Namecheap.com
pizza sauce
Let’s Make Slow Cooker Pizza Sauce!

Homemade Pizza Sauce. In your slow cooker.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Hello, again, Dear Readers:

Today, we got our new President and a stylish new First Lady. We watched the inauguration and I saw the most beautiful powder blue suit I’ve ever seen. Now I want one, but in royal blue. I hope the pattern companies create one like they did for Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. Quickly.

Well, I got the hankering again for them. Pizza. Waffles. But life throws us curve balls, and in this case, it was the end of my HEB Organics Pizza Sauce, darnit.

Such sadness. . . .

Since we have Winn Dixie and Walmart for shopping, I didn’t find any good alternatives there. This is what’s in the HEB version, which was less expensive than Classico:

You can’t beat this one–and it’s organic.

Now what? I’m limited if I don’t find an alternative. But–after seeing something on Facebook about pizza, I found Foodie With Family’s recipe for pizza sauce–in the slow cooker, darnit! It’s pretty simple, too–you just need to stir it frequently.

The setup

Almost everything you need–I forgot the sugar.

I made sure to look for as many ingredients that were not GMO and in cans that did *not* have BPA in the liners. Cost a little bit more, but of course, there’s a payoff elsewhere–even if BF doesn’t see it that way. I’ll explain more about that in the post that I’m horribly late publishing.

Yes, it’s important.

You have to look to make sure there are no GMO ingredients.

Another thing you have to make sure of is the ingredient list–is there sugar? Soybean oil? What else did they put into the “tomato paste?” No, no, no–read that label. I have returned tomato products before that I found out too late had other ingredients in them.

So,  you open up some cans of tomato paste and tomato sauce, and dump them into the crock:

Only a can opener is required here.

Then add in some garlic:

The return of the garlic doo-dad!

It says minced, so I minced:

Garlic. Minced instantly.

It says one to four cloves, so I added four.

Anchovies.

Now, this may offend some of my more sensitive readers. I added the one filet of anchovy, and thankfully, BF was nowhere to be found. I found the tin in the back of the pantry, under something else. Miss Alice packed up everything so carefully, and I am still not unpacked. But I was glad to find this.

pizza sauce

Sssshhhh. . .don’t tell BF!

If you’ve never seen anchovies, well, this is what you get when you open the tin:

See how tiny? I only needed one filet.

So after separating one of these much-maligned fish pieces, I dumped the rest of it into a glass jar and stuck it in that secret drawer where I keep things I don’t want BF to know about.

pizza sauce

One filet.

Added it into the crock and that was it. Honestly, you won’t taste it, because it melts into the sauce and gives a subtle background flavor.

Now let’s add the rest, starting with olive oil:

pizza sauce

I used the EVOO since the recipe called for it.

The herbs, oregano, basil and parsley:

Pizza sauce pizza sauce pizza sauce

I had to go find those in the pantry boxes first. Then, the ingredient I almost abhor the most:

pizza sauce

Sugar.

Yes, sugar, but of course, a raw sugar:

Pizza Sauce

This sugar is unrefined, and not bleached like granular sugar

Tomatoes, especially canned, can be very acidic, and you don’t want the sauce to ruin pizza. The recipe calls for one tablespoon first, and then the second after cooking, but I added a tablespoon of SomerSweet at the end. I chickened out.

Once you’ve got all the ingredients together, whisk them together:

Pizza sauce

Until it looks like this:

Pizza sauce

Until it’s nice and smooth and all mixed.

Cook on Low, but stir every half hour or so, for 4 hours. I know, I know. . .but it’s not that much trouble. You don’t want it burning in the pot, do you?

When you’re done, it looks like this:

Pizza sauce

Pizza! Well, almost.

At this point, it’s up to you to see if you like the way the sauce tastes, or if you think it needs a bit more sweetening. I think it did, so of course, I added the. . .SomerSweet. BUT–I could have added another tablespoon of the turbinado sugar, or even a packet or two of saccharin.

I forgot to take a picture of it, but after it cools, mix in the cheese.

Now it’s time to freeze it for whenever you need it next:

pizza sauce

Pizza sauce for a long time!

I didn’t feel like looking for more of those glass containers. And I put the plastic wrap on it to make sure we didn’t have any leaks in the freezer.

You can click on the link or check out the Recipes page if you want to try this for yourself. And why wouldn’t you?

The Hot Mess: Waffle Brownie Edition

Wanna know what happens when I beg BF to let me try something at least once in the waffle maker? I finally tried making brownies from a mix in the waffle maker:

The setup

After spraying the waffle surfaces with. . .Pam. . .

I don’t like this stuff.

And heating up the Griddler:

One of my favorite kitchen toys

I mixed it all up:

And poured it onto the waffle plates:

I let it cook until it looked like it was done:

It’s done, right?

And attempted, using multiple spatula tools, to remove it from the waffle maker. This is what happened:

BF ate some of the brownies that came out edible, laughed at me a little, and made me promise never to attempt this again. I also added that I would only make brownie waffles using a recipe designed for the waffle maker. Agreed. And then, after it cooled, I washed it all up.

Lessons learned. One success and one flop.

Next post, which is dreadfully overdue, is a very serious subject, and I’m sorry I’m late with it. I need to re-read the book I want to tell you about and why you should read it. I hope next week. It ties in with this post as well as the last one, and you’ll see what I mean when I finish it.

Meantime, Happy Dining!

