Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Why Licking the Bowl Doesn't Count

Yeah, that's me at Christmas at my in-laws last year. Farmer Brown is notorious for not being especially thoughtful when it comes to gifts. (He gets it from his mom who once gave me a trashcan for my birthday.) But he really outdid himself. I was truly surprised. Of course, I had been dropping hints for awhile, but he usually doesn't catch on. The mixer had to ride around in the car for a couple of days while we made the holiday circuit. When we got home, I ripped that thing open and opened the pantry. I tried a cake mix. Didn't want to ruin any labor-of-love recipe from the file. I knew that this piece of machinery was going to revolutionize the way I baked. The K-A was awesome, mixed quickly and efficiently. Farmer Brown was ecstatic with the huge beater to lick. Cleanup was minimal. I kept waiting for the shinning beam of light to illuminate this masterpiece on my counter top.

But it didn't happen. Something wasn't right. I didn't like it. This wasn't what cooking was about for me. I wasn't a part of the process. The machine was doing all the work for me. I stood idly by, cleaning the counter top. When I bake something for someone, it is out of love. I put myself into it. Dumping and measuring and mixing is all part of it. Now, the K-A sits under the counter, out of the way, and I still bake the way I always did. Whisking until my wrist feels like limp noodles. Stirring until my fingers are tight like lobster claws. Mixing with the hand mixer until my arm muscles are curling up like cut green onions in ice water. Kneading until my shoulders are as tough as cheap cuts of meat. Throughout the whole thing, I lick and taste to see if it is all coming together. It is all out of love for whomever it is for. You get a little piece of me in that Bundt or brownies or bread or whatever.

Which all leads to why licking the bowl doesn't count in Weight Watchers. After all that exertion, those activity points I'm gaining are canceling out the calories and fat in the batter. So mix by hand, burn some calories, and eat some batter.

*Now if this should ever come up in conversation with Farmer Brown, just mention how much I love my K-A. Let him know that it is so handy to use when I am trying to do three things at once, like when it mashes the potatoes while I finish up the rest of the dinner while entertaining Frick and Frack. This has been one of his finest gifts to me. And while you are on the subject, go ahead and drop the hint that I really would like an i-Pod for my birthday.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Enough with the Zucchini

Farmer Brown rolled his eyes when he came home last night. From three medium zucchini, I made Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread, Frosted Zucchini Brownies, and Zucchini Cakes. These recipes can all be found here: I also have made the Lemon Zucchini Cookies from there.

This first picture is of the poppy seeds that I spilled all over the counter. Those little boogers rolled everywhere. I am still walking on them this morning. I must say that the Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread made for some first-rate batter eating. The same thing can be said about the brownies.

The Zucchini Cakes were a hit because dinner was dubbed "Dip-o-Rama". We had chicken fingers from a WW recipe (they were gross and soggy), and the kids dipped them in barbecue sauce. Then, we dipped the zucchini cakes in ranch dressing.

We each had a brownie for dessert. We liked the bread, but those brownies were fabulous! I didn't make the frosting because I was out of marshmallows and chocolate chips. (I even cleaned out the cabinet because I was sure I had chocolate chips. All I found was spilled corn syrup. So then, I had to take everything out to clean that up, and I freaked out because there were things that looked like mice poo. On further inspection, it was just some spilled mini-chocolate chips. Thank goodness.) I did find chocolate frosting in the cabinet. I used that and Frick decorated them with star sprinkles that we also found. We also found FIVE bags of powdered sugar.

And since the subtitle of this blog is OF FAT, just so you know, I don't eat all of this stuff that I make. Most of it gets sent to friends who will tolerate a dry bread if the recipe doesn't turn out. I have also been sending food to work with Farmer Brown. I made this lovely tray for the city workers last night and here it was this morning. I think that Farmer Brown subconsciously left it here because he is tired of the zucchini. Surprise, we are taking him lunch and this tray.


It seems by August, we finally get a routine going around the house, about the time that I have to go back to work. Every morning, we get ready for "the big day", eat breakfast, and go out to the garden.
Frick has taken over the picking of the peas. I tried to train the peas to grow up around my bamboo tepees without any success. I planted way too many peas. They vined up around each other and have bogged down to the ground. However, the morning glories are thriving. These are the morning glories that Amy started in the greenhouse at school.

This morning, we found our first red tomato. It was also on a plant grown by Amy.

Frack found the tomato and got to pick it. He then wanted to pick the rest of the "balls" on the plants. So as the Zucchinifest 2008 is coming to an end, the Tomato Blood Bath is about to start.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Green Pizza

Here's another recipe that was passed around. My great aunt gave it to my mom, who passed it to me. It sounds revolting if you read through the ingredients, but it baked up beautifully brown and toasty on top. It was a good "green pizza" according to Frick. Yes, Farmer Brown did eat it. He is getting tired of trying all of the new zucchini recipes. If I hadn't been around, I suspect that he would have ate more. Also, it was rather good heated up the next day. I put a piece in the skillet and covered it with a lid. The crust was even crisper this way.

