31 August 2007

Minor Grumpiness

I subscribe to mailing lists from various crunchy leftist hippie food companies talking about new products and promotions. Mostly, I subscribe for the recipes. Sometimes, yes, I am interested in the new product, but mostly I want the recipes. I almost never fall for the special promotions. I use Linux, therefore, I should know better than to allow myself to be seduced by things like e-coupons. Oh, yes, it's perfectly splendid that a company like Horizon Milk would like me to save a dollar on my next purchase, but I know I'll never be able to get the coupon as long as I need to be running Windows and install some "special" third-party software I should trust because Horizon says so.

Yes, I know the coupon is not obtainable. And yet I attempt. And then I send slightly fiery emails to various crunchy leftist hippie food companies trying to explain that I don't appreciate being teased with unobtainable coupons. The point is not to have them send coupons to my house (although they always seem to think that is the solution to the problem). The point is to get them to fix their websites. To shift their paradigms, if you will.

Gah. Am I even making sense, here?

All I am trying to say is that we are living in the twenty-first century and, while I may not have a flying car (yet), I should be able to print a coupon off the Internet.

Also, I spent too much time today trying to explain ActiveX to librarians who didn't really want to know, because they'd already decided what it was (something to do with playing movies), and so I am a little grumpy with technology, anyway, and find myself thinking the Mennonites might have a good deal.

Happy thoughts .... happy ... happy ...

Hrm. Everyone ate all the blueberry zucchini bread I brought to work for our little breakfast shindig? Yes, that will do. I tucked it in amongst the coffee cake and bagels around eight and by noon there was none left. Not even crumbs.

Yes, that will have to do.

26 August 2007

Downstairs In A Teacup

It's 86°F outside with humidity around 72% and I've had the stove going all weekend with pots of vegetable soup and tomato sauce. No, I am not crazy. Just overly optimistic. I picked up a peck basket of tomatoes at the farmstand with the brilliant idea of making sauce. As everyone tells me you need a lot of tomatoes to make very little sauce, I figured a peck wasn't a lot of tomatoes in the grand scheme of things and so would serve well in introducing me to making freezer sauce.

Well, one peck of tomatoes yielded 9 quarts of sauce plus tomatoes for turkey burgers, stewed tomatoes with squash, tomato zucchini tart, and cabbage soup. And there are still some tomatoes leftover. I am so glad I only bought a peck.

For sauce, I used two recipes. For the first two batches, I used the "Freezer Spaghetti Sauce" (plus extra bell peppers) recipe from Recipezaar with pretty good results (the spoon tasted good when I licked it, anyway). I mashed the tomatoes with a potato masher while they cooked so the sauce came out a bit on the chunky side, but not necessarily lumpy. There are definitely identifiable vegetable chunks in there, but no one's going to complain there's a whole tomato giving them the eye. Being the first time I'd ever done anything like this, I didn't think about deseeding the tomatoes for the first batch. Oh, yes, I cored and peeled them properly, but left all the seeds in. Didn't think about it until the end of cooking when I thought "there's an awful lot of garlic in there ... wait ... noooooo"

While I seeded the tomatoes for the second and third batches, I don't think anyone will die from eating the first batch.

The third batch was made using the "Freezer Spaghetti Sauce" (plus bell peppers and garlic) from Mimi's Cyber Kitchen. I couldn't be bothered to drag out the food processor to smooth out the chunks so I used my hand mixer instead. It worked surprisingly well and I did not spray tomato sauce allover the kitchen.

Now, tucked away for winter in our downstair's freezer, we have two quarts of chopped tomatoes, four quarts of chopped peppers, nine quarts of tomato sauce, and three quarts of cabbage soup. That would not in any way be a practical amount of food if we were trying to be more self-sufficient, but it's perfectly okay if we're just looking for satisfaction. It is very satisfying to know that, in the depths of darkest January, there are lovely homemade soups and sauces on hand.

The soup was actually a bit of an emergency measure -- too many uncooked vegetables leftover from MIL's chicken dinner + too many extra tomatoes = desperate search for a fast, easy, and flavorful soup recipe. The soup I made is from adapted from Kraft's "Hearty Cabbage Soup" recipe. While, I think I kept to the spirit of the recipe, I made a few substitutions -- I used vegetable broth instead of chicken, inverted the broth to water ratio to create a richer taste, and threw in random amounts of "Italian" herbage (basil, oregano, garlic, etc) rather than use the salad dressing packet called for. And I threw in lots more vegetables (including chopped tomatoes). I've been taking some of the soup to work and it makes a very delicious lunch. So delicious, if fact, that I'm thinking of making more of to freeze so I don't run out, because I think it's one of those things I don't want to run out of.

And now I have to apologize to Barbara Kingsolver, because I've been taking the piss out of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle ever since I listened to it (it's just so bloody earnest -- I can't help myself) and yet I'm guessing most of this weekend's cooking was driven by that book. Her earnest holier-than-thoughness may drive me right up the wall, but the woman sure knows how to write about food.