Sunday, January 30, 2011

Baby has a New Hat

Isn't it the sweetest thing?
Mamai Tatiana has only been here one week and she's been knitting up a storm.  The color really makes mon petit bebe's eyes stand out!

It hasn't all been knitting and hard work, though.  Today, we took a break to go see the Texas State Aquarium...
and the USS Lexington.

We had a lovely day and finished it with Tatiana's meal of Cabbage Rolls, Mamaliga (polenta), and sauerkraut.  Everything was sooo good.  Once she shares the recipes, I'll share it with y'all!.

Have a blessed week,

The Kitchen Witch

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Departed

Last night  I had the misfortune of experiencing a culinary disaster.  My heavy whipping cream and mascarpone parted ways : )  Well, as I attempted Devonshire Cream in my new Kitchen Aid mixer, I realized that the manufacturer's didn't lie when they said mixing time would be cut in half.  It surely was, as what used to take a few minutes with my stick mixer, took only seconds in the stand mixer.  I'd never seen whipped cream come apart before.  Thank goodness I had enough of the ingredients for a do-over.

I baked up a fabulously easy Creamy Lemon Pie.  It takes only a few ingredients and only a little time so would be great for a mid-week dessert.  If you'd like to make this yummy pie, you will need:

Creamy Lemon Pie w/ Devonshire Cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 egg yolks
1 graham cracker crust

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Mix first three ingredients until fully incorporated and pour into the crust.  Bake for 30-35 minutes in a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven.  Top with Devonshire Cream (see recipe below).

Devonshire Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup or 4 oz. Mascarpone
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Tbsp. Powdered Sugar

Add all ingredients to mixing bowl and mix just until they come together and cream holds it's shape, careful not to over-mix or it will separate! : )

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I had no idea where this was going

Did you ever buy an ingredient with no idea of what to do with it?  I bought Lamb Arm Chops (bone-in), the other day, with no idea of how to prepare it.  I bought it to cook for my mother-in-law's impending visit, thinking it was a good idea at the time.  Then, I quickly realized it is probably not wise to prepare something that I've never  tried before in an attempt to impress her. : )

Well, I got to searching the web and stumbled across this recipe.  I didn't have all of the ingredients (no carrots-no big deal).  I decided to put my own spin on it and the meat ended up falling off the bone...so good.

Here is the low-down on what I did.  I started out by rough chopping a sweet onion, a few green onions, the white ends of 5 Leeks, 5 red potatoes (peeled) & 5 stalks of celery.  I sauteed these down in a little EVOO.  Once the onions started to caramelize, I transferred them to a large baking pan (since I don't have a handy Dutch Oven), then I salt & peppered the Lamb chops after rubbing them down in EVOO.  I cranked the heat in the skillet that I'd cooked the veg in and I seared the meat.  Next, I placed the chops on top of the vegetables.  I poured 32 oz. of Chicken stock into the skillet to loosen the little bits of meat from the searing.  I dissolved 2 tbsp. tomato paste into the stock and sprinkled a handful of Rosemary over the meat and vegetables.  Once the tomato paste was dissolved, I poured the liquid over the meat and vegetables.  I cooked this for two hours @ 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  I turned the meat every 30 minutes, never covering it.  The vegetables and meat were soooo good!

I served this with French bread.  Braising such an awkward cut of meat was a good idea.  I think if I grilled the Arm chops, it would have been a disaster.

Good luck in trying this wholesome meal and have a great weekend!

The Kitchen Witch

Friday, January 21, 2011

As American as...Apple Pie? (Salsa Recipe)

What would it be like, coming to America for the first time?  I will never know that feeling.  My husband came to the states in 2005 and he remembers his arrival as if it were yesterday.  His mother will be visiting us through May beginning this Saturday.  Eek!  I hope her travels getting here are smooth and easy... I think I'm just as nervous and excited as I imagine her to be.

I've been trying to keep up with the housework despite the onslaught of assignments for this new semester.  I've been stocking up on groceries, but my attempts have been aimless.  All I can think to ask myself is, "What would you feed a person who's never been here?"  So...

What would you feed a person who has never been to America?

Some things have come to mind.  Apple pie...Hmm, what else is considered "American" cuisine?  Not a lot comes to mind.  I'm not even sure that apple pie is as "American" as we claim it to be.  The truth is most of our diet is borrowed from other countries.  Just as America is considered a melting pot, so is our cuisine.  What could I make that a European couldn't do better?  And, not just any European, a European who just so happens to be a fabulous cook.  This woman not only knows how to whip up some fantastic meals, she knows how to grow the grains, fruits, & vegetables, and raise the animal to create it.  THIS. WOMAN. IS. AWESOME. 

I'm shaking in my boots, here, and it's not because of the weather, folks.  If you have any ideas on what I should prepare over the course of the following months, feel free to share.  I can't have this woman going home thinking that I'm feeding her only son and grandchild the typical "ugly American" fare. 

Since she is arriving in the very near future, I will be "borrowing" from our southern "neighbors", Mexico.  South Texas does put out some fab. Tex-Mex and I guess that's as authentic as it's gonna get in my home on Sunday.  I'm thinking Fajitas, Rice, Beans, Guacamole, Tortillas, Salsa...  I'll post pics to show how that went.  This is the type of food we often make when we have company.  It's familiar so it shouldn't be too difficult to pull of.  In fact, since I make this type of food often, I've thought of sharing recipes on this blog.  The trouble is, it's hard to put this kind of cooking into words.  It's a cook by taste type of thing.  How could I explain how to prepare pinto beans when I've never followed a recipe myself?  I've always just added a little of this, and "ooh, wouldn't it taste good if I added a little of that!"  Maybe one day, I'll attempt to put it all into words.  In the mean time, I'll share a recipe that I'm more sure of and that I'll be using over the weekend.

Easy Salsa
1 (14.5 oz.) can mild Ro-tel tomatoes
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tbsp + 1 tsp. canned diced jalapenos
¼ cup yellow onion, finely diced
½-¾ tsp. garlic salt
½ tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. sugar
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender and pour into a medium size sauce pan. Bring to boil and turn heat off. Serve warm with corn tortilla chips. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Vote for child victims of domestic violence and sexual assault

If you want to help support a worthy cause, please visit the link to Kindermusik's Legacy Grants and vote for the enhancement of Play Therapy Room to be used by the Women’s Shelter of South Texas counseling staff for therapeutically appropriate work with child victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. You can vote up to 10 times per day!

Go to:  http://www.kindermusik.com/legacy/grants/

Monday, January 17, 2011

What say ye?

Parenting advice is a tricky topic.  Often, it comes unsolicited.  Well intended, I'm sure, but unwanted none the less.  Then, there are times that leave a parent wondering "What the heck?!", and "what should I do?"

photo found on google images..not mine.

Today would be one of those days.  Baby has been teething, lately.  She got her bottom two months ago and, now, it's the top teeth's turn to work their way down.  Her gums have been swollen for weeks and the center top two finally broke through over the weekend.  We've felt the jagged edges of the new pearly whites and gushed to anyone who would listen, but this morning something unexpected happened.

It sounds like mon petit bebe, after just getting her teeth, has promptly started grinding them.  Does anyone have experience with this?  How did she know how to grit her teeth together after only having them for a day?  I'm concerned because I don't want her to do any damage before they've even fully come down.

When she's making the atrocious sound I try to distract her with something to get her mind off of what she's doing, but eek, this could get tough.

Thoughts welcome.

Have a wonderful MLK Day!

The Kitchen Witch

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Breakfast in a Cup

Just tried Paula Deen's idea of breakfast in a cup.
Picture of Breakfast in a Cup Recipe
Photo courtest of FoodNetwork.com
 It's a fun way to change up the way you traditionally plate it up.  Thanks, Paula!

Have a beautiful Sunday,

The Kitchen Witch

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Grits, please!


