Monday, December 31, 2018

Things I thought I would do 9 years ago

Years ago, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish in my 46th year.  I didn't get through most of them that year.  Looking back on that year, it was a rough one for me.   I didn't know it when I wrote this post that both of my parents would die and I would start a different position at work.   There was a lot of change that would happen, so I guess it wasn't possible for me to do it all that year.   I wondered how many I actually have accomplished in the years since then.

Here's my status:

1.  Celebrate the food of the 1960s!  Make a gelatin based dish that's not fruity....aspic or vegetable based.  (check out this Knox recipe booklet I picked up from a rummage sale)

I never got to this, but still want to give it a shot.   I think there was something lemony with vegetables in it that sounded good.   I remember when I was a kid, the neighbor used to make a lemon jello with grated carrots in it that was quite good.

2.  Learn how to play "The Entertainer" on the piano.   I have taken piano lessons on and off my whole life, but I have never played "The Entertainer".

Nope.  The piano still sits downstairs, collecting dust.   I keep thinking maybe when I retire but then I will have to move it to the lakehouse.   Not sure I want to move that piano.   It's not worth it. 

3.  Hike the Potowatomi trail with friends, and have a picnic en route.

I have hiked it several times, but never had the picnic.   I need to do this in 2019

4. Pickle brussels sprouts

Yes!  I have done this a few times since then.  This recipe is the only one that won something at the Downtown Home and Garden pickle contest.   It's a great winter canning project, if you are so inclined.

5. Swim in Lake Huron when we camp this summer at Harrisville State Park

We didn't end up camping at Harrisville.   We've sold the camper now that the kids are gone, but we tent camp every once in a while.   Not sure we will make to to Harrisville.

6.  Learn how to play "The Shanty Song" by Jonathan Edwards on guitar by heart.  Memorize the lyrics.  Inspired by that song, I guess I will buy a harmonica and learn how to play it.  Not sure that I can play it will playing the guitar, though.  Singing and playing guitar is hard enough.

Never bought the harmonica, but I could probably play the song on guitar if I put my mind to it.   Maybe this year.

7.  Play guitar when I cantor at church for one Mass

Never did this, and now I am on sabbatical from cantoring at church.   I travel too much for work to commit to a regular church singing gig anymore.

8.  Sew something.

I sew lots of things these days, thanks to my etsy shop Moms Kitchen Vintage

9.  Find out more about the garrison that was in Dearborn.

I did end up doing this, and I learned Dearborn has a lot of military history.  Check it out here.

10.  Make a pilgrimage to the Fr. Solanus Casey Center.

I visited it with my friend Mary Beth after her mother passed away.   Her mom had a great devotion to Solanus Casey.   It's a neat place.  He is on his way to sainthood now.

11.  Attend a service at a monastery, such as the Dormition Monastery in Jackson.

I still haven't done this, but I want to do it still.  Maybe I'll get to the Society of St. John in the Keweenaw.

12.  Visit Hidden Lake Gardens in Tipton.

I have done this once with my friend Ellen.   It's a cool place.   I need to get back there.

13.  Kayak the Huron River at night when there is a full moon with my friend Martha.

Martha and I did do this once.   We need to do it again.

14,  Visit the Peach Mountain observatory

I haven't done this......I need to do it this year.   It is just that the sun sets so late in the sumer and I go to bed so early.   Need to do this in the spring

15.  Use my pressure canner to can soup

I was good.   Need to do more,

16.  Plant another rose bush

I bought rose bushes to plant after my mother's funeral for my family.  Mine died, as they always do here.   We have a lot of clay.  My mother would understand.

17.   Make a mosaic

This is interesting, because I bought all the mosaic stuff and then never did anything with it.    I recently started again, and I need to complete a project.   2019 could be the year

18.  Make a hypertufa garden planter

I made many that year.   They all fall apart.

19.  Try to bake bread again without using a dutch oven a la Mark Bittman - I just want to make it like old ladies do.

I still do, but haven't tried.   I make it like Mark Bittman does.

20. Make a chronicling project a la Darcy Miller Nussbaum.  "Chronicling" sounds way more cool than scrapbooking.  Of course, if I hung out with Kate Spade and Martha Stewart, I'd be more cool, too.

Okay, I couldn't remember who Darcy Miller Nussbaum is, so I googled her.   I guess she is an illustrator?   Anyway, her work leaves me cold.   And Kate Spade killer herself, which was sad.  But I finished my kids school age scrapbooks in time for their grad parties.   So there is that.

21.  Make one recipe out of the Moosewood cookbook to celebrate the 1980s

I did make the vegetarian chili from the Moosewood at least once since then.   It is a great recipe.

22. Another gem from the 1960s....make a hamburger recipe from 365 Hamburger Recipes

I did do this, I made meatloaf and this is a great recipe.

1623.  Try caviar

I haven't done this yet!  Must do for 2019!!!

24.  Visit Parker Mill Park

I've done it.   If you live in Ann Arbor, you should too.

25.  Visit the Waterloo Farm Museum

See #24

26.  Visit Savannah, Georgia.  This is something I've wanted to do since I was a Brownie Girl Scout as a kid, and read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil as an adult.

I did this, and I liked Savannah.  Visited Juliette Gordon Low's birthplace.  But I have to tell you, Charleston, SC is better.

27.  Play one song on my cigar box ukulele.  I forgot how to tune it, let alone play it.

I haven't done this yet, but I am pretty sure I could tomorrow if need be.

28.  Complete Tigress's Can Jam by canning one item a month for 12 months straight.

I did do this.   It was awesome.   Tigress no longer writes a blog, but I do.

29.  Continue being a canning exhibitionist by demonstrating canning at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market.

I did this for several years, but the market manager left and it wasn't the same.    I still teach canning classes when I have the time.

30. Attend the Local Food Summit and speak out on the importance of making sure local food is available for all, not just the rich.

I did this!

31. Make at least one recipe from Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping.

Never did but I still have the book so I could.

32.  Crochet a rag rug out of old jeans.

I got about 3/4 the way through and realized I didn't want it.   Threw it away.

33.  Finish reading the Seven Storey Mountain

Man, this one is hard.   I still haven't finished.

