A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Italian Beef in the Slow Cooker

I would be happy to attribute this recipe to its author, but it's a copy of a page in a small long-lost cookbook I had thirty years ago, when crock pots were a new thing.  This beef has an amazing amount of flavor considering it's not browned first.

I don't blend up the ingredients, I just chuck everything into the slow cooker at once.  And no one but you will know there are anchovies in there!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Blue Cheese Dip

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Neighbors were coming over for a glass of wine and I didn't have a decent appetizer in the house, so I threw together this cheese dip--it was well received.
Blue Cheese Dip
1/2 cup blue cheese
1/2 cup generic grated cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
a few dashes hot sauce
1/2 cup chopped pimento-stuffed green olives

Mix everything in food processor, chill, and serve with crackers.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Baby Pancakes

I make pancakes for me and Max at least one morning a week. Not big fluffy pancakes that you put syrup on — I'm talking thin, eggy, savory pancakes, often with vegetables in the batter. I guess you might call them fritters. 

When Max started eating solid foods, we read a lot about baby-led weaning and more or less did that — though not in any kind of dogmatic way. We sometimes fed him with a spoon, as it's pretty hard for a 6-month-old to eat soup or yogurt without one. We started with roasted sweet potato spears, and avocado, and steamed broccoli, and scrambled eggs, and worked our way on to other things. We kept salt to a minimum and thought strategically about non-choking foods, but were otherwise pretty open. 

In fact, the whole process was less about baby-led weaning than it was about eating real food. Above all, what we wanted to show Max is that food is about enjoyment, and family and friends, and health. So no puffs, no weird pouches with a nozzle, no rice cereal.
Pancakes are very good for babies learning to feed themselves. They're a good way to get eggs and vegetables into a baby. And I like them too.

You don't have to use any flour at all if you don't want to. These two-ingredient banana pancakes — just mashed banana and eggs — are quite tasty. But I like a little bit of whole wheat flour. You can mix in some baby oatmeal, which is basically finely ground oatmeal, for flavor and nutrition variation. 

My basic master recipe is:

2 eggs
1/4 cup or less flour (white, or whole wheat and white mixed), cut with baby oatmeal if you like
1/2 cup or less vegetable matter (optional)
pinch salt (a tiny pinch for tiny babies, more generous once they get older)

Mix to make a thin batter. Heat a little unsalted butter in a cast iron skillet, pour batter to make small (3" to 4") pancakes, flip when ready. Serves one adult and one baby, with a few pancakes left over for snacks. 

Here are my two favorite variations:
Zucchini Pancakes
2 eggs
1 medium or 2 small zucchini, grated, lighty salted and set in a colander to drain for a few minutes
1/8 cup flour
fresh mint OR 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg and some oregano
grated parmesan (optional)

Autumn Pancakes
2 eggs
1/2 can pumpkin OR leftover roasted acorn/butternut squash, mashed up
cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and ground cloves
1/8 cup flour

You could make baby pancakes with all kinds of veggies, I suppose, but things in the squash family to seem to work especially well. Also good: grated carrots, mashed banana (extra tasty with chopped walnuts or pecans added), cooked spinach or chard (cut it up with scissors so it's not too stringy). They're also just fine plain. 

I often eat them with a dollop of Greek yogurt on top. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sheet Pan Supper

I keep reading about this idea in magazines--lining a sheet pan with parchment paper and roasting the whole dinner in that pan.  My best variant is chicken thighs, sweet potatoes, and (I confess, in a separate pan) baked tomatoes.  This feels really good in winter because at the same time we're craving slow, warm food, the oven is heating up the house.  No one would dream of making this in summer in South Carolina!

I used four bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs.  (Hey, that's a flavor revelation!  I have been using boneless skinless ones for quite a while).  I shook them in flour, chile powder, thyme, salt, and pepper and laid them on the sheet pan.  I scrubbed and pricked four small sweet potatoes and added them in a symmetrical pattern.  I baked them at 375 degrees for a little more than an hour.

In the same oven I made Tomatoes Provencale.

So--easy to clean up. delicious flavor, and hardly any prep time.  Not really a new idea, but it's good to be reminded to make simple things once in a while.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Another Chutney

I had unripe plums and an Indian dinner planned, so it seemed logical to make plum chutney!  I freely based my recipe on this excellent one made in a pressure cooker--an added bonus for me because I love my Cuisinart pressure cooker and am happy to expand its use beyond meat and beans.

The chutney was delicious, though a little sour--but I find most chutneys darken and improve in flavor after sitting around for a few weeks.  You'll see both Hatch green chiles and fresh jalapenos in this photo.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

More Cocktails

No points for originality here, but many for rigorous taste-testing.

The Rumarita

6 ounces Cruzan rum
1 1/2 ounces Triple Sec
1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice

Shake with lots of ice, and serve on the rocks.

The Tan Lady (A Bourbon Sidecar)

4 ounces bourbon
2 ounces Cointreau
2 ounces lemon juice

Shake with ice and strain into
a martini glass.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


We've had fun this past year trying new cocktails.  It started with the White Lady, which our family fell in love with.  Here is an article Eva wrote about it in the Free Times.

Pictured here is the Lusty Lady.  My sister started this by giving us a kit to make homemade gin for Christmas.  Very entertaining!  This recipe is adapted from the back of the bitters bottle.

Lusty Lady (for 4)

8 ounces gin
2 ounces lime juice
2 ounces unsweetened cranberry juice
Agave syrup --just enough to take     the edge off--try 1 teaspoon and then taste
Several shakes lavender bitters

Shake with ice and serve in martini glasses.