Buckwheat Bonanza

So this week I decided to try a grain I’ve never cooked with, buckwheat groats. It was interesting to learn that it is a broad leaf plant related to rhubarb. I cooked up a cup in water but it easily filled a big bowl. So, what did I do with it? So far I made buckwheat tabouleh which was yummy, buckwheat waffles and buckwheat chocolate chip cookies. Both the waffles and cookies have some buckwheat flour in them as well which I made by grinding the remaining buckwheat in my food processor. I also used whole wheat flour for the cookies. The cookies have a nutty, chewy flavor. I’m hoping my grandsons will like them. For the buckwheat waffles, I used a high protein pancake/waffle recipe I have that uses cottage cheese and lots of eggs. I added both the cooked buckwheat and substituted 1/2 buckwheat flour for the all purpose flour. They were lighter than I thought they would be and very flavorful. I like to make extra waffles, pack them in sandwich bags and freeze them. Then in the morning I can pop one or two in the toaster and have a nice warm breakfast before I head to the University.  All in all, this was a fun week of trolling recipes. I bought some soba noddles this week (also buckwheat) and I’ll make a miso soup with shrimp dish next weekend. I found a great little cookbook, Whole Grains for Busy People by Lorna Sass (2009) that I’m excited about using to cook more wholesome grains at home. Here are some photos from this week’s exploration with buckwheat:

Let’s stop at Whole Foods

On our way to the lake for the weekend and knowing I needed to do this assignment, I said to my hubbie, “Let’s stop at whole Foods.” “Groan” was his reply. Well, I know the groan has to do with having to stop rather than with Whole Foods. So, I dashed in and grabbed some things in the produce dept that I had never seen before or just never cooked with – kale, orange cauliflower, purple carrots, Velvet Pippolini mushrooms, and black and watermelon radishes.


So Friday’s dinner was spaghettini with kale and garlic, roasted orange cauliflower with garlic and peppers,  and buffalo burgers. The roasted cauliflower was fragrant and flavorful. It didn’t seem any different to me than the white variety. The spahettini with kale was great. The kale is cut into bite size pieces before it is reduced in garlic, olive oil , butter, red pepper flakes and a little lemon. then it’s poured over the noodles and parmesan is added before serving. I’d definitely make this recipe again.

Tonight we had the purple carrots roasted whole in olive oil and I made a cream of mushroom soup with portabellas and the Velvet Pioppinis. Purple carrots are not at all like our orange variety. Roasted they seem to taste more like squash than sweet carrot. They have very thick purple skins and a cream colored interior. I probably wouldn’t do the roasted carrot again. I plan to try them raw and maybe steam one, just to try the different tastes. The mushroom soup was our absolute favorite – so rich I hardly needed to serve the grilled pork on the side. Oh, yeah, we had some sweet corn (from Florida) too – just not our good MN variety yet. All in all I had fun trying these new recipes and produce items. I have yet to figure out what to do with the black and watermelon radishes. I’m thinking a cold salad of sorts. Stay tuned!



Sunday brunch – Poached Eggs Blackstone

So, here’s my second recipe trial for our first week’s assignment. In the old Joy of Cooking, Rombauer and Becker (1975), I found an alternative to Eggs Benedict, Poached Eggs Blackstone,  where the English muffin is replaced with a floured and fried tomato slice. This recipe calls for Hollandaise sauce and tops all with minced bacon.  I’ve been a fan of Knorr packets of Hollandaise sauce but this time I decided to do the sauce from scratch. (Notice my substitute for a double boiler and substitute for a wire whisk — part of my egg beater). Here are some photos:

Would I do this recipe again? Maybe; you need time. My hubby loved it though. What I found interesting is that the white pepper, salt and floured tomatoes fried in the leftover bacon grease made the tomatoes very flavorful and actually sweet to the taste. The hollandaise with its deep lemony flavor and cayenne pepper cut that sweetness. Overall, it was an enjoyable meal.

Reflections on cooking at home

Okay, here’s another post for week #1 to answer the questions posed for this week.

How does meal planning generally work for you? Do you have a routine or strategy, or is it spontaneous? Without judgment, talk about what works, and what doesn’t work about it.

Meal planning vacillates from highly organized and creative to where can I stop on my way home from the U to get dinner! Our kids are long gone, so it’s become more spontaneous now. My hubby is retired so sometimes he chooses to be in charge. Meal planning is much more fun for me when it’s for a special occasion like when I’m planning a dinner party. That’s when I’m in my element. I can spend days exploring the recipes I have and looking for new ones. My husband says I enjoy it because I make it an academic exploration of techniques, ingredients and artistic expression. Yes, I know he is probably correct. I love the planning more than the actual execution frankly. After the big event, I’m spent. Most days I’m just trying to quickly get dinner on the table so I can get back to the computer. I’ve started doing grocery delivery and I’m considering a service like Blue Apron.

How does your pantry inventory look? Do you think you have what you need to prepare food the way you
want? What do you still need? What do you have that isn’t necessary?

At home I’m certain I have more in the pantry than 2 people really need. It’s part of an old habit. I’ve always cooked for crowds. We have 6 kids and when they were teens, we would often also have their friends around for dinner or after school snacks. So, I was certainly in the habit of buying bulk then. Unfortunately, that is still part of my repretoire. I have always had a freezer and even though I love it, I just cannot keep track of what’s there and end up tossing things out later. So, how to maintain the minimum of what I will need but minimize my trips to the market. That’s my current thinking and I think getting more planful about meals will help me with that. Wish me luck.

Week #1 Homework: But My Pantry is Bare!

I decided to make my first assignment while at our cabin in northern WI. However, I forgot that we pretty much empty the cabinets every fall as we don’t heat the upper floor in the winter. So much for using only the ingredients at hand. I arrived to find a few basics in our bins that hold the leftovers things we store in a lower level storage room, namely a can of low sodium chicken broth, brown rice and low sodium tamari. So, I explored the old cookbooks and found a recipe that used all three, Gingered Stir-Fry with Shrimp and Snow Peas. I headed to town and bought the rest of the ingredients (except had to substitute sugar snap peas for snow peas and Thai chili garlic paste for Chinese chile-garlic sauce). I also decided to improvise a bit and added slivered peppers and sliced portabella mushrooms, adding them to the stir-fry with the sugar snap peas. How did it turn out?  My hubby said, “Fantastically good!” I would definitely make this recipe again.IMG_3503IMG_3509