A Christmas Experience in India

In Bangalore, India, at the beautiful Oberoi hotel, my husband and I had a perfect Christmas experience. First we stopped at their real! gingerbread "chalet" just outside their lobby and ordered some spiced rolls for Christmas breakfast, and stollen for Christmas dessert. Next we shopped at their gift shop -- small but packed with goodies -- and found a nutrition book I'm going to love for Christmas.

Then of course we stuffed ourselves! At their restaurant Le Jardin, which offers a buffet as well as a-la-carte. Delicacies included (there were zillions!)
Breads with Hummus, and also that Middle Eastern yogurt dip
Shrimp and Coconut Milk Soup
Shiitake Mushrooms and Watercress and Ginger with a Japanese sauce
Yogurt Vada (Indian savory doughnuts with a sweet yogurt sauce with delicate spices)
Chicken Tikka (grilled marinated Indian chicken) served with Mint Sauce
Grilled Eggplant and Mozzarella Salad
Shrimp and Cucumber in a French dressing
Oberoi's Own Smoked Meats, Sausages, served with Salads
Oberoi's Own Mineral Water
A made-to-order plate of swiss cheese, walnuts, and dried fruit
Tenderloin served with a bean ragout and polenta
Bay of Bengal Fish
Basil Mashed Potatoes
and for dessert amazing beauties like...
Peach and Ginger Parfait
Chocolate Pie
Berry and Chocolate Cake
Rasmalli (Indian milk sweet in a milky sauce topped with pistachios)
A northern South Asian dessert made of carmelized sugar and dried apricots
And of course we lingered over their own blends of Indian coffee for him, and tea for moi.

(Note that though this is a re-post from 2011, my husband recently had reason to visit India and found that the Oberoi is as marvelously perfect as ever!)

Shopping with kids and other people who eat your cooking; Or, A team approach to grocery shopping

This is related to the post where I wondered how we could best gather food for a temporary apartment, http://favoritefoodthisweek.blogspot.com/2014/12/eating-real-food-in-temporary-apartment.html , because this approach would also work for that. But it's also helpful for week-to-week or whatever grocery shopping.

I thought of it when my kids were in their late teens and said, ever so kindly (I really do have perfect kids, I'm serious) that they were not totally crazy about all the dinners I served. (Breakfasts and lunches, as I've done "forever," were always a matter of just keeping ingredients on hand for people to make themselves when they were ready.)  I right away came up with this idea, and they were very happy with it: We'd all share meal planning and cooking, with me doing at most every other day's dinner; there was always the option to order in if The In-Charge-of-Dinner Person of the Day were too busy or tired (this was in New York where we had a gazillion inexpensive delicious options of real food to be delivered piping hot to our apartment door pretty much more quickly than I could cook it myself).

Actually, it's no surprise I thought of that, because even when they were quite little I'd say in say the cereal aisle, "We're low on cereal -- each of you choose your own favorite, though remember someone else might eat some of it," or similar in the cheese section....

One could use this team approach when shopping for that temporary apartment too, or any home when you were really low on groceries, as long as you indeed had at least most of your "eaters" with you. Here's a basic idea for such an approach -- it would probably best be divided up before you get to the grocery store:

Each person gathers their own favorite breakfast ingredients, though if you need a lot of, say, milk and coffee, assign them to one person so you don't end up with 4x more milk and coffee than you could ever use.

Assign someone to gather very general items for lunches, like cheese, beans, tuna, bread, fruit, salad, or just the right number of decent TV dinners.

Each person gathers the ingredients for [a fair fraction] of the dinners they will plan and make. 

Assign someone else for your [other] basics, eg olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper. 

Assign someone to get non-food basics, such as paper towels, dish soap...

Set a time to meet near the check-out counter to check out on the same bill, with the understanding if someone says there that they need more time you'll re-meet at a later time -- or of course if there aren't a million people to coordinate, just call each other on your cell phones if they work in that store.

Eating real food in a temporary apartment...

...We're going to be traveling sometime next year for a preliminary discovering of neighborhoods, in prep for buying a house in that wonderful city with so very many of Our Favorite People in the Whole Universe nearby. We'll be staying in a temporary furnished apartment...me for a week or so, my husband and the rest of the family for a month or so.

And of course we're going to have to eat.

But all our meticulously gathered spices and other basic ingredients will be sitting back in our current house, and I'm not in the position to replace all of them, especially since they won't stay fresh long enough if I have twice as many of them as I usually have. We also will have a very limited number of pots and pans and other cooking paraphernalia.

