The Dayton Kitchen

Eating well. So get ready and get butter.

Just say NO! to boiled beets August 8, 2008

Filed under: in the kitchen,scoring good food — pameladayton @ 6:36 pm

Really, people. Think outside the pot of boiling water for your veggies, especially this time of year when it’s super easy to get veggies fresh from the ground.

Two years ago, we joined Porter Farms CSA. (Not sure about CSA? Read this.) I am not a fussy eater. There are three things I can’t stomach (olives of any color, brussel sprouts, eggs), but beyond that I am game to try new foods. But there were some vegetables the Porters provided that I was not so sure I was going to like. Beets were one. I had only ever eaten blechy, rubbery, boiled beets, and had formed quite the negative opinion.

But one day, when I had my wits about me as was getting dinner ready early, I had a bright idea. I was wrapping my potatoes in foil to bake them, and thought to myself, Self, potatoes grow in the ground. Beets grow in the ground. I bet I could bake the beets in foil just like to potatoes.

I am not going to claim that this roasted/baked/ovened beets idea came exclusively from me. But I will claim this: It is highly likely that you will never eat another boiled beet again. And, it is equally likely that you will fall completely in love with the sweet, sweet taste and lovely texture that is a roasted beet.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Scrub your beets.  Trim off any bits of stalk.  Wrap in aluminum foil
  3. Place foil-wrapped beets on a cookie sheet that has raised sides.  Sometimes the beets release lots of juice.
  4. Bake for at least an hour, more than 1 1/2 hours is too much.
  5. Cut ends off beets, slip skins when cool enough to handle.
  6. Slice beets, and enjoy.  You could butter and salt and pepper them, but you sure don’t need to.

don’t rue the rhubarb June 1, 2008

Filed under: baking,in the kitchen — pameladayton @ 9:29 pm
Tags: , ,

The birds are singing at 4:08 a.m.  The sun is rising 10 minutes later.  The trees have leafed out completely, except for the Godforsaken black walnut tree in the back corner of our yard.  The garden is half planted, and my onions and potatoes are some seriously happy fellas.  For now.  I have to stay far away from the onion bed because I am really tempted to pull up an onion or two to see what the bulbs are looking like these days.

And it is the season of rhubarb.  There is a little roadside stand between my town and the ‘city’ to the north of us, and every spring I hold my breath as I drive by in anticipation of the day the rhubarb is for sale.  And when it is, I go there every day, and buy whatever of the stuff the nice man has to offer.  I am such a serious rhubarb purchaser that I make sure I have plenty of ones and fives in my pocket, to be ready for any amount that is in the basket.  That man makes a killing off of me and the other Daytons.  He even watches for my car so that he knows when to go pick more.  That is what he told me.

We like rhubarb three ways:  Rhubarb Crisp, Rhubarb Pie, and Rhubarb Sauce.  We do not like rhubarb raw.  Please do not wonder why and then go try some raw rhubarb.  Your taste buds will not forgive you for YEARS!  I only know one fella who ate raw rhubarb and lived to tell about it.  It’s just gross, and unsanitary, and it makes my tongue hurt to think about it, so please restrain yourself.

Here’s the rhubarb crisp I make:

Mix together:

  • 2 pounds of rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup-1 cup sugar (we like it tart, but adjust according to your tastes)

Put in an 8×8 or 9×9 (that’s inches) pan.

In a separate bowl, combine the following ingredients and mix together with your fingers, two knives or a pastry blender:

  • 2 cups regular rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3-4 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature (you could use shortening, but I will never understand that choice)

Sprinkle crumb mixture over the top of the fruit mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until bubbly.  Serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or a tall glass of milk.



i am a slacker today May 8, 2008

Filed under: in the kitchen — pameladayton @ 10:00 pm

We had leftovers again.  And by we, I mean the Mister and I had leftovers.  I made something really special for the short people, in honour of O’s pal who spent the day with us.  Pally’s mom had quite the day today, a very intense funeral this morning, and then was setting up for a rummage sale to benefit the youth mission trip at our church.  Pally was here to give her mama a break, as if that was possible today.  One thing about Pally:  she eats fruit, jelly sandwiches, salami, bologna, and spaghetti and meatballs.  Throughout the course of the day, the children ate very nearly every last bit of fruit in the house, and I was not about to introduce the idea of jelly sandwiches to my children, and I have no cold cuts (almost typed cold butts, there.  That would have been funny.).

I give you Pally’s Spaghetti.

In a large pot, bring lightly salted water to a boil.  When it’s good and rolling, dump in some spaghetti.  NOT WHOLE GRAIN SPAGHETTI, FOOL, JUST PLAIN, OLD, REGULAR SPAGHETTI.  And no shapes.  Just the kind in the straight lines.  Don’t go and get all crazy on me now. 

Cook boring spaghetti for 8-10 minutes, or until it’s as mushy as you like it.  Drain spaghetti, but don’t rinse it.  Dump it in a big bowl.

Open a jar of plain, old, boring sauce, and pour it over the spaghetti.  Combine spaghetti and sauce with tongs, or however you like to do it, but keep it simple.

Slap some of that yummy stuff on the plate of a four year old and you will be a hero.  And hold the sprinkle cheese, for crying out loud.

