Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Love of Cooking...

1979 vintage compact
Whirlpool Electric Stove
and Solid State Microwave w/ Fan.
I love the sign:
Kitchens are made to bring Families together.

Written as a Draft on March 6, 2013-Wednesday
Today it's raining and a bit colder than it's been here in Portland, Oregon. Spring is like that, up and down weather to get us outside, making some of us to look forward to working in the garden, and then lending a few days for some wonderful cozy time for inside cooking to take place, instead.

I bought some seeds at the Ace Hardware store on Powell and 122nd, here in Portland. They had seeds 4/$1.00. When I got home, I went through my older seeds from the past years. Some of them will germinate, but maybe I will take some of the potting soil and plant them, and have a little plant sale, after I fill my own yard with plants.

Yesterday was a good day to be inside, and I checked out the Glissade Chocolate Pudding recipe on Heidi's site on
I loved the presentation of this recipe, shown in little half pint mason jars and was attracted to the idea of no milk in it (except the whipped cream on top). My oldest grandson is always ravenous after school, and I should see him twice this week.  I was already putting together ingredients for a granola bar. When I gently roast the oats, sesame seeds and nuts for granola, I enjoy the nutty smells. Then I add almond or peanut butter in the lightly simmered binding syrup, made with honey or corn syrup, etc. Molasses might be an interesting addition. Cash n Carry had a gallon of unsulphured Molasses for $11.89. I usually buy Grandma's Molasses, but even our local Winco wants $5.50 for a small jar of it. EEK!

The Cash n Carry checker had to help me find the molasses, because there was no familiar label. He asked me curiously what I made from molasses. Oh, I told him, one thing is gingerbread. The last time I made a gingerbread cake, I used my last bit. Maybe I will make some gingerbread boys, and bring them to the CnC boys next time, just to surprise them. Sharing good food seems to make my aura or 'vortex' erupt with happy energy. ;-}

Molasses uses: (It used to be the sweetener of choice), Gingerbread cake and cookies. Famous Gingerbread Boys. Fruitcake. Barbecue sauce, on Buttermilk biscuits, a honey substitute, in Baked Beans, in breads-especially dark breads like Boston Brown Bread, an aid to plant growth, 1 tsp. in a morning cup of warm water as a laxative, (1 Tbsp has 4.5 grams of iron, and is rich in potassium, magnesium, manganese and calcium and has chromium to clean out arteries), candies and taffy, put in milk, especially in the blender w/ some ice in summer is refreshing, Shoofly Pies, (something my Pennsylvannia Dutch (Deutsch) mother used to make) on toast or in coffee, a baste for chicken or turkey, in insect spray with Hydrogen Peroxide, makes rum and yeast, 5% molasses makes brown sugar, etc.

One website received emails from its readers saying Blackstrap molasses had cured cancerous tumors, fibroid tumors, anxiety, constipation, edema, heart palpitations, anemia, arthritic pain, joint pain and acne, etc. I also read on a couple of sites that molasses turns gray hair back to its original color, and was also a skin softener. I saw a woman apply mashed bananas mixed with sugar, to heal a horse's wounded lower leg.

Molasses is made from sugar cane. I buy unsulphured. Sulphured is not considered organic, and is made from unripe green sugar cane. Blackstrap is boiled 3 times, and so is more nutrient dense of the 3 kinds: Sulphured, Unsulphured and Blackstrap. It also has a low glycemic index, meaning the carbs and sugars are metabolised slowly, demanding less insulin production, according to web research. The darker the molasses, the more crystalline sugar has been removed.

So, yesterday I shared on Heidi's blog that I had a new kitchen plaque that says: Kitchens are made to bring Families together. (Pictured above).
I want to make some granola bars, but would like to do it with my grandson. Also, the pudding on Heidi's site sounded fun, so I bought some Darigold whipping cream-a quart of it for about $3.29 at CnC, to use for the pudding and my homemade Blue Cheese Dressing. I can then freeze the rest in 1c. portions.

Lately, I've been freezing individual spaghetti sauce and soup portions in cottage cheese containers, and then putting it in larger gallon Ziplock freezer bags. It's nice to have a ready-made meal, with a salad and maybe some good crusty bread.

