Loaves & Dishes
By Jennie Geisler Erie Times-News staff blogger
Follow Jennie Geisler's kitchen adventures on her Loaves & Dishes blog.   Read more about this blog.
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Archive for July, 2010
Posted: July 30th, 2010

Ever try to make french fries? What a ridiculous, dangerous waste of time. The equipment for slicing spuds is either way too expensive, or way too cheap. I borrowed a friend’s potato fry cutter/slicer once and broke it. I tried cutting the potatoes into strips myself and narrowly avoided injury. I have made big, baked wedges. My husband calls them “jo-jos.” They’re OK, but they take way too long to cook. They’re also mushy, and I hate that.

This recipe, though, promises all the deliciousness of potatoes and salt, without slicing anything.

Tamara Reynolds is a party planner and co-author of party planning book “Forking Fantastic.” Her answer to french fries is Salty Potatoes. She just dumps a quarter box of kosher salt into a large pot filled with enough water to cook the unpeeled potatoes. She boils them about 20 minutes, sticks a knife into one of them. If it’s tender, but still holding together, it’s done.

Done. As in nothing else to do. Just cool and eat like a small apple.

If you are growing potatoes, now might be a good time to harvest the small ones to test this intriguing idea. Farmers markets and stands probably also have small potatoes. I myself can’t wait to dig it.

Check out Reynolds’ video here

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 29th, 2010

I’ve never had much luck growing tomatoes, but I never gave it much effort except to put them in the ground and hope. This time, I’m serious. I have nine plants and four varieties. I have tons of green ones.

My husband eagerly awaits “my” salsa.

Everyone loves “my” salsa: family, friends, coworkers, enemies, neighbors. Everyone wants the recipe. Well, here it is: It’s very difficult and I slave over it for several minutes every year: I take a can of diced tomatoes, stir in an envelope of Mrs. Wages Classic Salsa Mix and open a beer (for me, not the salsa).

Sometimes I add cilantro, corn or black beans. Even after I tell them, people are crazy for it. They call it “Jennie’s salsa.” It even feels dishonest to say “Thank you.”

I didn’t even find the mix on my own. A co-worker made it once, I tasted it. She told me about Mrs. Wages and I’ve never looked back. It’s often sold in grocery stores in August and September. If you don’t see it, check out at Mrs. Wages website

By the way, I’m working on a story about the wondrous tomato, how it came to be such a staple, why it’s the only thing some people grow. I’d love to hear from you about your tomatoes, how you use them, favorite recipes, stories, anything.

To contribute, just comment here, or send me an e-mail at jennie.geisler@timesnews.com.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 28th, 2010

Two of my cousins make one of my all-time favorite take-along dishes. I finally forced one of them to give up the recipe. It uses frozen strawberries, so you can make it any time of year. My cousins bring it on Christmas Eve. Nobody made it last Christmas and you might as well have told me that there was no Santa Claus.

It’s great for a picnic, but I’ll admit the recipe is kind of a pain. You have to thaw the Cool Whip. The berries must be frozen. Make the crust and let that cool. Leave time to let the Jello set. It should be eaten the day it’s made, or the pretzels will get soggy. Even after all that, it remains one of my favorite take-along dishes of all time. Intrepid cooks, read on:

STRAWBERRY PRETZEL SALAD

Enough broken pretzels to cover the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
1 cup, plus 3 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup melted butter
1 (8-ounce) brick of cream cheese
1 (8-ounce) tub Cool Whip
1 (6-ounce) box strawberry Jello
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen strawberries.
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Mix pretzels, 3 teaspoons sugar and melted butter and press into the baking pan. Bake 8 minutes and allow to cool completely.
3. After the crust has cooled, put on 2 cups of water to boil.

4. While the water is heating up, combine the cream cheese and sugar. Fold in the Cool Whip. Spread the mixture over the pretzel crust.
5. Dissolve jello into boiling water. Stir in frozen strawberries. Let set 10 minutes and pour it over the cream cheese mixture. Chill until the Jello is set.

