• Personally speaking….

    Just the thoughts and cookings of a software engineer that likes to make foodstuffs from time to time in the bay area of California.
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Inspired by Clara: Pasta with peas

Pasta with peas
Inspired by Clara’s Pasta with peas and her “Depression Era Cooking” videos, I reached into my 10 pound bag of potatoes and got to work. As I played with potatoes and onions, I thought back to what I remember growing up. What dish was my Grandma “famous” for? And what do I remember most from my mother’s cooking? After Mom grabbed her bowl, we talked about it.

Me: Know what I remember most about Grandma’s cooking? Delmonico steak with salt, pepper and garlic powder. (Grandma and I both are garlic fiends.)
Mom: That’s all?
Me: Yeah. Weird, huh? I know she could cook anything and remember all the family holiday gatherings where she would cook. But that was just ham and turkey and collards and whatnot.

We then talked about how amazing of a cook my Grandma was. But Mom said she didn’t think Grandma loved to cook. Maybe that’s why I can’t remember much? Near the end, Grandma and I would talk about cooking and it was mostly about sneaking ground turkey breast into Grandpa’s food or how versatile egg white omelets were. I’m going to try and get some clippings that my aunt got when we — well, you know… went through the stuff left behind. Most everyone was in Grandma’s head but maybe I can get an idea from what she clipped out and that will help.

Me: Mom, know what I think of when I think back to your cooking?
Mom: No, what? (I could hear the ‘uh oh’ in her voice.)
Me: Hamburger soup, tuna surprise*, succotash, hamburger helper, tuna helper, chicken helper — yeah, one pot meals.

* Tuna surprise is kind of like a tuna casserole cooked in a saucepan on the stove.

Now, back to Clara. I loved how she said she would ask what’s for dinner and get as an answer: “Pasta with garlic.” “Pasta with peas.” Etc. I had pasta, including a box that had a “use by” date of 2007 — oops, yes, that was tossed, sigh — and some potatoes. Like I said, I bought this 10 pound bag of potatoes cause I was crazy being frugal.

I wanted to get the consistency of a “hamburger helper” type meal because I want something that could hold its own on a plate with some sides. I got something more soupy, but I measured so maybe I can get closer next time.

Pasta with Peas ++
The ++ means I added more stuff… of course.

  • Olive oil
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups macaroni, uncooked
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 cups frozen peas (keep frozen)
  • 2 baking potatoes, peeled, diced
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped

Saute onions and potatoes in olive oil on medium heat till potatoes are softened. I think this took me about 15 minutes and I used a small stock pot. Add salt, pepper, water, peas. Bring to a boil. Add pasta. Boil for 10 minutes. Toss in parsley. Cook for 1 minute. This is where I added the carrots cause the pasta with peas was slightly soupy. Considering I ladled off about 1.5 cups, I’ll reduce the water amount next time. Maybe. The “stock” this all made was very good. I was heavy handed with the salt like Clara but Mom still added salt to her bowl. Ha.

Sauteed Carrots
I ended up dumping this into the Pasta with Peas at the end

  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper

I cooked the carrots in a skillet while I cooked the pasta with peas. The carrots kept browning too quickly on medium heat so I would ‘cool’ them off with a ladle of water from the pasta. I think it added a lovely flavor. I’m not a fan of carrots but these turned out nicely. I think they cooked for about 20 minutes sometimes covered and sometimes not. I tossed them into the pot of pasta right before serving and after the parsley. It added a nice color but since the carrots didn’t cook with the pasta, it had its own flavor but was somewhat familiarized with the ladles of water from the pasta.

Pasta with Peas (and carrots)
Nutrition Facts (via recipezaar)
Serving Size 1 (506g) Recipe makes 5 servings
Points 7
Calories 328
Calories from Fat 80 (24%)
Amount Per Serving %DV
Total Fat 9.0g 13%
Saturated Fat 1.3g 6%
Monounsaturated Fat 6.0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 42mg 1%
Potassium 640mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 54.6g 18%
Dietary Fiber 5.1g 20%
Sugars 5.0g
Protein 8.1g 16%

Some others that tried her recipe:

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Pottery connections

Kitchen Critters

A few years ago, my mom went out to Arizona to visit part of the family out there. Mom brought back a tile (bottom in the above picture) that my great grandmother made. It’s hanging in my kitchen. Since then, mom has bought me other Potter — Beatrix, not Harry — stuff (one is the top in the above picture). Quite a collection. Funny since I’m not much into “cute” stuff. But I’m much into family history and art stuff!

Wouldn’t it be neat to make a new tile? There’s a ceramic shop around here, or there was. I could paint a tile up — maybe? — and glaze it. Dunno. Just an idea. I have some of my grandmother’s ceramics around the house too but she never did a tile.

