mermaidcamp

mermaidcamp

Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water

You can scroll the shelf using and keys

#NationalSpaghettiDay Celebration

January 4, 2017 2 Comments

The food holidays come daily, but few are as popular as spaghetti day.  Pasta is popular all over the world.  Kids can usually be cajoled into eating dinner if there is pasta involved.  When I was a child we rarely ate pasta at home, but I looked forward to outings to restaurants where I could order it. I also had some Italian friends at school and Brownie Scouts whose moms totally rocked the dinner table.  I connived to find ways to be invited to their houses to eat. The first dishes I learned to prepare myself in the kitchen were lasagna (my mom never made it) and beef Stroganoff on a bed of egg noodles.  I believe I was trying to knock off some of my friends’ mothers recipes. Since pasta is such an easy and versatile dish to prepare I have been making noodles since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

We eat pasta about once a week, but I try to vary the ways I prepare it.  I have not made a lasagna in years because I am so lazy now, but I do bake pasta dishes for the same effect. Today I have an assortment of fresh vegetables that need to be used. I have roasted a butternut squash for sauce, and am now roasting a red onion for color and excitement. My approach to cooking is to use what I have on hand in the most creative way possible.  I hate to waste food.  I have parsley, basil, rosemary, marjoram and sage growing in my garden to use to build the flavor profile. Brown butter sage is a great compliment to the butternut squash. If you have not used this versatile winter vegetable to make sauce, here is a vegan recipe:

You can choose to use milk or heavy cream if you want those extra grams of fat and calories.  It also works with vegetable bullion.  Of course there are plenty of pre-made sauces in jars that taste fabulous. #NationalSpaghettiDay is a very easy holiday to use to express your inner chef.  Wander off into trying ingredients you like on other dishes..olives, artichokes, garlic, herbs..Have fun, gentle readers.  Buon apetito!

I love spaghetti!

I love spaghetti!

Chutney Freestyle

February 23, 2016 1 Comment

I followed the recipe above to make mango chutney last summer a couple of times. The first time I measured and made an effort to be accurate, even though I cut the sugar in half. The second time I whipped up a batch I made some changes to suit my own taste, but still kept to the recipe basically.  This week I decided I was expert enough to make my third batch freestyle, and I am very pleased with the outcome.  I only had three mangoes, so I roughly guessed about the proportions of other ingredients.  I tasted my way as I added sugar, molasses and apple cider vinegar to discover the balance I like the best.  I used the rest of my jar of molasses just because it was almost empty.  The last bit was dissolved in vinegar to get it out of the jar.  The extra molasses gave the product a darker color and a deeper taste as well.  The biggest change I made was ramping up the spices, including the hot chile.  The result is very spicy and tangy.  The flavors meld over time, so the flavor will be more integrated after a few days in the fridge.

mango onion garlic

mango onion garlic

with brown sugar and molasses

with brown sugar and molasses

extra spices in mortar

extra spices in mortar

simmer

simmer

finished chutney

finished chutney

This has given me such a kick.  I really enjoy improvisation in the kitchen because it thrills my creative side and expresses my own taste and personality.  This is, in my opinion, the best batch I have made.  I look forward to using it in many ways.  If you have not attempted chutney making I enthusiastically encourage you to try your hand. The precess is very forgiving.  You can change the end result if you want it more sweet, sour, or spicy.   I plan to move on to other kinds of chutney, now that I feel confident in my skills.  I think I will also try my hand at some ketchup, which is another take on the sweet/sour sauce.  Do you like to follow the directions, gentle reader, or do like to freestyle when you cook?  I have a peach tree, so I can well imagine fermented peach chutney in my future.  Variety is, indeed, the spice of life.

 

%d bloggers like this: