A weekend of getting the leftovers out of the fridge

1. Tofu-shiitake-miso soup

This one was pretty good. I had a couple tablespoons of miso taking up too much room in their container, and I had some previously baked tofu, and I had some dried shiitakes. I put a quart of water in the fridge in the morning, with a big leaf of seaweed in it. In the afternoon I fried up some chopped ginger (which was going weird and dodgy anyway,) threw in some red pepper flakes, tossed in some of the tofu, and let that cook on medium heat for a bit. Then I dumped in the seaweed-water, minus the big soggy leaf, and crumbled some dried shiitakes into it. I let that come to a boil, turned off the heat, and stirred in the end of the miso container. I ate the entire pot for lunch.

2. Tofu-mushroom-kale soup

This one was also pretty good. I fried half an onion in some oil, added the cubed baked tofu, chopped up some mushrooms and tossed those in. Let it cook a bit. Added a splash of red wine and two big handfuls of kale, let that steam a bit. Added the end of a container of homemade stock, about a pint-and-a-half. Brought it to a boil. Took it off the stove and ate the entire thing.

3. Leftovers stew

This one was weird, and I don’t recommend it, but it was edible.

Chopped up a shallot and started it frying in a bit of oil. added some homemade tvp fake-sausage-experimental whatever. Added some slightly dodgy mushrooms, chopped. Added some leftover pinto beans. Added some leftover plain brown rice. Added about a pint of stock and a bay leaf. Tossed in some leftover steamed broccoli. Brought it to a boil, turned the heat down, let it simmer into … stew, we’re calling that.

We all ate it, the kids and I. It wasn’t TERRIBLE, just kinda gloppy and uninteresting. But it got some containers out of the fridge before they turned feral.

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Puttanesca sauce

Puttanesca sauce

Chop an onion. Crush and mince a few cloves of garlic, 2-10, depending on how much you like garlic. Get a big pot, a stew pot or dutch oven or some such. Heat some olive oil or butter, about 2-3 Tbsp of whatever you pick. When it’s hot, add the onion and garlic. Turn the heat down to medium or medium-high, so the garlic doesn’t burn. Give it a brisk stir.

Add some black pepper, 1/2 tsp or 1 tsp, depending on how spicy you want it. Add some red pepper flakes if you have them, a pinch to a couple of shakes, depending on how spicy you want it. Or you can skip the red pepper flakes. Stir that in to the oil and garlic and onions. Make sure the garlic isn’t burning. If it’s turning brown, turn down the heat.

Chop up some olives. Maybe a half cup of olives? Maybe a cup? Depends on how much you like olives. Make sure they are pitted. If you are planning on pitting the olives yourself, do this before everything is on the heat. Add the olives to the pot, stir them in.

Add about 1 Tbsp of capers. Capers are pine buds, salted and preserved. You can get them in a jar dry with salt, or in oil. Normally I would say don’t worry about exotic ingredients that not everyone has in their home, and skip the capers if you don’t have any. But capers are sort of half the point of puttanesca sauce. So maybe you could get some.

If you don’t have capers? Well, we can actually work around that. Add more red pepper flakes, add more olives, add about 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt, or 1/4 tsp iodized table salt. And add just about a splash of vinegar. Whatever vinegar you have. Just a small splash.

Give everything a stir. Cook until the onions are translucent. If the garlic is burning, turn the heat down and keep cooking the stuff until the onions are translucent.

When the onions are done, add your tomatoes. You have LOTS of options, here, for tomatoes. You could add:

2 large cans of peeled tomatoes. They could be diced, or crushed, or whole. If you choose whole tomatoes, you will want to cut them ahead of time, or plan on mashing them later.

OR

3 smaller cans of tomatoes, see note above.

OR

4-8 whole tomatoes. Most every recipe will tell you to peel the tomatoes, which strikes me as a HUGE pain. If you want the tomatoes peeled, I recommend canned tomatoes. And after you peel them, you probably want to chop them.

OR

6-12 Roma or plum tomatoes, see the note about peeling.

OR

3-5 cups of cherry tomatoes. This is what I had, so this is what I used. I did not bother peeling them.

Add your tomatoes, whatever they are. Mix with the stuff in the pot. Turn the heat up to at least medium, maybe a bit more. Let it cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The tomatoes will start to break down. I helped this along by taking a potato masher and crushing the tomatoes in the pot as they cooked. If you start with diced or crushed canned tomatoes, this is already taken care of for you.

After about fifteen minutes, the sauce will be a rich mix of tomato, oil or butter, and aromatics. The capers (or the vinegar splash) blend with the acid of the tomatoes. The olives and capers add salt. The black pepper and red pepper flakes give it a kick.

Recipes at this point always say ‘serve immediately over fresh pasta’ or something. I put the whole pot of sauce into a container in the fridge, so I can have it over the coming week. And, in fact, I heated it up with a fake vegetarian sausage for dinner last night. It was really nummy.

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Garden plans

It snowed again here, yesterday. Nonetheless, I am making garden plans.

We’re going to put a raised bed in against the south wall of the house. (We did get the soil tested for lead first, since the house is very old and has been repainted a few times.)

I want to plants herbs — thyme, marjoram, basil, rosemary, dill. And I want to plant vegetables. Zebra carrots, the short, round little carrots in a variety of colors. Yellow summer squash, and a tomato plant. Not too many vegetables, mostly herbs, since I have also joined a CSA for the summer. I think we’ll be drowning in vegetables.

But, herbs. Fresh, sun-warmed herbs.

I’m daydreaming about herbs during these days of sleet.

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February 6 2013

1. Yesterday did not go as smoothly as I’d hoped.

THAT SAID.

2. My family is eating about three bunches of kale per week. Also, I am sick of apples.

3. Sarah Monette has an excellent essay in this month’s Apex Magazine. Welcome to the Reformation, Bitches.

4. The plan for later today involves turning in passport applications for me, J, and the kids.

5. It also involves the beginning of Spanish lessons for the adults in the family, in addition to the children.

6. Which reminds me that, at one point in my life, I owned a copy of Isabel Allende’s The House of Spirits in Spanish, the which I could just barely read with a dictionary and a full working knowledge of the English translation. Pretty sure I donated it to the Goodwill at some point.

7. Today is New Comics Day, and I am excited for new comics. I am pretty much excited for new comics every week, because every week holds some title or another that makes me really happy.

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January 31 2013

1. Roast Brussel Sprouts

Pre-heat oven to 400 F.

Cut the ends off of a mess of brussel sprouts. Peel away any loose or brown leaves. Put into an oven-safe dish that has a lid.

Trim a small head of broccoli into bite-sized pieces. I only use the florets, because I don’t like the stems. Add to the dish.

Pour a couple tablespoons of olive oil over the veggies. Add a teaspoon of pepper, and some amount of salt between a pinch and a teaspoon, depending on how much salt you want. Stir until everything is coated evenly.

Cover the dish, put it in the over. Cook for 20 minutes. Stir everything a bit. Cook another 10-20 minutes, depending on how much stuff you have in your pot.

Eat.

2. The thing I am most enjoying about Tumblr is that I can follow television shows I would not enjoy watching, and only see the Parts Relevant to My Interests. Because other people, interested in the same stuff I am, make gifs and images and fanart and fanfic and post it to Tumblr. And I get an EXTREMELY biased view of what the show is about. A happy, happy view.

3. Hawkeye #7 came out yesterday. Portions of the sales of this comic are being donated to disaster relief. But, if you just want to donate without getting the comic, donate and give it as a gift in honor of Hawkguy.

#hawkguy #greatwithboats #redcross

Spread the word.

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Last night’s bruschetta, a recipe

1. My son, the poor pook, was pretty sick yesterday. Fingers crossed that he feels better today.

2. The knitting pattern for Carol Danvers’ Lucky Hat is a real thing, and I wish I was a knitter because I would wear the HELL out of that hat.

3. I made the best bruschetta for dinner last night.

Spinach Mushroom Bruschetta

Loaf or two of french bread, sliced
small pkg.of chopped frozen spinach
4 Tbsp olive oil
cup of chopped onion
3 cloves of garlic (or more if you like, I used eight cloves)
8 oz. pkg. of mushrooms chopped
1/2 cup mayo
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Saute onion, mushroom, and garlic in olive oil. Add chopped spinach. Remove from heat. Add mayo and parmesan cheese.

Butter one side of the french bread slices and place (buttered side down) on baking sheet. Top with spinach mixture.

Bake 10 minutes.

You can also make this with chopped artichoke hearts instead of mushrooms.

NOM.

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My own sort of chai

So, it’s winter. And in winter I want to eat ALL THE SPICY FOOD. And drink ALL THE SPICY DRINKS. This means I love chai.

The problem is, I live in Minnesota. And the chai that is easily available to me is either in tea bags or is the chai-latte-sugarbomb from a coffeeshop. I don’t want the sugarbomb, most of the time. And the tea bags taste like … not very much.

I looked up what goes into chai, and started making my own.

A teaspoon of loose-leaf black tea. (I skip this in the evenings.) (I use Welsh Breakfast, from The Tea Source. They ship anywhere.)
A cinnamon stick, crumbled
4-6 pieces of clove
4-6 black peppercorns
6-8 cumin seeds
a pinch of ground dried lemon peel
(I shop at Target, and ALL of those above things are available in Target’s Archer Farms spice brand.)
a chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped, about the size of my thumb joint. I have small hands. (I do go through a LOT of ginger this way.)

I have a tea strainer that looks like this that fits in my Tweet of Twithulhu mug. I put the above-listed stuff in the strainer and pour almost-boiling water over it. If I intend to add milk, I make it half full. Then I add milk (I’m on an almond milk kick these days, and that works just fine.) I might add sugar, but mostly I don’t.

Hot, spicy beverage, any time I want it. Yum.

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