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Archive for February, 2010

Make one 13 x 9 x 2-inch cake

Carrot cake conjures up images of a small restaurant with mismatched chairs, rickety tables, and thick white coffee mugs. (Sounds like my kitchen table, now that I think about it. One of my sisters describes this as the “beat all to hell” -style of decorating. I digress.)

This cake is so homey. moist, and earthy. I just love it, so let’s have a group hug. My recipe uses golden raisins and applesauce. If desired you can substitute 1 cup of coconut for the raisins, and 1 cup drained, crushed pineapple for the applesauce.

2 cups all-purpose flour or 2 cups white whole-wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups canola oil

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 carrots, peeled and grated (about 2 1/2 cups)

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray with flour, or grease and flour the pan.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl stir together the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in the carrots, nuts, raisins, and applesauce. Fold in the flour mixture until well combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and using the back of a large spoon or rubber spatula spread evenly. Bake for about 50 minutes until the center of the cake springs back slightly when pressed in the center with two fingertips. Cool completely in the pan. Frost with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting. ( OK, one more group hug.)

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Shortbread Hearts Courtesy of a LittleApron

1. Boy oh boy. We’ve had a lot of snow here over the past 6 weeks. I think my town could have hosted the Winter Olympics. On second thought, I think we are hosting the Winter Olympics – snow-clothes drying, drive way shoveling, slush wiping, and dog-paw cleaning. Can someone play My Old Kentucky Home while I gather my gold medals.

2. The average age in my home today is 18.75. That’s barely legal adult age. Is it old enough to have a glass of red wine while I cook dinner?

3. Speaking of Winter Olympics – on snow days it’s nice for the LittleAprons to have something  to watch other than Silly Life of Whoever and Wizards of Something or Nothing. I tried to talk my 8-year-old into reading Johnny Tremain a little while ago, but he wouldn’t hear of it. At least we have the Olympics. I did talk him into doing some homework which was good for about 30 minutes. Now he’s knee-deep in men’s snowboard cross and ski cross. He was excited to hear that Canada won their first medal. Me too.

4. So how’s the cookbook working out? Well thanks for asking. I’m digging into the writing and research. Sorghum, strategies for eating more locally in Kentucky, and some thoughtful words on goetta come to mind. The recipes are in pretty good shape. I hope my editor can help me make sense of it all. I’m 4000 words from my contracted word count. Yippee.

5. I’m off to make some bison (buffalo) chili. Thought I might try the recipe for Smoky Chili Non Carne and substitute ground bison and red beans for the three varieties of beans. I love the smoked paprika flavor and the depth of the spices in my vegetarian chili. We’ll see how this works out. Cooking is about experimentation and not being afraid to venture off the page, out of the recipe, and try something different.  Be safe everyone and until next time I bid you farewell.

A LittleApron hard at work

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1.
Watch the sunrise.
2.
Play a musical instrument.
3.
Laugh – until you cry, or pee in your pants. Now that’s funny.
4.
Make homemade brownies.
5.
Whistle.
6.
Go bowling, but not alone. (Have you read the book Bowling Alone?)
7.
Wave at children on school buses or in passing cars.
8.
Lie on your back and look at the stars.
9.
Kindle new friendships.
10.
Reread your favorite poem, out loud.
11.
Try everything offered by supermarket food demonstrators.
12.
Tell someone you love them.
13.
Tell someone thank you.
14.
Begin the day with your favorite music and a lit candle.

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Originally published last February. dscf5872Just re-reading this makes me feel edgy.

1. Buy and consume large quantities of food with added sugar . Eat a lot of them, and then some. You know what I’m talking about – packaged cookies, snack cakes, candy bars, store-bought doughnuts, and ice cream. Don’t worry about the sugar – just eat until your heart’s content. And about those power naps you feel like taking in the afternoon, don’t worry, your body isn’t trying to tell you anything.  So take your nap, but be sure to have a super-jolt cola after you wake up to jump start your drive home.

2. Sit at the computer a lot and never move. Better yet, sit around all day at work and never move. Then come home from work, tired from sitting, plop down in front of the TV, or computer, and never move until you go to bed. The ecomony is bad, so the good news is you won’t wear your shoes out. Who needs to spend time outdoors, or likes fresh air, anyway. Ick.

