Sunday, May 31, 2020

Chicken of the Woods and Asparagus Fettuccine

What a strange year 2020 has been!  Because of the corona virus, or as I like to call it the "Co-VEED", I hadn't seen my old neighbor Ann in a long time, but we went to church together and on a hike in Hudson Mills where I found this....

It's a Laetiporus sulfureus, aka a "chicken of the woods" mushroom.    And that is me with without dyeing my hair since the beginning of March.   I call it my "sexy grandma" look....actually, I color my own hair so I could have kept doing it but decided to use this time to see what my gray hair looks like.  It's one of the gifts of the "Co-VEED".   I'd love to quit having to dye my hair.  Of the two laetiporus mushrooms you can find in Michigan, this one and  L. cinncinatus, the later is considered a better tasting mushroom, but I like them both.    I have a soup recipe created at the lakehouse with a chicken my son found in the woods one fall day, but but it is springtime so I wanted something different.  I had some local asparagus so I decided on a pasta dish.  It came out delicious!  I just used the tender tips of this mushroom; the inner part was rather tough. 

Chicken of the Woods and Asparagus Fettuccine
serves 1

2 T olive oil
1 c. thinly sliced chicken of the woods mushroom (you can substitute oyster mushrooms or morels or even storebought portobellas)
4 stalks asparagus, sliced in 1/4 inch chunks
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. evaporated milk
2 T. flour
1/4 c water
3 T white wine

To serve:
1 c. cooked fettuccine
grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium skillet, heat oil.   Add mushrooms and asparagus and salt to taste and saute 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic.   Add stock and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add evaporated milk and stir on medium high heat until bubbling.   Make a slurry of flour and water and add to skillet, stirring until thickened.   Remove from heat and add wine.     Top pasta with sauce and Parmesan cheese .   Tastes just like spring!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Lakehouse Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Because of the corona virus pandemic.I haven't been into the office since Thursday March 12.   Because my job can be done from anywhere, we have been spending time at the lakehouse, which actually makes for a great experience!  I never thought I'd be able to do is awesome.     

my new office view

In addition to this great view and beach walks and hikes,  I've been making brownies as a treat in the evening.   I've been looking for recipes that aren't too fancy because I don't keep exotic ingredients in my lakehouse pantry.   I was looking for something I could make on hand with what is here.     After experimenting, I've developed a great brownie recipe from pantry staples.   Perfect for your cottage or camp.   

Lakehouse Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Lakehouse Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

for brownie layer
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 cup sugar
2  eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

for peanut butter layer

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan with butter or cooking oil spray. Line with parchment paper.  (here's a good "how to"

Melt butter in a medium bowl in the microwave until melted ant hot. Combine hot melted butter, oil and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk well for about a minute. Add the eggs and vanilla; beat until lighter in color (another minute or so).  Add flour  cocoa powder and salt. and mix until just combined.   Pour half the bbatter into prepared pan, smoothing the top out evenly. 

In a small bowl, mix the peanut butter layer ingredients until well blended.    Spoon peanut butter layer on top of brownie layer in half teaspoon or so so blobs.    Top with remaining brownie batter, using a fork to marbleize the peanut butter layer with the brownie batter.  

Bake for 30 miunes, or until the center of the brownies in the pan no longer jiggles and is just set to the touch  Remove and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing into 16 brownies.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Whole Wheat Rhubarb Streusel Muffins

If you are looking for a great springtime canning recipe, I recommend stewed rhubarb.   Super easy to can and it can be used as a topping for vanilla yogurt or with pork roast, or in a variety of baked goods.   Very versatile!    Here's how to do it, plus a tasty recipe for rhubarb muffins.  

Stewed Rhubarb
Makes about 18 half pints (two canner loads) of rhubarb

7 lbs rhubarb
5 cups sugar

Trim off leaves. Wash stalks and cut into 1/2-inch to 1-inch pieces. In a large saucepan add sugar to fruit. Let stand until juice appears. Heat gently to boiling. Fill jars without delay, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process for 15 minutes.

Whole Wheat Rhubarb Streusel Muffins
For the muffins
1 half pint jar of stewed rhubarb
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp vegetable oil
½ cup  all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar

For the streusel topping
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Grease medium muffin pan with butter.  In a small bowl, mix stewed rhubarb, egg, oil and vanilla with a fork until well combined.   In a medium bowl, mix remaining muffin ingredients and then add rhubarb mixture and stir until well combined.

