Hello, everyone! Cruel Ironing moved to the woods. Hawaii was wonderful but it was time to make some changes. I hope this finds you well. I am now off-grid, and learning a lot. Before I get too far, I'll share some photos just to get things started. More to come. Best, -C. Ironing
I had a very nice kalua pork going in the crock pot yesterday, but then I decided it was just too darned hot to eat it. That I blame on Hurricane Douglas, currently making the rounds of the Hawaiian islands. There's the thing about hurricanes. I don't know the science behind it, but it gets so muggy, before and after. The backyard registered at 94 degrees today.
Anyway, I have been in a cooking mood, but without A/C, I don't want to turn on the oven or wash a lot of dishes afterward. Here was something I came up with to beat the heat.
Scallops with Bacon Salad
Four scallops, defrosted
Four slices of bacon, cooked until crispy (save at least two tablespoons of the bacon fat)
1 T. Flour
2 T. white wine
1 t. salt
1 bagged salad (I love bagged salads. What a time-saver). This one had kale, shredded brussels sprouts, asiago cheese, red cabbage, and croutons. Recommend.
2 T. butter
Here we go.
Assemble/toss the salad, and get it plated.
Fry the bacon in a medium frying pan. Drain off all but 1 - 2 T. of the bacon fat. Save the fat. Once the bacon has cooled, break it up into bits.
Add white wine to the pan and deglaze. When most of the white wine has cooked off, add the fat, and the butter, and melt.
Salt the scallops and then dredge the scallops in flour. Gently place them in the frying pan and cook about four minutes, gently turn, and then another four minutes. Swirl the fat-butter-wine mixture around them.
Remove the scallops and place on top of the salad. Top with bacon. Serve immediately.
Very nice with the rest of the aforementioned white wine.
Pictured: Mushroom-onion sauce to go over your basic Salisbury Steak.
That's a good thing to make, particularly if the Salisbury Steak is resting on a bed of mashed potatoes and accompanied by steamed carrots and maybe some green beans with bacon. Killer.
Mr. L and Miss N. are big fans of sauces. After making the one above, I was remembering this piece I wrote for Wise Bread about sauces. During this time of COVID, with so much uncertainty, one of my goals is to keep my grocery budget on the inexpensive side. From one package of turkey burger, I was able to make two dinners and one lunch.
Ah, comfort food. In this time of #StayHome, I have re-discovered my comfort foods. They seem to be chocolate, wine, and cheese. Prior to #StayHome, we were adhering to a mostly low-carb diet, and were also watching our sugar intake. That went out the window, to be honest, in dealing with the shock of it all. We'll get back to it eventually, but for now, I'm giving in to some cravings in the name of comfort and serenity.
The above Stuffed Peppers have the "-ish" description because I cheated and used a jarred tomato sauce, rather than making my own Keto-friendly one. Most jarred tomato sauces contain sugar, or corn syrup. Heck, traditional marinara contains sugar, and it's wonderful. The Keto police would bust me on that one, though. That's probably also more cheese than I need. However, unlike a traditional stuffed pepper, these contain no rice. We found we really didn't miss it. Now, I think you can make a probably pretty darn healthy stuffed pepper using brown rice, or quinoa (have done both) but Mr. L says he prefers these to the traditional version. I also use ground turkey now, instead of hamburger, which reduces the fat content.
Lastly: they are so easy, and easy is good.
Bell peppers - any color
1 package turkeyburger, or hamburger
1 jar of pasta sauce, any type you like
1 small can mushrooms
1/4 onion, chopped
1 t. garlic, chopped
2 T. olive oil
Grated cheese - cheddar, jack, or a combination - about 2 cups
Bring a large pot of water to boil.
Slice peppers (I like to slice them vertically, but if you'd rather, you can do halves).
Clean seeds out of peppers, and put them into the boiling water to soften, about 8 minutes, Remove and drain.
Heat oil and toss in garlic and onion; stir until onion has softened. Add burger and cook until browned.
