Saturday, April 17, 2010


Like many Ag schools, Cornell has a store where they sell dairy products made on campus.  The Dairy Bar is located within walking distance of the chemistry department.  Sadly, I haven't been there yet, but they sell milk, yogurt, ice cream, cider, and cheese.  mmmm

Monday, April 12, 2010

Matzo ball soup

When I woke up this morning I had no clue that I would be making matzo ball soup today.  However, my mom stopped by with 10 lbs of matzo crackers and I could not refuse a few boxes.  (No, we're not Jewish, but they were clearing them out at Costco and we both like them.)  She told me she used to make matzo ball soup all the time when she lived in Boston.  Thanks to my freezer clearing efforts, I had turkey stock in the freezer and a chicken breast in the fridge, so I decided to give it a try.
I used the recipe over at the Cooking for Engineers website.*  They give a pretty complete description, but here's the short version, and my modifications.

2 qts turkey stock
1 leek, sliced thinly (I only used the white part)
1 chicken breast, cubed
Bring the broth and chunkies to a boil, then simmer.

Meanwhile, combine

2 matzo crackers, ground finely in the blender - measure out 1/2 cup
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs of the broth

Blend together and let it rest for a few minutes. The ground crackers will slowly absorb the moisture. Salt and pepper to taste.  Wet your hands and shape the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and drop them into the simmering broth mixture. Cook for at least 15 minutes.
The balls sank to the bottom at first and then floated back up.  I was pretty hungry so it smelled really good.  The soup was tasty and I'm glad I added the leek.  It added a certain je ne sais quoi. The matzo balls themselves were tasty gut-bombs.  I think I should've actually measured out my matzo meal.  (Two crackers make a slight bit more than 1/2 cup, but I dumped it all in.) Next time I'll be more careful. Nonetheless it was a tasty dinner for a blustery spring day.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The light at the end of the tunnel

I reached critical mass on the no-shopping experiment recently.  My freezer is noticeably less full, even though I keep putting tupperware containers of soup in there. I can even see the floor, if i move stuff around. There is also free space in my cupboard now.  I've used up at least 20 lbs of flour, and may need to buy more before I move.  I've also used up 4 lbs of steel cut oats (do the math - I eat them for breakfast almost every day)  I should make it, assuming that I cook the remaining turkey and roast.
I'm not so worried about condiments, dried goods, etc.  I've certainly been running my supplies down, but it's easier just to pass those along to my mom.  I'm running down my liquor cabinet as well but will take that with me.
I'm not sure if the no-shopping experiment has been good or bad for my diet. It's a wash. I weigh the same as I did when it started.  I keep telling myself that if I weren't doing the no-shopping experiment I'd eat fewer carbs and would lose weight, but I suspect I'd also eat more tasty pre-prepared stuff and it would balance out. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ham Stock

My mom made a 20 lb ham for Easter. I got a big portion of it, along with the bones.  I decided to make ham stock.  I'm fairly new to making stock.  I'm more of a "throw the bones in with the soup and pull them out at the end" type of cook most of the time.  However, now that I'm older and lazier, I've started to see the advantages of having ready-made stock available in my freezer.  It tastes better, is cheap and convenient, and lets me use up those bones/carcasses so they are not cluttering up my fridge or freezer. I'm a little bit weird that way.
I've never heard of ham stock before, but figured there must be recipes out there on the internet. Sure enough, there were.* It's pretty much like making any other kind of stock.  Stew up the bones/meat scraps along with some veggies for flavoring.  Simmer it slowly for several hours.  Pull out the chunkies, let it cool slowly and skim off the fat.  Filter the mixture if you're anal and use it or freeze it for later.
It gave me about 9 cups of broth.  I didn't bother filtering it.  It tasted of ham and celery.  I just added a bunch of chopped ham, two cloves of garlic, and about 2 1/2 cups of dried split peas, and cooked it until the peas were tender.  it didn't have the depth of flavor that my last batch of split pea soup did, but it did have a nice clean taste.  It was also a lot thinner - the potato that I added last time really thickened things up.