So, here's a preliminary grocery list for ourselves, to get say the morning after arriving in town, that does not involve long recipes with lots of doubling-up-in-two-homes-temporarily ingredients. I got inspired from http://www.thekitchn.com/eating-well-on-the-road-how-to-avoid-incessant-snacking-while-traveling-190907 and from a magazine article I saw in oh 2003ish. It has tasty food that's easy to prepare and -- very importantly -- easy to be inspired by, that will spark many nice dishes and often go well together. It also includes foods that just make us feel fabulous, though that's different for everybody.

a total of enough fruit and vegetables for us for x # of days, including:
fresh washed greens
any other crudités you see and like, eg cucumber
cleaned sliced mushrooms
fresh herbs (remembering you don't have a lot of spices etc sitting at your present home)
tomato if they're good
fresh fruit

nice bread
a treat or two, especially if this is a stressful time

olive oil
pepper in one of those disposable grinders
canned beans
canned tomatoes if fresh are not good right now
favorite cereal
cooked rice or polenta or other favorite grain(s)
favorite Italian appetizers such as caponata (be sure they're easy-open or you have a can opener)
olives, pickles, whatever you like
teas, coffee
  and anything you need for them such as sugar
dried fruits
a nice wine (be sure you have an opener or get a twist-top)
nuts, nut butters
your favorite chocolate
anything especially helpful for your favorite dish and/or way to use up leftovers (eg broth) thanks to Julie for this idea!

favorite cheese(s)
favorite juice(s)
(eggs if you have a good pan for them and use them enough)

broccoli, corn, other favorite frozen vegetables
real-food TV dinners if you see them
other real-food fabulous prepared food you might see
already-cooked or just prepared non-veg eg fish

total convenience
restaurant reservations/plans for at least 2x/week -- it would be a shame not to enjoy one of the biggest reasons we're moving there!

Any more ideas are very welcome! In fact, I'll update my own list and possibly this post with any I really want to try first...

Note: There's a different, looser appraoch I just posted at http://favoritefoodthisweek.blogspot.com/2014/12/shopping-with-kids-and-other-people-who.html .

This Week's (Not) Cookbooks

As I mention at my short-ish-term site http://walkingtocivilization.blogspot.com/2014/12/making-holidays-brightand-easy.html , because of the many things going on in our lives, including prep for a long move sometime next year! to a place with REAL RESTAURANTS and REAL FOOD SHOPS!!!!!! -- because we're just so busy with that, I've decided to order in lots of not convenience foods really, but lots of pre-chopped vegetables, ingredients already gathered for things like a sausage-roasted vegetable dinner, and well these are super convenient: amazing little cherry pies from a company called Tiny Pies that delivers your pies frozen, ready to pop into the oven when you're ready; they deliver at least here, I'm not sure where else: http://www.tinypies.com/ . Oh, what a darling storefront they have!

Happy days to everyone. Here's a retro holiday ad for you...

Légumes anciens de France

"Old-fashioned" vegetables as defined in a French ladies' magazine (Femme actuelle) from last year:
Jerusalem artichokes
heirloom carrots
and similar

They put them into a closed pastry along with, bien sûr, foie gras and truffles! and parsley and butter.

Has anyone seen this 1931 French movie?

This Week's Cookbooks

Several selections from the series from Weldon Owen Publishers' "of the Day" /"365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year" series (http://www.weldonowen.com/food-drink )...a clipping...another one of Jamie's miraculous meals as I call them, where for 30 or so minutes you follow his ideas and voilà you have a delicious meal complete with dessert!...a free meal plan I got from Clean Eating for my breakfast and lunch inspiration (I've given in and just finally bought a subscription which I hope starts to arrive real soon)...and a 1973ish cookbook Creative Cooking that taught me there's some truth in "all good things come to she who waits" -- the restaurant manager of a gorgeous Victorian seaside resort where I worked a bit during my undergrad days got this very book and brought it to show us at the front desk and I wanted it so bad but couldn't dream of paying its price -- but nowadays you can get it for a song....The cute "this week" printout is from some very talented artists over at etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SkyGoodies -- oh wow, they actually have a discount code there at least today, and some new calendars!

Dreaming and philosophizing while you cook

From this month in Gladys Taber's Stillmeadow Daybook, after a discussion of ancient Greeks, Shakespeare, Keats, etc.:

Well, I think, as I carefully press two leaves of bay on the top of the meatloaf, who could ever say [cooking] is dull? It is packed with excitement. I have been to Athens, to Rome, and to...the mountains, all while stirring up a meatloaf.

This Week's Cookbooks

So many recipes looked easy as well as tasty in this month's eat in magazine from the UK that we'll be trying many of them this week/in the next 10ish days actually, as I'm still finding it works to plan for more than just a week of food for us, leaving me more time for other projects.

Also planning on a couple meals from Jamie's amazing 30-Minute Meals. 

And for retro inspiration for breakfasts and lunches, the very cool Chicago Record Cookbook from 1896. 

Various Approaches to Easier Meal Planning, Part Four: Fun Gimmicks

Sometimes all it takes is taking a break from one's normal meal plans and taking a more fun approach. My favorite gimmick is food dice, like these that I own from a great company, http://www.leafcutterdesigns.com/shop/recipedice.html :

These food dice also look very fun, and I love that the ideas are actually put into the wood rather than on stickers, and that they are all about seasons, http://www.foodiedice.com/ :

FYI, I've seen a few images of food dice online that you can just print out and use for free, and also have seen lists of what is on the dice, in case you wisely want to make your own featuring your own favorite foods! Hmm, perhaps you'd like to make custom sets for your friends, if you're looking for gift ideas!

There are fun digital gimmicks too. I just discovered this site, which also looks very promising for giving one fun ideas based on a taste quiz you take (fyi I think I made a mistake the first time I took the quiz -- it asked if I liked chocolate chip cookies, which I do, but I said no because I only eat them like once every three years, but they were looking more for if I liked the taste): http://www.mccormick.com/FlavorPrint

A philosopher-chef

I just read a beautiful article in this December's Food & Wine, by Anya von Bremzen (of Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing), about the Italian chef Massimo Bottura, whom she describes as a "philosopher-chef" who "bridges...folklore and post-molecularism." He says in his book Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef that "a recipe is just a starting point of reflection, always evolving."

There are some beautiful previews of his book at his publisher's site, http://www.phaidon.com/store/food-cook/massimo-bottura-never-trust-a-skinny-italian-chef-9780714867144/ . On the cool site about the 50 best restaurants in the world! is his restaurant that's #3! http://www.theworlds50best.com/list/1-50-winners/osteria-francescana . That restaurant's site is cool as well: http://www.osteriafrancescana.it/ .

He's a very good human being as well as chef -- he's put together a soup kitchen for the upcoming Milan Expo that will use leftovers from other pavilions to make delicious dishes to feed the poor. Other chefs have agreed to join him, including Alain Ducasse and Mario Batali.

Holiday wisdom

In this part of the world, we're really heading into "The Holidays." I've been rethinking how to approach them...and just got some ideas from a great event planner, David Monn, in this month's Elle Decor: He points out that many, many people really don't have time to do all the traditional holiday stuff, but that he likes to choose to do one or two that are important to him.....He suggests looking at January and February as great times to spread holiday happiness, like celebrating Chinese New Year, or throwing a friendly "old-fashioned potluck" -- "we might even have a Jell-O mold" -- he also mentions that "old classic" dishes are back in fashion.

You might enjoy his site: http://davidmonn.com/webDev/davidmonn.php, which includes this photo of one of the many magical events he has designed:

Wishing everyone a peaceful, happy time in the months ahead, whatever holidays you do or don't celebrate.

November Potluck at I Heart Cooking Clubs

Joining up with the lovely people over at http://iheartcookingclubs.blogspot.com/ , who are featuring recipes from their chefs. As they say, "Oh, the possibilities!"

I have used more than once the ideas in Jamie Oliver's Save with Jamie for his Mothership Roast Chicken (what a name!) and its delicious side dishes. I have never had such delicious roasted potatoes! (Note that instead of boiling the cabbage I roasted it too, though added it later than the other items -- and have found that red cabbage works best, at least of the cabbage available in this area.)
...In fact, I'm going to re-use many of his ideas tomorrow for the American Thanksgiving! but with a bigger bird!

This Week's Cookbooks

Lots of clippings to try this week...a feast to make...another favorite retro cookbook for menu inspiration.

Another free raisin cookbook -- this one from 1923!

One of the first posts on this site (http://favoritefoodthisweek.blogspot.com/2014/09/a-cool-and-free-100th-anniversary.html) was about a lovely free raisin e-cookbook from Sun-Maid -- so it's only right that I also mention this one which I just discovered, also from Sun-Maid but from many years earlier!

A Versatile Eggy Vegetabley Casserole

Just made this up last night and it was delicious, especially in the midst of our first cold spell!

Versatile Eggy Casserole

serves 3 or 4

(Note you might want to plan to roast vegetables in the same oven.)

