Friday, October 30, 2009

not a recipe, but where I've been and what I've cooked

I was out of town last week and this week have been a little busy with knitting. Last week we went on vacation to Pennsylvania and headed to Amish country with a side trip on the way home to Cape May, NJ. Then this week I have two knitting nights.

We were in Lancaster County, PA around Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse. The area was very touristy along the main roads, but back in the farms they were very tidy and generally quite pretty. One of the Amish men took us on a carriage tour, he'd changed to this after farming because it was easier work than farming. Apparently the farms are dairy farms mainly these days. They grow corn and alfalfa for feeding the cattle and apples that are sold and eaten (also for cider). The cider apple pulp is also fed to cattle. They also have horses and mules for local travel and working the fields.

I have to say I'm not particularly fond of all Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish based) cooking. I had sauerkraut and pork one night that was acceptable, but seemed more of a way that would be using leftovers of a pork roast at home than a restaurant menu item. I was also surprised that the New England whoopie pie had made it as a pastry item the Amish bakers had taken to. I guess it's a good single serving cake.

In Cape May I stopped and ate seafood. Of course! I couldn't go without a good seafood meal there. I also bought finnan haddie to fix at home. I do like smoked fish.

In addition to finnan haddie, I've made beef stew the way I like to with red wine, onions, mushrooms, and carrots, and flavored with garlic and thyme, Bernard Clayton's rich white bread out of his Bread book, baked apples with the apples bought in Amish country, and steak. Yeah, we're a red meat house pretty often. The hubby's from Colorado and used to beef. Oh, yes, and one night I did a ham steak with roasted sweet potato spears. The sweet potatoes came out really nice and roasty toasty and were so good!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chai tea

Today is blustery, wet, and chilly. Not really outright c-o-l-d, but chilly. Nice to have a beautiful collie laying at my feet, especially a dry collie, but of course they all wanted/needed out at the height of the rain this morning and they're all a bit damp. Can't blame them, I'd much rather they did what they needed to do outside rather than in the house! So, since I can't have a dog warming my toes, I'm having a cup of chai.

Chai can be flavored to suit you. What suits me is mainly cardamom and cinnamon with a little bit of spunk. I really like it made with Darjeeling tea, but my system doesn't tolerate much caffeine these days so I'm making mine with decaf English Breakfast. Not the same, but still decent.


2 cups of water (filtered)
2 inches cinnamon stick
small chip of nutmeg (use a knife and chip off a little piece about 1/8 inch)
8 to 12 cardamom pods
3 or 4 black peppercorns
1/3 coin of crystallized ginger

Bring water to the boil. Boil for 2 or 3 minutes, then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer 10 minutes.

Reheat water to the boil. Add tea for desired strength (1 or 2 teabags - remember this is served with milk). Let steep for about 5 minutes. Add sweetener, which for me is honey, and milk to the desired milkiness.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Spiced Cider

I seem to be falling into a pattern. Past posts seem to rely on oatmeal, and now the last post and this one are apple related. Oh, well. Maybe it's a relationship with being a bit seasonal - with the season certain things are common in the cooking. Winter tends to be a time for stews and roasts because warming up the kitchen is a pleasure and warming for the rest of the house. Summer barbecues and grilling means that heating the kitchen and the house isn't a problem.

Now that's not to say that I don't bake in the summer because I dearly love peach cobbler, blackberry cobbler or pie, and strawberry shortcake - just that I don't bake anywhere near as often. Nothing like getting the fruit in the morning either from the farmers market or from the garden, then cooking in the afternoon, and on the plate at supper (or before - you have to test it as the cook, you know)!

My daughter several years ago told me she likes my spiced cider better than a number of other people's because mine has more than just cinnamon. It does. If any of the spices don't appeal to you, leave them out, and if you don't have them, leave them out. It will be tasty anyway. The proportions are for a single serving

Spiced Cider for One

One cup of cider (or apple juice if it's what you prefer)
one inch of cinnamon stick
4 grates of nutmeg on a small grater
4 cardamom pods
1/4 ring of crystallized ginger
pinch of dried orange rind

Before making your cider, taste to determine sweetness. If it's tart, plan to sweeten with a bit of brown sugar. Usually a teaspoon or so will do the trick if it's needed at all.

Add the remaining ingredients. Heat to a boil, let simmer 5 minutes. Pour into a coffee cup, and enjoy!!! Great when the weather's cold enough your toes are chilly and you're too ornery to start the heat.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Apple Crisp

Apple crisp is one of those comfort foods of fall for me. I've been making this since I was in undergrad 30 plus years ago. There were apple trees on the campus that were left to fend for themselves and I would raid when I could. I also would go to Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vt. In addition to apple crisp I would make applesauce, baked apples filled with nuts and dried fruit (sometimes with granola), and apple pies. Can't tell I lived in New England, can you? (*Smile*)

My family always likes an extra bit of crumbly crust on the apple crisp, so this one may have a bit more than you and you family looks for. It's still good, awh heck, with apple crisp it's all good! Enjoy the recipe and fiddle as you like.

Apple Crisp

5 or 6 medium to large apples (mix up varieties) sliced thinly
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. flour

1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 stick butter, melted

Heat over to 350 degrees.
Toss the apples, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp flour. Place in 8X8 or 9X9 in sq. pan.

In a medium sized bowl mix the dry ingredients for the topping. Add the butter, mix until small balls of moist crumbs are formed (all the dry ingredients are incorporated). Place the topping over the apple mix.

Place in 350 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes until the apples are soft and the topping is toasty brown and crisp.

To guild this somewhat rustic lily, serve a la mode.