Saturday, August 27, 2005

So You Say It's Your Birthday

Yesterday was my 37th birthday. I had a really good day that started with gifts from my kids. I got several handmade pictures from the 3 oldest girls:

a book by my favorite author and completely devoted to food, "French Lessons" by Peter Mayle, an adorable red creamer that is a miniature version of a pitcher I already have,

a Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer to replace one I lost and also since Burt's Bees is my favorite for personal care items, a new hot pad since all my old ones were totally gross and tossed out before we moved,

a soap from Pre de Provence, 2 Toblerone, a package of Sixlets, another small chocolate, and a sample of Camille Beckman's hand cream from The Foo Foo Shoppe one of our favorite stores here in Downtown Bethlehem.

My mom came and got me and the baby to take me to lunch and "junking", or thrift shopping.

After lunch at mom's favorite spot (she is diabetic and can only eat at certain places) we went to Marshall's where I found a few things I fell in love with; a beautiful sunflower pitcher,

a book I have been coveting for quite some time,

wonderful Olive Oil soap from Asquith and Somerset, a small book that mom snuck into my bag at the last moment after I said I thought is was "cute", "A Thousand and One Household Hints", and a small salad plate which I completely adore~it reads "Les Olives de Provence" around the edge and that is exactly what it will be used for~olives!

Nothing special at the thrift stores~disappointing but really I could have just gone home with what I already had.

When I returned home the kids were waiting for me with a "party". They had gone shopping with our oldest daughter and bought several of my favorite snack-type things which they had set out nicely. They even bought me a cake! The girls decorated with streamers and they all had a hand in a Birthday sign.

Last, but not least, there was a package from my mother-in-law with Sweet Pea scented Bath and Body Works things~mmm.
I think I got more for my birthday this year than I get any year at Christmas!

I also got to talk to dad on the phone (he had sent a card and birthday money) and that pretty much topped off a great day :)

Thursday, August 25, 2005


I'm very fond of baking bread~I adore the smell, the firm, warm, supple feel of dough in my hands, the endless choice of which to make; traditional white, baked in loaf pans until golden, so reminiscent of Grandma; Challah we make to share at Christmastime; whole wheat, beautifully brown and nutty in aroma and flavor; cheese bread with a tunnel of cheese and Italian seasoning made to go with our pasta dinners; French baguettes perfect to pair with creamy chevre, the list goes on...

I recently unearthed a book my father had given me several years ago titled "The Yankee Magazine Book of Forgotten Arts" by R.M. Bacon. It's very much a book I would turn to if I were homesteading~full of drawings, diagrams,recipes for everything from digging and stoning a well to keeping chickens to fireplace cookery and soap making.

I was drawn to the chapter "Whole Wheat Bread from Grain to Loaf" which outlines growing, harvesting and milling grain and gives several recipes for bread.

I've made this one two days in a row now and it lasts about 15 minutes here.

Whole Wheat Bread with Honey

three small or two large loaves
Printable Recipe

3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons honey
1 pint milk
1 T salt
2 pkgs dry yeast (I use Hodgson Mills 25% more packet with great results)
6 c whole wheat flour (King Arthur is my choice for all flours)

Proof the yeast in 1/2 cup of milk that has been warmed to 110-115 degrees F.
Melt butter and honey in the remainder of the milk in a saucepan over low heat. When lukewarm add the yeast and salt. Stir while adding flour until the dough is stiff enough to knead. Knead on a floured board for 6 to 8 minutes. Put into a greased bowl and let rise until doubled in bulk.
Turn out onto a floured surface and punch down. Divide into 3 small or 2 larger loaf pans and let rise again. Bake in a preheated 350-375 degrees F oven about 50 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I Love Falafel

Really I do. My oldest daughters love it too so I buy dry falafel mix often (Near East is good but I prefer Manischewitz). It is a bit pricey though so I found myself doing an intense search for falafel recipes. All I could find were recipes using cooked beans, mostly the traditional garbanzos.

I figured if the big companies could make an "instant" falafel mix, so could I.

I had 1/2 pound of dried lentils on hand and decided to give it a whirl.

I put the lentils into the blender and blended them to powder, added spices and flour (I am out of whole wheat so I used all-purpose), added water to the mix and fried away.

The first batch tasted fine, but they were a bit flat so I added baking soda to the next batch and although they don't taste like the commercial stuff, they were definitely good! They do need some parsley and possibly lemon juice added with the water but, all-in-all I was pleased with the result.

