Monday, December 14, 2015

Scrapping your apples. Actually, not scrapping your apples. Making use of apple scraps

Does anyone else get the sense that the whole foodie/food blogging culture is just another way for people to be pretentious?


[oh no she di'in't]

[oh yes she di'id]

Here's the thing. I may have mentioned before that I've been trying, quite purposely, to get into food fermentation. It's allegedly good for you, and cures everything from bad digestion to death. So I've been slowly starting off making saurkraut and sourdough and whatnot, and recently I joined a fermentation group on Facebook. It comes up quite frequently in my feed, and usually is interesting and features pictures of things you really wouldn't want to eat.

So most recently, this innocent guy or gal comes along, and asked a question about whether it's ok to weight his food down with something on top of bamboo sticks. (You're supposed to submerge food under water to prevent mould and encourage the right kind of bacterial growth.) IMMEDIATELY a bunch of snobby foodies jump down this poster's throat with a chorus of 'nooooo how cooould you use bamboo you MUST buy snootie Foodie Fermentation Weights that are specially made from a tree that only grows in the depths of the Amazon!' and 'you're going to promote mould and DIE!'

All this because the poor person wanted to use sticks to get his or her food submerged under water.

Fortunately the voice of reason came along and others pointed out that yes, you could use bamboo, they've been doing it for years and haven't died yet. But it just kind of drove a point home for me, that as much as I'd like to believe that food fermentation is a way of preserving food, and maybe spending less money and being more thrifty and just, in general, doing things that are maybe good for the planet, maybe good for you, but what's for sure, isn't harming anyone - even that can be turned into a white privilege, snooty, blogger-speak, clickbaity, everything that is wrong with the world kind of thing.

Less snootiness, more not doing harm to others, nkay?

On this note, I will give you a recipe for vinegar. Yes, actual vinegar. That you can make from fruit scraps. That I'm not entirely sure how to do it yet, but I'm working on it, it's not perfect, I'm not perfect, but at least we do no harm.

Apple Scrap Vinegar

(comes from this website, which is way prettier and looks like they know what they're doing way better than me. Really you should go there. Go here if you want the short-hand version, and enjoy the way I write things. Go there if you actually want to see pictures and make sure you're doing it right.)

Materials needed
  • apples (or other fruit? Apparently?)
  • sugar
  • water
  • jar
  • cheesecloth or other cloth
  • rubber bands 
  1. Use apples in some other application. (Apple pie, apple sauce, etc.)
  2. Keep the cores and the peels
  3. Stick cores and peels into jar. 
  4. Cover with sugar-water at a ratio of 1 tbs sugar:2 liters water 
  5. Cover jars with cheesecloth and rubber bands so that fruit flies don't get in and lay eggs. That would be gross. 
  6. Stir several times a day until it starts bubbling, then once a day for 1-3 weeks. I like using chopsticks for this. It fits well and it doesn't make a mess.
  7. Strain out the fruit, put the liquid back into the jar. Bottle when there is no more fizzing. Keeps for up to a year. 
  8. Enjoy. You just beat the system. Congratulations, you now have less white privilege. Or maybe more. GAA!!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Hungarian Stuffed Chicken

In my previous post, you may have noticed, was a sneaky sentence about how matching the sides to the main is important in Hungarian cuisine. And then my sister pointed out, justifiably, where is the recipe for the stuffed chicken that this goes with?

Quite right. My bad.

I luuurve this recipe, but, yes, I realize for some people it can be a hurdle to make a whole chicken if you're not used to it. I didn't realize there were people who were squeamish about this sort of thing at all until I was 20-something years old, when I dated met some of them. I, apparently, grew up in the European tradition of eating animals that, yes, you could tell that they were once animals.

Silly Americans and their silly squeamishness.

On the other hand, the first time I made this, I was quite grossed out by the thought of actually touching a dead animal. Still sort of am. So when I made this recipe for the first time, it was after years of having been a vegetarian, and, instead of being easy on myself and making something that I wouldn't need to touch, like goulash, I jumped right in to whole chicken (see above for why I thought this was normal.) Also for some odd reason, I had friends over when I was cooking. (I think they were 'helping' me.) And one of those friends thought it would be HILARIOUS to open and close the chicken's legs while shouting out 'chicken butt!'

I ran out of the kitchen. I don't know how that chicken got stuffed. But somehow I managed to get it into the oven, and cooked it, and everyone ate it and had a great time. Point is, don't make friends with your food.

Hungarian Stuffed Chicken - Töltött csirke

Yes, it tends to burn the pan a little. Aluminum helps.
  • 3-4 slices old, dry, disgusting, freezer bread
  • 3/4 to 1 1/4 cup or 200-300 ml soy milk (or regular milk if you don't keep kosher) 
  • a bit of oil or schmaltz
  • 1/2 a small onion, chopped small
  • bunch of parsley, chopped up
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 whole chicken, WITH skin
  • bit of salt, pepper to taste
  1. Make sure to assemble the ingredients before you do anything else. Chop the onion. Chop the parsley. Get out the eggs. You're less likely to forget them that way, like I just did. 
  2. Soak the bread in soy milk while you prep the rest of the recipe. Preheat that oven too while you're at it - 200-220C is good, according to my oven manual. 
  3. Heat the oil or schmaltz (give yourself a high-five if you're using schmaltz) and fry the onion slightly, until it gets a little yellow.  My recipe says to add liver if you're using it, but I never have, so I can't comment. 
  4. Remove onion from heat and add it to the bread. Mix. Add parsley, egg, a bit of salt, pepper if you want (I generally don't) and mash it all up with a fork or your fingers. Don't be concerned if the bread falls apart - you want it to. This is your stuffing.
    Lotsa parsley
  5. Put the chicken on the tray you're going to be baking it in. From the cookbook, "Using your fingers, gently loosen the skin around the neck opening, without damaging the skin." Basically pry the skin away from the chicken. Not all the skin. Mostly the skin around the boobs and/or the back, I find, is the easiest. Yeah, kinda gross. I use gloves. 
  6. Take the stuffing and stuff into chicken (still got those gloves on). Under the skin if you can (not that much fits there) and shove the stuffing into the absolute biggest kitchen euphemism I know of - the "cavity." Yeah. That's right. Into the cavity. 
  7. Gloves.
  8. Chicken butt.
  9. The recipe adds two more steps here that I never ever do, but you can if you want to. One, is use needle and thread to sew chicken closed. Yeah right. Two, is probably a good idea, but I also just have a hard time following instructions, is to then top the chicken with melted butter (or oil. Or schmaltz.) Yeah, that does sound good. Maybe that's a good idea to do. I never have, but maybe I'll start.
  10. Stick in oven. I find this chicken takes a good 2 hours to cook, but that depends on the size of the bird. Officially cook until it reaches 180 (that's fahrenheit) on a cooking thermometer, or, you could do what my roommate used to do, and cook until juices run clear when it gets poked. But you probably know how to cook a chicken by this stage in your life, and if you don't, call me. I'll come over with my kitchen thermometer.
Oh, sides - "Serve with potatoes or rice, braised vegetables, and salad. Töltött csirke (don't ask me how to pronounce that, I don't know) is also good served cold."

- You can tell this recipe is my peeps, right? A "bunch" of parsley. How much? Some. A bunch. If you want it less parsley-y, you use less. More, then you use more. A bunch. 

- Pro-tip - for the first time you make this recipe, yeah, go ahead and use oil. However, in FUTURE times, save the chicken fat drippings* and put it in the freezer, and use that in place of oil. It's much better and it's good sustainable living. Plus it's fancy - like how the French pair the wine with the cheese from the same region. Pair chicken dishes with chicken fat. 
*Do this with a spoon or turkey baster in the first hour of cooking, otherwise it cooks away. 

