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 October, 2010
Posted: October 18th, 2010

I don’t know what I did to deserve this.

I made a small center cut pork loin roast Sunday. I roasted it in a casserole, on top of red potatoes and carrots from my garden. I’ve done this lots of times — or at least I thought I had. Usually the vegetables always come out soft and moist and roasted and yummy. This time they didn’t get soft at all. There were no drippings from the meat, which probably didn’t help. They were wrinkly and strangely crunchy. I put some in the mirowave to see if they just weren’t cooked. It made no difference. They were hot all the way through, but hard and even stringy. It was weird, and I was, well, let’s say I was “ticked.”

It must have been that the meat was too lean to drip. But I don’t think that completely explains what happened. When you roast vegetables, they don’t have any meat with them and they soften.

The pork was perfect, by the way. I took it out at 160 degrees. It heated up to 165 while resting. Tender, moist, yummy.

So there, veggies.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: October 14th, 2010

I love to bake pies. I’ll take any old excuse, as long as I get a piece. Thus, I’m baking them for a retirement party. Yes, retirement parties usually have cake. But someone told me this particular retiree doesn’t much like cake. A perfect excuse if I’ve ever had one.

I’m no expert, but I have a few rules about crust. My husband, a lifelong connoisseur of pies, has expressed satisfaction with my crust, so I don’t screw around too much. I use the recipe that appears on the side of most Crisco cans.

My rules are:

Cold fat (butter or shortening) makes layers of the dough as you roll it out, making it flaky. Warm fat mushes it all together, making it soggy.

Refrigerated butter will work. I prefer Crisco. I measure it out and stick it in the freezer for 15 or 20 minutes.

I use absolutely ice cold water. I put 6 ice cubes in a glass and fill it with water before I start measuring flour.

In 1-tablespoon increments, sprinkle the water on the flour. After each water addition, use a fork to gently toss it with the flour until you can make it into a ball of soft dough.

My pie crust skills do not expand into the realm of visual perfection. When I roll out the crust, it looks like my kid did it. Don’t even ask me about crimping. I do what I can to seal two layers together, but it’ll never be attractive. The pie disappears all the same.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: October 12th, 2010

I like to cook lots of food on the weekends and have leftovers for the first few days of the work week. I don’t always get to do it, but I like to. On Saturday, I made the aforementioned Spaghetti Pie It sort of worked. I didn’t season it enough, but once I added some salt and saved the rest for the next day, it was more than edible. It’s turns out kind of like a round lasagna. I think if I make it again, I’ll use ricotta instead of cottage cheese.

John wanted pasta, sauce and sausage for his pre-race dinner, so I made both that and the pie. I tried a different sauce, but was underwhelmed. Unless I take the time to make it myself, I always fall back on Prego. Instead I tried Wegmans brand Italian Sausage sauce. Nowhere near the depth of Prego’s flavor. No kidding. I swear by Prego, now more than ever.

Sunday, I made about a gallon of what I’ve started calling “the chili.” It’s an allrecipes.com recipe that I wrote — geez — about a year ago now. I made it too spicy for me, but my husband loved it. I’ve written about a lot of chili recipes, but it’ll be a while before I feel like any other one would ever live up to this.

Speaking of “too spicy for me,” this is a sad state of affairs. I used to love spicy food. I used to have a tolerance for medium salsa, a drop of Tabasco, freshly diced jalapeno. And then it vanished. I can ‘t even take spicy Italian sausage anymore. I’m kind of mad about it, actually. I wish I knew how that switch went off. I’d turn it back on in a second.

Thanks for reading down this far. I’m currently accepting names in a hat to give away a copy of “Easy Canning and Preserving,” by Ana Micka. Send me an e-mail with your  street address. I’ll pick a name at random on Friday.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: October 8th, 2010

My crazed runner/husband is running a half-marathon Sunday. Usually, before a big race, I like to make something special and complex-carb laden. It’s my idea of a good time, kind of like pounding the pavement is his.

This time, we’re having a little trouble settling on what I should make. He’s back to just whole wheat pasta aside Italian sausage. That’s fine, but it’s not much fun for me. So I’m going to do two dinners: pasta and sausage for him and Spaghetti Pie for me. I’m pretty sure he’s going to like mine better.

BY THE WAY, FREE PIZZA

The Millcreek Mall restaurant Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen is celebrating National Pizza Month with free slices on Tuesday. To get a slice, download the coupon after “liking” Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen on Facebook.  For more information, visit  www.freesliceday.com,

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: October 5th, 2010

For the past 5 to 10 years, food experts and wannabe food experts have been foaming at the mouth deriding  High Fructose Corn Syrup, blaming it for making everyone fat. Not just columnists and bloggers, but registered dietitians, doctors, reporters and authors.

I have to admit, I got caught up in the act, believing statistics that weren’t clinically proven, assuming that it stood to reason that chemically produced sugar wasn’t as good for you as natural can sugar.

Turns out, actual research is coming in and it’s not looking good for the anti-HFCS crowd. It appears that, simply, sugar is sugar, at least when it comes to our digestive systems. This, from Spark People:

“The American Medical Association has extensively examined the available research on HFCS and obesity. This organization has publicly stated that, to date, there is nothing unique about HFCS that causes obesity. It does not appear to contribute more to obesity than any other type of caloric sweetener.”

Just like anything, the AMA focuses on not what kind of sugar we’re consuming, but how much.

“Healthy adults who consume approximately 2,000 calories daily should limit the amount of all caloric sweeteners to no more than 32 grams (8 teaspoons) of sugar daily,” the AMA suggests.

A combination of research completed between 2004 and 2009 by several organizations over the past five years have all found the same thing. It’s time to ease up on sugar in any form. Look at boxes and labels, limit dessert to occasional treats; In other words, use common sense, such as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups don’t make a good lunch.

For more information, visit Spark People ‘s story. Meanwhile, I’ll go get a Diet Coke.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: October 4th, 2010

This weekend, my friend Sherry and I stirred up a canning vortex, fueled by a wheelbarrow full of apples. She fed the monster with raw, peeled, cored, skinned Cortland apples. I, the monster, cooked and blended them into applesauce, into which I dumped cinnamon, ground cloves, ginger, nutmeg and sugar.

I ran out of cinnamon. I used up my ground ginger. I even ran out of sugar. I nearly ran out of jars.

I’m worried about my canned goods shelf. It’s a nice, thick plywood, but it’s bowing, and I’m sticking stuff on other shelves because there’s no space. My dad might have to get involved soon.

When I have all the burners going, moisture condenses on every window on the first floor. My skinny husband is almost always cold this time of year, but even yesterday, when it was 48 degrees out, he opened a bunch of windows.

He’s not known for his stoicism, but doesn’t complain out loud when I’m canning, because he knows what side his bread is buttered on. He even went out and got subs for dinner. It probably felt good to get out of the sauna.

Here’s a quick dinner that would hit the spot after a busy day:

quick dinner

Posted in: Uncategorized

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