Don’t Fear the Egg

 

My mother made cookies. At Christmas, there were plates full of cookies of all shapes and kinds. Throughout the year though, it was often chocolate chip cookies for dessert and after-school snacks. It’s still a favorite.

Sometimes I was around when she was baking, though I think that wasn’t her favorite time to bake. She knew I was waiting to eat the last bits of dough out of the bowl. I would beg her to leave a chocolate chip or two in the batter, but she rarely would.

eggs

We weren’t afraid back then. We ate raw eggs without worry. Then came the concern about Salmonella enteritidis, the scourge of bowl-lickers everywhere.

Food-borne illness are a fact of life. I have no data to support this, but I believe that everyone will be a victim sometime. Bacteria happens.

In the case of infected eggs, I think I’ll take the risk. According to a study done in the 1990s by the Center for Disease Control, only 1 egg in 20,000 was internally infected with Salmonella enteritidis. During the years of 2009-2010, the CDC reported that there were 2231 cases of illness caused by contaminated eggs. There are more than 316 million people in the US, so 7 people per million became ill from eating raw or undercooked eggs.

Fear of a raw egg would put the brakes on trying freshly made mayonnaise and nothing should prevent that. Once you have made your own, it will be hard to return to anything from a jar.

mayo3
It’s not difficult to make mayonnaise and it requires only a few ingredients. Here are a couple of basic recipes to try:
Basic Mayonnaise from Martha Stewart

Alton Brown’s Recipe

Pork Chops for Two

Another effort to combat the problem of leftovers is to repackage items that you buy into smaller sizes. In this case, I wrapped pork chops from a larger package individually. When it’s time to cook, I can take out what I need.

This is an easy, inexpensive recipe for two that is quick to prepare.
porkchops

Pork Chops for Two

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pork chops
Salt and pepper to taste
1 green pepper, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1 teaspoon dry basil

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Season pork on both sides with salt and pepper. Cook pork chops until browned on both sides.
Top chops with green pepper, onion and basil. Cover skillet, reduce heat and cook until vegetables are tender and pork is cooked through.

Yo, Yogurt

Being an adult requires that you do things you would rather not do. My father used to say that he ate his vegetables so the kids would eat theirs. He had a life-long dislike of most vegetables, but he also knew that his kids would mimic his disdain, even if we didn’t dislike vegetables.

For me, one of the things I do because I should is eat yogurt. I don’t really like it, but there are rewards that are hard to duplicate.
WebMD.com lists six yogurt benefits:

  • Yogurt with active cultures may help the gut
  • Some probiotic strains may boost the immune system
  • Yogurt with active cultures may discourage vaginal infections
  • Yogurt may help prevent osteoporosis
  • Yogurt may reduce the risk of high blood pressure
  • Yogurt may help you feel fuller

When I started eating yogurt daily, I reached into the refrigerator for the individual cups that I bought each week. I made sure I had several flavors to keep it interesting. Once I tried Greek yogurt, I was hooked, but the cost of those little cups was a concern.
Making yogurt at home isn’t difficult but what about Greek yogurt? What is the secret to that? Not much of a secret really. Greek yogurt has been drained of whey. That’s it. No magical process. No special ingredients.
So, what does it take to make yogurt? There are a number of recipes to choose from online, but this is what I use:

yogurtingredients

  1. 1 quart milk
  2. ½ cup dry milk powder
  3. 2 tablespoons plain yogurt

I bought a large container of plain yogurt to use as the starter culture. I froze individual portions to save them. Now, when I make a batch of yogurt, I take one cube out and allow it to thaw while the milk is heating and cooling.
It doesn’t matter what kind of milk. Use skim, 2% or whole milk. All kinds will work. The milk powder adds more milk solids to the mix and produces a thicker yogurt.
When it’s done, flavor your yogurt in any way that suits you. I put in a spoonful of jam. Honey would be good, as well. Put in nothing, if you can stand it.
I have to admit, I like my home-made yogurt better than anything I can buy at the store.

Homemade Yogurt


1 quart milk
½ cup dry milk powder
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
Mix powdered milk into the milk in a sauce pan. Using a candy thermometer, heat the milk mixture until the temperature reaches 180 degrees. Remove from heat and allow to cool to 115 degrees. Spoon out approximately ½ cup of the warm milk and whisk it with the yogurt starter. Add this mixture back into the milk and mix throughly. Incubate from 4 to 12 hours until thickened.

