Thursday, December 28, 2006

Love to Cook? Try

I'm a foodie - love to cook, to experiment in the kitchen, try new foods. My husband's the same way. In fact, he's kicked me out of the kitchen more than a few times while he cooks up some new dish he wants to surprise me with. He's pretty darn good in the kitchen, and I haven't been disappointed in any of his cooking yet! (But let's not discuss the after-cooking clean-up . . .)

There's been some very funny moments. Like the time a couple of weeks ago when he tried cooking chestnuts. You can boil them, steam them, roast them. I told him about a new method I'd just read about, where you take chestnuts still in their shells and cook them in the microwave. So one night, to surprise me, he decided to try this new method. Unfortunately, he'd never cooked chestnuts before, and didn't realize that whichever way you choose to cook them, you really do need to score the shells with an X first.

That night, I heard a few surpised curses coming from our kitchen, then quite a bit of laughter from my husband. He was microwaving unscored chestnuts, and when they got really hot they exploded. He wasn't prepared for the chestnuts blowing up, and it startled him.

Luckily, he didn't damage the microwave, and only made a minor mess in the microwave. We called it chestnut puree, but really, it was a zillion bits of chestnuts and shells all over that ended up in the trash. We laughed until we had tears in our eyes, but at that moment it sure was funny.

I've been having a lot of fun with the website
It's a website which has a huge amount of cooking information, and a wonderful forums section where people who enjoy cooking share a lot of information, how-tos and recipes. Some of the recipes are quite unusual, and it's not uncommon for those participating in the forums to be living in other countries and sharing their regional insights and food ideas. There are many different topics, but here's some examples:

>> What is your favorite holiday breakfast?
>> Crock Pots
>> Smoked Butter
>> Heirloom tomatoes
>> Persimmons
>> Frozen Herbs
>> What cookbooks are you reading?
>> What is your favorite Brownie recipe?

This group of foodies share all sorts of superb recipes that you never knew existed. The Brownie recipe section was hugely popular, and there's enough choices there to have you making brownies for the next decade.

Here's the next recipe I'm going to try:
(The notations are from website administrator/owner Heidi Swanson, who writes the articles for this website. She is a cookbook author and photographer, and is absolutely awesome. Be sure to read some of her articles - they are excellent!)

Lingonberry or Cranberry Jam

Depending on the tartness of the berries you may need to adjust the amount of sugar.

1 lb. 2 ounces (500 g) frozen or fresh lingonberries or cranberries

A scant cup (7 oz/200g) of caster (superfine) sugar (hs note: I just gave my regular granulated sugar a whirl in the food processor for 15-20 seconds)

Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 small apple, peeled and cored

Rinse the berries, if necessary, then drain well and put them in a non-metallic bowl with the sugar and lemon juice. Leave overnight, turning once or twice.

Coarsely grate the apple and put it into a jam-making pan or other heavy based saucepan with the grated lemon rind. Strain in all the juice from the berries (hs note: I didn't end up with a ton of juice, but scraped all the thick, sugary juice in) and add two wooden spoonfuls of berries, leaving the rest of the berries in the bowl for now. Add 1/2 cup (125 ml) water and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the apple is very soft and the whole lot has thickened (hs note: I ended up ~10 minutes). Add the rest of the berries and heat through for 5-8 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars. Seal tightly and turn upside down. Cover with a cloth and leave to cool completely before turning upright and storing in a cool place. The jam will keep for a couple months but, once open, keep it in the fridge and use fairly quickly.

Makes about 2 cups.

If you get a chance, do take a quick peek at - sign in for free and become a participating forums member. If you see the name Antique Cook, that's me.

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