This recipe was passed on from a friend as we were discussing Eating Normal. Admittedly, I had some trouble getting the ingredients needed for the clam chowder out of 200 One Pot Meals. It called for watercress which is out of season at the moment ( and something I’ve never seen before). The fresh clams would cost almost twenty collars. As dedicated as I am to cooking, I’m not twenty dollars dedicated to the recipe.
While wandering the market the other day, my husband and I spotted the canned clams that were on sale as two cans for four dollars. This is a much easier requirement to meet, and this recipe calls for canned clams rather than fresh. So, here we are.
I read recipes. I swear that I do. But sometimes, I get things out of order. The recipe calls for two tbs. Of fat, which I added. But I also added two tbs. Of flour. Much more than the recipes calls for. The clam juice thickened up to the point that my potatoes stick to the bottom of the pan, so I added some water to thin it out. This worked, and they were able to stew appropriately.
I made this last week, and my husband has asked for it since. I just wanted to make a potato soup today. He asked me to add clams to it. This will stay in the rotation.
In this house, we believe in pumpkin. The only creamer in our refrigerator is pumpkin spice. But we tend to keep to the season when it comes to cooking pumpkin desserts. From Thanksgiving onward, my kitchen is sometimes a pumpkin cheesecake factory. I used to make them for every family occasion, and every party wanted multiple. I always had to have one left over for my husband to keep. Now that we’ve moved to Delaware, the factory has shut down.
There is no need for an assembly line of cheesecake. A single can of pumpkin made all three, so the question then became how to use the leftover pumpkin when a cheesecake was finished. I found the answer in a pumpkin cookie recipe that called for 1 cup of pumpkin puree: the exact remainder in the can.
The cheesecake itself comes from an allrecipes member. It has a layer of normal cheesecake and a layer of pumpkin baked into a graham cracker crust like a normal pumpkin pie would be. I have a lot of practice with these. Cooking them is largely uneventful now. They take about forty minutes in the oven, and they suggest you cool it before placing in the refrigerator after it cools so it can properly chill. That takes about three hours, but I generally leave them overnight.
The cookie recipe came up as the first item in a google search for pumpkin cookies. I knew I had a little bit left of the pumpkin puree, and I knew I wanted to use it. I had the traditionally required ingredients for a cookie in the pantry, so I just had to find a recipe that I could make without another trip to the store. It was a relief to find the proper recipe on the first click.
It was a very wet dough, more so that I ever made before then. It struck me as odd that the recipe called for no chill time, but thankfully it falls out of the tablespoon you use to measure out each cookie without much trouble.
This was also the first time I made my own icing. It was delicious.I don't know that I will ever buy a store bought, thin icing for cookies again. It came together much easier than expected and the finishes on the cookies was wonderful. They will absolutely become a regular part of my baking routine. They went away too fast.
You can get the recipe for the pumpkin cheesecake or the pumpkin cookies off the hypertext.
Goodbye, pumpkin season. You were good to us.
It’s warming up here in Delaware, but the warmth doesn’t appear to last long in the winter around here. So, I made potato soup anyway. There’s a long history of it in my family. I used to make it for my parents, and my grandmother used to make it before me. Still, this is neither my grandmother’s recipe nor the bastardized attempt at potato soup that I attempted as a thirteen year old girl teaching herself how to cook.
I found a crockpot potato soup recipe on pinterest (an app I’ve only recently started to use). I’m not going to be unemployed forever, and I want to keep up a high quality of food in my house once I start back to work. The crockpot is the key to that. Start a meal before i go to work, and its ready for my husband and I when we both get home. That’s the beauty of this soup.
It cost less than ten dollars for me to make, which is the best part. A bag of potatoes, some cream cheese, and bouillon cubes is all I needed for the actual soup. Between us, my husband and I ate five bowls last night, and we have four medium sized tupperware containers full of soup in the freezer from the leftovers. That’s a lot of food for ten dollars!
It’s also incredibly easy to make. You just cut potatoes down into small pieces until you can no longer stand to cook potatoes, toss them in a crock pot with some garlic, onion, and chicken stock, and then you leave it for six to ten hours. When you’re ready to eat, you add the cream cheese. The recipe calls for an immersion blender to combine the cream cheese and the potatoes to get a creamy texture, but I improvised with a sturdy spider strainer to mush down the potatoes and cream cheese together. It worked out.
