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 April, 2011
Posted: April 27th, 2011

Wegmans has cooked up an essay contest with a big prize for one special mom.

Wegmans is inviting readers of its blog to submit 50-word essays on how their moms make meals special. The best essay gets a $150 prize pack for the writer’s mother, that includes flowers, coffee treats and its $6 prepared meals.
I went ahead and entered, just to see how it worked. Use my entry as an example, improve on it and see what transpires:
“My brother and I love to make dinner together, and Mom thinks we learned because we didn’t like her cooking. Actually, her specialties feed us body and soul. Birthday dinners mean lasagna; simple gatherings mean roasts; fried perch and walleye and coleslaw mean summer vacation; melon-ball salad means summer picnics; citrus salad means Christmas. I make them all myself — and call her for advice each time. I could write it all down, of course, but then I wouldn’t have an excuse to catch up, laugh, and let her know in some small way that I very much love her cooking.”
Join the fun here.

Mom’s coleslaw:
Half a head of cabbage, shredded
2 carrot, shredded (or pre-shredded coleslaw mix)
3 to 4 “big whopping spoonfuls” (1 cup?) Miracle Whip
A “little bit” (1 tablespoon?) sugar
Any kind of vinegar to taste to balance the sugar
Pepper to taste
Toss to combine.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 25th, 2011

I couldn't find an image of ones with the pastel wrappers. But you get the idea ...

My son picked up dozens of plastic eggs filled with treats at three Easter events this weekend. It’s all I can do to keep him out of it all. To say nothing of keeping myself out of it all.
Here’s my take on his take:

Candy: Starburst jelly beans
Dope: I love old-fashioned jelly eggs, but I have to admit a fondness for the newer name-brand ones with explosive fruitiness. Jolly Ranchers are also good.
How much I can eat at one sitting: One big handful

Candy: Butterfinger chocolate eggs, foil wrapped, about as big as an acorn
Dope: Second only to Reese’s mini-cups.
How much I can eat at one sitting: 2

Candy: Reese’s mini-eggs (Taste like Reese’s Pieces)
Dope: These are great to roll around in your mouth like hard candy and just wait for them to melt.
How much I can eat at one sitting: I don’t dare find out.

Candy: fruity Tootsie Rolls
Rating:: These are surprisingly tasty. Super tart and great flavors. Strawberry actually tastes like strawberry, for instance.
How much I can eat at one sitting: 2

Candy: Nerds
Dope: These are OK. J.R. can keep them.
How much I can eat at one sitting: One snack-sized box. I guess.

Candy: Whopper eggs
Dope: These taste good, but they’re so hard I feel like I’m going to break a tooth.
How much I can eat at one sitting: 2 or 3

Candy: Runts (Taste like Sweet-Tarts with a hard candy shell about the size of small jelly beans)
Dope: You can’t beat Sweet-Tarts. So you can’t beat these for nonchocolate fare.
How much I can eat at one sitting: 3

Candy: Mini Reese’s cups
Dope: These are what I’ll eat on my deathbed.
How much I can eat at one sitting: I can stop at 4 if they’re not in my line of sight.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 21st, 2011

I probably look at 100 recipes a week. Most of them are either boring, too complicated, too exotic, too unhealthy, too something.
About 10 wind up in my “maybe” pile. A few others go right into my purse, for intended use in the next 72 hours.
Here’s a “purse” recipe I just came across today, that changes my whole approach to the egg hunt/brunch taking place at my mom’s house on Saturday. Key Lime Yum looks both simple and stunning — and springy and brunchy and creamy and a whole bunch of other luscious-y things.
I want to go home and make it. Right now.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 20th, 2011

I have a fun game to play. I’m putting together a story including “Tweets” about readers’ moms.
A “Tweet” is a message of 140 characters or less. You don’t have to know anything about Twitter to take part. You can just write a message and send it in.
Characters include letters, spaces and punctuation, so the message would be short, One or two sentences.
Here’s a sample:

“I love my mother because she makes good pancakes. And because she’s raised me with strength, tenderness, courage and laughter. And pancakes.”

