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Archive for March, 2013

Tuesday March 26, 2013

I don’t usually go in big for St Patrick’s Day, although there are some Quigleys on my father’s side of the family from way back.     As a kid in school I’d wear something green  but generally the day passes as any other.  I came upon a recipe for St Patrick’s Day the other week…. Irish Chop Suey of all things!      I am reluctant to admit this but I now read our local newspaper more than I ever have.   Since I am caregiver for my mother I sit with her and flip through the paper, do the crossword puzzle and regularly solve SUDOKU.    A little exercise for my brain, it’s easier than forcing myself to wade through old algebra books!       The recipe uses egg noodles, ground beef and Guinness among a few other basic ingredients.      Guinness is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide.   News to me!    It’s brewed in nearly 60 countries and can be found in over 100.    An unlikely pairing, so much so that I decided to give it a go.

As does happen in our family,  a holiday, event or even a birthday sometimes is celebrated or acknowledged after the fact!  You know, busy schedules, conflicts, etc!    Hence, I bought the Guinness and egg noodles over the weekend and whipped up this dish tonight.   The noodles are cooked in the brew and the liquid from the noodles is used in the sauce.    It came together quickly but I realized the Guinness imparted a bitter taste ( a feature of the brew is the burnt flavor derived from roasted unmalted barley)  to the noodles as well as the meat sauce so I was leery about the outcome.  I admit I added a tsp or so of sugar to the sauce to counteract the Guinness.   Here is the final product.   I am not sure I will do this again, unless as my husband suggested, we skip the Guinness!

guiness din 004Irish Chop Suey       6 Servings

 

6 – 12 oz bottles Guinness

1 # package wide egg noodles

1 1/2# 90% lean ground beef

1 large yellow onion minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 Tbsp flour

1 tbsp brown mustard

2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp dries thyme

salt & pepper to taste

3 scallions, chopped for garnish ( white & green parts)  I used chopped green pepper since I didn’t have scallions!

In large stockpot bring Guinness to boil.  Add egg noodles cook till al dente according to pkg directions.  Drain noodles, but reserve 3 cups of Guinness liquid ( add water if needed to bring up to 3 cups).  Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute onions, garlic and ground beef till browned and cooked through bout 10 minutes.  Add the flour, stir to coat.  Stir in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and reserved Guinness liquid.  Cook for 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened.     Season to taste with salt & pepper.   You may need to add a bit of sugar!   Add noodles, serve & top with scallions ( peppers! ).

Recipe adapted from The Daily Progress Food section.

Enjoy any day or on St Patrick’s!   Mangia!  Until next time we meet.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

As I strolled down the long clean, bright, well stocked back aisle of a local grocery store I was struck, unusually so, by the notion of how fortunate we are in the USA.   I went to the store to buy almond milk and eggs having just had our power restored at the house after 5 days of pioneer life!   No electric, therefore no running water, heat, functioning toilets and of course no ovens.   I have always insisted on a gas stove or cooktop ( best for cooking ) so we could cook and heat the snow for water  which we used for washing and flushing toilets!

It snowed about 6″ in our area, by mid day Wednesday.  It was heavy wet snow and caused so many weak trees to break,  snapping power lines and destroying transformers leaving hundred’s of 1000’s in the dark.     We awoke around 2 am, Wednesday morning, noticing the power was out.  It had snowed about 3″ and as we stared wide awake into the void,  we were astounded by an eerie unusual light show.       Could it be a curious flying saucer pilot stopping by our property??!!   We thought it may have been snow lightning but also heard a very loud fizzling sound at the same time.  The entire sky lit up, intensifying the snowfall and we realized later on Wednesday that the destroyed transformer & snapped cable was emitting intense light out on the road.  Weird & exciting.

As I write this, some homes and businesses still have not had power restored.   As I say we were fortunate!

I have to admit this is an extraordinary experience and you can’t help but think of those sturdy ancestors of years past who lived a hard demanding life without our modern conveniences.  Men, women and children were tough, self reliant, very capable and confident, they had to be to survive.  Boy have we changed.   This is the second occasion in the last few years where we have experienced a power outage for at least 5 days, both in the winter.   It is a great test of preparation, spirit and patience.  Hauling & heating water all day, transferring food, cooking by candlelight, clearing tree limbs, shoveling snow, my husband cut up the downed trees, with the help of a neighbor.   Thank goodness we put up water before the storm hit, and we had staple food items in the pantry so I felt fairly well prepared.  Cooking was fun the first night, though it lost it’s luster as days passed!  I have a percolator ( my mother’s ) for coffee, but good grief, I had whole beans … so out came the mortar & pestle.  Much harder than grinding herbs or sesame seeds, as my hands can attest to, but I had my coffee.  Sweet!

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Cooking by candlelight….. and melting snow … technique!

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Grinding the coffee beans.

