commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
1 lb pecans, in halves.
2 C maple syrup
2 C demerara sugar, or regular dark-brown sugar.
1 C butter.
1T vanilla extract or lemon extract or both.

Toast pecans in a large frying pan over medium heat, stirring regularly. When they look and smell done pour them onto a greased cookie sheet and spread them evenly.

Combine syrup, sugar and butter in a LARGE saucepan with a fairly heavy bottom. This mixture foams as it boils, give it lots of room.

Go put on long pants and clear the room of unsupervised small children and pets. Boiling sugar syrup is basically napalm; it sticks to skin and burns horribly. If you do get some on you DO NOT put the burn into cold water: the surface will harden and the inside will cook. As will you. Scrape the syrup off gently with a butter knife and then put the burn in cold water.

Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously. Continue to stir and let it boil for 15 minutes or until it darkens slightly or until your candy thermometer says 220 F. Add 1 Tablespoon of vanilla or of lemon extract or both and pour the mixture over the pecans. Let cool completely, break into pieces.

Maple syrup carmelises at a low enough temperature that you can't quite make brittle with it, but this makes a fairly hard candy. You can substitute other kinds of nuts if you like; we just like pecans. I bet salted nuts would be interesting, too.
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
If I ever don't make this at Christmas I think [personal profile] fairestcat will leave me.

Pastry: use whatever short-crust pastry recipe you like or find one on the internet or buy Tenderflake piecrust or tart shells if you like. I am not the boss of your pastry!

When I make my own shells I use a mason jar or teacup or mug to cut them and I bake them in muffin tins.
I think putting the tart shells on a cookie sheet would let them brown too much.

But anyway, you have either tart shells or a bottom piecrust, just sitting there. Set your oven to 375F.

Layer your tarts or pie with:

A layer of blanched sliced almonds.
A layer of sliced pear, skins on.
Small dabs of butter scattered on the surface
Small dabs of brown sugar, also scattered. With the butter, this forms a glaze.
A gentle dusting of cinnamon.
Fresh blackberries, or thawed ones with the liquid drained off. Blueberries work as well, and raspberries probably would too.

Bake 30 minutes for tarts, 50 for pie.
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
Tsardust seasoning can be bought at Penzeys, or you can do what I did, not having enough on hand, and mix your own from the ingredient list in the site. Though I had some handy to compare with, so. Just keep the amounts in the order given and you'll be fine.

Make two deep slices in your lamb roast and rub in great gobs of the seasoning mix; put a sprig of rosemary at the top of each slice; tie the roast up with twine to close the slices. Note that this will make it cook a bit faster and keep an eye on the thermometer. Scrape out the spice mix when carving; it's too strong to leave in.

Sour cherry and onion sauce: carmelise 6 large spanish onions. Pour one large jar of preserved sour cherries over them, add a tablespoon of Tsardust, and simmer the sauce until the lamb is done. Add about a half cup of meat juices. Serve.

Bourbon brussel sprouts:

This is actually [personal profile] fairestcat's triumph, not mine.

Wash and trim sprouts, boil in lightly salted water until slightly underdone. In a large saucepan melt 1/8 C butter, add 1/8 C bourbon, whiskey or rye, and a pinch of sugar.

Add sprouts and chase them around until they are well coated. Add more booze and butter in equal amounts if the sprouts don't seem covered enough. Serve.
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
Ginger spinach:

Dice 2-3 inches of fresh ginger, place in a quart/litre mason jar. Fill jar with sherry, medium or dry. This makes sauce for 3-4 dishes of spinach. Let sit for 3-7 days.

Sautee spinach in a frying pan or chef's pan on medium, with a dollop of sesame oil.

When spinach is wilted, pour on generous dose of sherry, sautee for 3 minutes, return extra liquid to jar, serve. Store jar in refrigerator once you've used it once.

Mushroom gravy:

Slice portobellos, 1/2 per person, fairly thin, and put them on to sautee with butter. If desired, add 1-2 sliced onions.

While mushrooms cook melt 1/4 C (for 8 people; tweak as desired) butter in a saucepan and make a dark blonde roux, that is, add flour until you have a matte paste and continue to cook it over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is a sort of tanned yellow. For vegan gravy use olive oil.