Zucchini Pie

1 pizza crust (I used refrigerated pizza crust)
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tsp. mustard
4 c. grated zucchini
1 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. butter
2 Tb. parsley
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Place the crust in your pizza pan. Spread with the mustard (I used a little more mustard to lightly cover the crust.) Sprinkle with 1 c. of shredded mozzarella cheese. Saute the zucchini, onion and butter in a large skillet, 3-5 minutes until tender. Then add the spices. (I did use fresh oregano, parsley, and basil from the garden.) Spread the mixture over the cheese on the crust. Then, beat the two eggs and stir in the remaining cup of cheese. Spoon and spread this over the zucchini. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Must be good for you.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. butter or oil
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. orange peel
2 c. grated zucchini
1 1/2 c. milk
1 c. chopped nuts

Beat the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla together. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, excluding the nuts. Alternate mixing the flour mixture into the egg mixture with the milk. Stir in the zucchini and nuts. Bake in a 350 degree oven.

2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tb. milk
dash of salt
Mix together and pour over cool cake.

This is a recipe from my mom. Things are missing as is often the case with recipes she gives me. I used a miniature bundt pan, so I baked the cakes for about 30 minutes. Just kind of guess about how long to bake the cake based on the size of pan you use. Just watch to see the edges pull away from the sides. (*These were my mom's instructions when I asked how long to bake the cake. )

Anyway, the cake was a little dry because I overbaked it a smidge. The glaze helped offset the dryness. I sent the cake to work with my husband and the men didn't realize that there was zucchini in it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I Now Crave...

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps. Oh my. These were lovely. Not in like take a picture lovely, because I didn't think they would photograph well. But lovely in the way they crisped in your mouth. This was quick and easy. Took like 30 minutes. Perfect little chippies.

So here I am, bad mouthing the lamb pops and this little recipe was hiding in Ellie's cookbook, p. 251. I splattered some olive oil on the page, officially initiating the cookbook into the permanent collection.

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps by Ellie Krieger The Foods You Crave

Cooking Spray
1 lb. zucchini (about 2 medium)
1 Tb. olive oil
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. plain dry bread crumbs
1/8 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Slice the zucchini into 1/4 inch thick rounds. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the oil. In a small bowl, combine the cheese, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Dip each round into the cheese mixture, coating evenly on both sides. Place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until browned and crisp. 25-30 minutes.

Of note, I made my own bread crumbs out of leftover whole wheat bread. I also lined the baking sheet with parchment paper.

The WW points would be 2 points per serving. I ate most of them. Farmer brown ate them. But the biggest wonder of all was that Frack ate them. Frack has an aversion to a lot of foods. He often scrapes offending foods from his tongue. He ate two. He ate two pieces of zucchini.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Food I Crave?

Ellie Kreiger is one of my favorite Food Network stars who doesn't receive the airtime that she should. She's perky without matching the kitchen to her food theme. She provides such sensible tips on making food healthy. (Like replacing the cream cheese with whipped cream cheese that gives you the same taste with less calories.) So when she published a cookbook, I was stoked. I bought it without previewing it. You must know that I always preview cookbooks. I am running out of kitchen space for cookbooks, so if it is going to be on the shelf, it must be worthy of duty often. I sometimes will make exceptions for pretty books or gift books.
When it arrived, I tore it open and started tearing through the index. Beet Salad? Spiced-Rubbed Lamb Pops? (Lamb pops?!?) Herbed Couscous Timbale with Dried Fruit and Nuts? Since when did I crave these things?

I wanted to see healthy recipes for the food I crave: Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas, Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies, Big Macs. They weren't in there. I currently don't crave healthy foods. That's why I can't fit in my fat jeans.
On second reading, there are some redeeming recipes that I will try. Enough of them for me to keep the book on the shelf. The book is full of those same real-life tips to encourage me to try to change out the way I normally cook. The pictures are enticing. Not every recipe has a picture, but there are plenty of full-color pictures. (Although, sadly, no picture of Lamb Pops. I envision ewe on a skew.)
But I love Ellie. Love her on tv. As much as I love Paula, I would love to see Ellie take over the Paula invasion on the Food Network. I will try some recipes. Let you know.

Zucchinni Mania

My life as a fake farmer has resulted in an onslaught of sleek, green zucchinis. Every spring I get desperate for something to grow and get a little ambitious in my gardening zeal. Foolishly, I planted six zucchini plants in my garden. Two weeks ago I was excited as the little boogers begin to blossom. Now, my food processor is bleeding green. I am not a big fan of the vegetable but feel obligated to use it. This was yesterday's contribution:
Tomato - Zucchini Tart by Southern Living

1/2 (15 oz.) package refrigerated piecrusts

1 med. zucchini, thinly sliced

2 tsp. olive oil

3 medium plum tomatoes, sliced

1/3 c. fresh basil, chopped

1/3 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/3 c. light mayonnaise

1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1. Fit piecrust into a 9-in. tart pan according to package directions; trim excess. Prick bottom and sides of piecrust using a fork.

2. Bake piecrust in 400 degree oven for 9 - 11 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Let cool.

3. Saute zucchini in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 2 minutes or until tender. Arrange zucchini in bottom of prepared piecrust. Arrange tomatoes over zucchini.

4. Stir together basil, cheese, and mayonnaise. Drop by teaspoonfuls evenly on top of tomatoes, and spread gently. Sprinkle with pepper.

5. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 - 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese mixture is slightly melted.

The end result was a beautiful tart. I used two zucchini because I am trying to dispose of them and it didn't overfill the tart. This would be about 5 WW points per serving according to the information provided. It was good, but I didn't even feel the crust was necessary. Next time, I think I would skip the crust to save points and use fat-free mayonnaise. I thought they would be cute as little mini-tarts baked in individual ramekins. I would make this again to impress people.

Even my husband, Farmer Brown, who doesn't like new things ate a piece. Later, I caught him eating out of the pan. If he will eat it, most others will also.


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