hello pumpkin…bread

4Cold days are meant for baking, so today I whipped up a couple of loaves of my pumpkin bread – I had a container of Pacific Natural Foods Organic Pumpkin Puree left in the cupboard from Thanksgiving (it really IS the best pumpkin to cook with).

There is just something so homey about the smell of something wonderful baking in the oven, isn’t there? And by the way, one of my secret 3ingredients is Jayshree Spices’ Tea Masala spice blend.  It works well when making chai spiced tea, and you can bake with it too. I wanted something fun to accompany tonight’s dinner which is my hybrid cross between black bean and lentil soup and a spinach salad with a tangy apple cider-mustard vinaigrette salad dressing.  (And no, I have not written down my soup recipe it is a dash of this, a pinch of that, but I can tell you it is quasi pureed, made with tomatoes and my secret to its smokey fabulous flavor is good ham and minced orange peel.)

Anyway, I thought I thought I would share my recipe, which is a constant evolution. Pardon the haphazard way I list ingredients, but when something comes out of my head sometimes the whole codifying a recipe isn’t perfect…

Pumpkin Bread 1

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two loaf pans and set aside.

1 15 or 16 oz container of pumpkin puree (I have seen both sizes – just pumpkin, no sugar or spice added)

3 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup milled bran (yes that again – love it in baked goods- makes chocolate chip cookies extra yummy too!)

1 cup Smart Balance oil

4 eggs

1 1/4 cups organic white sugar

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2/3 cup of orange juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons buttermilk powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt (regular not sea salt)

3 tablespoons Jayshree Tea Masala Spice Blend

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon green cardamom

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon mace

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon allspice5

shredded coconut, quick oats, and turbinado sugar for dusting tops of batter in pans before it goes in the oven.

1. Mix pumpkin, eggs, oil, vanilla, orange juice, sugars, spices

2. Mix in all dry ingredients except milled bran.  Mix well.

3. Add bran.  Stir again

4. Pour batter into prepared pans and dust top with plain quick cooking oats, turbinado sugar, shredded coconut.

Bake at 350 for at least 60 minutes (my oven went 70 minutes on this recipe today).  If a wood or stainless steel small skewer comes out of center clean, pumpkin bread is baked.

Cool in pans on baking rack about 20 minutes.  Carefully remove loaves from pan and cool completely.  This bread does need to sit at least an hour after coming out of over before slicing. (just my opinion)

Enjoy!

 

 

just cooking along…chili and some other fun

So today was a pretty cool day.  Today my frittata recipe which is being featured in The Epicurious Cookbook being released this October landed me on the front page of Epicurious.com, and while it doesn’t make me Julie Powell or Amanda Hesser or Ina Garten or Martie Duncan or Julia Child, my oh my it is still very cool to me :<}

Epicurious Cookbook Spotlight: Carla Joy Zambelli and  Marsha Klein

by Carolina  Santos-Neves
on 09/12/12 at 11:00 AM

Read More  

Sooooooo….in the kitchen sink of it all, I have another recipe to post.  Easy as pie.  Make ahead and freeze, or make and eat the same day.  And in case you are wondering why so many recipes end up as the kitchen sink of it all, it is simple: a lot of my recipes evolved out of what was fresh and in my kitchen needing to be used.

Kitchen Sink Chili 

2 ears of corn – take kernels off the cob

1 onion (nice large and preferably sweet or red) chopped

2 LARGE cloves of garlic, minced

2 ribs of celery, minced

2 diced or chopped red bell peppers or red sweet peppers (sometimes they are long and red, not bell)

2 teaspoons each rough chopped: fresh basil, oregano, cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

Jayshree Chili Powder (start with 2 tablespoons)

1 packet of Sazón Goya

1 teaspoon mild or sweet paprika (Spanish)

1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika (Spanish)

1/4 teaspoon Chipolte chili powder

1 package ground turkey (28 oz)

3/4 lb. of beef round boneless chipped beef for a stir fry – chopped up small

1 15.5 oz can Goya small red kidney beans

1 15.5 oz can Goya black beans

1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes in puree (I like Red Pack or Tuttorosso)

1 15 oz can of Kuner’s of Colorado Southwestern Chili Tomatoes (or tomatoes of the same size can that have Mexican or Italian spices)

1 6 oz can tomato paste

Cook onion, garlic, celery in a Dutch Oven with canola oil ( a few tablespoons – like 5)- to this add chipolte powder, Sazón Goya, paprikas, salt.