Contrary to popular belief, not every southerner eats grits.  In my neck of the woods, which is almost as far south as you can get in the United States, grits are almost unheard of (well, at least not part of the usual cuisine) .  In fact, I'm not really sure when I first learned of grits...definitely not something I grew up with.  Popular breakfasts in South Texas consist of some common basics: biscuits, all sorts of sugary cereals, eggs, bacon, sausage, and the like.  And, then, some regional faves such as Migas, Huevos al la Mexicana, Huevos Rancheros, Taquitos, refried beans, Chorizzo & eggs, etc.
Well, since I'm not accustomed with "all things grits", I'd like to ask my readers to share their experience/recipes on this blog. 

"Why bring up grits?", you ask.  I think it goes back to my idol, Paula Deen; she made "Breakfast in a Cup" on her show, the other day, and I've been wanting to try grits out ever since.

As of to today Bebe and I tried our first bowl of grits.  I started out simple, just maple syrup and a pat of butter, but I'll soon be on to bigger and better things.  Shrimp and Grits pops up on the Food Network radar, often, so maybe I'll give that a try (good recipes welcomed).  If you have other suggestions, feel free to add 'em in.  My husband would probably say grits are the same as polenta.  If you could explain the differences I would be most appreciative.  His mom is coming to visit from Romania next week and will be staying with us for a few months.  She makes polenta from scratch and was kind enough to prepare some for us when we visited last year.  Since I don't grow my own corn  to turn to meal, as she does, she may scoff at my "quick grits", but hopefully she can teach me some classic Romanian ways to prepare them.  All in all, I'm interested in learning more about this versatile ingredient and can only add that I've procrastinated doing so thus far because of my uncomfortableness with the unknown.  I find that I steer clear of cooking with unfamiliar ingredients, a lot, and know, I need to get over it! : )

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Hope for Humanity"

I watched this video this ayem and thought it was a lovely way to start the day.  I hope you enjoy hearing this angel sing...


The article summed up the video by stating that, "when the girl's mic cut out there were (rude) cackles that were shooshed, and then the crowd picked up the where the girl was and sang in unison, aloud."  To those who cackled at a little girl brave enough to sing in front of a crowd, shame on you!  For those that lifted their voices and their hearts, God bless.

Have an inspiring day of kindness,

The Kitchen Witch

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

There's something in the Water

I'm not one to get wrapped up in Hollywood news, but Holy Cannoli are there a lot of Hollywood pregnancies.  Good for them. My faves are Penelope Cruz & Javier Bardem, and Owen Wilson + 1.  I was shocked to read about a whole slew of others this evening: Natalie Portman, Kate Hudson, Victoria Beckham...There are more, but I forget them all.  Good for them! Prayers for happy, healthy, bouncing babies, and I hope they are as happy as we've been with our recent addition...over the moon!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

This day, like Jello, was a slippery slope.

First, I'd like you to know that I conquered the Jello (see this post for the back story).
You would think that would lead to me having a most excellent first day back at school, except that it wasn't the first day of school.  That would be tomorrow.  Yep.  Tomorrow.  As in Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011.  I totally stressed about my return throughout the night (like I do every semester) 'cause let's face it, being a 31 year old student looks slightly odd compared to those perkier counterparts.  It wasn't all bad, though.  I didn't rush to get ready for school because I had a hair appt. before class to rush for.

After realizing my mistake, I decided that since I was was "in town" I'd run into Marshalls.  What seemed like an innocent, "I'm only running in for 1 or 2 long sleeved tees", turned into a downward spiral of ceramic knives, hand towels, boots, coats, and...need I say more.  I'm convinced that Marshalls and their cohort, TJMaxx, are, in fact, the devil in disguise.

So, "what's my punishment?", you ask.  Well,  I nicked myself with the sharpest blade known to man, got discouraging looks from my husband, and have to rehash all that tossing and turning before classes begin tomorrow.  Yes, folks, justice is served.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I don't know Jell-O

and this is supposed to be a cooking blog.  Today, the urge struck me to try my hand at dessert in one of its simplest forms, Jello.  I thought, "Mmm, lime with mandarin orange segments."  I followed the directions, after an hour and a half had passed, I went to add the segments to the "slightly thickened" gelatinous concoction.  Alas!  My mysterious green creation was still a liquid?  Yes, far from it's gelled form.  The first segment I dropped in quickly sank to the bottom.

See those fallen, sunken mandarin segments?  May they RIP.

