The Dayton Kitchen

Eating well. So get ready and get butter.

The Popcorn March 29, 2008

Filed under: in the kitchen,snacks — pameladayton @ 2:59 pm
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you know you want some

You can be guaranteed something lovely when a recipe is referred to as The anything.  And it’s been a few posts now with no butter at all, so as my introductory Recipe With Butter, I give you The Popcorn.

You will need a saucepan with a lid.  The one I use holds slightly more than a quart.  Pour some canola oil in the pan.  I know that there are a lot of you out there that have Negative Feelings about canola oil, but I have experimented with other oils (corn, olive, etc.) and none of them were actually good.  I am just suggesting the canola oil, from the yummy canola plant (?).  You are going to do what you want anyway, so whatever.

Pour enough oil in the pan to cover the bottom, and then add a little extra so that the oil sloshes around when you shake the pan.  The sloshing oil is KEY here, people, so don’t try to be all healthy and leave it out.  Leaving out the oil does not give you The Popcorn.  You may as well get out your air popper from the early nineties, put your hair up in a big scrunchie and get busy with  Deee-Lite’s Groove Is In The Heart.  Shake that rad, healthy, unsatisfied thang!

Now that your oil is sloshing away in the pan (because I know it is), turn the stove up as high as it goes.  Yeah, nice and hot.  You know it, baby.  I am also going to go out on a limb and assume you have put the pan on the stove.  You will notice I leave out little things like, put the pan on the stove, put the bread in the oven, etc.  If this gets in the way of you enjoying actually cooked food, go somewhere else where the lowest common denominator is being served.

Your oil in your saucepan is sizzling away on the stove, uncovered.  Drop two or three popcorn kernels in the pan.  When these little guys pop, and they will likely pop themselves right out of the pan, so you shouldn’t actually stand over the boiling oil, looking down into it, because that would be dangerous (read: dumb).

When your happy trial kernels pop, it is time to put in the rest of the kernels.  One handful of popcorn is good for one person who has eaten dinner and isn’t in the mood for snacking at all.  Two handfuls (handsful? handsfuls?) is good for the kids’ afternoon snack.  And three handfuls is perfect for me, when I am alone, and needing to pig the heck out.

There isn’t much need to shake the pan after you put the popcorn in it, until the oil starts to really sizzle.  Use this time to get your big bowl out, and put a little bit of butter to melt.  I use the warmer burner on my electric stove, I wouldn’t actually put a dish of butter over a gas flame because I’d probably burn myself.  You can also melt your butter in the microwave, if your best friend hasn’t put Terror and Fear of Microwaves in your soul.  But once it does, we are back to the oil sizzling part here, hold the cover on the pan, and shake it the way you did to Groove Is In The Heart.  Just enough so’s you look cool.  As the popped popcorn  exceeds the space of the pan, carefully lift the lid and dump some out into the big ol’ bowl.  If you are a multitasker, you can drizzle some melted butter over the popcorn as you put it into the bowl so it is well-disbursed.  And if you loves you some salt, like me, you can gently (or not) salt the popcorn as you butter it.

When it’s all popped and in the bowl, salt to taste and enjoy immediately.  I like my salty popcorn with a glass of orange juice (The Mister thinks this is bizarre behavior, but he’s seen worse from me).  Or beer.  Or wine.  Or Maker’s Mark and cola, or Maker’s Mark and ice, if it’s been one of Those Days.

I suppose you do not really need to add the butter to The Popcorn, if you’ve popped it properly in a sloshy pan of oil, or even a semi-sloshy pan of oil.  But it is awfully good, and after all, it’s recommended that you eat about nine thousand servings of whole grains a day, and popcorn is about as whole grain as it comes.  So obey the Pyramid and eat you some popcorn!

 

ABC Saute’ March 26, 2008

Filed under: in the kitchen — pameladayton @ 11:07 am
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One big old pan plus a pound of asparagus, half a pound of broccoli, half a pound (or so) of carrots, some olive oil and a sprinkling of thyme equals yum, yum, extra yum at dinner.Trim the ends from your asparagus just far enough that you can see the bright-green, not dried-out core.  Cut into bite-sized pieces, about 1 or 1 1/2 inches long.  Set aside.

Cut florets from broccoli, then chop up the stems into matchstick-ish pieces.  This chopping of the stems is the only way I can get my children to eat the stem part of the broccoli.  They feel it is inferior, and will not ever consume it unless it looks nothing like broccoli stems.  Last night, they were convinced it was celery, and would not hear otherwise.  I win!

