Home Cooking

Simple family fare

KitchenAid Artisan Mixer


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Fine Art of Wining

For some people, finding a good wine is a lifetime's work. But if you're among the number of people who'd just like to find a wine they enjoy, maybe even two wines--a red and a white, have no fear. You can get to a point where you can handle some wine basics without too much trouble. And you can have fun getting there by setting up a wine-tasting evening. An Ohio couple who tried this said they'd enjoy such an evening again "whether it's just the two of us or several couples--as long as we keep it casual."

And right here I'm going to state emphatically that pregnant moms-to-be will have to wait until that baby is born--no ifs, ands, or buts.

Decide what it is you want to learn: To train your palate to distinguish between dry and sweet wine? To be able to tell expensive wines from mid-range ones? To be able to tell domestic wines from foreign ones? You might be surprised to discover that even so-called aficionados, when blindfolded, can't always distinguish a red from a white. So the first rule is not to be stuffy. We've all heard the rule of thumb, "Red wine goes with red meat and white wine with white meat," but adherence to this dictum does not a wine connoisseur make.

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Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning

This amazing book from the Centre Terre Vivante in France outlines the many, many ways folks put food by before the advent of canning 200 years ago, and freezing less than a hundred years ago. Why use these methods?

[W]e believe that the traditional methods proposed herein are superior in every way: They preserve more flavor and nutritional content, are less costly, and use less energy.

All pluses in my book.

Stainless Steel Baby Food Mill

This little food mill is stainless steel--not plastic--and will serve you well after baby gets teeth. It's great for small batches of jam and tomato sauce--anything you want pureed and strained, like raspberry sauce.

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Breadman TR2500BC Ultimate 2-Pound Stainless-Steel Convection Breadmaker

I've baked two loaves of spelt bread in this, one last night, one today, and they taste great. They're the same kind of texture as whole wheat bread, well, maybe the air pockets are a little bit bigger, but they're the best spelt bread I've ever tasted. DD loves them and she's a bit picky. DH said that they're edible and he NEVER likes anything but wonderbread white.

I'm geeking out over a machine that makes piping hot, fresh, delicious bread <i>for</i> me. I'm on cloud nine.

It also does batter bread (banana, zucchini) and a buch of other nifty things. I've got quite a few black bananas in the freezer, I'll have to try out that feature soon.

I know that making bread yourself is supposed to be some cosmically significant and spiritually grounding thing, but let's face it. My bread making skills suck. I've tried and tried and tried and I make great pastries, great quickbreads, great cakes, pies, etc. I cannot for the life of me, bake bread. And it doesn't help that I am trying to bake with non-wheat breads. I've tried sourdough. I've tried spelt. I've tried rice flour. I've tried different cookbooks. It just doesn't work for me, I don't have that vibe or something. I wanted to, I tried, nada.

So I'm using the soul-sucking machine. Yay!

Next loaf: cinnamon raisin!

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Black-eyed Peas

Black-eyed peasWhether it's January 1 or September 1, people love black-eyed peas. These lucky fellows are traditional on New Year's Day, but that shouldn't stop you from serving them in a variety of ways beyond the first of the year.

Long after you've broken your resolutions and the celebrating is over, black-eyed peas have much more to offer. You can find them canned, frozen, fresh or dried, and they remain a relatively inexpensive food. Black-eyed peas are a wonderful source of iron and contain some protein, so keep in mind that they are a healthy choice year round.

Here are some new ways that you may cook up the lucky black-eyed pea.

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Make Your Own Lard

You WHAT?!" said my friend, making the most disgusted face I've seen someone make in some time. I rendered some lard over the weekend, I repeated. "WHY on EARTH would you want to do THAT?!" she cried.

I wasn't surprised. North American culture is so fat-phobic we demonize some of the very foods that are best for us, and among those foods is homemade lard. The store stuff isn't worth bothering with; it's hydrogenated to make it shelf-stable. What I'm talking about is lard from the fat of well-raised pigs, not factory farmed pigs. To get it, you're going to have to make it yourself. Luckily, that's not hard.

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Kid's Pumpkin Projects

DD got this from her great-aunt last year. It's for kids from 4 to 8 years old. It's got pumpkin lore, how to grow a weird shaped pumpkin, and other fun stuff. It's a great book for kids who get into planting seeds and watching them grow. It goes through the whole lifecycle of the plant and fruit. Cool stuff in there, like, did you know you can make soap from pumpkin seeds?

Kitchenware Reviews

This is the Kitchenware reviews page.
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How to Brew Kombucha

What is THAT!" hollered Josie when I opened the box we'd just gotten in the mail. Floating in the plastic bag inside was a whitish disk with brownish threads hanging from it that looked more than a bit like a very flat jellyfish.

"That," I said, "is a kombucha...thingie," I finished lamely. How to explain to a child what a symbiotic collection of bacteria and yeast (aka "scoby") is? Because that's what we'd just gotten in the mail, a "thingie" commonly called a kombucha mushroom, even though it's not a mushroom at all.

Read on to learn the hows and whys of brewing, storing and drinking kombucha.

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Most Indispensible Small Kitchen Appliance

Slow Cooker
13% (3 votes)
Coffee Pot
38% (9 votes)
Toaster Oven
4% (1 vote)
Bread Machine
0% (0 votes)
Rice Cooker
13% (3 votes)
Food Processor
13% (3 votes)
0% (0 votes)
17% (4 votes)
Electric Skillet/Wok
4% (1 vote)
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 24

Cooking with Cast Iron

Cast iron cookware is an extremely versatile and economic alternative to expensive copper and copper clad cookware. If you aren't currently using at least a couple of cast iron pans in your kitchen, you really should consider it.

Cast iron has several advantages over other cookware. Cast iron pans have excellent heat conduction and retention, so you get even heating over the whole surface of the pan. If there are no wooden handles on your cast iron cookware, you can use it either on the stove, or in the oven. Properly seasoned and cared for, cast iron is just as non stick as any fancy non-stick pans.

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