3. Drink lots of soda– regular or diet – it doesn’t matter. Just load up on the soda. Be sure it has a lot of caffeine, and if at all possible, make it an energy drink.

4. While you’re at it drink lots of other beverages, too, except filtered tap water. Cafe mochas, frappubeanos, lagers, ales, wine, margaritas, juice, sweetened tea, bring it on. Always have a quart-sized drink with you when you’re in the car, walking from your car to the super center, or sitting beside your chair while you watch TV or play the X-box. You can’t be too thirsty.

5. Don’t plan your meals, just let them happen willy nilly. Always have your credit card, or some cash, on hand for times when those cravings hit you, or your family, while you’re in the car. Food is available all hours of the day and night so don’t worry. Anytime you want food, even if you don’t feel hungry, just pull up to the local fast food joint and they’ll fill your belly. It’s that easy. And if you don’t feel like driving just pick up the phone, or log onto the computer, and someone will deliver your food right to your couch.

6. Avoid grocery shopping. Yes, avoid, at all costs, going to the supermarket, or the produce market. It takes an hour so why waste your time? Avoid buying fresh fruits and vegetables while you’re at it. They’re so expensive. And they just go bad before they’re eaten. Plus, those darn berries, greens, and oranges are so darn colorful. They hurt my eyes. (And they make me say darn twice.)

7. Avoid the kitchen and cooking. Don’t be a control freak. Cooking is a thing of the past, and not for us real women (and men.) Buy food you can pop in the microwave and assemble with little thought, skills, or planning. And while you’re at it, don’t worry about the ingredient lists a mile long on your assembled food. So what if you can’t read the name of half the ingredients you’re putting in mouth? At least it tastes good.

8. Skip meals. Skip breakfast. Why even eat?

9. Eat most of your meals and food late at night. After the rest of the people you live with are fast asleep, pull out the ice cream, cookies, beer, and popcorn and have a party. It’s more fun when you’re alone and you don’t have to share the food with anyone.

10. And last, but not least, don’t forget to sit around and complain about how bad you feel, how tired you are. Act surprised when you haven’t been able to shed that 15 pounds you vowed to lose this new year. Now go searching for the lastest diet book or guru to tell you what to do and exactly what to eat. That’ll work.

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Just in time for the day when the most avocados are sold (Go Saints!) I offer a time-capsule recipe (ie: recycled) for my favorite green dip (next to Green Goddess dressing). I’m grocery shopping this afternoon and a few avocados are sure to land in my cart. I hope some land in your cart too. (OK, now the recycled part starts. Originally posted February 2009.)

My counter-top vegetable basket typically houses garlic bulbs, onions, shallots, and one or two avocados in various states of ripening, or rotting, as the case may be. When one appears on its way out, rather than feed my compost bin, I make guacamole. For my plain and simple guacamole, I’ll be honest, I don’t chase authenticity; I prevent waste. Because I like to taste a bit of acid, heat, and garlic I focus on ingredients to satisfy those flavors, and then if I have the inclination, and ingredients, I dress it up: fresh cilantro, chopped tomato, or diced red onion are always winners. If I don’t have the inclination, or extra ingredients, it’s just fine plain and simple. This recipe is easily doubled, or tripled, or….   

No matter how you devour an avocado it remains full of MUFA’s (monounsaturated fatty acids). Research is proving MUFA’s to be good for your heart, your brain, and despite their high calorie/fat content, avocados don’t contribute to “belly” fat, or as I like to say a “muffin top” (if you know what I mean, ladies.) Why not make avocados a staple in your kitchen? When they start to turn soft it helps to remember a bowl of plain and simple guacamole is only a few mashes away. 

Makes one bowl of guacamole, depending on the size of your avocado     

1 Hass avocado (not a large Florida avocado. Most supermarkets sell the Hass variety)
1 teaspoon fresh lime or lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, or 1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large dashes Tabasco Sauce
 