34. Swim 200 yards freestyle.  In HS, my event was the 500 free, but I don't think I could make it that far

I swam several miles since then.   Swimming still comes easy.

35. Visit my friend Sheri from high school.

We get together about once a year now,

36. Make crumb cake.  Need to find a recipe first.

I still need to do this.

37.  Master making gelato at home

I've tried, you can't make it well at home.    I've given up.

38. Visit the Howell Farmer's Market


39.  Visit the Ypsi Farmer's Market

Many times.   Every week in the summer.

40. Visit the Tecumseh Farmer's Market.

Still need to do it

41. Wintersow some herbs

I did do this, but don't have time to do it now

42. Have a sunset picnic with our neighbors

Many times!  It is great

43. Have a bonfire party in the back yard

Ditto!  See #42

44. Make my hammock garden in the woods

Oh, the hammock!  I realized I never lay down that long.   My friend Victoria has it now.

45.Go on one 10 mile hike somewhere this year.

I've done it.   Need to do it more often.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Polish Food

My fb friend Liz asked me to post more Polish recipes, so I decided to look up what I have already posted.    I wrote an essay about growing up Polish in Warren, which I still enjoy reading.    That piece was featured by the short lived Ann Arbor Chronicle, which was a great online news site after our Ann Arbor News folded.  I sure miss the Ann Arbor News.... it had a great cooking section every Wednesday.   I need to write more about that as well.

I tried my hand at a Mushroom Cutlet once.   It is a favorite of my sister's at a Hamtramck restaurant.   I need to try that one again.    I also make a great kraut salad that is a traditional Polish food.  I have some kraut fermenting at home right now; hope it hasn't gone too far while I have been gone.   Here is how to cook kapusta (the Polish equivalent of the French charcroute  garni but trust me when I tell you the Polish version is much better).   There is also stuffed cabbage aka golabki.  It's pronounced "ga-wump-kee".   And let us not forget pierogi.  Looking at this post, I realize it has been 4 years since I made them last.  They are a lot of work, do it with friends like I did.

Another great Detroit Polish delicacy is City Chicken.   Not sure why it is Polish, but we all make it.   Also, Polish people in Detroit always serve mostacciolli   (what the rest of the world calls penne in marinara) alongside their kapusta and their pierogis.   I think it might be because it's a cheap and easy way to feed a lot of people)  Look at this Polish wedding menu from the American Polish Cultural Center in got kraut and kielbasa, pierogis, stuffed cabbage and mostaccioli.   We had it at our wedding as well!   Also every Warren funeral lunch.   I don't have a recipe for it, but it is pretty much jarred spaghetti sauce with lots of "green can" parmesan cheese added.  Sometimes, Polish folk will put some pasta in their kraut to stretch it a little - almost always, it is small shell shaped.    It's how Grandmother made sure she had enough food for everyone at her table!

Two things I haven't made yet but would like to try in 2019 are dill pickle soup and chruschiki aka angel wings.   We didn't have dill pickle soup at home growing up but always ate it at restaurants.  Speaking of dill pickles, here is a great Polish style pickle.  We made angel wings often at Grandmother's house.   Also, my mom made paczki fairly often; I made them once before I was a blogger but they are a lot of work.  The traditional ones aren't as sweet as the ones you get at bakeries before Easter (unless you are getting them from a Polish Bakery) and the best fillings are prune or rose.    I do love the Polish Italian version you can get at Tringali Bakery in Warren - it is pazcki filled with cannoli filling.    Not traditional but SO GOOD!  My mother often made something we called "nut roll", but we didn't use a Polish word for it.   It either had a walnut filling or my favorite, poppy seed.   I have her recipe written out in her handwriting, but have never made it yet.   So I will add these to my blogging list this year.   Maybe I will make paczki again too!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Lake Superior Sea Foam

I've been on a mission this Christmas to make candy.    My favorite chocolate shop candy is hard to find, old timey sea foam.  This candy goes by different names all over the country and even in the world, including honeycomb toffee, sponge toffee, cinder toffee or hokey pokey.   According to wikipedia, it is called sea foam in Maine, Washington, Oregon, Utah, California and Michigan.     I made it from a recipe I found online .... this blogger calls it "Buffalo Sponge Candy".  I made it pretty much according to her recipe, except I didn't have a means to sift the baking soda here at the lake house so I just was sure to make sure there were no lumps in it and added it carefully and gradually to the syrup.   It came out just fine.

I dipped it in Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate.   Tempering chocolate can be a challenge.... here is how I do it.   For both making sea foam and tempering chocolate, you will need an accurate digital thermometer.    I like Thermoworks thermometers.   All in all, it was a partial success.  The sea foam came out great, but I did mess up a bit of the dipping chocolate and a few pieces bloomed a bit because my temper was off.  (I got impatient and nuked the remainder of some that was left over). Bloomed chocolate is fine to eat, it just doesn't look as pretty.

Merry Christmas Eve!  The sun is shining here in the Keweenaw, and we had some nice lake effect snow last night.    I am looking forward to spending some time outside. 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Buffalo Chicken Breasts

Okay, I have made a New Year's Resolution!  I resolve to post almost every day, so I can have 600 posts on my "blogiversary" of Jan. 16, 2006.     So let's talk about today.....I am in the Keweenaw at our lakehouse, and we are getting ready for our first Christmas here.      We went out to do a little Christmas shopping, and then to watch the Lions lose (it is hard to find a place to watch the Lions because everyone is a Packers fan up here), but then I wanted to make dinner at our place so I did....

This recipe is based on one I found on Cook's Illustrated, chicken breasts sauteed in hot sauce.   I also liked their pairing with a blue cheese toast.   For blue cheese haters, substitute garlic.     Here is how I made it:

Buffalo Chicken Breasts

1 lb boneless chicken breast
1/2 c flour
salt and pepper
3 T veg oil
1 c  chicken broth
1/2 c.  Franks Red Hot sauce
1/2 c. sliced celery
1/2 blue cheese crumbles or 3 T minced garlic
2 T butter, softened
8 slices baguette bread

Sprinkle salt and pepper on chicken breast and dredge in flour.   Heat oil in a 12 inch skillet until shimmering.   Add chicken, cook on each side until brown, about 4 minutes.  Remove from skillet and tent with foil.   Add chicken broth and hot sauce, heat until reduced by about one half.  When sauce is reduced, add chicken to it. 