P.S.  You can find the outrageously good dinner eaten by The Mister and me at The Pioneer Woman Cooks.


rice April 28, 2008

Filed under: in the kitchen — pameladayton @ 1:13 pm

I am putting not much effort into this post, because Alanna at A Veggie Venture and the folks at Cook’s have already done a bang-up job. 

We are Carb People.  And in an effort to eat better, we switched to brown rice.  I don’t have a lot (read: any) patience for watching water boil, and stirring, and stuff, so after burning rice to a very unnatural and crisp and stinky state, I discovered this recipe, and I lovelovelove it.  And so will you.

Try this:  instead of rice, or in addition to rice, use a variety of other whole grains like barley, wild rice, millet, or wheat kernels.  The result is a wonderfully flavorful dish with a nice conglomeration of texture.

Try this, part 2:  I don’t bring the water to boiling before adding it to the rice.  And the rice has been received with cheers of joy from the kiddos, so I happily leave that step out.

Try this, part fin:  Bouillon.  Cubes.  Or the other kind, whatever that is.  It’s more flavorful than salt, and it keeps the Mister and the kiddos from getting out the salt shaker.  I am not so much in favor of the salt shaker, but that is another subject for another day.  The end.



Spaghetti with Rich Meat Ragù April 13, 2008

Filed under: in the kitchen — pameladayton @ 5:54 pm

I am a lucky girl, I tell you.  I have a friend who subscribes to Food & Wine Magazine and is kind enough to pass them along to me when she is finished with them.  And I have another friend to whom I pass along the mags when I am done.  And she has a friend…

I love me some spagets, and this is one of my favorite recipes.  I made it for dinner tonight.  You should make it, too.  You won’t be disappointed.  Unless you don’t like meat.  Then you’re in for some trouble.

Here’s a couple of tips before you get in up to your elbows.

First, browned meat is not grey.  It should be brown, and look as if it is a little on the crisp side.  Think marshmallows when you are browning your meaties.  Would you eat a grey marshmallow?  Well, maybe you’re utterly weird and like that sort of thing.  But SHOULD you eat a grey marshmallow?  Absostinkinlutely not.  But should you eat a marshmallow that is golden brown, one that looks like the heat was making out with it, and how?  Absostinkinlutely you should.  With chocolate and graham crackers, too, but I digress.  Grey meat is not so much flavorful meat.  But something about leaving it sit, in the pan, on the heat, and the fat, in the meat…now that is right.

Another tidbit for you: I had no italian sausage, but I do have ground pork and ground beef, and that was what I used.  So while the meat was browning, I cleared some meat out of the way, and threw a tablespoon or so of fennel seed in the pan, and let it get all toasty and fragrance-ish.  Then I stirred it in real good.  And I used a little more onion and more garlic, so the meat was all seasoned and kindasorta like sausage.  I was also out of rosemary (and I never have sprigs of the stuff) so I used thyme, my most favoritest herb ever.

what you use:
3/4 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound ground beef chuck
3 sweet Italian sausages (10 ounces), casings removed
1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
One 3-inch rosemary sprig
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup whole milk
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
how to use it:
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook and drain spaghetti.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the ground beef and sausage and cook over moderately high heat, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until browned, about 6 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the meat is coated, about 3 minutes. Add the stock and rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce over moderate heat until thickened, about 4 minutes. Add the milk and simmer for 2 minutes. Discard the rosemary sprig and season the sauce with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the spaghetti to the sauce and toss over low heat until combined. Use extravagant amounts of sprinky cheese.

Pancakes April 10, 2008

Filed under: breakfast,in the kitchen — pameladayton @ 2:34 pm
Tags: , ,

It’s been a while, and I apologize.  I offer you today a wholegrain pancake recipe that you will love.  And how do I know you will love it?  Because the children watched me add all the ingredients with disdain, but inhaled them at a speed that would make a learjet jealous.

I have a few batter bowls with a handle and pour spout that I use for pancakes.  I like to pour them into the pan; the Mister uses a measuring cup, I think.  Whatever works for you is what you should do.

In the batter bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of flour (I used 3/4 cup whole wheat and 3/4 cup all-purpose), 1 cup of oatmeal (rolled or quick), 1/4-1/2 cup cornmeal, 2 teaspoons each baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon, 4 Tablespoons sugar, 4 Tablespoons oil or applesauce, and 2 eggs.  Add a scant 2 cups milk or buttermilk, so the batter is not too thin and not to thick.  You can also use plain or vanilla yogurt.  That is good, too.

I fry them in my large cast iron pan that is brushed with vegetable oil.  When the edges look firm, and the bubbles that rise to the surface have popped, it’s time to flip.  I cook pancakes at a very low temperature because I get distracted by other things and burn them, and that makes the short people irate.

Yesterday when we ate these, the children requested blueberries and chocolate chips.  It was a little much for me, as pancakes are the one bread-based treat I prefer without chocolate.  And of course we doused them with good old fresh New York Maple Syrup.  Can’t beat that.


  This little fella is a pancake tortoise.  We did not eat him.  There was no harm done to any sort of critter in the process of creating, preparing, or eating the results of this recipe.


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!