Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rindsrouladen (Beef roll ups)

Rindsrouladen are a german treat that you absolutely should try to make. I think they're fairly foolproof, the trickiest part is to find beef that is sliced thin enough. I bought some sort of thinly cut steaks, that I pounded with a meat pounder until less than 5 mm thick (ideally even thinner).

8 slices of thin steak
8-16 slices of bacon
8-16 pickles
onion, carrots, celery
bay leaf
pepper, salt, broth concentrate

Pound the meat if needed. Spread mustard thinly on each slice of meat, layer one or two slices of bacon on top, add a pickle, and roll up. Tie with kitchen thread.

Turn the rolls in flour and brown on high heat in your dutch oven or similar heavy pot. When all sides are brown, remove meat and add chopped onion, celery and carrots to the pot, an stir until the bottom of the pot is clean. Put the meat back in, cover with liquid so that the rolls are half covered. Simmer for 1 hour or more, until meat is very tender and delishious.
Then, remove the meat and keep warm. Use immersion blender to blend the vegetables and broth into a gravy. You shouldn't need to add starch since the flour from the meat rolls will bind the gravy.

Serve with dumplings of some sort, and a vegetable side. I served with 'Schupfnudeln' (Bubaspitzla) but I didn't like the way they came out so that recipe will have to wait for another post. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Corn-syrup free Easter Treats

As I mentioned before, my older daughter can't have anything that has corn or corn syrup in it. (Well, I guess my younger one can't, either LOL). So in search of an easter treat for her, I came across a recipe for homemade Peeps:

  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/3 cup cold water, for gelatin (I added a couple of drops of lemon extract and I think vanilla would be good, too).
  • 1/4 cup water for syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water. Allow gelatin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water and sugar, and stir over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring, and place a candy thermometer into sugar water; wipe sides of pan with a wet brush if sugar crystals have splattered up. Boil sugar until temperature reaches the soft-ball stage (238F). Remove syrup from heat; add to softened gelatin. Using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, hand-stir the mixture a few minutes to cool; place bowl on the mixer stand. Beat on medium high with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form and the marshmallow mixture holds shape, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer marshmallow mixture to a large (14-inch) pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (No. 11 Ateco) tip, and use immediately. I didn't hve a pastry bag with a large enough tip, so I just used a large zip-loc bag and cut off the corner.
Then you make them into peeps - I basically followed this set of instructions. Here are some results. It wasn't too hard to do and I think with a proper pastry bag it would have been awesome. My peeps and bunnies have no eyes yet because I haven't gotten around to putting them on, and they're sitting on corn-starch free powdered sugar to set.
For next time, when it isn't easter, I think I will try this recipe:

Homemade Marshmallows

2 env. (2 tbs.) unflavored gelatin
1 1/4 c. water
2 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. powdered sugar

Soften gelatin in 3/4 cup of water and set aside. Place remaining 1/2 cup water and granulated sugar in medium sized saucepan. Cook until small amount dropped in cold water forms soft ball (240 degrees F). Remove syrup from heat, add softened gelatin and stir until almost cold. Add salt and flavoring. Beat until syrup is white and thick (8 minutes with an electric beater). Pour to 1 inch thickness in two 8 inch square pans that have been greased and dusted with powdered sugar. Let set in cool place about an hour -- do not place in refrigerator. Turn out on board that has been well dusted with powdered sugar. Cut into 1 inch cubes.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cheap Favorite Kids' T-Shirts

Today, I took my almost 3-yo daughter to Michaels for some craft supplies. We picked up 4 T-shirts for $10 (on sale) and a couple of colors of fabric paint for $.99 each. I looked online for cute cartoons of chicks, since we're all about chicks and chickens around here right now, plus Easter is right around the corner.
I think the T-shirts are a little big on her this year, but I might order more smaller ones from Dharma Trading and make this a Birthday party activity for her upcoming birthday.

She loves T-shirts with designs in the front but what's available at the stores is either very expensive or just not that cute and/or appropriate IMO.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Recipe for Baby Food

When I had my first baby and it came time to feed her food, I found that jarred baby foods don't pass muster when it comes to yumminess or affordability. So using my favorite, the immersion blender, I made my own. Today it was time to remember the recipe because my second daughter had her first meal of solid food:

Supplies needed:
Ice cube trays
Saran wrap
Immersion blender
Stainless steel pot (non-stick would get scratched by the blender)
Organic vegetable or fruit of your choice.