Creole Aioli

Happy Monday, Dear Readers:

Once again, apologies for being absent. Life has pulled me in other directions. I’ve still got one post I’m trying to get to finish, but it requires research, and I haven’t sat down to do much of it. But if you like to read about foodie subjects, it’ll be worth it. I like to make sure I give all of you something interesting to read.

I keep thinking I don’t have anything to write about. Then something else shows up, and I write a blog post about it.

This post involves some garlic, and I’ve been meaning to mention this important point for a while. I read recently that when you’re buying garlic, there’s a simple way to know if you are getting domestically produced garlic or garlic grown in China: the roots. If you are buying garlic that has roots attached, it’s domestic, grown in California, Texas, or somewhere else domestically. But if the roots are scraped off, and the bottom is concave, it’s China-grown. This article on the Living Traditionally blog explains it further. Garlic from China is bleached, and even organic garlic is grown under questionable conditions. I have not yet been successful growing garlic here in the HeatCageKitchen garden, twice buying some from Territorial Seed and finding nothing in the spring. (Not their fault, of course, I’m an obvious amateur.) I put the question to the lecturer at our last monthly Green Thumb klatch, and she told me to just look for local garlic, probably grown in nearby Dickinson, and let it sprout. DUH, Amy.

I like to read myself, if you didn’t know that, but most of it is online now. I think I mentioned that I cancelled my 20-year subscription to Martha Stewart Living earlier this year; it just wasn’t “Martha” anymore. But I do read other things, and one of them is a wonderful publication called Mary Jane’s Farm. What? You’ve never heard of it? Me either, until I got a flier from them a few years ago. I wasn’t particularly interested, since I was reading Hobby Farms, along with the now-defunct Hobby Farms Home and Urban Farm, all at the same time. The second and third magazines were eventually rolled up to the first, and I later subscribed to Mary Jane’s Farm. It’s a replacement, I suppose, for Martha Stewart Living, although the content is somewhat different. The target demographic for Mary Jane’s Farm are women who live on farms, those who want to live on a farm, and those, like your humble blog author, who dream about living rural in the future.

I received the August/September issue last week, but finally got around to reading it on last Tuesday. Oh, BOY! A feature article on. . .Farmgirl Barbecue! Being a naturalized Texan (September will be 18 years since I moved here), I appreciate good barbecue. Even though I have my favorite barbecue sauce from one of Suzanne Somers’ books, and my favorite barbecue rub from the May 2002 issue of Martha Stewart Living, I’m open to considering new forms of barbecue. Mary Jane’s Farm delivers.

What first got my attention was the Blackberry Barbecue Sauce on page 46. WHAT?? (Warning: that recipe also has fresh ginger.) Unfortunately, it also calls for “2 cups ketchup,” and the recipe for said ketchup is on page 43. (GRRRR.) OK, so I look at that recipe but would have to buy 6 large tomatoes parsley, coconut sugar and lemon juice (I generally have limes around.) Not going to make this today. . .but the recipe for yellow mustard is next to it, and I have everything I need to make that. I’d like to try it soon.

Then on page 44, I see a beautiful picture and a recipe for Creole Aioli.

How could I resist? (Recipe available on the Recipes page.)

How could I resist? (Recipe available on the Recipes page.)

I’ve got everything I need to make it! Almost.

Now, hang on. . .I’m sure there’s at least one person who’s thinking, “what is Aioli, and can I get arrested for making it?” Relax, it’s legal (at least, for now.) Aioli is a French version of mayonnaise, made by hand (usually) and is more of a dressing than mayo. There is a good version of it in Suzanne Somers’ first cookbook, and she explains it. However, this farmgirl “Creole” version packs a seriously garlic punch. (Not all “Creole,” “Cajun,” “New Orleans”and “Louisiana-style” food is burning hot.)

So what excuse did I tell myself for making it? Well, there were four:

  • I can write a blog post about it
  • It’s from the new issue of Mary Jane’s Farm
  • I have everything I need to make it right now
  • It would taste great with some waffle maker hash browns

 

And here we are!

I don’t normally have sour cream in the fridge, and that’s one of those things that goes great with potatoes. (Thanks, Neighbor E!) So the first thing to do is get some hash browns cooking, since it takes about ten minutes or so once you put the lid down.

Nothing like the loud, satisfying sizzle when this hits the waffle plates. (The potatoes might not have been dried out enough, either, but they were still pretty tasty.)

Nothing like the loud, satisfying sizzle when this hits the waffle plates. (The potatoes might not have been dried out enough, either, but they were still pretty tasty.)

Ready to rev up nearly anything you’re having for dinner–or any other time–and make a big mess while you’re at it?  Let’s make some.

The setup

The setup

As you can see, I had everything handy, with the exception of a lemon, so I used lime. (You can do that in many recipes, unless you’re making a Mojito.) Normally, I would not cut that much basil (you see the size of them leaves?) but when I saw Miss Shirley last week after the gardening lecture, I told her about the big, leafy basil I was getting, and she suggested cutting a third off.  So. . .I did. And that fresh oregano plant needed a bit of cutting, too.

I started out doing Mise en Place, or prepping everything and setting up. (I heard Martha Stewart say that on the show years ago and never forgot it.) There’s someone on set on those cooking shows and morning-show food segments doing this before they go live, you know. Neighbor R gets upset watching cooking segments on those get-together TV shows because she knows how long stuff takes. But, she says (while gesticulating with both hands), “when you watch them cook on TV, it’s boom-boom-boom and it’s all done!” They’re set up before the cameras turn on so that everything is ready to go, and the cooking host can make that dish in a matter of seconds. For more complicated things, like bread, several are made so that you can see how it’s supposed to look in various stages of completion.