I’d love to hear what you would come up with to honor your mom.
The story is to run on the Living page May 8, so you can surprise her with a message for the world to see.
To submit a message, just leave a comment here or send me an e-mail at jennie.geisler@timesnews.com.
I look forward to reading what you have to say!

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 20th, 2011

I'm hoping my family works up a good appetite during our first egg hunt.

My side of the family is having an Easter egg hunt and brunch Saturday. We’ve never done this before, and I’m really looking forward to it.
When I was growing up, we didn’t have many Easter traditions because we were usually on the road driving to or from Florida where we visited my grandmother on spring break.
I have memories not of baskets and chocolate, but of searching for open restaurants and car repair places, of my brother throwing up in the car from sun poisoning and of being nearly killed by my father when Matt and I broke a glass jar of mustard in the back of the Suburban.
Here’s hoping that this year will be different.
I’ve written about this casserole before, but it’s been a while, and I’ll be digging it out Friday night. It’s from my mother-in-law.
4 eggs
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
3 cups low-fat milk, divided
1 (10-ounce) can 98 percent fat-free cream of mushroom soup
1/2 teaspoon salt
6-8 slices whole-wheat bread, slightly stale, cubed
1 pound cooked ham, in small dice or julienne strips
2 cups 2 percent-milk-fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Combine eggs, slightly beaten, dry mustard and 2 1/2 cups milk. Set aside.
2. Combine soup, 1/2 cup milk, salt. Set aside.
3. Cover bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan with a layer of bread cubes. Sprinkle with half the ham, half the cheese and pour on half the milk mixture. Repeat with remaining ingredients, topping with soup mixture, saving 1/2 cup cheese.
4. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and remove casserole from refrigerator. Bake, covered 1 1/2 hours. Remove cover, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbling.
6. Allow to cool and set at least 15 minutes before serving.
Serves 8

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 19th, 2011

My family has been eating pizza for 7 straight days. This is highly unusual, but circumstances converged into a perfect pizza storm.
First we went to my favorite restaurant for my birthday Thursday. Then I got pizza for my son’s class on the last day at his daycare Friday. They sent a whole pizza home. We went away for the weekend on a hotel package that included , yes, pizza for dinner. Today, my boss got pizza for all of us to celebrate press awards garnered in the features department.
Obviously, I haven’t had to cook very much. I’ve just been reheating pizza for what seems like a year.
It occurs to me that reheating pizza is something I feel strongly about. There is a right way to recapture that fresh-from-the-oven experience, and about a billion ways to destroy it.
Here are my rules:
If you’re out of college and have your own oven, stop wasting perfectly good ‘za by eating it flavorless and congealed.
2. DO NOT USE THE MICROWAVE: Pizza has done nothing to deserve the damage done by nuking. The crust gets hard in places and soggy in others. Parts get hot and parts get mushy. For some reason, the cheese simply disappears.
3. USE DRY HEAT: Toaster ovens and conventional ovens take longer, about 15 or 20 minutes (total). This might seem like too long for leftovers, but to me if you’re not going to use an oven, you might as well just throw the leftovers away.
5. COOK THE PIZZA UNTIL YOU CAN SMELL IT. Not a minute more. That’ll take about 10 to 12 minutes. If you’re not sure, open the oven and take out the pizza to get a good look. If the sauce is bubbling and/or pepperoni is sizzling, you’re done.
6. DON’T BURN IT: Once you go to all this trouble, you’ll kick yourself for burning the crust. Refer to Rule 5.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 18th, 2011

