Tuesday, February 21, 2012

in the kitchen

~ there is tea... everyday
~ oatmeal makes a frequent appearance at breakfast time
~ the 8 year old does a lot of the cooking: he bakes us treats, he makes dinner for the family all on his own from scratch, he inspires family togetherness in the kitchen
~ sometimes this mama finds her creative stride and brillantly makes soft pretzel dough for the smaller people to shape (then she eats them with coarse salt. yum!)
~ resourcefulness is the most important ingredient in our kitchen; there is no running out for a missing ingredient from our house
~ we tried this recipe for root beer cupcakes — with a vanilla cream cheese frosting instead of the called for toppings (see resourcefulness comment above) — and they were not so much root beer as just chocolate, which was OK, but not what we were hoping for
~ we sometimes cook with exotic ingredients like plantains; these days we more often cook with ordinary ingredients like celery, eggs, and tomatoes
~ we usually make enough for leftovers
~ we always like it best when we can share with people we love

Bonus recipe share:

Pretzel Shapes, adapted from recipe by Katrina Kenison as shared in her inspired work Mitten Strings for God

2 Tbsp instant yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tsp honey
2 tsp salt
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp wheat gluten
1 egg
Coarse salt or cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast into warm water. Stir and add honey and salt. Stir in 2 cups of flour and wheat gluten. Gradually stir in or knead the remaining flour and knead the dough. When the dough is smooth and all the flour incorporated, divide the results amongst the children and let them have at it, creating whatever shapes they want to make.

Transfer their shapes to a baking sheet, brush each pretzel shape with egg wash, and sprinkle coarse salt or cinnamon sugar on top.

Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes or so, until golden brown.

Rich Beef Short Ribs in the Crock Pot, adapted from this recipe by Ina Garten
I've made this twice recently (and we're not a "repeat a recipe often" kind of a family). It was delicious, nutritious, satisfying, good balance of flavors. It also was the perfect way to use up the remaining leftover mulled wine from our Winter Solstice party back in December.

1 2-ish pound package beef short ribs, with a nice amount of fat if you can find a good one, preferably grass-fed meat, but you can certainly make it with any roast
3 cups leftover mulled red wine, or just 3 cups mulled wine and add the optional spices to the roast
2 cups beef stock
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
*2-3 cinnamon sticks
*4-6 whole cloves
*2-3 allspice berries
*2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 large cloves garlic, sliced and coarsely minced
2 medium carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks
4 medium stalks celery, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 leeks, white parts, washed and sliced 1/8 inch slice
1 fennel bulb, core removed, cut into 1/4-ish slices
1-1/2 tsp rosemary leaves
1 tsp thyme leaves
2-3 bay leaves

*Optional ingredients, if you don't have mulled wine

1. Pour the olive oil in a 6-quart crock pot and coat the inside of the pot.
2. Put the wine, beef stock, tomatoes, and optional ingredients in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let the pot simmer while you cut the vegetables. Reduce the liquid by half and turn off the heat.
3. Dump all the vegetables and herbs into the crock pot.
4. Rinse the meat, dry with paper toweling. Salt and pepper the meat and add it to the vegetables.
5. Pour the reduced liquid over the vegetables and meat.
6. Cook the stew on low for 6-8 hours.
7. Serve over baked potatoes with sour cream on top (optional)

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