Add sauteed mushrooms and vegetable broth or reserved water from other vegetables, or both, until mushrooms are floating freely. If you want to, add garlic, one or two minced cloves.

Bring to a boil, still over medium heat, stirring continually, to cook flour and thicken gravy.

Add pepper, salt, dill, and/or any other desired herbs or spices (I used Ozark Seasoning this time, and if the main dish has rosemary I often use that, and so forth) to taste. If gravy seems too pale add soy sauce instead of salt.

Serve over potatoes or anything else you like gravy with.

This recipe is highly tolerant of experimentation, and of other kinds of mushrooms. I have not liked the texture when I used dried mushrooms, but if you don't mind that or can grind them to powder, the flavour works well.
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
I am attempting to make enough pea soup to feed exactly four people, with no leftovers.

As dried peas appear to be directly descended from Napoleon (la soup du jour de gloire?) this is something of a challenge.

I think I've cracked it, though:

One small hambone or a handful of cooked, diced ham (omit if desired)

1 1/2 C dried green peas
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 3 C veggie broth
4 6 C water
1/4 C onion flakes
2 bay leaves
1 t Pepper
2 T Ozark seasoning

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, stir every so often for 3 hours or until the peas are correctly mushed)

So far so good ...


Exactly four servings. Happy slurping has ensued.
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
I'm not saying I've been ill but tonight Rayne made pot roast and I made dumplings and I'm calling that "cooking".

Always and precisely (the proportions; you can halve, double, wev.)

2 C white flour
1 T Magic[1] baking powder.
1 t baking soda

The Part You Can So Totally Mess With:

1-2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 T tarragon, dried, pounded to dust.
1t Rocky Mountain Seasoning (Penzey's)
1t Ozark Seasoning (Penzey's)

Mix all dry ingredients very well.

Bring broth/stock/thin gravy/stew to a rolling boil in a pot with a lid that seals.

Add 1 1/2 C cold water, mix coarsely, i.e. just until all the dry is wet, and ladle into boiling broth.

Replace lid immediately, lower heat to just below medium, keep at high simmer for 17 minutes, serve immediately onto warmed plates with rest of dinner.

This will make enough large, old-fashioned, floury dumplings to feed three to four hungry people.

Don't open the lid, or mess with the timing, or let them get chilled, unless you like Lead Zepplins :)

[1] I am not usually a brand fiend, but here's the thing: baking *soda* is baking soda, but baking powders are all different. So, yeah, Magic, and if you want to use another brand you might want to do some googling for equivalencies.
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
We're all variously Unwell today. Nothing serious, just floopy.

In roughly the length of kitchen time it took me to make various cups of tea and one snack of toast-and-jam I have assembled a three-bean soup (Canellini, Mother Stallard, Black Valentine) based on chicken broth, bay leaves, Adobo seasoning with extras here and there[1], a scoop of dried veggie flakes, a tablespoon of chopped garlic and a handful of dried onion, to be accompanied by onion-dill soda bread.

I then announced that anyone who went through the kitchen was to please give the soup a stir and check the liquid level and took myself off to the tub.

When the beans are ready I'll add the liquid to the dry ingredients for the bread and turn it onto a cookie sheet, or possibly into muffin tins, put it in the oven at 350, and supper's done.

[1] It's not that I'm unwilling to specify; I actually feel groggy enough that I disremember. At any rate, it was by the add-and-sniff principle, and probably the better for it.
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
Heavy pot with lid.

About 15 garlic scapes, washed and chopped to 1" lengths
1/4 cup dried chopped mushrooms, presoaked by covering them with water and giving them 1 minute in the microwave (covering them with boiling water would work too)
1 C golden basmati rice
pinch salt
2 C water
1 T Sunny Paris seasoning or other bouquet garni.
2 T olive oil.

Sautee garlic scapes in olive oil until dark green and just beginning to brown.

Add mushrooms, mix in, sautee together for 3-5 minutes.

Add rice, water, salt, and bouquet garni. Cover, bring to boil, turn off electric burner or reduce gas to minimum.