Meanwhile, preheat oven to broil setting and line a small baking sheet with foil.   Butter slices of baguette and top with either garlic or blue cheese to your taste (or both) and broil for 3 minutes until browned.

Serve chicken garnished with celery and serve with toast of your choice.    And a vegetable like broccoli is good. 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas Nougat Candy

It's my goal to cook through many of my pinterest pins throughout this break.    I had pinned several version of this candy recipe and found all of them lacked something, so I decided to make my own based on what I have learned.    I was hesitant to try the "cheater" nougat recipes out there, especially since I just bought a brand new kitchen thermometer, but I have to say the white chocolate/marshmallow one is super easy and tastes great!  No thermometer required.   

I looked all over for red and green gum drops but I couldn't find any in the Christmas candy aisle, so I bought 3 movie theater size boxes of Dots and picked out all the red and green ones.   Bonus:  I get to eat the orange, yellow and pink ones myself.  I am a big fan of Dots and all the other weird candy people don't like, such as Good and Plenty or Mary Janes. 

Christmas Nougat Candy

1 T. butter
1 11 oz bag Ghirardelli White Chocolate Chips
1 10 oz bag mini marshmallows
1 c. gumdrops, cut in half

Line an 8X8 inch pan with parchment paper, and grease it lightly with butter.   Heat butter in a double boiler until melted.   Add chocolate and marshmallows and heat in double boiler until melted.   Remove from heat and let cool for a couple minutes.   Add gumdrops and stir until distributed.   Pour into prepared pan and smooth down top with a piece of buttered parchment paper.   Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Cut nougat into 1/2 inch strips, and then 1/2 inch squares.   Wrap in cellophane candy wrappers.

Merry Christmas

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Chipotle Turkey Tortilla Soup

What to do with the leftovers after the holiday? Every Thanksgiving, I have a ritual.   When we are cleaning up, I put the carcass of the bird, which usually has lots of leftover dark meat on it, in the crock pot with  water, and onion or two and a couple bay leaves.     I let it cook on low overnight.    When we go to the mall in the morning to take part in the Black Friday sales, I let the crock cool, and when I return, I strain the broth and pick out all the meat.   This is a great start to turkey soup.    I am quite fond of turkey noodle soup, or turkey soup with lemon and barley, but this year, a fellow MTU parent mentioned that she makes turkey tortilla soup and that sounded like a good idea to me.   The recipe she makes had fresh jalapenos in it, and I didn't have any, so I went off on my own to try to invent something.  We like our food spicier than the original recipe anyway.    Here is what I ended up came out great!

Chipotle Turkey Tortilla Soup

1 T. olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 7 oz can chipotle peppers in adobo
2 T. cumin
4 cups diced cooked turkey
4 cups turkey stock (or use chicken stock)
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz. can corn, drained
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
juice of one lime
crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, green onions, lime wedges for garnish

In a dutch oven, saute onions until soft.  Dice peppers and add them to onions, along with adobo.  (you can make this less spicy by adding less peppers).   Add cumin and heat through.   Add remaining ingredients, except garnish and simmer 20 minutes.    Add salt and pepper to taste.   Serve with garnishes.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Vegan Pasties

When I was a college student at Michigan Tech in the early 80s, there was a group on campus called Conscious Stomach that was started in the winter of 1976-1977 when a group of like-minded students and community members from Michigan Tech, Funky’s Karma Kafe and the Keweenaw Co-op started coming together to talk about food, what options there were for whole and natural foods in the Copper Country, political issues surrounding food, and the improvement of food options within university dining services.  I don't think Funky's Karma Kafe still existed when I arrived in the fall of 1982....I heard it was started by a couple hippies that came up to Houghton to go hiking and never left.  Here is a picture from it's grand opening in the early 70s....

So I have this group of hippies to thank for agitating for more vegetarian options on campus.  Because of Conscious Stomach, on Wednesdays when the Memorial Union served pasties, they served both regular and vegetarian.  I always opted for the vegetarian option; it had vegetables, sunflower seeds, golden raisins in a whole wheat crust with a creamy mushroom gravy.   Sometime during my time at MTU, the Conscious Stomach was no longer, but I fondly remembered that vegetarian pasty and decided to try my hand at making one myself.   

Houghton in the 1970s was different than it is now.  I found some excellent relics at the MTU Archives when I went to visit them in search of the vegetarian pasty recipe.  Note the preponderance of whole wheat and sprouts....

Alas, no vegetarian pasty recipe.   I was on my own. I shopped at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market yesterday for the vegetables: sweet potato,  hubbard squash, acorn squash, red kuri squash, carrots, parsnip to go along with the normal pasty vegetables of rutabaga, potato and onion.  I also picked up some golden raisins and sunflower seeds and whole wheat flour at the People's Food Coop because I am sure that is what Funky would have wanted me to do.    After peeling and chopping all that squash and root vegetables, I had a blister on my hand and realized I had way more vegetables than I would ever need for pasties.   So I roasted them in some olive oil, salt and pepper to freeze for future use.  Note to self: next time, buy the pre peeled and diced squash at Meijer.


I wasn't sure how to season it, but after several tries, I found that garlic, salt, pepper and thyme worked best.   The sunflower seeds were a delicious addition, but the raisins were just too weird.  I tried my hand at a whole wheat crust, but it came out pretty tough. Instead, I recommend my my usual pasty crust, made with shortening.  Still vegan!  I decided to try out Melissa Clark's recipe for vegan mushroom gravy, but made it better by using more mushrooms and soy sauce and less oil.   It was outstanding and I agree with her that even meat eaters would love it.    Here is how it all came out.....

Vegan Pasties
makes 6 pasties

1 1/2 c. 1/4 inch diced root vegetables and squash (your choice from above mentioned)
1 1/2 c. 1/4 inch diced peeled potato
1/2 c. finely chopped onion
3/4 c. roasted shelled sunflower seeds
3/4 t. kosher salt
3/4 t. ground pepper
3/4 t. dried thyme
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 t. vegan margarine

Mix everything except margarine together in a bowl.   Divide dough into 6 balls, and roll each ball into an oval.  Fill each with vegetable mixture, top with a pat of margarine.  Bake at 375 F for 1 hour.