Cut into 1/4's 3 slices of whole grain bread.
Brush one side of each with olive oil.
Generously glug some olive oil into the bottom of a casserole dish and brush it up the sides a bit.
Put about 1/3 of the bread slices on the bottom of that casserole dish.

Sprinkle over some diced onion.
Sprinkle over a total of about 150 to 200g chopped vegetable(s) or eg tiny tomatoes, chopped sweet peppers, and/or sliced mushrooms.
(Surely ham, bacon type additions would also be delicious, but I didn't try that.)

Whisk together then pour over top of the above:
         6 eggs
         a very generous splash of milk (about 1/4 cup)
         salt, pepper
         about 2 tsp mustard
         heaping 1/2 tsp or more smoked sweet paprika
         1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
         a small handful of chopped fresh herbs eg cilantro, parsley

Sprinkle with about 2 oz chopped cheese eg Mozzarella

Put the rest of the bread on top.

Bake at 375 for about an hour.

Serve with a salad and/or roasted vegetables.

Inspired by the very different "Saturday Night Casserole" in the Casserole Cookbook of the McCall's collection from 1972.

Various Approaches to Easier Meal Planning, Part Three: The Budget-Friendly Grocery Store Method; Plus The Big Idea

I checked out this book from 1971,
but found that though the book is charming and useful in some ways, of course what was inexpensive to this book's editors 43 ! years ago is not inexpensive today where I live, especially because it calls for a lot of premade dishes like canned hash, plus of course some premades that don't seem to exist anymore....There are other books like this as well, as I'm sure you know, whose ingredients obviously worked for their authors but which are priced vastly differently where I live.....all of which made me realize The Big Idea, which hmm is actually Five Big Ideas (I don't mean ground-breaking big, but basic big):
I would probably do best with my food budget simply going to

the closest store with reliable fresh merchandise

that we like

and seeing what is the best price that day,

and getting the amount I know my family eats, and planning our meals around that --

using every bit of the food that I possibly can.
Some people -- like my dad! -- have memorized the ever-changing prices -- of many of their nearby stores! with the help of their sales flyers -- so could plan their grocery list a bit more specifically ahead of time. Actually, most of us could somewhat -- like, summer squash is often inexpensive in late summer here, winter squash in midwinter, so we can plan a dish around that, though be open to changing that if something happened with the store's suppliers and prices were unusually high.

"The amount I know my family eats" is based on nutritional stuff, which differs for everybody. We feel best with a huge amount of vegetables, for example, and plenty of olive oil.

Speaking of olive oil, some ingredients from certain brands are more expensive, but can be the only reliably tasty ingredients. Constantly experimenting with other brands can be more expensive, to say nothing of unpleasant and even wasteful if the other brand is truly inedible (like some "unclean" stuff that made us ill, from a store I now avoid). I simply get a lot of our favorite brand when I see it on sale, especially for olive oil, vinegars, and spices.

There are very helpful, much more timeless cookbooks that help with the last "bit" of The Big Idea, using up every bit of food --  cookbooks like Save with Jamie, which I've mentioned already, that give advice on using your whole chicken in many tasty and easy ways. Jamie's book even gives great ideas on using up your vegetable scraps.

Of course it's only fresh food whose scraps are useable -- so food "on sale" that's icky is no bargain, though a bruise or two to trim away is perfectly fine....

This Week's Cookbooks

I've already started this batch and am really enjoying using menu ideas from this cool 1939 spiral-bound Modern Meal Maker: 1115 Menus, 744 Recipes by Martha Meade.

It has an interesting page in it titled "Bringing Back the Good Old Days"! You can find copies of this that are still pretty reasonably priced, I just saw. Here are some more details about it from a very cool website: http://cookbookoftheday.blogspot.com/2012/03/modern-meal-maker.html .

Hmm, when I looked up that cookbook's title, I discovered a cool truly modern meal maker site! http://modernmealmaker.com/

I also enjoyed the other retro source here, the Fish & Shellfish booklet from this 1950s Good Housekeeping's Cookbooks binder. I got a fantastic deal on mine, though it's harder to get that nowadays, especially in good condition....

In fact, with the help of these retro sources, I'm very surprised and happy to have cut our food budget in half, which is crazy! and actually to have made my husband happier with the food itself -- he's into comfort food right now! which includes lots of inexpensive! fall vegetables and homemade bread but very few and often costly convenience products.

A 1950s harvest festival in New England

from this month's chapter in Gladys Taber's Stillmeadow Daybook, describing their harvest festival:

[It] is gay with massed greens in the big...bowl, with harvest vegetables piled in the old wooden dough tray, with red corn hanging...by the fireplace. Apples and raisins and nuts brim the bowls on the coffee table by the fire, the cheese board is decked forth with pale Swiss, bright Cheddar, and creamy Port Salut...

