Friday, January 31, 2014

Bye Bye, January ! (And not a moment too soon)

ALTHOUGH...look at the beautiful new hat and scarf my friend Sharon crocheted for me !!  I feel like I'm living in a parallel Universe here...front of me, back of  They are just beautiful, and made with love--always the best kind of present.  Thanks Sharon--you made my night!  Perfect for these cold winter days !



  January's end.  Finally.  This has been a rough winter and is only about half over.  Today brought some cold temps and freezing rain.  It was grey and yucky and even the chickens didn't want to lay.  I took them out a couple of handfuls of chopped lacinto kale to give them some greens to supplement their layer feed and scratch grains. I think I will make them some nice oatmeal tomorrow morning...they sure love warm oaties on a cold winter's day.  It's supposed to warm up to 41 tomorrow (for just one day and then the temps plummet again), but it's also supposed to rain. So...still beats a foot and a half of snow though.

  I made a carb loaded spaghetti and marinara for supper tonight, along with some soft garlic bread sticks. It was comfort food at it's finest, perfect for a freezing wet night.  I love making marinara with lots of good stuff in it--garlic, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots and black olives.  And my home canned tomato sauce, of course. The colors are gorgeous, the reds so vibrant.

A beautiful vegetarian marinara that is loaded with organic nutrition and flavor.  That reminds me, I need to get more garlic tomorrow, because you KNOW I used all the garlic I could get my hands on for the bread sticks and in the marinara. lol

  The bread sticks were I used the bread machine to mix the dough and let it rise in there too. Then I pulled it out,  divided the dough into about 16 balls and shaped the balls into ropes and put them to rise again for maybe 25 minutes and they were ready to go into the oven. Halfway through the baking time I brushed them with melted butter mixed with minced garlic. Shut the front door! They were marvelous.  And I didn't take any pictures of them, but I'll make them again and post pictures and recipe here.


  I harbor no delusions that February will be a blessed relief from the weather. It may well be worse. But at least it will put us a little closer to spring. Before you know it, seed potatoes will be ready to plant, seeds will be getting their starts, and the garden beds will be anticipating their spring dressings of compost and manure.

  And I'm sure we'll all be wiping the winter cobwebs from our brains, ready again for the spring renewal and awakening that saves us at the end of every long cold winter.  Especially the ones like this one where we've had record cold and snowfalls.

  Alrighty. I'm off for the evening. Watching a Kevin Spacey movie called Shrink.  I'll let you know!

Bon Apetit!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hey! It's my 5 year anniversary at Dragon Woman's Kitchen!!

And the angels are dancing!!    lol

  The Actual Anniversary was January 13, 2009. 5 years and exactly 2 weeks ago (on a Tuesday).  I can't believe I've been writing this for 5 years.  Not a lot.  Not enough.  But still, suiting up and showing up enough to keep it going. And loving it.

  This picture is a pot pie that I made tonight to take to our vegetarian potluck out at the La Vista Ecological Center, where we are part of a discussion group that meets twice a month.  We have random potlucks, and the food is always heavenly.  This one is a vegetable pot pie with a rosemary biscuit crust. I got this recipe for biscuits from a dear friend.  (Thanks Mary!!)

 I didn't feel like making pastry, which is how I usually do pot pies: top and bottom crust.  I just happened to have buttermilk. Voila.  I used a Xmas  cookie cutter to make the angel shapes. I patted this dough out a bit thinner than I do when making regular biscuits, so there was a leftover pan of little rosemary angels that I took along as well.

 I rummaged around in the fridge and pantries and came up with:

2 stalks of celery
1 nice onion
3 medium carrots.

  In my big cast iron skillet, I made a mirepoix of these three vegetables in a small amount of olive oil.  This sauteed for about 10-15 minutes on low while I peeled a smallish  butternut squash.  I scrubbed and cubed 2 medium red potatoes, skins on.  I rescued the end of a head of garlic that was about to be on it's way out and minced that.

 Put these things all into the skillet together and stirred them up and let them cook a bit. I had some crimini mushrooms in the fridge, so I sliced up about 5 of those too.  I had some lacinto kale all cut up in the vegetable drawer that I use for smoothies, and so I threw in a couple of handfuls of that.  I pulled an organic gala apple out of the fruit bowl as an afterthought, and washed, cored and chopped that into the mix. A little sweetness, and I love both apples and onions AND apples and squash together, so how could I go wrong?  I seasoned this with a little salt and black pepper, some hand crushed dried basil from my garden, then added a little water and put a lid on it.  (Right before putting the biscuits on, use a little thickener of your choice and make a bit of a gravy with those vegetables. Add about 2 tablespoons of butter make it a rich gravy)

  The biscuit dough is easy peasy...

  2.5 cups flour
  1 Tbsp. sugar
  3.5 tsp baking powder
  1/2 tsp baking soda
  1 tsp. salt
  1 tsp. finely chopped rosemary (I used dried)
  1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  1  1/4 c.  buttermilk

Stir together the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it's all fine and crumbly. I slice the stick of chilled butter into 3 pieces lengthwise. Flip it over and cut it 3 times again. Then slice it into tiny cubes and put into the flour.  It mixes easier this way. Once that's done, stir in the buttermilk, mix well.