Vegan Mushroom Gravy

3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped 
8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, finely chopped 
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 to 5 cups vegetable stock,
2 T soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring, until well browned, 10-15  minutes. Sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in vegetable stock, a little at a time, until a smooth sauce
forms. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes until thickened.

 I suppose you could eat a vegan pasty with ketchup if you wanted, although I think the mushroom gravy is a much better fit.   I bet even Funky, wherever he is now, would agree! 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Another Michigan Tech Wives Cookbook!

YES!  There is another Michigan Tech Wives Cookbook.....and I managed to scan it in.   I have been on the lookout for anything related to the MTU Wives Club, and awhile ago, I found this recipes for Michigan Tech Wives Brownies on the internet.   The recipe wasn't in the Michigan Tech Wives Cookbook I knew about, but then I found it at the MTU Alumni House.  The 2nd one was called Sweet Stuff so I made a copy of it so anyone can check out the recipes.   The brownie recipe is in's called "Creamy Brownies".  Check it out! 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Salsa 2018

A review of my blog indicates I've been canning salsa for at least 12 years.   I started my blog in 2006, and I have a post about salsa making that year, but I know I was doing it long before I was blogging.    I had ordered a booklet from the University of New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service about canning salsa the first summer I lived here, which was 1992.  I've tried several different recipes over the years until I settled on Salsa #5, which is the best canned salsa I have ever tasted.    I came upon that recipe in 2010.   Looking back, I bought a half bushel of tomatoes from Ann Ruhlig in 2010 for $12.   I just spent $20 to buy that amount from Goetz Farm, which has been my tomato supplier since Ann doesn't do it anymore.  In 2013 I made 24 pints of salsa from a half bushel of 2015 33 pints from a half bushel....same in 2016.   I didn't can salsa last year, I'm not sure why.  I must have forgot.   But it has been a long winter without any; I've had to buy store bought salsa, which pales in comparison to mine. 

This year, it looks like I got 31 pints out of a half bushel.   It was a 2 day affair; my friends Patty and Ellen helped me with the tomatoes yesterday.  I sliced the peppers and onions in the food processor.   I started canning when I got home from church and the grocery store about 1:30 and I just finished.    Note to self: never plan anything exotic for dinner on a canning day.   I was going to make a special Sunday dinner but I have no energy left for it.   Oh well.....Jane is too busy to come over for dinner and Eddie and his girlfriend are home for a few days but they are out and about so it looks like sausage on the grill and potato salad for us.   Time to kick back and take it easy! 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Cudighi and Kale Soup

Another wonderful week in the Copper Country is coming to an end for us.   I love it here so much!  I can't wait to live here year round.    I just have one more day and then I am headed downstate.   I will be making lots of raspberry jam tomorrow.   Our property is abundant with both red and golden raspberries.    This will make some great holiday gifts!  Meanwhile, I've got to make sure we don't leave too much food lurking around.   Looking in the lakehouse refrigerator, I noticed some kale I bought at the Houghton Farmer's Market earlier in the week that I knew I better make into something.    I also had some cudighi sausage in the freezer, which is an upper peninsula specialty.   You can make your own by following my recipe here.   It's a mildly spiced Italian sausage....with plenty of "warm" spices like cloves, cinnamon and allspice.   We've been eating lots of great food this week but I just wanted something light for dinner.   Time for kale and sausage soup!  I also spied some cherry tomatoes that needed to be used up.   Great for a garnish.  I also threw in some oyster mushrooms my son foraged in the woods.   These aren't necessary, but if life gives you mushrooms, make soup with them. 

Cudighi and Kale Soup

1 lb. cudighi (or bulk Italian sausage_
1 onion, chopped fine
4 small potatoes, diced
32 oz.  box chicken broth
15 oz.  can Great Northern beans, drained
1 bunch kale, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. (or more) hot pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
quartered cherry tomatoes, for garnish

In a dutch oven, brown sausage and onion until sausage is cooked through and onion is translucent.    Add potatoes and broth and cover, cook until potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes.   Add beans, kale garlic and hot pepper, and cook about 10 minutes longer.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and ladle into soup bowls.   Garnish with cherry tomatoes.

I can already see the leaves are changing here and I know by the time I return in mid September, we will be coming upon even more fall color.    I will be working that week, and will not have time to relax and enjoy this place as much as I would like.   I am hoping we can spend Christmas will depend on the kids schedules I guess.    Sure love it here!

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Dill Pickles

It's been a while since I canned anything for myself...since the kids have moved out, we just haven't gone through the pickles as fast as we used to do, even though they are always asking for a jar when we visit.   Andy  noticed he was taking the last jar out of the canning cupboard when he was making some tuna salad the other day, so I decided it was time.   I also need to make some thimbleberry jam and some salsa, and I have been thinking about canning some chicken breast as well in the pressure canner.

My favorite pickle recipe is one I came up with in 2010 when I was part of this canning group of bloggers called Tigress' Can Jam.   I wonder what happened to Tigress?   She was a Brooklyn based food blogger and DJ and her blog is no longer.   But I met so many other bloggers there, and clicking through the list so many are not doing it anymore.   They typical pattern is they stop posting, then get the idea to move their blog over to Word Press from Blogger, and then it dies.  I fear food blogging is a dying form, but I'm still at it.   I can remember back at the height of food blogging, I'd post about once a week.  Now, it's about once a month.   We used to have a group of food bloggers called Michigan Lady Food Bloggers that would get together for potlucks and I think I might be the only one that is still blogging.   Sad!

Here's my pickle recipe...I was trying to recreate something that tastes like McClure's Pickles. 