* My internet search led me to a blog called "101 things every cook should cook"  In it there are a lot of interesting recipes, such as toad in the hole and roast squirrel. There were also several recipes for ham stock and soups made from it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

No shopping experiment, another update/buttery dinner rolls

I'm still eating up the contents of my larder.  I just haven't been blogging about it since I haven't made anything interesting.  In the last two weeks I've processed a 12 lb turkey, a bag of bagels, a loaf of bread, a bunch of cranberries, some leftover Christmas stollen, lots of flour, some couscous, some arborio rice, and some regular rice. I've made a good dent in the dried fruit, juice, and booze too.  I have actually gotten to the point where I've had to start replacing some of the staples, like butter.
I'm starting to find things that have gone stale, like the rice and couscous.  The stuff from the freezer is mostly fine.  For Easter,my mom cooked a 20 lb ham.  Now you see where I get my hoarding tendencies from!  I decided to make some homemade rolls.

The recipes on the Cuisinart stand mixer booklet have all been pretty tasty, so I just used their recipe.  I modified the recipe slightly to make a wetter dough.  If you have a smaller mixer or you don't want to freeze half the dough, just cut all the ingredients in half.

Buttery dinner rolls
makes 32 large rolls

2 c milk
1 c butter
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup warm water
2 eggs
4 tsp active dry yeast
8-9 cups flour

Heat milk in microwave until almost boiling. Add butter, sugar and salt and allow butter to melt.  Let the mixture cool until it is just warm to the touch.  Meanwhile, combine water, yeast, and a pinch of flour.  Allow the yeast mixture to sit until it gets foamy (5-10 minutes).  Add the butter/milk/sugar mixture and the beaten eggs.  Add about 7 1/2 cups flour and mix with dough hook at low speed for 2 minutes, then start adding the remaining flour a few tablespoons at a time, until the dough ball clings to the hook and pulls away from the side of the bowl. Allow to mix for 4 more minutes, then transfer to a clean, greased bowl.  Place in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled in size (maybe 1 hour or so)  Divide dough in half, and set one portion aside if not needed.  (Freeze for later use)  Divide the remaining dough into 16 balls. Place in greased pan (10" round or 11"x15" glass dish)  Cover with saran wrap and allow rolls to rise until doubled (45-60 min)
Bake at 375F for 30-35 minutes.
The dough was very easy to work with.  It's important to add the flour slowly at the end so it doesn't get too dry.  The rolls were very tender and buttery. My mom said they reminded her of croissants.  They went well with the ham, and later with the ham leftovers.  I only took a few home with me, so I made the second batch a few days later. They weren't quite as tender as the first batch, but were still quite good, and it's nice to have the dough on hand for those times when you want fresh baked rolls.

Yeasted Waffles

In addition to trying to eat through my freezer and pantry, I'm also using my abundant spare time as an excuse to make certain foods that I would never have time to make otherwise. In a future post, I'm going to make croissants and blog about it.  However, I couldn't find the recipe I wanted to use, so I went through my cooking magazines looking for it.  I didn't have any luck, but I ran across a recipe for yeasted waffles that looked intriguing.  I don't really like baking powder or soda, so this sounded good.  It would also be good for people on low sodium diets, since there is a lot of sodium in baking powder and soda, especially in pancake mix.
It's pretty simple.  A yeast batter is prepared and stored in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, you stir it up and make your waffles. The first batch was ok but not great. 

Yeasted Waffles

1 3/4 cups milk
Butter: 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)(official recipe) or 3 tablespoons (second batch)
2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Heat milk and butter together until butter is melted and mixture is hot to the touch.  Remove from heat and allow to cool until warm.  Meanwhile, whisk together flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.  Add the cooled milk and butter to the flour mixture.  Beat eggs and vanilla and add to batter.  Mix well.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and store in fridge overnight. In the morning, stir up the batter, heat up the waffle iron andmake the waffles.

The recipe was pretty easy.  In the recipe they said that the waffles were softer and less tasty when they used less butter.  In my case, the first batch of waffles were good but were too greasy and salty from all the butter.  It's pretty unusual for me to think something is too greasy and salty.  I'll make them again but add a lot less butter.