Peel carrots, cut into pieces that are about the same size as your broccoli stems.  This way, they will be done at the same time as the broccoli stems.

Heat a large skillet, and pour in a happy amount of olive oil.  The idea here is not to boil or poach your veggies in oil, that would be gross and you wouldn’t taste the veggies’ loveliness, only the oil.  And that is not the point of sautee-ing your green guys.

When the oil is shimmery, it is hot enough for a saute.  If you are a particular sort of cook, put the carrots and broccoli in the pan for a few minutes before you add the asparagus.  If you are me, dump everything into the pan at once. 

If you are that particular cook, get out your measuring spoons and put 1 1/2 teaspoons of thyme in the pan.  If you are me, you would grab a big pinch of thyme.  And then another, and then possibly another.  I love thyme.  Cook over medium- to medium-high heat until the veggies are the brightest-colored version of themselves. 

Eat a carrot.  If it is too crunchy, pour 1/2 cup of water into your pan, cover and let the veggies steam for a minute or two.  And voila, you are done.

If you are feeling super saucy, put a little vinegar on them before you eat.

 

I love me some veggies! March 25, 2008

Filed under: scoring good food — pameladayton @ 10:26 pm
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Pretty much all of us who dine in the Dayton Kitchen on a regular basis love us some veggies.  A whole bunch of veggies.  But man, those tasty guys can really be expensive.  And based on the USDA Food Pyramid (I am just not going to even get started about the USDA today…) everyone should have 3 to 5, 1/2-1 cup servings of veggies a day.  And that is in addition to fruit.  In my house, I serve 5 people who like vegetables, so I will do math this way:  5 people X 5 servings X 3/4 cup = 18.75 cups of vegetables EVERY DAY!  And that, my dearies, is pretty ridiculous when you are grocery shopping.  And also, very expensive.  Top that with a burning desire to eat food that is fresh and free of pesticide?  What is a veggie-lovin’ mama to do?

The Answer:  FIND A CSA. What is a CSA? you ask.  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  You can read about it here and here.  Basically (read: for those of you who can’t bear to break away from your daily Dayton Enlightenment) it is a member-supported farm.  Sometime near the beginning of the growing season, members pay the yearly “dues”.  You generally pay up-front, so that the farm can, you know, buy seed and stuff so that by the time the farmhands are ready to pick, there’s veggies all ripe and ready to come out of the ground or off the vine.  Then, every week during the season, which depends on the weather where you live, you get a bag or box of vegetables.  Here in Western New York, the season lasts from June-ish until November-ish.  Some CSAs are member-run, meaning that after you pay your dues, you put on your super-stylin’ muck boots and head out to the field.  MY CSA is WAY COOLER THAN THAT!  I do not have to actually go out in the field or drive a tractor in order to be a member.  However, I would totally LOVE to drive a tractor, and could probably handle picking veggies for about an hour or two, because I am a big, wimpy girl, and I doubt I could cut it as someone who actually had to labour for her food.  But I digress.

Back to digressing for a minute-I did get up at 5:30 a.m. a number of Saturdays to pack bags at The Farm, and even when it was freezing cold and everything I touched was dripping wet, and no gloves allowed!, it was really fun.  You should try it.  The end of digressing.  Digression?  Note to self: pay better attention.

I would suggest  highly recommend  am just going to tell you that for your own good, the health of your wallet, and the health of you in general, and if you live in Genesee County, Buffalo, or Rochester, you should buy into Porter Farms CSA.   For about $15 a week, my family enjoys the bounty of this Elba, NY, Certified Organic Farm.  FIFTEEN DOLLARS A WEEK!  FOR ORGANIC VEGGIES!!!!  There is no other situation where you can score enough actual vegetables to feed two people, let alone five people, for such a small amount of money. 

Except if you were stealing veggies, and boy, if you were stealing MY vegetables from Porters, I’d hop on the tractor and run your sorry butt over.  Unless somebody else got to you first. 

But seriously.  They grow very nearly a gazillion kinds of foods.  And the Porter Family is just about the loveliest bunch of people you will ever meet in your life.  And I know about lovely people. 

