Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Autumn Breakfast For Dinner

Last night, I made a simple but delicious dinner of pumpkin pancakes, peppered bacon and fresh apple slices. It's a good thing it was simple, too, because my church meeting ran over and I was late getting started. This got us fed before 10 and gave us the chance to use some of the locally-produced maple syrup we bought while we were visiting my auntie over the weekend. The pancake recipe is my adaptation of the one served at A Cambridge House Inn in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Pumpkin Sour Cream Pancakes
1 c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
A dusting of cinnamon
A dusting of cloves
A dusting of allspice
1 egg
1 c. milk (you could also use buttermilk)
1/4 c. sour cream
1/4 c. canned pumpkin puree (I toyed with the idea of using pumpkin pie filling, which I may try at some future juncture)
1 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tbsp. vanilla

Mix the dry ingredients together. Mix the rest together. Slowly whisk the liquid mixture into the dry mixture. Coat a skillet with cooking spray and heat it. Ladle about 1/3 c. batter per pancake onto the skillet. Cook on medium heat until little bubbles form on the surface. Flip and cook a few more minutes. Keep warm in a low oven, repeating until all the batter is used. Serves 2-3 (it made 8 pancakes for us).

Ice Cream for My Baby

For my sweetie girl's half-birthday gift in August, I had her list 12 ice cream flavors she would like to eat. Voila, instant ice cream club! The plan was to make her one a month until her next half-birthday, but I had a hard time finding a good recipe for chocolate peanut butter ice cream. I did succeed, though, and boy oh man was it good and creamy! Here's the link:

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Wood You Like A Salad?

Last night, we were supposed to go to dinner at Vintage House Café, where I'd already planned to have chicken paprikash and a slice of pie. Sadly, J had to work late and by the time she got off, the hour was late. So I just drove until I found a place that looked promising and open. I was hoping for some fresh, light food and I picked the wrong place. I'd forgotten that last time we'd been to Behind the Woods, the menu was largely heavy Italian dishes and burgers. Sigh. J was very happy with the menu, ordering (after much debating and some die-rolling) the Sicilian Trio, a plate of cheese and tomato-sauced smothered goop. Okay, so she loved it. Not me. Every bite I tasted was just like the last, regardless of the fact that one bite was lasagna, one was manicotti and the third was veal parm. Not only did it all taste the same, it all tasted boring. Ah, well, perhaps it was just my mood. J was delighted with her dinner. Mine was actually pretty good, too. I ate the French onion soup that came with J's dinner. It was fine, but with no depth and sort of blah. They need some sherry or some herbs or something to liven it up. My buffalo chicken salad, on the other hand, was good. The lettuces were fresh and crisp, the chicken actually had some good heat to it (although it was different from the usual buffalo sauce) and the blue cheese dressing was well-made if not stand-out.

The service was quite good and the atmosphere is pleasant. We sat again at a booth with a framed picture from Dean Morrissey's delightful children's book, Ship of Dreams, about a little boy who gets to spend one night on the Sandman's ship, making his rounds with him. The booths are made from old church pews, wood is everywhere and there is a lovely pressed tin ceiling above. There are also a number of stained glass lampshades hanging down, their light muted by the pink bulbs used.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Fall Soup Supper

I have decided to start a new tradition. I read in a magazine about a woman who makes a batch of gingerbread cookies on the first rainy day of Fall every year. When I read it, I instantly decided I liked the idea. However, I put a twist on it and decided that I would start making a pot of soup on the first rainy autumnal day each year. Yesterday was it and I already had grilled ham and cheese sandwiches on the menu. Perfect! Since I already had most of the ingredients and could have J pick up a can of corn and some beef broth on the way home, I decided to make alphabet soup. I also served the kettle chips I'd bought specifically to go with the sandwiches (which, by the way, are just grilled cheese with some ham thrown in-peppered ham, this time) and some Pink Lady apple slices drizzled with lavender honey in honor of Rosh Hashanah. I haven't yet figured out how to keep the soup from becoming casserole upon standing, but it makes a tasty casserole, too. I'd thought maybe pre-cooking the alphabets would help, but no. So, I guess I'll keep tinkering away on that. In the meantime, give this a try.

Alphabet Soup
6 c. beef broth (you could also use water, but the flavor won't be as rich & I might add another cup or two of broth next time)
1 big handful fresh green beans, broken into small pieces (canned or frozen could be subbed)
A couple/few peeled & diced carrots
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 diced onions
A couple/few diced stalks celery
1 tsp. basil
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 can corn (or a heaping cup of frozen-or you could cut it off ears, too)
An overflowing cup of frozen lima beans (I like Fordhooks, but if you like the baby ones, use 'em)
1 can diced tomatoes, not drained
2 c. water
3/4 c. alphabet noodles (I might take it down to half a cup next time to avoid the casserole effect)
Salt & pepper, to taste
(Keep in mind that you really can use whatever veggies you have on hand. I'd've thrown in a diced potato if I'd had one around. You can change up spices, too. I would not omit the tomato or the onion, though)

Bring the broth to a boil in a soup pot. Add green beans, carrots & bay leaves. Cover & cook on medium until carrots are just tender, then cover & lower to a simmer. Heat oil in a skillet, then add onion, celery & basil. After 2 minutes, add green pepper & sauté until tender, taking care not to overcook. Add to soup along with corn, limas & tomatoes. Bring the water to a boil. Add noodles and cook 5 minutes. Drain & add noodles to soup. Cook another 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings before serving.