Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fridge Pickles with Curry

Got this recipe from a friend who now lives elsewhere in the world. It was such a gift to a pickle freak like me! Halved it because it made too much juice for my jars, and recently added my own touch with the curry. The original recipe called for 1 t turmeric, which turns the pickles yellow but does not add a distinctive taste, and for dill weed in place of peppercorns. You can also make it simply with water, vinegar and salt. The pickles will taste fine and will appear white like kosher pickles.
3 clean, dry 16-oz mayo jars or similar sized jars with lids that seal
about 4 medium-sized cucumbers
lightly bruised black peppercorns (optional)
1 3/4 cup water
1 cup vinegar (the kind that is only 5% acetic acid)
1/4 cup salt
about 1/2 t curry
If using black peppercorns, put a few in the bottom of each jar. Wash the cukes and cut into spears, cutting off extra seeds if necessary. Trim the ends of the spears so that they fit into the jars. Loosely pack each of the jars with the cucumber spears. Place a liquid funnel in the top of each jar.

In a pan, combine the water, vinegar, salt and curry, and bring to the boil, stirring until the salt is completely dissolved. While the liquid is still hot, ladle it through the funnels into the jars until each jar is full, with about a centimeter of air space at the top. Close the jars tightly and, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, shake well. Store the jars upside down in the fridge for the first 24 hours. This way the tops of the cucumbers will pickle. For best results, store the pickles in the fridge for another day or two before serving.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pretty Healthy Carrot Cake

Adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. For a moister cake, increase the proportion of cooking oil to apple juice. The original recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of cooking oil.
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar (palm sugar or brown sugar for a dark cake, white sugar for a light cake)
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice or nutmeg, if desired
1 – 2 T wheat germ (optional)
4 eggs
7/8 cup apple juice plus 1/8 cup cooking oil
3 cups finely shredded carrots
Grease and lightly flour a 13 x 9 inch baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and optionally, allspice or nutmeg and wheat germ.
In a separate bowl, beat eggs thoroughly with a wire whisk or fork. Add the apple juice and oil and beat again. Add the carrots and mix well. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until moistened. Spoon into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 Fahrenheit, 180 Celcius until a wooden toothpick comes out clean (35 minutes to 1 hour).
Cool cake thoroughly on a wire rack. Frost with cream cheese frosting or ordinary shortening/butter frosting. Cover and store in the refridgerator. The frosting will seal the moisture into the cake.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Apple Crisp

Pictured: locally available oatmeal, apples, and brown sugar - actually palm sugar with its distinctive molassassy flavor.
The following recipe is adapted from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, where it is called Fruit Crisp. My changes: I made it smaller to suit our small family, and --you get to eat the apple skins! This recipe is healthy, easy to prepare, and can bake alongside a casserole for a Sunday dinner. It can be made a day ahead, refrigerated, and baked on the day.
Baking Method
Preheat oven 375 F, 190 C. Grease a glass pie plate or 8x8 baking dish.
2 to 5 apples (Fujis work well)
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 cup flour
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 cup butter, slightly softened
1/8 cup chopped nuts or coconut
Core and thinly slice apples. Arrange the slices in the greased pie plate or baking dish. For topping, mix together oats, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in butter till mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Optionally, stir in nuts or coconut. Sprinkle topping over the filling. Bake at 375 until the apples can be cut with an ordinary table spoon (about 45 minutes). Serve warm, with whipped cream if possible! Serves to 2 to 4.
Stovetop Method
This recipe can also be made on the stovetop. Simmer the sliced apples in a covered pot with about 1/2 cup water until tender. When the apples are tender and the water is gone, add the prepared topping mixture and close the lid of the pot again. The heat from the apples will slightly cook the topping mixture. The topping will be stickier than with the baking method, but still pretty good for a healthy dessert if you're away from home. I did it this way recently when we were in the big city in a tiny apartment with just a 2-burner gas stove.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Red Lentil Soup

This is a wonderful soup. It cooks quickly, tastes good, and gives you a big serving of your veggies for the day. We have it frequently, usually with biscuits. I adapted it from Extending the Table, the successor to the popular More With Less Cookbook. In ET it is called "Spicy Lentil Pot." My changes: less lentils and water to suit our family's size, 2 boullion cubes instead of one for better flavor. Leave them out if you're allergic to MSG.
2 carrots
1 green bell pepper (using a red one gives the soup an even more beautiful red color)
1 onion
2 tomatos or 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
5 – 8 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1 cup orange lentils
4 cups water
2 chicken boullion cubes (optional)
2 t. ground cumin
1 ½ t. salt
¼ - 1 ½ t. ground red pepper or Tabasco or other hot sauce

