple that have taught us a lot of great things. They usually host a hayride party in Fall at their farm. However, this year is an exception since they have to take care of an ailing friend. May God bless them and give them joy in what they do.
Getting a big pumpkin from CSA, I thought of making whoopie pies. I haven't asked the pie recipe from Sylvia, but I found a recipe from my Mennonite cookbook. Sylvia is also a Mennonite, so it can't be too different, right?! The recipe said that it yields 3 dozens of sandwich pies. I think I made mine too big because I only got less than 18. I realized that my pies were huge, so I made them smaller on the second and third batches. Hubby preferred the small ones because the cream cheese and pie ratio is bigger than the larger ones.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Source: From Amish and Mennonite Kitchens
Cream: 2 cups brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
Add: 1 1/2 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin
Add just until incorporated: 3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Millet is a grain that we were not familiar with. We got millet from a store that sells grain in bulk after having conversation with a gluten-intolerant friend. She had to find alternatives to common sources of carbs, and millet was one of her choice. I did some recipe searching for what to do with the millet we had. I chose a salad recipe and did some twist to match vegetables I still had. It's Friday after all, there were not many vegetables left.
One thing I considered doing was to make it as simple as possible. I tried hard not to make a lot of mess and not to use a lot of kitchen stuffs. I had to finish my thesis proposal and hubby was busy detailing and waxing our car. I didn't want to spend much time on cleaning the kitchen, and neither did he. He's been working on the car since a week ago. He even rents a garage so he doesn't have to finish the whole thing at once. He is so busy with his job, so he can start doing the car after work only. Since the days are getting shorter, he doesn't have much time during weekday. This weekend is not good for him also since he has a choir practice at noon and concerts at night.
Anyway, I found a kale recipe that doesn't need cooking. The recipe called massaged kale. To soften, the kale is soaked with lemon then massaged until soft. I think the acid in the lemon juice helps to break down the kale's cell walls just like what vinegar does to cabbage for coleslaw. Cooking kale ruining its beautiful color and texture, so I like this option. Other things I mixed into the cooked millet were chopped red radishes, stir fried onion, raisins, basil, Parmesan cheese, and shrimps. I used a spicy seasoning my friend Jocelin sent us from New Mexico. The strong flavor of the shrimps complemented the subtle taste of the salad. We loved it!
Ingredients: 2 cups of millet (I cooked it using a rice cooker using 3 cups of water) 1 bunch of kale, leafy part only, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 onion, sliced
1 onion, sliced
Hubby and I barely ate popcorn. We don't even buy it when we watch movie at a movie theater. Well, we rarely go to movie theater because I am probably one of those weirdos that don't like to watch movie with bunch of strangers in an enclosed dark room (wow! now it sounds very unappealing). Poor hubby because he still cannot convinced me about how fun a place called movie theater is. But we still go to that place once in a while when there are great movies such as Star Trek movie (yes, it's that long). Even when we go to a movie theater, we don't buy popcorn. I don't know why we never bought into the popcorn culture.
Last week on the CSA bin, we found a brown bag of colorful dried corns on the cobs. Our CSA farmers sent us a note: "Popcorn - we grew a very rare and beautiful land race, open-pollinated, non-GMO pre-Trail of Tears Cherokee popcorn variety this year. Land race means that it produces ears of various colors; however, at a fairly consistent ratio. It produces smallish popped corn but typically pops 100% of kernels...tasty and a neat variety from the past."
I always thought that colorful corns are for Fall ornaments only. I was wrong. They turned out to be great popcorn! To make popcorn, the whole corn on the cob can be placed in a paper bag and be popped in the microwave. Other method is by removing the kernels from the cob then popped on the stove. I picked the latter. I used a pan that has a glass lid so hubby & I could see the corn popping. Hubby & I was excited like little kids when we saw it's happening.
Popping dried corn reminded me of my childhood. One day mom bought a bag of dried corn and popped the corn using a big AMC pan. AMC is a great pan brand that my mom adores until now. I remember how terrified I was of the popping sound of the corn! Now that I think about it, I got scared easily by sounds in the kitchen. One other sound I hated was the loud hissing sound out of mom's pressure cooker (presto) pan. The sound was always accompanied by wiggled little knob on the lid. I always afraid the knob would pop at anytime, so I tried to avoid kitchen when grandma was pressure cooking something.
Ingredients: 3 tablespoons peanut oil
3 ounces popcorn kernels, approximately 1/2 cup
1/2 teaspoon popcorn salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Place the oil, popcorn and salt in a large, 6-quart, metal mixing bowl. Cover with the lid.
Place the bowl over medium heat and shake constantly using a pair of tongs to hold the bowl. Continue shaking until the popcorn finishes popping, approximately 3 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the heat and carefully remove the lid. Stir in any salt that is on the side of the bowl. Serve immediately.