 McClure's Style Fresh Dill Pickles

8 lbs small pickling cucumbers, sliced in half or quarters longwise
28 cloves of garlic (about 2 heads) peeled
16 dill heads, with sprigs (or 14 t. dill seeds)
Pickle Crisp
Optional 12 small dried hot chili peppers
5 cups vinegar (white or cider)
6 c. water
1/2 c. pickling salt

Place 2 cloves garlic. , 2 dill heads and 2 hot peppers and 1/8 t. Pickle Crisp in the bottom of wide mouth pint jars.   Pack with as many pickle halves and spears as possible tightly in each jar.  Prepare a brine with vinegar, water and salt by placing in all ingredients and stirring and heating until brine boils.  Fill jars to 1/2 inch headspace, place lids and bands and hand tighten. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

I used to make these with a wild grape leaf tucked into each jar, but didn't bother with it yesterday.   Grape leaves are supposed to help keep pickles crisp.   I like to use Ball's Pickle Crisp  to help keep my pickles crisp these days when I am canning.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Red Rage BBQ Sauce

I'm in the Keweenaw this week, having just spent the 4th of July enjoying the barbecue at the Fitz, a great restaurant in Eagle River.   They have the very best named BBQ meal on the menu at the Fitz.....Douglas Houghton's Anchor.   Douglas Houghton was Michigan's first geologist, and while working in Eagle River, he and two companions drowned in Lake Superior near Eagle River, Michigan when their small boat capsized in a storm.  His remains were discovered on the shoreline the next spring.   The Douglas Houghton's Anchor menu item features brisket, pulled pork and's really enough for 2 people to eat.  I so loved their BBQ ribs that I begged the owner for the recipe, and didn't succeed.    It can never hurt to ask. 

My usual "go to" BBQ sauce recipe is one I first learned about on Bobby Flay's was from a restaurant in the Carolina's that no longer is open called Wood Chick.   Here is how I make that sauce.    I was leafing through some old clipped recipes (actually I really wasn't leafing through clipped recipes at all, I was looking at google photos of recipes I took pictures of) and I forgot that I had found a recipe I had coveted for years....Alex Young's Red Rage BBQ sauce at Zingerman's Roadhouse.   Alex is no longer at the Roadhouse, he ended up opening a French restaurant called the Standard Bistro and Larder, and so I wondered if Zingerman's still uses that appears they do, they just call it "Red Rage" now. 

I'm going to try my hand at making a version of this for dinner tonight.   Since I am in the UP, exotic ingredients like Urfa pepper and Muscovado sugar are off the list.   Here is how I will adapt:

Mother's Kitchen Red Rage  BBQ Sauce

1 1/2 c ketchup
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c finely diced onion
1/4 c  beer
1 T honey
1 T molasses
1 1/2 t minced fresh garlic
3/4 t pepper
1 1/2 t red pepper flakes
1/4 t kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Farro Salad

I've been to New York City once.   I don't feel a need to go back again.   But evidently there is a restaurant there called Charlie Bird, which I would probably like, because years ago, Melissa Clark published a recipe for their farro salad in the NYT which I totally loved.     I've made it a bunch of times and tweaked it as I see fit.   It's the only reason I buy farro.   Here's how I make it:

Farro Salad
1 cup farro
1 cup apple cider
2 teaspoons kosher salt,
2 bay leaves
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved
1/2 c chopped pistachio nuts
2 cups arugula leaves
1 cup parsley leaves, torn
1 cup mint leaves
¾ cup halved cherry tomatoes
⅓ cup thinly sliced radish

In a medium saucepan, bring farro, apple cider, salt, bay leaves and 2 cups water to a simmer. Simmer until farro is tender and liquid evaporates, about 30 minutes. If all the liquid evaporates before the farro is done, add a little more water. Let farro cool, then discard bay leaves.

In a Ball jar, add together olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Add farro, cheese and pistachio nuts and mix well. This salad base will keep for up to 4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.   Just before serving, fold in arugula, herbs, tomatoes, radish.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Spring Radish Salad

Yesterday, my sister and I shopped at the annual Loch Alpine Garage Sale, which has been going on the weekend before Memorial Day since before we moved here in 1992.   There are always good things to be found at the sale.   This year, I was lucky to find a few things I needed, like some stationery cards and a really nice have blue sweater, and some things I didn't really need, like more cookbooks, or a CD of Dr. Hook's Greatest Hits for 25 cents.   (yes,  I bought it!) The weather was cool and rainy....this spring has been the coldest and rainiest spring I can remember since we have lived here.   Sandy spotted a cookbook she thought I needed to have.....

I spend a lot of my work time when I am not in Detroit, in Kentucky.  We have lots of suppliers there.   I have to say its cuisine has grown on me the past few years.  So I bought the book for 50 cents, and it was money well spent.   I like Maggie's writing style, which is a cross between Christopher Kimball (before he became pompous), and Mrs. Sundberg (the voice of Garrison Keillor before he became a part of the #metoo movement).   And the recipes look great, as well: a celebration of all things Kentucky.     I like the format, is written in calendar form.   In May, I found a recipe that looked interesting for this time of know, when you want a fresh salad but there really isn't much out there.   I tweaked her recipe to suit my taste (i.e. more vinegar than olive oil, and substituted local Michigan honey for Kentucky honey).   This is a great salad that will hold up on the fridge for a few days. 

1 bag radishes
2 carrots, peeled
1 bunch stemmed parsley
1/4 c red wine vinegar (I make mine myself, here's how!)
3 T olive oil
1 T local Michigan honey
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper

Using a food processor, shred radishes and carrots.   Put in a medium bowl  Remover shredder plate and put in chopping blade.   Add remaining ingredients and pulse food processor until parsley is finely chopped.  Add to radishes and carrots and mix well, add salt and pepper to taste. 

 Perfect for leftover lunch this week!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Ambassador Tostada Pizza

The tostada pizza at the Ambassador in Houghton is a favorite Michigan Tech memory for many alumni, along with the fishbowls, of course.   While I prefer the subs at the Ambassador over the pizza there,  the tostada pizza is also quite good.   It's got taco seasoned meat, and it is topped with lettuce and cheese and tomatoes.   I often get asked for this recipe, so I set out to try to make it myself.      A few years ago, MLive went around the state of Michigan searching for the best pizza and wrote up an article about it.    In the article, they offered me a few clues:

"The Ambassador serves pizza in the a Chicago thin crust. The trademarks of the style are the thickness of the crust, that it needs to be cooked on a stone slate, not a wood fire. The third trademark is that its cut in squares. The dough is made the day before it is used. It includes flour, salt and sugar, which more or less feeds the yeast. They also use a little bit of dry milk and uses cake yeast.  They cook the pizzas at 475 to 500 degrees on a gas-fired oven for 12 to 14 minutes, depending on the ingredients. For the sauce, they start with a tomato paste from Stanislaus and adds water, salt, oregano and cayenne pepper and parmesan cheese. The cheese is a Wisconsin White Colby, which is a high percentage, high moisture cheese with a little bit of mozzarella in it mix." 

