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    Entries in homemade is best (63)

    Tuesday
    Jul052011

    The 32 Hour Day

    I need one.

    I do promise that eventually I will make Creamsicle cookies for Lyra. But omg math. I spent 9 hours on one day of the long weekend doing homework (more on other days too!) and I'm just managing to keep up. I've also started hiding in empty boardrooms on my lunch break so I can scribble numbers in peace. This is not looking like my funnest summer ever.

    And after eating sandwiches and cereal for dinners last week I decided I really needed to make freezable meals again this weekend. Not that I object to cookies for dinner from time to time (you so have and you know it) but I just don't think a full week of it is a good idea.

    So instead, I made meaty balls. Froze them. No pics.

    And chili.

    Or at least, what I call chili.

    I'm sure there are purists of all kinds who are going to complain about one thing or another but you know what? Go make your own freaking chili. No beans allowed? Too bad. I love the musical fruit so they're in there. Ground beef? Yup. Deal with it. Tomatoes? Holy freaking crap you'd think the world was gonna end if someone put tomatoes in chili. But you know what? I did. And I still have an assignment due next week so obvioulsy it can't be that catastrophic.

    Chili, The Way I Felt Like Making It

    What you need:

    • about 1 lb of lean ground beef
    • 2-3 onions
    • 6 cloves of garlic
    • 1 tsp oregano
    • 1 tbsp cumin
    • 1 tbsp paprika
    • 1 tsp dried crushed chilis
    • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce
    • 3 poblanos
    • 2 anaheims
    • 2 sweet red peppers
    • 1 jalapeno (at least)
    • 1 c dried pinto beans
    • 1 c TVP (I'll explain later)
    • 2 c crushed tomatoes
    • 2-3 c beef broth

    What you gotta do:

    Chop your onions and garlic and combine them in the biggest pot you have (you know, the one you have to put on top of the cupboards because it doesn't fit inside them) with the ground beef and oregano.

    While that's cooking (stir it from time to time to bust up the meat) chop your peppers. A coarse chop is fine. They're going to be in there all day simmering and will break down quite a bit, so save yourself the work.

    Speaking of saving work, since you're going to be adding heat and seeds to this, don't worry about picking every single seed out of your peppers. If you just cut around the top:

    And then pop the core out:

    Good enough.

    It's particularly easy to do this with poblanos, but it works on any pepper really.

    Do it to them all, chop em, and toss em in the pot.

    Give it a stir and then pile in the spices.

    May as well stir them in too.

    Now, add the dry stuff. Beans and TVP.

    Textured Vegetable Protein. Yeah, I see you making that face. But you've probably already eaten it. I first learned of it from a vegetarian roommate. He'd use it to make spaghetti sauce, meatballs, pretty much anything that would normally have meat in it. It's cheap, fat free, veggie sourced protein and when it's reconstituted it has the same texture as ground beef. Even some restaurants use it (yup, you've probably eaten it). You can find it at most bulk stores, any health food store, and even at some supermarkets.

    And it makes a pound of beef make a lot of chili.

    But it is dry, and needs liquid. That's where the tomatoes and beef broth come in. You could use water, beer, or any other liquid you like. Start with about a cup and a half.

    After a while, the beans will be wrinkly.

    But then they'll start to puff up. You might need to add more liquid. I did.

    I cooked mine on fairly low heat with the lid on (do not need the extra humidity in here). But still, check it from time to time, and add more liquid of choice if it seems too dry. And then eventually, you'll have something that looks like this:

    And you'll be able to mash a bean against the side of the pot.

    And the peppers will have broken down, and the TVP will look exactly like the beef, and the whole house will smell freaking amazing.

    And since there was no way I was turning the oven on (it's finally warm here and I'm really thinking I need to get myself a little window AC unit) to make corn bread, I had it with corn chips. Organic blue ones. Fun!

    And then I bagged the rest and froze them for later this week.

    And probably for dinner next week as well since I really don't like eating the same thing for dinner every night. Except, apparently, when it's a bowl of cereal.

    I really need a couple 32 hour days so I can get all the crap done that needs to be done. Like feeding myself.

    What would you do with a 32 hour day?

     

    Friday
    May272011

    Pancakes with Homemade Blueberry Syrup - No Mayhem?

    That’s right, pancakes.  I know, it seems like something so basic, but you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve seen thin, rubbery discs served with maple flavored corn syrup.  Pancakes should be soft and fluffy, and nothing beats homemade fruit syrup. 

    Let’s start with the syrup.  I like to make it the night before so that it has plenty of time to cool.  It is so simple to make your own syrup, I don’t know why no one does it.  It takes only three ingredients and probably 20 minutes or less. 

     

    So, here’s what you need. 

    1 heaping cup blueberries
    ¾ cup sugar
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice
    1 teaspoon butter (optional)

    Yes, I know I said three ingredients, and there are four listed, but the butter is not strictly necessary.  Its only purpose is to prevent foam.  Either fresh or frozen blueberries will work just fine for this.  I had a big bag of frozen ones, so that’s what I used.  If you use frozen, you’ll need time for them to thaw before making the syrup.  Once you have a heaping cup of thawed blueberries, throw them into the blender with 1 tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice.  Blend until smooth. 

    Pour the puree into a sauce pan and add the sugar. 

    You’ll notice my sugar always looks a bit off white.  That’s because I always use organic sugar, and it’s less refined.  Anyway, stir in the sugar and add the butter. 

    Turn the burner to medium heat and stir constantly until it comes to a boil.  Allow it to boil for about 2 minutes.  The bubbles will start to kind of stack up on top of each other like this:

    That’s it.  You’ve successfully made blueberry syrup!  Just pour it into a glass container and allow it to cool.  Be careful, though, mixtures like this are VERY hot. 

    Now onto the pancakes. 

     

     

    Ingredients:

    2 large eggs
    1 ¼ cups buttermilk
    3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 ½ cups flour
    ¾ teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    2 tablespoons sugar

     

     

     

     

    I know your first question will be do I have to use buttermilk?  Yes, you do.  Regular milk will not produce the same results.  You can apparently add vinegar to regular milk to simulate buttermilk, but the idea squicks me out a bit, so if you want to do that, you’ll have to google it yourself. 

    Ok, pancakes.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl (or measuring cup) whisk together the wet ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk briefly.  You just want to get everything thoroughly combined.  A few remaining lumps will be fine. 

    I like to use a griddle so that I can make several pancakes at once, but a pan will work just fine.  Using a paper towel, butter the griddle. 

    Wipe most of the butter off so you can just barely see it on the surface. 

    When the griddle reaches 350° you’re ready to cook.  If you're using a pan, you can test the temperature with a drop of water.  It should start to sizzle as soon as it touches the pan.  If it just sits there, the pan isn’t hot enough.  If it skips right off the surface, it’s too hot.  Pour your batter for whatever size pancakes you want. 

    I think I used about ⅓ cup of batter for each one.

    Allow them to cook until you see bubbles on top and the edges start to look dry. 

    Now’s the time to flip.  Cook them for a couple more minutes.  They should be golden brown on both sides and should spring back if you press lightly on the surface. 

    Stack them up and drizzle them with your fabulous blueberry syrup. 

    Fluffy, tender, delicious.