To make streusel topping, put all ingredients in a small bowl and rub between your fingers until the mixture resembles pebbly small sand.  

Fill muffin tin cups 2/3 full with muffin batter and top each with some streusel topping.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes until golden on top. A skewer put in the middle should come out clean when the rhubarb muffins are done

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Face Mask in 5 minutes*

I estimate that I have sewn over 150 face masks since the pandemic happened.  When this all started, mask making became a hot crafting trend, similar to knitting koala mittens  and I admit, I was a complete naysayer about it until people started asking me to make masks for them.   I relented and did a little research and saw on the JoAnn website, they were recommending this design. Early on, I could see that elastic was going to be a problem to get; 1/4 inch was completely sold out.   I had already had bulk bought some before Christmas for my Etsy shop hair scrunchies (which was a surprise best seller for me!  Who knew hair scrunchies were back in style?) that I had quickly sewn through.   Thankfully, my engineering skills have paid off once again because I am GOOD AT MATH....

...and this is America, so people didn't realize that 3/8" elastic is a meer 1/8" bigger than 1/4" so I quickly panic bought 60 yards of the stuff from JoAnn while everyone else in the US was panic buying toilet paper on March 21.  Since I buy MTU fabric by the bolt from Portage Quilt House, I was set to make masks for a while...and make masks I did!    I decided to make them as a fundraiser for the MTU Husky Emergency Assistance Fund.

Applying my vast MTU engineering skills,  I quickly set about to improve my OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) by reducing my cycle time.   Luckily for me, I had just purchased my fantasy Swiss made sewing machine,  a Bernina 535, with my bonus check.   This machine has lots of bells and whistles like a knee lever to raise my presser foot and an automatic knotting feature, but even my old Kenmore could probably knock out a facemask in 5 minutes* without these features.

So, here is how I did it:

Before you start....

*The 5 minutes doesn't include washing and drying the fabric, which I strongly recommend you do. Prior to sewing masks, I laundered the fabric in the sanitary cycle of my washing machine, which heats the wash to 170 F for 3 minutes and then maintains the temperature at 150 F for the 2+ hr cycle to reduce shrinkage in the final product.  Quilting fabric will shrink up quite a bit, so I cut my fabric 13" in height strips and then trimmed before sewing into 9"x12" rectangles.

1. Cut fabric into a rectangle, with the "MTU" along the X axis.  Let X = 9" and Y = 12".  No interfacing is required; don't bother using it even though the JoAnn design suggested it.  Cut 2 7 inch pieces of elastic.

2.  Press into a 6"x9".   Remember, like most sewing projects, your home ec teacher was right.  Your iron is almost as important as your sewing machine.  Your iron is your friend when you are making masks. When you iron it, you don't have to pin it.

3. Sew across the top at about a 1/4" seam allowance, leaving about a 2 inch gap somewhere near the center.   Now is not the time for rocket science, just estimate it.   I marked it in blue to show where it is in this photo, but no marking is needed

4.  Pin the elastic in. The fabric is now in a tube shape, inside out.  Place the elastic inside the tube of fabric in a C shape and make sure it is flat, and use a pin to hold it in each corner.  Make sure the pin head is facing outboard.  This is worst part of making the mask, in my opinion.   I taught my husband how to do it so I didn't have to!

Elastic should be in this shape inside the fabric tube

5. Sew down both sides, pulling pins out as soon as the presser foot has it held down.  I found that it gets hung up less if you do this instead of sewing over them.

6.  Now turn through the 2 inch gap and pull out the elastic to stretch out the corners, and make sure you've turned down 1/4" fabric in the gap and press. Remember, your iron is your friend!!

7.  You are in the home stretch now; time to pin the pleats!  This is where people waste way too much time.  You don't need to mark anything, you can eyeball it.  You don't (God forbid) need to make a jig.   And now is not the time to use Wonder clips, sewists!  They are too bulky!!  Don't get me wrong; I love me some Wonder clips, but not for this.   Straight pins are what you need....

