Sunday, April 26, 2009


Note to self...

Lots of rain and it's been rather warm....hmmm. Ed Vielmetti has a good post about morel hunting today.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring fruit recipes I want to try

Memo to self: don't forget to try these ASAP

Cold Oven Pound Cake with Strawberry Filling

The strawberry layer cake recipe from the May 2009 issue of Cooking Light - not online yet!

Pudding Cakes with Chantilly Cream and Berries

...and I've got to try one of these rhubarb cakes. If I could only find a recipe for rhubarb candy, I'd be thrilled.

Happy Earth Day to me

Memo to self on this Earth Day....I want to:

  • Make my own yogurt and creme fraiche now that I learned how. It's not rocket science.
  • Write about how I am doing with hanging out the laundry to dry - sneak preview: it's not worth doing from an environmental impact standpoint but it has other fringe benefits I hadn't expected.
  • Write about how my winter sowing is going - sneak preview: it's going great and I think it will be successful
  • Check out these 50 ways to eat green and see which ones make sense for me.
  • Read Russ Parson's "How to Pick a Peach" and then write about all the local food books I've read. Sneak preview: "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" isn't a favorite.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Zingerman's Magic Brownies - my way

Years ago, I got the recipe for Zingerman's Magic Brownies from a magazine called Midwest it is as it was written, and here is how I actually make them. The original recipe is too complicated as it was written. I never buy brownie mix in a box anymore. I make mine without nuts because I have a kid with a nut allergy...Zingerman's calls this kind of brownie "Black Magic Brownies" - their classic recipe with no nuts.

Zingerman's Magic Brownies (a la Mothers Kitchen)
Click here for a printer friendly version

1.5 sticks butter
1.5 (4 oz) bars 60% cacao chocolate bars
1.5 c purpose flour
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
4 eggs
2 c sugar
1 T vanilla

Grease a 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 325. In the microwave, melt the butter and chocolate, set aside to cool. In the mixer bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Add eggs, sugar, cooled chocolate mixture and vanilla. Beat on low speed until combined, scraping down sides as needed. Spread batter in pan. Bake 30 minutes or until brownies appear set. Cool in pan on wire rack; cut into bars.

Kitchen tip - if you use a plastic knife, it will cut the brownies neatly.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

An Ode to the Ann Arbor News Food Section

Home for spring break this week, I am attempting to organize things around the homestead. Today is the day I am tackling the box(es) of newspapers and magazine pages that I have been saving because a recipe caught my eye. I have been doing this since we moved into this house right after we got married in 1992. We chose Ann Arbor to live because at the time, I worked in Dearborn and my new husband worked in Jackson and Ann Arbor was "halfway". Now, Ann Arbor is no longer halfway between our commutes, but it is home to our children and we like it, so we're staying. All along, I have been saving parts of the Ann Arbor News food section.

Going through the boxes is bittersweet, because our local newspaper has met it's demise. The Ann Arbor News will cease publishing in July. As far as newspapers go, I can't say it was a great one - the locals snidely nicknamed it the Ann Arbor "Snooze" and would supplement it with a subscription to the New York Times Sunday paper. Indeed, the Ann Arbor News often cribbed stories from the Times or the Washington Post instead of writing their own stories. But I looked forward to the kooky letters to the editor, Jim Carty's sports columns, and most of all, the Wednesday food section. It did it's share of cribbing recipes from more famous newspaper food sections, featuring recipes from Mark Bittman or or J.M. Hirsch, which I often enjoyed, but it also had lots of local recipes, too.

A favorite feature of the the Ann Arbor News' food section was the Kitchen Mailbox. People would write in asking for recipes from local restaurants, and the News would try to track them down for you. There were countless requests from ladies of a certain age for their favorite Bill Knapp's recipes, after Bill Knapp's changed their menu and the senior citizens quit going there and the whole Michigan based chain went belly up. Also often requested were recipes from old time German restaurants that used to be an Ann Arbor mainstay, but gave way to fancier hot spots. Even I got into the act and once asked them for help getting the recipe for hot and sour soup like they serve at Kosmo's Deli in Kerrytown. They were unable to get the secret recipe. When I went in there, the owner Don who is one of the nicest people in the world, thanked me for writing in because it caused a run on the soup. He didn't give me the recipe, but he told me the ingredients and so I tried to make it at home myself, and did a pretty good job replicating it.