A favorite harvest-time picture of which I think Mrs. Taber would have approved, an October 1924 magazine cover....Of course this being a food site, we must imagine a wonderful kitchen inside this mansion...perhaps with a fireplace with one of those chimneys we can see? Hmm, a few people are selling this magazine online, but beyond my means....If anyone sees its articles inside, do let us know.

And you thought you had difficulty grocery shopping...

from the blurb for "A Continental Cuisine" autobiographical article by Jynne Dilling Martin in this month's Food & Wine:

In a frigid Antarctic kitchen, nine hours by plane from the nearest grocery store, writer Jynne Dilling Martin discovers Pad Thai, pear galette, and an astonishingly creative Thanksgiving dinner.

A Fabulous Breakfast-for-Dinner

-- unlike most menus I've tried for this idea, this one doesn't give one a sugar headache. And it was quite easy!

Cauliflower and Ham Hash (I found a recipe in a magazine but sorry am not sure which one; it's basically your normal hash browns but made with sautéed cauliflower florets, onion, then after those are browned you add chopped nitrate-free ham and I used Williams-Sonoma's amazing smoked sweet paprika which is by far the best paprika I've ever used, and a bit of freshly ground pepper, then I dropped an egg apiece on top and covered and cooked until the eggs were done; top with just a little freshly snipped parsley)

Vegetarian "Pork and" Beans (I livened up some bland homemade beans with natural brown sugar called sucanat, catsup, and a little bit of mustard!)

Apple Crisp (though I didn't want to turn on the oven so just toasted a serving each of oats, then walnuts, and set them aside; then stewed apples and pears actually with some brown sugar and lots of cinnamon and a glug of wonderful almond oil -- by La Tourangelle my favorite nut-oil maker by far, and topped them with the oats and nuts)

(I also tried serving pear liquour with this, but the one I got was ghastly; perhaps you know of a good apple calvados or something.)
This is a re-post from the pre-incarnation of this site, actually from when it was hot there, hence the oven reference.

This Week's Cookbooks

-- using (rather blurrily, sorry) ideas from my other post today...so aiming at shopping for 10 rather than 7 days, and doing more vegetarian and fish than I somehow had been very recently...

Various Approaches to Easier Meal Planning, Part Two: The Budget-Friendly Method -- Complete with a Grocery List!

After various (failed) experiments as detailed at http://favoritefoodthisweek.blogspot.com/2014/10/various-approaches-to-easier-meal.html and http://favoritefoodthisweek.blogspot.com/2014/10/food-on-budget-ideas.html , I thought I should combine ideas that are easy both on your energy and your budget. Once again, it is more to do with grocery shopping than actual meal planning. As usual, this is very idiosyncratic...and possibly very boring to somebody else!

from the 1930s:

Once a month (for a total of 3 shopping trips)
(note there's a general shopping list at the end of this that summarizes these ideas)
1. Have a Fill Your Freezer (etc) day featuring the least expensive (probably very seasonal) foods. (Plan at http://favoritefoodthisweek.blogspot.com/2014/10/filling-freezer-etc-day-general.html .) For that, in this area I need Whole Foods, in order to source safe and "humane" nonvegetarian ingredients (my closer favorite grocery store, Natural Foods, doesn't carry things like whole chickens). My favorite recipe plans for that at the moment are in Jamie Oliver's Save with Jamie. Try to make enough to help you skip one week of shopping this month.

2. Another week, load up on food from Natural Grocers, my by-far most budget-friendly shop in this area. Try making a master list based on ideas from the budget post, in which one doubles up with nutrient-rich foods, etc. Try to get enough from here that you can skip one week of shopping this month. However, if I must go shopping again this month, this would be where I would go.
   If you can swing it, do get one premade meal from here for this month, to reward yourself for your hard work, or maybe just one side dish or something else that appeals to you. In fact, there are a couple things I often get here whose raw ingredients cost more than the made dish they offer...and that made dish is ever so delicious!

3. Another week, pick up the staples and anything else required at the nearby grocery store that carries the olive oil, etc. we like and at lower prices than a gourmet shop. However, unfortunately I need to get as little as possible here, as their prices have gone 'way up and their freshness 'way down...but on the other hand it saves on gas, as unlike everything else that's one to three hours away it's five minutes away.

Here is my latest general menu and grocery list, cobbled together for this site since I don't know how to offer PDFs....I decided to start with a very general list that does not specify the above types of shops, so I could be reminded of what I needed on hand in general an average of every 10 days, to re-check the pantry etc. before heading out to a shop (and to cross out what I do not need). (This includes a couple of my favorite made-up-for-my-own-notes abbreviations: IN = If Necessary; IP = If Possible.)