Hmm.  Odd.  I plopped the pan back into the refrigerator, let another thirty go by, and repeated process.  Hmm.  Odd.  Orange segment sank to the bottom.  Back into the 'ol fridge it went and I proceeded to spend the rest of the quiet afternoon napping with Bebe on the couch. 

When Big Sissy returned from school (an hour and a half into my nap) I jumped up and ran to the fridge to check the status of events that were sure to have unfolded during my rest turning my green goo into a marvelous, transparent, solid state.  Nada.  Green syrupy mixture persists.  I don't understand.  I followed directions, 1 cup boiling water, dissolve gelatin completely, 1 cup cold water and since I was preparing 2 packages I doubled the recipe- 2 cups boiling water, dissolved gelatin completely, 2 cups cold.  2 packages 2 cups, right?  

Hmph. Must not fail at Jello. Will be the laughing stock of blogland. Must prevail.

I took around 90 pics trying to capture the "drip"   : )
This matter IS. Not. Over. To be continued...





Christmas Dinner

When I first got into blogging last summer, I was lucky enough to stumble across Hushpuppy Nation's blog. It's not been updated in a long while, but what I found on it was a treasure trove for a southern cooker in love with all things southern and vintage.

Below is one of my favorite posts. It describes what Christmas dinner on a plantation looked like. If you search "Christmas Dinner", on their blog, you will find a menu from Christmas dinner at Mount Vernon, George Washington's plantation, too!

Christmas Dinner

I love looking at all of the foodtuffs used in the day...some I'm familiar with and some I am not, but I can imagine the stately service of such a dinner in an elegant dining room with this feast brought before each guests and scrumptous desserts displayed on the sideboard. What was it like to enjoy fresh fare in such lavish surroundings!?! Ah, a girl can dream.

Image found at: http://www.awesomestories.com/images/user/1222729555.29.jpg


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Trying things on for Size

Lately, baby has been trying out new looks.
Here, Bebe has ventured to try a one shoulder fashion; tres chic!

...and earrings were in order on this day.

Of course, it's always fun to try new smiles out for the camera. And, we will be sure to keep you abreast of all the latest fashions as baby models them for your delight.

Tootles~

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Those late night cravings

The day began innocently enough.  I played with the baby, had a healthy breakfast, read a few blogs, stumbled across some wicked recipes, got on my bike and peddled around the park to get the images of such food from my mind, came back to one recipe, decided I should try it out, got the groceries, made the soup for dinner (hey, I exercised.  why not?), sat on couch with hubby when BLAM the craving for Rice Pudding popped into my brain and out of my mouth~

Me: I have a craving for Rice Pudding
Husband:  Oooh. Rice Pudding. Yeah, that sounds good.  Why don't you go to the store and get some?
Me: It's too late, I'm not going to the store now.
Husband: *silence*
Me: Ugh.  I'll just make some.
Husband:  Your the best wife in the...
Me: It's late.  You might as well go to bed, this is gonna take awhile.
Hubs: Ughh.  I guess-

So there I go at 11:00 p.m. making Rice Pudding which really doesn't take that long, but he gets up really early and I kinda wanted the computer to myself :)  The soup, by the way, was killer.  If you like corn and crab, this chowder is for you.  Tell Marguerite the Kitchen Witch sent you over : )

So for all you late night snackers.  Here 'tis

Rice Pudding

3/4 cup white rice (med. grain is what I use)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 qt. milk (that's 4 cups)
1 (14 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tbsp. water
Raisins and Cinnamon, optional

In a large pot, cook rice according to package directions.  Add remaining ingredients except cornstarch dissolved in water.  Let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often to ensure rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.  Dissolve cornstarch in 3 tablespoons of water and add to rice mixture, mixing it in well.  Simmer for 20 minutes longer and this is the important part, don't get all caught up in reading your blogs or books or gossip mags...stir often, otherwise the milk will boil up and spill over the pan and the rice will burn to the bottom of the pot.  This comes from my own experience ; )  Cool before serving.  Though, I can hardly ever wait.  You can stir in cinnamon or raisins or both, if you like, but not necessary. 

