Monday, March 23, 2015

Roasted Carrots

Carrots have always been one of my favorite foods.  I think the real reason is that the first time I was really aware of carrots as a young child was when Uncle Lewie was in the service and needed to improve his night vision so he was instructed to eat lots of carrots.  Ever since then I have had a love affair with carrots.

Most recently I have loved roasted carrots.

Roasted Carrots

Wash and cut into sticks a couple of pounds of carrots.  Dry them well and place in a large bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil...perhaps 2 to 3 Tablespoons but no more than 3 Tablespoons.  With your clean hands, lift and turn and mix well until every carrot stick is coated with the oil.  If there is oil in the bottom of the bowl you have used too much oil.  Use less next time.

Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of coarse Kosher salt and about the same amount of crushed black pepper.  Stir with a spoon this time unless you want to lick the salt and oil off your fingers!

Place in a large rimmed pan such as a half-sheet pan and spread out one layer thick.  It is somewhat important that each carrot touch the surface of the pan.  Tightly cover pan with aluminum foil. Let roast in a 400 degree F. oven for about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and remove the foil from pan.  Turn carrots over and return pan to oven to cook an additional 10-15 minutes.  Watch them closely after the 10 minutes.  You want them to brown but not burn.

These are delicious right out of the oven.  They are also great at room temperature.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Uncle E's Cannon

Long ago when I was a teenager, my brother E was also a teenager.  He was also very very creative!  In shop class in our high school he made a cannon.  Don't ask me how he did it or why the shop teacher allowed such a project, but he did do it.

One glorious summer day soon after he had made the cannon, the rest of us kids were lying on our backs on the lawn under the big maple tree up near the large rhubarb patch watching the gorgeous puffy white clouds floating by in the bright blue sky trying to identify their shapes...a camel there, that one was definitely the neighbor's nose.   From our spot on the cushy grass we could look out over the valley past the end of our  big white farm house.

E decided this would be the day to use the cannon for the first time.  I was totally oblivious to what he was doing (oblivion being one of my less attractive character traits developed from an early age....).  By the time he was set up and ready to go,  I had become aware. 

There he was, small cannon set up on that lush green grass and pointed toward the valley, and BOOM!!  Off went whatever he had used to prime the cannon.  What a fabulous success it seemed.  For a moment.  Almost immediately we realized that he had hit the telephone pole just past the house!  Yikes!  Being kids, it didn't seem like much of a problem until we went into the house to find we had no telephone service...

Kids will do the darnedest things.  Sometimes they are successful, but with unpleasant results. 

To my knowledge, the cannon was never fired again.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bedtime Story: Accident in the Jeep Station Wagon

When I was in the neighborhood of ten or eleven years old one day Great-Aunt Lottie and Great-Uncle Leonard came to visit.  I loved them dearly.  Aunt Lottie had the most wonderful tinkly laugh and glorious sparkling eyes.  Uncle Leonard was such a kind pleasant man.

It was a ravishingly lovely summer day so my brothers, sister, and I hopped into our Jeep station wagon with Mother, Aunt Lottie and Uncle Leonard.  There was not room for everyone inside so E, J, and I sat on the tailgate, with the lift gate in lifted position and off we left for a trip to Raspberry Hill, a little less than a mile from our home.

The road was narrow but pleasant with a wonderful canopy of hardwood trees overhead and a little brook running beside the road, though it was almost reduced to just a wet swath beside the road because it was summer.  As we were riding along, swinging our legs back and forth a few inches above the dirt road, all of a sudden Mother went over a bump.  With that bump, the accident happened!

The lift gate decided it had had enough in that up position and it smashed down on our heads.  Being the oldest, and tallest, but only barely, I felt it first but my brother and sister also were injured.  If you don't know head injuries, I can tell you that head wounds bleed a LOT! 

Mother stopped the Jeep to check on us.  For some reason she thought it would be a good idea for us to get off the tailgate and walk back home to the house, at this point, only about a quarter mile away.  Being obedient children, we headed up the pike for home.  There was nowhere that she could turn the Jeep around so she and Aunt Lottie, Uncle Leonard, L, and B, the baby, continued on to Raspberry Hill where she was able make the turn and head back home.

As the three of us kids walked toward home, we found that Daddy was in the barnyard,  scraping out the barn with the little Farmall Cub tractor.  I often wondered what his first thoughts were when he saw his three middle children walking towards the barnyard with blood streaming down our faces and onto our clothes.  I do know that he immediately got of the tractor and ran toward us. 

It turned out that when we were washed off and put into clean clothing that we really were fine.  My scalp lost a little bit of hair and there is a tiny bald spot there to this day.  My sister has a little bump to this day.  I do not remember what happened to E's head.

Moral of the story: be careful always.

Other morals:  you could choose many that would work!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Good Vegetarian Chili

Recently I received an email from America's Test Kitchen.  They had two vegetarian recipes that they insisted were really good.  Because we like chili in our house, I decided to try the recipe.

First thing this morning, before I was even dressed, I went to the cellar for some dry pinto beans to put soaking.  After picking them over and rinsing them well, I put them in a heavy 6-quart pot.  Maybe it is 8 quarts, good sized anyway.  From then on, the recipe changed due to what I had in the kitchen.  This post is what I actually did.

Put  one and one half pounds picked over, rinsed and drained pinto beans in a large pot.  Add 3 Tablespoons Kosher salt and 4 quarts water and bring to a boil.  When boiling, turn off heat, cover, and let sit for one hour.  After one hour of sitting, place pot in oven at 300 degrees F. and let cook for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and  drain through a large colander.  Wash and dry pot.

In food processor finely chop onions, to make at least 3 cups chopped onions.  I only had small onions so I removed skins from about 12 onions then chopped them in processor on pulse for 30-45 seconds.  Add one-quarter cup vegetable oil to the large pot and bring to a shimmer over medium heat.  Add the onions and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown.

In the meantime, in a small food processor or spice grinder place 1 cup of home-dried mushrooms (or 3-4 dried shiitake mushrooms if you have access to them) and 3-4 Tablespoons of italian seasoning (or just oregano if you want to be a little more "normal"), and process until very fine.  Add 3 Tablespoons ancho chili powder and 3 Tablespoons regular chili powder and pulse to combine again.  Add 1 Tablespoon cumin and pulseonce again.  Set aside.

When onions are lightly browned, add the seasoning mixture to the pot and stir for 1-2 minutes, until the seasonings smell nice, OR stop before that because you are nervous about burning them.  This is over medium heat...but still, there are always burning concerns...

In food processor pour in one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, 6-8 garlic cloves, 3 Tablespoons soy sauce (yes, soy sauce) and 2 Tablespoons pickled jalapenos.  Process for about 1 minute, until everything makes a lovely mush.

By this time the onions spice mixture is ready to be removed from the heat.  Add the tomato mixture and stir well.  Add in the well-drained cooked beans, and 7 cups water.  Stir very well until everything is combined.  Stirring pretty often, bring to a boil.  When boiling add 3/4 cups bulgar wheat and stir again.  Cover and put in oven at 300 degrees F. for two hours.

Remove from oven.  Remove lid and stir well.  Let sit 20-30 minutes.

Garnish with fun stuff like chopped avocados, sour cream, shredded cheese, lime wedges, diced fresh tomatoes, or whatever else appeals to you.   Or just dish it up and eat!  Plain is fine. 

Yummy!  Makes PLENTY so invite your family and friends to join you for a nice winter's supper.