Automatic, as required
Continue to have delivered the budget-friendly foods as detailed at http://favoritefoodthisweek.blogspot.com/2014/10/various-approaches-to-easier-meal.html -- for me, that's all the pet food from chewy.com and my coffee from amazon.com; they have those items at half the price of anybody else in my area.

Only when required and have a deal/sale/coupon
As detailed in the first part of this meal planning series: Williams-Sonoma for spices etc., the local wine shop for sherry during its annual sale.

The joy of playing with your food

A quotation from this month's Clean Eating magazine's editorial, by editor-in-chief Alicia Rewaga....It's a promising beginning to this issue, which I just picked up this morning at Natural Grocers:

I adore playing around at the market and in my kitchen because I'm tinkering with my health, boosting my immune system, energizing...

Jobs in the culinary and other arts

From Gerald Durrell's funny book The Picnic and Suchlike Pandemonium, in the "Michelin Man" chapter, re his travels in France in hmm I guess the 1960s -- he says this was years before the book was published in 1973, and it's a veteran of WW I speaking, then in his mid-80s and running a restaurant and inn when Dr. Durrell met him and heard him say this:

 I found my true artistic métier was in the kitchen. However,...I tried to make a few francs by [painting] the odd portrait and pictures of people's homes....I enjoyed myself tramping through France, and if no one bought my pictures I did whatever job was offered. I have mended roads, picked grapes and cherries, and even been, for a short time, a snail farmer.

(I should probably mention that I didn't like the end of this particular chapter...though nonfiction is nonfiction!)

Huh. Google once again is reading my mind. When I did an image search for the above book, it very quickly gave me another book I have been reading in the last couple days! Patrick Leigh Fermor and the Duchess of Devonshire's delightful letters, In Tearing Haste.....(Twilight Zone soundtrack now playing.)

A Wonderful Quick Bread

(a re-post from previous incarnation of this site, when we lived in Hades, excuse me, somewhere dreadful overseas)

I had this as an extremely simple snack -- bread and water! But it's the best quick bread I've found so far that fits my needs: not sweet, and as close as possible to a yeast bread in texture and flavor. (I can't get good yeast here, and even when I import American yeast the flour doesn't work well with it.) It's an adaptation of my wonderful mom's wonderful bread!

Note: If you don't have a big strong mixer like a Kitchenaid standalone mixer, and you are not a big weight lifter, you probably would do best to halve the recipe, as the dough is very hard to mix, and also to mix the liquids separately before mixing them in. Also note that this quantity is the maximum that will fit into my mixing bowl without going everywhere.

The recipe (note I'm sure that different nuts and fruit will work):
Put into the big mixer bowl and stir by hand well:
  6-1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or a combination of whole grains, though mostly wheat; if your whole wheat flour is very heavy, try just 6 cups of it and then 1/2 cup of some lighter flour)
  1/2 cup oats
  1 tsp salt (yes, that much)
  2 tsp baking soda
  1 cup raisins
Start preheating your oven and oil 2 big bread pans (or more of smaller pans) (I use lots of olive oil brushed on with a silicon brush -- and first pour a bit of olive oil into a 1/3 cup measure and swirl it around before pouring it into the baking pan so that the honey below comes out much better), because if you mix the liquids in too early the baking soda will lose too much of its strength before you bake the bread.
Then put into the center and just stir them a bit: 2 eggs
Then pour in and mix using the big mixer on a low speed just until mixed:
  1/4 cup mild vinegar (I use white or rice, but apple cider will probably be nice too)
  2-3/4 cups milk
  1/3 cup honey (preferably a strongly flavored wild-ish honey; preferably in a measuring cup that has been swirled with oil as mentioned above, so it comes out better)
Then mix in:
  1/8 cup flax seeds
  1/8 cup sunflower seeds (optional)
  1/2 cup or more walnut quarters
It will be a very thick dough, unlike most quick breads. Spoon (probably with difficulty, sorry) into well-oiled pans (I use a couple big glass ones). Bake at 375 for 1 hour for big loaves; test it at that point with a wooden toothpick to be sure it doesn't come out doughy (once my oven was a bit cool because of voltage fluctuations so I needed to bake it about 10 more minutes). Cool in pans on rack for 10 minutes, then remove. Let cool at least almost completely before cutting. Nice served with jam or (especially when a bit older and starting to dry out) drizzled with walnut oil.

A free class on whole grains!