My birthday was Thursday. Due to circumstances you don’t care about, I was absolutely tired of cake. Everybody was asking me if I had to make my own birthday cake. I did not. I had to make my own birthday pie.
I made pie because I love pie — and also because my husband got me a fun pie cutting kitchen gadget I wanted to try. It’s an offset metal pie-piece-shaped doo-hickey you bake under the pie crust that helps you get the first piece out without having to scrape it into a misshapen mound of crust and filling.
I chose blueberry because I had berries leftover from my Girl Scout talk I wrote about Wednesday.
So I made my favorite pie crust and used the recipe for blueberry pie from “Joy of Cooking,” for the directions and the filling.
Here it is:
1 recipe double-crust pie crust
5 cups blueberries
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest, optional
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Combine blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, zest and salt in a large bowl and let sit for 15 minutes.
2. Move oven rack to the bottom third of the oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
3. Line a 9-inch pie pan with crust and trim if necessary around the edge of the pie pan. Add filling and cover with the top crust. Pinch the top crust and the bottom crust together to seal. Cut vent holes into the top crust.
4. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Take the pie out of the oven and put it on a baking sheet to catch drippings. Set heat to 350 degrees and bake the pie 20 to 30 minutes more, or until filling is bubbly, and top is golden brown.
5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing.
Adapted from “Joy of Cooking”

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 13th, 2011

Some Girl Scouts and I made blueberry smoothies last night that looked a lot like this one from dietsinreview.com. I didn't know they'd all be wearing white.

Spoke with some very inquisitive Girl Scouts last night. They wanted to know everything about what I do. Besides the usual “how I got into this,” (with a lot of luck) and “what do you actually do” (Eat), one girl asked how much money I make (I said I was lucky to get paid for something I love to do). Another wanted to know my favorite cookie. I couldn’t figure out which of those was more difficult to answer. One asked about the weirdest ingredient I ever worked with. (Kim Chi: fermented Korean cabbage). My favorite recipe (I settled on Tomato Basil Pie).
We also made smoothies from frozen blueberries, frozen raspberries, yogurt, milk, honey and wheat germ. We all agreed there were too many raspberries and not enough honey. But that was more or less rectified by generous extra squeezes from a big bottle of the golden goodness.
I were surprised by their interest and attention span. We were still going long after I thought I’d have bored them to death. Great kids.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 12th, 2011

The only problem with Easter eggs is that when you're done, you have a bunch of eggs to eat. Wait a minute. That's not a problem at all.

I presently have three dozen hard-cooked eggs in the refrigerator. They’re beautifully colored, hand dipped by myself and my 5-year-old. Some have lovely tiny stickers all over them. Then there are all manner of painted, glazed, shiny and showy specimens. I made them for an upcoming story on egg dyeing for the Family section (April 21).
For a time, my kitchen resembled an old-time apothecary with glasses of dark dyes, technicolor spatters, wet newspapers, dye tablets and rubber gloves lying around. The project ramped up, proceeded and ended within a span of a few hours.
And with the eggs colored, the photos taken, the glassware cleaned, I have 3 dozen hard-cooked eggs in the refrigerator. Now what the heck do I do?
Co-worker suggested making deviled eggs. But that’s hard.
I offered them around the department and got rid of three.
I ate … too many myself.
I could make egg salad — for 50.
Yeah. I guess that’s what I’ll do. I love egg salad. I don’t know where I’ll find 49 other people who love it. But I’ll ask around.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 8th, 2011

Rhubarb Muffins from allrecipes.com look like a good way to entertain my kid tomorrow. Maybe.

Some people drink too much coffee, some people drive fast, some people can drop $300 on clothes in one session.
I have a baking problem. I can’t be trusted around flour and sugar. Don’t come near me with a chocolate chip.
Everyone says admitting you have a problem is the first step toward solving it. But I don’t really want to solve it. I just want to look for more fun ways to combine the same five ingredients. I justify it by getting my kid to help me. He loves to “play with flour,” too. Everyone likes when we bake. Meaning me, my son and my husband. But I love it a little too much.
I am, however, trying to cut back. Maybe I can just limit it by just collecting the recipes, which is half the fun. (But only half)
Anyway, if I were to bake this weekend, (and I’m not sure whether I will or not) I would make Rhubarb Bread from allrecipes.com.
Or Rhubarb Muffins instead.
Maybe someday I can learn to just read the recipes, rather than make the food.
Right after I make these.

Posted in: Uncategorized

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