This was my grandma Lue's recipe.  I love her and miss her on a daily basis.  Making this reminds me of staying up late nights with her and conjuring up yummy things I'd never heard of before, like rice pudding.  Love you, Grandma, thanks for the recipe!

I'm participating in "Foodie Friday" @ Designs by Gollum.  Join in the fun at: http://www.designsbygollum.blogspot.com/.  I'm also sharing at Ekat's Kitchen for her Friday Potluck @ http://www.ekatskitchen.com/2011/01/friday-potluck-17-january-7th-take-2.html
grab the code!

Hot Stepper

The battle between man and beast rages on in our neighborhood.  It's been a little over a year that we've lived in this home.  During the last summer, we ripped up the wood deck that was built into our entry courtyard area and lovingly planted all sorts of shade loving plants.  We've fed, mulched, pruned, and watered our courtyard area...delighted to see our investment thriving.  It really is beautiful...and SMELLY.  See, the house across the street from ours just happens to be hobo-cat headquarters and I hate them one and all.  Now, before you tear into me about the poor, innocent, homeless cats, remember that I've got two shelter pets of my own.  The difference is that I took these angels into my home and have cared for them.  They are fixed and vaccinated and groomed regularly.  The neighbor, on the other hand, tosses out kibble on a paper plate.  I've counted over twelve different cats and the numbers are only increasing because they keep breeding.  Our next door neighbors have traps to catch cats and other varmints.  They call the city to pick them up on a regular basis.  They've gone 'round and 'round with the neighbors for sending their "sweet babies" away, but really?  If they cared so much, wouldn't they do something to reduce the number of strays instead of promoting their increasing numbers?!

My husband has been so kind to point out that their is not much we can do to change the neighbor's ways, but I've been doing my damnedest to change the cats.  Yesterday, at a friend's suggestion, I planted Society Garlic which is supposed to be a deterrent since cats supposedly hate the smell.  Too, I literally peppered my yard.  The guy at the plant store told me that he's heard sprinkling your garden with a dusting of Cayenne pepper has done the trick so away I went with red pepper covering every inch of visible ground.  The result-

A cat crapped on my welcome mat.  Seriously.  My daughter almost stepped in it coming in from school.  So the battle continues...

This morning, I went to check on the peppered plants and Society Garlic.  Much to my dismay, I found their mess right next to the darned plant.  It's enough to give up...almost.

If you have any suggestions for keeping critters out, please share.  I'm open to revenge  suggestions : )

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Recipe for Sleep

For bebe, the recipe for sleep goes a little something like this:

100 sways back and forth
259 booty pats
Soothing Sounds projector
1 night time bottle
a teeny burp
1 dry diaper
momma's bosum
1 cuddly blankie
25 back pats
and complete and utter silence once asleep because if she hears you backing out of the room, you have to start all over again.


Works every time : )  Of course, cuddling Daddy on the couch with the TV blaring seems to do the trick, too! ; )

Tinkering with the Past

Have you ever been curious about those folks without whom you would not exist?  Lately, I've been crawling through the world wide web in search of names and places.  I don't know why the sudden interest, but I'm interested just the same.  I like discovering those names.  Who were those people?  What was their story?  My mom has done a good deal of genealogical work in her past so I've had some names to grasp hold of in my search.  I even tinkered with some of the names during this last pregnancy since I love all things vintagy.  We've decided we like Alexander for a boy since it's a name that has been repeated a few times through the generations, but there are so many fun ones.  The name Elizabeth was a name that popped up multiple times.  I liked how the women named their daughters after themselves.  You don't see that happen very often.  I also liked how many of the children bore their mothers maiden name as their middle name.  It's interesting how trends in names come and go. 

It seems that my genealogical traces bee line right to Alexandria, LA from both sides.  My daddy's paternal side comes from Opelousas and my mother's paternal from Alexandria.  Maybe that's why I have such an affinity for all things Louisiana.  They always say "home is where the heart is" so maybe I'm just trying to make my way back home ; )

Until I do, I'll dedicate this blog to Cora, Angelique, Lousue, Eugenia, Thomas, Edith, Elizabeth, and all the rest of the crazy mixed up gumbo family that's made me who I am today.