07. February 2013 · Comments Off on Kitchen Toys · Categories: Domestic · Tags: , , , , , , ,
Trissie the cat, resting in the Nesco Roaster Oven & Slow Cooker

Trissie the cat, resting in the Nesco Roaster Oven & Slow Cooker

A news story in an English tabloid rather amused me today, as it listed the top ten little used kitchen appliances which might (or might not) be in the average English kitchen. Being the owner of a house with a painfully small kitchen, but one who still enjoys cooking – from scratch, yet – I will plead guilty to owning some under-used gadgets. Of course, at one time or another, things like the slow-cooker got a great deal more use. And before we began experimenting with the paleo-style diet, we did get a lot more use out of the bread-making machine. But at lease we can plead that we did not waste money on purchasing most of the underused gadgets. In some cases, we bought them second-hand, or at rummage sales, and so paid mere pennies, compared to the original price.

Looking down at the list, though – I wonder how some of these gadgets aren’t used more. I mean – a blender? I use the blender all the time, and the food processor, too. From the top of the list – a toasted sandwich maker. That’s one I don’t have, although I think my daughter had one, living in the barracks. And my father was very fond of making sandwiches in the stove-top non-electric croque-monsieur iron. A George Foreman-type grill is another kitchen tool which apparently 17% of English purchasers never use again – which is sad as I would really like one, especially the model which has the interchangeable, dishwasher-safe grill plates, and which can either lay out flat or be used as a Panini press. I do have a rather nice little one, picked up on sale at Williams-Sonoma; nice to use, a bear to clean afterwards, though. Kitchen scales – unused by 16%? Say what, then? Sorry, I have a cheap little one which I use all the time, and would love to replace it with a nice Victorian-style antique one with the interchangeable weights. Juicers are unused at the same rate as kitchen scales, but it’s a good and healthy thing that this means 84% of English owners of juicers are using them regularly. Bread-maker (also going %16 unused in England); we plead guilty to several, all of them bought at yard or rummage sales.

They seem to have been the gadget of choice for wedding presents, about fifteen years ago; they’re everywhere at second-hand sales, and usually barely – if ever- used by the original recipient.
Hand-blenders are next on the little-list, at %15 unused. That is one I don’t have, or even thought about buying. Seems kind of pointless, when I have a selection of balloon whisks handy. And finally, rounding out the little-used list, at %14 percent – a coffee machine. I don’t have one … for the very good reason that I don’t drink coffee. Lately though, the very high-end cappuccino machines seem to have taken the place of bread-making machines as the go-to gadget for up-scale presents, so my daughter – who does drink coffee and is known as the Queen of All Garage Sales – looks forward to seeing them available at thrift shops and yard sales.

22. November 2012 · Comments Off on Just for fun – Thanksgiving Sides · Categories: Domestic · Tags: , ,

Yea on many (well, not actually that many) years ago when I was living in the female enlisted dorm at an Air Force base in Japan, another resident and friend had been gifted by a relative with a years’ subscription to Gourmet Magazine. Possibly this relative hoped that my friend would come to appreciate fine up-scale dining, complicated recipes for exotic cuts of meat and rare vintages . . . or possibly even learn to cook. I can’t with confidence say that this ever happened – we were twenty-somethings, living in a military dorm with a small basic kitchen overrun with cockroaches; nuking a Stouffers’ frozen entree of lobster Newburg and opening a bottle of Riunite was about as upscale as most of us were inclined to get. Anyway, my friend, upon departing at the end of her tour, gifted me with all of the back issues of Gourmet, and I took up a subscription myself . . . and never threw away an issue. From one of the holiday issues came three recipes which I often served as a side dish at Thanksgiving or Christmas. I can’t find the original issue, or even recall what it looked like – although I venture to guess that it probably had a roast turkey on the cover – but I had copied them out into my own little collection of favorite recipes. The cranberry chutney is complex and tasty, and the corn relish is a wonderful counterpoint to all the heavy baked or boiled root vegetables. The honey-pear conserve is just plain wonderful.

#1: Cranberry Chutney:
Combine in a large saucepan: ½ cup cider vinegar, 2 ¼ cup brown sugar, ¾ tsp curry powder, ½ tsp ginger, ¼ tsp cloves, ¼ tsp allspice, ¼ tsp ginger, ¼ tsp cinnamon, and 1 ½ cups water.

Bring to a boil, then while stirring simmering mixture, add: 2 lemons, rind grated finely, pith discarded and lemon sectioned and chopped, 2 oranges, (ditto), 1 apple finely chopped, 3 cups cranberries, ½ cup golden raisins, and ½ cup chopped dried apricots. Simmer gently for 40 minutes, until mixture is thickened.

Add: 2 additional cups cranberries and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add: 1 cup cranberries and ½ cup chopped walnuts, stirring until the last cup of cranberries are just cooked. The variously cooked cranberries give it a lot of cranberry texture, and a very fresh flavor.

#2: Honey Pear Conserve:
Combine in a large saucepan: 4 lbs Anjou pears, peeled, cored and cut unto chunks, ¾ cup lemon juice, 1 cup honey, ½ tsp cloves, 2 tsp cinnamon and ½ cup dried currents.
Simmer until thickened and pears are cooked through.

#3: Pepper-Corn Relish
Combine and simmer in a large saucepan until vegetables are tender-crisp: 5 ½ cups fresh or frozen corn kernels, 1 finely chopped green pepper, 1 finely chopped red pepper, 1 medium-sized finely chopped onion, 2 whole carrots, finely chopped, 1 ½ cups sugar, 1 tsp dry mustard, ½ tsp celery seeds, ¼ tsp turmeric and 1 ½ cup cider vinegar.

Enjoy! (And just for fun, on my Facebook page is a recipe for leftover turkey which does not in the least serve up as anything remotely leftoverish.