The yogurt can be left in the same pan to incubate or put into a jar or bowl. I leave mine in the same pan I used to heat the milk and it works just fine.
To incubate, I heat up the oven to the lowest setting and then turn it off.

yogurtoven

The pan is wrapped in a towel before I put it into the oven and I leave it in place for about 6 hours.

 

yogurtcheesecloth

When the yogurt is thick, I put the batch in a colander, lined with cheesecloth, to separate the whey. Now, it’s Greek!

What to do with the whey is a work in progress. I’ll get back to you on that.

 

Crockpot Chicken Tetrazzini for Two

This is a simple recipe that can be dressed up any way you like. Add some carrots, celery or bell peppers for a different taste. Use turkey or pork instead of the chicken. Experiment a bit with herbs. It’s a blank canvas.

CrockpotTetrazziniforTwo

Crockpot Chicken Tetrazzini for Two

1½ cups cubed, cooked chicken
1 can (14½ ounce) chicken broth
½ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup sliced mushrooms
¼ cup cream
1 tablespoon sherry (optional)
4 ounces dry spaghetti
Grated Parmesan cheese

Place first 5 ingredients into slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.

Turn to high. Add spaghetti, cream and sherry, if using. Stir until mixed. Continue to cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until spaghetti is tender.

Serve with Parmesan.

Nary a Chocolate Bunny Was Found

marshmallows

This year’s Easter basket was filled with homemade marshmallows. No chocolate bunnies. No jelly beans. Just marshmallows.

It isn’t that I don’t like chocolate bunnies and jelly beans. I do but, like everything else at the store, the cost of candy is pretty steep and I thought I could save a little money by doing my own.

I’m not new to making candy. I’ve made peanut brittle every Christmas for more years than I can remember. I have also made caramels, peppermint bark, fudge, gum drops and more to round out the candy tray.

Most people bake for the holidays. Baking has never been my thing. I make too much of a mess because something always happens to the flour. Some mysterious force always flips the measuring cup over or poufs it out of the mixer bowl all over me. It isn’t IF I’m going to make a mess while baking, it’s WHEN.

Candy is a bit neater because there is no flour involved. It is, however, easier to burn and I’ve done that too often. Nothing smells quite like burnt sugar in the morning.

Making candy doesn’t need to be limited to the holidays. Someone somewhere has developed a recipe for just about any kind of candy you can think of. I used this recipe for peanut butter cups, substituting candy melts for the chocolate bar. They’re good.

peanutbuttercups

Some other interesting candies I intend to try soon:

Copycat Snickers® bars
Copycat Three Musketeers® bars
Copycat Heath® bars
Copycat Almond Joy® bars

I’ve never made a candy bar but I’m up for the challenge. What could possibly go wrong? There’s no flour.

The Garden Conspiracy

The garden is in. Spring has arrived. All is good. Not.

I think there is a conspiracy afoot that purposely sabotages my garden every year. I’ve had late freezes, droughts, heat waves and critters all wreaking havoc on my tender, little plants. This year the critters struck first. I put in my pepper plants with a handful of crushed eggshells in the hole. Something out there thought that egg shells would be a good treat. Four out of six peppers were dug up and destroyed. I found two upside down, but still in their newspaper pots. They’ve been replanted. They may not survive.zukeplant

The next thing to hit was the weather. We had a heavy downpour the day after I put in my plants. Most of them came through, but the rain hammered the little zucchinis. One didn’t make it. The others look pounded but are hanging in there. I put more seeds directly into the garden to replace the lost plant. I’ll hope for the best.

If I had to survive on the produce from my garden, I would be much, much thinner. I hope the day never comes that I have to turn my property into a working farm just to survive. I won’t give up on growing some of my own produce. It brings me joy.garden

Paraskevidekatriaphobic? Not I

It’s Friday 13th, a day that strikes fear into the hearts of many. I am not one of them. To me, it’s just another day. Some will surely explain to me that things have  happened to them on Friday the 13th, but there is no way to know if it was the calendar day that was the cause, or if it was a random occurrence that would have come about on any day. What I think we should do today is focus on something good to keep our minds off of anything that might happen.jackie

According to the National Day Calendar people, today is National Coconut Torte Day. Now, there’s something we can get behind. Let’s just eat cake and put any fear aside!

I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a coconut torte. I’m sure I’ve never made one. It’s time to change all of that.

Check out the recipes for coconut tortes on Cooks.com. There are tortes with pistachios, pecans, chocolate and an abundance of other additions to tailor a torte to just what you want.

Enjoy!