Other People’s Recipes: Should’ve Been Chuck Roast

 

The weather turned a bit cooler–almost fall-like–and we decided it was time to haul out the pressure cooker. I found a toothsome-sounding recipe online that called for rutabagas instead of the forbidden white potatoes. Here are the ingredients:

  • Beef (more on this later)
  • 1 large (all I could find) or 2 medium rutabagas
  • 1 onion
  • 1 shallot (optional)
  • 1 Pink Lady apple
  • 2-3 carrots
  •  2 TBSP olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 TBSP Italian seasoning (we used oregano, marjoram, parsley)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar

The first mistake we made was using brisket instead of chuck roast. We winged it rather than reading the recipe before shopping for ingredients.

The second mistake was to leave decisions about what constituted ‘Italian seasoning’ to the last minute. I know marjoram was wrong, but it’s what I had on hand.

We cut the brisket into four pieces, rubbed it with the mixed seasonings, and cooked it in the pressure cooker for about 80 minutes: our brisket was slightly more than 3.5 pounds. Once we vented the pressure cooker, we rested the meat, then sliced it.

Added the veggies to the pressure cooker, then the meat, and cooked another ten minutes. The meat was chewy, but delicious. The rutabagas added an earthy, potato-like texture, so we didn’t miss the white potatoes we’ve always before added to stews.

The stew was better the next day, with the fat scraped off the broth and the veggies mashed.

What would I do differently? Skip the Pink Lady apple. They turned to mush. Or maybe use Granny Smith. And I’d look for a chuck roast.

 

 

Pleasantly Surprised

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As a life-long pessimist, I like to tell people-who-call-me-on-it that optimists are never pleasantly surprised. It takes a lot of energy to search out that silver lining when the sky is filled with black clouds.

But early yesterday morning, I was pleasantly surprised—so much so that I lived the rest of yesterday in a fog of optimism.

Another of my stories sold and will be published this month.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested, go to The Arcanist for a quick five minute read, published at the end of August.

Other People’s Recipes: Paleo Friendly Ginger Carrot Muffins

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I’ve had a yen for ginger muffins since reading a recipe in the paleo book that my alternative medicine practitioner recommended. That recipe had too many eggs and not enough ‘flour’ to be anything close to a real muffin.

Internet to the rescue. I found two recipes that I thought might make a decent muffin, both based on almond flour. Blending the recipes, I came up with this list of ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2 TBSP coconut flour
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 TBSP melted butter (replacing the coconut oil both recipes called for)
  • 2 TBSP unsulfured molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries (replacing the raisins optional in both recipes)

The method is what you’d except. Mix the wet ingredients (starting at eggs) with the dry ingredients. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

I used parchment paper tin liners and, unlike the sticky blueberry muffins, these came clean out of the papers.  They tasted—a lot—like the zucchini muffins I used to buy at Whole Foods. Maybe a tad too sweet. When I make them again, I’ll reduce the maple syrup by half.

As for nutritional–or at least calorie–information, I tried using the calculator at Spark, but it was clunky at best. None of the recipes provided nutritional information. Again, Internet to the rescue. I did find calorie counts for a couple of similar Paleo muffin recipes–225 per muffin.

I froze half the tin for a day when I need a treat.

An Overabundance of Sedum

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About ten years ago, I planted two sedums–an Autumn Joy and a Brilliant–in my front flower bed. Within five years, I had sedums in every available flower bed, plus some given to friends and family, plus a donation to the local Extension office garden.

This year, as I contemplate dividing irises and daylilies, I look at my overgrown sedum and wonder. What the heck will I do with it?

For those who don’t know, you can tell when a perennial is too big by the ‘donut’ it forms in the plant’s center. While weeding this morning, I asked my husband to chop out half of three sedum plants–the wrong way to divide them–and then to throw the carcasses on the burn pile. Waste of a perfectly good perennial.

But what else to do with them? What if I planted sedum in the culvert that’s so difficult to mow? Or what if I started replacing my ‘lawn’ with sedum? We could have a river of mauve and bright pink for two weeks every fall. Maybe I should pot up divisions and sell them. I should do that for daylilies and irises too. I could start a new business …

Nah.

 

Other People’s Recipes: Blueberry Muffins

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I wanted a Paleo-friendly recipe for blueberry muffins. Something different for breakfast. What I didn’t want was some banana-y or eggy batter interspersed with blueberries. I was bound to be disappointed.

The recipe I ended up with called for:

  • 6 eggs
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Like most muffins, mix wet with wet and dry with dry, then put the two together, mix till just incorporated, then fill your muffin tin. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.

Easy to make, despite the frantic search for parchment paper muffin tin liners. And the muffins were edible. Barely. They had a decidedly eggy taste. Cavepeople must’ve been very hungry to enjoy them. And, despite the special tin liners, they had to be scraped out.

After that experience, I went back to the Internet and looked at other blueberry muffin recipes that didn’t call for bananas. All of them had a high egg content—and I have to question where the cavepeople got all those eggs—but most started with 2 cups of almond flour.

Oh. Well yes. That would help.

I’m looking for a cinnamon-spice muffin next. I wonder if cavepeople ate raisins.