Let stand 15 minutes, fluff, serve.
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
1 C flagolet beans (you could sub in a cup of nearly any pale, mild-coloured bean)
1 C veggie broth
2 C water
1 small onion, diced

When beans are tender (90 minutes, +/-, unless of course you start with canned), add

1 large can (798 ml) diced tomatoes
dash salt

And seasonings to taste.

This time I used:

2 T Mural of Flavour
1 T Oregano Indio
4 T cilantro

I am eating some with bread right now and I am Pleased.
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
We bbq'd steak tonight and I didn't feel like The Usual Can Of Baked Beans.

1 can (1 1/2 cups, cooked) chick peas/garbanzo beans, drained.
1 large can (2 cups) of diced tomatoes, undrained.
1/8 cup lime or lemon juice.
1/2 bunch[1] dill, chopped finely.

Pensey's Mural of Flavour, to taste[2].
Black pepper, to taste.
Salt, to taste, very very cautiously.

Cook on medium until flavours have mingled, liquid is slightly reduced, and rest of meal is ready.

Sometimes it's good to just let chick peas taste like chick peas.

[1] Not a misprint. Seriously that much dill, and if you really like dill, more. If you really dislike dill, basil or cilantro or thyme or tarragon would probably be good. Whatever you use, be generous with it.

[2] It's okay if this means "none".
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
Is May 1.

We'd much prefer you to post late than not at all, but if you can post on time, please do so; people get really excited about having lots of great posts to read on the day.

If you can't post to Dreamwidth, or perfer to post somewhere else, please use Open ID to drop a comment to the round-up post I plan to make on the day.

*is excited*
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
I am fairly sure that a version of this exists in every kitchen in the Southwest US that does cooking for large groups, especially vegetarian or part vegetarian groups. I learnt it at Royal in 2000 or so and have made it periodically ever since. It is somewhere between reasonably inexpensive and dirt cheap, it is easy, it is fast (if made with canned beans or once the beans are dealt with), it is remarkably adaptable, and it is, in my opinion, very good.

With a salad, it's a good lunch or light supper. It can easily be doubled, quadrupled, or halved on the fly, once you're familiar with the basic desired results.


Two cans of black turtle beans with liquid or 250 ml dry, soaked and cooked until tender, liquid retained.
Three large cans of diced tomatoes
One tetra pack vegetable broth
Two cooking onions, diced
Six cloves garlic, diced.

Optional: 1/2 to 1 lb stew beef or stew pork (or ground beef or ground pork, if need be), marinated overnight in the salsa of your choice. I like to use verde. Can also be simmered in the salsa separately and added to bowls at the table, if feeding vegetarians and omnivores.

Adobo seasoning, 2T or to taste.
Ancho pepper, 1 T or to taste.
Cumin, 1 T or to taste.
Mexican Oregano, 2T or to taste.
Salt, to taste.

(Measurements as given will make a medium spicy soup. If making more or less soup season cautiously and taste your results a lot: it is almost never a good idea to casually double spices or salt. Try half as much again and then edge up higher. Other peppers and other chili mixes can also be used if you don't have or like adobo/ancho.)

Vegetables: (omit any which are unavailable or disliked, though if you have to omit more than two this may not be the recipe for you; at some point it gets kind of thin and bland without veggies)
One bunch collard greens or chard or kale, ribbon cut or chopped finely.
2-4 C frozen corn
2-4 C cooked diced squash
2-4 stalks chopped celery
2-4 chopped carrots

Simmer until all ingredients are tender and flavours are well-mixed: 1 hour if starting with tender, cooked beans and no meat, 2-3 hours if starting with soaked beans and raw meat.

Toppings: (to be added to each bowl at the table)

Red, yellow or green bell pepper, raw, sliced or chopped.
Queso, crumbled
Cilantro, chopped
Tortillas, flour or corn, or cornchips, for dipping. You can also put the cornchips or corn tortillas, ripped into bite-sized pieces, into the soup about half an hour before serving; they will take on the consistency of pasta, and keep a very good flavour.
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
So I needed a really fast, everyone-is-tired-and-starving kind of supper tonight.

I made pasta with sauce, or, more accurately, Classico and I made pasta with sauce.

There are a lot of things I buy intending to adulterate them extensively before serving. Pasta sauce is a big one.