Putting the “giving” in “Thanksgiving”

The past few Thanksgivings have had a common theme: We should go do something. There are many reasons for the volunteering on that day. One, less time with family. Oh! No, she didn’t! Yes. Yes, I did. Also, it’s a day a lot of people have off so it’s easier to coordinate a family volunteer day.

Are you still judging me about spending less time with family? Fine fine fine. Moving along while you judge.

Recently, I visited the local volunteer expo and saw many ideas for “giving” on a holiday.

Volunteering for Thanksgiving

I’m sure not just my local Salvation Army is doing this.  Right?

Map

I contacted Blue Bird Gap Farm, a local city-run farm, and asked about a volunteer day there. They’ll take any help they can get. So, that’s what I’m doing! I’m gathering up those with good backs and helping out there. I was told they can use help painting and winterizing. That sounds perfect.

These are just two ideas. Maybe there’s a soup kitchen or a place doing a meal in your area that can use help. Maybe there’s a shelter that could use help painting or cleaning. Something that all ages of the family can help with, to put the “giving” in “Thanksgiving.”

What do you do for Thanksgiving? What about winter break?

Cooking with Grandma (or anyone, really)

I stumbled on this the other day and have been sending the link to as many people as I think can be infected by its awesomeness.

What a fantastic idea! Basically, grab a video camera and go document some history in a wonderful format! It helps to be as wonderful as a character as Clara. Amidst cooking, there are little stories and glimpses into the Depression. It made me miss my Grandma and also reminded me that we all have a story that someone is interested in hearing.

Thank you, Clara for sharing your cooking and stories. And thank you, videographers, for shooting and posting them!

Lasagna, Salad, Bread, Herb Dipping NomNom

Lasagna! Nom! For mother’s day, I made lasagna. I was given the choice to cook whatever so I started making the spaghetti sauce and then asked which is preferred. Neither. So, I took some sauce and froze it and made lasagna with the rest! Best of both worlds.

Also, I cut up some of the lasagna and froze it. I can’t wait to pull it out at a later date! I have no idea how to cook it but I’ll figure it out. 🙂 Sorry so late in posting my dinner but I got distracted.

Summer school is starting!

Dinner: May 11, 2008

  • Jo Mama’s World Famous Lasagna
    I don’t use many noodles… maybe 6. I’ve tried this a few ways and found that the wine wasn’t a deal breaker for me. It seemed such a waste to use just a little bit of a bottle and the bottle sit around unfinished forever. I also use more garlic… probably around double what’s called for. When I want it spicy, I use two pounds of Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausage. When I want a little kick, I just use one and the rest can be homemade turkey sausage or mild. I’ve made this with just one pound of homemade turkey sausage and it was good. I went for the full hot kick for mother’s day.
  • Warmed loaf of bread
    I looked all over for a frozen loaf of bread that I would thaw and cook but couldn’t find one. I grabbed a fresh baked loaf from the deli. Near the end of the lasagna baking, I put the foil-wrapped loaf in the oven to warm up. Better than nothing!
  • Carrabba’s Bread Dipping Spice
    I love this stuff! I use barely any olive oil so it’s basically me dipping the bread into an herb mixture. 😉 Mom preferred butter. Fine with me! More herbs for me. I have found that fresh parsley is much better in this than dried. The rest of the herbs I use are dried. I just stir it some finely diced parsley in with the rest of the herbs. I don’t pulse it or anything. I also use more garlic than called for… of course. I’ve noticed how much the olive oil matters. I couldn’t find the kind I used before so went for a light one. Not the same. I think the one before was in a dark bottle and labeled for dipping.
  • Salad
    Bag o’ salad greens, cucumbers (had to peel cause she had the non-English one), roma tomato, etc. Balsamic dressing.

At least the rabbits are eating healthfully tonight….

Little bunny frufru So. Yeah. Since I knew I’d be packing for the trip tomorrow and finishing my project before I leave, I stopped off at the local grocery store and picked up a …. pizza. What! Don’t judge. And since I cleaned up the fridge of veggies that meant no salad even! But when I emptied the trash as the oven preheated, I ran into two rabbits.

After conversing a bit, I went back inside and grabbed my camera. They munched away happily on the plants and let me photograph them though I didn’t get as close as I was when I took out the trash. I want them to continue to live there. Last year, I had a lot of rabbits in the yard and would love to have a family again.

I’m sure my neighbors thought I was nuts since I was taking pictures of my yard from the side and making little reassuring noises. Maybe that’s why the rabbits didn’t run — they thought I was nuts and were entertained.

Little bunny frufru After snapping pictures of the two, another appeared from under my shed. Three rabbits! He or she slowly joined the other two and I tried to get closer. I guess I got too close and — WHOOSH! Talk to the tail!

So. Yeah. I fixed pizza. I ate pizza. But at least someone in the “household” eat healthfully. Rock on, bunnies, rock on. You’re an inspiration.