Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, Harry!

Harry Potter is 32 years old today.  Huzzah!

With seven books, eight movies, numerous video and computer games, and the juggernaut that is known as licensed merchandise, the odds of someone having no clue who Harry Potter is are roughly the same as the ones that I will ever meet Matt Damon.

My guess is that anyone in the world who says they've never heard of Harry Potter is lying...because for some reason, it's cool to admit it.  What a delusional world they live in...

A few weeks' ago, when I was obligated to read a couple of crummy (nicest word I can muster) books called The Marriage Plot and Fifty Shades of Grey...I turned to the Harry Potter series to help clear out the literary ickies.  And just like a Lay's potato chip, I couldn't have just one.  I reread the whole series in less than a month...and while I was at it, I watched all the movies for good measure too.

With that kind of obsession under my belt, it's no shocker that I know today is Harry's birthday.  And while I'm itching to make all kinds of Harry Potter (British, actually) goodies to celebrate the big day, ultimately, I must limit myself to what's available here in the US, and what, really, I have the time and energy to do.  Because even though it's the birthday of The Boy Who Lived (aka The Chosen One), it's still a bread-baking day for Yours Truly (aka Mom Who Provides Nourishment for Her Family).

Thus, Yorkshire puddings, Shepherd's pie, steak-and-kidney, kippers, and treacle tarts were put on hold.  Instead, I opted for Rock Cakes (Mrs. Weasley's recipe) and Pumpkin Pasties.  The links here will take you to the websites I used for reference.

So here you're looking at the rank-and-file of Dumbledore's Pumpkin Pasty Army before I marched them into my oven (upon which I'd cast the Incendio spell).  You'll notice the picture is (deliberately) too far away for you to note the five or six soldiers there that look pretty beat up.  I was just getting the hang of using my new ravioli/dumpling makers...that's why a few of them look burst.

Baking the Army (see below pic) brings out their flaws quite obviously.  But, they still taste good.  I feel like I'm joining Harry, Luna, Neville, and others on the Hogwarts Express (where the cart lady is selling nothing but sugary sweets...no fruit, no veg, nothing).

And here's the Rock Cakes, which I, when  first reading Harry Potter, thought were some funnily named teatime mishap concocted by Rubeus Hagrid.  But no, upon further research, Rock Cakes are actually a real British food, especially popular at teatimes.  They don't sound overly appetizing...I mean, the "rock" bit throws me off.  But, honestly, they're easy to make, and tasty little buggers to boot.

Makes me wish I were British.  Sometimes.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dessert...As Mother Nature Intended

Two overripe, frozen bananas
food processor/blender 

I know, I know.  Those of you with more savvy than I are castigating me from afar...I am WAY behind the Yonanas craze...because I'm JUST NOW discovering the amazingly custardy and waaay healthfully simple dessert that is the result of the above equation.

Here's what happened.  After doing inventory yesterday, I discovered a half-dozen bananas that were very, very brown and in need of feeling useful.  Naturally, in cases like these, my first thoughts go to banana-flavored baked goods.  So, I put together a loaf of banana bread.  But, two lonely fruits still remained after that was done.  A search on the internet turned up this recipe for One-Ingredient Ice Cream.

Oh, color me intrigued.

Step #1: Place two overripe bananas (which I just happened to have!) in freezer for one to two hours.

Step #2: Remove partially frozen bananas, place in processor, and hit On button.  Scrape down once or twice to reduce chunkage.

Step #3: Eat.

What you're looking at is a bowl of awesomeness.
I think I will, thanks.  And I will probably make this over and over again.

Honestly, with a recipe like this, I won't feel bad about buying a near-ton of bananas when they're on sale ever again.  I certainly don't see myself tiring of this creamy, custardish, cool treat anytime soon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer On A Plate

No excuses.  I've been back from vacation for a couple of days...and I'm just now getting my kitchen bearings back on.

Our family vacation food plan consisted of meals in restaurants, gas station snacks, and processed cooler-ready foods (okay, there was a bag of apples in the trunk somewhere).  Naturally, upon arriving home, I feel the desperate need to one, eat more healthy, and two, prepare my own food.

And so, that's what yesterday was all about.  And...don't forget: it's summer.  I do believe my kitchen ministrations put together a light, but formidable, summer meal.

Here's what you're looking at: BLTs and Quinoa Garden Salad.

The traditional BLTs have undergone a slight modification, partly because of what's in my fridge and partly because our family is on an avocado binge at present.

Instead of bread, whole-wheat, low-carb tortillas act as the sandwich material. A light layer of mayo holds together the pre-cooked turkey bacon, leaf lettuce, avocado and tomato (fresh from garden if you can manage!) slices.  Eat like tacos.

There was a nearly-depleted bag of quinoa in my pantry, and a cup of that (cooked), with a cup of diced tomatoes and diced cucumbers, a half-cup of diced red onions and diced cheddar cheese, along with two generous tablespoons of homemade Italiano Vinaigrette (olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, cayenne, and sugar) constitutes this lovely, colorful, light, and healthy salad...perfect for a day where temperatures hovered in the 100s.

And because dinner was so light, dessert was a little less so.  Homemade pound cake, topped with sliced, fresh Georgia peaches, and drizzled with chocolate syrup.  This being my first attempt at a baking pound cake, I am amazed I waited so long to try it.  It might possibly be the easier dessert I've ever made.

But...maybe that's a different post for a different time, yes?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Republican Chex Mix

Just so you all know, I am registered Independent. 

But, I've just finished reading Walter Scheib's White House Chef...and the one recipe in that whole memoir/cookbook that I feel I could confidently make (and find the ingredients for) was for something called "Tex-Mex Chex".  According to Mr. Scheib, President GW Bush requested this snack frequently...even traveled with bags of it.  Personally, I like the addition of the pumpkin seeds and pistachios, not to mention the added Texas heat.

And so...in honor of our nation's birthday tomorrow and the impending presidential election...I give you the newly-renamed...

Republican Chex Mix

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

1 1/2 cups of each: Wheat, Rice, and Corn Chex cereal
3/4 cups pumpkin seeds and pistachios (note: original recipe calls for unsalted nuts, but I couldn't find any - so I left out the pinch of salt)
1 cup pretzel sticks

Combine these in large bowl.  Set aside.

3 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Tbsp of each: Tabasco and a favorite hot sauce (go with one of these for less heat)
Heaping 1/4 tsp each: cumin, oregano, and garlic powder

Combine in smaller bowl, pour over dry mixture, and toss or gently stir until all is coated.  Spread out on two baking sheets.  Bake for 15 minutes, then stir mix gently.  Repeat twice (total cooking time: 45 minutes).  Store in airtight container.

God Bless America!