The key is getting your first pleat in right under the elastic, and then the others will fit right in underneath.  If you get the first one pinned wrong, you will need to repin, and that will add on to your cycle time.  Pin heads outboard!

fold it under right to elastic, pin heads outboard

back side view:pleat fold is right under the elastic

side view, all folded in, minimize bulk

Top view, note MTU is facing UP

8.  Time to sew it up!  Start in the upper rh corner and topstitch the whole thing in one stretch, pivoting each corner with your needle down.  I like to leave about a 1/4' on the elastic sides (using the edge of my presser foot as a guide) and a narrower stitch at the top and bottom to make sure I've closed the gap.  Again, pull pins out before you sew over them to make sure things don't get hung up

9.  TA DA!  After some practice, you can sew one in 5 minutes!

After I make my masks, I wash them again in the sanitary cycle of my machine. 

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Life During Wartime: Beans Edition

We just got word that we are to work from home indefinitely because of the corona virus pandemic.   I have been looking forward to this announcement because I love working from home.   I can get so much more done when I work at home, and I can start my work right when I get up if I want, which is usually around 4:30 am.    I am a morning person, I do my best work before noon.     Hope the internet holds up!

I'm humored by all the people buying toilet paper and bottled water, but what really surprises me is people buying beans and rice.    Normally people just don't buy dried beans, even though Michigan is second in the nation IN TOTAL DRY BEAN PRODUCTION with 22% of the total; North Dakota is first.    There are eight different varieties of beans grown within Michigan that are sold throughout the United States and abroad:
Cranberry beans
Dark red kidney beans
Black beans
Adzuki beans
Pinto beans
Navy beans
Light red kidney beans
Small red kidney beans

I am a big fan of Michigan beans, and I hope that this corona virus scare inspires more cooks to try cooking beans.     I took a stroll through my blog to find some of my favorite bean recipes:

Busy Woman's Red Beans and Rice    I wrote this post when both of my kids were teenagers and too young to drive.   They were super active and we had to get them to places 7 days a week.    This recipe was one of my favorites.     I still love Lucinda Scala Quinn....any of her cookbooks are outstanding!

Baked Beans There's nothing better than baked beans made from scratch.    I enjoyed finding this vintage bean cookbook featuring bean recipes from politicians.    Also the Senate Bean Soup, which the Romney's claimed as their own.

Pasta e Fagioli Soup  I don't eat at Olive Garden very often, but when I do, it's this soup I like.    It's fun to make at home with Michigan beans.

Minted Bean Salad  Hopefully, this pandemic will be over by the time the fresh mint comes in.   But if not.....remember this recipe.    Or maybe you will still have those beans left over from your stockpile. 

Speaking of summer, remember this White Bean and Tomato Soup for when you have way too many tomatoes and the basil is about to bolt.  It is so good!

I love Bob Talbert's White Chicken Chili recipe so much that I printed it on cards that I ship with every sale of my soup  bowl cozies.     I can make you some soup bowl cozies in any college fabric you desire.   I could make a set to match your personality!  Let me know if you are interested.

If you can't lay your hands on that great UP treat, cudighi, you could substitute your favorite hot Italian sausage in this wonderful recipe for Cudighi and Kale Soup 

This recipe for Red Lentil Soup won my $50 from my rural electric co-op.    They even made a video about how to make it!

While I am looking forward to working from home, I sure hope that this pandemic doesn't impact too many of us.    I heard a podcast from Michigan famous guy Michael Moore, and he proposed we Michigan folks won't be affected too much because Michigan is a state of peninsulas.  Nobody drives through Michigan to get somewhere else.   It protects us!  I guess I never thought of it that way.   Be well, my friends!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Green Pasta with Shrimp

For as long as I can remember, I wake up most every night between 2 - 3 am.  These days, I use that time to watch things on PBS.   It's really the only time I watch TV, so at least it's educational.   When I was pregnant with Jane, I did stray from PBS to watch reruns of thirtysomething on the Hallmark channel.   I loved that show so much when I was a twentysomething.    Wonder if I can stream it from somewhere?    Anyway a couple nights ago, my insomnia led me to watching Jamie Oliver's Quick and Easy Food, and he made this vegetarian pasta dish with kale in in it that looked fantastic!