Drain mushrooms and add.
Add tomato sauce. Combine all.
Spray a 9 x 13 pan with Pam or brush with olive oil. Lay peppers halves in pan. Add scoops of filling to each and sprinkle liberally with cheese.
Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until cheese has browned nicely.
Serve with a green salad.
Because I am now trying to minimize my shopping trips, I have become more cognizant about using up leftovers. That's not a bad thing; I don't like food waste, and it saves money. This morning's foray into the 'fridge offered up the following:
Mr. L is not a fan of fried rice for breakfast, so I left him to his own devices.
I had never eaten fried rice for breakfast until I moved to Hilo, and began working at HMC. I occasionally bought breakfast in the cafeteria at the hospital. Their fried rice is excellent; check it out post-COVID.
It goes together quickly, and you can use whatever you have in the way of leftovers.
Heat a skillet. Add some oil and, when heated, your leftover rice.
Toss in leftover vegetables, meat, what have you, and heat everything.
Crack and egg and toss it in. Stir until the egg is cooked.
Remove from eat. Add shoyu, if you like.
White rice or brown rice both work. I have also used leftover quinoa, and it's pretty good, too.
Stay safe, everyone! - Cruel Ironing
I must admit I was slow to get on the quinoa train. For a while, I just ignored it, like skinny jeans and pumpkin lattes. I did finally try making it a few times, with disappointing results. Either I set off my timer (which also doubles as the smoke alarm) or my husband made “the face.” As the saying goes, though, the third time is a charm. I finally had luck preparing quinoa as a savory side dish (and it was even husband-approved), so I began to experiment with using it as a breakfast food.
I would not have bothered with all of this experimentation and fuss were it not for two factors. The first is that quinoa is very good for you. With five grams of fiber and eight grams of protein to each cup, it’s a nutritional powerhouse. It also cooks quickly, which is always a bonus, in my book. It's a nice change from oatmeal.
The second factor was that the price of quinoa came down quite a bit as its popularity grew.
The recipe serves four to six.
Ingredients include quinoa, “lite” coconut milk, bananas, coconut flakes, macadamia nuts, mango, just a pinch of salt, Chinese Five-Spice Powder, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.
STEP ONE - ASSEMBLE INGREDIENTS
1 cup of quinoa
2 cans of “lite” coconut milk
One pinch salt (¼ teaspoon)
½ t. Chinese Five-Spice powder
2 T. brown sugar (+ additional for topping, if desired)
½ t. vanilla extract
½ cup chopped, dried mango
¼ cup shredded, sweetened, toasted coconut (see below)
½ cup coarsely chopped, unsalted, roasted macadamia nuts (see below)
½ cup sliced bananas
STEP TWO: TOAST THE MACADAMIA NUTS AND THE COCONUT FLAKES
I think the flavor of the macadamia (“mac” nuts) and coconut flakes are enhanced by a quick toasting in the oven, and it will only take you fifteen minutes. Place the whole nuts on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees. Bake for five minutes, shake the pan, and give them another five. Add the coconut flakes, and bake for five more minutes. Cool slightly.
STEP THREE: PREP THE TOPPINGS
Chop the macadamia nuts coarsely.
Cut up the dried mango. This is done more easily with kitchen scissors.
Slice the banana.
STEP FOUR: TOAST THE QUINOA AND SEASONINGS
Heat your pan to low, and add the cup of quinoa. Toast, stirring frequently, for five minutes. This will bring out its nuttiness and give your quinoa a dimension of flavors. When the quinoa is golden and giving off a nutty scent, add two tablespoons of brown sugar and ½ teaspoon of the Chinese Five-Spice powder. Stir well.
STEP FIVE: COOKING THE QUINOA
To the toasted quinoa and spice mixture, add two cans of “lite” coconut milk and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract. Stir well, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.
STEP SIX: ADD TOPPINGS
I suggest serving toppings in separate small bowls. Let people add whatever they like.
