Cooking Weather

Don’t say “I told you so.”  I’m allowed to have my snow dreams.  Of course, in real life the snow went west and south of me, and I just got the frigid temperatures.  The cool thing is that the cold, cold weather made me want to cook.  Even today, when I awoke with a horribly achy, stiff back, I was in a cooking mood.  I keep an old exam stool in my kitchen and roll around from counter to frig to stove, and do most of my cutting and mixing at the kitchen table while sitting.  So…when I finally had enough Tylenol to get up and move a little, I was in my kitchen.

Actually, it started last night.  I had a tub of firm tofu in my frig that needed to be used, and I was in a casserole mood, so I searched at cooks.com and found Tofu Spinach Casserole.  It was easy and flexible, as I wanted to use fewer eggs and sauces with less salt.  I also used whole wheat noodles.  Turned out delicious.  I’m going to try freezing it in meal size portions.  I made popovers to eat with this:  1 and 1/4 c each of milk and flour, and 3 eggs and 1/4 t of salt make a whole recipe.  Stir well, pour the batter into greased (okay, Pammed) muffin tins, and cook 20 minutes at 450 then 15 at 350.  My sister makes a sweet version, the same basic recipe with sugar added, but I like them plain. 

NEWSFLASH!  1421 hours EST.  It is snowing in my back yard!  Probably won’t get 6 inches, but now I don’t feel so left out.

Back to cooking.  This afternoon I rolled around the kitchen taking inventory.  I had lots of white potatoes and a half-bag of organic pink lady apples that needed to be used.  There was a bag of frozen cooked shrimp in the freezer, and some frozen corn.  I decided on apple-oatmeal muffins and shrimp/potato/corn chowder.  Chowder first:  I cleaned and diced about a million potatoes (maybe a pound and a half).  I didn’t have any broth so I set them to boil with a can of no-salt mixed vegetables and the juice from a can of olives and some water-hey!  use what you’ve got!  I seasoned that with sage and added a handful of dehydrated mixed bell pepper pieces (pretty red and green).  Then, in a small skillet, I heated some olive oil and sauteed about half a bulb’s worth of peeled garlic cloves, cut into thirds.  I seasoned them with pepper and onion powder, browned them lightly and added the whole thing to the big pot with the potatoes.  After the potatoes were tender I added the 10 oz. bag of frozen corn and the pound bag of frozen shrimp.  When they came to a nice rolling boil, I added a few tablespoons of flour to thicken the whole thing.  I could have added milk for a more traditional chowder, but I liked the way it was at that point, so I simmered it for a few minutes and that was it.  Turned out lovely! 

Next, the apple oatmeal muffins.  I peeled and diced three apples, making about two cups of finely chopped apple.  To this I added 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar and two cups of flour, a mixture of millet and whole wheat.  I usually keep three or four kinds of flour in the refrigerator.  I also added 1/2 cup of pecan meal.  I keep pecan and almond meal in the refrigerator too, and flax seed meal, and I add  them liberally to baked goods and casseroles for flavor and those heart-healthy fats.  Next was about 4 teaspoons of baking powder (because I had no idea how much it should be), 1/4 cup of melted Earth Balance spread, and 1 cup of whole oats.  I mixed these all pretty well, then added plain, unsweetened soy milk to make a batter.  I gave it minimal stirring after that, just to moisten all the ingredients, so it would not get too tough.  I sprayed the muffin tins and loaded them.  These were cooked at 380 degrees until they were done (about 25 minutes).   It made 12 small and 6 large muffins.  Incredibly tender, moist and delicious.

Now I have two main courses and two breads that I can put away in meal-size portions.

Peace. 

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