Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Little Something Food

I like to point others to good things I've found. One of the most recent of those things is the crock pot split pea soup recipe at Kayla K's Thrifty Ways, which I've already cooked twice. Whenever I made split pea soup in the past, I made it on the stovetop, with indifferent to poor results. Cooking it in the crock pot makes a real difference in the quality, and there's less hands-on time than with the stovetop. I made mine with chicken broth (the real thing once, bouillion cubes the other) instead of vegetable bouillion, and I used a chopped up garlic clove for the seasoning. Yummy. With a piece of homemade bread, it makes a perfect Lenten Friday meal.* Outside of Fridays in Lent, my husband prefers a ham sandwich as accompaniment.

I've been a bit bread-happy lately, compared to recent years. In addition to several batches of Cuban bread, I've made cornbread three or four times recently. I normally buy self-rising white corn meal for cornbread and that is good, but I haven't been making much bread and I've been out for months. A few weeks ago I was given some stone ground white corn meal from a grist mill up in Laurel. Using the recipe on the bag (and the oven temperature of my usual recipe, since their recipe didn't include temp), I have made some really delicious corn bread. It has a really fresh taste, as well as being a wee bit more coarse than the usual meal I buy in the grocery store. If you can get hold of some in your area, I recommend it. A little square (or two) of the bread made from it is perfect with the crock pot split pea soup.

Also on the bread front, I recently had a decent storebought biscuit. My mother, who makes very good homemade biscuits, has taken to keeping a bag of frozen biscuits on hand for when she wants just one or two biscuits with a meal. I've tasted frozen biscuits before and, while they're considerably better than the wasp's nests that are canned biscuits, they're certainly no patch on the average homemade. But this kind my mother's using, Mary B's Tea Biscuits, is actually tasty. She cooks them in a litle toaster oven/convection oven combo with a thin smear of butter on top, and they come out tasting like real biscuits. I bought a bag and for some reason I can not get as good results in either my toaster oven or my regular oven--maybe it's the convection makes the difference?--but they are edible and certainly better than any canned biscuit. I like the size and, although I can't remember the price, it seemed reasonable enough.

I've started experimenting a bit with a George Foreman grill. I wouldn't have bought one myself, but someone who had two gave me one months back and I put it under my cabinet and promptly forgot I had it until asked how I was enjoying it. So I had to get it out and try it. It's not bad. Fairly easy to wipe clean, if nothing else. So far I've been most impressed with the fish fillets I grilled on it yesterday. The first fish I tried on it tore into pieces as I'd been warned would happen (still tasted fine), but these I didn't lift the lid to check until I was pretty sure they were done and I was super careful lifting them off the grill--with that and a little luck I had two pretty little fillets. I've never been an adventurous cooker of fish and grilled makes a welcome addition to my little repertoire. Extra welcome for Lent.

Do check out the rest of Kayla K's Thrifty Ways, which I found via Knitting Pattern Central. It's a nice little blog on thriftiness (obviously), including cooking and crafts, and the author seems like a really nice young lady.

*Re something with chicken broth being suitable for meatless Friday meals, my understanding (based on a possibly faulty memory of one of Jimmy Akins' Lent-related posts) is that soups and such cooked with animal juices are technically allowed, although not necessarily in the spirit of the thing. I probably wouldn't use real broth for a Friday meal and I hesitate at the bouillion cubes, but I figure a chicken bouillion cube is a long way from chicken and a couple of small cubes spread out over a crockpot of soup is pretty negligible. I haven't had vegetable bouillion in the house in years.

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