I decided to decode the crust first, since I haven't ever tried perfecting a thin style pizza crust.    Despite the article's reference to cake yeast and a slow rise, I decided to skip that and look online to find a good thin crust pizza recipe that didn't require several days to make.  Googling around, I found some recipes that suggested not letting the dough rise at all for a thin crust pizza.   That sounded interesting to me, and sure enough, it did work well.   The article references a pizza stone, but I have found I much prefer my Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan to my pizza stones, which are easy to break and take forever to season.  J. Kenji Lopez-Alt at Serious Eats turned me on to making pizza on metal.....I will never go back to stone again.

cast iron pizza pan

Like a pizza stone, you will want to preheat your cast iron pizza pan in the oven first.   Preheat your oven to the highest temperature it will go (mine is 550 F) with the pan in it.   It will take a long time, so start the oven first thing.  I put it on a rack in the bottom third of the oven.   Heat it for 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, make the dough:

Thin Crust No Rise Pizza Dough

3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon active-dry yeast
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

Pour the water into a medium bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water, and let stand until the yeast has dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the flour and salt. Mix with a wooden spoon until floury, shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough out onto the counter, and knead the dough until it forms a smooth, slightly tacky ball that springs back when you poke it, 5 to 8 minutes. If the dough sticks to your hands, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it’s easier to work with; avoid adding too much flour if possible.  Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let sit while you prepare the pizza toppings,

Now, I had to consider the toppings for the pizza.   One of the trademark tastes of the Ambassador tostada pizza is the slightly sweet sauce.  The article mentioned "tomato paste from Stanislaus", and down the rabbit hole I went!   There are a lot of pizza nerds out there....and after much online research, I found the sauce that was referenced..... it can be purchased at Gordon's Food Service.

I compared the taste of it with regular tomato paste you can get at the grocery store, because I realize not everyone will want to buy a giant restaurant sized can of pizza sauce (I now have enough pizza sauce in my freezer to last me the rest of my life).  It does taste different...the Stanislaus brand is more sweet and fresh tasting.   The people at Stanislaus recommend thinning it a little to apply to your pizza and not precooking it before adding it.  To be honest, once the pizza is cooked, you can hardly tell the difference of the tomato paste brand, so I'd recommend just sticking with storebought brands.

Pizza Sauce

1 6 oz. can Contadina tomato paste
1/4 c. water
1/2 t. oregano
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t cayenne pepper
2 T. parmesan cheese

In a small bowl, mix together.   Do not precook sauce.

Now, on to the taco meat.    I tried making taco meat using my every day taco seasoning from Penzeys, and it was not right.    Too spicy!  So I put it out to my MTU Alumni fb group, and sure enough, a fellow alum (who will remain nameless) provided me with the recipe for the spice mix they use at the Ambassador, with the admonishment to say that "I didn't get it from him".    So there you go!  I didn't get it from him.  In fact, after downscaling his provided recipe, I tweaked it a bit to get it to be more to my liking anyway.   Here is what I came up with:

Taco Meat

1 lb hambuger
1 T. onion powder
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 T. chili powder
1/2 t. crushed red pepper

In a skillet, brown hamburger.   Add spices and stir until cooked through.   Remove from heat and add  about half the pizza sauce to it.  Do not cook any further

For the rest of the toppings:

8 oz. bag shredded Colby Monterey Jack Cheese
8 oz. bag shredded iceburg lettuce
1 roma tomato, diced
1 small bottle mild taco sauce

Returning to the dough, put a piece of parchment paper on the counter top and stretch or roll dough into a thin, 20 inch round on it. Form from the middle of the dough outwards, using the heel of your hand to gently press and stretch the dough until it's about a 1/4-inch thick or less.  Roll it with a rolling pin if you have to do so. If the dough starts to shrink back, let it rest for 5 minutes and then try rolling again.    Brush the dough with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Spread  remaining pizza sauce into a thin layer onto dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border.  Turn oven down to 450F and place the parchment paper with pizza on pizza pan and cook for 5 minutes. 

Remove pan from oven and top with taco meat and half of the cheese and return to the oven for another 5 minutes or so, until the cheese is melted and crust is brown.   Remove pizza from oven and top with remaining cheese, lettuce and diced tomato and taco sauce swirl.   Traditionally, Ambasador pizza is cut into squares, not wedges.

Enjoy with your favorite fishbowl!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Stir Fry Beef and Spinach with Noodles

Many years ago, in 1994,  I was a finalist in the National Beef Cookoff, sponsored by the Cattleman's Association...I will forever think of this time in my life whenever I hear this song

I didn't win, but I got an all expenses paid trip to Little Rock, Arkansas (visit summary: a lot of Bill and Hillary Clinton and TCBY Yogurt, which was founded there.  Not much else)  But I also got to know what I affectionately called "the beef people" pretty well.   I  did a lot of press with them,  because even though I didn't win, a hugely pregnant woman engineer fit right into their marketing plan and that is how I learned about this recipe.   The beauty of this recipe is that is as simple as spaghetti sauce from a jar, but yet it is not.   If you don't have sirloin tip steak available, just make it with hamburger.    It is really, really good.   And it can be "what's for dinner" on a Tuesday night, in 30 minutes. 

Alpha Delta Alpha Cookbook

In 2005, my sorority published a cookbook in honor of the 25th anniversary of it's founding at Michigan Tech.   I didn't know it had even existed until recently, and one of my sorority sisters mailed it to me so I could scan it in and share it.   So here it is!  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Coconut Cream Pie

Last Sunday was Easter, and it sure doesn't feel like Easter around here.  The weather is still very much winter.   It's 18 degrees out this morning, for example.   It's been snowing the past few days.  My daughter had to work, so she wasn't able to come for Easter dinner, and my son is at college, and my family was out of town, so I invited some friends over instead.    I have always loved coconut cream pie, but I realized I had never made one before in my life.   I recently picked up Zingerman's Bakehouse Cookbook and it's described as one of the first pies for spring. 