The two names that come up constantly when I go through almost 20 years of food section clippings are Catherine Arcure and Marge Biancke. I don't know Catherine and Marge, but they seem like old friends of mine. Their recipe writing style included names of their friends, such as "Jane's Lemon Ice". I once bought Catherine Arcure's cookbook that was published in 1993 on her 25th anniversary with the News that features a compendium of recipes from the paper. Catherine and Marge, whoever they are, seemed to have a lot of friends with good recipes. Also featured in these yellowed pages of the News were lists of the great cooking classes that were held each week at the now defunct cooking emporium Kitchen Port. I remember eagerly awaiting for cooking classes taught by Craig Common. Once KP moved from Kerrytown, I forgot to shop there, and I think there were many people like me who felt the same way. It was sad when they closed at the end of last year. The economy and the Internet did them in, just like the Ann Arbor News. I'm finding that I buy most of my kitchen gadgetry at garage sales these days. I get most of my local news from the Ann Arbor Chronicle, (even though I wish they had a regular recipe section) and even Jim Carty quit and went back to school and now I read his blog on the Internet instead.

It will probably take me the rest of the afternoon to clip all these recipes I wanted to try...and my goal will be to try them and blog about them eventually. I'll clip all the local recipes and feature them in blog posts in the future. Without the Ann Arbor News Section, where would we find a recipe for the Old German's Meat Patties? I clipped that recipe back in the 90s when the Old German closed. Haven't made them for myself yet, but I will soon, I promise!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Clam Fritters

In my efforts to increase iron in my "no meat" diet this last week of Lent, I tried to buy a box of frozen breaded clams at my nearby Meijer, but they didn't have any. The store is never my first choice for grocery shopping - they don't give a reusable bag discount and I hate the bag carousels at the end of each checkout lane. Worse yet, they are making over my current nearby store to be a "foodie destination", which I suspect means increasing prices. The only reason why I go there is on the days when I need to buy groceries and toilet paper or shampoo, because they have good prices on those household type items. Last Sunday, it took me 10 minutes to find where they put the frozen seafood, and there were no clam strips. I asked at the seafood counter if they had fresh clams, but they were sold out. The stress of shopping was incredible! I couldn't find anything I needed. It will be a cold day in hell before I return there.

In the process, I ended up in the canned seafood area, and decided to give canned clams a shot. At my house, no one but me is going to eat linguine with clam sauce or clam chowder with too many clams in it. I figured a deep fried clam is the best shot I had at anyone eating anything. I found a can of whole baby clams and it had this recipe on the back of it. Why not give it a shot?

Clam Fritters
1 10 oz can whole baby clams
1 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
vegetable oil for frying

Heat 1 inch dept vegetable oil in a cast iron frying pan if you have one, if not, use whatever kind of frying pan you've got. I think cast iron works really well for deep frying. Do not drain clams, and combine them with remaining ingredients, Drop batter by tablespoon into hot oil. Brown 4 or 5 minutes, turning once. Serve with tartar sauce. Makes about 12 fritters - serve 3 fritters each.

These fritters were a hit! One can of baby clams contains a whopping 47 mg of iron. This is the food Popeye should have been eating. Each serving is 12 mg of iron. A woman should get 18 mg per iron a day, so clam fritters really help boost my iron intake yesterday. And everyone in the family liked their mild taste.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Major Grey's Chutney

In my quest for iron rich vegetarian fare, I was reminded that lentils are fairly high in iron 6.6 mg per cup. Plus, there was a post on one of my groups AAHomeCanning about mangoes being on sale and making chutney, so I decided to can some today. This chutney recipe is based on one I found in my new favorite canning book Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving (if you buy no other canning book, get this one! It's fantastic!). I made mine more spicy than the published recipe. It's not as sweet as the bottled kind. By the way, Major Grey probably isn't a real person, but his name is the standard for British chutneys.

Major Grey's Chutney (click recipe title for a printer friendly version)

4 cups chopped mango, about 5-6 medium
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup yellow onion, chopped coarsely
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup lime, seeded, chopped
1/2 cup ginger root grated
1/2 cup peeled, seeded and chopped orange
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup peeled, seeded and chopped lemon
3 cloves garlic minced
1 T. mustard seed
1 T. dried red pepper flakes
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro


Combine mangoes, sugar, vinegar, onions, raisins, lime, ginger root, orange, molasses, lemon, garlic, mustard seed, red pepper flakes and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring often. Add cinnamon, cloves, allspice and cilantro and cook for about 10 minutes more, until chutney starts to thicken.

Ladle chutney into a hot jar to within 1/2" of top rim (head space). Remove air bubbles by sliding a rubber spatula between glass and food; readjust head space to 1/2". Wipe jar rim removing any stickiness. Top with a lid and band, tighten to finger tight. Process 10 minutes at altitudes up to 1,000 ft.

