Monthly Archives: August 2011

Food Related Goings On

A few things have been happening in my life recently that have not made it into this blog. Nevertheless, I think they need to for various reasons.

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It’s been a while, but we did go camping!

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I’ll start with my recent employment and unemployment.
A few weeks back I found a job listing for a baker at a startup bagel company. Baker?! Bagel startup?! I took a very different approach to my cover letter and had an application submitted within minutes. To my surprise, I received an email back requesting an interview (for the first time in my recent job search). After a successful interview I was hired!

I worked at the bakery for less than a week’s worth of days. In that time, I learned that a) I cannot work at night, b) I’m not really into cleaning/washing dishes on a commercial scale, c) the scent of garlic stays on ones hands for a veeerrrrryyyyy long time after scooping handfuls of raw garlic onto bagels. Yuck. Lee was not a fan.

I really liked my coworkers at the bakery and the company itself was awesome. The bagels were delicious and it was pretty nice to come home from every shift with a bag full of reject bagels. Hey, I always wanted to make bagels! It just wasn’t meant to be, though. I couldn’t handle never seeing my husband and working till midnight in front of a blazing hot oven. I guess I’m not cut out to be that kind of baker. At least I know that now!

News item #2 is much more exciting and positive than getting a job and then quitting it.
Last week, I started another blog! Yes, I needed a third blog (technically, Pirat doesn’t count cause we’re not sailing so I’m not writing). I needed a blog about my troubled relationship with food and my body. You can read all about it here so I’ll spare the details. In short, I had an eating disorder in college, never really gained enough weight back, and am now realizing that I cannot go through life chronically underweight. If I was not so skinny I’d be much happier and healthier. Head on over if you’d like a hopefully not-too-boring account of my push to recovery.

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not so skinny includes all my lovely eats, like this

I suppose news item # 3 is that Lee and I are looking for a house. Last night I thought we’d found the one but someone snatched it out from under us. It was a big disappointment and I really, really don’t want to look at any more houses : (

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Baking out of Season

I get annoyed with myself when I make something wintery in the summer or something summery in the winter. Out-of-season ingredients tend to make me cringe and I feel guilty for not making use of the bounty available. Sometimes, though, you just have to have pumpkin pie in July.

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Okay, so I didn’t make pumpkin pie. I made applesauce bread. There was a jar of applesauce in the fridge that needed to be used…and there’s still a little left in that jar. There is also still half a carton of heavy cream left after I tried to use it up in this recipe. Guess I’ll just have to bake more!

I like this recipe. I’m surprised that I like it, actually, since Paula Deen’s style is usually a little too heavy for me. I like that she only calls for 1/4 cup of sugar but, in retrospect, I think that’s because she meant for me to use sweetened applesauce. I don’t remember when I last bought sweetened applesauce.

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With only 1/4 cup of brown sugar this bread is not at all sweet. It’s spicy and fruity, though, and I was happy to find that the heavy cream added plenty of richness. It was a perfectly adequate substitute for butter, and hey, compared to butter, cream is light!

Other than throwing in my needed-to-be-used cream, I also healthified the flour in this recipe. I tried graham flour, something I had only read about until I found it in the bulk bins at my local co-op. Graham flour + wheat germ turned out a grainy bread with a crumby, crunchy crust. I approve! If you don’t have graham flour, whole wheat will make a fine substitute

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Applesauce Bread
Adapted from Paula Deen

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup brown sugar (add more if you want sweet!)
1 1/2 cups graham flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs
optional: 1 cup raisins, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, blend flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
In a separate, larger bowl, beat cream and sugar together until sugar dissolves.
Add eggs, beating well, then add applesauce and vanilla extract. Stir until fully combined.
Pour dry mixture into wet. Stir until well blended but do not over mix.
Fold in nuts and raisins, if using.
Pour into greased and floured 8x4x3 inch loaf pan or some combination of smaller pans (I used 2 mini loaf pans and 2 mini Bundt pans).
Bake at 350 for 60-65 minutes if using larger pan or 30 minutes for smaller pans.

Ahhh, smells like fall!

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Chocolate Almond Muffins

I had to make muffins yesterday. I mean, I really, really wanted muffins. For once, It wasn’t hard to decide what to make. I wanted a stick-to-your-ribs snack and could double as dessert.

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Out came my new(old) Better Homes and Gardens Bread Cook Book that I picked up at a thrift store last week. I love thrift store cookbooks. Whoever gave them away was bored with the recipes or never used the book in the first place. I feel like I’m giving these relics of past eating styles a second chance. Besides, certain things never change. Muffins were more or less the same in the 80’s, right?

