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Archive for March 9th, 2007

Victory in the Kitchen

Friday, March 9th, 2007

I’m a reluctant cook. Actually, that is a significant understatement. I love to eat but kitchens will never feel like home to me, and on occasion I get flipped out and want to refuse to cook or bake at all. Fortunately, eventually I get hungry and sanity returns. I do miss the days when I ate most of my meals in restaurants. Maybe those days created the current situation, we will never know, but times have changed for me.

My life right now requires me to mostly eat food that was prepared in my own kitchen. I have enough food allergies that prepared foods, even most of those available in the health food stores, do not work for me. It has been a big change in my life, and my attitude, to find a new routine/schedule/lifestyle where I am in the kitchen every day, sometimes for many hours. This has truly been a process of befriending my inner adult, in so many words.

sweetlefse.jpgOn some of my days off I try to cook extra for the freezer. Brian and I both take turns on the crockpot with turkey and vegetables. I make any breads I want or need, using alternative flours including brown rice, oat, buckwheat, teff and amaranth. Brian is the king of the steamer, he makes steamed fish and greens two or three nights a week which is a huge help and much appreciated. We are settling in to this new schedule, which kicked in fully about mid-November.

Planning Ahead

This weekend I am going to a knitting workshop at Heritage Spinning and Weaving in Lake Orion. The trip takes 1.5 hours one way and the class starts at 9am. I usually wake up after that, so I need to really plan ahead tonight for tomorrow’s meals that I will pack with me. I will mix up the dry ingredients tonight for the Teff Muffins I will eat tomorrow in the car on the way to the seminar. I made a few new foods tonight, hoping for at least one thing I can pack Saturday or Sunday, or at least eat quickly when I get home after a long day out.

Diana helped coach me through the first item, stuffed bell peppers. I don’t eat green peppers but I like red and yellow ones, and I found three nice red ones this week. Brian found some frozen ground turkey at a local grocery and so I fried that up, added garlic and red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, black olives and tomato paste. It worked out better than expected. We ate until we were full and I froze two small portions for lunches.

Experimental Unleavened Bread
Then I tried something totally new. I really miss tortillas, and finally found myself willing to fuss enough to try and make something like a flat bread. A few days ago I peeled, chopped and boiled two cassava roots (called yuca at my market). Cassava is the plant from which tapioca is made and when boiled long enough to eat, it reminds me a bit of potato but maybe a little more smooth-textured. I froze the cooked cassava and then today thawed it again.

I decided to try something on the order of the Norwegian flatbread called Lefse (pronounse LEFF-suh). I mashed a cup of the cassava root and a half a cup of baked sweet potato, added a cup of brown rice flour and some salt, and mixed it together with a pastry cutter tool. If I did it again I might use more rice flour or a second type of flour to dry it out just a little.

I put the mixture in the refrigerator to cool and “set.” I think it was a half hour or so later when I took it out, cut the mixture into 8 pieces and did my best to make a pan-fried bread. I flattened it out between my hands, and though it was a bit sticky it worked OK. (Next time I will try a little more flour.) I put a tiny bit of olive oil in my small nonstick skillet and fried it in a covered skillet maybe 1-2 minutes on the first side and another minute on the second.

The bread was very rough looking (see photo) but I like the texture and flavor. It’s more like a chappati (an Indian bread made with whole wheat) than lefse, but not as refined. The last few I put some extra flour on the outside before flattening them, and it helped the stickiness but they did not brown quite as well. It is a work in process but I am pleased the first try worked this well.

I like it. Brian says it’s more like a pancake than bread and he is right, but it’s stiffer and I think it will survive overnight in the refrigerator and a trip to my workshop tomorrow. It even looks like it might work for something like a sandwich, though I am not sure about that. For someone who has no real bread, this has some promise.

Your Support Means the World to Me

Friday, March 9th, 2007

I am receiving notes, privately as well as through my comments, that you folks are pulling together totebags for my CityKidz. Thank you so much for your support, it really means a lot. The kids know that everything they use comes from you and they do ask me to pass on their thanks.

citykidzmp3playercover.jpgCousin Karen sent a box last week with significant high-quality goodies (yarns) in it. I think she collected from her friends as well as her own stash. Everyone got to pick one ball out of the box when I opened it, even the slowest/newest kids in the crowd. I put the rest away in our storage drawers for regular use.

My mitten-inventor knit her mittens from her first choice out of that box. She also has already knit most of an armwarmer out of some green Kool Wool and she knit an MP3 player sleeve with what looks like some handspun yarn from Kool-Aid dyed roving in greens and turquoises. She also put a good number of pretty buttons on it for decoration, and the buttons mostly came from my friend YarnFairy (may she rest in peace) about a year ago. Here is a picture of that lovely creation for your enjoyment.