Teeny Tiny Kitchen

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Homemade condiments and spices
Frozen Grapes: They're Like Candy PDF Write e-mail
Written by Launie Kettler   
Friday, 15 February 2013 22:50

 

Last week I was talking with my mother when she asked if I had ever eaten frozen grapes. I told her that I hadn't, and in fact I'd never even heard of them.

 

She made them sound appetizing as a sweet snack or as a “grape cube” in a drink. So, when I went to the grocery store yesterday I decided to pick up a batch that were on sale. When I reached for the bag, I had a conversation from a book pop into my head.

 

“We can take a shorter drive," Laura answered. "But we want to go to Lake Henry. This is about our last chance for wild grapes, now they are frosted,"Almanzo told her.

 

That's when I remembered that I had read about frozen grapes in These Happy Golden Years, my favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder book.

 

(Yes, I'm a grown woman who can quote Little House books. Don't judge me.)

 

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Why Spend Money on Sun Dried Tomatoes When You Can Oven Dry Them Instead? PDF Write e-mail
Written by Launie Kettler   
Tuesday, 01 January 2013 14:52

 

 

They're great on a pizza, a sandwich or just as a snack. But, sun dried tomatoes aren't cheap, and for $1.99 you can make them yourself. Not only will you have the satisfaction of saving a few dollars – but you get to have the simple childlike joy of performing a Mr. Wizard-like experiment in your own kitchen.

 

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From Gnarly Root to Powerful Condiment: The Perils and Beauties of Homemade Horseradish PDF Write e-mail
Written by Jedd Kettler   
Sunday, 18 November 2012 18:43

 

Gas masks, protective goggles and amazing food. Those ideas seem incongruous.

 

Or so I thought years ago, before I met Launie and before I heard the details of her family's tradition of making horseradish from scratch. The first time Launie told me stories about members of her family donning gas masks to protect themselves from the intense fumes of the horseradish-preparation process, I was convinced it was just my favorite raconteur indulging her imagination for comedic and dramatic effect. I mean, everyone knows horseradish packs a punch. Why tell tall tales?

 

I was just naive, though. When you cut below the outer skin of a horseradish root, enzymes begin to break down and that famous and much-loved aroma is released. That aroma, though, is much more intense during the preparation than it is when you open a jar of the finished product. It attacks both your eyes and your nose and it's not for the faint of heart. While Launie's description of members of her family wearing gas masks may have been a slight exaggeration, it's not much of one. They wore air-tight goggles. (See the description that Ginny, Launie's mother, gives below.) Launie can be forgiven a little literary license: Making homemade horseradish is serious business and so are the delectably intense results.

 

 

You might think you're a knowledgeable connoisseur of horseradish. You might use it in everything from a mustard dip to a Bloody Mary or a borscht to a cocktail sauce. You might think you understand the powerful, sinus-clearing properties of this distinctive ingredient. But if you've only used store-bought horseradish, you don't know the half of it.

 

Making horseradish is to cutting onions as skydiving from the edge of the atmosphere is to jumping off a ladder. While a gas mask might not be necessary, it doesn't seem unreasonable.

 

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Making Homemade Mustard is a Snap PDF Write e-mail
Written by Launie Kettler   
Friday, 06 April 2012 18:41

The other day Jedd went to the grocery store to stock up for the week. While he was gone I realized that I had asked him to grab sandwich stuff, but I forgot that we were out of mustard. I had beautiful turkey, rye bread and swiss cheese coming home but no mustard.

 

And Jedd had forgotten his phone.

 

To quote the Princess Bride: “Inconceivable!”

 

But I did have mustard seeds and vinegar.

 

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Mujadara PDF Write e-mail
Written by Launie Kettler   
Thursday, 15 March 2012 16:26

The other day I was talking about leftover food with a group of people, and one of them said something that piqued my interest.

 

“I don't worry about leftovers, because I've been eating the same thing for lunch for the last 3 years.”

 

The only time I've ever heard of someone eating something that consistently, was when Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox worked together on Friends. Apparently they ate a Cobb Salad everyday for 10 years. In the small scheme of things I find that kind of consistency remarkable.

 

So, I asked my friendly acquaintance which lunch recipe kept him coming back for more. And he said it was Mujadara, a brown rice and lentil dish with fruit, nuts, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin. He said he uses pork or chicken in the dish as well. He said it's great either warm or at room temperature.

 

Well, well, well. Who wouldn't want to eat that consistently? This dish has the double benefit of being very budget conscious as well as incredibly delicious. And just saying: “I'm having Mujadara for lunch” makes a mid-day meal feel a little elegant.

 

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