You can find the recipe at mamalovesfood, another food blog, if you want to try it yourself.
My rating: It’s going in the rotation
Husband’s rating: Super good, cook again.
What is the definition of a go-to dish? For me, the go-to dish is meant to delight anyone who will be involved: the cook, the family. That is a hard balance to strike. Those that eat it don’t consider the labor of a meal, but the cook must always consider the labor. No one wants to be in the kitchen slaving over a mediocre meal every week. No one wants to spend time on something they don’t-- or won’t-- enjoy.
So how does a cook determine a go-to dish for the home? Does it have to be quick? Does it have to be low-labor? I think not. The go to dish must strike the balance between flavor and time. Some things are worth a more intense labor, and others take little effort and little time without skimping on flavor.
Pasta dishes take up the majority of the go-to meals in my household. I can put the sauce together as fast as the pasta boils, and being able to produce a hearty dish in minimal time makes these meals a good way to go any day of the week. Still, the same thing over and over again can get boring.
Tacos come into play from time to time, when I remember to grab a half and half pack of hard shells and soft shells. As effortless as cooking tacos according to the recipe on the back of the box is, there’s also the question of what goes into the seasoning. Do you give up control for expediency’s sake?
I have found this is often a drawback in the list of meals I cook as go-to dishes in my household. So, another challenge I have decided to form for myself is this: Take back control.
Make the sauce yourself, where it makes sense to do so. Know what goes into your food. In the short time since I’ve started this journey, I’ve already found an appreciation for the food I make that comes not from a box or a seasoning packet but from my own work. Sure, it may cost a little more to buy the milk and cheese to make that alfredo sauce for pasta night, but can’t you use those things for other meals?
What are some ways you can challenge your go-to meals? In 2018, let’s make the things we love to eat belong to us, not to pre-mixed packages. It may change the idea of a go-to dish in my line up, but I know it will make the meal more valuable to me.
Isn’t it strange how a chicken noodle soup seems to exist in some interaction in almost every culture? Our first recipe for the month of January is an asian inspired noodle soup found within our Cookbook of the Month, 200 One Pot Meals. This is definitely not a ramen dish. The broth is just a simple chicken stock flavored with cupboard ingredients, and it does not simmer and stew for hours and hours developing its flavor. Still, it’s a good recipe for when you want to put in an effort for dinner-- but not that much effort.
The biggest thing to note is that this is the kind of recipe that you’ll need a mortar and pestle to complete. Early in the recipe you have to beat the hell out of peanuts and rice to help add some texture to the soup. You can probably do this with a food processor, but the texture may not turn out right. Luckily, I have a mortar and pestle and low end food processor. You can work up a sweat on this bad boy. Lord knows I did.
I think the soup suffered some because I was unable to get the rice down to the texture called for in the recipe. It should be ‘finely crushed into a powder’, which just was not achievable with the small, lower end food processor that I do own or the mortar and pestle. Still, I did not find any chunks of rice eating the soup.
The recipe called for fish sauce, which I forgot to grab at the grocery store ahead of Winter Storm Grayson. We received eight inches of snow between grocery trip and date I made this recipe. Some websites state you can substitute fish sauce with soy sauce, so I tried that. The measurement was in a one to one ratio. There were no complaints from my husband on the substitution. He would bathe in soy sauce if given the opportunity.
For the life of me, I have never seen a red bird chili at the supermarket, so this was another ingredient that faced substitution. I added red pepper flakes instead, though I’m sure it would not add up to the heat the chili would provide. The soup itself remained plenty warm, and I thought the heat of the red pepper flakes was enough for a soup to keep us warm during these frigid nights.
It comes out looking a bit one dimensional without any of the garnishes called for by the book, such as scallions and a hard boiled egg. Still, it went over well.
My rating: Okay, not going to come into regular rotation
Husband rating: ‘Super good soup, babe’
An idea born in Normal, Illinois, Eating Normal hopes to chronicle the eating Experiences of a Red bird.
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