Cook over medium to low heat until translucent.

Add red peppers and corn.  Cook about 5 to 7 minutes then add beef.  Cook about 8 minutes more.  Add ground turkey and cook through – keep everything moving in the pan so it doesn’t stick – medium heat, incidentally.

When turkey cooks through add beans (which have been DRAINED of can liquids).  Blend in.

Add tomatoes.

Add tomato paste.

Add chili powder and herbs.  Allow to come up to almost a boil and then reduce to a low simmer.  Check and stir periodically to keep from sticking to bottom of pan.  Taste a couple of times as well to adjust for seasoning – in case you wish to add more chili powder or salt and pepper.

Serve with your favorite chili extras…..chips, sour cream, shredded jack/cheddar, and so on…..

Enjoy!

domestic diva monday

Yes I was a domestic diva today and practiced some old-fashioned housewifery.  Apparently I am falling down on the job, because I just realized I still have a bed to change.

I have always been a little Becky Home Ecky, but I have a new appreciation of the stay at home moms and housewives extraordinaire I know.  They make it seem effortless, and it’s not always that at all.

Me, I have a habit of spilling on myself while cooking.  And that is after my morning French Press.

After gardening and straightening up and all that good stuff, I decided to play in the kitchen.

It’s summer, so I do indeed like to use local and cook fresh.  Part of this fresh cooking pays homage to my Pennsylvania German Grandmother and Italian Great Aunts and Grandmother.  Of course from them I get the little of this, little of that, what do you mean I have to write it down style of cooking.

First I made a couple of marinades.  One on little steaks being grilled this evening, and boneless pork chops tomorrow.  The steak marinade was made extra fun with the addition of a couple of the masala blends I have and chili powder mix from Jayshree Seasonings.  The pork is brewing in a marinade made from leftover homemade barbecue sauce.  BBQ sauce is SO easy to make.  And tastes so much better.

Now when I think of BBQ sauce I think of Southern Cooks.  Not just the queen of butter Paula Deen, but ones I have known personally (who are not on Food Network or the Cooking Channel!).

Speaking of the Food Channel, who watches Food Network’s The Next Food Network Star? Well I am and I am rooting in particular for a lady from Alabama named Martie from Team Alton.

So her name is Martie Duncan and she has a food blog called Martie Knows Parties.  Martie is the only true home cook in the bunch.

I found out today that in the weird small world of it all she is a close friend of a woman I am in a blogging network with who tells me she’s  “known her since 2002, and she’s just so nice. She’s completely self-made. She put herself thru college by working as a cop. She did wedding planning, did set design on My Best Friend’s Wedding movie, ran a successful online startup called WeddingPoints.com.

When WeddingPoints went out of business, she was devastated. But she reinvented herself and started from scratch as a blogger with nothing because she (as well as her investors in this business) used  personal savings to give severance pay to her employees.

She’s blogged for MyRecipes and MSN and run her own blog.   She auditioned for Food Network Star even though (and they don’t say this on the show) most of the contestants were actually picked/recruited by the network. She cooked her entry dish in a fire station in Chicago after driving all night from Alabama.”

Is she a perfect person? Doesn’t matter and you can see she is putting her all into this.  And I would rather watch someone like her versus that chick Nadia G. from Bitchin’ Kitchen on The Cooking Channel.  Nadia’s voice and her set assail the senses and I don’t mean that in a positive way.