Anyway. . .mise en place. I do it all the time.

I measured out the spices and put them in a pinch bowl, then separated out the eggs:

IMG_3193

Makes life easier when you prep first.

Went to town on the basil and oregano:

IMG_3194 IMG_3195 IMG_3196
I cut a little too much basil, so the remainder went in the fridge covered in some olive oil and I used it to coat some chicken leg quarters I roasted yesterday. Along with two egg whites in another pinch bowl, which went into the weekly slow-cooked breakfast quiche.

Once everything else was done, I set out to deal with the 3 cloves with a half-teaspoon of salt. In a mortar and pestle. No kidding.

When was the last time you saw me use one of these? I don't know either, but I have one.

When was the last time you saw me use one of these? I don’t know either, but I have one.

If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you could try smashing it in a small bowl with the back of a wooden spoon, mixing with the salt to make the paste. I haven’t tried that, it’s just the first thing off the top of my head.

The salt acts like an abrasive while you grind it into a paste. That’s right, a paste. It takes a few minutes of elbow-greased grinding, but it does come out that way:

Garlic/salt paste.

Garlic/salt paste.

Once that’s done, the recipe says to add it to a small bowl with the egg yolks and whisk them while you slowly pour in the olive oil. However, I decided to not to entertain the possibility of making a huge mess with eggs and olive oil and spending the rest of the night scrubbing them off the floor.

This is a non-standard deviation.

The alternative, aka “direct-application” method.

You may be asking yourself, “Why is Amy using an immersion blender for this?” Answer: because Amy also has no patience.

I’ve made mayo before, either like this or with a regular stand blender. It’s not difficult, but I have no idea why they don’t suggest a blender. So I did it.

POWERRRRR!!!

POWERRRRR!!!

First you whiz together the egg and garlic paste. Then you add in a half-cup of olive oil, whiz that around (or whisk it by hand if you prefer) then add the spices, herbs and lemon juice, and blitz it again (or just mix it well.) If you’ve ever made mayonnaise from scratch, you know how this works. (Placing a small cut of rug backing under the bowl helps keep it in place and prevent sliding, just like the anti-slip cutting board trick I mentioned in my last post.)

You end up with this:

You really, REALLY need to like garlic for this one.

Holy Shish Kebab. You really, REALLY need to like garlic for this one.

What does it taste like? WOW–Garlic! Pepper! Spice! Herbs! You don’t need much–this Aioli will knock you over. The recipe calls for 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne, but I used about a third of that. (In other words, not very much.) You can leave it out altogether, if you like–the garlic stands on its own, and will still throw you off your chair if you’re not ready for it.

Proceed with caution, and dip carefully. You’ve been warned. (The good news: it’s gluten free!)

This is very tasty on the waffle hash browns, (like the hash browns themselves) really, REALLY creamy and so good. There’s a lot of taste in this little cup of sauce. It keeps for about a week in the fridge. A little goes a LONG way. But dip with care–the strong taste will compete with other flavors like sweet potatoes. I tried it with baked sweet potato fries, and the tastes compete too much. But it’s great on the regular white potatoes.

I need to make more soon.

I gave some to Neighbor E to try. (I didn’t give any to Neighbor R, since she’s elderly and the cayenne pepper might bother her stomach.) He forgot to pick up a potato to bake on his last food forage, so he could try it that way. E finally decided to use it on a sandwich and loved it.

WARNING: Remember that there are raw eggs in this aioli, so anyone who is allergic to eggs, is very young or elderly, or has a compromised immune system, will need to leave it alone. I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but you don’t want to surprise anyone who can’t have raw eggs for any reason. Unfortunately, my longtime friend The E Man is allergic to eggs. . .sorry, Dude.

But if you don’t have a problem with the raw egg yolks, enjoy garlic, and can handle the pungency, Creole Aioli is a delicious spread or dressing for you, any time. As always, the printable PDF is on the Recipes Page for you.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Stewed Lentils & Tomatoes

Hello, again, Dear Readers:

I’ve had a lot happen since my last post, including. . .car repairs. I missed last week’s gardening lecture at the library, darnit, and I missed seeing our Miss Shirley. Soon as I get the Texas state inspection finished and the registration sticker taken care of, I’ll be rolling for another year (we hope.)

If you haven’t heard, Starbucks is revamping their My Rewards program. Some frequent-customer math majors have figured out that due to the new 2-points-per-dollar-spent, members will have to spend a total of $62.50 in order to get a free thing. Currently, points are issued per transaction, no matter how much you spend, whether it’s a small coffee or a $7 salad or your favorite over-sweetened coffee-tasting drink thing. The new program will be strictly on what you spend, so big spenders get free stuff faster, but occasional visitors like me might be longer for a free thing. One complaint levied was that customers were requesting each item rung separately, giving them more points but holding up the lines. Starbucks will be keeping the “star dash” days, where you buy a certain thing, or use the mobile order app, or come in after a certain time and get extra stars; that’s how I’ve “profited” with it. I check the emails from Starbucks and use them accordingly, paying attention and getting extra stars now and again for different things. These promotions will continue.

I got my latest free thing on Monday, another salad. Because I managed to get extra points on Tuesday for something else I wanted, my next free thing expires 4/28. Woo hoo! It pays to pay attention, folks. The newly revamped program goes live on April 12, and if you’re already enrolled, you’ll be rolled up into the new program. Any points you have will be carried over and  multiplied by 11, so it behooves one to get 11 points by the 11th of April to get 121 points to start with. (I’m not a complete math dunce.) If you are already enrolled, pay attention to your emails so you’ll know when the “extra point” days are, especially Mondays, and rack up 11 points before COB April 11th.