First of all, I tried their pastry crust recipe, which is an all butter affair.   I wasn't overly impressed,   it came out tougher than my typical shortening based crust, but I did learn a great tip in their  directions.   They suggest that when the crust is crumbly, stop adding water and turn the mixture onto the counter and push out sections of dough with the heal of your hand once....they call it "schmearing, and then fold it back on itself with a bench scraper.  Sure enough, this technique made the crust hold together! 

Otherwise, I did love how this pie came out. It's got both coconut milk and toasted coconut in it.   Here's my take on their recipe....

Coconut Cream Pie

1 9" single pie crust, blind baked
1 1/4 c. unsweetened flaked coconut  (had to buy at People's Food Coop, check health food stores)
3/4 c. granulated sugar (their recipe included an addition 2 T., don't bother.  Must have been a remainder from an industrial sized recipe)
1/4 c. corn starch (ditto,  theirs had an additional 1.5 t, not needed)
1/2 t. kosher salt  (their recipe called for sea salt)
1 1/2 c. whole milk
1 can coconut milk (the kind you use for Thai recipes, not pina coladas.  Their recipe called for 1 1/2 cups and since the can I had was slightly less than that, I wasn't willing to open another for a little bit more)
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 T. butter (I used salted, don't keep unsalted around)

For Whipped Cream Topping
1/2  pt. heavy cream  (original recipe called for 12 oz.....that would be way too much!)
2 t. vanilla (original recipe called for 1/2 vanilla bean seeds, I didn't bother)
2 T. granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 300 F.  Spread coconut onto a cookie sheet.   Toast in the oven for about 5-10 minutes, stirring a couple times, until golden brown.   In a medium saucepan, stir sugar, starch and salt.  Add the milks and the egg yolks, whisk to combine.  Cook the filling until it thickens and comes to a boil.   Continue to cook for 1 minute while stirring.    I was a little nervous because there was no temperature called out and I like to use a thermometer for this, but it was just fine. Reserve 1/4 c. coconut for topping.  Remove from heat and add remaining coconut, vanilla add butter and stir. Pour filling in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming, and let it cool for 30 minutes at room temperature

Stir mixture again and pour into cooled pie crust.   Cover with plastic wrap again and press into filling, refrigerate for 2 hours.  To make whipped cream, put ingredients in bowl of a stand mixer and using whisk attachment, beat on high until firm peaks form.   Top pie with whipped cream and sprinkle with toasted coconut.   Enjoy!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

DIY Beeswax Wraps

Every once in a while, I embark on a project that becomes an ordeal.   Like the time I made veal demi-glace from scratch which I realized was a colossal waste of time, especially after I lost it all when the power went out and my freezer thawed.   I just don't really need veal demi-glace that bad, and if I did, I can buy it right from Bob Sparrow at Sparrow's Meat Market himself.    Likewise, you can just buy these from me and save yourself lots of time and money.   I just posted this listing in my Etsy shop.  Here is my tale of how these came to be...

Many of my crafting ideas come to me when I have the day off from work, so last summer, while on vacation, I came across this blog post about DIY beeswax wraps and decided I wanted to make my own.  The ones you can buy locally are $18 for a set of 3, and I didn't want to spend that much, so I reckoned I could make them cheaper.   Plus, I had a long standing dream of making my own oil cloth someday....yes, I realize that is a strange dream....but I get weird ideas like this all the time.    So, instead of just spending $18, I decided to spend $24.63 to buy beeswax, jojoba oil and pine resin on Amazon.   I wasn't sure where I could get pine resin, but I know it is the stuff you put on your hands when you are bowling or playing baseball, so I bought a container.    Many months went by before I actually set out to make this craft.  I got down to it last weekend, and discovered a) I already had a bottle of jojoba oil in my craft room from some other craft I forgot to do and b) sports rosin doesn't melt.  Evidently there's more than just pine resin in sports rosin.     Off I head to the natural food store to try to buy some pine resin, because herbalists use it for salves and ointment.  I even tried the sporting goods store again, thinking perhaps they sell sticks of it for baseball bats.   Yes, but it is pine tar, and it is black.  That wasn't going to enter my friend Dave...

Everyone should have a friend like Dave.   I have known Dave since we were both college students at Michigan Tech, where we worked in the computer center together.  Dave is the kind of guy that when he gets curious about something, he goes and figures it out.  For example, here is how he figured out solar power.    So I figured Dave would know where to get some pine resin....and of course he did, because last year he decided to make some pine resin glue for his boots.  (and you thought I had strange dreams because I want to make my own oil cloth!)  He told me he had some left over that he harvested.   So, I set aside the day of crafting to meet Dave at the Corner Brewery in  Ypsi to pick up his stash of pine resin and have a few beers ($10).   Finally, I set out to melt the resin, and there was just too much stuff in it to make it work for wraps.   I needed PURE GRANULATED PINE RESIN.  Another $19.95  later on Amazon, and now I am ready to start!  Total cost of project is now up to $54.58.

I followed the directions as written in the blog post, and started melting the pine resin in a double boiler.   It takes about 20 minutes, stirring regularly with a wooden skewer.  Pine resin sticks to everything.   Then, I added the beeswax, and the pine resin immediately solidified and the process had to start all over again!  What works better is to just mix the beeswax and resin together from the start.  There is no reason do it separately.   The blog post said that it would make 4 12"x12" wraps, but it didn't for me....maybe because my cloth was thicker, it only made 2. 

Here is the recipe:

DIY Beeswax Wraps
2 T. granulated pine resin  (18 g)
1/4 c. beeswax pellets
1 T. jojoba oil

Preheat oven to 225 F.  Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Heat resin and beeswax in double boiler until melted, about 20 minutes, stirring regularly.   Add oil and stir.   Paint on cloth until evenly covered.  The wax will solidify as you paint it on.   Place in oven until all wax is melted again, and then take it out of the oven and place other piece of fabric on the top and flip it over.  Use oven gloves, it will be hot!  Press down on new piece of fabric to soak up excess wax.   Remove original cloth and cool on clothes rack.  Repeat with second cloth using remaining wax, softening in oven to insure uniform waxing over surface.

