Monday, May 21, 2012

Comestibles from the Kitchen

While, at the moment, we're in a season of not doing a great deal of decent cooking (everything either seems to wind down in May for the end of the school year, or gear up for the summer), there have been a few comestibles of note lately for one reason or another.

For one, I used up the beets that had been preserved in our freezer from last year's CSA produce boxes. My original intention had been to use them as borchst, but I think I missed the winter window for that. But, since I don't actually like beets, I needed to find another option. (I know: I don't like beets, but I do like borscht. Or at least, I have liked the borscht I've eaten that was actually made by Ukrainians. It's entirely possible that if I were to attempt to cook it myself, it would have been a different story.) I ended up making them into a Chocolate Beet Cake. It's similar to the idea of replacing some of the liquids in a cake recipe with applesauce, except this uses pureed beets. Some people might use it to hide veggies from their kids. I told the kid upfront; I just wanted to hide the beets (or at least the taste of them) from myself. It worked! I liked it, ate it, and now know of at least two useful uses for beets. (Plus, I got to use the Tupperware cake keeper my grandma gave me when she cleaned out her house: always a bonus getting to use some fun specialty kitchen item.)

We're still using up some other CSA stuff, too: some garlic went into a spaghetti and shrimp dish recently, and tomatoes got unfrozen (in boiling water) to be plopped into a cheeseburger pie. It's possible the tomatoes may have come not from the CSA, but from the generous neighbor. My attempts at growing tomatoes myself have been fails, so I didn't even buy any plants this year. Perhaps the neighbor will again be generous? I had intentions of using the raspberries thawed from the stash from last year's raspberry picking in some sort of recipe, but they got eaten plain. I find them rather tart served so, but apparently the kindergartener who complained after I quit putting them in her lunch (because she'd eaten all of them) disagreed.

And we've had a couple of fun opportunities to review foods, too. I received a free sample of Knorr Homestyle Stock from Smiley 360, and we cooked it up as part of the broth for a dish of pork chops baked atop stuffing mix (yes, this was back in the cold spring -- you know, a couple of weeks ago). It's little packages of dried broth ingredients that you reconstitute with boiling water. The idea, I guess, is to replace cans of broth. It does take up less storage space -- and I imagine would hurt less than a can if you dropped it on your toe -- but I'm not particularly happy about the relatively high sodium content in the ingredients list. When I do buy canned broth, I generally opt for the low sodium type. And the taste was just OK - I didn't find it spectacular, and I don't think the rest of the family even noticed. Still, it's nice to have some broth on hand (we have one more package we haven't used yet.)

I also received a coupon from Kraft First Taste for their new Teddy Graham Soft Paws. It's a snack item in their Teddy Graham line, except instead of being tiny teddy bear-shaped graham crackers, it's a larger, bear (cub) paw-shaped softer pastry, with filling in either apple cinnamon or oatmeal raisin flavors. We tried the apple cinnamon, since the kid has decided that her growing palate now rejects raisins (grrr!). It was actually a pretty tasty little snack, had whole grains -- and was hugely convenient for packing in the lunchbox.

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