1. Coarsely chop carrots, onion, and tomatos. Place in a large soup pot. (If substituting tomato sauce, do not add it until after the lentils are cooked.) Add garlic, lentils, and boullion cubes (see picture above). Add water.
2. Cover and boil 20 – 30 minutes without stirring.
3. Cool slightly and strain or puree. The puree step is not absolutely necessary, but I’ve tried it both ways and I think the pureeing is important to that extra-good taste that makes you want to make this soup again and again.
4. Return the pureed soup to the pot and add cumin, salt, and pepper or hot sauce. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors.
Serve with bread or rice. Yoghurt and/or lime juice make good toppings.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Refreshing Custom Lassis

A lassi is apparently an Indian yoghurt beverage that has made it to this country, in a limited way, since here they are not big on dairy products. In addition to being delicious & nutritious, they are very filling. Once we were in a coastal resort town and went to a little restaurant. I ordered a lassi while waiting for our meal. It was good, so I ordered another one. By the time our meal came, I couldn’t eat much of it! This filling quality makes a custom lassi a good quick breakfast.
The classic lassi contains lime juice, cumin, and black pepper, and maybe some other stuff as well. For variations, put one cup of plain yoghurt in the blender with any of the following:
1 cubed, pureed mango and juice of 1 lime
1 cup apple juice and 1 t cinnamon
1 cup orange juice and 1/8 t nutmeg
¼ cup sliced strawberries
1 ½ T nutella or another chocolate/hazelnut spread (such as “Crumpy”)
1 cup hot chocolate
1 cup sweetened coffee (plain coffee is not recommended)
A hot lassi will get frothy like a cappucino when you blend it, but if allowed to sit will separate out. To restore the creamy texture, simply stir it.
If you don't have a blender, you can also make these lassis with a minute or two of energetic stirring with a long-handled spoon.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Indomie Salad

All of us have a version of this recipe, probably called “oriental salad” or something like that. The great thing about this version is that it uses cheap, ubiquitously available local ingredients.
Indomie is a very popular brand of instant noodles. In addition to having a packet of powdered seasonings, like Ramen in the States, is also has little packets of powdered chiles, flavored oil, and sweet soy sauce.
1 package Indomie, in a flavor you like
½ head of Chinese cabbage
2 or 3 green onions
salted cashews (more readily available here than almonds)
celery, carrot, tomato, or orange or apple sections
½ cup vinegar (5% acetic acid; if using 20%, remember to dilute)
3 tablespoons brown sugar or palm sugar
Chop the cabbage, onions, cashews, and additional fruit or vegetable. Put in a bowl that seals.
Open Indomie. Remove the seasoning packets but leave the noodles in the bag. Crumble up the noodles in the bag, then dump on the chopped veggies.
Measure vinegar into a measuring cup. Stir in the brown sugar or palm sugar. One at a time, open and add the Indomie powder seasoning packet, as much of the powdered chile as you like, and (this is where it can get messy) the flavored oil and soy sauce. Stir mixture until the sugar and seasonings are completely dissolved. Pour over the salad in the bowl, seal the bowl, shake well, and refridgerate 1+ hours. The noodles will absorb the vinegar mixture and become soft.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

10-Minute Broccoli Cheese "Casserole"

The perfect midday meal for a busy, ravenous breastfeeding mom who needs her protein, calcium and folic acid.
1 box Kraft instant mac ‘n’ cheese
1 head of broccoli
3 T butter
a splash of milk
grated cheese (optional)
sour cream or plain yoghurt (optional)
parmesan cheese or wheat germ
In a pan, bring water to a boil. Meanwhile, rinse the broccoli and cut into florets. When the water is boiling, stir in the Kraft noodles and the broccoli florets. Boil for 6 to 8 minutes until done. Meanwhile (optionally) grate about 2 oz of cheese of your choice.
Drain the noodles and broccoli. Add the Kraft seasoning packet, butter, and milk; mix thoroughly. Optionally, stir the grated cheese into the hot mixture; it should melt. At this point you can also optionally stir in 2 T sour cream or up to ½ cup plain yoghurt for a creamy texture and a slightly tart flavor.
For that crunchy casserole topping, top with parmesan cheese or wheat germ (pictured). Eat immediately. Serves 1.