But back to my kitchen.  I was playing around and cooked up this thing I do with fresh fruit every summer that is like a town with no name.  It has no name.  It is part cake and part cobbler.

I took some cherries and peaches (I am aces at pitting cherries now), tossed them in some orange juice, fresh grated ginger (tip: you can freeze fresh ginger nicely and grate it easier that way), sugar (brown and white), a couple of tablespoons of corn starch.

I tossed that into the bottom of a buttered pan. 

I did not feel like rolling out a crust for a pie (a tip I forgot to share  I think on pie crusts – Martha Stewart says brush your crust in the pan with egg white before adding filling, well I saw on some show of using butter instead and butter works better as far as keeping the pie crust bottom from going mushy but I digress). So anyway in the spirit of desert with no name, I threw some flour in a bowl, added baking powder, one egg, sugar, cinnamon and ginger, a little oil and whisked it up into a cake batter kind of sort of.

Poured the batter over the fruit in the pan, and went to the crumble topping: brown sugar, little bit of flour, butter, cinnamon and ginger and oatmeal.

Crumbly topping added to the fun as third and top layer.  Pan placed in Bain Marie and put in a 350 degree over for I forget how long.  Probably 45 minutes or so.

In between I husked a few ears of the first sweet corn of the season for tonight and tossed together a little potato salad for tomorrow.  The potato salad is with new red potatoes from West Chester Grower’s Market mixed with flat parsley, sweet onion and a dill and herb mayonnaise mustard mix that has a little malt vinegar to it.  This is a potato salad I will add capers and celery and cucumber to if I have them in.

I have to run as I still need to saute a few mushrooms for my steaks and make a salad.  The salad will be fresh greens from the farmers’ markets – bitter and regular, with a vinaigrette of my own creation.

See ya!

(Remember, if you like or love chestercountyramblings, please consider nominating this blog for a Blue Ribbon Blogger Award with Country Living Magazine.)

sharing summer recipes: couscous and cornbread

Yes, I am one of those crazy people who cooks even when it is hot.  I have two dead simple recipes to share with my readers today.  They are not necessarily to be served together, I just happened to be fiddling after gardening.

One is a summer salad with Israeli Couscous, and the second is my spin on cornbread.  Cornbread to me is summer and fall.

Cornbread

Oven pre-heated to 425 degrees.

  • dash of ground ginger
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup sugar (white)
  • 3/4 cup flour (I use organic all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (if you use sea salt, make it a scant teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used 2 percent today, but anything except skim will work)
  • 4 tablespoons buttermilk powder
  • 1 egg
  • 4 or 5 tablespoons of butter
  • turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon good vanilla extract

Grease and flour a loaf pan.

Mix all the “wet” ingredients together.  You can do it with a whisk.  I do add the melted butter slowly and last into the wet.  You don’t want to cook your egg, after all.

Combine all the dry ingredients and whisk into the wet ingredients.  Pour in your prepared pan and top the batter with a dusting of turbinado sugar.

Pop into your pre-heated oven and  cook about 25 minutes.  Today I cooked it a couple of minutes more, other times a couple of minutes less – depends on the oven.  When the cornbread is slightly brown on top, maybe a couple of cracks on the top and a skewer or knife comes out clean, the bread is finished.  Take it out, let it cool, remove from pan.

Easy and delicious.

This bread is yummy plain, with butter, with jams or preserves, or honey.  I like cornbread with honey.  Right now the honey I have is from right here in West Chester – Carmen B’s.

