Monday, March 30, 2009

Hooray for Frozen Spinach!

It costs about 75 cents for a box the size of two decks of cards. I thaw it by running it under hot water, break it into chunks about the size of two tablespoons, and freeze each chunk in a 6x3-inch plastic bag.
Then I can pull out a bag, thaw it, and put the spinach in scrambled eggs while they are cooking ... making a fritatta! By the time I add a ton of cheese, you can't taste the spinach anyway.
I have also added spinach, plus the juice of half a lemon, to Cambell's chicken soup for an instant Greek chicken soup.
You can also put it on pizza (I haven't done that yet) and sneak it into spaghetti sauce (guilty).

Friday, March 20, 2009

How To Home-Carve a Pineapple

OK, maybe you already know how, but I didn't until I learned it in Indonesia. My work is not the prettiest example of the technique you'll ever see. An Indonesian could carve up a pineapple so the result is gorgeous, even spirals all the way around, and the resulting slices are perfectly notched on the edges. With a machete.

First, cut off the head and base of the pineapple.

Stand the pineapple on end and slice off the skin, top to bottom, not too deeply. Your slices should take off all the skin but leave the little hairy brown dimples.

The hairy brown dimples run in a corkscrew pattern from the top of the pineapple to the bottom. Pick one row and follow it down, making two diagonal cuts just deep enough to remove a wedge of flesh that includes the brown dimples.

Continue with the other rows of dimples.

The end result with be a pineapple with elegant corkscrew grooves. Or in this case not so elegant.

Now lay the pineapple on its side and cut thin slices. Each slice will be round with notched edges. There is no way to "home-core" a pineapple, so your guests will have to cut the flesh off the hard core with a fork before they eat it. If it was important, I guess you could try your luck with a cookie or biscuit cutter.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Village Pancakes

Here is how we used to make pancakes while living in the village. We brought in the dry ingredients, and bought the eggs and oil on site. We had a 2-burner LPG stove, a little kettle for hot water, and this all-important Nalgene brand screw-top bottle. Note that it has 2-0z marks on the right side.


6 t powdered milk
2 cups flour
4 t baking powder
1 - 2 T sugar
2 oz (1/4 cup) oil
2 eggs

Heat water in the kettle until warm but not boiling. Pour warm water into the Nalgene bottle up the 12 0z mark (1 1/2 cups). Add the 6 t powdered milk, close the lid, and shake vigorously to mix the milk. Open the lid and allow the milk to cool slightly while you measure the flour, baking powder, and sugar into a bowl.

Optionally, substitute cornmeal for 1/2 cup of the flour. You may also add 2 T wheat germ, if you have it. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly and make a well in the center.

Slowly pour 2 oz (1/4 cup) of oil into the bottle. It should settle on top of the milk. Now crack the eggs, one at a time, into the bottle. (If there is a chance the eggs might be bad, crack each one into a glass before pouring it into the bottle.) Close the lid and shake vigorously until the milk, oil, and eggs are well blended. If you used warm milk, the mixture will foam up to a greater extent than shown here.

Pour the egg mixture into the well in the dry mixture. Stir until just moistened; batter should be lumpy. Drop by 1/4 cupfuls onto a hot skillet. Turn each pancake when very bubbly. They will rise quite a bit; wait about 30 seconds after each one rises to take it off the skillet. Makes about twelve.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Frank's Red Hot Tuna

Now that it's Lent, we need a fish recipe!
This recipe makes use of the well-blended flavor of Frank’s RedHot Sauce. It is not a very hot sauce for its volume. If you substitute Tabasco, you should use smaller amounts. Other than Frank's, all the ingredients in this dish are available in our town in Indonesia. We used to have it frequently. I've made it with Frank's, Tabasco, and simply with cabe rawit, the tiny hot "bird's eye" peppers.
This recipe was inspired by Indonesian canned "pepper tuna," but it is more suited to American tastes. A true Indonesian recipe would have sugar and fish sauce.

1 onion or 4 green onions, chopped
2 – 3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly into “coins” but not minced
3 cabe hijau or one green pepper, seeds removed and cut into strips
2 – 3 glugs cooking oil
1 can tuna in water, undrained
1 Tablespoon Frank’s, original flavor
2 tomatos, diced
1 T tomato paste and ¼ cup water (optional)
3 - 4 T Frank’s
2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice (optional)
1 t cumin
1 packet chicken boullion granules, MSG, or 1 block chicken boullion starter (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
ground red pepper (optional)

In a pan fry onion, garlic, and pepper in oil until soft. Add tuna; mix and fry briefly. Add 1 T Frank’s, mix, and allow to fry briefly. Meanwhile, cut up tomatos. Add tomatos and/or tomato paste and water, mix, and allow to fry while you measure and add the remaining 3 T Frank’s, lime juice, cumin, boullion granules, salt and pepper. At this stage, you can optionally add ground red pepper to taste to produce a hotter result. Mix well, form into a mass in the center of the frying pan, and allow to simmer 20 minutes for flavors to blend. Serve over rice. Serves 2 to 3.