Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Inadvertently Festive

In the weeks immediately preceding Christmas it is entirely possible that I consumed nothing of nutritional value. I did eat lots of cookies. And things containing vast quantities of butter. As enjoyable as that is, I always find myself desperately craving vegetables and fruits when I've had too much junk. Back in the day, I used to joke that I was coming down with scurvy and immediately run out and buy a Fresh Samantha to drink. I would lovingly refer to this as scurvy juice.

Sadly, Fresh Samantha is long gone, bought out as most good small companies are, so now I'm left to fend off scurvy on my own. So I ended up craving broccoli soup. Without cream. Broccoli has scads of scurvy-fighting Vitamin C. I found a recipe that is absolutely delicious, easy, and looks marvelously seasonal on my new Christmas tablecloth. The tablecloth, by the way, was hand-embroidered by my great-aunt. Pretty cool, no?

From Rosalynn Carter

1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 T vegetable oil
1 bay leaf
1 pound green broccoli, chopped
1 small potato, peeled and chopped
2.5 C vegetable stock
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper
dollop of plain yogurt (optional)

In a soup pot, add the oil, onion and garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes until the onion and garlic are soft. Then add the bay, the potato, broccoli and vegetable stock. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the broccoli is bright green and tender. Remove the bay leaf and let cool a bit. Puree using a blender or immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lemon juice and reheat a bit if necessary. If you want, serve each bowl with a small dollop of plain yogurt.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Cookies Episode 2: Ginger Crinkles

I know, I know, you have certainly finished all your Christmas baking because you are on top of things. I on the other hand, have barely begun. In fact, the only cookies I have managed are these ginger crinkles. My mother and I had a serious discussion this year about cutting back after last year's Christmas overload. We agreed that for with only four people, we needed less of everything. Fewer appetizers on Christmas eve, fewer presents and fewer Christmas cookies. And so we began negotiating. I declared that gingerbread was essential. My mother felt my father might have a fit if we skipped our bird's nest cookies. Neither of us could fathom a year without bourbon balls. And so the cookie we agreed we could eliminate was the poor, unsuspecting ginger crinkle. Which is too bad really, because it's my grandmother's recipe, and I've always rather liked them. Then, I found out that my mother had decided we could decorate the Christmas tree just fine with no cookies. Clearly she doesn't understand motivation very well. So I whipped up a batch of the ginger crinkles, and good cheer was reestablished. They took almost no time at all, so if you're short on time or patience this year, give them a try. They are sweet, molassesy and somewhere between crisp and chewy.


2/3 C vegetable or canola oil
1 C sugar
1 egg
4 T molasses
2 C sifted flour
2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 t ginger

1/4 C sugar for dipping

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix the oil and sugar thoroughly. Then add the egg beat well. Add the molasses and stir until thoroughly incorporated.

In another bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring as you go to form a dough. Get a small bowl and fill it with the 1/4 C of sugar for dipping. Form cookies by making small ball of dough in your hand, then dropping it in the sugar and rolling it until coated. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Leave plenty of room between cookies because they spread flat while cooking. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I have a bad habit of putting things off. And then the more I put them off, the more I dread dealing with them. Case in point. A while ago I asked my husband to buy me some plain yogurt, so that I could have it for breakfast. He is not a procrastinator, so he went out and got some that very day. Then it sat in my fridge. Every time I made breakfast, I'd look at it and think "ooh, I should really use that yogurt." But I didn't do anything about it. So with the sell by date fast approaching, I went into full panic mode. I baked two cakes using yogurt as an ingredient. One was a chocolate cake, and the other was a delicious apple cake. I really meant to write up that apple cake recipe for you. I did. I swear. But I hadn't taken a picture of it, so I kept putting it off. The thing about procrastination is, if you wait long enough, decisions are made for you. In this case, we ate the whole cake, so there is no picture to take. But I will try to make it up to you, with a recipe.

from epicurious
2 T butter
2 large baking apples (such as Macoun, Jonamac, Granny Smith, or the ultimate baking apple Northern Spy)
1 1/2 T apple juice or apple cider
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 C + 1 T sugar
2/3 C plain yogurt
2 C flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 C vegetable oil
3 eggs

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Peel, core and roughly dice the apples. Melt the butter in a saute pan, then add the apples and cook on medium for 5-7 minutes until golden brown. Add the juice, 1 T sugar and cinnamon. Remove from heat and set aside until needed.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and yogurt, whisking until very smooth. Then add the eggs and oil, again, mixing well. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking soda, and then add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring until well blended. Finally, stir in the apple mixture. Put in a well-greased 8" round pan and cook for 45-50 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.


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