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The handy percolator!

The bakery was closed, the last cookie order was kept cold until delivered.

Sunday morning I insisted on making chocolate chip pancakes, a recipe for which I had posted on my bakery Facebook page.  Alas, you guessed it, my computer was unresponsive, silent, shut down, discarded for days.  So I mixed up a batch of basic pancakes, used half the batter for my husband and threw mini chocolate chips into the remaining batter for me!  Yum!  We had to ration the pure maple syrup though as we were in short supply.   Must use more eggs, the ice was melting, the perishable food was not staying as cold, so I whipped up a side of scrambled eggs with cheese.   What more could we ask for?  Life was sweet but we were jumping for joy when the hum of the refrigerator tickled our ears on late Sunday afternoon.   Lots of clothes to wash, floors & refrigerators to be cleaned, buckets of water taken outside, etc. on Monday.   Life goes on, it can be easy or difficult, it is up to us!

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Chocolate chip pancakes.  Yummy!

Yesterday I went to the store for more basics and as readied to check out I happened to walk through the baking section, noticed my favored brownie mix was on sale (yes I have been known to buy a mix at times for quick simple consumption ) …. not ready to jump back into baking from scratch, the baker, threw the box in her basket and later made half a box with avocado, peanut butter & almond milk.  Sound hideous?  Not at all, the avocado & peanut butter provided a good rich fat substitute for the requested oil and created a tasty, semi healthy brownie treat for the baker unable to bake during the dark days!  I did toss around the idea of making cookies in a cast iron pan while we had no power but never did muster up enough interest & energy.   I knew my day with the oven would return.

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Commercial brownie mix using avocado & peanut butter… a substitute for the oil, making a slightly denser brownie.

So,  strive to BE PREPARED!   Until we next meet … Mangia and enjoy your family, food and life!

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

When I had the brilliant idea or so I thought, of starting a blog, I being all consumed with the notion of it, neglected to pay attention to the reality of keeping up with the blog and of how life somehow manages to get in the way, gobbling up time and sapping the creative juices. Can’t believe it is already February 2013, well actually I can believe it, but in doing so I am admitting the shameful gap in blog posts.    Am I baking on life?    Yeah, but so busy in the kitchen and others rooms of life that all my grand ideas for posts stay either as scribbles or stuck in my head.     Organization, a trait that I seem to be losing grasp of as I turn the calendars of life. When I am in the moment of typing , editing, pulling pictures and seeing results it is wonderfully fun and satisfying but, turn away, step away, allow yourself to be pulled in 89 directions and poof it is wiped clean from the frontal lobe, time passes, then I worry what the handful of people who might read this blog would think in my absence so I delay more.

In December I vowed to make sweeping resolutions, weight loss, new products for the bakery, rise earlier, be more productive, blog success.  I planned on writing or confessing my progress in my life blog.   Well done! It is February, nice job! Yeah, long list, who am I kidding?     But ya know I did take down the Christmas tree this week and 99% of the decorations are packed up and on their way to the store room.    I absolutely love Christmas, the wonderment, magic and purity of it.   The festivity of it.     We have approximately 8 boxes of decorations, most of which manage to escape from the boxes and distribute themselves all over the house each year.      fudge pie, vd box, short cookies 038

We all have unique Christmas memories that we cherish.  My mother was born on Christmas Eve many many moons ago.  She always says it must have been difficult for her mother to birth a child at such a time.   As kids my parents took us into Yonkers to Patricia Murphy’s, a wonderful restaurant, beautifully decorated for the holiday.  It was my mother’s birthday treat.  I will always remember the popovers and small sticky buns they served as an accompaniment to the meal.  The waiter came around with a serving tray or basket of the freshly baked treats.    Yum.  That experience stays with me.   We traveled into Manhattan each year to see the NYC Rockettes perform their spectacular Christmas show.   We eventually moved to Florida so the holiday took on a whole new look & feel for us.   We still made it magical!

Candlelight Restaurant Westchester New York  
Courtesy of CardCow.com             Patricia Murphy's in Yonkers NY, summertime.

Too bad I can’t put my finger on a photo of the restaurant all lit up with white lights and decorations.  Memorable, but not quite as memorable as those popovers and sticky buns!  Maybe that’s why I love to make sticky buns all these years forward!!   My mother made Yorkshire pudding,  using popover batter,  served with standing rib roast and delish roasted potatoes for Christmas dinner every year.  Popovers are a cinch to beat up but the baking process can be tricky.   A preheated hot oiled pan seems to be the trick, but alas I do not make them as often as the delectable sticky bun.  Food swirls in and around our memories, like the sweet cinnamon filling in the bun.  It fleshes life out, flavors it and makes it more potent.   Hope you’re cooking / baking one up now!  I will try to spend more time in my life with this blog!

Mangia! Until next time we eat!!

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