With a sharp knife cut the avocado in half by running the knife around the entire avocado from north pole to south pole and back up to north pole, not around the equator. (I hope you were paying attention in geography class.)  Twist the avocado and it should come apart in two pieces. One piece will house the pit, and the other piece pit-free. Using a spoon, or the tip of the knife, CAREFULLY remove the pit. (This can be tricky, but if your avocado is ripe, or just beyond, removing the pit is easy. Unripe avocados squeeze their pits, for various reasons I’ll can’t explain, making them quite difficult to remove.)  Holding one half of the avocado in a cupped hand, use a large spoon and scoop the avocado flesh out of the skin. Place the flesh in a bowl. Repeat with the other half. This technique I find so much easier than trying to peel an avocado and all the while chasing the slippery beast around on the cutting board.  Using the back of a large fork mash the avocado to your favorite consistency – chunky or smooth – it’s a free country. It’s your choice. Add lemon or lime juice, garlic, salt, and Tabasco. Mash again until all ingredients are well blended. Enjoy with chips, or as a topping on burritos, black beans, tacos, pork tortilla soup, …..the list is almost endless.  

Follow me @GreenApron on Twitter. Thank you for your support.

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Follow Me @GreenApron

I’ve officially entered the world twitter for better or for worse. For those of you who subscribe to my blog via RSS, and who tweet, you can follow me @GreenApron. One thing I’ve realized very quickly with Twitter is if I’m tweeting I’m not writing and just because a little bit is good doesn’t mean a lot is better. Kind of like taking vitamin supplements I plan to use Twitter to supplement what I write here (and in my cookbook manuscript) but not as a total diet chat room. We’ll see how it goes. Hope to see you on Twitter soon!

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Olive Nut Spread

I’m in the midst of writing my cookbook. 14 chapters. Some done, some not. Over 125 recipes. Some tested, some developed, some not. Personal stories and stories about other Kentucky cooks and farmers. Some written. Some not. And then I have a blog, this blog, the one many of you faithfully visit for previously posted recipes and for the recipe for ever-popular Chex Mix recipe.

This past October and November I spent most of my waking hours developing recipes for another author’s cookbook. It was a wonderful project and as always full of learning opportunities. None the less,  I struggled to talk to you about what I was cooking and eating because so much of what I was cooking stemmed from the work I was doing at the time. Plus I couldn’t pass the recipes off as my own. It was also a book about reversing heart disease and I felt guilty about baking chocolate chip cookies, bread pudding, or anything that remotely promoted heart disease. As a general rule I cook pretty healthfully around here but reversing heart disease pushed the limits of what I normally cook.

Now I’m in the same boat, but for a different reason: I struggle to talk about what I’m eating and cooking because much of what I’m cooking and eating, 90 days from my deadline,  is going to get published in my book. I’m making an effort to not base my book on this blog, nor base my blog on the book. Instead I want to keep the conversation going about what’s going on here in my kitchen, while I write my book in the background. Perhaps easier said than done. Thus my longer periods of silence and general lack-of-blogging.

So, yesterday, my daughter and I were goofing around in the kitchen. She was bored and rather than send her packing to entertain herself I said, let’s do some cooking. Since I’m trying to use up some ingredients in my pantry, and because I fell for the pre-Thanksgiving pumpkin-shortage scare, we made a pumpkin pie. Not very seasonal for February, but with canned pumpkin many marvelous things can happen – like pies, muffins, pancakes, and bread. In the midst of the pie baking I realized it was lunch time. Again in an effort to use some ingredients in the pantry I mixed up a batch of an old family favorite – Olive-Nut Spread.

From the stories I’ve heard over the years my grandmother made alot of Olive-Nut Spread. It was economical and meatless, making it a perfect filling for a sandwich especially on the meatless Friday’s of Lent. No self-respecting Catholic grade school student in the 1940’s would have ever considered waltzing into school with a bologna sandwich on a Friday of Lent. And no self-respecting mother of a Catholic grade-school child would have packed a bologna sandwich either. I was reminded about the simplicity of Olive-Nut Spread a few weeks ago when my Aunt Mary died. A family friend brought Olive-Nut finger sandwiches to the funeral home for us to munch on between hugs, stories, and memories. Boy they were good. So yesterday that’s what we had for lunch anyway, Olive-Nut Spread sandwiches and tangerines. And no, Olive-Nut Spread isn’t going to be in my cookbook, although it could be because it’s so “Kentucky”.

Olive-Nut Spread

Makes about 2 cups

Also good with wheat crackers, celery sticks, or thick slices of cucumber.

One 8-ounce package neufchatel or cream cheees

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 cup pimento-stuffed olives

Dash of hot red pepper sauce

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, pecans, olives, and hot pepper sauce. Mix until well combined. Store refrigerated.

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