Summer Salad With Israeli Couscous 

 

  • 1 cup Israeli Couscous
  • Spring onions
  • Parsley (fresh flat leaf Italian – I grow it in my garden)
  • Mint (I grow peppermint and curly mint which is a spearmint)
  • 5 or 6 ounces of crumbled Queso Fresco
  • Jayshree Kosher Salt Garden Seasoning (from Florida, their stuff is terrific)
  • olive oil
  • wine vinegar
  • one fresh lemon, juiced
  • fresh radishes
  • pine nuts (optional)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • garlic powder

Boil the dry Israeli Couscous in about 3 cups of water according to directions on package of whatever brand you buy (around 12 minutes.)  Drain it and shock it with a quick dash of cold water and toss into a bowl.  Israeli Couscous is larger, and looks like little wheat colored pearls.  You can’t substitute regular couscous for this recipe.  It is specifically designed for the Israeli Couscous.

Chop up a few spring onions (or a bunch of scallions), one or two tomatoes, small bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley, small bunch of fresh mint (you CAN’T substitute dried mint, it will taste gross, so don’t even try), fresh radishes.  Season with Jayshree Kosher Salt Garden Seasoning and fresh ground pepper OR Season with regular salt and pepper. The Jayshree Kosher Salt Garden Seasoning is well worth ordering, or Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Salt would work too.  Not Lowry’s Seasoned Salt – ick.  Plain salt and pepper might be too bland, but it is entirely up to you.

Toss ingredients lightly and create a simple dressing from the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic.  Whisk the vinaigrette together and pour over salad mixture.   Add crumbled Queso and pine nuts if you so choose.  Toss again and refrigerate.

Easy and delicious.

All the veggies I put in my summer salad with Israeli Couscous today came from the East Goshen Farmers Market.  I would love to share recipes with the market, but apparently, I am too different a person for  the market manager to handle, or I am not politically correct enough, or both.  She had contacted me , wanting to link my blog to the EGFM blog, but then changed her mind.  I was fine with that (and felt bad at the time that she was obviously so uncomfortable having to tell me “oops”).  You see, Birchrun Hills Farms is a producer at this market, I am not changing my mind on how I feel about Farmer-Supervisor Miller and his part in the attempted eminent domain for private gain of Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show Grounds, or the dubious shenanigans in West Vincent.  This is why yesterday, when I had a lunch meeting at White Dog Cafe in Wayne, I passed over a couple of luncheon dishes that were advertised as being made with Birchrun Hills Farm products.

I do however, love the East Goshen Farmers Market even if Madam Market was so impossibly rude last week to me it was embarrassing and hurtful at the same time.  Which given her perky PTA mom persona the rest of the time I have seen her (which is only at the market), was somewhat shocking. It was last week’s behavior that has made me mention the drama a second and last time on this blog.

I am new to this community, so a lot of people are getting to know me.  I totally get that.  But I believe in being active and helpful in one’s community (paying things forward), and last week the EGFM said they were looking for input on gluten-free bakeries and products.  So I stopped to give feedback.  The conversation kind of  came to a screeching halt when she snapped at me how she was a nutritionist.  I am a breast cancer survivor, but I don’t go around snapping that at people when they talk about the disease and possibly use incorrect buzz words and such.  And if I am working on a community event and someone is kind enough  to offer feedback when I solicit it, I am always glad to listen.  After all, you never know where the next great idea will come from.  And well, heck, I know people who have started these farm markets and hired bakeries in this area for organic and gluten free.  I also have friends who live utterly gluten free lives and have to bake on their own because the variety of what they find at gluten free bakeries doesn’t suit their allergies.

Whatever.

I don’t need this gal as a BFF (and since I am blogging about it, a precisely made voodoo doll may be in the process of being crafted or the Welcome Wagon might run me over, I simply don’t know), but I will tell you what, being a newcomer into an area versus being part of the established community has shown me again why you shouldn’t judge before you get to know someone.  Live and let live, and her loss.   I will never be rude to this person, and I will be happy to support the market because it is truly fabulous and with the exception of one farm, full of wonderful vendors.  In that regard she has done a marvelous job.  She can’t help the rest of it.  Just her nature.

To the rest of you, my readers and the people I am meeting here and there as I settle into Chester County, thank you for the warm and friendly welcome.  I look forward to sharing more with you on this blog as the spirit moves me.

Happy cooking!