Easter is this weekend, and our lovely new HEB will be closed on Sunday. I ducked in today to pick up some milk and a few other things. Well, as usual, while I shop in the daytime, I basically had lunch at HEB. Salmon burgers, chips with a very hot guacamole, a sip of fresh orange juice, some ham, and samples of one of these Bavarian Cream Fruit Pies that the demo lady was happy for me to have:

The Bavarian Cream Fruit Pie for Easter

The Bavarian Cream Fruit Pie for Easter.

There’s also a larger one for $16. I did not bring one home, and I’ll be working hard to rid myself of the three samples she offered me today. They’re “freshly made in the store,” but. . .here’s how. I’m guessing the crusts are baked in the bakery, and then something called “Bavarian Cream” is poured from a huge plastic tube into the crust. then it’s topped with fruit, then with a glaze, then sweetened whipped cream is piped on the rim. Then for an extra touch, some crumbles are sprinkled on top. It’s not an overly sweet treat, and not as heavy as the kinds of desserts served during the holidays, but it’s pretty good. At least, I thought it was until I saw the “Bavarian Cream” poured into the crust. Oh, well.

On the way out I saw a stuffed toy I know you’ll just want two of, and if you have children or grandchildren, you’ll want to put these in their Easter basket:

IMG_2953[1]
Yes, those are stuffed armadilloes.

IMG_2954[1]

No kidding. Cute, but I passed on it. This time.

OK, cooking.

I’ve had some venison in the freezer for quite some time, a gift from Neighbor J upstairs from one of his West Texas hunting trips. It was a small wrapped package with just a few pieces, but I decided to use it. Haven’t had venison in a while, and I decided to. . .oh, you know what I did with it. After I used my multi-bladed hand-held meat tenderizer on it and put plenty of oil on it, then seasoned it up:

Waffled venison bits

They fit right on the plates, too.

And why not? After Sunday’s burned waffle mishap. . .oh, nevermind. These turned out pretty good for a quick dinner.

Venison. . .bits. Waffled!

Venison. . .bits. Waffled!

See what I mean about your waffle maker being an indoor grill? Of course, I’m now concerned that with all the use and scrubbing I might rub off the finish. I’ll worry about that when the time comes (the plates are $40 to replace.) I could have just used the grill plates, but. . .why? Next time.

Anyway. . . .

Spring is here, sort of, and I’ve been enjoying the last gasp of winter. Well, we think it is. . .a few years ago, we had 40-degree days in MAY. But not many of them. Every time I put away my favorite warm winter boots, I have to take them out again. Yesterday I was bundled in socks and a long-sleeved shirt, but all last week, like today, it’s  t-shirts and shorts. That’s life on the Gulf Coast. Folks in the northeast are still shoveling snow, Which brings me to today’s blog post.

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa. I have all but one of her books (I just haven’t gotten the latest yet, nor Nigella Lawson’s) and honest, I don’t think I’ve ever cooked up anything bad from a BC book. I recently made one of my favorites–twice–once the week I got sick and the second time, because Neighbor E was given some delicious carrots as big as his forearm. (OK, they were big like cucumbers.) Like the potatoes I turned into waffled hash browns, carrots are not something I have often because of the high sugar content. When he gave me the carrots, I knew what I was going to make: Stewed Lentils & Tomatoes.

This recipe is from the 2006 Barefoot Contessa At Home, which I’d ordered online for my birthday, and requested it autographed. I forgot about that until I saw the invoice in the book, and looked at the title page. Yep, that’s the one.

IMG_2956[1]

I ordered this on the website, several years before I met Ina in person here in Houston.

You can order any one of her books autographed here, very easily; that’s what I did for this book. Oh, look! I don’t yet have Make It Ahead, and now she’s got a new book coming in October. Cooking for Jeffrey! (That’s her hungry husband, if you didn’t know that.) Awww. . .I wonder if he’ll be going on her book tour with her this time. Probably not, he’s a busy guy. I’ll get that last book one of these days.

So, Stewed Lentils & Tomatoes.

It’s one of those recipes where you have just a few steps, put it all in the pot and let it cook. When you’re done, you have this warm, tasty bowl food that you know you will look forward to making again. This second time, I made a double batch so I could give some to both E and Neighbor R. E texted a couple of days later that he really enjoyed the “lentil soup.” It’s not lentil soup, but that’s OK.  He’d added one or two things to it, but he liked it, and so did R. So. . .three thumbs up.

Ready to make it? Here’s how it goes:

The setup.

The setup (except for the carrots, I forgot to take pictures before I started cutting them up.)

First, you heat the 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large saucepan. (I used a chili pot, same one I use for popcorn, but any large pot will do.) Your carrots should be scrubbed clean and large diced like this:

IMG_2929

Your onions should also be large diced:

IMG_2930

And toss that into the pot with the carrots on medium-low heat, cooking for 8 to 10 minutes until the onions start browning; stir with a wooden spoon occasionally.

IMG_2936

Chop up the garlic, and cook for one more minute.

IMG_2937

Used my little red garlic do-dad for this job:

IMG_2933

IMG_2934

IMG_2935

Easy, and no smelly hands (if you’re lucky.) So while that’s going on, open up that can of plum tomatoes and dump the whole thing into your food processor:

IMG_2938

Blitz it a little with the pulse button to coarsely chop them. Also, if you’ve not done this already, rinse and pick over the lentils to make sure there aren’t any stones or dirt in them.