Making red sauce from scratch is possibly worth it if you have a huge tomato patch or a bushel from the market, or if you're an absolute wizard at Italian spicing, or if your honour is involved, but I suspect most people start a step or two along (and when they DO make sauce from scratch, make some to freeze and adulterate later).

Sometimes I start with plain tinned diced tomatoes.
More often, I start with spiced tinned diced tomatoes.
Mostly, I start with a jar of pasta sauce.

Tonight I started with a bottle of Classico Vodka and I:

1) Browned 2 mild Italian sausages and a chicken breast in a deepish frying pan,

2) Dumped the sauce over them,

3) Added 2 Tablespoons of diced dehydrated garlic, a heaping Tablespoon of Mexican oregano, sniffed it a bit, added a good pinch of adobo pepper and a good pinch of chipotle, tasted it, and added a good pinch of black pepper,

4) Added in about a cup of frozen chopped spinach,

5) Let it simmer while the noodles cooked, and served it with grated parmesan on top, garlic bread (split baguette, buttered and with more dehydrated garlic sprinkled on, then 15 minutes in a 350 F oven) on the side, and chopped tomato and cucumber salad heavily sprinkled with Penzey's Mural of Flavour.

It took about 30 minutes all in, and was good.
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
Theme: Half-Homemade

Fresh fruit filling in storebought pastry, pasta sauce from a jar with 10 extra ingredients added, packet soup respiced to suit your own tastes ... every cook has their tricks and shortcuts. Talk about yours!

Deadline: May 1, 2012

The first announcement/guidelines post is here.

The only change from the guidelines, etc, given there is, I have created a community for the carnival, as several people asked for a place other than their own journals to put their posts.

I will crosspost my entries from the first round, and people are encouraged to crosspost their first-round posts as well.

There will be a discussion post in the new community.
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
Some Ways to Thicken Things

1) Flour

A) Roux: heat some oil in your fairly thick-bottomed pan, on medium. Add flour slowly, stirring continuously, until you have a paste which is no longer shiny with oil on the surface.

If you want pale roux, you may start to add the other ingredients of your recipe as soon as your paste is smooth.
If you want golden/"peanut butter" roux, keep toasting the flour until the paste mixture is the colour of light toast.
If you want brown/dark roux, keep toasting the flour until the paste mixture is the colour of dark toast, being very careful to keep the heat low and the paste always on the move with your spoon so as not to burn the flour. It takes a while, but it's worth it: burnt roux is nasty.

A pale roux and a dark roux will not have the same thickening power: pale roux will thicken much more strongly, but not have as complex a flavor.

Once your liquids have been added, slowly bring the mixture to at least a one-minute boil to cook the flour completely and achieve your final thickness.

1 lb roux (8 oz flour to 8 oz oil or other fat) will thicken about a gallon of water or other thin liquid. If you think you may have ended up with too much roux, move some or all of it into a bowl and add it in gradually as you cook the rest of your dish until you are satisfied with the thickness, remembering that roux doesn't thicken until it boils.

B) White sauce:

Melt butter in a thick-bottomed pan over very low heat, add flour slowly, a teaspoonful at a time, stirring continuously, until you have a fairly stiff paste with no fat shining on the surface. As soon as you have a smooth, lump-free paste, add

i) cream (or half-and-half, or milk). Bring to a very low, brief, careful boil, just enough to cook the flour without damaging the texture of the cream or milk. You now have a Bechamel sauce, which you may flavour as you like or as the recipe dictates.

ii) chicken or fish (or vegetable) stock. Bring to low boil. You now have a Veloute, which you may flavour as you like or as the recipe dictates.

C) Thickening sauces or other liquids which contain low or no fat: Make a thick paste of soft butter and flour, introduce it slowly to the liquid and bring your dish to a boil to cook the flour.

D) Gravy:

(If your mother or grandmother or some other older relative or friend taught you how to make gravy, keep right on doing it that way, for that is The Best Gravy. If not, you may as well make it the way my grandmother did it as any other way: it's fairly simple, it makes good gravy, it almost never ends up lumpy, and the method has been tested and refined over at least 100 years of Thanksgivings, Christmases, and Sundays.)