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I thought I’d remembered seeing a peanut butter muffin recipe when I scoured my new cookbook for potential winners. I was right and it was the perfect recipe to adapt to my tastes and pantry. I don’t have any straight peanut butter at the moment so out came the giant jar of almond butter. Then there was my chocolate craving…that had to be addressed. I swapped some flour for cocoa powder and used whole wheat flour instead of the all purpose called for. The result was…not as good as I had hoped. These muffins are a bit dry as I made them but I think that could easily be righted with the addition of some mashed banana, applesauce, or yogurt.

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Chocolate Almond Butter Muffins
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Bread Cook Book

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or all-purpose, or a blend…whatever you want)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup smooth almond butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 well-beaten eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
And I would recommend – 1 mashed banana or 1/3-1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce or the same amount of plain/vanilla yogurt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Sift together dry ingredients.
Cut in almond butter until mixture resembles course meal.
Add milk, eggs, and other liquid ingredients all at ounce.
Stir until just mixed.
Spoon into lined muffin tin.
Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until muffins are crusty on top and smell good!
Cool for at least 30 seconds before eating!

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A is for Aspic

        I know that lovely copper ring looks a lot like a Bundt pan but if you saw it in person, size would rule that out.

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        I first saw this odd pan on a visit to grandmother Helen’s shortly after I moved to Denver, the city neighboring Helen’s long-time home. She was living in the local PEO house along with a handful of other elderly characters (I always joked that they should start a detective agency or something). I remember her ushering me into her minimal kitchen and pulling out this pan/mold thing in excitement.
“This is an aspic mold. Do you know what aspic is?” she said.
Of course I didn’t know what it was.
I don’t remember how she described it but she immediately pulled a newspaper clipped out of a pile and presented me with a recipe for Tomato Aspic.
“I think you’d really like this.” She said. “It’s just so fresh and nice and has all these lovely crunchy vegetables in it.”

We talked about tomato aspic for a while. Oh how I wish I’d had a tape recorder with me!

After she died I thought about aspic a lot. It came to symbolize the last months of my relationship with me grandmother. I always thought it was odd that she’d shown me the mold and the recipe but had not given them to me. Maybe she knew they’d be mine soon anyway. Maybe it was some kind of a test to see if I could connect the two items later when they turned up among her possessions.

I could have cried when I pulled the tarnished copper mold out of a cardboard box at my dad’s house earlier this summer. It was here! I hadn’t imagined the whole tomato aspic conversation! If only I could find the recipe she’d shown me…but it was there too! I recognized the yellowed newsprint as soon as I saw it. At that point I knew what Helen wanted. She wanted me to make tomato aspic, to try something new a different, and to think of her.

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Unfortunately, I had kind of a hard time getting my aspic out of the mold. Any advice for a molded salad newbie?..But look how red and beautiful it is!

Tomato Aspic
From Menu Planner Cookbook by Miriam B. Loo (reprinted in an unknown newspaper)

The fresh taste of tomato comes through in this deep red aspic.”

2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cool chicken broth (your own or canned)
4 cups tomato juice
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into fine strips (I used 3 different small heirloom tomatoes and the colors were beautiful!)

In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over chicken broth and soften for 10 minutes.
Combine tomato juice, celery, scallions, Worcestershire sauce, celery seed, salt, sugar, and white pepper in a saucepan.
Simmer for 5 minutes.
Add softened gelatin and stir until dissolved.
Set saucepan in cold water and stir until mixture is cool (I put a few inches of water in the sink).
Fold in tomatoes.
Rinse a decorative 2 qt ring mold with cold water, pour in tomato mixture.
Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Unmold and serve on lettuce leaves with the following dressing.

Dill-Mayonnaise Dressing (I didn’t make this dressing. I used Annie’s ranch dressing instead.)

1/2 cup real mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed.

Blend all ingredients well ad let stand for an hour to develop flavors.

What did Lee and I think of the aspic? Well, it was different that’s for sure. My mold was too small for the whole recipe so poured the rest into two small bowls and we ate that with grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner (it was like tomato soup and grilled cheese!). I served the aspic over a green salad with ranch dressing and it was a great combination of flavors and textures. The aspic was much more intensely tomato-y than I expected it to be. It was a little too intense for Lee. He made me promise only to serve tomato aspic in very small quantities in the future.

I will be making this again. Maybe for a potluck because it’s just so strange and retro.

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Filed under other goodies