The toppings are an extra opportunity to add nourishment to your porridge. Nuts provide fiber and magnesium. Bananas are a good source of potassium. Mango contains Vitamins C and A. Watch the sweetened coconut shreds -- although the coconut contains fiber, if you are using sweetened coconut, you are adding sugar and calories. It is possible to use unsweetened coconut, of course, if you want to watch your sugar intake.
The recipe reheats well (just add a little milk to thin it out, and microwave or heat in a small saucepan). It’s handy to make it the night before and reheat for breakfast. Enjoy!
Hello, everyone. Many of us are doing our part to stay at home, during this trying time, and it kind of sounds like a lot of us are bored.
I think that making brittle would be a good use of our time, don't you? It would satisfy the "busy hands"* and "sugar craving" requirements. When Christmas rolls around, you'll also have a new skill and can whip this recipe up for gifts.
After some trial and error, I ended up adapting a recipe from the 1966 edition of Better Homes and Garden’s Cookies and Candies cookbook. The adaptations were needed because I switched up several ingredients and found that I needed to make some practical changes.
Interestingly, many candy recipes on the Internet do not utilize candy thermometers, relying instead of cooking times. While I think that an experienced candy maker may be able to sense a correct color, or texture, I rely on my candy thermometer for best results.
I also use a heavy aluminum pan for candy making (brand: “Update”). While I love my Revere Ware, the aluminum pan fares much better with sugar and high heat, and I don’t have to scrub off burned candy.
My equipment list:
Three-quart aluminum or heavy saucepan
Heavy-duty oven mitt or “Ove glove” (pan handles are very hot, and the Ove glove is part Kevlar. Kevlar. Wow.)
Two large cookie sheets with sides
Racks for cooling cookie sheets
A helper, if you have one, for spreading the mixture, once you get it ready to pour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup corn syrup
½ cup water
1 cup butter, plus extra for buttering cookie sheets (A word about butter in candy making: You can substitute margarine, but I think butter tastes better. If you are going to all the work of making your own candy, there is no sense in using inferior ingredients.)
2 cups nuts (the original recipe called for peanuts, but a friend sent me a bag of macadamia nuts, so I'm using those. I gave them a rough chop (see photo).
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon real vanilla
Butter the cookie sheets. I don’t skimp on the butter, which makes the candy easy to remove and the cookie sheet much easier to wash, later.
Chop nuts, if using macadamia or larger nuts.
Don apron. If candy splashes, it is very hot, and you don’t want to risk a burn.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and vanilla in saucepan. On medium-high heat, stir until sugar dissolves (no “grit”).
When it reaches a boil, add the butter. Stir frequently until the mixture reaches 230.
Add the nuts when the temperature gets to 280.
Keep stirring until the temperatures reaches 305.
Remove from stove. Quickly, stir in the baking soda and mix thoroughly. Pour half onto first cookie sheet and the remaining half onto the other. Pick up the cookie sheet carefully and spread the mixture onto the entire sheet. This is when it’s nice to have a helper, since you are working with two sheets.
When you have the cookie sheets covered with candy, place on cooling racks.
I made the mistake, initially, of making this candy on a warm, humid day. The brittle would not set up. However, putting it into the refrigerator did the trick. Just a half-hour later, it was hard.
Once the brittle has hardened, take a spoon and bang the edge on the brittle, breaking it into pieces.
Store in tins, or plastic, lidded containers, with waxed paper separating the layers. A recipe makes about 2.5 pounds, which is a lot of candy. I found that I had plenty for a gift, and extra for the neighbors.
This method works with a variety of nuts, even though peanuts are traditional. Macadamia nuts are very buttery and were especially tasty.
*A former boss of mine, P. Horgan, used to enjoy these quotes, "Busy hands are happy hands" and "An idle mind is the devil's playground." Funny guy, but good advice.
While cleaning out some photos, I noticed that I have an entire folder of "Quiche" photos. That's just weird. I suppose my quiche photography compulsion is because when you take them out of the oven, they're just so photogenic. Maybe, if I blog my foolproof recipe, I can stop snapping pictures and get over this habit.