Now add the tomatoes, along with the lentils:

IMG_2940

The chicken broth:

IMG_2939

Sorry, home-made chicken stock is not on my dance card right now. Central Market’s will have to do.

And the 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme:

IMG_2944

Now you see the wisdom of a hole in one corner of the cutting board. Makes this kind of thing very easy.

If you don’t have fresh, you could use 3/4 of a teaspoon dried thyme. (I recommend fresh, though.)  You also add the curry powder, salt and pepper at this point.

IMG_2945

Raise the heat to make it boil, then lower the heat and cover it. Then you just let it cook until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. Check it to make sure it’s still simmering occasionally. When it’s done, and the lentils are soft, remove it from the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes, then add 1 tablespoon of a good red wine vinegar. Stir, season to taste (if you like) and serve it hot.

IMG_2946

Ta-dah! Stewed Lentils & Tomatoes.

Actually, the liquid cooks down, and I guess I forgot to take another picture when it was done. So here’s the picture from the book, which is pretty much what I ended up with and brought to my two taste-testers:

IMG_2955[1]

It’s just a little side dish, but it sure does pack a lot of flavor. Just the thing when you want something warm, cozy and satisfying. I have a note in my book to make a double batch–it’s that good. And if you use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock–it’s vegetarian! Wait, it’s vegan too, right? OK–it’s “meat free,” “wheat free,” and “soy free.” I don’t care, it’s just so tasty and good that I should make it more often than I do.

One thing, though–because it’s higher in carbohydrates (starch) than, say, a sweet potato, make sure you have some protein with it too, or you might find your self in need of a nap. The first time I made some for dinner with AC, I had some the next day and promptly needed to sleep. That was Tuesday. On Friday, my lungs started burning when I coughed, so I figured out that it probably wasn’t the lentils, but the bronchitis. If you’re sensitive to high carb stuff, have some chicken or something so you don’t need a nap. Especially if you have some at lunchtime at work.

If you do fall asleep at your desk, you’re on your own. You could pretend you were in prayer, but I don’t know if that will work or not.

Lentils aren’t as common in cuisine in the US as they are in other places, like India. They sure are good, though, and this recipe can show you how good they can be. (I think I have a lentil salad recipe in the new Giada book, but I’ll check on that soon.) If you do like lentils, I hope you get inspired to try this dish. A printable PDF file of this recipe is also on the Recipes page with an ingredient list and exact directions.

So what are you waiting for? Go get some lentils! Easter is Sunday, and you won’t go wrong with this dish. . .unless you don’t make enough.

Happy Easter, and Happy Dining!

Hash Brown Waffling

Hello, again, Dear Readers:

Are you enjoying your popcorn a little more now?

I saw friend of the blog SM on Saturday, and she really enjoyed the last article on popcorn. There’s a lot more to popcorn than we think about, and I hope you found it interesting (and ditched that microwave stuff!)

OK, I’m going to do an opinion piece now.

I think we’re going to see the end of Martha Stewart Living magazine within the next year or two, or at least see it rolled up into something else. If you haven’t heard, the two MS magazines were sold to Meredith, and the company Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO) was sold to Sequential Brands Group, whatever that is. I remember when MSLO went public, the shares sold for something like $38 each. I long thought about buying 10 shares, (especially after the price went way down), just to own a bit of it, but I never did. The price of the subscriptions has decreased with the new owners, too. Meredith also publishes, among others, Better Homes & Gardens, Rachel Ray Everyday, Shape,  and Parenting.

My favorite quote from the article:

“The change will be invisible to the consumer, and will help to further strengthen the Martha Stewart brand in the advertising marketplace,” said Meredith National Media Group president Tom Harty.

No, it isn’t invisible, I saw it. Yesterday I received the April issue, and it didn’t take long to flip through it. On page 22 in the Good Things section is a runner constructed from four IKEA Signe rugs. That’s lovely. . .except I did that ten years ago as a bathroom runner, since the cats liked to drop their midnight hairballs in the bathroom. I stitched them up on the machine (exactly the way they do, lengthwise) using white upholstery thread, and now I have four of them to chose from. Completely machine washable (except I have no more cats.)  The From Martha column is all about Martha getting her hair done. This was NOT what Martha Stewart Living was all about.

And in the magazine wrapper was this “gift” for renewing:

Dessert!

Dessert!

This doesn’t look like anything Martha. I start flipping through and see recipes calling for a box of cake mix or refrigerated pie dough. That’s not Martha!! I up the front cover, and I see:

Definitely not Martha.

Definitely not Martha.

More “church lady” kinds of desserts, and not the kind of thing I’d ever make. I gave it to Neighbor T upstairs, since she’s kind of a “church lady,” and does like that sort of thing.

It’s no longer Martha Stewart Living. It’s Better Homes & Gardens 2.0.

OK, I’ll quit griping and complaining. For a while. Let’s talk about something more interesting.

Although I haven’t done a lot of waffling in a while, it’s because I’ve been using the Crock Pots a lot. Now from the company that brings you the Internet-Of-Things slow cooking machine that you connect to your WiFi and control with a smartphone app, and a slow-cooking arrangement called a “Hook Up,” comes this new 5-in-1 Multi-Cooker that bakes, steams, sautes and roasts in addition to slow-cooking. It’s the idea is that not only can you brown your meat before you do the slow cooking, you do it in this appliance, and the one-pot convenience saves time and washing extra pots. It also doubles as a small counter-top oven (I don’t know if it would replace my toaster oven), and you can steam in it too. At $150, I’m not in a hurry to order one. If I were to get one I would probably ditch at least one of my two “dumb terminal” Crock Pots, and maybe bake more in it. (A baking rack is included for things like custards.) I did notice that many of the people writing reviews received a “free sample” to try out. No, I didn’t get in on that one, I wish. Oh, well.