You boil the peeled and cubed vegetable or fruit in as little water as you can get away with. You puree with the stick blender. You pour into ice cube trays, cover with saran wrap, and freeze. Duh. Simple, huh? When frozen solid, remove from tray and put in a container of your choice, label with contents and date. Or don't, and then play baby food roulette/artistry when you pack lunch for daycare, that's what I did. One yellow, one white, one green makes a pretty lunch.

A couple of advantages come to mind. This is very cost effective, in particular since you can make organic baby food for the price of regular jarred food. VERY little work is involved if you buy frozen peas or spinach, or baby carrots (though I prefer real carrots that I have to peel). As I was peeling a sweet potato today that I then cooked and pureed I thought that it took less time than to walk to the baby food aisle in Target (or wherever).
One of the biggies is the flavor and consistency. None of this stage 1,2,3 crap that is used in marketing. You make it smooth enough that there is no danger of indigestion or choking, and that's it. Baby gets used to a little texture and a LOT of flavor in the food and that's what you want.
My daycare teachers were always playing guessing games as to what the food was, but most often the smell would be telling - have you ever smelled jar baby food? It's gross.
Another plus is that there are no secret ingredients. Pears are pears, apples are apples, veggies are veggies without secret additions of rice or corn (which to a baby is really worthless filler I would say).

I have no idea why not everybody does this. I tried to look at it from both sides to no avail.

Possible variations and hints:
I have tried to make chicken this way, but my daughter never liked it. It is impossible to not make it taste dry I find. Rice also was fairly tricky. The one thing that she gagged on was zucchini squash. It's probably genetic since I hate the stuff too. Once I cooked some dried apricots this way, the result was so sweet it didn't freeze well and my daughter didn't like it much. I thought it was yummy though. Prunes are the one thing I bought jarred after that.
One of our favorites are beans. I used to use canned but these days I would pressure cook my own. Garbanzo (hummus) and kidney beans come to mind as very healthy. They're pretty good for babies who tend to be constipated, I should add.

Why organic:
Because children have been found to have measurable levels of pesticides in their urine. That just doesn't seem right to me. The ingredients in pesticides have (if at all) only been tested one at a time, in adults (most often male adults) and at high doses. Typically, things like that don't get tested for long-term, low-dose exposure so there is really no telling what's safe and what isn't.
And you can't rely on the FDA or EPA to tell you what's safe, sadly.
When those kids in the study were switched to all organic food, the pesticides in their urine disappeared. That's reason enough for me to go the extra mile and once you know when and how to shop, the extra cost is not that staggering. Nobody says you have to eat bell pepper and Boston lettuce all the time....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Recipe for a Sound Economy

.... I am in no shape tonight to post anything original but I read this quote today in one of my favorite books ('The Tightwad Gazette'):

“You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot establish security on borrowed money. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.”
-Abraham Lincoln

Seemed like a good recipe for sound economy both in the big and the small scale.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Recipe for Happiness

Get yourself a baby of some sort. Human babies are good. If you can't get your hands on one, I have a new favorite: chicken babies. Hold them. Talk to them. Notice how they make you relax and how they slow you down. Babies are good. More babies are better. Sadly, my husband cannot be convinced of the latter, so I had to settle for extending my family the chicken way. Here are some pictures for you to enjoy (Brownie, Spotty and Blackie):

Salmon and Spinach over Gnocchi

This is a very very quick weekday dinner - and it's fancy enough to hide its healthfulness. Frozen ingredients are key - I buy my frozen pesticide-free spinach and my wild-caught salmon at Trader Joe's.
1 large salmon fillet
1 bag frozen spinach
1 onion
1 cup cream or {milk and some flour}
1 clove garlic
1 package of gnocchi (little potato dumpling)
1/2 cup white wine.

Start a pot of water on the stove and proceed to cook gnocchi according to directions. Do NOT overcook them. They only take 2-3 minutes.
Sautee onion and garlic until translucent. Add frozen spinach and cream, cook until it's all hot and bubbly. You could add sour cream or cream cheese if you had any on hand. Add the wine.
Cut the salmon in 1 in cubes. Put the cubes on top of the other stuff in the pan, don't stir. Cover pan with glass lid and cook on medium heat until fish is done.