Sunday, October 1, 2017

New Pantry System

Last month I started a new pantry system. Sharon got me twelve plastic banker boxes and labeled them, one for each month. When I find a good deal on something at the store I buy twelve and when I get home I parcel them out, one in each box.

Then at the beginning of each month, I pull out that box and I have a nice variety of items to stock the "near pantry" with to be used that month. I can also take note of which items from the previous box didn't get used. For September, I had one can of pineapple chunks and a bottle of BBQ sauce (though the one in the fridge is getting low). So dinner tonight might well be BBQ string beans with bacon, pineapple, and almonds. I just finished the container of steel cut oats this morning, in the nick of time.
Here are the contents of the October box. Three cans of soup/stew, canned fruit, a can of tuna (I like tuna, but not all the time), some nuts (for us and Mia the parrot), dried fruit, and look at that another container of steel cut oats, just in time.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Instant Pot Refried Beans

For years we've been wanting to add more beans to our diet but it's a hassle to deal with soaking overnight. The Instant Pot has enabled us to make beans without pre-soaking. We tried a new recipe today from the Allergy Free Alaska blog, Instant Pot Refried Beans.

We didn't have the exact ingredients, so we made some changes to the recipe. Here is what we made.

2 pounds dried pinto beans, sorted
1 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 tsp dried oregano
pungent spices: cubebs, long pepper, black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin (I used some cardamom and paprika)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 Tbsp bacon drippings (or lard if you are a traditionalist)
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1-2 tsp sea salt

In a large mixing bowl, add the sorted dried pinto beans and fill the bowl with enough water to cover the beans by several inches. Set aside to soak for 15 minutes while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
To the Instant Pot bowl, add the chopped onion, garlic cloves, jalapeno, dried oregano, ground cumin, ground black pepper, lard, chicken broth, and water.

Use a colander to strain the beans and discard the soaking liquid. Rinse with fresh water.
Now add the beans to the Instant Pot bowl, and stir all of the ingredients together. It’s okay if the lard is in a solid lump, as soon as the Instant Pot comes up to pressure/temperature, the lard will melt.
Place the lid on the Instant Pot and ensure the steam release valve is set to sealing. Press the “Bean/Chili” key, which will show 30 minutes of cooking time, and increase the time to 45 minutes. Now walk away. When the Instant Pot is done cooking, it will come down from pressure naturally, about 40 minutes.
When the pressure is released, open the lid of the Instant Pot and add the sea salt to taste.
While directed to "Use an immersion blender" I opted for a potato masher to blend the beans to the desired consistency. Then I openly laughed at my hubris, and pulled out the food processor in which I processed half of the bean mixture for a few pulses, then the other half.  The beans will appear soupy, but will thicken as they cool.

Recipe made six pints.

Tasted good in a burrito with rice, cheese blend, chopped greens, and yogurt. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Failed attempt 1 at Peach Nirvana

I am working on developing a recipe for "Peach Nirvana" as a sort of cobbler for a science fiction story my wife and I are writing. Long story. At least so far, but we aren't done writing it yet. The cook in the story makes a cobbler for the crew that is a hit.

My first attempt was to adapt the Lemon Wedges over Shortbread recipe with the peach syrup and peaches in place of the lemon juice and zest. I cut the sugar in half since there is a lot of sweetness in the syrup and peaches and none of the sour of the lemon to contend with.

Little known fact, peaches are bigger and juicier than shavings of lemon zest. Word.


But there were some lessons learned.
Never give up. Never surrender. 

Lemon wedges on shortbread

Wanted to bring a little something to a party and realized I hadn't had lemon squares in a long while. Dug around for a recipe, and didn't see anything familiar, so I decided to try the one from The New Best Recipe Cookbook.

It was quite rich but very flavorful with good balance between the filling and the crust.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Party Food

For me, Halloween has come to be mostly about food and friends (with some fun with costumes and decorations thrown in). This year we made way too much food, but it was fun to see it all on display.

Brain crab dip.

Brain gelatin.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween Graveyard Cake

What is more thematic for Halloween than a graveyard cake? I started with a recipe Sharon found at Spooky Graveyard Cake and their recipe for chocolate buttercream frosting, though I used 1/2 tsp almond extract, 2 tsp vanilla extract, and two drops of orange essence.  For the actual cake, I used this one bowl chocolate cake recipe.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Peach Risotto

I have been making a lot of roasted chicken. This leaves me with all the bits you don't eat that I make into broth. So, what better to make from stock than risotto? I'll tell ya: Peach Risotto.