Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Grow your own

Somehow this has a different meaning than it did 30 years ago. Sigh. (Pause for a moment to mourn lost youth...) Okay back to reality. I've splurged and gotten a set of Aerogardens. If you haven't heard of them, they are a setup for hydroponic/aeroponic gardening. I'm growing assorted herbs in one, cherry tomatoes and jalapenos in another, and salad greens in the third one. It's been less than 48 hours since I "planted" and I already have 1" high lettuce plants. Many of the other seeds will take as long as two weeks to germinate. However it has been really fun to sit here and practically watch the lettuce grow -- the 1" plant this evening was a barely sprouted seed this morning. One advantage of the grow lights in this setup is that I can move a few of our more tropical houseplants, including a plumeria start I'm nursing, into my office to share in the bright full-spectrum lights. And maybe it's good for me, too, all that nice bright light when it gets dark about 4:30 p.m. Yes, I will admit that with the cost of the setup and the cost of seed pods, etc., it's not very cost-effective -- unless you consider that I'm getting organic produce as fresh as it comes. In addition, living near the waterfront means that my plants on the deck get very dusty and sometimes that "dust" is from the exhaust of container and cruise ships. Not terribly healthy, so that stuff (mostly sage and thyme) requires some significant washing.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Delayed gratification from Thanksgiving

This last Thanksgiving dinner was another deep-fried turkey. It was really great, but that's not exactly what this is about... this is about turkey stock. I put the carcass into the freezer, and a month later made turkey stock for soup out of it. I've never used a fried carcass for this. I could not quite believe what a deep, rich, brown stock this made. It was so great, I'd be temped to deep fry another turkey just for the stock! In fact, I may try frying bones for brown stock instead of roasting them some time to see if it works for other meats. We had also put some leftover gravy in the freezer and so I used that in the soup. Got six quarts of soup, all for my mom because she has her arm in a cast and can't use her right hand. So I did what I could to help, I cooked. I also made them several pounds of pulled pork and some marinara sauce. All so all that needed to be done for a meal was boil pasta or heat up rolls.

Playing with oatmneal cookies

First, sorry I've been "slacking." There are reasons, but they don't have anything to do with food, eating, or cooking so I won't go into them here. I'll just do a few postings today that will kind of cover what's been going on lately in my kitchen and my tummy. Today I have been playing with an oatmeal cookie recipe I've been developing. I've always liked chewy cookies more than crisp ones, and I found an interesting recipe a couple of months ago. But did I follow it exactly? Of course not! First, I added some "Skor" bits (like crushed Heath bars without the chocolate). That added some more chewyness and gave them a little bit of a caramel feel and flavor. But then I was browsing the aisles at the grocery store and saw something new: caramel bits that were essentially Kraft caramels unwrapped and turned into little pea-sized bits. So next I topped each cookie with a few caramel bits. They melted in and added more caramel flavor and texture. That batch got rave reviews from a wide variety of people. Today I mixed the caramel bits into the dough. That resulted in crispier edges, because the bits near the edges melted out and turned into hard candy. I don't think that's better than the previous version, but if DH ever gets home from work today (more overtime) then I'll see what he thinks -- I'm sure he'll need quite a few samples to make up his mind!