While your perfectly roasted or pan-fried meat is resting/keeping warm in the oven, add a small amount of wine, beer, sherry, port, stock, broth, or water to the pan and bring it to a strong boil, scraping up as much of the bits of dripping and meat and so forth from the bottom of the pan as you can and mixing them into the fat (this is called deglazing, if you want to be impressive. Gran called it 'getting all the good out').

Let that liquid mostly evaporate, then turn the heat OFF and start adding flour slowly - I use a teaspoon except at Christmas, when I use a 1/4 cup measure to deal with ALL THE TURKEY FAT. You turn the heat off to give yourself time to work; you don't want the flour to cook until AFTER you add your liquid or you will get the dreaded lumps.

If you think you have too much fat, or you KNOW you have too much paste, both can be stored for later: the paste can go in the freezer in anything that seals. A method for clarifying and storing fat for later use is here.

When your paste is smooth and no longer shiny, add some meat stock or vegetable stock or the water you used to cook tonight's vegetables, or even last night's, which you poured into something and kept when the vegetables were done, or some boiling water from a kettle or a bit of all of the above, gradually, stirring as you go. Turn heat to medium and continue stirring until mixture boils, thickens, and smooths. Add more liquid if desired to adjust thickness. Add herbs and spices to taste, and a glug of wine if you want to.

E) Alternate flours: most grain flours (whole wheat, rice, spelt), and legume flours (chick pea, pea.) Nut "flours" are not absorbent in the same way and do not work. Non-wheat flours will require different proportions: add your flour slowly and patiently and you ought to be fine.

2) Consider the Potato

A) Potato water, from boiling potatoes. Good added to soups, stocks, gravies, stews ... the more you boil it down the more thickening it will give, but it will in no case give very much. Adds a subtle but definite flavour, especially if you boiled them with the skins on, in which case the water tastes a bit earthy. I like this, especially in red meat gravies; you may not.

B) Mashed potatoes: mash them very smooth, then slowly add stock or milk or the liquid from your soup or stew and continue to mash/stir until you have a thick liquid. Stir it slowly into your dish. Adds a decided potato flavour.

C) Potato Flakes: Make sure you have proper flakes, not "instant mashed potatoes", which have "butter flavouring" and salt and milk powder and all sorts of things that will make your dish taste and behave oddly added to them. Sprinkle handsful into your soup or stew. Comparatively, it takes quite a lot to make a difference, so if you want a very thick final result it is more economical to use mashed potatoes, as above. But this method is very quick and easy, and even the flakes are not terribly expensive. Adds nearly as much potato flavour as freshly-mashed potato.

3) Various Powdered Starches

A) Corn Starch, Potato Starch, Tapioca Starch, Arrowroot/Kudzu Root:

Thickens without flavouring and without diluting flavour.

In a small cup or bowl make a slurry of powdered starch and some cold liquid, stirring rapidly with a fork or whisk until your mixture is smooth and thickish.

Add the slurry gradually to your dish, about a spoonful at a time, stirring continuously until desired thickness is reached. As with flour, you won't see any thickening until your dish boils, so start small and don't overdo it. You can always add more and bring it back to the boil, if you need to.

Note: Don't try to harvest your own kudzu unless i) it's on land you control ii) it's free of herbicides, fungicides, and not right by a road where it's been picking up vehicle exhaust and iii) you're willing to research how to process the root, because I do not know how and so cannot tell you. Roots are NOT safer for having been under the ground; pollutants concentrate in them.

B) File/Sassafrass Root: similar to other powdered starches, but with more flavour and much less thickening power. Because it is less thickening and more soluble, smaller amounts (1-4 Tablespoons) can be sprinkled directly into dishes without causing lumps; for larger amounts, make a slurry as above.

4) Tangible Thickeners: Grains, Roots, etc.

Potatoes, Rice, Barley, Kasha, Quinoa, etc: sliced, whole, mashed, or pureed, starchy vegetables and grains thicken the broth of soups and stews as well as adding flavour, nutrients, and bulk.

5) Reduction.

Simple, easy, often overlooked. Simmer your sauce, soup, or stew until some of the water has evaporated from the liquid. Reduces bulk, often substantially. Concentrates flavour, especially salt, which is why it should not be added until after reduction.

