Savory Porridge

This is a no shopping, no reading recipe. All it requires is rooting around on your shelves for items you already have – things that will thicken – and an approximation for the correct amount of water.

Examples of thickening grains; rice, quinoa, oats, bulger, and couscous

For the water to grain ratio, it’s about 2 to 1. Two cups of water for every cup of solids.

When I make this, I place the dry items in a pot, then eyeball the water to cover it.

Here’s what I included with this batch.

Quinoa blend. This thickening grain comprised the bulk of the mixture.

Since lentils are thicker than the quinoa, the cooking time was based on these.

If using a bouillon base, calculate the amount to coincide with the amount of water used.

Heat on medium, stirring occasionally.

Taste test for doneness.

*Tip: If the grains still need more cooking time as the water begins to evaportate – add more.

 

Nineteenth-Century Creole Snacks & Jennie Carter

The first public screening of a local historical short documentary was an occasion to serve Creole finger foods from a cookbook published in 1885.

Actress Katrina Thompson who portrays Jennie in the film read a book excerpt and spoke about the timeliness of the reappearance of Carters’work.

Jennie Carter was a free black woman who moved to Nevada County, California from New Orleans at the outbreak of the American Civil War.  Her essays, published in the book Jennie Carter: A Black Journalist of the Early West, edited by Eric Gardner, were the basis for a seventeen-minute video shown to Nevada County neighbors.

To add to the learning experience, recipes were chosen from a cookbook that originated in New Orleans, La Cuisine Creole. It was food Jennie Carter may have prepared or eaten. While some of the recipes (squirrel or pigeon pie, or suet pudding) were not ones we were willing to attempt, many sound delicious!

For this setting, we chose simple, finger fare and modified ingredients as necessary. (See notes below.)

pickled scallops

*Frozen scallops were substituted for oysters. Ground mace was used instead of ‘blades.’ Scallops were sliced thin and placed on slices of buttered baguette, topped with a very small amount of ground mace.

*To French’s mustard, salt, garlic granules, tarragon leaves, and white wine vinegar were added – to taste.

*A specialty squash from one of the neighborhood gardens was substituted for pumpkin. Stop cooking soon after a fork or knife is easily inserted. Let cool overnight. Eat at room temperature.

Resources:

Published in 1885. Click on the book cover for a PDF of the entire cookbook. Courtesy of Michigan State University | Feeding America: Historic American cookbook collection

Click here to watch the video and read related articles.

Additional Jennie Carter Articles

Jennie Carter’s Nevada County Setting 1860s, 2nd Marriage & Obituary
Jennie Carter’s Pre-Civil War, Civil War & Reconstruction-era 1846-1870
Jennie Carter Book Review
Jennie Carter – Filming Behind-the-Scenes & Creative Partners

Three-Meat Giant Meatball Soup

from above

STEP ONE: Make Meatballs

Three packs of ground meat

Turkey, beef, and Italian sausage were used in this batch, but it also works well with pork, elk & buffalo. (In the comments, send combinations you discover and love!)

Bread crumbs

I make mine from scratch. 

Cut bread in small squares, place flat on cooking in sheet in 200° oven till crisped to desired amount.  For his recipe, I used Kalamata Olive Sourdough bread.

Once you have tiny toast squares, blend them in the blender till they look like…bread crumbs.

Additional Items

Salt, pepper and any other spices you like.

½ bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped

2-3 eggs

Mix ingredients to the consistency of meatloaf

Prepare Meatball Stuffing

Peel and chop fresh garlic cloves

garlic-3185163_640

and hunks of parmesan cheese

cheese-3058056_640

Roll ground meat mixture into palm-sized balls, pressing garlic cloves and cheese into the center, making sure they are completely covered.

Bake covered in a 350° oven for 50 minutes, uncover and bake for 10 more minutes.

 

STEP TWO: Cook pasta in chicken broth

Use any kind of pasta you have on hand.
Drain when cooked.

STEP THREE: Make Green Soup

Finely chop spinach, chard, and onions

Saute in olive oil till tender, add chicken broth to cover

 

*If a smooth soup is desired, let cool completely then blend in a blender.

Assemble Soup

Steam meatballs to reheat if you made them ahead.

assembled

Combine all. Enjoy!

 

This is one of those meals that tastes better after a day in the refrigerator.

Bacon – Flat, Crisp & Splatter-free

Spread bacon strips between layers of paper towels on a flat plate. (Don’t overlap.)

Microwave on high for 6.5minutes.

Check crispiness. If more is desired, cook at 2 minutes increments until it’s how you like it.

Hal Greene’s connection to the Wrysinski / Schmidt’s; Two of his sons married two of the sisters.


A byproduct of this cooking method is a heap of bacon fat-infused paper towels. Most composters agree animal fat should not go into the outdoor pile. Putting these paper towels in the garbage may attract dogs and urban adapted animals such as raccoon, coyote, and bear (in more remote areas). Since I’m always interested in alternatives other than entombing refuse in great twentieth-century pyramids, I encourage and welcome waste disposal recommendations in the comments section.

Cutting Winter Squash like Butter

Love squash, but challenged by peeling and chopping?

cut out squash cutting

Eliminate the ‘hard’ part by cooking squash first.

In a 350º oven, cook whole raw squash (stickers removed).

Depending on squash size, cook for 1 to 1.5 hours.

When it starts to smell …like squash, check for doneness.

Let cooked squash cool to room temperature before handling.

NOW it’s easy to cut and seed!

 

Miners Shovel Bread & Watercress, Potato & Tomato Salad

Fast food for miners.

After a long, hard day in the creek bed shoveling and sifting gravel, the last thing a 49’er miner wanted to do was prepare a meal. This simple fare offered a quick fix as well as a host of health problems.

Shovel Bread

Start a fire. Let the wood burn down to coals.
Mix:

2 tbsp butter
1 ½ cup flour
water
salt
onion powder
1 egg

Stir until smooth. *The batter should be thick.

Using a clean shovel, rest it in coals until hot.

A deep fire pit is NOT necessary for this recipe.

Support shovel firmly over coals. Pour batter over the blade. Use a long-handled spatula or spoon to keep it in place until the base sets.

Lightly press against batter to determine doneness.

It’s done when it feels spongy.

 

Click on the photo to watch a video about malnutrition during the California Gold Rush.

Learn about Scurvy in California’s Food Capital.

Watercress, Potato & Tomato Salad

Finely chop potatoes.
Fry in oil till done.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Set aside to cool.
Chop or tear watercress into bite-sized pieces.
Add fresh or sun-dried tomatoes (in oil).
Dress with red wine vinegar and oil.
Top with grated cheese.

 

Resources:

 

Huffington Post – Recipes That Show You How Watercress Is Supposed To Be Eaten

Sauteed Potato and Watercress – Quick Vegan Side

Egg Poaches – Herb Broth & Mexican with Tomatillo and Epazote Sauce

Eggs Poached in Herb Broth

To a pan with a lid, add

between 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water per egg
add chicken, beef, or mushroom broth to taste
two shakes turmeric
4 shakes garlic powder
2 shakes onion powder
pinch of oregano
Bring to boil, reduce to simmer
add egg(s)
cover & cook for approx. 2 min or until the desired yolk hardness
Gently spatula-out eggs, placing them on top of toast
Pour remaining herb broth liquid over bread
Enjoy!

 

Mexican Poached Eggs with Tomatillo Sauce and Epazote

Bake Tortillas

1 – pkg. fresh white corn tortillas  
Use scissors to cut into fourths
Spread out in a single layer on cookie sheet, spray with cooking oil
Bake at 350 degrees until lightly brown
Green Sauce Part 1
Approx. 1 lb fresh tomatillos
Peel outer husks
2 serrano peppers, remove stems and seeds
1 clove garlic
Add all to a cooking pot, cover with water
Simmer for about 15 min.
Let cool. Drain.
Put tomatillos, pepper & garlic in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Sauce Part 2
To a deep skillet, add 1 tblsp. oil
Optional: add cooked shredded chicken
Add green sauce from Part 1 and 3 epazote leaves.

Add a pinch of salt
Cook over medium heat for 5 min.
Poach the Desired Number of Eggs

Plate
Spread a layer of toasted white corn chips on plate.
Cover with green sauce.
Top with poached eggs and Queso Cotija cheese.
Garnish with fresh cilantro.
Serve with a side of refried beans.

 

 

 

 

Extras:

 

Click here to see more flavor families of the world.