 I use a piece of waxed paper on the counter, sprinkle it down with corn starch, and dump the ball of biscuit dough on it. Knead it 5 or 6 times and no more.  Pat it into a circle about half an inch thick. Use the cookie cutter (or a biscuit cutter, or a drinking glass) and cut the dough shapes.

Put the vegetable mixture into an oven safe baking dish.  Arrange the biscuits on top and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the biscuits start to turn golden brown and the vegetable mixture is all yummy and bubbly.  After it's done, bake the rest of the biscuits on a baking tray.  I melted some butter and brushed the hot biscuits with it as soon as they came out of the oven.

 I wanted to make star biscuits, but couldn't find the cutter.  lol  So--angels it was  (either that or snowmen). lol 

  And here  it is, fresh out of the oven, biscuits brushed with melted butter.  It was sooo good--everyone loved it.  The apples added just the perfect touch of sweetness. It was rich and satisfying and oh-so-tasty.

  And pretty.  Did I say pretty ?  lol

  And healthy. All the vegetables were organic. The squash, potatoes, rosemary and carrots all came from my own organic gardens. This dish is easily made with whatever you happen to have on hand...the possibilities are endless.

Bon Apetit !

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 we go !

I'm going to start off by saying that it's been a bit of a rocky start to the new year. And by "Rocky"  I mean ...blizzards,  MINUS 35 degree wind chill temperatures, bird murders,  2 guys who forgot it was my birthday who live in my house, days with the real time temps in the negative double digits (like -14) and all around craziness.  Today is Wednesday, and the last time I was off the plantation (as it were) was last Saturday. Which isn't really that big a deal, but I like the dramatic sound of it.  We went to a city about 2 hours northeast of us for New Years Eve and came back home the next day, just ahead of a serious snowstorm that dumped about 6 inches of snow on us. About 3 days later, the Polar Vortex came through and hit us with another 13 inches.  The temps have been unbelievably cold for us, and none of that snow is going anywhere. Today is back up in the mid 20's, and might even hit 28. We'll see...

  They finally got my road semi-plowed. The Irishman got out yesterday for work, but not Monday. He got out today too, and the boy is out as well. Both have trucks. I have a little Ford Focus, and it's not going anywhere.  lol Even though they have run the plow down the road, it's treacherous, and I am not going to risk running off the road and getting stuck.

  Okay, that said...there has been some cold weather cooking going on around here.  I made a big pot of Vegetable Beef soup the day the storm was coming and we finished that off.  Then I made a big pot of white chili last night and it's about gone, between supper and lunch.

  Today I am going to make a crock pot Thai Garlic Chicken dish...and I'm going to start it as soon as my camera battery charges up.  lol  I have reached that place where I cannot cook without my digital camera at my side.  

It starts like this:
 The recipe called for 6-7 cloves of fresh garlic, minced. So...I used 13.  Right ??

  I looked at several recipes for this dish and finally picked one and then reworked it to suit me. Which is what I often do, and probably what everyone doers.  Here's the list of ingredients:

  5-6 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  Ground black pepper
  3/4 cup low sodium tamari (or soy sauce)
  3/4-1 cup honey
  1/4 cup pure molasses
  4-6 cloves fresh garlic minced **
  1 tbsp. crushed basil  (or you could use fresh leaves, rolled and sliced thin, if you have it)
  1/2 - 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  1 tsp ginger (I used ground ginger because I don't have any fresh)
  1/2-3/4 cup catsup--(I used my home made and canned bbq sauce.)

  So, we start by peeling and mincing all the garlic your little heart desires.  My little heart desired a LOT today, so I minced about 13 cloves. I mixed all this up in a 4 cup measuring cup, to keep it simple. Put all the ingredients EXCEPT the chicken and black pepper in the bowl/measuring cup and mix it well.

 Looks pretty yummy, doesn't it ??

  Then take your cutting board and cube all the  chicken.

  I used my big crockpot today for this (because I can't find my little one.  lol)  I sprayed it with olive oil  to help (hopefully) with the cleanup.  I put all the cubed chicken in and then peppered it good, stirring and stirring it until I distributed it evenly.

  Then, just pour the mixture of goo over it and stir until all the pieces are well coated.  Turn the crockpot on high and go do something else for a few hours.  Me??  I just got 3 new huge Rubbermaid totes that I'm going to put all the Xmas decos in.

Now, I've put the lid on, will let it cook on high for about an hour (as my chicken was partially frozen) and then turn it to low. It should be done in about 4 hours, maybe 5, depending on how big you cut the chunks of chicken. Mine are probably 1x1 inch cubes. Mostly.  :)  When the chicken is done, make a thickener with cornstarch and water and pour it into the crockpot. Stir it in well, turn it back on high and let it go until it thickens. Shouldn't take long.

 See you later...before it's all done,. I will cook some brown rice and steam some broccoli  and that will be supper.  I have to make bread today too, and granola.   I'll be back with pictures of the finished project and platings.   See Ya !!!!

*************************************** it is.  Thai Garlic Chicken served over brown rice with a side of beautiful steamed carrots and broccoli (with a half an onion thrown in).  Lordy, lordy--was it ever good.  I will definitely make this dish again.  Easy, healthy and delicious !!

Bon Apetit !