Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cathead Biscuits



As a southern girl, it has always been a source of embarassment to me that I can't make home made biscuits. My daddy can make them, and other southern cooks I admire can make them, so why can't I??

I was flipping through some of my cookbooks the other day, looking for an overnight french toast recipe, when I found a simple-looking recipe for buttermilk cat head biscuits. It only had 3 ingredients. How hard can that be?

I decided today was the day. I set out to conquer my fear of home made biscuits.

I measured 3 cups of self rising flour and sifted it into my favorite mixing bowl. I measured approximately 4 tablespoons of shortening and worked it into the flour with my hands until the mixture looked crumbly. This took a little longer than I thought it would, but, whatever. I made a well in the middle of the flour and added the 3/4 cup of buttermilk called for in the recipe. It didn't form the soft dough the recipe said it would. I actually added more than twice the amount of buttermilk, but I figured because the air is so dry here, that's probably normal. Anyhoo... I worked the dough for a VERY short time, then shaped it into 7 huge biscuits. The recipe was supposed to make 12, but I wanted REAL cat head biscuits. I put them close together on a greased sheet pan and baked them at 500 degrees for probably about 12 minutes.

I just love looking at them.



I'm thinking instead of dinner tonight, we might just have biscuits with cane syrup.



And there will definitely be no crappy breakfasts this week!!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wahooooooo!! Dev's Buying The Cow....



Devin popped the question last night! We had already talked about getting married, of course, but I hadn't expected a ring, much less a proposal, at this point.

He is such a romantical person. He actually wrote his proposal out, so I get to keep it forever and ever.

I feel like a moron because I keep staring at my ring finger in disbelief. It's been a long time since I wore a ring on that finger and it still seems strange.



We aren't sure when the actual ceremony will take place, but rest assured you will be the first to know (well, after my Mom and Dad, and Diane and Lizard and Mel and Cheri...but you know what I mean!!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Soup For Lunch



I love soup. Especially potato soup.

The last few potato soup recipes I've tried have left me flat. So when I checked out the "New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant" book from the library, I was hesitant to try the potato soup recipe.

Luckily, I threw caution to the wind and tried it anyway, and I'm so glad I did.

Very Creamy Potato-Cheese Soup from "New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant."

3 to 4 tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped onions
1 large garlic clove, minced or pressed
2 large potatoes, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 stalk celery, coarsely chopped (I added this- it isn't in the recipe)
3 cups veggie stock or water (I used 2 cups chicken stock plus 1 cup white wine)
1 teaspoon dried dill (2 tablespoons of fresh)
4 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups milk (or part cream)
1 cup grated sharp cheddar (3 ounces)
salt and black pepper to taste
fresh or dried parsley for garnish

In a large soup pot, saute the onions and garlic in the butter until the onions are translucent. Add the potatoes, carrots and celery and saute for 5 to 10 minutes longer. Add the stock or water (or wine) and dill and simmer until all the vegetables are tender.
Puree the veggies with the cream cheese and milk in a blender or food processor. Return the soup to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cheddar cheese and reheat gently.
Serve each cup or bowl garnished with parsley.

This soup was delicious...and even better the next day. When I rewarmed it, I had to add more milk because it thickened up in the fridge. This was excellent with a piece of parmesan toast and a simple spinach salad...



I can't wait to try more recipes from this great vegetarian cookbook!

Valentine's Day



This was waiting for me on the kitchen table when I woke up Saturday morning. This illustrates one of the reasons I love Dev so much. He knows me very well.

He knew that although I love getting flowers, I love getting yarn even more. The fact that he went to my favorite yarn shop and picked these things out, and that he even remembered to pick up some needles (in sizes I didn't already have), just demonstrates how attentive he is. Sometimes it's hard for me to believe that I ever found someone so wonderful. But I'm so glad I did, and I'm so glad that he loves me.

I decided that Valentine's Day breakfast should be a little special, so I made toast in the shape of hearts, AND made bacon. Those of you who read my blog know that we are trying to eat more plant based foods, so meat is a treat for us. Dev actually got bacon for breakfast, pork for lunch and steak for dinner. How's that for a carnivorous Valentine's Day?

Here's a shot of breakfast.



