Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ginger Snaps

I like ginger snaps, ginger bread, spice cookies and other ginger/spice confections. And yesterday I got the urge to make a batch of ginger snaps.

They turned out okay, but not fabulous. The recipe was from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, and the dough was a little dry (not sure why), and of course I made the cookies bigger than they should have been, so they had to bake longer, so they got a little darker than they should (still taste good, though, even if now they are hard as rocks).

Now, my dad made fabulous ginger snaps. They were a rolled cookie, and each one was cut with a 2 inch round cookie cutter, all uniform and pretty. And his recipe, whatever it was, made a ton of cookies (his recipes generally made a ton of whatever it was he was making). I rarely have the time or patience for rolled cookies, except for Spice Crisps, a cookie recipe I found in Bon Apetit in the early/mid 90s. Thin, crisp and very spicy. Yum. (But more work than I was willing to put in after work yesterday. I make them around Christmas.)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Green Beans in Oil

When I was an undergraduate I spent about 7 weeks in Greece. The food was fabulous, and I was especially fond of a dish of green beans cooked in a tomato sauce. For years I tried to replicate the recipe with no success, not until I bought a copy of The Complete Middle East Cookbook by Tess Malos. In the Lebanon/Syria/Jordon section she has a recipe called Green Beans in Oil, which closely approximates the beans I had in Greece. And I do like them so much, I could make a meal of just these beans and a good loaf of bread. Except in the summer, when a fresh ear of corn and a fresh tomato (with that loaf of bread) makes a pretty good dinner, too.

Managed to do a lot of gardening the last two days. Prepared all the existing beds for planting, put new strawberry plants in one of the strawberry pots:

and planted a new thyme plant in the herb garden (the dog dug up the last one).

The peas are growing,

except in one row for some reason, so I planted arugula there.

So the plan for this year is: replace the two dead blueberry bushes with live ones, like this, but maybe bigger;
try carrots again here (I worked the soil so maybe I'll get real carrots and not little stubs);

put in a three sisters garden (corn, squash and beans); plant tomatoes (Ramapos this year, if I can get my hands on them); plant basil, parsley and dill in the herb garden; put cherry tomatoes in the upside down planter; and put hot peppers in the window box by the back door. We are in the process of opening up new beds (maybe next weekend, weather permitting), and in them I'll plant sweet peppers and maybe some cucumbers. (I'm avoiding members of the cabbage family because they always seem to be eaten by some kind of bug, and we aren't big fans of eggplant, zuchinni and summer squash so they're out.)

DH took down a dying tree near the driveway, and although I'd really like to replace it with an apple tree, it looks like that won't be happening. So I have to figure out what to put over there.

Could just fill the area with blueberry bushes, or maybe a different variety of tomatoes (one can never have too many tomatoes). Two other bushes along the side of the house will soon be taken down and I'm thinking of replacing them with hazelnuts, something I've wanted to plant since we bought the house. Have to look into that.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Little Baking

I made banana muffins for breakfast yesterday. The kids love muffins, specifically banana muffins and cinnamon muffins (aka French Breakfast Puffs). Sometimes I make blueberry (my favorite), but the kids just pick out the blueberries, and what's the point of that? Anyway, when I make muffins (fairly frequently), I'll make banana if there are some overripe bananas lying around, and cinnamon if there aren't. Both recipes are from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (1989 ed.) They are quick and easy.

Today I made the Farm Wife's Fresh Pear Tart from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. This is one of my favorite cakes. It's full of pears and studded with cloves. The batter has no leavening at all, which confused me the first time I made it, but it produces a very dense cake that surrounds the pears. It's very different from a light and fluffy cake, and honestly, I really like it.

I used the last of my cloves, though, so I'm going to have to place an order with Penzey's for more spices.

In other news, my peas have finally started sprouting. I'll post a photo when they get a little bigger (at least bigger than the weeds). And I restarted the Flow top; I'm now at the point I was when I ripped it out. Hopefully I can get some good knitting in....

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Curried Chickpeas and Chapatis

It's Lent, which means no meat on Fridays. So for the last few Fridays we've had pizza (half cheese/half onions and peppers), macaroni and cheese and tomato, and pancakes. And yesterday it was curried chickpeas and chapatis. The recipes are from The Colour Book of Indian Cooking. The chickpeas are cooked in a sauce of chilis, onions, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, tomato sauce and chicken broth. Very flavorful, and can be as hot or mild as you'd like.

The chapatis go well with the chickpeas, and are not difficult to make. Maybe a little time consuming, but not hard. Made of whole wheat flour and water (so they're good for you) and, hey, even the kids like them. (Go figure. DD won't even whole wheat white bread, but she'll eat whole wheat chapatis.)

Yes, that's Olivio in the photo. I use butter for everything, but when it comes to something to spread on bread, toast, etc., I use Olivio.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Peas Are Not Growing

Not much else to say. They should have sprouted by now, but the only things sprouting are weeds.

No point in posting a photo, since it looks much like it did on March 15.