Adding a small knob of butter, while it does not actually thicken your sauce or gravy, will increase the fatty mouth-feel and can make a reduction seem thicker and more pleasing.

6) Running Repairs: How to Rescue a Thickened Sauce or Dish.

i) Too Thick: Add liquid, stir it in thoroughly.

ii) Too Thin:

a) If you used flour: in a small bowl, cup measure, or coffee mug, add cold water very very very slowly to 1/4 C flour, stirring madly, until you have a smooth paste. Add the paste spoonful by spoonful, then bring back to boil to cook and thicken. Adds minimal bulk; dilutes flavour slightly. The flour/butter paste discussed above also works well.

b) If you are desperate for time, or out of flour, toss in a handful of potato flakes and stir them in well. Adds bulk and potato flavour.

c) If you used starch, or don't want to add any bulk or alter or dilute a delicate flavour, use a starch slurry, remembering to bring your dish or sauce back to the boil briefly once the slurry is well stirred in.

iii) Pale Colour/Bland Flavour:

a) If you want to improve colour and flavour, and you have time, brown an onion or two or some mushrooms, or both, and deglaze the pan into your gravy. Use the actual mushrooms and onion for garnish, if you like, or put them in the fridge and use them later.

b) If the colour is fine but the flavour is bland, especially if you are making a reduction or a starch-thickened sauce with very little fat in it, stir in a bit of butter to give both flavour (carried mostly in fats) and thickness (by improving mouth-feel) a swift kick.

c) If the flavour is great but the colour is pale and flabby, and you have time, make a dark roux and stir it in.

If the colour is dark but odd, there may not be a lot you can do. I made a black-bean and chopped-spinach dish the other night that looked, if I am honest, as if the Swamp Thing had had a small digestive upset in the pot, but it was already very rich in flavour and had as much salt from various sources (ham, liquor from canned beans) as I could afford. Sometimes you just can't do much before you run up against Diminishing Returns. If you have a good but greenish dish and you have some canned beets handy you can try beet juice, but I'm not promising a thing.

Consider candlelight. Consider fewer candles. Consider opening more wine. Add a bit of it to the dish, if you want.

d) If you're seriously up against it as far as time goes, sneak in half of a boullion cube, a shot of Bisto or Oxo, or a capful of Worcestershire sauce. These will alter the flavour as well as adding colour, and the boullion, Oxo, and Bisto have a lot of salt: this is one reason why you never want to salt your gravies, stews, or sauces until the last moment, the other being that until you know how much volume you have you don't know how much salt you need. You can also use soy sauce, but be very very careful with it as it can easily take over and drown all the other flavours. If you have dried mushrooms handy, you can use a mortar and pestle to crush them to a powder and add the powder to your dish.

St Lawrence of Rome is the patron saint of cooks. I'm not saying he'll help you out. I'm not saying he won't. I'm just sayin', it can't hurt to know this.

iv) Too Salty: Same as Too Thin, but also add more liquid, and possibly a dollop of unsalted butter, to avoid Too Thick or Better But Now the Flavour's Gone Weirdly Thin. Potato flakes are especially good for sopping up salt.

v) Lumpy: if you have not yet boiled the liquid and cooked the starch, try a whisk, or smashing the lumps with a spoon against the side of the pot or pan. If you have cooked the starch, you are going to need a sieve. And a second pot. And some decent privacy.

Throw everyone you don't need out of the kitchen. Set your second pot or bowl in the sink, with the sieve inside it. Slowly and carefully pour your hot, lumpy gravy or sauce into the sieve, and let it trickle through, stirring gently so that the lumps don't block the sieve holes.

Copious thanks to: [personal profile] themeletor, [personal profile] tenacious_snail, [personal profile] kd5mdk, and [personal profile] fairestcat, for reading, questions, answers, and suggestions.
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
So, I think that went well; there are lots and lots of fabulous posts and comments and discussion that I found and linked to and there may be more I haven't seen.

(One Very Important Note for contributors; PLEASE come and drop me a link to your post. This somehow did not happen consistently this round, and it really does matter. Even if you know I read you, I might be ill, or behind, or distracted, or even mistakenly think that you're making a private post about cooking and don't WANT a bunch of strangers dropping in, and I might miss your post, or not know I am meant to link it, and that would be SAD. A lot of posts got linked later than I would have liked because of this issue, and I am haunted by the fear I may have missed a whole pile somewhere.)

