Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Kitchen Therapy and Proposed Fermenting and Canning Projects

I have been sad and lonely lately, so I've been cooking a lot. Here are some things I've cooked.

Rhubarb-Pear Crisp, for a potluck, with the assistance of M. and N.

Potato Pancakes, with some turnip in them, along with
Tofu Sour Cream.

Peanut Noodles with Sugar Snaps and Grape Tomatoes.

Fermenting Plans

Today I had some shopping therapy time and bought two nice dresses, and, since I was in St Paul, I went to the brewing store and got some things for my proposed rhubarb wine. We have rhubarb running rampant in the garden, and I've found several different recipes for making an easy country wine out of quantities of anywhere from 3 to 15 pounds of rhubarb. I've got a primary fermenter (a food-grade plastic bucket), a secondary fermenter (a gallon glass juice jug) and a fermentation lock, so all I needed were the following:

wine yeast
yeast nutrient (which consists of urea and ammonium phosphate. yum)
Campden tablets (potassium metabisulphite--to limit oxidation and kill bad bacteria)
calcium carbonate

I'd never been to the brewing store before, but it wasn't intimidating at all, and there weren't any dudes asking me patronizing questions, which I had expected for some reason, though I know a nice person who used to work there.

I'm trying to fill up my time with elaborate cooking projects. This week I'm planning to use up my extra koji and make some yellow miso. Summer is miso fermenting time! I'll keep you posted.

Also today I checked out the Minnesota State Fair's guidelines for their Creative Activities competition, which includes canning and baking projects. I'm going to plan my pickling accordingly. Each entry must be canned in pint jars, and each entry must include 2 jars, one to judge and one to display. I went to the cupboard to see how my pickled beets looked, and I don't think they're suitable for the fair, since the tops of some pieces of beet are not covered by the liquid. However, 40% of the points awarded go for taste, so I would have a leg up there. I'll keep a few jars sealed just in case. I'm also going to enter some pickled okra under 'unspecified other vegetable.'

Garlic love to you all.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Vegan Doughnuts of Various Sorts

I'm reposting this from the old site, since I love doughnuts so much. Since rhubarb season is upon us, I'm thinking rhubarb doughnuts... Someday soon I'm going to veganize the lemon-yogurt fritter recipe from Orangette and post it up here!

Since B. bought a deepfryer, we have become doughnut wizards. Doughnut recipes are extremely easy to veganize, since what matters in doughnut-making is texture, not rising power, so eggs are not required. These are guaranteed to stave off the Vegan Hunger.

Pumpkin Doughnuts
makes 15

1 1/2 C flour
1/3 C sugar
2 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon and nutmeg
1/2 t ginger, grated or minced

Mix dry ingredients.

1/2 C mashed pumpkin
1/4 C milk
1 egg (we used egg replacer)
1/2 t almond extract
1/2 t vanilla extract

Mix wet ingredients and add to dry.

The batter will be stiff, but don't add more liquid. Doughnut batter should be stiff.

Chill 1/2 hour if you have time. If not, don't.

These will be a bit too sticky to roll out, so shape into balls and deepfry at 375 for 2 minutes or till golden brown, turning once.

Risen Doughnuts
makes 2 dozen

1 T sugar
1/2 C warm water (body temperature)
1 T yeast

Mix and set aside.

1/4 C oil
2 1/3 C warm water
1 t salt
4 T sugar

Mix together.

8 C flour

Add flour and yeast to oil mixture. Don't knead! Place dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Let rise 1 1/2 h.

Shape into doughnut shapes by rolling out a coil and pinching the ends together. Deepfry at 375 for 2 minutes or until golden brown, turning once.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Adzuki Bean Cakes

A perk about living with someone who works at a grocery co-op is the enormous amounts of free food that come home regularly. Last week J. brought home about ten pounds of adzuki beans. These little red beans are easily digestible, have a mild flavor and are good for breakfast. I cooked 2 cups of them with garlic and a an unidentified dried hot pepper I got from Sisters Camelot.

But, besides breakfast, what to do with my enormous pot of adzuki beans? I was thinking refried beans as I came home last night, but adzukis aren't particularly good for that--what I really wanted was to ruthlessly mash them. So I made fried bean cakes. I ate them with a nice salad, and with shandong noodles tossed with sweet chili sauce and peanut oil.

Adzuki Bean Cakes

1 1/2 C cooked adzuki beans, drained and mashed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, minced
one green onion, minced
black sesame seeds
ground cumin
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1/4 C flour
1 egg
dash sesame oil
dash rice vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Mash everything together until the batter is reasonably thick--so it falls slowly off the spoon.

Fry, a heaping tablespoon at a time, in canola oil, in a cast iron skillet or wok, until brown.

Halfway through cooking this I realized that a) I am not a vegan b) There were no vegans in my house yesterday night who might like fried things to eat c) I bought nice organic free-range Minnesota eggs at the farmers' market on Saturday. I was so surprised to remember these things that I exclaimed "These don't have to be vegan!"

Vegans should substitute corn starch or egg replacer for the egg, or just make the batter thicker by taking care not to add more liquids and/or by adding more flour.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Re-purposed Foods

I am generally quite frugal, more for reasons of environmental guilt than monetary ones: I can't stand to put one more thing in the landfill. However, this is really a fancy way of saying 'Feldman packrat sickness'. My grandma, moving out of her house of 40 years, just had to move a huge garbage can full of disintegrating plastic bags, early 80s track lighting without the tracks, stacks of my grandpa's ancient Freudian books, etc, and lots of it ended up in my parents' basement.

In my recent move I held on to all sorts of junk I really shouldn't have. B. said: "It's like being at a rummage sale where everything is gross and you don't want to buy anything, but here we have to pack it up and move it." This goes doubly for kitchen things. It was only in desperation that I recycled all the accumulated tupperware and yogurt containers, rather than moving and using them, or taking them to the co-op to put in the re-use bin. I was really excited to hear the new egg vendor at the farmers' market will accept egg crates. And when I bought four pyrex pie dishes at a garage sale this weekend to replace one broken in the move, I felt I was saving those pie dishes from a sad and lonely life.

So, this packrat/recycling mania translates to food. If vegetables are spoiled, I have no qualms about throwing them in the compost, but other foods get the Depression-era treatment. Here are two recent food recycling incidents.


My housemate dumpstered lots of nice ciabatta from the local bakery, intending on French toast, but we didn't use it in time and it got extremely stale. One might think that since the bread came from the garbage I would throw it right back, but instead I made croutons.

Soften the bread by dribbling it with water and throwing it in the microwave for 45 seconds.

Then cut bread into crouton-sized pieces with a breadknife or other serrated knife.

Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, minced garlic, and other spices to taste

Bake in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir and turn occassionally so the croutons don't burn.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

This is a normal sort of recipe, but instead of buying sour cream, I used sweet cream that had gone off. I adapted the recipe from the Joy.

Beat together:

1 C sour cream
2 eggs
2 t vanilla

Mix dry ingredients:
1 1/4 C flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 C or less sugar
pinch of salt
cinnamon, nutmeg to taste
orange zest

Mix dry into wet. Turn into a greased 8 x 10 pan and bake at 350 until a toothpick comes out clean, about 25 minutes.