Ready, set, love

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 27th, 2010

I have beets growing in my garden. I’m not sure why. They’re not really high on my list of edible vegetables. If I opened a can of beets at home, I’d eat three slices and spend a month pushing the leftover container around the fridge, until it wound up in the back and froze AND grew mold.

But my mother in law gave me the seeds, and she was helping me plant, so I just went ahead and planted them. Strangely, since I planted my garden, I’ve been talking about it from a lot of other gardeners. I’ve never known many beet lovers, but EVERYONE seems to have them in their garden. I guess it’s like mandatory or something.

I have been surprised by recipes where you can use pureed beats like you would zucchini for bread. I made chocolate beet cupcakes for my column not too long ago. That was fun because I waited for people to eat them before I told them what was in there.

If you have beets in your garden and don’t know why, this recipe might come in handy.

CHOCOLATE BEET MINI-CAKES
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
11/4 cup sugar
1 cup canola oil
1/2 pound canned beats, drained and pur�ed
1/2 cup yogurt
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line 2 12-muffin tins with foil cups.
2. Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in one bowl and the remaining ingredients in another. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the egg mixture.
Fill each muffin cup half full with the batter.
3. Bake 20 minutes, switching pans to different oven shelves halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
4. Cool completely before dressing and serving.
Makes 24 cupcakes
– adapted from “The 10 Things You Need to Eat, ” by Dave Lieberman and Anahad O’Connor
- Per cupcake: 162 calories, 10.2 grams fat, 1.6 grams fiber, 2.3 grams protein, 17.4 grams carbohydrate, 106 milligrams sodium, 27 milligrams cholesterol
Values are approximate.
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 26th, 2010

I planned to keep busy inside the air conditioning this weekend. But we got (read: my son got) stir crazy after about an hour of that, so we went to visit my mom in Madison, Ohio.

We meandered through an outdoor festival until my mom couldn’t take it anymore, and she took me to show off her community garden she’s been tending with the “help” of my son and his cousin. We wiped our brows while we picked green and yellow beans, jalapenos, yellow squash and cucumbers and 2 eager tomatoes.

At dinner, I made green bean salad I shared last week, and a squash concoction from Allrecipes.com. I eliminated (forgot) the marjoram and used Mrs. Dash’s garlic and herb mixture instead of garlic powder and seasoned salt. By the end of dinner, the bowl was nearly clean enough to put away.

Check out the original squash recipe here.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 23rd, 2010

We have no more plastic containers for food storage. They’re all in the fridge, holding food to be eaten later, as in tonight — or never. My green beans are coming on strong, and I need to free up some fridge space to keep them happy until I have a chance to blanch and freeze them.

I don’t usually write about side dishes. I just don’t see the sense in spending extra time on something like steamed vegetables that really only need butter spray and a sprinkle of salt. Plus, what would I write? Put carrots in a pan, stir in this stuff. Eat.

But even leftovers deserve a side of something. Tonight, I’ll pay respects to the carrot.

BALSAMIC GLAZED CARROTS
3 cups baby carrots
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute carrots in oil for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Stir in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, mix to coat and serve.

– Allrecipes.com

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 22nd, 2010

Meat is what my husband means when he says “food.” When we’re out of meat, he tells me it’s time to go to the store and get some “food.”

The pleasure of living in my head is constantly rediscovering stuff I already know. For instance, while I’m walking by the meat case, I frequently re-discover the versatile and satisfying boneless pork chop. ”Oh, yeah,” I think. “These are food.”

Here’s a 20-minute recipe for pork chops to try on the grill. You probably have most of the ingredients in the spice cabinet.

PORK CHOPS WITH CAROLINA RUB

1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 (4-ounce) center-cut pork loin chops
Cooking spray
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1. Prepare grill. Combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl. Rub pork
with spice mixture; let stand 10 minutes.
2. Place pork on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 4 minutes.
Turn pork; grill 2 minutes. Brush each chop with 1 tablespoon sauce, and
grill 2 minutes or until desired degree of doneness.

