Thirteen Things about Random Kitchen-ness
Man oh man do I love to cook! Well, I suppose I should rephrase that. I love to daydream while perusing cookbooks. If I had my way, I’d be 5 again and have a grandma who lived with me, and let me help her cook all my favorite recipes. So in the interest of all things culinarily dreamy, here’s a combo of 13 cookbooks, gadgets and recipes that foster my love of the kitchen.
1. Crescent Dragonwagon’s Dairy Hollow House – Soup & Bread. This is a fantastic cookbook for winter. I love her approach to food. She shares stories from her Eureka Springs, AR bed and breakfast as she imparts tips for making stock, starter and friends.
2. The Farm Cookbook. What could be better than a 60’s era vegan cookbook from one of the countries biggest communes? This cookbook rocks. Especially helpful is the section in the back on how to raise a healthy vegan child.
3. Madhur Jaffrey’s East Meets West Cookbook. This book has wonderful vegetarian recipes stretching across the Asian continent. It is fantastic. If you’re a born WASP, but have always loved the rich, well rounded flavors of India, Thailand, Mongolia and beyond…this book is an excellent place to begin your journey toward the East.
4. Sundays at the Moosewood. Again with the ethnic foods. But this time we also get the pleasure of such places as South America, Eastern Europe and Africa. If you’ve tried Moosewood books before, but gotten bored…go ahead and give this one a try. It is by far my favorite in this series.
5. How to Grill by Stephen Raichlen. What, you may ask does a vegetarian want with that? Well aside from the nostalgic lode of this book – my mom gave it Chris for his first Father’s Day; it has some good vegetarian recipes. In fact, when the in-laws last visited we made a fantastic grilled cabbage. You should try it!
7. OK. This is technically part two of #6. But, honestly how much can you write about kitchen gadgets – and this truly this is another aspect of it. We got this super cool blender. At first glance, it looks pretty normal. But it has this whole other canister that fits on top, which is like a mini-cuisinart. I use this EVERY DAY! I always hated those big food processors because they are a super pain in the pooper to clean. But this thing is just three little parts – none of which fit inside any other part. I love a product that is as simple as I am.
8. Speaking of simple gadgets: I don’t have one, but I would love to…or at least be one of the characters in the infomercial. Oh yea, I am in lust with the Magic Bullet. I first saw the infomercial about a year ago. Running downstairs I said, “Chris. We need a Magic Bullet. And we’re about out of time!” Fortunately, Chris not only knew what I was talking about, but had already ascertained that upon viewing, I would immediately crave the blending, chopping, frothing phenomenon that is The Magic Bullet. “No.” He said. “We have the blender. You loved that first.” What a smart guy. Too bad he wasn’t around 7 years ago when I bought a gross of click lights for Y2K.
9. Now what was I talking about? Oh yes. Kitchen gadgets that I actually own. Weighing in as the heavyweight champion of the kitchen is our Kitchen Aide Mixer. I don’t know what I could possibly tell you about this device that you don’t already know. I’ve never gotten all of the attachments that would facilitate the production of pasta or ice cream, but there’s something refreshingly snooty about knowing that I could. I am; however, a basic person. I didn’t use my Kitchen Aide for a few months because I was privately intimidated by it. We registered for it when we got married, but never expected anyone to actually come through. Amazingly someone did. And I must say a big thank you to Aunt Corri. You’ll be glad to know that I now use it to mix everything.
10. My last gadget worth its weight in gold bullions is my brand new coffee maker! I love it. It does not frighten me in ANY way. As you may remember, I could not say that about my former addiction enabling machine. This dandy comes with its own water filter, a timer and an automatic shut off. What more could I ask for? Oh, yes…the coffee is quite tasty, too!
11. Banana Stuffed French Toast
In a large bowl, combine the pancake mix with enough water to make a thin batter. Add nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, sugar and eggs. Whisk together until smooth, about 3 minutes.
In a medium bowl, mix together walnuts, brown sugar, and banana slices. Slice the ends off the French bread.
Starting at 1 end, measure about a half inch down the loaf and slice the bread 3/4 of the way through. Measure about another half inch, and slice cleanly through the bread. You should have a 1-inch slice of bread with a cut down the middle. Repeat this process until the bread is all sliced up.
Take a piece of the cut French bread and stuff a few tablespoons of the banana mixture into the slit in the middle. Add a good amount, but do not overstuff so that the mixture won’t stay in the center. Repeat until all the slices are stuffed.
Preheat a skillet or flat-top grill over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, coat it with 2 tablespoons of butter.
Pour the crushed-up cornflakes onto a plate. Take a slice of stuffed bread and dip it into the egg mixture, coating both sides liberally. Then press the bread into the cornflakes and flip it to coat both sides.
Place the bread on the grill or skillet and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Flip the toast over and cook the other side.
Repeat the coating and cooking process for each slice of bread, and add more butter to the grill or skillet as necessary, about 2 tablespoons of butter per slice.
NOTES: This is a great recipe for a hearty chili; it is definitely a meal by itself. It is made with coffee, but your guests won’t be able to tell. The coffee accentuates the boldness and adds a hint of a smoky taste, so you can call coffee the "secret ingredient". You’ll be admiring the color and nice texture as you let it slow cook. And, if you choose, this chili can have a spicy kick to it; but you can readjust the spice according to your own taste. Keep in mind that this isn’t a true Texas chili (for you chili connoisseurs) because it uses black beans, but it’s still great.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In large bowl, combine butter, 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy. Add flour and pecans; mix until dough forms.
Chill dough for 30 minutes. While dough is chilling, remove wrappers from chocolate kisses.
Mold one scant tablespoon of dough around each chocolate kiss making sure it is completely enclosed in the ball of dough.
Place balls on ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes until set and bottoms of cookies are just beginning to slightly brown.
Carefully remove from cookie sheet; place on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Roll cookies in powdered sugar. When completely cooled, re-roll in powdered sugar.
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