(Not my picture--just a stock photo)
Cathy and I had another ‘theme’ dinner last night. This time it was my turn to host and choose the theme. I chose ‘sweet’ with the rule that each item of course had to be sweet AND also from another country. No using a country more than one time. Here’s what we had:
Morocco: Orange Date Salad
Italy: Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Iran: Sweet Rice with Orange & Saffron
China: Sweet & Sour Chicken
America: Orange Creamsicle Drink
France: Fresh Fruit Tart
I chose Morocco, Iran, China and America. Cathy chose Italy, Spain and France. My ‘America’ is questionable; I’m only calling it American because it came from a TGIF Blender Mix. =P I only told Cathy the countries I chose ahead of time but I find it interesting that we both decided to have an alcoholic drink. After all that cooking I think we both needed it!
Why, oh WHY did I take the red pill?
I am having a very big "The Matrix"
last two to three days moment after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.
Before reading this, I had a vague sense of 'wrongness' with certain types of food that occasional shot little bolts of lightning out that greatly disturbed me. But, vagueness being what it is, for the most part I was able to ignore that tiny bit of knowledge I had and not really let it impact me or my buying very much.
I can't say the same now.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle + additional research makes such vaguness impossible now. While I haven't the resources (ie a farm) at hand to deal with such knowledge as she did I definitely am thinking even more about organic foods and local foods. Quite a feeling of guilt (guilt isn't exactly the word I'm looking for)was arising with each chapter I read and the only thing that soothed me was remembering I had just made my second payment on our CSA share.
A CSA share and some vegetables I'm attempting to grow on the deck and front flower bed isn't very much but it's a middle part to the way I've started to try to go. That book was simply the bridge.
Odelsa asked me for the recipe for homemade pudding. It's quite easy to do and using organic ingredients, it costs me about $2.33-$2.50 to make. I believe those pre-packaged 4-6 packs of puddings are usually around $2.00 or so. It would, of course, be cheaper to use non-organic items but do you really want to put extra strange things in your pudding? Mmmmm Antibiotic Flavored Pudding. Mmmmm Hormone Pudding. Yuck!! Anyways, on to the recipe:
You will need:
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup of sugar
Dash of Salt
2 cups milk <--As a side note, when I make Cream Puffs, I change this to 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream
OH--AND BY THE WAY NEVER EVER USE SKIM MILK!!!!! It's too thin (no fat content) to be of any use at all in baking and pudding making. Two percent works well in this recipe.
2 beaten egg yolks in a separate, small bowl
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter
Another important thing---please, please, please don't ever use margarine in baking. Or any other 'fake butter' whether you are baking organic or not. Putting inferior products in baking destroys the outcome. It won't taste as good and why go through the hassle of making and eating something that isn't as good as it should be? Once again, it's the fat content in the butter that is what contributes to a delicious cookie, dessert, etc so it IS necessary.
In a saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugar and a dash of salt. Add milk and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly unless you like brown bits in your pudding. I'd advise against the whisk---it simply cannot stir as well as a wooden spoon. When the mixture begins to boil, continue stirring and allow it to boil for one minute.
Then, slowly incorporate half of the mixture into the egg yolks. For those unfamilar with this method what I mean is this: Put your spoon in the bowl of egg yolks and start stirring furiously. Trickle in the tiniest bit of hot mixture. Keep stirring!! If you stop stirring or pour too much in at once, you are going to get scrambled eggs. Continue pouring the hot mixture into the eggs until about half of the hot mixture is now in the bowl.
Put the pot back on the stove and now slowly incorporate the yolk mixture into the remaining mixture in the pot. Don't forget to stir constantly. When the mixture boils, allow it to cook for 1 more minute and then remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and the butter until butter melts.
Pour into dessert cups or a bowl and chill. Or eat warm!
About that milk and butter...Use the real stuff! I can't repeat this enough. If you are watching what you eat a little bit never hurts. It is always better to have a small bit of the good stuff rather than loads of the sub-par stuff. I can't properly put into words the value of eating only good things but I know Laura once wrote a fabulous post about this!
Tristyn has poison ivy and it's in a real bad way. Yesterday, he was sent home from school under the banner of 'hives' which was really nothing more than a red patch on his face. But by this morning, his face was swollen all over and I could barely see his right eye. Not even his eyelashes could I see! Also, the rash had spread to his chest, fingers, hands and part of his arms. Within the hour we were at the doctors getting the diagnosis, benadryl and steroid medication. I was so relieved to hear that it was only poision ivy! His poor little face was/is so swollen I was fearing something far worse. We were turned out with reassurances it wouldn't take more than 48 hours for the prescription we were given to show noticeable effects.
Tristyn pulled his hood up and we slunk off to Starbucks long enough to duck in and get a coffee, a chocolate milk and a rice krispie treat before going home. At home, Tristyn spent some time reading his new Captain Underpants book that he got last night (when we were out to dinner and the bookstore with Rick and Maia) and I used the treadmill. As a side note, I think I can handle another form of exercise now and as soon as this near-constant rain stops I'm going to go rollerblading. Or biking. Or maybe even running.
Today was check the local thrift shop for Pyrex stuff day and Tristyn and I did that speedy quick--I found a medium sized white bowl and the most darling pink and brown casserole/pan thing!!!! The latter one matches my kitchen perfectly. =) Then we went to drop off Tristyn's prescription and pick up a few things for lunch.
We had a quiet lunch together and watched some cartoon called Chowder that Tristyn loves. It was nice to have lunch with Tristyn; I don't get too that often--I only wish that it was under different circumstances. =( Regardless, Tristyn who can normally be very withdrawn really opens up when it's just he and I and I really enjoy that. He helped me with all manner of things today and chatted away nearly the whole time.
Tristyn cut all of this fruit up by himself while I started a few other things in the kitchen.
We used all of that fruit to make a Creamy Fruit Parfait. All organic--from the fruit to the pudding I made. =D It was for dessert tonight.
Peanut Brittle is a new one for me but it was easy for us to make. Tristyn did almost all of it himself too. I was there for guidance and the pouring of hot things but that was it. He measured, poured, stirred and watched the candy thermometer. He buttered the pans and all I did was pour the hot candy into them. Okay, okay, I broked off one piece in the name of testing to see if was ready for breaking and had a little taste test while I was at it.
In an effort to cheer Tristyn, I let him pick out exactly what he wanted for dinner. He choose cheeseburgers, corn on the cob and homemade mac-n-cheese. I was proud of him for including a vegetable without prompting. =D
Tristyn went out to the front porch to husk...
I guess if I'd have read the sign at the store I'd have known we picked out silver and gold corn. Good thing we like this type as well as the next!
And I got started on the mac-n-cheese. First, the pasta...made 'bout a pound of it...squeezed some lemons for lemonade while the dough was resting...then got to rolling and cutting.
Bow ties are so cute.
This picture really doesn't show off the sweet pinkness of my new dish properly.
Oh, yeah...I tried my hand at burger buns while Tristyn was cutting and constructing a paper transporter ship for R2D2.