So go to the Porter Farm website.  In the spirit of honesty, I will tell you that it the Porters spend more time farming than on the internet, so the site is pretty basic and isn’t updated frequently.  But I would much rather have a farmer who is in the field, cultivating my food in a wholesome and responsible fashion, than one who updates his info daily.  So get over it already.  And really, the only bit of info you need to know is this:

  1. Organic vegetables, locally grown, picked on Friday, picked up on Saturday.
  2. $310 for the season, if you pick up.

  3. Send your check to: Porter Farm, PO Box 416, Elba, New York 14058

We are getting two shares this year, so that we can freeze and can enough of these fabulous vegetables to last through the winter.  My goal is to spend less than $1200 between June 2008 and June 2009 on vegetables.  Pre-paying our shares will count towards the $1200.

So consider this.  And before you go, look at the beautiful field, love my beautiful children loving the Farm, and ogle the nicey-nice pie pumpkins.  You know you want some of that.  But you can’t have the kids.  I made ’em, I keep ’em.  Like pie.

cimg1807.jpg    J & O at the Farm        cimg1812.jpg

 

Steel-Cut Oats March 24, 2008

Filed under: breakfast,in the kitchen — pameladayton @ 4:56 pm

I love oatmeal.  I really, really love it.  My kids love oatmeal.  The Mister even likes him some oatmeal, when the conditions are just about right.  But I have to admit, I did not always have these feelings.  It used to be that I only knew about rolled oats.  In fact, I thought oats came two ways:  Rolled and Quick.

But then I was enlightened.  And now, if you are not already enlightened, I will share with you the golden nuggets which are Steel-Cut Oat Groats.  Oats come this way, mostly, in nature.  Groats are what comes off the plant; chopped up groats are Steel-Cut, chopped up, steamed, and flattened are called Rolled; chopped up, steamed, flattened, and chopped up again are Quick. 

I am of the whole foods school of thought, that we should eat our foods as close as possible to the way they occur in nature, so based on that opinion, I chose the groats.  And after eating them, just one nutty, al dente mouthful, my whole perspective changed.  

Here are two equally-great recipes for the best oatmeal you will ever eat.

Slow-Cooker Oatmeal

Put 2 cups steel-cut oats in a 4-quart slow cooker.  Add 4 1/2 cups milk, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt, and at least 2 Tablespoons butter.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. 

Steel-Cut Oats on the stove

In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of water or milk to a boil.  Be careful not to obliterate the milk in your attempts to boil it.  When boiling, add 2 cups of steel-cut oats, 2 T. butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Boil for 5 minutes, uncovered.  Remove from heat, cover saucepan, and let steam for 5-10 minutes.

Suggestions of the experienced:

  1. Get one of those handy-dandy Christmas light timers so that you can go to bed like a responsible person, and your slow-cooker will turn on all by itself at midnight.
  2. Top your fabulous groaties with toasted chopped nuts (I like walnuts or pecans), yogurt, dried fruit, maple syrup, cream or milk, brown sugar, or any combination of those ingredients.  Some people (I don’t know who they are, but I’ve heard of them) like to eat their oatmeal with salt, pepper and cheese, like grits.  Again, I don’t know who those people actually are. 
 

Be Ye Advised

Filed under: in the kitchen — pameladayton @ 2:01 pm
  1. I prepare very nearly all of the food we consume.  But I recognize the Value and Importance of boxed macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, and cans of spaghetti-o’s.
  2. I do most of my dry goods shopping at Molasses Hill Bulk Foods in Alexander.  So if you are thinking ‘Wow.  She uses a lot of ingredients.  That’s totally expensive’, please know that these ladies can hook you up with super stuff at super prices.
  3. I am not into counting calories, or being a vegetarian, or the all-meat-weight loss diet.  That said, I am completely in favor of calories, vegetables, and meat.  And carbs.  And coffee and chocolate.  Pretty much:  eating.
  4. I am into eating reasonable amounts of foods, dessert and coffee included, that taste good.  Also bourbon, beer, and my uncle’s wine.
  5. I believe we are responsible for knowing as much about where our food comes from as possible.  We make every effort to support our local farmers, especially those with sustainable agriculture and organic practices, because we plan to live here for a long time, and we want the agrarian heritage of our county to remain healthy and strong.
  6. I believe that there has to be a good way to eat every edible thing that God placed on this planet.  So I keep trying.
  7. I believe that children will eat what you give them to eat.  But if you only ever offer them chicken fingers and fries with a side of ketchup, it is your fault your child is a picky eater.

Recipes to follow.