This is the basic recipe I came up with but keep checking back. I plan on trying whole wheat flour, matzoh or even panko as a binder.

Lentil Falafel
Printable Recipe

1/2 lb dried lentils
1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
spices to taste-what I used was:
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. curry
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
few dashes of black pepper

Grind the whole thing into powder in a blender or food processor.

To 1/4 cup of mix add 1/4 cup of warm water and let stand for 5 minutes.

Drop mix by teaspoonsful into hot oil and fry, turning once until browned. Drain on paper towels.

We eat our falafel in whole wheat pitas with fresh tomato, cucmber slices, and raita or tzatziki.

Cucumber Raita
Printable Recipe

1 cucumber, peeled and grated
1-1/2 C. plain yogurt
1/2 C. water
1/4 C. fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp roasted cumin seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin/coriander powder
1/4 tsp chili pepper
Add cucumber to yogurt and water. Roll cumin seeds to a powder and add. Add coriander and spices.

Makes about 2 cups
Printable Recipe

1/2 European cucumber, peeled and seeded
2 cups plain yogurt, drained 4 hours
4 cloves garlic, mashed in a mortar or minced
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped, optional
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, optional
2-3 teaspoons lemon juice

Grate cucumber on the large holes of a hand-held grater until you have 1 cup of
grated cucumber. Spread cucumber on several layers of paper towels, salt lightly
and let drain for 15 minutes. To keep tzatziki rich and thick, be sure to blot
cucumber thoroughly. In a bowl, combine drained yogurt, cucumber, garlic, mint
(if using), dill, olive oil (if using), and lemon juice to taste. Stir to mix well, season
with salt and serve. This may be made ahead a day, but do not add garlic until the
day of serving.

Monday, August 15, 2005

More on Camp Cooking

I found my camping notes! Do you think I have time now to add them? Noooo....course not.

I do have 2 photos of food that I cooked in an electric skillet at the campground. They are both an example of how to cook 2 foods at one time in one cooking vessel :o)

Nifty huh? You can do this at home also, obviously, and it would be great for dorms as well!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Trials and Errors of Camp Cooking

We recently came home from a 10-day camping trip that we took with our kids. It was a long "vacation". It wasn't really vacation at all, but a mixture of one dwelling being sold before the next became available. We put all our belongings into storage and kept only what we needed (or thought we needed) for camping. My husband worked the entire time, leaving the campsite in the wee hours of the morning and returning around dinnertime.

We don't have a cooler and so bought lots of shelf-stable items to cook; the new already-cooked rice that sits on the grocers shelf and needs only a small pan or microwave to cook, Parmalat milk in the tiny individual serving boxes so we could use them right away and not need to store leftovers, peanut butter, bread, crackers, canned cheese, cereal, canned chili, canned stew, canned tuna...canned whatever, you get the idea. We of course had s'more makings and for the first night we brought along a bag of ice and hot dogs.

The first night was fine, hot dogs for dinner, s'mores for dessert. The next day however, my friends Judy and Scott (and the most adorable little girl ever, their daughter Maria) came to see us. They brought us several things that we definitely didn't think of; tarps, extra folding camp chairs, a cooler and hot dog prongs. Suddenly, we couldn't live without a cooler. I had already made a dinner of tuna and crackers and fried potatoes, one part over the fire, the other on an electric skillet I had brought along (we got a site with electricity for the alarm clock). Judy and Scott had also brought more hot dogs and judging by the way my children ate them, I didn't make enough tuna and crackers. C'est la vie.

Now that we had the cooler (and the tarps just in time for an early morning storm) we filled it with ice and planned for more fresh foods. The next day, Martin's mom came to visit and brought us some absolutely delicious sweet corn and tomatoes. That night I went to the local store and got burgers and chips to go with the corn.

We also ran across a very quaint little store called The Old Copella Store and found that they sold their own free range chickens and eggs, organic food of all sorts and they carried a full line of Burt's Bees (heaven for me!). We bought whole wheat pretzels and I later went back to see if they sold falafel mix, but they didn't. I did purchase tahini and garbanzo beans and made some roughly mashed but delicious hummus that we ate with stone ground wheat pitas we had also bought from them. If you are ever in our neck of the woods you must stop by this store.

Sadly, my notes that I took down during the trip have been lost. I do have photos on the way though, and they illustrate several different ways of cooking.