I found the recipe online, but decided to make some changes to it and put it into units we Americans can understand.    I decided to add shrimp to it, too.    Here's how I made it:

Green Pasta With Shrimp
serves 2 people

8 oz. bucatini
1/2 a large bag of chopped kale
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 oz. grated parmesan cheese
3 T. olive oil
lemon juice from half a lemon

In a large pot, cook bucatini according to package directions.  Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water. In a large dutch oven, fill half full with water and bring to a boil,  add kale and garlic and cook for 5 minutes,  drain.   Add reserved pasta water, kale, garlic 2 T olive oil and cheese to blender,  and liquefy.    In dutch oven, add remaining oil and saute shrimp until pink, remove from pan.    Add kale sauce to put and season with salt and pepper to taste.   Finish with lemon juice.   Add cooked pasta, top with shrimp and more parmesan cheese, if desired.    Great Lent friendly meal! 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Curried Chicken Soup

I have been keeping this blog since January 16, 2006.   My first blog post, which I thoughtfully entitled Scottish Food, totally reflected where I was in that point in my life.   I have always enjoyed good food, but as a mother of two young children (Jane was 11 and Eddie was 9) I often found myself at the drive thru at McDonalds,    I rarely find myself there now, but I do admit a fondness for McDonald's french fries.    I'd go there right now and get some but we are about to have an ice storm and so I might as well stay in and make some chicken soup instead.

I'm a fan of the shredded rotisserie chicken you can get at Meijer.   I buy it almost every week - it is very often a quick snack or an easy lunch ingredient.  This week, I found myself at Costco, even though I rarely use Costco for much more than gasoline, toilet paper and vodka.   (yes, their vodka is outstanding and well priced).   They offered up some shredded rotisserie chicken as well, at a price comparable to Meijer.   Consumer warning: it is rare that Costco prices can beat Meijer prices.   They trick you because you need to do math to figure that out.   Don't fall into the trap that Costco is cheap.  It most often is not.  I bought their chicken and found it to be subpar.   So I had a bunch that needed to be eaten and when I saw a recipe in Cook's Country for curried chicken noodle soup that sounded like it might work. 

Given the ice storm, I wasn't going to go out to get the rice vermicelli and the Thai basil leaves required for the recipe, so I decided to adapt.   Here is what I came up is outstanding!  Feel free to use up a cup of whatever pasta you have kicking around in the pantry.   And of course, you could poach some chicken breasts instead of the shredded rotisserie chicken.   This soup was so good!  Let the storm begin!

Curried Chicken Soup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, halved and sliced thin
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
6 cups chicken broth (3 cans)
1/4 c. dried pasta
¼ cup canned coconut milk
2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 small can mushrooms
2 T dried hot peppers
1 c. frozen peas

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, carrots, salt, and pepper and cook until vegetables are just softened, about 4 minutes. Add broth, noodles, coconut milk, and sriracha sauce and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until noodles are softened, about 12 minutes, depending on your pasta.  Stir in chicken and mushrooms and cook until chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in frozen peas and heat until bright green. 

Serve with lime wedges

This soup would be perfect for someone with a cold!  It is spicy.    So good on a cold, wet day like today.   My kids are grown and gone now, but I am willing to bet either one of them will make this soup.    Stay warm, my friends!

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Paprika Salad Dressing

I really do need to scale back my cookbook collection.     We will be retiring one day and moving to our lakehouse in the Keweenaw, and there's no way I can move my entire cookbook collection.    I am going to need to KonMari my cookbook collection.  My problem is that they all spark joy for me!  Just yesterday, I allowed myself to peruse the cookbook section of the Dexter Library used book sale, and I was thrilled to find a copy of the 2002 Taste of Home Annual Recipes.   I now only need 2003 to complete my collection from the 2000s. 

I adore old TOH cookbooks from back in the day.    I love to read the corny head notes for each recipe.  Ladies are always promising great things from the recipes they have submitted.      A recipe for paprika salad dressing caught my eye....Sharon Nichols from Brookings, SD assures me that "fresh greens really perk up with this zesty homemade dressing".    I decided to jazz her recipe up with some apple cider vinegar and honey and smoked instead of sweet paprika.   Plus more hot sauce. It is spectacular!

Paprika Salad Dressing

1/2 c sour cream
1/4 c mayonnaise
2 T steak sauce
1/4 t kosher salt
1/2 t smoked paprika
1/4 t celery seed
1/2 t Tabasco sauce
1 T. honey
2 T. apple cider vinegar

Put all ingredients in a jar and shake until well blended.

I'm trying to eat more vegetables in the new year, like every year.    I am looking forward to some salads made with this outstanding dressing.   I had some light sour cream left over from another recipe and normally I find light sour cream kind of a let down, but this dressing has so much flavor I didn't even notice that it was missing anything.