Plant a row for the hungry.... friend Sharon is leading our "Plant a Row for the Hungry" project at St. Joseph's Church and has decided to expand it to the entire village of Dexter. Here is the blog that she started about it. I can't grow vegetables in my garden - I have too much wildlife in my yard to grow fruits and vegetables and I don't want a fence. I do grow herbs, though.

Funny to talk about gardening when we are supposed to get 6 - 10 inches of snow tomorrow.! I just finished my winter sowing - I took a peek and chervil, summer savory, Genovese basil, scallion, oregano, spearmint and cilantro have germinated in the containers I started a few weeks ago. I sure hope this works!

Getting iron in my diet

I've been exhausted lately, and couldn't figure out why, and it suddenly dawned on me that I am probably anemic. On and off in my life, I've suffered from anemia, and my guess is that's what is going on. I'll end up going to the doctor this week to find out for sure, but I already know what I need to do - get more iron in my diet. It's a challenge to do so on a meat free diet.

For Lent, I gave up eating meat, which is probably how I ended up anemic this time. I wasn't careful about watching my iron intake, and I wasn't taking any multivitamins or iron supplements. Upon reflection, I should have done so. A woman of my age should get 18 mg of iron per day. Without eating red meat, that is a real challenge. Also, iron from meat sources is more easily absorbed than iron from plant sources.

Here is a list of foods I found that I can eat that are higher in iron...

Clams, breaded, fried, ¾ cup - 3.0 mg
Lentils, boiled, 1 cup - 6.6 mg
Beans, kidney, mature, boiled, 1 cup - 5.2 mg
Beans, lima, large, mature, boiled, 1 cup - 4.5 mg
Beans, navy, mature, boiled, 1 cup - 4.5 mg
Beans, black or pinto, mature, boiled, 1 cup - 3.6 mg

Blackstrap molasses - great source of iron, but how to eat it?

Blackstrap molasses is often cited as an iron rich food source, at 2.3 mg for 2 tsp, I wondered how to eat it. It is very strongly's an idea for a recipe for bittersweet granola that includes it that looks interesting with it's iron content

Bittersweet Granola
4 cups rolled oats - 29.6 mg 0 iron
3/4 cup raw wheat germ - 5.4 g iron
1/4 cup flax seed meal - 1.6 mg iron
1/4 cup hemp seed - 2.9 mg iron
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes - .8 mg iron
1/2 cup sunflower seeds - 2.4 mg iron
1 cup chopped almonds - 3.4 mg iron
4 T blackstrap molasses - 13.8 mg iron
4 T maple syrup - .8 mg iron
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil

Mix and spread on two cookie sheets. Bake for 30 minutes at 300 F, mixing occasionally. Let cool and add 2 cups dried fruit of your choice. The highest iron dried fruits per cup are:

Dried peaches - 6.5 mg
Currants - 4.1 mg
Pears - 3.8 mg
Apricots - 3.5 mg

So, the total iron content of this recipe is 73 mg of iron, or about 7 mg per serving. That's pretty good for something that isn't red meat!

Spinach - not the iron superpower you thought it was...

Popeye often ate spinach to boost his iron intake, but spinach really isn't a superpower in the iron department. Some scientists in the 1920s accidentally put the decimal point in the wrong place when documenting the iron content of a can of's known as the spinach iron myth. Plus, because of the oxalic acid in spinach, the iron it does have can't be absorbed easily.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Lent friendly recipes that taste good

Protected by ADT, prayed for by BVM

I am thrilled that I won the photo caption contest on the blog called A Nun's Life. Even if you are not Catholic, I highly recommend you check out this blog - it's very interesting and thought provoking. In the Catholic spirit of things, I'd like to list some of my favorite meat free recipes for you to try that I have blogged about prior to this Lenten season. There's 2 more Fridays in Lent left to experiment with a few meat free recipes, although these are so good, you might want to try them year round.

  • Curried Lentils - so good with Major Grey's chutney, and for the meat eaters you could serve it with kielbasa
  • Seafood Packets - tastes like a New England Crab Boil, you make them in foil packets on the grill.
  • White Bean Soup with Tomatoes - make this recipe with vegetarian stock to make it Lent friendly.
Hope this helps! I am eating meat free meals for the entire 40 days of Lent, which I think ends on Good Friday but I am not exactly sure. Anyway, I am celebrating Easter with my family on Holy Saturday, so that's the day I will break my Lenten meat fast with ham and a smoked beef brisket. I can't wait!