My latest salad creations: I love...picking fresh arugula and red chard, cilantro and parsley for salads. I chop it in edible pieces, adding half an organic apple, diced, raisins, 1 shredded organic carrot on the side, any colorful veggie in the fridge like zucchini or bell peppers, and some cucumber slices. I have added tiny cubes or shredded medium chedder Tillamook cheese or freshly shredded parmesan, sliced olives, sliced almonds, toasted sesame seeds, and/or a scoop of cottage cheese. The tomatoes offered in winter don't interest me, as they are so tasteless and nutrition-deficit. I like half an avocado on my salad if I have it, and green onions or sweet or red onion.

The dressing is the item that pulls a good salad together for me.
Last time I went looking for Blue Cheese at New Seasons, the Cheese counter gal give me a 4-ingredient recipe for homemade Blue Cheese Salad the Blue Cheese. Here it is. I love it!

Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing
1 c. whipping cream (don't whip..)
juice of 1/4-1/2 of 1 large lemon (this thickens your dressing.)
Salt and Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce to taste. I use 1/4 tsp or so of sea salt and 1 tsp. or so of L and P's.
Add Blue Cheese crumbles to taste.

There are only food-based additives and a natural lemon juice preservative in this recipe, vs. most store brands. This Blue Cheese Dressing is light and delicious.
Daffodils are coming up now!
All my vases are stored, so a jar will do.
Well, I guess instead of showing you my beautiful salad with the homemade blue cheese dressing recipe, I'll share the Granola/Snackbars that I made. Alas, my project was interrupted. I took a couple of recipes and made my own version, using some molasses. They turned out really well! Rather addicting.

Molasses Granola Snackbars
Grease a 9x13 pan w/ coconut oil or butter for thinner bars, or an 8 or 9" sq. pan for thicker ones.
Put on large rimmed cookie sheet to lightly toast 7-8 min. in a 350* oven. (Stir w/ a spoon or spatula once or twice while checking for a light brown roast):

1 1/4 c. old fashioned rolled oats (You can use quick oats, but I use Old-Fash. organic.)
1 c. sliced or slivered almonds (I like the delicacy and crunch of sliced.) They're not too expensive in the bulk bins at good grocery stores.
1 c. loosely chopped pecans or walnuts
1 T. sesame seeds (can be already toasted)
You can add 1/4 c. sunflower seeds for part of the nuts if you'd like. They don't like me, so I leave them out.
Can add 1-2 T. ground flax seeds or wheat or oat germ
2/3 c. unsweetened coconut. (I mixed large flake w/ leftover fine ground raw coconut).

Cool. Make the sauce, add the roasted ingredients and ...
Add 1 1/2 c. puffed wheat or puffed brown rice or Rice Krispies
(I've used either kind.) Rice was good.
Also add: Cut-up dried fruit. 1/2 c. raisins work well w/ molasses and brown sugar. I chop the raisins, but it's optional.

In a medium saucepan, bring the sauce to a gentle boil for 2-4 min., depending if you like soft or more crunchy bars:
(longer of course means more crunchy..) 3 min. is a good med.

1/4 c. almond butter. (You might use peanut butter or tahini, if you wanted to substitute corn syrup for the molasses. Peanut halves would also work instead of pecans or walnuts.) I added the almond butter into the syrup before bringing it to a boil, but I think it could be added after, with the vanilla.
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. molasses
1/2 c. brown, turbinado or raw cane sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Bring to a boil for 2-4 min. and then add 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Stir in the dry ingredients and fruit bits.... Pat into your pan. Cut when cool.

(This recipe is very versatile. You can add dried cranberries, or cut-up dried apricots, dates, cherries or figs.) Some add a bit of espresso powder, chocolate chips or protein powder.
I used raisins because of the molasses and brown sugar. You can skip the molasses and just use straight honey, or corn syrup, but the molasses heightens the sweet dark flavor.
* Heidi on makes her sauce for her Big Sur Protein Bars with 1 c. brown rice syrup and 1/4 c. natural cane sugar.

It's hard for me to keep my hands off of these. I noticed if my elbow bent, my mouth opened.
Today, I put a couple in some zip lock sandwich bags, and let my neighbors sample them. I must have the Mrs. Fields gene.

Questions? Contact me at

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