I didn't take my camera to lunch, nor did I take the time to shoot dinner. I am such a bad blogger.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What a Week...

This has been a very long week.

At school, we have been dealing with the death of one of our first graders. Needless to say, the mood in the building this week has been tense. As adults who understand the ramifications of the loss, we have been walking around on egg shells all week long. The kids only understand it in as much as it directly affects them right now. So as far as they are concerned, their classmate is just absent. They can't comprehend the permanence of it. I suppose that is for the best. Personally, I can't stop thinking about the parents. They lost one child already, and are in Denver, waiting to find out about the fate of another. I just don't understand how you bear up under that kind of loss.

Other things have been kicking around in the shadowy recesses of my brain as well. For some reason, I have been thinking a lot lately about environmental issues- both global and personal.

For the past year now, I've been reading up on the link between the way Americans eat, their health and the state of the environment. It is truly an ugly equation.

And for about the same length of time, I've been struggling with as yet un-named health issues. I have taken off some weight, but according to my doctor, more needs to come off. Well- I knew that even if the doctor didn't tell me, but for some reason, hearing from someone in a white coat drives the point home.

I have come to the conclusion that drastically cutting my intake of meat is the best thing for me personally, and for the world at large.

If you are curious to read up on the correlation between the way we eat and damage to the environment, I suggest reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver, "Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan and "Food Matters" by Mark Bittman.

All 3 of these books will open your eyes about how important it is to know from where your food comes. The benefits of eating locally and organically go way beyond personal health. I think it will come down to the health of our whole planet.

Anyhoo, I have decided to cut our meat intake to 2 meals a week. The other meals will be plant based. I'm sure at first this will be a hard sell with Dev. But I know he'll go along unless I spring something really weird on him (he doesn't much like pinto beans or cottage cheese, so as long as I steer clear of those things- or hide them well, I should be ok).

Today I stocked the freezer for the rest of the week. I made a huge batch of marinara sauce, a big pot of chicken stock, a big pot of brown rice and some salsa. All are resting comfortably in the freezer, waiting to be defrosted at some point this week.

I even went to the library yesterday and checked out some vegetarian cookbooks, to get ideas for midweek meatless meals.

So- I suppose I will update you on my progress along the way. This should be an interesting journey.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Saturdays

Just another Saturday in the valley...

We got up and went over to watch the kids play hockey at the ice skating rink.

I'm a big hockey fan, so I knew I would enjoy it.

I took this picture because it made me smile. When I used to go see the Avalanche play when I lived in Atlanta, it used to be a big deal to win the drawing to ride on the zamboni as it cleaned the ice in between periods.

Apparently, this is a rec-league zamboni. No one is standing in line for this job,though. :)

Chicken and Dumplings



I decided the other day I wanted to make a big pot of chicken and dumplings for dinner. The problem being, I haven't had them in years (probably since the last time my Daddy made them while I was still living at home).

I scoured my sizable cook book collection for a recipe. I only found 3- and they all called for rolled dumplings. That wasn't what I wanted. When Daddy made them, he made pillowy, soft dumplings that floated on the top. Finally, I did what I should have done in the first place...I called my Daddy.

Much to my shock and dismay, the dumpling recipe was simple. Bisquick, milk and a little sugar. That can't be right! Bisquick! Absurd! But, I figured if I wanted to recreate the dish exactly, I would have to use it.

Chicken and dumplings, as it turns out, is very simple to make.

I seasoned a cut up chicken with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning, put it in the crock put with enough water to cover, popped it on low and left for school (7:30ish).

About 4:15, I took the chicken out, shredded it off the bone (which was really easy since it was falling apart), and put it in my big soup pot. Then I poured the liquid out of the crock pot on top, put a bag of frozen veggies in (I won't use frozen carrots again- I don't like the texture) and brought it up to a boil. A cornstarch slurry was used to thicken the mixture a bit, then I mixed some bisquick, milk and a pinch of sugar til it looked like biscuit dough, but a little wetter. I spooned the dumpling batter on top of the chicken stew mixture, put the top on the pot, and 25 minutes later, I had a whole big pot of pure love.

There isn't much better on a cold night than a big bowl of steaming hot chicken and dumplings. I will be making this again...SOON.
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