In general, many thanks and much love to all of you, I was afraid to commit to hosting more than one round because of my spoon-supply issues, but this round was surprisingly manageable. I am, for now, inclined to keep hosting the carnival, at least for one or two more rounds. I generally like to make sure things are at a certain level of maturity before I foster them out, if I can; it seems to make for better longevity.

Ergo, a poll.

Discussion of any or all issues related to the carnival is MOST welcome in comments; the poll is meant to get me certain information which I want to have in a handy format, not to limit general discussion.

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 59

I am taking this poll

View Answers

... and I participated in the last carnival.
15 (25.4%)

... and I read more than three posts from the last carnival.
27 (45.8%)

... and I am planning to get around to writing something/reading more than three posts from the last carnival.
9 (15.3%)

... and I missed this carnival but am hoping to participate in the next carnival.
5 (8.5%)

... and my level of participation/interest is hard to describe but I have generally warm feelings towards the basic idea and some opinions to express.
3 (5.1%)

... despite having neither read nor participated, nor planning to in future. I like taking polls. I appreciate having a box to check and I understand that you may therefore choose to ignore my comments.
0 (0.0%)

The next Carnival should be

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... in three months
26 (53.1%)

... in six months
17 (34.7%)

... in twelve months
4 (8.2%)

... at some other regular interval; I will explain in comments.
2 (4.1%)

... in three, six, or twelve months - I will say which in comments - but first you should shift things to avoid a conflict which I am about to tell you exists.
0 (0.0%)

May I help?

View Answers

I'll promote the carnival!
22 (44.9%)

I'll collect posts!
1 (2.0%)

I'll beta posts!
6 (12.2%)

I'll do general hand-holding!
5 (10.2%)

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commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
What I did a little over a week ago:

Roasted two chickens, one covered in Herbs de Provence and one covered in a red chipotle-flavoured spice rub. Stashed the veggie scraps from the side dishes and the raw chicken necks in a bag in the freezer. Boiled the liver and lights for the corgi. Put the leftover chicken in two ziploc bags in the fridge. Put the unused drippings in a container in the fridge.

What I did tonight, after double checking that everything still felt, smelt, and tasted right and wholesome:

1) Stripped both carcasses.

2) Separated the carcasses, the meat, and the skin.

a) Put the carcasses on to boil with the freezer bag of scraps.

b) Put the skin scraps on to boil in plain water.

c) Cut the meat up and put it aside in the freezer until I was ready for it.

d) Skimmed the top of the stock and the top of the boiling skin for as much fat as I could get, three times each.

e) Put the skimmings in the freezer.

f) Strained the stock, discarded the solids.

g) Strained the water the skin was in, discarded the solids.

h) Took the drippings from the original roasting out of the fridge.

i) Combined the fat from the top of the drippings container with the fat from tonight's skimmings and set it all to melt in a saucepan.

j) Combined the water the skin was cooked in, the dark meat jelly from the drippings jar, and the strained stock to make a strong broth.

k) Thawed one boneless skinless breast and two boneless skinless thighs and chopped them up.

l) Added the raw meat to the broth.

m) Added the previously reserved cooked meat to the broth.

n) Strained the fats through a sieve, then through a double layer of paper towel.

And now I am going to:

3) Put the mostly clean fat in the fridge to fry potatoes, etc in.

4) Put the chicken in broth into single-meal servings in the freezer, so that they can be taken out and used for nearly instant chicken soup/stew/etc, each with whatever spicing, vegetables, and starch the mood of the moment dictates.

5) Do the last of the dishes, then sit back and have a well-earned Wee Dram.

This sounds like a ton of work, I realise, but it's really not. The most onerous parts are stripping the carcasses and working with the fullish stock pot; the rest is more just sort of Lounging Around Reading with regular but short bursts of gentle activity.

And you get the satisfaction of knowing that you really truly did use everything but the cackle.
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
The announcement post was here. The discussion post is here; both have lots of interesting stuff in comments.

