Saturday, January 29, 2011

Helper


He begs and begs and begs until I pick him up to show him what's for dinner. He sits on the kitchen floor and plays with the pots and pans, "cooking" up his toys, stirring, tasting, just like mama.

Pumpkin


You may not know this from the way it's treated here in the US, but pumpkin is a vegetable. And a great one at that. It's high in beta carotene and fiber and potassium, etc, etc. I grew up in South America, and we ate pumpkin on a regular basis. And not as a dessert either. My boyfriend, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, once mentioned that he wouldn't know what to do with a pumpkin, other than make a pie. A quick internet search for pumpkin recipes shows the same sentiment--dozens of recipes for pumpkin desserts, and little else.

Last week I bought a piece of fresh pumpkin without knowing what I'd be doing with it. My son has recently developed an aversion to green foods, so I needed new ways to get vegetables in him. I did the usual internet search for inspiration, but came up empty. So I got creative and made pumpkin gnocchi.

The process was simple: Steam the pumpkin until tender, then combine with an egg, seasoning (nutmeg is excellent with pumpkin), and enough flour to form a dough. Then roll the dough into a rope, cut into "pillows" and throw into boiling water. Cook until the gnocchi floats. That's it. For something extra, you can saute the gnocchi in some butter. It was quite yummy and my son ate it up with no complaints.

The second recipe is even simpler. Saute onion and garlic in a pan, add chopped pumpkin, spices (s+p, cumin and curry powder) and cover, letting the steam cook the pumpkin. Cook until the pumpkin breaks down. Serve over rice. Another dish the whole family enjoyed.

I now buy pumpkin on a regular basis. A chunk costs less than $2 and feeds a family of three. Cheap, delicious and nutritious!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Direction

I can't be unemployed forever, right? At some point it's going to get better out there and I'll manage to get myself one of those job things again.
At this point, I'm not trying as hard as I could be. It's so easy to waste the day away, especially when you're taking care of an attention-grabbing toddler. There's a two hour break in the middle of the day when he takes his nap, and I'm supposed to do the things I'm supposed to be doing. You know, the marketing, the self-promotion, the networking. Phone calls and emails and follow-up phone calls and emails.
But those two hours are even better for zoning out on the couch.
And so it goes.

Been thinking more about where I want this blog to go. I want to be writing about all the wonderful things that are happening in my kitchen. But I don't want to be cliche and post recipes and pictures. That's been done, better than I will be able to.
But I do believe that there is value in what I'm doing in the kitchen. For one thing, even though I make everything from scratch, I rarely ever spend more than half hour on a meal. So many people are afraid of the kitchen, and of prep work. And vegetables. I want people to see that it is possible to cook nutritious and delicious food, if only you'd put a little love into it. 

Buttermilk Biscuits

I recently bought 25 pounds of flour from Costco. It's really not a lot when you do as much baking as I do. However, when I tried making cakes with it, the results were rather flat. All flour is not created equal. Something about the gluten/protein ratio. I don't really care, I just want fluffy, not rocky.

This morning I scored a small victory. I needed to use buttermilk I had in the fridge, leftover from my attempts at red velvet cake. Decided to make biscuits. I did some research, and ended up using a recipe that used melted butter added to the buttermilk. Do you know what happens when you add melted butter to cold buttermilk? It clumps. And when you add that mixture to the dry ingredients, the clumped butter stays in the batter. The biscuits from that batter are light and airy, moist and buttery. It also helped that I doubled the recommended amount of baking powder, which compensated for my crappy flour.

AND. I also added some shredded cheddar to the mix. And crumpled bacon.

Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits. They were as good as they sound and then some.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cake

I received a kitchenaid mixer for Christmas and haven't stopped baking. Over the weekend I made three birthday cakes: a traditional red velvet for a close friend's 30th, a pink princess cake for my niece's 3rd birthday, and a "road" cake, topped with three matchbox cars, for my nephew's 16th birthday. Am contemplating blogging about baking, but I don't have a camera that would do the cakes justice. This one comes close--I tried out macros: