Food writing is much more than collecting and typing up recipes. It is a long, joyful process starting with noticing what others are doing. Chewing on the ideas and food. Making baskets and baskets of mistakes. Not apologizing, just dancing on.
Eventually, things start to fall into their own corners and collecting. The single-sock effect sets in and things get shifted. When everything is ripe and meant to be, a project is born.
Take a look at various stages of the creative process. Please read gently; they are not fully-baked yet. The sample recipes are very much still in testing.
Kidz in the Kitchen
The Mindful Vegetarian
This lively, engaging collection of recipes and techniques for kids is divided into three levels, roughly corresponding to age groups and experience in the kitchen. It's nearly-nearly ready.
Here is a sample from Book One, in which sharps and hots are at a minimum.
Ice Cream Shake and Rattle
Making ice cream in a toss bag? Incredible!
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons salt
ice cubes (Crushed ice works even faster if you have some on hand.)
measuring cup *
[TO WHAT DO THE *s REFER?]
measuring spoons *
1 gallon zipper plastic bag
1 pint zipper plastic bag
oven mitts *
Put the milk, sugar and vanilla in the small bag. Zip it tightly shut. Put the salt in the large bag. Put the small bag into the large bag on top of the salt. Pack ice all around the small bag until the large bag will barely zip shut. Shake the bag-in-a-bag. Toss it to your friends when your hands get too cold. You might want to wear oven mitts so you don't freeze. This might take 20-30 minutes, but it is well worth the wait.
Play the letter game while you toss. Start with A. My name is Anna. I come from Alaska. I brought you an aardvark. Then your friend gets B. My name is Butch. I come from Boise. I brought you a big brown boat. And so on.
After about 20 minutes check to see if the ice cream is hard yet. If it is, spoon it into bowls. Add toppings or fruit if you want. Next time try putting chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup, fresh berries, or other fruit in with the milk.
Serves 2 patient kids with very cold hands
You scream. I scream. We all scream for ice cream!
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Deborah is shepherding essays and preparations into a collection for the vegetarian with an appetite.
Here is a sample which was used at her organic farm coop, Stonebridge Farm
The bossy kid always had the best ideas, usually ending in small explosions or some other flavor of trouble. But the neighborhood scarecrow contest was a pretty good plan, complete with our trademark, oddball rules. Everything must come from nature and your own yard. You could incorporate three items from your house, but not your garage. And no midnight marauding. It was an invitation to high-volume "yessirree, the bayou is too part of the yard" and "the juicy-fruit gum foil from the bird's nest is too part of nature." Nobody remembers whose scarecrow won, or if there was even a prize. But I heartily congratulate myself on the brilliant moo-box toy attached to the second hand of the alarm clock, making Jake the only stickman with sound.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then imagination must surely be her sister. Stretch the kitchen-truth till it bends; bend the recipe till it swaggers. Use whatever you find this week.
Jake's Autumn Squash Pot
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions (any color), chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon powdered cocoa
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
4 peppers (mix desired color and heat), minced
2 tablespoons chile powder
3 cups water
1 2-pound autumn squash flesh (pumpkin, acorn, butternut, delicioso), cubed
1/4 cup lime juice
2 cups cooked pinto beans
garnish choice (sour cream, toasted squash seeds, fresh cilantro)
Heat the oil in your favorite stew pot, medium-high. Sauté the onions, salt, cumin, cinnamon, and cocoa for 5 minutes till the onions are tender, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and peppers; cook for a few more minutes stirring occasionally. Add the chile powder and water; lower heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add the squash and lime juice, cover, lower the heat, and stew slowly until the squash is most tender, but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Adjust the seasonings. Fold in the beans and warm everything through for about 5 minutes. Garnish and serve warm with cornbread or tortillas.
Serves 4 to 6 hard-working scarecrows
Cook's tips and tricks:
If the raw squash is particularly pesky about giving up its treasure, roast it halved, face down, for about 15 minutes in a 375 degree oven. This releases the shell a bit, without thoroughly cooking the flesh. Add a few raisins and walnuts to the beans for a sweet, nutty intrigue.
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When an idea is at this stage of development, Deborah thinks it feels pretty much like "liquid sky." Delicious to regard, elusive in its changes. She would like to pass on the many joyful ways in which dedicated cooks can offer to others what they do best. Here's an idea for the recent favorite of teens, a group date.
Group-Date Pizza Dough
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105 degrees, should not be warmer than you can feel with your finger from the tap)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour (or half APF, half whole wheat)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Sprinkle the sugar on top of the yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes till it bubbles. If it does not bubble, the yeast is dead. Go back to the store.
Put salt in bottom of 1/2-cup measuring cup. Then fill with flour. Incorporate flour by 1/2 cupfuls into the yeasty water till the consistency of cake dough. Add olive oil. Stir until smooth. Add flour a little at a time till the "right" consistency. (Don't you hate it when they say that?) It should be tacky to the back of your hand, but not sticky. If you put in too much flour, it will be very dry, so add just a bit at a time. At this point, I usually have turned it out on my clean, dry counter and am doing this by hand, not spoon.
Knead for six to eight minutes, until it is elastic. You will know this by pinching off a ball of the dough. Pull apart, like taffy. If it droops, not ready. If it draws back into itself, elastic.
Lightly coat a large bowl with olive oil. Slap in the dough and cover bowl with plastic wrap. There should be enough room in the bowl for it to double in size, in a warm place, about two hours.
Divide into two balls. Roll out from center with radiating strokes to edges. If using a pizza pan, sprinkle with a teaspoon of corn meal before flopping the dough on it. If using a stone and peal, you probably know what you are doing. If not, you are in trouble.
Bake at 525 degrees for 10 minutes. Longer, if topped with a lot of good-for-you vegetables.
Makes dough for two 12-inch pizzas
Cook's tips and tricks
Dough will refrigerate for a day or two, but it acts a little differently. Store in plastic bag in which you have oodged around a teaspoon of olive oil.
Dough will freeze for up to a month, but will act a little differently. Store as above.
Fresh mozzarella and parmesan that you grate yourself is a bazillion times better. If you get anything in that round green tube box, I will know even if from all the way over here, and haunt your dreams! Get the guy at the deli to grate a hunk for you, if you do not want to do it yourself.
While working, be sure and sing "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore!"
Makes enough dough for two 12-inch pizzas.
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The Savory Palette
Deborah DeBord, Ph.D.
81 Cree Court
Lyons, CO 80540
© 2006 by Deborah DeBord. All Rights Reserved.
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