- Really one of the reasons I love this recipe so much is that it fits perfectly with my food philosophy. Whole chicken is one of the cheapest ways to eat chicken (I think because people are afraid of it), eggs and parsley are cheap, and this recipe is the perfect way to use up all that disgusting old bits and bobs of bread in your freezer, and elevates it to something simply divine. There you go, that's me going all food-blogger speak. 

Confucius say, take off rings when shoving hands into chicken cavity.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hungarian Cucumber Salad, no thanks to Apple

This blogpost is dedicated to Apple. The jerks.

Once upon a time, I actually spent money on an app. Yes, I know. It was like $2.99, too. Almost broke the bank. But it was this wonderful little Hungarian cookbook, and it was written by an Israeli guy with Hungarian roots, and he had recorded his grandmother's precious recipes to be kept for posterity. How could I not buy it? Also it was really cutely designed and there were pictures and videos and whatnot. Adorable. I used it and I loved it, but mostly only used this one recipe - for cucumber salad. The other recipes I meant to try, one day, but never quite got around to it.

Really one of the things I loved about this app was that the recipes weren't fruffy. Take noodles and cabbage, for example. One of my absolute favorite Hungarian dishes. It goes like this - cook noodles. Fry cabbage. Put together. Done. But if you look on the internet, they get all complicated and tell you to add sugar, or dill, or balsamic vinegar....NO. Noodles. Cabbage. Stop getting all fancy, internet. This is how you do good food, and that app GOT that.

Then one day, a few months ago, I went to get my precious precious Hungarian Cucumber Salad recipe from the app, and I discover, to my abject horror - gone. As if it had never existed.

I contacted the developer on facebook. He had no idea why it was gone. He said his was gone too. I contacted Apple. They said the developer must have taken it down, and tough titties for me. Here, have three Apple credits. I told them they could basically take their credits and shove it, I want my recipes back. Shockingly, they did not respond.
Thank you, D. You get a shout-out.

Fast-forward a few months, the weather has gotten cold again, it's time to make Hungarian stuffed chicken, and, obviously, cucumber salad. (Because apparently having the sides matching the dish are very important in Hungarian cuisine.) That meant I NEEDED my cucumber salad recipe.

Bastard Apple jerkfaces.

Thank heavens and all one holds holy, at some point in the even further distant future, my sister had asked for this recipe, and, instead of just telling her to download the wonderful app (which I think I did, too) I sent her the recipe. And she kept it. And...wrote it down. Which it seems, in this age of digital wonder, is the only way to actually keep one's information and recipes. Oh, and it doesn't help to google it, because there are millions of recipes, and every single one is oh-so-slightly different, and no two Hungarian grandmothers made it the same way. Mine probably made it yet a different way, for that matter.

So, here you have it, the only precious remainder of my app of forgotten Hungarian recipes.

Hungarian Cucumber Salad - Uborkasalata

  • 5 small cucumbers
  • 1 small onion, sliced finely
  • 1.5 tbs salt

  • 1/8 cup vinegar
  • 1.5 tbs sugar
  • 1/4 cup water 
  1. Slice the cucumbers finely. Sprinkle salt on them and let them sit for 30 min. Squeeze water out and add sliced onion. (I find that I sometimes need to rinse them as well, to get the salty taste out. 
  2. Combine vinegar, sugar, water in a small bowl or cup. This is your dressing. After the cucumbers are ready, mix the dressing on the cucumbers and give it a mix. Serve immediately or let marinate in the fridge until ready to serve. 
  3.  Alternatively, sometimes I have no time to let cucumbers sit for half an hour, and then I use less than the full amount of salt and mix with dressing. Mix and serve.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

We are Going to Eat You

Why hello loyal readers.

I do believe I made a promise about Zombie Vegetables. I believe I also made a declaration of sorts that this blog is for testing Pinteresty things, and also somewhat for DIY.

Behold. I have kept my promises. Zombie Vegetables. 

"They're baa-aaack."

So you know those links with the 12 or 18 or whatever Vegetables You Can Regrow from Table Scraps?

Yes, they actually work! I know, I'm surprised too. At least for two of the vegetables that I tested - green onions and leeks.

It's pretty darned simple, costs next to nothing (basically the price of the dirt, which you can either buy for not very much money, or just, you know, get some OFF THE GROUND), and is really a life-saver on days like today when it's cold, potentially (or maybe by the time I finish writing this blog post, actually) stormy, and you really can't be bothered to go out to the store to buy token green things so you can say you ate your vegetables. Plus, as far as I can tell, they are immortal. (By which I mean you cut off the tip and they just keep growing back.) Obviously. You can't kill Zombie Vegetables.


"Are you eating it ...or is it eating you?"
  1. Buy, steal, or otherwise get tips of leeks or green onions. 
  2. If you bought them or stole them whole, when you use up most of your green onion, leave enough at the root end so that you will be able to replant - about an inch or two. (You can see in the picture where the original, cut...line is on those leeks.)
  3. Stick into dirt. Root-side down. Bury it vertically so that the root gets, well, planted, and the tip is just barely above the earth.
  4. Water periodically or hope that it rains. 

Enjoy, and be sure to tell me if you successfully grew one of the other types of....Zombie Vegetables. (One day when I become a B-rated movie producer, you know that's gonna be a title.) 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pasta with a side of philosophy

As may be evidenced by the previous few posts, I've been thinking a lot about the connection between food and money.

You see, I had this conversation tonight with people who told me they spend about 4000 NIS on food a month, for two people. We got down to the nitty gritty, and discovered that that's probably because they enjoy the finer things in life - fresh salmon, a good steak - and those things don't come cheaply.

I had another conversation a few weeks ago, about that food challenge that all the cool kids are doing these days of living on $150 for food per person for the month. (Ok, it wasn't really a conversation, it was a facebook comment and another comment.) Bottom line is - I said I could do that, easily, and other person said, 'Teach me your ways, Oh Wise One, I spend a gazillion times more than that.' (I may be paraphrasing. A tad.)

Point is, and I may have mentioned this before, I make CRAZY things from scratch. Like, truly crazy. Not just granola and cookies and cakes and bread, but, like, croissants and mayonnaise and yogurt and (most recently) pasta.

So yeah, usually those things save me money by making them from scratch. But the [white privilege] thing that happens here is - I FRICKIN HAVE THE TIME TO DO THIS. I am mostly unemployed. I can afford to spend the time making yogurt. Some people are partially employed or just amazing at managing their time, so they can "only" make bread from scratch. Someone I know, who is even crazier than I and only eats fair trade locally grown cow patties or something, purposely has a flexible hours type job so he can grind his own buckwheat flour and make it into coq-au-vin with home fermented wine, or something like that.

Not everyone can do this.

I am even realistic enough to believe that most of the people reading this blog (anyone out there other than my mom?) may just have day jobs and come home and not want to frickin make bread from scratch.

So what's a blogger to do?

Well, one could subscribe to the whole 'Make Amazing Meals in just 13 minutes a Day!' cookbooks, which frankly I think are full of bullshit.

One could become a stay-at-home-mom/dad/furry green alien, and spend all their time following oh so perfect blogs about how to perfectly make a perfect 10 course meal complete with truffle oil, and then take gorgeous photos and blog it and pinterest it or snapchat or instagram or whatever the kids are doing these days. Anyway that's how the Patriarchy keeps women down and out of the workforce, so I'm not sure I support this method.