Serves 4

CALORIES 185 (34% from fat); FAT 6.9g (sat 2.4g,mono 3g,poly 0.7g); IRON
1.1mg; CHOLESTEROL 65mg; CALCIUM 35mg; CARBOHYDRATE 5g; SODIUM 477mg;
PROTEIN 24.6g; FIBER 0.8g

– Recipe Du Jour

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 21st, 2010

I was out in my vegetable garden last night, looking for weeds to pull. I turned over the bean plants to get at a clump of field grass, and then Holy beans, Batman! There were string beans hanging all over the place, butter yellow and light green. I had no idea they’d be coming already.

I got an empty flower pot and started picking. I got some “help” from my 4-year-old and our 3-year-old neighbor.

We filled that 2-gallon flower pot in 20 minutes.

The neighbor kid was totally digging pulling off the beans and putting them in the pot. My son, of course, kept inventing fake injuries to get me to pay attention to him. He’s not the greatest of hosts. The neighbor kid claimed to love green beans, so I cleaned some up and sent them home with him. Gardening genius and co-worker Pat Cuneo said the beans will come like crazy for the next few weeks. I’ll freeze what I can and bring the rest to Second Harvest: 1507 Grimm Drive; 459-3663; Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

I ran this recipe in 2003, and it’s still my favorite way to eat green beans. It’s a great way to get out from under a hill of beans.

GREEN BEAN SALAD
11/4 pounds green beans, trimmed

11/4 pounds cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

Chopped fresh oregano to taste

Chopped fresh basil to taste

1 tablespoon minced shallot

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Cook beans in boiling water 7 minutes or until tender. Plunge in cold water bath. Drain. Toss with tomatoes and herbs in a large bowl.

2. Combine shallots and vinegar, stirring with whisk. Let vinegar mixture stand 10 minutes. Add oil, salt, and pepper to vinegar mixture, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Pour vinaigrette over bean mixture; toss gently and well. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Makes 8 cups

n Per cup: 51 calories, 1.7 grams fat, 8.7 grams carbohydrates, 3.2 grams fiber, 1.1 milligram sodium.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 20th, 2010

The moral: Wegmans, salad bar, tonight, before you change your mind.

The story: When my son was a newborn I had to force myself to take care of my own biological needs. I had to accept that the baby, while crying, was not going to starve while I made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Sometimes, I still have to force myself to make that decision. I find myself running full speed, living on McDonald’s Snack Wraps and Diet Coke.

Last night I walked into the grocery store looking at a long night and a bowl of breakfast cereal before bed.

I almost walked right by the cafe, and a light bulb went off. I put my cart away and hit that salad bar — hard. I had red lettuce, spicy bean salad, a bite or two of pasta salad, a spoonful of tomatoes and fresh mozzarella and a heaping spoon of blueberries and raspberries.

I forced myself to slow down, enjoy the food, and linger for a few minutes. I was ready to shop with a clear head.

Yes, it added 20 minutes to my grocery store time. But it was worth every second. I filled myself on good stuff, never got the grumbellies and wasn’t even hungry when I got home. I feel like a genius.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 19th, 2010

Made a keeper for dinner the other day:

Dinner: 30 minutes.

Nutrition: Awesome.

Out of the blue, last week I found myself in possesion of six huge Anaheim chilies, two yellow squash, a zucchini and nine ears of fresh sweet corn. They came from reader Mary Ploszkiewicz, who invited me over to see her garden, which is growing out of control. She doesn’t even know how she’s going to harvest her tomatoes, as most are close to 6 feet tall, and crowded together in a dense forest.

I got home with the veggies and chopped up the squashes and cooked them with onions in a grilling basket. I husked the corn and put that on the grill next to the basket. Meanwhile, I boiled some whole-wheat penne pasta.

I minced an Anaheim chili and tossed it with the squash mixture after it was cooked.

When everything was cooked, I cut the corn off the cob and tossed it with the squash, sprinkled everything with Parmesan and salt. I tossed it and we ate it atop the pasta.

If you use Anaheim chilies, be careful to wear gloves while you handle the seeds, which can be spicy and might burn your skin.

I minced another chilie pepper for tacos. Delicious, fresh pungent pepper flavor I could smell. Definitely cool. I mean hot. I mean …. whatever.

Posted in: Uncategorized

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