I’m not big on buying every single new appliance out there, especially if it does just one thing (like popcorn.) But this might be a good bridal shower gift with wedding season coming up soon. Or a graduation gift for someone who’s heading to college in the fall and likes to cook.

Now, let’s talk about waffling. Yes, again. If you haven’t become hooked, keep reading, you just might.

On Sunday (on Facebook) a post appeared from a certain author (guess who?) discussing spaghetti pie. And then it turns into Waffled Spaghetti Pie. Yes, Spaghetti Pie in the waffle maker. Pecorino Romano AND Provolone cheeses? Oh, yes. . . .

Source: WillItWaffle.com

Source: WillItWaffle.com

You’re welcome.

No, I’m probably not going to try it unless I decide to pop for gluten-free spaghetti. Well, now that I think about it, I just might. That looks pretty darn good, doesn’t it?

Taste tester and friend of the blog Neighbor E was given some fresh garden produce recently, and he gave me some of it because he wouldn’t be able to use it before it went bad. The carrots nearly as big as my forearm were used in some stewed lentils, which I’ll talk about in a future post. (He and Neighbor R loved that one.) Since I don’t normally buy potatoes because of the high starch content, I didn’t use them right away, just thinking about what I might do with them.

Then it hit me: hash browns. But not just any hash browns.

You may have seen the Pinterest or Facebook post showing you how to create them in a waffle maker from frozen tater tots (and I talked about that the first time I brought up waffling.) Unless you’re in Denny’s or some other high-end restaurant (yes, that’s sarcasm), you’re probably not going to be able to get them nice and crispy making them from scratch. So, I cracked open the new holy grail of appliance cooking, Will It Waffle? and sure enough, there’s a waffled hash brown recipe. With fresh rosemary from the HeatCageKitchen garden!

The setup

The setup.

Really, it’s a bit of work, but simple. You shred up the potatoes, either by hand or with a noisy machine.

IMG_2872[1]

I just didn’t feel like taking out the food processor this time

Here’s the trick: you must remove as much of the water as you can. My way was to use this long-forgotten over-the-sink colander, spread them out, then blot and squeeze with paper towels.

IMG_2873[1]

I think I bought that before I met the GER.

Blot and squeeze as much as you can to remove the water:

IMG_2874[1] IMG_2875[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am now out of paper towels.

I let that sit in the colander while I chopped up the fresh rosemary, and mixed it with the salt and pepper:

Mezzaluna knife not required

Mezzaluna knife not required

 

Quarter teaspoon of salt, half teaspoon pepper mixed with half a teaspoon finely chopped rosemary.

Quarter teaspoon of salt, half teaspoon pepper mixed with half a teaspoon finely chopped rosemary.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter to brush onto the waffle maker, which by now should be getting hot enough to cook:

IMG_2881[1]

Mix the shredded potatoes into the seasonings, mixing well:

IMG_2877[1]

Then pack it onto the waffle plates:

IMG_2882[1]

Sorry about that. I only have two hands.

Spread it out all the way to the edges of the waffle part. Remember, it’s not cake batter or eggs, so it won’t run anywhere:

IMG_2883[1]
Let me warn you that unlike eggs, this will take about 10 to 12 minutes to finish cooking. The drier your potatoes, the crispier the hash browns. When it’s done, it looks something like this:

See? Hash Browns!

See? Hash Browns!

But cook it as long as you need to, until it’s crispy the way you like it. I actually cooked that one a little more so it would get crispier.

Once it’s done, take it out and cook up hot, puffy scrambled eggs right behind it. Breakfast!

When it’s ready, serve it with ketchup, sour cream, salsa, or whatever you like on your hash browns. I normally don’t have sour cream around, but because I’d made coleslaw earlier in the week, I had some.

Yes!!

Yes!!

No, hash browns are not on my regular rotation, but someone gave me potatoes, so I figured out the best use for them. Delicious.  How come we didn’t think of this before? Well, Daniel Shumski did, and we are all grateful for his expertise, too.

Oh, and don’t think you have to keep these for breakfast. Make them anytime you’re in the mood, OK? And as I told someone last night on the phone who was having cereal and milk after an unexpected double shift, “breakfast for dinner” is a thing now. Wouldn’t be a bad thing for dinner anytime. (And AC will probably be checking them out next time she comes by for dinner, too.)

Got some potatoes? Get out your waffle iron and start making hash browns. Even just once, you’ll enjoy the heck out of it, but I bet it won’t be the last time.

Happy Dining!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pizza. Waffles.

Happy Monday, Dear Readers:

So after my waffle and Thanksgiving post, have you started thinking about your own Thanksgiving celebration? I’m still intrigued with the idea of the pizza waffle, so I kept going. I’ll tell you more about that in a minute. But Thanksgiving is coming up quick–if you haven’t started thinking and planning, better hurry up!

The GER has been informed of Thanksgiving, but has not responded, even though I’ll be making a delicious pecan pie on Wednesday. If he doesn’t show up, I’ll go get him.

Want to give a quick welcome to new friend of the blog AC. She’s in California this week with her parents, but she’ll get around to reading this one eventually. She’s a longtime friend of LK, and is also a longtime Buddhist like we are. Woo hoo! I’m glad she’s in our district now, and glad she will be enjoying (or reviling) my posts.