I keep reading comments online about how people get irritated with the recipe's history and just want to read the darn recipe. So, without further ado:
Marla's Foolproof Quiche
Makes One Quiche
1 package refrigerated pie crusts (they usually come two to a package)
1/2 pint whipping cream
2 cups grated cheese (Swiss is traditional, but use whatever you have)
Six strips of fried and drained bacon, broken into bits, or 1 cup cooked ham, chopped
2 green onions, washed, dried, and sliced
1 t. salt
1/ t. pepper
Preheat oven to 350.
Get out one of the pie crusts, and let it warm up a little at room temperature, so that it'll be easier to work with.
Dig out a quiche pan, if you have one. If you don't, a pie pan will work.
While you're waiting for the crust to warm up, grate your cheese(s).
Fry bacon, or chop ham.
Beat eggs in a large bowl and pour in cream. Beat a little more to make sure it's all combined.
Unroll pie crust and distribute evenly in quiche dish or pie pan. Give the edges a crimp, using your fingers, or get out a fork and crimp with that.
Sprinkle the bacon or ham onto the pie crust.
Sprinkle the cheese(s) over the meat.
Distribute the green onions over the meat.
Pour the egg-cream mixture carefully over the other ingredients. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
I say "sprinkle" a lot.
Gently slide dish into the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes. Check at 40 minutes. If it's puffed up, and golden, it can come out. If not, let it go another ten minutes.
I like to make this for dinner, and then we heat up the extra slices for breakfast during the week.
Nice to double ingredients and make two. Once cooled, you can freeze, or take to a potluck, or a neighbor.
I'll put in more photos, below, because . . . I have them.
Normally, when the urge to do crafts hits, I try to wait a day. It might go away. Unless you have a really well-stocked crafts area, it's going to require a trip to Ben Franklin or WalMart.
I came across a couple of sweet teacups at a yard sale, and just couldn't leave them be. I do not need any more teacups. However, leaving them there seemed wrong. I had a recollection of an 80's fad where "teacup bouquets" were all the rage. I loved those things and thought well, there you go.
Making them did, of course, require the purchase of floral foam and floral tape, both of which I found at Ben Franklin in Hilo. WalMart did not have the kind that holds water, and you need that for this craft, unless you want to use silk flowers.
Cut a chunk of the floral foam and put it into the teacup. Anchor it with floral tape. Then, find something to poke the foam with -- I found that a bamboo skewer was perfect. A small straw would work, too. Cut some flowers and fauna, and you're all set. Keep scissors or snips handy to trim as you go. Get the foam wet, and start poking. Stick a flower in a hole. Deliver to a good friend.
Today marks both Boys' Day and Cinco de Mayo! I am enjoying all of the flying fish around town. Tonight, we will be eating Carnitas. I like the recipe from Chevy's restaurant, which you can find here. There are a lot of steps to it, but it is well-worth the effort. My pal Anne gave me the cookbook years ago and it is one of my favorites. And so is she.
Speaking of Mexican food, I also tried a "Taco Pizza" the other night and it's one of my new favorite things. Cheers to LivingWellMom.com for the recipe. I did make a substitution - kalua pork for the hamburger. When in Rome, y'know. I was skeptical about making it ahead of time, because I have a phobia about soggy things. However, I wrapped up the leftovers, and we ate them the next afternoon. They were great! This was especially good news for all you people who need to take potluck stuff to work. My avocados weren't ripe yet, but those would be a good addition, too. Photo below.
If you get a chance, check out the 10x10x10 2019 Artist Challenge happening May 3 - 30 at the Wailoa Center in Hilo. It's sort of a "Chopped" for artists and it's amazing what they came up with. (If I were in it, I'd still be standing there at the door, wondering what I could do with chopsticks, crayons, plastic, chicken wire . . . ) Slideshow below. Fun exhibit. Support your local artists!