Cooking

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Big Friendly Giants

giant blackberries

This year has been a banner year in the blackberry patch. The picking is pretty easy since the canes are thornless and mostly upright, as well. We regularly get giant berries like these. I put four in the picture just to prove that it's not just one mutant berry, and the quarter is in there for scale.

The taste of a perfectly ripe blackberry just off the vine is nothing you'll ever experience unless your fingers are stained purple, or unless you have someone who loves you enough to pick them for you.

Frugal Foods

Rainbow

Jenn at Frugal Upstate is doing a Frugal Foods series and this week she's doing eggs! We eat a ton of eggs around here with a backyard flock of chickens, and back in January I posted my recipe for Potato Crust Quiche.

I love how both Jenn and I have pictures of different colored eggs.

Good Granola Made Simpler

Granola is one of those things at the store that costs much more than I am willing to pay. It is usually chock full of fat and sugar, as well, and is more like a dessert than a breakfast cereal. The naturally frugal solution is to make your own at home. Oatmeal, after all, is super cheap when you buy it in bulk. My problem with most granola recipes, though, is that they also call for exotic, expensive ingredients, and require baking for a long time at a low temperature and need to be stirred every five minutes. I do spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but opening my oven every five minutes for an hour is not my idea of fun.  read more »

Tortillas

I'm afraid I've turned into a tortilla snob, and only homemade tortillas taste good to me. They do take a fair amount of time to make, and disappear even more quickly, so as much as I like to eat them, I don't love making them. Every once in a while I can find a store-bought alternative, but then something happens and it disappears. For example, for a year or two I drove by a Mexican bakery and never really had the time to stop. One day I finally did, and their tortillas were so good! I bought them two or three more times, and then the bakery went out of business. Then a while later I found a locally produced tortilla with the same ingredients as my own recipe, but I could only find them at one grocery store in my area. Now that there is a closer location of that grocery chain near my house, this location doesn't carry those tortillas. So I am back to making my own. I use a griddle so I can fry two at a time, and in as much time as it takes to roll the next tortilla, I can bake one. I don't even use a tortilla press anymore since it doesn't press the dough thin enough to avoid the rolling pin. I just roll out the tortillas from balls.

I always make a double batch and I'd make a triple batch if I wanted to fry tortillas forever. There are never enough leftover for another meal of tacos, but we can often have breakfast burritos the next day.

2 cups flour
2 1/2 tbsp shortening (seriously, how on earth would you measure this easily? Since I do a double batch, I do 1/3 cup for the double batch, with is 5 1/2 tbsp)
1 tsp salt
5 oz warm water (5/8 cup)

Cut the shortening into the flour which has been mixed with the salt. Add the water slowly and knead until dough is stretchy and elastic. Divide dough into 8-10 balls and cover with a cloth and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Roll out thinly and cook on a very hot heavy skillet or griddle until lightly browned on both sides.

I used to do this by hand, using a pastry blender to cut the shortening in, then adding the water and kneading by hand. Then I started dumping the flour/shortening mixture into my Bosch mixer and adding the water slowly as the flour spun around. Then I got a food processor and realized it did a fantastic job from start to finish. I put the flour and salt in, put the shortening in and pulse it a few times, then drizzle the water through the feed tube while it runs. The food processor does a really good job of kneading the dough to a soft, elastic texture and it's fast, too Sometimes I use a little less water than it calls for. Make sure you preheat your pan.

A new super-secret weight loss plan

I have discovered a fantastic way to lose weight. You might not find it convenient, but it totally works! If you break your ankle on your driving leg, not only can you not drive to the store or the fast-food restaurant, but you can't get up and walk to the kitchen and eat because you're bored.

Today, fully clothed and wearing my big orthopedic boot, I weighed the same as I did a couple of weeks ago, not wearing those things.

(I promise, an update on my foot with a picture coming soon. No cast, just a boot!)


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