Friday, November 19, 2010

Bread and Little ones

Cooking with little children can be messy.  The trick is to make them feel included without letting them destroy the kitchen.  One way my grandmother and mother kept us occupied was letting us make our own little bread creations while they cooked the rest of dinner.  We sometimes made loaves or sometimes put blobs of dough together to form shapes of animals or plants.  We baked our creations and relished the hot snack.  The kitchen experience let us feel warm and cozy beside our mother while keeping us out of trouble.

One loaf of bread:

1-1/4 cup water warm
1 TBS yeast
1 TBS sugar
2-1/2 cups flour (part white, part wheat or all one type)
1 tsp salt
1 TBS oil or butter

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add flour to make a dough that is not sticky when poked with damp fingers.  Freeze the whole batch if desired. Make scones, form a loaf, roll out sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon for cinnamon rolls, roll out into wreath shapes or snip with scissors to create a braided look,  form dinner rolls in crescent shapes by rolling a triangle, or cutting the tops of the roll, or making Parker house shapes out of circles folded and pressed together.  The possibilities end with ones imagination.  Making bread is family fun.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Unemployment and Spaghetti Sauce

Last week a large crane truck stood in our driveway.  The men hooking tethers commented that as of this week there will be a $2600 fine to touch a tether or a hook if one has not been certified.  For construction crews fines of $500 per ladder are levied  if they leave ladders standing while going to lunch.   In Wyoming when I was a girl these risks came with responsibility.  The individual was trusted and empowered to make the smart choice.  It seems like we cannot think for ourselves any more.

What does this have to do with food and cooking?  Such regulation destroys companies yeilding unemployment.  Unemployment creates hunger.  Hunger breeds fear which further feeds government intervention.  Rarely does the government step back and empower people.  Standing on my driveway I thought I would rather be unemployed than enforce such regulation.  The question quickly surfaced "Would I let my babies go hungry?"  With a calm assurance I answered, "I am prepared.  My children have food."

Cooking at home from scratch is not as hard as one may imagine if you have never seen a mother or father prepare meals.  Almost all of the everyday meals are prepared in less than 30 minutes from start to finish.     Spaghetti Sauce is such an example.

The process is - open a can or bottle of tomatoes, add spices, add precooked frozen ground beef or meat of your choice, heat.  Serve.  While adding spices to the tomatoes, noodles are cooking.  The pasta sets the time restraint.  In 20 minutes or less, dinner is ready.

The advantages of making your own tomato sauce is that it empowers one to use the same sauce in lasagna, pizza, macaroni/hamburger/tomato dishes or a Goulash variation. Upside down spaghetti can easily be frozen, Calzones can be dipped in the tomato sauce minus the meat.  Serving a tomato base dish twice a week can easily be stretched 3-4 weeks without ever duplicating a meal.

Tomato Sauce is also a great place to govern ones health.  Bottled tomatoes  are a full of licopenes that are anti cancer agents.  Made at home sodium can be half what is in grocery store varieties.

My daughter took great pride in being the chef in creating this Spaghetti Sauce recipe.  Try it and create your own favorite combination.

1 quart tomato (crushed, diced or blended whole tomatoes from the garden)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp chives (I don't often add this - She does, but she warns - not too many.)
a shake of black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp basil

Other spices and add ins may include oregano, dehydrated or fresh onions, mushrooms, hot peppers or  bell peppers.  If I am using home bottled tomatoes that are very juicy, I add 2 TBS of cornstarch to thicken the sauce enough that it will stay on top of a pile of spaghetti.   I make this in quantity (4 quarts at a time) and do once a month freezer cooking.  It is a great feeling to have an upside down spaghetti in the oven when returning from an afternoon in the car retrieving children or running errands.

Upsidedown Spaghetti 

Cream cheese (8 ounces)mixed with grated cheese (1/2 cup) sour cream (8 ounces)
Cooked spaghetti (1 pound)
Top with Spaghetti sauce