11 February, 2017  |   Comment

Egg Carton Saturday

This week, we decorated our egg carton like it was a monster.
More egg cartons should have teeth.
Teeth on our egg cartons would remind us that we are
no
better
than
the
foxes.

Decorate your farm fresh egg carton like a monster!

1 February, 2017  |   1 Comment

Weeknight Palak Paneer Recipe

Weeknight Palak Paneer

Career-wise, life-wise, events feel more pressing right now and I want my kids to know that, “Your mom, she cared about some things.”

One of those things I care about is how working people can feed themselves and their families, especially as it feels like we need to work even harder just to tread water.

Ahem.

This is a recipe we enjoyed from our meal plan. You know, the meal plans I’ve been posting nearly every week for ten years or so. This recipe is a spinach-packed powerhouse. Bonus points for making your own cheese (!!!)

We’re making more Indian food, it’s the only food our pickiest eater absolutely adores. Sure! That makes sense! Out of every ethnic cuisine, she prefers the most complex spice balance. She wrote a love letter to our local Himalayan restaurant. She will eat heaps of Tandoori-prepared vegetables but she won’t touch a summer tomato. That’s my girl.

Making your own cheese, especially as a working person, will make you feel powerful and strong, able to take on marching, phone calls and fight against voter suppression.

You can pull most of this dish together at the last minute, but if you want the homemade paneer, you’ll have to give the recipe 24 hours head start.

Did it get down to the wire?  Substitute tofu for the paneer and most people will never notice.

Weeknight Palak Paneer Recipe

Ingredients
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons curry powder (we use Penzey’s Now Curry because Penzeys is a most wonderful company from Wisconsin that stands up for what’s right)

Penzey's The Now Curry
1 large onion, chopped rough

Chopped onions
1 teaspoon salt
1 3 inch piece ginger, peeled and diced tiny
8 cloves garlic, smashed, peels removed and diced tiny
2 teaspoons Garam Masala (again we buy ours from Penzeys)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and stems removed
3 tomatoes chopped into 1/2″ chunks — we used whole peeled tomatoes from a can
1 cup water
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
16 ounces baby spinach – a whole container if you buy it prepackaged and washed at your grocery store
1 cup cream
1 recipe Paneer (see below)

You’ll also want a large dutch oven and an immersion blender or regular blender.

Directions
In a large sauté pan, warm the oil over medium-high heat, add the 2 tablespoons of curry powder and toss together for about half a minute – stir well to make sure the powder and oil integrate and sizzle a bit.

Add the onion and salt – cook for 3 minutes or until melty. Then add the ginger and garlic and toss for another minute. Add the Garam Masala, jalapeno pepper, tomatoes and water, add the tomato paste. Cook over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, or until the ingredients are blended together.

Add the baby spinach in batches – letting each specific batch wilt down so there’s room for more. Continue to stir and fold and work together until the spinach totally cooks down (about another 3 minutes).

Use your immersion blender or blender to blend – we still like our spinach to have a bit of shape to it.

See here, I was blending so heartily, it’s out of focus!
How hearty the blend!

Immersion blender craziness for Palak Paneer

At this moment, I added the mix to a container so that we could have it ready to go quickly on Monday night.

Put that Palak Paneer in the fridge!

On Monday, I pulled the Weeknight Palak Paneer from the fridge, put it in a pan over medium heat. Then, I added the cream and the paneer. That paneer was chopped into roughly 1″ pieces.

We served it with naan and rice and we were so happy and we almost forgot we had a president that hates us. I love to toss some cilantro and hot sauce on it, but I leave that choice up to you.

weeknight Palak Paneer

Homemade Paneer Recipe

Ingredients
1 half gallon whole milk
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt

Directions
You will pour an entire gallon of whole milk into a large dutch oven. You will feel weird about this, like it’s wasteful, but then you will remember that flank steak is 9.99/pound at your local grocery store so you take a deep breath and commit.

Pouring a whole gallon of milk in the pan? Okay!

Heat the milk over medium-low heat until it just barely boils. You’ll want to stir it fairly frequently to avoid the milk burning to the bottom of the pan.

You’ll know it’s time to add the buttermilk and salt when there are bubbles are just starting to break the surface and it’s steaming heavily. That looks something like this:

Nope! The paneer isn't ready yet

Then lower the heat as much as you possibly can and stir in the buttermilk.

Buttermilk to make the paneer

Stir it in gently, and then continue to stir over the next 7-10 minutes as curds magically appear. Stir them toward the middle of the pot to congeal into a largish disk.

Paneer curds in whey

Isn’t that crazy? You just made cheese! Little Miss Muffet ain’t got NOTHING on you!