Wal-Mart has a site with some additional tips and hacks that can help you out, including a quick way to chill a bottle of wine. Cover it with a damp towel, stash it in the freezer for 15 minutes, run it under cold water again, remove the towel, and enjoy.

BuzzFeed also has this article on making an entire Thanksgiving dinner in a Crock Pot. No kidding, it serves 6 to 8 people. It’s like any other Crock Pot recipe–you chop it up, layer it, put the lid on, turn it on, and leave it. (Instructions are included.) Uses boneless, skinless turkey breasts, thighs or other parts you like, and potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, Brussels sprouts, the whole bit. Add cranberry sauce and a nice dessert, maybe a nice salad, and you’re good. Better than Thanksgiving In A Box, which I’ve seen once in Wal-Mart. I offer suggestions where I can, and just maybe one of my readers will be able to do this. It requires a 6-quart or larger Crock Pot (yes, I have a round one) and it is not gluten-free, since there’s bread and flour involved for gravy.

Doesn’t look bad, and maybe it could be made gluten free, right? Consider this option if you’re looking to make something but not a big, fancy dinner, and not a huge 20+ pound turkey. I haven’t tried it, but it looks pretty simple to do, and one of you dear readers may be looking for it.

The esteemed Washington Post recently ran an article about Houston as one of America’s great food cities. Well, DUH!! Of course we are!  Phoenicia’s two locations got a mention, as well as the Hong Kong Food Market, a chain grocery with multiple locations serving the large Asian community (and they don’t mind if this redhead pops in from time to time, either.)  Houston, like New Orleans, has a large Vietnamese population, migrated after the Vietnam war. But smoked brisket, barbeque and modern cuisine is also covered. I’ve not been in any of those restaurants myself, but I’ve heard good things about Underbelly. So there! And Houston is now #3 in the US, not #4, because of the inbound migration from other US states.

If you’re a fan of local raw honey, you may be able to find more of it one day. I already knew that Central Market on Lovers Lane in Dallas has a rooftop beehive that produces raw honey for sale. But I just found out that the Waldorf Astoria in New York is doing the same thing, and using the honey in the hotel’s kitchens. Pretty neat! It was, at one time, illegal to keep bees in NYC, but that’s changed, and the busy bees are making honey and pollinating all of New York. Could “rooftop beekeeping” catch on elsewhere? It’s always possible, especially for the rest of the Central Markets in Texas. But with more people starting and expanding urban gardens (some including backyard chickens), beekeeping may also not be far behind. Culinary seller Williams-Sonoma has an entire collection of what they call “Agrarian,” which includes beekeeping supplies. You can learn more about beekeeping in this section of their website. If you’re considering beekeeping, of course, you’ll need to do a little more research.

Switching gears. . .

If you like holiday humor, I discovered many (but not all) uncut episodes of one of my favorite Britcoms, My Family, is on YouTube. It aired on BBC America and PBS for a while, but they stopped. It’s one of the funniest sitcoms ever, although it’s probably not for kids. Only series 1 through 4 are available on DVD in the US, but a boxed set is available of the entire series, including 9 Christmas episodes, in the UK. You can order them from the UK, but of course, you have to have a region-free DVD player in order to play it. So. . .one of my goals is to one day a) get a region-free DVD player, and b) order that series as well as some other UK-only stuff and c) binge-watch all 11 seasons of My Family. Repeatedly. It’s that funny.

The series revolves around a dentist, his wife and their three children. The daughter drops out of college when she is pregnant with her son Kenzo, the eldest son is an idiot, and the youngest is a smart, conniver who his always up to something, usually involving money and his computer. The series ran until 2011 when they ended it, and of course, I don’t know how it all wrapped up. Yet.

In the early-series episode called Ding Dong Merrily, there is a particularly amusing scene when the wife/mother, who sees herself as Britain’s premiere gourmet home cook, (and she isn’t) is stuffing a turkey for Christmas lunch. The husband, a dentist, walks in and asks what kind of a turkey it is. The wife responds, “Chocolate Raisin Turkey. It’s Moroccan!” Then the husband says, “Oh, no, look–your cookbook pages are stuck together. You’ve gone from poultry straight to dessert.” The wife replies, “That’s how great discoveries are made!”  Then he goes into the living room and looks at the TV schedule, and finds “Carols From The Oil Rig” in the TV schedule.

When Christmas Lunch is finally served, the mother asks the pregnant teenage daughter what part of the turkey she’d like; the daughter responds, “I’m a vegetarian, Mom.” The mother responds: OK, Janie, help yourself to vegetables.” When she asks the smart-aleck youngest son, he responds the same way. The mother replies, “I wish you’d told me before.” The son responds, “I wanted to see what it looked like first.”  It’s a half hour, and there are short commercial breaks, but if you really want to watch it, this show is what I’d call “probably not safe for work.”  There’s minimal swearing, not very much, no nudity or anything like that, it’s just more for grownups. Oh, and the phrase “up the duff” means the same thing as “knocked up” does here.

Happy Christmas!

Now, I’m still intrigued with the idea of pizza from a waffle maker, so I had to try it myself. Ree Drummond actually made one recently on her Pioneer Woman show on The Food Network, in an episode called Dorm Room Dining. Her eldest daughter, Alex, has left the ranch and gone to Texas A&M for college, so I guess this episode was just for her. There are also waffle-maker quesadillas and paninis, as well as what she calls a Wafflet, which is eggs, ham and mozzarella cheese. See? WAFFLES!! They’re sweeping the country!!

Well, almost. I went into our new Sur la Table here in Baybrook Mall for the grand opening, and was checking out some of their pizza things. I mentioned to two ladies next to me (one of whom was in a wheelchair) that I’m fascinated with pizzas made in a waffle iron. The one pushing the wheelchair gave me a rude look and said, “I guess that’s good if you’re single, huh?”  My response: “Depends on the size of your waffle maker, I guess.”  No, Toto, we’re not in The Woodlands, either. But they did sharpen my big knife for free. (First one is free, the rest are $5 each, all year long.)

So what happens when the star food blogger in the HeatCageKitchen gets a hankering for pizza? That’s definitely one of those things I miss having, but of course, there are alternatives to ordering from Papa John’s. So she goes on Pinterest and finds what she wants. This time, my new taste tester, Neighbor E, also got to try some pizza waffles. I’ve stocked up on pizza sauce, but will get more cheese soon,so I can make it anytime this winter, along with Pea & Pesto Soup.

Let that roll around in your head awhile, OK? Pizza. Waffles. Or, Waffled Pizza. Or nearly instant pizza from the waffle maker, depending on what recipe you use.

Pizza. Waffles.

I’ve uploaded these two to the Recipes page, one is a scan and one is a PDF created from the blog it came from. One is a thick crust pizza, the other a thin, crispy crust. I liked both, and so did Neighbor E, but Neighbor R wasn’t crazy about the thick crust. So here’s the first one, thick crust and easy.


The new function in WordPress, a “mosaic.”

I discovered that the quinoa flour called for in the recipe is about $13 a pound, but oat flour can be used. Well, I have used oat flour for many years, and it’s about $3 or $4 pound, depending on where you buy it. So guess what I used? I also don’t have sweet rice flour, so I used the brown rice flour I have.

Really, this is pretty simple, you just mix it up, pour it on the waffle maker and waffle it. Top it with whatever you like, and stash it under the broiler to melt the cheese.

IMG_2874

PIzza!!

The first time I bought Classico’s pizza sauce, but when I went to HEB last week, I discovered their store brand, (organic, no less!) for sixty cents less a bottle:

IMG_2475

Echoes of future pizzas.

Now, the second one, from the fabulous new book Will It Waffle?, takes a little more work. (It’s the book I wrote about in the first waffle blog post.) The recipe isn’t gluten free–so if you just want regular bread flour, go for it. However, I wanted to try this recipe, which also includes instant yeast, just to see if it would work with a gluten free flour. For this one, I picked up a bag of Bob’s Red Mill 1-for-1 baking flour, which, I think, ran about $4 in Kroger:

wpid-20151112_162218.jpg

This recipe involved letting the dough rise like you would bread. But since it was cool on Saturday, leaving the dough in a warm place to rise involved heating up the toaster oven, putting the dough in a bowl, covering it with a pot lid, putting it into the oven and turning it off for a couple of hours while I went out for a 2 hour bike ride:

IMG_2477

Worked like a charm, too:

IMG_2478

Then you punch it down, knead it, and you end up with six potential pizzas:

IMG_2479

Daniel Shumski does tell you that the recipe makes extra crusts. Well, I waffled two regular sized pizzas and one about the size of a donut, and the rest were packed up to freeze for a future pizza (just let the dough thaw at room temp):

IMG_2480

After that, it was pretty much like dealing with pie crust but a lot more delicate. Roll it out on a floured board (you don’t need much.) Then, like a pie crust, roll it onto the floured rolling pin, the unroll it onto the plate until you’re ready to waffle it:

Neat, huh?

Then you just proceed with the cooking process on a heated waffle maker:

Take it out, top it, and just like the prior pizza, stash it under the broiler to melt the cheese:

wpid-20151121_191038.jpg

PIZZA!!

Since I’d been on the bike for 2 hours (ahhhh. .  .) I ate a whole regular sized pizza and the donut-sized pizza. Stop it–it wasn’t THAT much! I gave Neighbor E and Neighbor R each half of the second pizza right out of the broiler.

Now, with the yeasted crust, it’ll take a while because you have to let the yeast rise. However, the crust can be made in advance and thawed. I haven’t thawed any yet, but it probably shouldn’t take long. Then just roll it out and waffle.

This crust came out a bit like a crispy pappadam, the crispy bread served in Indian restaurants. I didn’t think it was going to taste good, because the raw dough wasn’t tasty at all. But boy, once you apply that waffle heat to it, it stiffens up really good, and the toppings just make it.

Three thumbs up! (Mine, E’s and R’s.)

Shimski also gives an option for a cannoli-style pizza, which I haven’t tried yet either. But I might, adding some sausage, pepperoni or something else. Hmmm. . .waffled pineapple, maybe? (Yes, pineapple on pizza is good.)

But with the first pizza, you can have it in the time it takes to call out for pizza, and it’s gluten free.

So here’s where I’ll close this delicious and interesting post, and wish everyone in the US (or anywhere) a Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy what there is to enjoy, and remember what you’re thankful for, too.

Don’t forget the best recipe ever for Leftover Turkey Chowder on the Recipes page, too.

And if you’re going out to Christmas shop on “Black Friday, ” please, please be careful–or reconsider. Sometimes it’s actually dangerous to go out shopping, and people have been badly hurt just trying to get at that great deal on a TV, DVD player, PC, or whatever. I might just walk up to my Starbucks instead, just to go for a walk that day.

Whichever pizza you chose, keep it in mind for a quick meal sometime. The fun is in trying something new, and experimenting with it. With or without salad, soup, or whatever else you might have with it, making pizza waffles is a neat way to make a pizza when you’re in the mood for it.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Dining!!