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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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November 19, 2010

Help!! I'm Cooking and I Can't Stop!

Yep, I'm still at it and I'm piling up so many leftovers (even after halving and quartering recipes) that I had to go buy a few more containers to put them in.

Referring back to my roasted red pepper sauce, I heated it up a second time (after having added the stuff I added), served it on some broken up linguine noodles and it was pretty delicious.  I think adding the honey (could have been sugar) really helped as did the sprinkle of cayenne.  It doesn't take much of it to be enough for a serving of pasta - I tend to keep thinking of it as a tomato-type sauce which I usually serve in fairly generous portions so I can mop it up with bread, but this has such an intense flavor that I think it's probably meant to be used more like a pesto-type sauce.  So I'll be adding this to my recipe collection after I'm all done with my cooking experiments and update the collection.

I still haven't made the vodka sauce or butternut squash sauce I mentioned a few days ago, but I did get busy and make the mini pumpkin pie and the Tuscan beans so here are my notes on that.

I had decided I would make half a recipe of pumpkin pie filling (using the Libby's canned pumpkin recipe which I've used all my life), make one mini pie and, as an experiment, freeze the rest of the filling to see if it would be useable at a future date.  I decided I would try to make a graham-cracker type crust but use some Anna's Ginger Snaps that I had in the cupboard because that seemed like a good idea.  And when finished, it was a very tasty idea - I really liked it with the filling, but it didn't bake like a graham cracker crust - it got kind of sticky and messy.  I had added sugar and butter to the crumbs just like I do my graham cracker crusts and I think probably the cookies have more sugar and oil/butter to begin with.  So it was fine to eat, but messy to serve which since it was just me, that was all right.  And I'm not really sure how I would fix it because you have to add some butter to make it "pressable".  I could leave out the extra sugar though and see if that helped.  I haven't used the frozen filling yet so can't report on that - I'm planning to make myself another little pie for Thanksgiving.

 This was before I baked it and I forgot to take a picture of it afterward.

The next project was the Tuscan beans.  I cooked the whole pound of cannellini beans I had purchased in Perugia from that wonderful store with the bags of all kinds of bulk beans sitting on the floor.  I shouldn't have cooked that many because that is a lot of beans.  But I tried two somewhat different recipes - one that was supposed to be pretty much like the white beans they serve on brushcetta as an antipasti course and the other that the recipe suggested serving with a roast pork loin among other things - it had a wee bit more seasoning in it and not as much olive oil.  Not too much exciting to report there although I was forced to decide that my great "find" of an enamelled cast iron Dutch oven wasn't such a great find after all.  It's what I made my disappointing pot roast in and then I cooked one of the batches of beans in it and that didn't work well either.  So, no more cast iron enamelled pots for me!  Both batches of beans came out fine and the ones that were for antipasti were very close to what I've had in Italy so I was happy about that.  I had them as a soup the first night and then tried them with toasted good bread the next and both were fine.  Then I froze the remainder of that batch and started on the second batch out of which I used some to make the ribollita soup.  This went pretty well also - the taste was very good and again, similar to what I remember having in Florence.  But I chopped everything up the way the recipe I followed described and next time I will chop everything much smaller.  In the bowls I've had in Florence, you can't really tell what any of it is - it's just good.  But mine had chunks of potatoes, slices of carrots, slices of celery, etc., all of which were very detectable.  Also, curiously enough, there was every now and then a bean that hadn't cooked as soft as the others and a piece of celery or carrot that was still slightly crunchy.  I don't know what causes this.  I remember one time cooking a batch of sauerkraut and Polish sausage and cooking potatoes and carrots in with it and the vegetables simply refused to ever get done.  I wonder if it's something to do with the acid that sauerkraut (and the tomatoes in the ribollita) would have?  But it was really tasty - I just would like it better with everything pretty much minced rather than chopped.  The recipe I followed said to take the leftovers and bake them in a casserole for an hour or so until the top got kind of crusty so I did that tonight and mmmm, that was good too. :)  Again, I forgot to take any pictures of the finished product.

This is after sauteing the onion and celery for awhile and then adding the potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes.

And after that's cooked a while, you're supposed to add a bunch of kale, a bunch of chard, and a Savoy cabbage but I only used a bunch of chard and didn't use all of that.  This is before it was wilted down.  Then after pureeing most of the beans, you add the puree and the beans you didn't puree and let it cook and cook.  When I make it again, I'll change that too - I won't puree most of the beans - it made the soup a fairly light color and in Italy, it's quite dark.  But overall, I was happy with it cause it was good!

And finally, I also used the other half of the canned pumpkin to make a recipe I found for pumpkin bread with sweetened dried cranberries and I'm certainly enjoying that!  The recipe called for vegetable oil and mine was so old, I was afraid to use it so I made it with butter instead and that worked fine.

I'm going to be by myself this Thanksgiving (that's my choice - I was invited to join family members and/or friends so I'm not neglected) and am just hoping this cooking jag lasts a little while longer.  Yesterday I bought a nice small roasting hen, a sweet potato, some celery (for the soup and next for a little bit of stuffing).  I'll defrost my pumpkin pie filling and see if it looks like I can make another pumpkin pie and, if not, I'll be freezing part of this bread and will be able to thaw that if need be.  And my plan is to also start a little of my Christmas decorating, a little on-line Christmas shopping and maybe even wrap a present or two so I think I will have a nice weekend. :)

If I don't write again before then, hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and...buon appetito!

1 comment:

Christopher said...

sigh... so yummy to look at...
Sorry to hear the iron pot didn't work out... what do you think is the matter?

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