If you have a gas stove, turn off the flame, cover the pot and let it rest for 15 minutes. If you have an electric stove, move the pot to another (cold) burner before resting the cheese.

After 15 minutes goes by, remove the curds to a cheesecloth lined strainer. Mine looked like this:

Paneer in cheesecloth, draining

Squeeze all the juice out and twist the edges. Put in an edged container and add a weight to the top. Let solidify in the fridge. When I did this, I had to drain the plate twice. You can let this drain for up to 24 hours.

Draining paneer in the refrigerator

You’ve made paneer! You’re a cheesemaker! You’re a cheesemaker and a patriot!

Like I said above, chop the paneer into about 1″ chunks and mix into the spinach mixture with the cream before serving.

 

9 January, 2017  |   Comment

Meal Plan, Week of January 8th

This week we’re celebrating James’ birthday with chocolate cake, a rib roast and a crab feed.

We’re also cashing in some gift certificates at the spa this week, because sometimes birthdays in your forties can feel more like reluctance than celebration.

This week, I promised Dottie waffles for dinner.
This week, I am swapping out Thursday’s meal already.
I’m a little too obsessed with the Macaroni Grill, so we’re going to try making some Penne Rustica at home.
Since I have extra time this week, I’m a little more focused on what we’re eating, keeping the house clean, organizing everything, figuring it all out.

I figured it all out for January first, but it looks like I didn’t really figure it all out.
I have more figuring to do.
I always will, won’t I?

14 September, 2016  |   1 Comment

Repost: Helen Jane’s Minestrone Soup Recipe

  • Seasons, seasons.
    This month seems all about revisiting things after taking a break from them.
    Sometimes the things are relationships, sometimes they’re beliefs, and sometimes they’re hobbies.

I’ve taken a big break from my blog, no surprise. Due to a combination of time and social media and a personal turn to the more private, this seems like the worst, most dangerous hobby in the world. Of course, I miss it.

Lately, due to wonky plug-ins and comments, I’ve had to go back in the archives.
I’m surprised at all the energy and adjectives.
I shared so much.
I’m not much like that anymore.

But all those past, bubbly posts remind me that I’ve shared some useful things. We still eat this soup nearly every other week. In fact, we ate it Monday.

Eat this with grilled cheeses and grapes

When I first made this recipe, we had no kids. I had more energy and adjectives. I shared so much.

Things change. Soup remains.

Now, this minestrone soup recipe is the most effective way I have to cram veggies into the girls. I make it on Sunday, we eat it on Monday. We eat it up and ask for seconds, not realizing the cabbage, greens, beans and lycopene doing their healthfuls.

Minestrone Soup is good for your ass and ass.

Helen Jane’s Minestrone Soup Recipe

Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 pieces raw bacon, chopped fine
1 large onion, chopped fine
3 stalks celery, chopped fine
3 carrots, peeled, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic
1/2 green cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
6 leaves swiss chard, stripped from the stems and sliced into thin ribbons
1 32 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
2 quarts chicken broth
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 bay leaf
2 cups water
1 16 ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed – we like butter beans
1/4 cup tiny star shaped pasta or 1/3 cup Ditalini pasta.
A block of parmesan cheese and a fine grater

Directions
Chop the onion, celery and carrots fine. You want them small, especially if small mouths are consuming. Mince garlic. Slice the cabbage fine. Remove stems from swiss chard and slice fine. Open the can of tomatoes.

Veggies are ready.

Warm olive oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Add the chopped bacon and stir until the bacon is cooked through and fat has melted down.

Remove the bacon from the oil to drain on paper towels. Add onions, celery, carrots, salt, pepper and bay leaf to the pot.

Stir and cook veggies for 2-3 minutes.
Add garlic, cabbage and kale and stir frequently until mixed through and limp.
Add can of tomatoes, chicken broth and water.

Stir through until everything is mixed. Turn heat to high, bring the soup to a boil and then turn to low and simmer. If I have a random Parmesan cheese rind, this is when I add it. If you have no Parmesan cheese rind, I promise I won’t hold it against you.

After 15 minutes, add the white beans. Cook for another 20 minutes, add the pasta (if you’re using) and cook until the pasta is tender (7-10 minutes, depending on the size). Remove bay leaves, taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Leave the bacon out and swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth and you’re looking a little Vegan around the edges.

Serve with sprinkled reserved bacon (this keeps it crunchy) and a healthy scattering of grated Parmesan cheese.
(Sometimes, when lilygilding, I drizzle olive oil over the whole thing.)

We serve this soup with grilled cheese or panini and a chopped antipasti salad. The girls eat it up. Now you can too.