Usually I would've tried out a free thing before posting it...but I've seen things like this disappear so quickly I thought it'd be okay to post this as soon as I learned about it! Let us know how you liked it or not...

I Heart Cooking Clubs: What Came First...The Chicken or The Egg?

Linking with the lovely people over at http://iheartcookingclubs.blogspot.com/ , who are featuring recipes by Diana Henry, this week either eggs or chicken.

I found an egg recipe I wanted to try, Spanish Sweet Potato with Chorizo, Peppers, and Fried Egg, from her book Pure Simple Cooking. Here's my version, first before I added the eggs and next with eggs...served with soup and some delicious bread my husband made! from a recipe by James Beard in his Beard on Bread.

Some inspiring words

from Keith Schroeder, CEO/Founder of High Road Craft Ice Cream:

Cooking:...Enjoy the process. Shop reverently. Unpack deliberately. Activate soundtrack. Strategically position your cookbook....

This Week in My Kitchen

I had a lot of fun this week in this favorite room...and I'm posting this with the great cooks at http://beautythatmoves.typepad.com/ .

I said it was fun, not that everything was absolutely delicious. This stirfry is somewhat photogenic but was pretty bland. I'm thinking I should only use "Oriental" recipes from cooks who grew up with that cuisine or otherwise really know its flavors and don't try to bland it down for Americans or whomever....I also found that this took inordinately long to make, especially compared with my favorite "real" Chinese and Japanese cookbooks.

Ditto for this Italianate dinner...though unlike Oriental cuisines I have found good American-source Italian recipes....This was from the same recipe source, which I was trying out and won't be trying again.

Then I put the fun into the week with the most successful and by far most fun Fill-Your-Freezer Day I've had in years. The fun was especially due to Jamie Oliver, and I'll be posting about that another day....I also made an interesting cheesey bread from my so-far favorite whole grain breads cookbook. I printed out and used what I wanted of the general plan at http://favoritefoodthisweek.blogspot.com/2014/10/filling-freezer-etc-day-general.html .

Used up a lot of tea towels that day! (Does anyone else enjoy calendar towels? This one reminds me of a wonderful year...)
 With the (unfortunately very bland) broth I made with the chicken leftover bones, and with other leftover vegetables, I made a bean soup for lunch yesterday...(Thoughts on bland and not-bland broths/stocks at http://favoritefoodthisweek.blogspot.com/2014/10/broth-thoughts.html -- I would love new ideas if anyone has them!)

Then last night we had a very tasty chef's salad I made up and served with some of that cheesey bread. FYI, yours truly was as usual untrusting of cookbooks when I should have trusted them -- a basic bread book I'd borrowed from the library gave the super helpful tip actually to check the temperature of your bread to make sure it's cooked through -- it should be 195 to 200 F. I thought that the cheese in the bread might have been messing up my thermometer's reading so blithely got it out when it was way below that...and sure enough it was not cooked through in the center of the round loaf. But whew I was able to rescue that center, because it wasn't too doughy, by baking it at 250 F in not-terribly-thick slices, just enough for one meal for us at a time, turning it a couple times, until it was cooked through at last. 

The art of grocery lists!

There are at least a couple cool sites that take grocery lists and turn them into art. Of course there's a long tradition of that -- isn't there a da Vinci illustrated grocery list floating around?...One of my favorite bloggers, Bianca, here http://www.goodnightlittlespoon.com/2012/01/100-ideas-week-four.html , is working on a supermarket zine -- I can't wait for it to be published! She works in a supermarket too, in addition to her other artistry! She pointed her readers to this amazing site which unfortunately doesn't look active anymore, but it's fun to look at: http://shoppinglosts.blogspot.com/ . Some are very funny....Here's a bit of my favorite today, a very elegant one:

A Simply Delicious Snack

(from this site's previous incarnation, when I lived in Europe)

a couple walnut halves
a couple prunes
a glass of orange juice
a few salted bagel chips
a wedge of herbed cheese from Holland

It's Singapore Restaurant Week!

from October 25 through November 2...

from an official tourist site, http://www.yoursingapore.com/ :

Broth thoughts

I've rarely made a great chicken broth, in my opinion. As of three minutes ago I made a mediocre chicken one, though the recipe sounded fantastic and was from one of my favorite cookbooks, whose dishes usually are full of taste. I refuse to believe that chicken broth has to be tasteless or worse. I also must admit that dishes have to be simply bursting with flavor for me to be happy, however.