Perfectly Poached Micro Story (100 words)

poach – 1

pōCH/

verb

  1. cook (an egg), without its shell, in or over boiling water.
  2. “a breakfast of poached egg and grilled bacon”
    • cook by simmering in a small amount of liquid.
    • “poach the salmon in the white wine”

poach – 2

pōCH/

verb

  1. steal

______

If you liked Perfectly Poached, you might also enjoy, Water Element of Life, The Shape of Water Continued and PBJ on my short story blog, Redfern Writes.

Triangle Baked Chinese Chicken

with-stir-fry

 

 

Preparation is the most challenging aspect of this recipe…chopping. Fresh ginger, cilantro, and the Hoisin Sauce give it its distinct flavor.

Instead of wrapping the chicken mixture in tiny 2″ square (folded into triangles), I opted to use large squares that measured the exact length of a 12″ roll of aluminum foil. While not as cute, the larger presentation doesn’t affect the taste. In many ways, I thought it similar to my Aunt Jeanette’s Teriyaki Chicken recipe.

The final product can be eaten alone, or crumbled into any combination of stir fried vegetables.

It’s a nice, ‘grab n go’ type of meal.
____

From a standard 12″ aluminum foil roll, make 7 squares. Fold them into triangles.

Chopped Ingredients:

6 boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/4 to 1/8 inch squares

2″ long  x 1/2″ wide (roughly) fresh ginger root  – minced

4 lg. garlic cloves – minced

2 bunches fresh cilantro – finely chopped

Sauce:

1/2 cup cornstarch (* use less if you prefer a more runny sauce)

1/4 cup soy saucehoisin-sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup Hoisin Sauce

Combine all sauce ingredients (add a little water if needed), blend till smooth. Add chopped ingredients, mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

meat-mixture-not-cooked

With the foil square open, place approximately 1/4 cup of chicken / sauce mixture in the center of one side. Refold the foil into a triangle and roll and fold each open side, two times. Make sure that the foil ‘envelope’ is completely sealed.

Place all the ‘stuffed’ triangles onto a baking tray. Cook at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

envelopes-in-the-oven

cooked-meat

 

Pickle Soup

picke-soup-photoWeird but good.  When I first read this recipe, I thought, Pickles? That’s sounds yucky.

‘Kitchen therapy’ and weird were just what was needed one morning when I had emotional child-rearing issues weighing on my mind.

 

Items marked with a * are my additions to the original recipe.

 

5 dill pickles, grated

4 tsp. butter (1 tsp. for saute pan & the remainder for the soup pot)

4 cups water

1 large carrot, chopped (* 6 small carrots)

2 celery stalks (* 3 stalks)

1 parsley root (* 2 parsnips substituted ), chopped

1 leek, chopped (* skipped)

1 potato, peeled & chopped

*1 tblsp. salt

 

Topping

sour cream

fresh, chopped dill

 

Over low heat, saute grated dill pickles in 1 tblsp. butter for 20 minutes. (This removes some of the ‘bite’ from the pickle giving it more of a mild vinegar flavor that adds interest to the soup.)

In a soup pot, combine water, remaining butter and chopped vegetables. Over medium heat, simmer till tender.

Add grated dill pickles, bring to boil & remove from heat.

 

24 Hour Cabbage Salad – Kristen’s Nana (Peggy)

peggy3-web

“My friend Kristen shared this recipe with me. She rediscovered it in a book she had from her Nana.” – Peggy Wrysinski Greene

1 med head shredded cabbage
1 small onion, cut fine
1 bell pepper, cut fine (I used red and yellow)
15 or 20 stuffed olives, sliced
Combine:
1 cup cider vinegar
1 teas. salt
1 teas. celery seed
1/8 teas. pepper
1 teas. prepared mustard
1/2 cup salad oil
Bring liquids/spices to a boil. Pour over prepared vegetables. Turn salad occasionally. Keeps indefinitely.
Serves 8-10
“When I made it, I told Kristen I felt like I was back in my grandmother’s kitchen. It has the flavors of something she would have made.”
From Kristen:
“Melva Marchand Burnett Wagers was a fantastic cook.  Recently I rediscovered Nana’s recipe for Warm Cabbage Salad.  The recipe card was written by her.  I felt close to her again.  Many of Melva’s best recipes are family recipes which came from the east across the prairie.  I think this is one of those recipes.  The salad really does last forever.  Be sure to wait until the next day – it’s worth it.”