Tag Archives: cooking

sourdough.starter:pancakes

My dad has kept the same batch of sourdough starter going for over 36 years (even he can’t tell you exactly how old it is) and I grew up eating sourdough pancakes. I became such a pancake snob that all other pancakes are considered vastly inferior, if not just gross (except my grandmas banana pancakes….yum). On my parents most recent trip up north they brought yet another jar for me to nurture (in the many moves from apartments to different states etc I have lost or abandoned more than a few jars…) and I immediately threw it into action.

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The first thing I did was make pancakes – duh. I can actually portion from memory but I’ve had the official instructions for years and with a little practice you can do the same thing.

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The sourdough base can be used for anything from bread to pizza dough, to any other sourdoughy thing you can think of. It’s cheap and easy and each “strain” takes on it’s own specific characteristics. If you aren’t lucky enough to be able to pull from my dad’s stash, you can start your own starter. Many specialty stores carry the yeasty bits, or someone in a cold sourdough heavy place (like Alaska) could even mail you a postcard with the “just add water” components.

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rice.noodle.bean.sprout.bowl

We have been observing a ‘No Spend March’ this month which means my weekly day off routine of sushi-go-round is on hold for the time being. We’re working through things in the cupboard and the freezer, and getting creative (“They” say the average household has enough food in cupboards etc, to last a month. This house could last for 6…). Today’s non sushi lunch turned out so great, I just had to blog about it.

We sprout our own mung beans and this batch needed to be used asap before it got too “rooty” and asparagus is on the menu for dinner, so it was up to me to put these to use. There has also been a packet of rice noodles in the cupboard being ignored for a very (very, very) long  time so I thought it was time to cook them up as well. Saute the whole bunch with some chopped onion, a little butter and sesame oil, a squirt or two of Bragg’s (you could use soy sauce as well) and viola! So. Good. It made a full pan so there are definitely leftovers which is awesome because it’s so good!

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halibut.cheeks

Each time I open the freezer to grab something yummy the halibut cheeks mock me. I wasn’t eating them…yet. Last night we finally pulled one of our favorite parts of the fish out for dinner and it was super yummy. And like lots of great food, the simpler the prep, the better the end result.

  • Pat cheeks dry with a paper towel and set aside
  • Heat cast iron skillet on medium heat until a generous dollop of butter and some bacon grease (we save it in a can in the freezer just for special occasions like this) melt
  • Sprinkle cheeks with salt, pepper, garlic salt, cayenne, onion powder, etc and add to pan
  • Flip the bits after 2 minutes and lightly season the remaining side
  • Your fish bits should be finished in another few minutes (2-3) and viola! Time to eat.

You can use small chunks of any fish with the same result and it’s amazing. Simple yet delicious.

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mashed.root.vegetables

I really love mashed potatoes. Like. A lot. But the old school mashed potatoes – none of this fancy horseradish/wasabi stuff. But what do you do when you only have 3 or 4 small potatoes in the house and for some reason your husband wants to eat too? Gather up all the other misfit veggies and make mashed root vegetables! It tastes almost exactly like mashed potatoes (and not like mashed cauliflower that supposedly tastes like potatoes….it just tastes like cauliflower) and gets rid of some of those random bits and pieces that lay around the kitchen.

Last night I threw 1 peeled & cut carrot, 4 small peeled red potatoes, a cut and peeled yam (a gift from a neighbor who was heading out of town), 5 cauliflower bunches, a small sliced onion and 3 garlic cloves in a pot of water and boiled for 20 minutes or so until everything was fork tender and mash ready. Add some butter, sour cream, salt and pepper, and a little milk or cream and viola! Mashed veggies which are awesome.

Don’t have the above? No worries! I’ve added sweet potatoes before, turnips, and just about any other boil-able veggie to the pot in the past and it all comes out tasting just like mashed potatoes. I love it.

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taco.seasoning

We don’t eat a lot of beef around our house because the whole feed lot/mass produced/unhappy/crisis of contamination thing scares me (and I honestly just feel bad for those poor cows). However, a few weeks ago we bought a side of locally raised, grassfed, yearling beef from a farmer out of Homer, Alaska. And let me tell you – it’s amazing. It just tastes, well, fresh! And not “grey” like I tend to think farm-factory beef tastes. We have steaks and roasts, and more ground than I think I’ve eaten in the last 10 years combined.

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Last night we made the first batch of “americanized” beef tacos in ages and they were pretty fab.

Taco seasoning:

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

This makes just over 1/4 cup of seasoning mix, and 1/4 is what you will need per pound of ground beef (also add 1/2 cup of water to the meat, etc, etc). Add a little math and you can make larger batches which will store well in a glass jar in the cupboard for a month or more!

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polish.sausage.soup:zurek

My great grandmother Elizabeth Cszienski emigrated to the United States via Ellis Island from Poland in 1910 when she was 12 years old. Since then lots of ski’s and zak’s have married to keep the Polish in the family and makes me a 3rd generation Pole in the states (there’s Irish and English mixed in from my mother’s side which arrived at the same time, but Polish always seems to win). We still keep some of the traditions as best we can, and the holiday sausage soup is one of my favorites (Aside from pierogies. And I make a mean pierogie.). We make it for Christmas and Easter and we all look forward to it all year long. There are many variations on this soup known as zurek, but universally across the board it has a special polish sausage (known as ‘holiday sausage’ at the deli counters at Broadway Market in Buffalo – old school Polish) which has been smoked and contains marjoram, and hard boiled eggs.

  • Boil 2-3 pounds of link holiday sausage in a large pot of water for 20 minutes
  • Remove sausage from water and refrigerate the pot over night
  • Skim the fatty junk from the top of the water and bring to a boil one again on the stove top
  • Mix 1/2 cup flour with 1 cup cold water and pour into the rolling boil
  • Add cut sausage and a dozen hard boiled eggs (sliced) and simmer for 15 minutes
  • Salt & pepper to taste as well as a few splashes of vinegar

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It’s true. If you didn’t grow up with it, it looks a little gross and probably tastes the same too. But I love it. Despite it being a Christmas morning dish (yeah, this was Christmas breakfast in our house), my husband is not a big fan, so I made it a little early for me. So. Good.

If you can’t find the sausage in your local market (which there is a really good chance you won’t) you can order it through Redlinksi Meats or Buffalofoods.com. Don’t forget to get a pastry heart or two while you’re at it….

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apple.sauce

My house smells amazing right now. I made a batch of cinnamon apple sauce this morning, and now I’m roasting some beef bones to make French Onion soup later. I kinda want to lick the walls…but I know where they’ve been, so I’ll just wait for dinner. But in the meantime, I can’t stop sneaking a spoonful of sauce here and there.

Applesauce is super easy to make, but a lot of folks figure it takes hours and days so they buy the stuff at the store (packed with extra chemicals, ickies and sugars) instead. But I’m here to tell you, it’s pretty much the easiest thing ever.

  • Peel, core, and slice as many apples as you would like (today’s batch had 4 apples – small). Tip: the smaller the slices, the faster it will cook
  • Add apples to a sauce pan with 2 TB water (just to get things started) and 1/2 TB cinnamon (or however much you would like)
  • Simmer, stirring occasionally, covered until the apples start to reduce and lose shape
  • If it gets super duper watery, remove the lid and allow some of the steam to evaporate
  • After 30 or so minutes (which should require very little supervision) you have applesauce. Done. Don’t like the chunks? Throw the batch in the blender or hit it with a potato masher.

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Warm, fresh applesauce is definitely in the top 10 simple awesome pleasures in life.

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