I do know that beef broth can be amazing even to my taste; I learned that from the 1980s Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. When I look again at that, though, and its corresponding chicken broth, I see that they have a much different approach than I've seen elsewhere: to actually make the broth with plenty of meat, as well as with bones. Take the meat out (after just one hour, for chicken, four hours for beef) so it still is tasty and useful for all sorts of other dishes. For the chicken also take out the carrots and parsnips you've used after an hour and julienne them to serve in the broth, so they too are still tasty and useful -- which I really like, because I always feel so wasteful tossing the vegetables I've boiled to death over hours in a "normal" broth.

There is another approach I saw when I investigated this broth problem of mine. It was in the Jamie Oliver cookbook I just used in my Fill the Freezer day: Save with Jamie. This book is fantastic! I had dutifully gotten the ingredients he had called for for his aptly named "Mothership Sunday Roast Chicken," not realizing that I'd be filling my oven in minutes with his quick-to-assemble dishes -- not only a super flavorful chicken, but also a pan of the best roasted potatoes ever, some nice orangey carrots, and some tasty cabbage and peas! All of which are inexpensive vegetables, at least in this season and in my area! He had so many ideas to use up everything in the most economical and tasty ways!

One of his ideas I did not use was for broth using the bones (I used another cookbook for that) -- instead of trying to fight that broth can be bland, he just has you simmer the bones long enough to extract their goodness, without a bunch of other ingredients that can make homemade broth quite expensive, especially because you're going to be throwing them away -- yes, some nutrients do leach into the water, and the vegetables etc do add some flavor, but you're not getting enough of either to make me happy. Then to that plain broth à la Jamie you add ingredients you're actually going to eat and that add up to a tasty dish...

There are free recipes from this cookbook at http://www.jamieoliver.com/savewithjamie/ !

Another idea I've been seeing, and would like to try, for an economical -- and potentially tasty of course -- broth is to save up one's clean vegetable peelings, mushroom bits you may not have wanted to use immediately, and cheese rinds. Keep them in the freezer until you have enough, and then simmer them with water.

There is indeed one amazing chicken broth I have made, over and over in fact. It's in one of my column-of-fame cookbooks, Masterclass in Italian Cooking by Maxine Clark.  The catch is, it has half a bottle of wine in it -- so can hardly keep from tasting fabulous! Hmm, I see I've changed the original recipe tremendously, so probably should post it sometime -- it's one of the most delicious things I've ever had -- an adaptation of her Medieval Capon Salad.

...Most often in the past, however, when a recipe called for a broth, I simply added another onion and a couple more garlic cloves and some more salt to the recipe -- with far better (and faster) results than a bland broth!

Any suggestions, tips, recipe recommendations?

This Week's Cookbooks

I'm going to do a simple Fill-the-Freezer Day, including a "bone broth" like people at the linky party This Week in My Kitchen (http://beautythatmoves.typepad.com/beauty_that_moves/2014/10/thi-3.html ) were doing, made out of a budget-friendly roast chicken using a plan from my hero Jamie Oliver. You might be able to make out that I made myself a little booklet of my Fill-the-Freezer Day Plan post at http://favoritefoodthisweek.blogspot.com/2014/10/filling-freezer-etc-day-general.html ; if I ever figure out how to offer free PDFs at this site I will!

Speaking of linky parties, I hope soon to re-join another favorite linky party, I Heart Cooking Clubs -- http://iheartcookingclubs.blogspot.com/2014/10/october-pot-luck.html -- here's their party from last week:

Those people are celebrating the cookbook author Diana Henry, and I finally found a recipe from her to try -- my first.

...For lunches, I'm going to continue experimenting with Lunch Bowls...

A charming retro cookbook, 1927

Electric Refrigerator Recipes and Menus, by my favorite retro cookbook author, Alice Bradley:

My favorite part is, as usual, the menus (especially since Ms. Bradley's menus in general are among my favorites). I especially appreciate menu ideas for weekend guests, and this book does not disappoint.

She suggests for Saturday breakfast

orange juice cocktail
farina with cream
scrambled eggs
coffee, cocoa, milk

-- love the sudden appearance of doughnuts after an already generous spread!

I was mystified by the remark on the above page that you could get "small pans...so that two frozen things like frozen pineapple and frozen cheese may be put into the chilling unit at the same time." It was explained by this photo on another page, however -- I guess that little bit at the top right got colder? --

You can find this book free at http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924090161070;view=1up;seq=1 ; I was able to secure a beautiful physical copy for a very low cost about a year ago. Do be careful of course if you haven't bought antique books before; today I saw someone selling a copy that was in dreadful condition for 4x the price I saw elsewhere; another person claimed the book was from the 1800s! There are other editions; here is a charming one: