Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cabin Fever Favorites

Winter 2014 has been and is continuing to be a rough one. After starting my New Year celebration with the flu, I already had a bad case of cabin fever. Soon after I recovered, there was the coldest arctic vortex I've felt in my 30 something years of life. I've grown up in the North of Indiana and South of Michigan, but never felt this kind of extreme cold. With the city shutting down due to weather conditions and snow days, one can only do so much around the house. I got a lot of cleaning and organizing done. I also watched movies and old episodes of my favorite TV programs until I was blue in the face. One can only handle so much.

I decided to try some new baking projects, change things up a bit, and get adventurous. My most recent post was Black Bean Butternut Squash Soup. That one lived for a while in my freezer until I got sick of it. Cut down recipes? A must! I also decided it was time to start making my own bread. I borrowed, rather indefinitely, my mom's Breadman Plus. She used it for a while and became frustrated with it. I was all for it and so excited to make my own bread! My first 2lb whole wheat loaf turned out less than wonderful. I realized my mom's frustration. It turned out just as I remember it growing up, dense as a brick!  Since then, I've discovered gluten and adding more water. So simple.

Over the last month and a half, I've made some mistakes and some successes. My favorite entree success was deep dish pizza in a cast iron pan. I made whole wheat pizza in my bread machine. I didn't read the directions well enough and I ended up having to let the dough rise itself the next day. I decided I wanted to freeze the dough, so the fact that I took it out of the machine before it has risen was okay. Even though the dough rose as it should, it was as tough as old gum. It was now time to press the dough into the cast iron pan. Being tough, the dough decided to split and create holes as I pressed. Normal people would have a rolling pin and a nicely powdered counter top; I did not, hence, I am abnormal in my kitchen. So, I did what made the most sense; cleaned my floor, laid one cutting board on the clean floor and placed the glutenous dough ball on the board, then placed a second identical board on top and did a little jig. I am not proud of this feat, yet it worked like a charm. If i had more counter space, one might have thought to use a jar or bottle to roll in out... I'll leave that one for the next time.

All in all, the cast iron pizza turned out wonderfully. With a nice crispy crust, great sauce and veggies to fill, (oh! and don't forget the cheese!) I enjoyed it for 8 meals.

Now that you are greatly impressed with my cooking abilities and innovative methods in the kitchen, here's something that will fill your mind with doubt. I attempted to make black bean hummus. It was an experiment from another contributor on all recipes. It was the same hummus recipe I used but instead of garbanzo beans, she used black beans. I read the recipe a couple of times to make sure I understood it. I filled my food processor with 1 cup of tahini, 4 tablespoons of lemon juice, salt and a can of black beans. I was about to add the garlic when I read the measurements again and noticed I only needed 1/4 cup tahini, NOT 1 cup tahini! I tried to salvage the batch by scooping out all the tahini I could, which had mixed at the bottom of all the ingredients. I managed to get about half out and apparently all of the salt came out with it!  I didn't want to waste good tahini, so I put it in a Tupperware container in the fridge. The batch I used turned out okay. It was pretty bitter. Later on I decided to eat the used tahini with a few beans with some tortilla chips. All I tasted was SALT. Gross, gross, gross. EPIC FAIL!

Now that I have possibly impressed and disappointed you, it's your turn to try something new in your kitchen!