One could be absolutely batshit crazy and scavenge for food and make bread out of thistles and leftover cat fur. There are bloggers like that out there. I ain't one of them. could just say screw it and spend 4000 nis a month and eat good food.

Middle ground? Yes, I suppose there is. There are, like, freezers and crockpot meals and gazillions of websites promising 10 Amazing Meals that Cook in your Crockpot Overnight. I suppose some people are organized enough to do that.

What about you, readers? What is your middle ground? Can we  all be humble, admit we're not perfect, and maybe spend more than we want? Or buy more instant food than we want? Is that even allowed??

Obligatory Recipe: Pasta with Melty Cheese

  • pasta
  • cheese which you can totally keep in your freezer and it's fine
  • salt
  • make it fancy - top with green thing
  1.  Cook pasta in salted cooking water.  
  2. Strain, but keep a tiny bit of the cooking water (super cool Great Depression type cooking trick for making everything better.)
  3. Put pasta back in the pot with that cooking water. Grate cheese. Stir. Melt. Add more cheese. 
  4. Top with some sort of green thing. I'm thinking basil or parsley or green onion which you can totally grow like a zombie. More on that later. 
  5. Serve with a large glass of red wine. 
The fine life - we has it. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Tofu and Shiitake Mushrooms and Rice in a Korean-ish sort of way (or, This Blog is not Froofie)

Dontcha hate it when food blogs keep going on and on and on with stupid words words words  blabla nobody actually reads this and you're all like, omagerd just get to the flippin recipe already, and you have to scroll down to the bottom of the page cuz you're really just here for the recipe?

Yeah, I hate that too.

So here's a recipe for food. It's good food. It contains protein, vegetable, and carb, which was how we were taught to make meals when I was in kindergarten and holy crap I don't even want to think about how long ago that was. It is vegan and can probably be made gluten-free, and I hate myself a little for even writing that.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, or to my spouse's elbow

Tofu and Shiitake Mushrooms and Rice in a Korean-ish sort of way

This recipe was based off of these guys because I had tofu and I had mushroom and I wanted to make a meal out of it. So I started following directions and holy crap, found I couldn't make the recipe without the spice mix that, conveniently, they were selling. That's evil and brilliant and I didn't want to wait that long to order it over the internet and also that's insane, so I made my own spice mix, based off of this. It sounds intimidating, but I promise it's not, and the whole recipe took maybe 30 min to complete. Really, it looks more complicated than it is, but I swear it's simple. Trust me. You trust me, don't you??

Step one - make steamed rice
Do this in advance. Keep it in the fridge, and serve as needed or microwave. Boom. Instant food.

Step two - spice rub - mix ingredients together

  • about a tbs kosher salt, maybe a little less, that seems excessive
  • 1 tbs brown sugar (you make me feel so good)
  • recipe calls for 1 tbs korean red pepper powder. I don't have that, plus hubbie and I are wusses when it comes to pepper. I substituted with a pinch of cayenne pepper, and about 1 tbs paprika for the redness. You can do more chili pepper and no paprika if you are not squeamish about spice. 
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • a pinch-1 tsp ground ginger (I increased to make up for lost spiciness)
  • a pinch-1/2 tsp ground black pepper (ditto)
Now, I have a new kitchen toy, a spice grinder, so I ground everything together and had a lot of fun. However, I fully recognize that not everybody has such a thing, so just mix together.

Step three - now turn spice mix into marinade.
  • spice mix (What you just done did.)
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs rice vinegar 
  • 1 tbs mirin or white wine if you don't have mirin, like I didn't
  • 1 1/2 tbs honey or sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil 
Mix all together in a bowl that will be big enough to contain tofu, which we're about to get to. 

Step four - now make the rest of the $#@ food so you can frickin eat already

Actual Ingredients
  • Tofu - chopped
  • Shiitake mushroom  (doesn't that make you giggle? shit-takee. Tee hee. I have the maturity level of a 5 year old.) 3 or 4 mushrooms, but more if there are more people eating or less if they are huge mushrooms.
  • 1-2 carrots or sweet potato. Or something else. Or nothing.
  • Avocado
  • Green onions or basil or something green on top
  • Sesame seeds if you have them
  1. Chop tofu and put it into the marinade. The original recipe says 30 minutes. I say poppycock. It marinaded maybe 5 minutes, and it was fine. Just let it marinate while you chop all the other things. 
  2. Chop all the other things. For the sweet potato/carrot - if you're froofie, julienne them. If you're not (hint: I'm not.) use a vegetable peeler and peel them. 
  3. If you are so inclined, burn, ahem, toast some sesame seeds now.
  4. Take pot. Big pot. Probably non-stick, cuz tofu sticks like a mofo. Heat oil. Take tofu out of the marinade (but don't be too OCD about it, some marinade is fine) and fry it up until it's fried. Should smell spicy and yummy. Remove from pot onto plate. 
  5. Recipe says use more oil. I don't really think it's necessary, but if you want, go ahead. Now fry mushrooms, apparently 3-4 minutes, but I only did 1-2 minutes because I think the sweet potatoes needed cooking more than mushrooms needed cooking. Now add carrots/sweet potatoes and fry them too. Add tofu. If you want it more goopy, add marinade. If you want it less goopy, add less marinade. 
  6. Put rice in bowls. Top with tofu mushroom thing on one side, avocado slices on the other side (they are a nice counterpart to the spice), then green things, and if you're really fancy, toasted sesame seeds.
  7. Nom. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

On Food, Sociology, and Green Beans in Olive Oil

This blogger just got back from a vacation in America land, and, maybe for the first time, I get it. A little. Not entirely, but I get it now.

See, we were sojourning in the South, and there were three really noticeable things:

1) it was HOT!
2) it was poor;
And this one is probably not unique to the South, but to North America as a whole
3) food is convenient!

So, I get it a little bit more now. I get it how only crazy people would make their own crackers. Am I nuts? Why on earth would one make crackers when getting crackers from the store is so darned cheap, convenient, and easy? Let's not forget tasty. All the fast foods and all the instant foods and all the store bought foods are so good at adding taste enhancers beginning in e- and ending in 103. How can homemade food compete with that?

So I get it. I get how making your own blah from scratch is totally a White Privilege thing. I get how it fits in with the whole kale-munching, Whole-Foods-shopping, home-schooling, organics-eating, fermenting-thing. I'm not going to get into the factors behind that demographic because a) that's not me, and b) I'm not a sociologist.

But I get it.

However, I live in Israel, where convenient food isn't so convenient or cheap, whereas fresh fruits and vegetables are. So I don't bake my own bread because I want it gluten free, I bake it because it's cheaper that way. I make my own jam and ferment vegetables because otherwise the food will go bad and my ancestors died in the Holocaust therefore I can never throw food out. (Just...don't ask me about actually eating the fermented foods. They keep forever, right?) I get a box of organic veggies because I'm lazy and we don't have a car and this just shows up on our door like magic.

I'm not a hipster! I swear! (Oh, and also I don't have 5 kids and/or a full time job, and that also helps me have time to, you know, make yogurt from scratch and all.)

So after these realizations, and after this vacation, I've finally learned to take it easy on myself. A bit. Both because convenience is so darned convenient, and because it's seriously too hot to cook these days. It's so hot it's all we can do to eat Popsicles for dinner. If we cut up a tomato we have made an Herculean effort. 

But this isn't just a 'listen to me philosophize about food and sociology' blog, it's also a food blog, so  I'm going to give you a recipe that I did actually manage to cook this week (plus it gets cooked in a closed pot so it doesn't heat up your kitchen.) It finishes up ingredients that one gets in a CSA got that I find hard to finish otherwise; it's delicious in this blogger's humble opinion; and it's even seasonal if you are Jewish and starting to wrack your brain about simanim-type foods to make for Rosh Hashana.