Please link your post in comments here: there is no guarantee I will see your post and add it if you do not link it here.

Posts which went up before I made this post:

I posted Thoughts on Bulk Food and [kinky is] Using the Whole Damned Bird.

Daedala "wrote rather a lot about buying an entire animal and eating out of your freezer for a year".

17Catherines posts a festival of links and recipes.

Executrix posted on basic bread-making Part One and Part Two and linked to The Basics on

Cpolk posted On How to Use a Recipe and Cooking for One.

Susan8020 posted A Varied Collection Of Links to Her Food Writing.

Legionseagle posted on Lancashire ways of cooking cheap meat slowly and to excellent effect, as well as Tripe, Cowheel, Elder, Blackpuddings and all points offal and Means of Production, Distribution and Exchange, well, actually just the last two.

Ysabetwordsmith posted Slow Cooking for Beginners.

James Bryant posted a brief but useful comment on expiry dates.

ConGirl on beans.

Kake on How to cook when you have money, but no time or energy.

AmazonSyren on Food Security, New Domesticity, and Economic Privilege and on Imbolg and Cooking for People Who Don’t – OR: Eating Local in the Dead of Winter.

Linked In Comments here:

Kathmandu wrote a very simple recipe for tomato-egg-drop soup.

Ursula posted about cooking beets, cabbage, and squash.

Crystalpyramid wrote a thing on lessons I learned from being time- and money-poor and vegetarian, and also soup recipes and a thing on lessons I learned from being time- and money-poor and vegetarian, and also soup recipes..

Seekergeek put up a post on organizing and making useful the much reviled chest freezer.

Ursula on cooking beets, cabbage, and squash.

Highlyeccentric on learning to cook from cookbooks.

Nancylebov on Scrubbing 101, A little more about scrubbing, and Mirepoix, an easy way to add savoryness.

Oursin on Cooking within [your] limits.

Chickenfeet on on beans and cooking like a peasant.

Indywind on Cooking when low on cope/brain.

Oyceter on Random tips for fast Chinese food.

Dichroic on Sunday cooking - making large portions when you have time for later when you don't.

Silveradept has some anecdotes about learning to cook by yourself, when you've just gotten out into the world on your own.

Whump on making marinara sauce and cooking for friends and family in crisis and change.

JessetheK's high-protein, low-carb, gluten-free lunch ... following this basic five-ingredient method.

Automaticdoor left a very long comment on oyceter's DW with a recipe for a rice noodle/egg drop soup that is gluten-free, vegetarian, and can be modified to be vegan.

Resolute on making Hobbit Polenta ... Hobbit food being defined as food that contains onions and mushrooms ...
commodorified: a capital m, in fancy type, on a coloured background (Default)
This was nearly as big a hit as the maple pecan: pleasingly fruity, not overly sweet.

6-7 very ripe pears (I suspect this would also work with fairly tart apples)
about 3 C frozen blueberries.

While you make a bottom crust (or get the one you bought out of the freezer - there really isn't any good reason to make pastry unless you enjoy it) and peel and chop pears, put the blueberries on the stove on medium to thaw, cook, and thicken somewhat - call it 30 minutes. Stir them periodically, but they don't seem to stick or anything so you don't have to be too attentive to them.

Lay the pears in the crust. Pour the blueberry mixture overtop, prodding gently with a spoon to encourage it to fill in the spaces between pear slices.

Make a lattice top if desired, or use cookie cutters to make enough pastry shapes to cover 2/3 of the filling.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Also: a Ridiculously Simple Sauce For Poultry, Lamb, Game, Etc:

Originally I did this with cranberries, to make a cranberry sauce that my diabetic father-in-law could have without it knocking his blood sugar too far awry. This year I branched out. I suspect that cherries would work well, too, especially sour ones (which I can't seem to find in Ontario, dammit).

4-5 C frozen blueberries
1 can condensed orange juice, ideally the pulpy stuff.

Optional: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves to taste

Combine, cook over medium heat until thickened, serve hot or cold.


Dec. 20th, 2011 03:19 am
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
At this point I am thinking I need a cooking icon.

Peg Bracken, God rest her soul, seemed the obvious choice. :-)


commodorified: a capital m, in fancy type, on a coloured background (Default)

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