After the resin and wax is melted, add the jojoba oil.  I forgot for one batch and had to throw them out.   They will be too stiff.  Also, don't forget to put the cap back on the jojoba oil or you can spill it all over the counter.   Luckily I had another bottle available ($5.99) .  My hands were real soft, except where the pine resin stuck to them.   Also, had to throw out my brand new Kitchen Aid plastic measuring spoons ($16.65) because pine resin really likes to stick to plastic, I have learned.   Instead, just weigh it out....2 T. is 18 grams of pine resin.  Since I had my scale out now, I noticed my kitchen looked like something out of Breaking Bad.....

Pine resin is flammable, fires love beeswax, and I am standing around my kitchen in my PJs.  How would I possibly explain this to the fire department if I needed to call 911?  Better be careful to keep the flame away from it all.     Hours later, my wraps are now cost of $77.82.  Thankfully, I realized that I should take off my wedding ring before resin attached itself to my diamond and I didn't pour anything down  the sink which would have required a plumber, or these wraps could have cost much more.  I did have to throw away the paintbrush after ($7.00) so the total cost is now $84.22!!!  Good thing I didn't spend the $18 originally!   The good news is now I am selling the wraps for $8 on my Etsy store, so you don't have to make them.   Also, now that I have a lifetime supply of pine resin, I guess it is time to start making pine resin salve.

Happy Crafting!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Buffalo Chicken Salad

A few weeks ago, I was shopping at Arbor Farms, a local grocery store here in Ann Arbor, and I was impressed with a couple salads in their deli.   I posted my take on one of them last month, Olympic Salad, and then I experimented with another one I saw there inspired by buffalo wings.   I love buffalo wings!    I knew I'd have to try my hand at making this salad. 

First, I needed to make some cooked chicken.   I often make some chicken breasts this way on a Sunday and use them whenever I need chicken in a meal.  I put them individually in bags in the freezer and so I can take out however many I need for whatever I am making.   They are great in sandwiches or with salad or in a casserole.     

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts

4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
1 T dried rosemary
2 T dried parsley
1 T kosher salt
1 c lemon juice
3 T olive oil

Butterfly the chicken breasts by cutting them in half to make 2 pieces.  This helps the chicken cook evenly without drying out.   In a ziplock bag, add remaining ingredients, mix well.   Add chicken and make sure it is coated evenly,  marinate for a few hours or overnight in the fridge.   Turn the bag every once in a while. 

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Lay the chicken breasts on a cookie sheet, and pour remaining marinade over the top of chicken.  Roast for 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Buffalo Chicken Salad
(serves 2)

2 lemon herb roasted chicken breast halves, sliced into strips
1/2 red pepper, seeded cut into 1 inch strips
1/2 red onion, sliced pole to pole
1 stalk celery, cut on the bias
1 peeled carrot, also cut on the bias
1 oz. blue cheese crumbles

Mix ingredients together in a bowl. 

Buffalo Dressing

4 T light mayonnaise (you can use regular as well)
2 T Franks Red Hot sauce (or more if you like it spicy)
2 T Dijon mustard
2 T white vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced

Place all the ingredients in a small jar and shake until blended.

Add dressing to salad and mix well. 

It came out wonderful!  The sturdy vegetables held up well so I could make it ahead for work week lunches.  Added bonus:  even with the cheese,  a serving of it is only 3 WW points, if you are counting points. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Olympic Salad

Here it is, almost the end of the month of February, and I am just making it across the finish line for my goal of a monthly blog post.   I have been busy with a lot of travel and haven't had the chance to spend as much time as I would like in the kitchen.   I finally had the opportunity to try to recreate a salad I saw in the deli case at Arbor Farms Market,  a local health food store.   I'm not sure if it called "Olympic" because of the colors of the salad or the Greek inspired ingredients, but it came out totally delicious.    And if I make it with fat free feta cheese, it is 0 WW points per serving!   I'm cooking lunch for our upcoming Growing In God day of renewal at church for women, and it is my plan to offer a variety of prepared salads, including this one!   It's a keeper....

Olympic Salad
(serves 2)

1/2 hot house cucumber, peeled, quartered and sliced
1/2 container cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
3 T chopped parsley
1/2 c. Greek olives from olive bar, with garlic halved  (reserve brine)
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
4 oz. feta cheese, diced
juice from one lemon

Mix all salad ingredients together, add brine and lemon juice and toss until coated. 

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Red Lentil Soup

Will a lentil soup change your life?   I think this one will...

I knew it was a winner when I made it late on a Sunday after a pre-Christmas dinner at my sister in law's house where we all ate way too much pizza and fudge and peanut butter kiss cookies and we needed a little something later in the evening.   I whipped up a batch and my "meat and potatoes" twenty something son proclaimed it "really good" and ate the rest of it.   It takes 30 minutes to make!  Next test was the vegetarian friend Patty who said that not only was it the best lentil soup she ever tasted, it was in the top 5 soups she ever had.   Those are some pretty wonderful compliments, especially coming from a soup that doesn't take all that long to make. 

I started with a recipe from America's Test Kitchen, which looked good, but had some pain in the a$$ things about it, like spiced butter.   I didn't have time for that.    Why not just put those spices in the soup?  Here is how I've made it.....3x now and I can see I will keep on making it for a long while.   For the vegetarians, just substitute the chicken broth for vegetable.    So good!

Red Lentil Soup with Cilantro

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped fine
Salt and pepper
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch cayenne
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
10 ½ ounces (1 ½ cups) red lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, and lentils and bring to simmer. Simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and about half are broken down, about 15 minutes.

Whisk soup vigorously until it is coarsely pureed, about 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and extra lemon juice to taste.

Ladle soup into individual bowls, sprinkle with  paprika and cilantro, and serve.

UPDATE:  My recipe was recently featured in the Michigan Electric Coop Magazine Country Lines.   Here is the video