Monday, October 27, 2008

Cooking up a storm

Last week I was incredibly busy and definitely didn't have time to cook.  Luckily I made do with leftovers until the weekend.  I finally had time yesterday, so I made up for the lack of kitchen time during the week.  I started off with my first loaf of homemade bread (sans bread machine).  I was reading Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads", and he seems to be the expert in the field.  About 95% of the recipes in his book use 100% whole grains (the other 5% are transitional breads for people who can't make the switch right away), and he's done the experiments to figure out how to work with the grains correctly.  I've perfected the sandwich bread in the machine, but it's somewhat hard to make other whole grain breads because there's not enough time for gluten to form.  He has some interesting ideas, so I decided that I'd try it out when I got the time.  I chose the Oat Bran Broom Bread (some of the book, and coincidentally this recipe, is on Google books).  It involves preparing two "starters" the night before, and it takes a while to make, but it's not a whole lot of work.  His descriptions were good enough for everything to work quite well.  And on top of that I got to try out my new pastry mat, which definitely made things easier and reduced clean-up time!  It's really good bread, although I'm not sure that it's miles ahead of the machine bread.  I can see myself making some of his other breads, but on busier weeks I'm sure I'll use the machine.

Oat Bran Broom Bread, from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads
While the bread was resting, I put on a pot of pea soup from a packet that Mom and I picked up at the farmers' market in Traverse City.  I added potatoes, carrots, and a smoked turkey leg (thanks to Mom's suggestion!) to the mix of peas and spices that was included.  Simply put, it's amazing.  The turkey gave it a wonderful flavor, and I'm happy that it made a ton because I don't think I'll get tired of it.  It was a perfect lunch today with a salad and some of my bread :)

Last night I was exhausted, but wanted to cook some spaghetti squash and kale (yep, I got some more at the market this week).  I decided to add some butter, parmesan, and pine nuts to the cooked squash.  It was good, but it could have used more parmesan (my hand got tired of grating).  Perhaps I'll grate more before I have the leftovers.  I found a good kale recipe from my new veggie cookbook - you boil the kale and add sauteed onions, garlic, and red pepper, and then pour some balsamic vinegar on top.  It's good, although it's hard to mess up with those ingredients.  So far my favorite kale recipe is still the one with the potatoes (with the bean and pasta one a close second).

Tonight I decided to make a bulgur pilaf to go along with kale leftovers and a piece of sauteed tilapia.  I used a recipe from the Cooking Light cookbook that adds onions, shredded carrots, currants (I didn't have any, so I used raisins), and toasted pine nuts to the bulgur.  I'm not sure I've ever had bulgur before, and I was nervous about the raisins (I almost left them out), but it's delicious.  The raisins go perfectly with everything else, and the pine nuts give it a good crunch.  The bulgur has a really good flavor, too, so I'm sure I'll keep a regular supply of it.

This should keep me going for a while!

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