Fasoliyyeh Bi Z-Zayt (Syrian Green Beans with Olive Oil)

  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen cut Frozen?? Feh. Get a bunch of green beans. How much? A bunch. As much as you want to eat, basically. Long beans also work wonderfully. Chop up short or long. 
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or so
  • salt to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced- due to garlic sensitivities, I usually cut this out and it's just fine.
  • 1/4 cup (Again with the measurements? What gives.) Just chop up a bunch of fresh cilantro. However much you want to/need to finish up.

  1. Put green beans or long beans into a fairly big pot. You want it big enough that you will be able to stir them, even though they shrink a bunch. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt to taste (about a pinch) and clamp the lid on. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until beans are cooked to your desired doneness. According to allrecipes, Syrians like it cooked until the green beans are turning brownish in color. "The idea is not to saute them, but to let them steam in the moisture released by the ice crystals." (I can't speak for Syrians, but Jerusalem based non-hipster bloggers like them until they are wilted and a little browned.
  2. Add cilantro and garlic (if using) to the beans, and continue to cook just until the cilantro has started to wilt. Eat. Or cool and reheat on plata.
To make it a meal: buy pita. Buy hummus. (Or maybe pbj if you're in America? I dunno. What goes with pita in America that isn't hard cheese?) Slice a tomato or if you're feeling REALLY ambitious, make an Israeli salad. Make this dish. Dinner. Done.

P.S. This was like the only thing I cooked this week. Otherwise dinner was store-bought bread and butter and jam. Cuz it's hot. And cuz, like I said, I get it now.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Viva Le Revolution

This blogpost has been a looooong time coming.

It's been so long coming, I basically don't really want to stop cooking the recipe in order to write the post, which is unfortunate, because the recipe says 'stir constantly' which I can't actually do right now cuz I'm busy typing.

[takes a break to go stir]

The reason this recipe has taken so long to get up on the blog is that it is basically the topic of a whole (albeit tiny) revolution. It represents my entire cooking philosophy. [takes a break to go stir]. It is something that I am REALLY REALLY investing in convincing you to do, too. [stir.] It is fascinating if you stop to google it (which I did, and delayed this blogpost by several weeks cuz by then I had lost momentum.) is something you can probably really screw up if you don't follow the directions and actually constantly stir. I'll be right back....


Ok. I'm with you now.

Finally, the reason I have delayed so much with this blogpost is because I want to give you a cost break-down of making it at home. I'll be honest, I'm not actually sure it will be cheaper to make at home. Despite the revolution (or maybe because of it) it doesn't actually cost that much to buy in the store. But it might be. So don't touch that dial, we'll figure it out. Together. (Actually, come to think of it, I'll figure it out here, alone, by myself, with no help, and will just give you the answer.)

And finally...the long-awaited, suspenseful build-up is a recipe for...


I'll betcha you had no idea you could make it yourself, right? Neither did I. Twenty-flipping years in Israel, and it never occurred to me that it didn't just grow on the supermarket shelf. 

Turns out, Milky is simply...pudding. Topped with whipped cream.

I know, right?!???

Here' the recipe, and then we'll get to the cost.


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbs cocoa
  • 1/4 cup (which is 4 tbs, FYI) cornstarch. Which I think is same as cornflour in this country.
  • 1/8 tsp salt (basically a pinch) 
  • 2 and 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • whipped cream
  1. Take all dry ingredients, mix in pot (See what I did dere, above? Separate them for you? You're welcome.) 
  2. Mix in milk. Stir. Constantly (or so.) Bring to a boil and cook, still with that constantly thing, until it "thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon." That's what she said. 
  3. Remove from heat, and stir in butter (or oil) and vanilla.
  4. Let cool briefly and spoon into cups. Top with whipped cream. Chill and serve cold. 

That's fricking it. Can you believe it? 

Now, for cost breakdown. (All costs will be based on Rami Levi. Nope, I did not get discounts for saying that.)

  •  A kilo of sugar at Rami levi = 3.7 nis = 5 cups of sugar. So 1/2 cup sugar = 0.37 ag. 
  • Cocoa. Oy. Math is tough. Ok, so 500 grams =26.3 nis, and 3 tbs cocoa is 22.13 grams, so that comes out to approximately 1.052 nis of cocoa. 
  • Cornflour can be found for 3.9 nis for 500 grams. According to some random blog I found, 1/4 cup is 30 grams, so that's about 26 agorot of cornflour.
  • Salt. No. I am not going to figure out how much a pinch of salt costs. Don't be ridiculous. 
I hope you appreciate what I do for you guys. 

  • Milk - so 2.75 cups is 0.65 liters according to this wonderful website which is particularly amazing if you don't have a scale or were silly and didn't do this while cooking - Milk is a set price of 6.3, So that brings the cost of milk to 4.095 nis.
  • Butter - Can be substituted by oil, but just for the heck of it = 2 tbs is about 30 grams, and butter is also a set price of 8 nis for 200 grams, so 30 grams = 1.2 nis. Huh. That's way more than I expected. Butter is expensive.
  • Vanilla - I make my own vanilla (very VERY simple to do), and the recipe is probably fine if you cut it out, so I'm just going to skip this. 
  • Cream - probably the most expensive item here, comes in at 6.3 nis.
 And now for the calculator. Ready?

0.37 + 1.05 + .26 + 4.09 + 1.2 + 6.3 = 13.27 nis

Milky costs 2.7 nis for 133 grams per cup. And now we see how much this recipe makes....

Six! It makes six milkies!  2.7 X 6 = 16.2. 16.2 >13.27

We win!!!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

It's Peanut-Butter Bragging Time! Or, 13 Things You Can Make From Scratch if you Have Time and Inclination

Nothing for 42 days then 2 after 2 days, eh? Bet you weren't expecting that, eh? I guess my old friend Calliope (or would it be Thalia? Oddly enough the Greeks didn't have a specific Muse for food blogs) has come to visit again.

Today is going to be a short one, because, ironically, I actually have some cooking to do instead of just blogging about it. For today's list I present to you, "Things You Can, Actually Cook at Home and Don't Have to Buy in the Supermarket With Lots of Preservatives Like E-212 and E-221 Which are Probably Going to Kill You and Murder Your Loved Ones in their Sleep."

Or, in a less stylized, more click-baiting way of putting it, "10 Things that You Should be Making From Scratch!" Ack. Ugh. Gross click-baiting.

The thing about 'should be making yourself from scratch'ing - and this is a huuuuuuge caveat - it costs you time. I'm not going to lie to you - it does. Any of those dumb websites who are all like, 'Oh, You Can Make Your Own Pizza in Five Minutes or Less, Click Here on our Ads to Find Out How and Also to Lose Tummy Fat' are full of bullshit. Seriously. There's this weird triangle that not enough food blogs pay attention to, and it goes something like this:
You'd think with a degree in graphic design it would have taken less than 1/2 an hour to create this stupid triangle...
This is one of those triangles where you get to choose 2 out of 3 of the prongs, yet not all three. So, for example, I tend to make healthy food that is inexpensive, at the cost of my time. So my chart looks like this:

Get it? Others get healthy food that doesn't take them long to make, but costs a lot. Or (probably not the readers of this blog) buy cheap food that is quick, and crappy for you. I think you all get my point.

Now that we've established that, yes, making cheese and jam and stuff from scratch isn't going to happen in 5 seconds a day, and that if you have 11 kids and a full-time job, you probably have other things to do with you time, let's get to the bragging part of the blog.

Things I always make from scratch because it's worth the time
  • Tomato sauce - so easy. Just chuck tomatoes and an onion in a pot and let them cook to death.
  • Bread - cheaper to make than to buy. Plus I have a recipe that requires no kneading. 
  • Soup broth - really what's the point of buying. Just chuck bits and bobs of veggies into a pot and boil while you are cooking soup. No big whoop. 
  • Pizza - see "tomato sauce" and "bread."
  • Granola - take rolled oats. Mix with nuts and sweet stuff. Bake. Congrats, you've made granola. Why would you spend 20-30 nis on that?
  • Hummus and Tehinni - buy raw ingredients. Stick in food processor. Done.
  • Orange Marmalade and candied orange peels.

Things that can be made from scratch, but aren't always worth the time:
  • Mayonnaise - very cheap and good to make, but when you only want a tsp every week, the homemade stuff goes bad.
  • Pickles - easy to make, but sometimes I don't think about wanting a pickle 3 days in advance.
  • Jam - yes, I make homemade jam, yes, it's easy, and yes, I do it often. But sometimes, just sometimes, you just want blueberry jam.
  • Cheese - when I remember, I make ricotta and labneh from scratch. Otherwise, expensive cheese-shop it is.
  • Yogurt - ack! I admit it! Sometimes I buy it. I am so ashamed. 
  • Croissants - Sometimes I can't wait three days for buttery goodness. (Goes well with homemade orange marmalade.) 

Things I recently learned you can make from scratch: 
  • Apple cider vinegar - is basically fermented apple cores. How cool is that?
  • Ketchup - Turns out it's easy to make! And no icky E-102 etc. (see, Murdering Your Family in Their Sleep, above.)

Things I would love to make from scratch one day, but haven't yet dared: 
  • Tofu
  • Pickled lemons
  • Olives 
  • Hard cheeses (shout-out to Annanas)
Others? Questions, comments, complaints? Ideas for things I should be making and aren't? Complimentary cheese plate? You know how to find me.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Non-snooty Homemade Yogurt

Forgive me, blogging world, for I have sinned. It has been 42 days (!!!) since my last post, and I haven't even fulfilled my promises made for Pesach recipes. (OTOH, I haven't seen any posts claiming that people are starving for lack of Kosher for Pesach vegetarian recipes, so I don't feel too too guilty. Just a little guilty.) Also, I have been privy to some amazing resources for Pesachy food recipes that friends and friends of friends have written, so I don't feel like I necessarily need to reinvent the wheel there.

Frankly, I have been feeling a little disheartened with the blogging thing lately. There are soooooo maaaaaaaany good food blogs out there these days, and I don't know how much I'm going to contribute. Lil 'ol me. Just now, for example, I was scrolling over to Smitten Kitchen looking for sidedishes, and that made me feel bad about myself, and want to kick myself for not putting up my own recipes on the internet since before blogging was big, and how stupid it was that I hadn't gone out and gotten an amazing camera, because isn't she about my age and now she's big and famous and the queen of cooking things at home from scratch and isn't she just doing things that I could have done myself had I thought of it, dammit?

And then I imagine a heavenly voice calling out that reminds me that nobody expected me to be Rav Zusha, just to be me. Which makes me feel a little better, but also a little cynical because I don't believe fairy tales anymore, and I don't have a fancy camera anyway.

Also, blogging has become a lot of work these days. The last few posts I've posted have taken HOURS to write. Cuz, you know, there's the writing part, and that's fairly easy. But then there's the making the recipe, so I can have nice photos to post (I don't know about you all, but when I read food blogs, I don't really read them. I just go for the photos.), and then my crappy camera is really my crappy phone, so I have to instagram or canva the photos to make them somewhat less crappy. And then I have to play with graphics and fidget and stuff and that makes writing blog entries a pain in the butt less fun. Less fun makes me less inclined to blog.

So there you are. It's not that I haven't been cooking. I have been. Most of it has been edible. I just haven't been able to bring myself to invest an entire day in food blogging. Also, I have a thing about inspiration and writing when the mood strikes, which lately it hasn't been. But I do want to be writing more, and for that I think there needs to be fewer pictures so that blogging becomes more fun for me again, less of a hassle. You all okay with that? Okay? Okay.

So I've been making yogurt from scratch, did you know you can do that? You can. It's not difficult. Worst comes to worse you get it wrong and then you just use spoiled milk to make muffins and they come out fine and nobody dies. So I'm going to tell you about yogurt, but there will be no photos. Just imagine something white and milky.

 I has no photos. Here, have a video.


Here. Homemade yogurt recipe. Harrumph. 

Hypothetically you do need some specialized equipment for this one, namely a thermometer and a thermos. You might be able to do without the thermometer, just play it by finger; and in place of thermos I've read that you can use a heating blanket or oven. Basically just some way of keeping yogurt at an even temperature for a few hours. Feel free to experiment and let me know what works or didn't. If you want to go to a snooty source which will tell you to buy yogurt cultures and to use a yogurt maker, you can go here. Just take them with grain of salt.

  • milk
  • old yogurt - very important that it has active bacteria in it. I think, though I'm not certain, that that's any plain yogurt marked 'bio.'
  1. Pour milk into thermos. This isn't necessary for recipe, it's mainly just to measure out how much yogurt your container can handle
  2. Pour milk into small pot. Heat until it reaches 185 degrees F. This, like, kills bacteria or something. I've read that if you don't have a thermometer, you can stick your finger into the hot milk, and when it's hot enough that you immediately want to take your finger out (ouch!) it's hot enough. Sounds like fun, eh? Or you could invest in a thermometer.
  3. Let it sit until it cools to 110, or "just warm to the touch" in snooty blogger speak. Whisk periodically so it doesn't get that icky foam at top. At this time start your kettle going, to heat some water.
  4. Stir yogurt into the milk. How much? Some. I usually use about 2 tbs. Or more. Whatever. Some. 
  5. Now, I like to first heat my thermos a little. Dunno how strictly necessary this is. I just pour in some heated water, swoosh it around, and then pour it out. I think it helps the thermos stay hot.
  6. Pour runny milk thing into thermos. Close thermos. Let sit somewhere between 4-8 hours. The last time I left it overnight, and it was fine. Delicious, even. 
  7.  Cool yogurt in fridge. 
  8. Eat yogurt.
 The cons of this yogurt is that it doesn't stay good quite as long as commercial yogurt (duh) and sometimes it's a little piecey or chunky. But the pros are that it's SO MUCH WAY CHEAPER than the store-bought stuff! This is coming from someone who just blew 50 nis on about 3 yogurts the other week. Sheesh. So make this. Then make homemade jam. Then combine the two to make flavored yogurt, and STICK IT TO THE MAN CUZ YOU JUST MADE YOUR OWN HOMEMADE YOGURT.

Oh, and then reserve some yogurt, cuz once you've made it once, you can use the old yogurt to make new yogurt, ad infinitum. It's the gift that keeps on giving, like herpes.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

If Ya Don't Eat Yer Vegetables Ya Can't Have Any Pesach

Tis the season fa la la la la.....for Jews to go ABSOLUTELY BAT-SHIT CRAZY.

Pesach. Approacheth.

Pesach is my absolute favorite holiday. I love just about everything about it. I love the cleaning (yes, I do. Don't hate me.), I love the clean house that results, I love having a minimalist kitchen for a week, I love the Seder and everything that goes with it, and I LOVE Pesach food.

Which is why I hate it when other people go absolutely crazy and complain there is nothing to eat.

I have ranted about this before, and I'll probably rant about it again, but for now I'm going to spend the the few weeks leading in to Pesach with ideas of what to eat. Here are my guidelines:
  1. Food will be mostly healthy - no instant soups or margarine here.
  2. Food will be mostly vegetarian.
  3. Food will not include kitniyot - no, we don't eat kitniyot. Yes, I believe we could. I see nothing wrong with the idea of it, except I am gosh-darned proud of my Ashkenazi heritage, and if we're going to kill Yiddish, the least we can do is keep our traditions alive. 
  4. There will be food other than eggs. 
  5. No 'fake chametz' substitutes. So you can't eat pasta or cereal or pizza for a week. DEAL WITH IT. Don't try going all potato-starch on me. That's disgusting. 
I suspect that the problem people have with Pesach is two-fold. One - there is not a lot of grab-and-go food. It's true. It's hard to reach into the fridge and grab something when you're hungry. Cooking is required. And two, and I think this one is key, Jews Don't Eat Vegetables.

I eat vegetables. Does this mean I'm not Jewish?

Not you and I, of course. We're great at it. I mean OTHER Jews. The ones who go on groups and complain that they don't know what to make for shabbat, because they are making a chicken and a kugel and a cholent, and what are they going to serve for a vegetable? And then someone chimes in with 'how about potatoes?' Argh. THOSE Jews.

In order to prove this point, I'm going to borrow a trick that my high school literature teacher taught us when we were learning Crime and Punishment (this was about twenty years ago, mind you, and the fact that I remember it to this day is proof of how cool this teacher was.) We were discussing the crime vs. the punishment, and how it seemed like the punishment didn't really fit the crime. And then, she picked up the book, and held it up sidewise. Looking at the book straight on, about 1 cm of the width was the crime, and the rest of the book, about ten times that, was the punishment.

I will now use that trick to demonstrate how Jews feel about vegetables.


Of those vegetable recipes, 10% were potato recipes, about 35% were not kosher for pesach due to them being lasagna or pasta, and one of them was a rice and lentils recipe. Huh? Um....

So that was just an experiment with the only Jewy cookbook I own, but I welcome and encourage you to do the same experiment yourself with your own cookbooks and let me know what you find out.

My point is, in order to eat well for Pesach, even to eat vegetarian well, you have to think outside the box of Jew-cooking and start thinking in the box of vegetable cooking. It's doable. I swear. Channel your inner rabbit. Ok, and maybe your inner cat, because you might want to eat more fish.

Here are some ideas, and we'll get talking recipes as we get closer to the holiday.

Behold, my Pesach kitchen from three years ago.

 Pesach Meal Ideas

  1. Baked potatoes (Pictured) topped with sour cream/dill/lox/etc.
  2. Eggplant Parmesan (homemade tomato sauce pictured)
  3. Baked Salmon with lemon and dill (pictured) with sides (green veg/potato/quinoa/salad/coleslaw/etc.)
  4. Salad! For example, with Halloumi cheese + pear + walnuts
  5. Scrambled Matza Brye with cheese and/or loads of parsley
  6. Bell Peppers stuffed with Quinoa 
  7. Blintzes filled with mushrooms and ricotta (ok, ok, that one uses potato starch substitute) 
  8. Pesach rolls with anything - good for grab and go meals 
  9. Steamed fish with vegetables
  10. Gnocchi? Might work without flour. I have to experiment with this one. 
  11. Ratatouille with fried egg, or on quinoa 
Etc. etc. If you eat legumes, then you should really be able to eat like a king. A vegetarian king.

Actual recipes to follow.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Want a cracker, Polly?

Well hello there faithful readers. As Facebook likes to remind me, "my fans haven't heard from me in some time." Argh, Facebook. Facebook reminders are like the pet who is constantly licking your face while all you're trying to do is eat your breakfast, so that slobber keeps getting into your oatmeal and puts you off your appetite. Go away, Facebook reminders, you're annoying.

Anyhow, the time has come to do two things I probably shouldn't. One, is reveal yet another secret ulterior motive that this blog has (beyond me getting rich and famous and finding fame and fortune through it, I mean); and two, is show you a picture of my fridge.

My fridge is getting scary. Here is a picture of my fridge.

And the scary thing is, I haven't actually even started cleaning for Pesach yet

I may have mentioned, some time ago, that I was going to make an attempt to eat through our pantry. And we did some of that. Our stores of barley, chia seeds, wheat bran and barley are lower than they have ever been before. (We still have so much celery salt. Soooooo muuuuch celery salt.)

So that + the fact that we hosted on Friday and had so many leftovers that we haven't yet finished them + this morbid fascination I have with depression era cooking, has left my fridge looking FRIGHTENINGLY BARE. Like, old mother hubbard bare. Fetch a poor dog a bone and had none kind of bare. I mean that literally - and you know I don't use the word literal lightly. I was actually making vegetable-scrap soup (see last blog post, replace vegetables with scraps, and voila, you have vegetable broth) and I remarked to hubby that a hambone sure would have come in handy, yet oddly enough, our kosher kitchen did not have any hambone in it. (If you know not of the cultural reference that I make, I refer to this song and tradition, and you should definitely read up about it because it's very cool.)

In a previous life I studied typography, can you tell?

Anyway. So I've been reading various blogs about not spending any money, and eating through pantry as mentioned before, and depression-era cooking and foraging, and I find it SO fascinating. It may be something that's only really feasible in America (motto: Land Where People are Obsessed with Food, Possibly because They Have Way Too Much Of It) because I honestly do not have enough food in my pantry stored to make it through the month - I'm already almost out of flour and oil, and it's only been a week. So I don't know how they do it, but I'm fascinated. It's like watching a cockroach that got flipped on its back in a sink - you know you shouldn't watch, but you really can't seem to look away.

So, without going completely crazed pioneer-women-eating-only-greens-that-I-picked-from-our-lawn kind of frugal, I've been attempting, just a little, to cut back on food-shopping, and making creative things that I wouldn't cook otherwise. And wouldn't you know it? Some of them actually taste good.

And that brings me to my blog's ulterior motive - that this here blog is functioning as my comprehensive cookbook. I own tons of cookbooks. In addition to my cookbooks, I have hand-written recipes. In addition to my hand-written recipes, I have recipes bookmarked in the iPad. In addition to my bookmarked recipes, I have recipes in my email. In addition to my emailed begin to understand? Now, I have a remarkable memory, luckily, and can mostly remember where each recipe lives. But I'm going to get old and forget, and I might even die one day, so this blog is a great place to store my recipes. Until Google gets greedy and takes over the world, that is, but we'll probably (hopefully) already be long dead at that point.

To summarize, here is what I made when I had a pretty gosh-darned bare larder, and here I am setting it down in pixels so that I pass on my legacy:

Food! Out of nowhere!
  1. Squash - there was a half-consumed, not-quite-dead, raw squash in the fridge. It got peeled, cooked, and deseeded. The cooked part I put away in the fridge, and will become soup or go to the freezer in a day or two. The seeds got cleaned, separated from the strings (not a SINGLE tip on the internet that I could find to make that go easier), and roasted to go on top of salads or bread or something. Finally, the peel got washed and made into...
  2. Soup - the squash peel, some onion peel, and some fennel ends got fried and steamed, and are well on their way to becoming a broth. I wish I had a hambone...
  3. Bread - made from a fairly simple bread recipe which only needed flour, oil, sugar, salt, yeast. But now I'm out of oil, and running low on flour, so instead of making 100% flour crackers I made...
  4. Crackers with flour, buckwheat, rice, and wheat bran. (None of those specific things were necessary - crackers could also have been made out of rice and red lentils. Or red lentils and chickpeas. Or buckwheat and mung beans etc. etc.) I used my crappy blender to blend to a semi-fine flour (read, not fine at all) and mixed with flour, salt, water, and butter. Topped with seeds and coarse salt. Man, those were some good crackers.
  5. Coleslaw, made out of the very few bits and bobs of vegetables that I still had, and finally, 
  6. Calzone, AKA sambusak, which was basically of pizza dough filled with potato + onion (yeah, depression-era food! Carbs stuffed with more carbs! That's what I'm talkin about!) and  leftover hummus. 
And there you have it. I have officially survived six days without spending money on food. Don't think I can make it to seven, though. We're running low on toilet paper.

Really good cracker recipe

Based off a recipe by Mark Bittman, the man, who has now officially trumped my Alton Brown recipe for crackers.

  • 65 grams all-purpose flour, which is about 1/2 a cup
  • 65ish grams of rice, buckwheat, or other
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 30 grams melted butter or oil
  • 60 ml water or more if needed
  • Toppings: fancy salt, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, poppy seeds, or other
  1. Preheat oven to 205c. Spray oil a baking sheet (MB says lightly dust with flour. That might work too.) 
  2. Measure out appropriate amount of other grain to make into flour (or be lazy and get pre-ground flour in the store.) Grind in crappy blender. Yes, this is essential. No, you cannot use a fancy blender. Must be a crappy one. Make a lot of noise. Scare husband and cat.
  3. Take other crappy appliance - food processor - and process flours, salt, and fats together. Then take water and add a tiny bit at a time until it comes together in a round cohesive dough-ball.
  4. Sprinkle flour all over your counter, dough, rolling pin, cutting board, shirt. Roll out the dough until it's thin - MB says 5 mm. I dunno what that means. Until thin. 
  5. Transfer carefully to baking tray. Top with toppings and use rolling pin to lightly mush them into the dough. Use knife or pizza slicer to slice into cracker shapes. I poked holes in it with fork, too, not sure why MB wanted me to skip this step.
  6. Bake for 10ish minutes. Devour, because pioneering is hungry work.

Monday, January 26, 2015

It's a Cake in a Jar....Well, Sort of

This post is brought to you by a reader request. Yes, that's right. I don't know how many of you have been following since day one, but I initially declared that this blog would be calling out the Liars of the Internet and Pinterest. (Let's face it, since the internet has become a space for bragging to try to make yourself feel good about yourself, there have been many lies posted on the Internet, haven't there been? Since actually most of us feel like shit about ourselves and need external consumerism and instant gratification to make us pretend to be happy or at least drug ourselves enough to forget we're actually deeply unhappy, right?)

Whoa. That got way deep way fast. Back to food blogging. 

Those of you who do recall that (or if not I'm telling you) part of the mission statement of this blog is to call out the internet liars, and in the process of that I invite people to send me things to test.. 

I'll bet you didn't know I did that, right? Maybe because this is the first time. I know a few of you have actually sent me things to test and I haven't gotten around to it yet because I was busy bragging about how awesome I am being a stereotypical foodie DIY blog. Sorry about that. As an apology, have this video that a friend and reader sent me about another guy out there discovering one of the more prevalent lies of Pinterest, supposedly about how to make drinking glasses out of wine or beer bottles (spoiler alert: it doesn't work.)

So getting back to that mission statement, today's blogpost is brought to you by the letters A and B (thanks, AB!) and the attempt to bake a dessert in a jar. Without further ado, I bring you:

GRRRR clickbaiting title!

I haven't even tried this yet, and already I'm pissed off about the title. There are TWO LIES in the title, and that pisses me off and does not give me high hopes for the recipe. 

Lie 1: "She Fills Old Jars With Fruit And Oil."

The actual instructions of the recipe read as follows: "Whisk it together with a fork and pour it on the fruit, and then top with butter." BUTTER, dumb clickbaiter, BUTTER. Not oil. I really can't trust you, can I?

Lie 2: "I’m Never Baking Again!"

Instructions: "Bake it at 350 for one hour." ZOMG. I swear to god the next clickbaiter to use the 'I'm never baking again' line and then proceed to BAKE SOMETHING is gonna get hurt reeeeeeal bad.

And now to actually try this recipe.

I can already 100% guarantee, that I'll be baking again. 

(Oh, and lie 3: "minutes later." By minutes they mean over an hour later. LIARS!!!!)

During the course of testing this clickbait, my ever tolerant spouse walked into the kitchen and saw me putting jars in the oven.

"What's that?" he asked.

"This recipe says to bake in jars," I answered.

"Uh-oh," said he. "That sounds dangerous."

He's right and it does, but I believe the logic to be sound. This part of the recipe seems to get it right. I'm no expert on canning, but I'm pretty sure she's right when she says that canned glass jars are subject to high temperatures, so it stands to reason that they could be used to bake in. I don't know *how* much heat, and throughout the course of this recipe I handled the whole thing as if I was French kissing a vampire - very carefully.

I am pleased to report that the jars did not explode. Tfu tfu tfu, this method seems to work nicely.  (You may want to carefully remove all stickers from the glass. I make no claims whether burning stickers works or not. I didn't test it.)

Veracity of technique: 10/10

As far as the recipe goes, it could stand to be tweaked, both in outcome and in instructions. The actual recipe is as follows: 

- fruit
-1/2 cup flour
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 tsp salt

1. Put fruit in four jars.
2. Mix flour, sugar, and salt together, top fruit with mixture.
3. Top with butter. 
4. Bake at 350 for one hour. 

If I were to give this recipe to aforementioned patient hubby, he would probably implode. "How much fruit?" I don't know. "How much butter?" Some. "What size jars?" Medium? Who the hell knows. Plus, there is no mention of preheating the oven. Now, I'm no professional chef or nothing, but not a single solitary recipe I've ever heard of tells you to go ahead and bake without preheating the oven for a loooooong time. This does not. So I'm unimpressed.

Reliable instructions: 2/10

Finally, taste. Yes, this holds up. It's not an original recipe, but it tastes very good (If you want more exact amounts and instructions, the BBC looks like it has this precise recipe, with actual amounts.) I was a little concerned about not mixing the flour with the butter, and the fact that the flour sunk to the bottom of the jar, but it turns out that worked out just fine. 

So, basically, this is a crumble recipe...baked in a jar. A little (a lot) too sweet for my tastes, but probably fine for your typical American dessert.

Taste: 7/10

Bottom line: If you want to bake in a cute gimmicky way, yes, this works. Take to a picnic, watch people oooh and ahhh. They probably will. People are easily impressed. 

The only thing I haven't tested is how difficult it is to wash those jars afterward.

...I think I'll let the hubby test that.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Here's the thing about food blogs

Just FYI, I wrote out this entire post on the blogger app, scrolled away, and then it got erased. WAAAAA. Don't you just hate it when that happens? 

So here's the thing about food blogs. 

They lie. 

They are there to make you feel bad about yourself and about that burger you just ordered in for dinner, because THEY just had burgers for dinner, and they made the buns from homemade spelt flour that they ground themselves, the lettuce from their organic locally fair traded food garden, and the burgers from a cow they knew themselves (they called her 'daisy.') 

Yes, yes, guilty as charged. I too am part of the problem. 

Here's the thing, though, and here's what I firmly believe about food blogging: WE NEED MORE IMPREFECTIONS.

I say this to you just a few days after ruining a smitten kitchen recipe. I had this cream that was going to go bad, and I thought, aha, here's this ricotta recipe, let's turn the leftover cream nto cheese and it will be delicious and perfect and everyone will admire me.

It was not perfect, and there were no bunnies and rainbows.

Ok, so I didn't quite follow the recipe - I used too much cream and not enough milk - but that shouldn't really have mattered. Maybe I needed more lemon juice. Maybe the cheesecloth wasn't thick enough. I don't know. The point is, I've been cooking for 24 years (yes, that's right, 24 YEARS. Who know I had that kind of work experience?) and I still get imperfections. 

There's this axis, you see, of perfect vs. imperfect in cooking and blogs. Obviously you want the pictures to look nice. Obviously. Nobody wants to see that burger you made last night that looks like the cat threw up on the bread. But on the other hand, and I'm citing some very real examples here, when I read online about that mother of ten who just threw together a simple weekday dinner comprising of raw carrots with an organic truffle balsamic glaze, curried quinoa pilaf with raisins and cardomam pods, and creme freche a lá fancy shmancy organic duck bird glaze, lightly braised with the tears of unborn children, I just want to shoot myself. Ok, shoot her then myself. Ok, just shoot her. 

My point is, ain't nobody that perfect. And food isn't meant to be perfect. Food is meant for you to think that your grandmother made THE BEST matzah ball soup. Food is for feeding your family and friends, so that they love and appreciate you more and would be sad if you died because who would feed them. Food is for sustenance, so we don't go around in the world looking like Twiggy (or whatever that super thing model's name is.) 

These days, food has become for bragging about. I've got two words to say to that, and I'm also saying them to myself: 


Less food bragging. More imperfect food. 


So, on that note, I'm going to give you the recipe for one of the most disgusting, barely edible things I've ever cooked, so you don't have to try it yourself. Seriously, don't try this at home.

T'was the day before the day before pesach or so. We were cleaning out the fridge (and that's a 'we' being myself and spouse, so it wasn't even that many years ago) and had barely any food left in the larder. This is what happened for dinner:

- spinach from freezer
- cheese from freezer
- bulgur from cabinet
- can of butter beans from cabinet 
- maybe an egg?
- probably some cheese, though not a lot and not a good cheese
- maybe yogurt? 
- some strange herbs, like dill
- an onion or garlic, because there's always an onion in the home

1. Fry onion and garlic.
2. Ok, so I know that spinach and beans is a recipe, and that would work well together. Put that in.
3. Ok, so that would go well with cheese. Sure. Put cheese in.
4. Well, I have a recipe for bulgur and, beans and spinach, yum, spinach and bulgur, yum...spinach and bulgur and beans yum?
5. Ah what the heck, let's just empty the entire contents of pantry into this pan. I'm sure it will taste good eventually.
6. Eat. Not good. Choke it down, because pesach.
7. I mean it. Do not try this at home.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Winter is Coming - Never Fail Soup Recipe

Let's talk about soup.

Soup is good for three reasons that immediately come to mind:
  1. It's cheap
  2. It's good to eat when it's cold out
  3. It saves old vegetables when they're about to die.
In this blog post, forgive me, but I may delve into those horribly irritating superlatives that you often see in food blogs. YUM! Delish! NOMNOMNOM. OMG this is an amazing never-fail soup recipe!

Ok, I hate myself already. I'm going to stop that now.

Back to soup.

I believe there are two types of people reading this entry - those that really do not know how to make soup, and are chomping at the bit to get my soup recipe tips; and those who think they already make the best soup, so why on earth should they read this because they already know how to make amazing soup.

If you are of the second sort and I haven't lost you already (or never had you in the first place) bear with me, this soup technique makes a TRULY DECENT soup that....drum roll please...uses no MSG or broth.

Allow me to get back up on that soap-box of mine for a minute, please? [get up on soap box]. One of my biggest, awfulest, most guaranteed to bug the crap out of me every single time, is PEOPLE WHO DON'T KNOW HOW TO MAKE SOUP WITHOUT SOUPMIX. OMG. SERIOUSLY. Soup-mix has not been allowed in my home in years. Years, I tell you. For all you trepidatious readers who do not know for the life of you, what to do when a soup recipe calls for broth, I have three words for you: Just. Add. Water.
There. [gets off soap-box. Or would that be soup-box? heh heh. Get it? Soup box?]

This soup is a blended soup, and it's delicious every time [fights to not slip back into annoying food blogger mode.] Here are the approximate instructions for this soup, and you will see why I love it so much:
  1. Take all or most of the vegetables that are about to go bad out of the fridge.
  2. Put them in a pot and cook them.
  3. Stick into a blender and dzudzh (sp???)
  4. Eat soup.  
 In short, this is a great recipe. Bookmark-worthy, even. There. I said it.

Now for the slightly longer version:

Really Decent Vegetable Soup in about 30 minutes

Originally I thought I stole this soup recipe from my guru, Alton Brown, but I just rewatched his soup episode and it turns out that I diverged quite a lot. That's ok - that means this may even be an original recipe! And really no-one better to trust with blended soup recipes than yours truly, considering I had my jaw wired shut for seven weeks (don't worry, it was years ago) and had to live off of blended soup for quite some time.

  • Oil - a few tbs
  • Onion - always an essential to soups, in my not so humble opinion
  • Several different kinds of dead or dying vegetables - can include vegetables like: 
    • radish (yes, radish! I am so glad I learned that radish makes a good soup, because before I kept thinking I should make it into pickles, never did, and kept throwing them out.) / fennel / tomato / daikon / cabbage / potato or sweet potato / carrot / celery or celery root / turnip
  • Probably should not include vegetables like:
    • lettuce / cucumber (yes yes, officially it's a fruit. I know. Get over it) / endive
  • Can also include spinach or mushroom, but then I wouldn't blend it and/or add them at the end.
  • Water
  • Kosher salt
  • Optional seasonings (turmeric, cumin, nutmeg, that kind of thing)

  1. Take a medium or large pot, set over medium heat. Add a little bit of oil, just enough to cover the bottom of the pot, and heat. 
  2. While the oil is heating, roughly chop the onion and plonk it into the the heated oil.
  3. Now, take your time. In order of hardest to softest, roughly chop up your vegetables and chuck into the pot with the onion. When you've got enough veggies in there that the bottom of the pot is covered, add the kosher salt. Stir. Keep adding veggies and stirring every now and again. The heat should be on medium-high, enough to start browning the veggies but not enough to burn them. Keep cooking like this for about 10 min, including chopping time. 
  4. This here is the step that I added that I firmly believe makes the soup go from just ok to pretty damn good - clomp on the lid. That's right, no water. Just lid. Turn the heat a bit lower and keep cooking, covered, for another 10-15 minutes. Stir every now and again to make sure it doesn't stick. What this step does is stew the veggies in their own juices - literally - and gets them all nice and tender and tasty. What it also does is trap that steam inside the pot, which probably keeps things hotter and retains the taste. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it. 
  5. Finally, now that veggies pretty much cooked at this point, add the water and seasonings if you want to. You do NOT want to boil the water. I know many soup recipes tell you to, but this soup doesn't need it, and somehow I think it wouldn't taste as nice. If you want to add some soft veggies, do it now. Cook on a SIMMER, not a boil, for another 10-15 min.
  6. At this point the soup is pretty much done. I like it blended, though, so I now take either all or some of the soup, stick it in my plastic blender, and blend. If you only have a glass blender, probably a good idea to wait until the soup cools (but who can wait that long??). Also a hand-blender would do the trick, I just happen to not own one. 
  7. Blend. Add salt if needed. Serve. Great soup, every time. I promise.