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After I had my daughter, eleven years ago, Proeteasa Joan brought me this lovely cake along with Florentine Cannelini Soup.  She hoped that the iron from the molasses and the spinach would help me recover.  I’m still touched by her thoughtfulness.

She gave me a copy of the recipe with these notes:

This heirloom recipe for Molasses Cake was found in the 1920 cookbook of Therese Farrell.  Cooks in the old days (remembering my mother and grandmother, now) were artistic in their cooking and thus, a cup of flour may not necessarily be a level cup because they cooked by feel and by experience.  It may be that this batter is a bit thin, however, if it was I would still try it first and see if it worked.  Again, we have to remember that the gluten content of today’s flour is higher and less flour can make more volume than it once did.

I like this cake with cool applesauce and a dash of cinnamon.

Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup molasses

3/4 cup lard (use shortening or some other suitable vegan solid fat)

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 level teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 level teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 heaping teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 cups strong, black coffee at room temperature

 

  1. Lord, bless my work.
  2. Grease and flour 9 x 13 cake pan.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  3. Cream together sugar, molasses, and shortening.
  4. In a separate bowl sift together flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and baking soda.
  5. Cool 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) strong, black coffee to room temperature.
  6. Combine the dry mixture with the lard/sugar/molasses mixture.
  7. While combining, slowly add the black coffee and stir vigorously until all ingredients are well mixed and a smooth batter is formed.
  8. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes.  Test with a toothpick or butter knife.

 

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I typically eat one of two fasting breakfasts.  I eat either an apple sliced with peanut butter or this vegetable hash.  If you prefer to keep it low carb, omit the quinoa and substitute some nuts or get your protein elsewhere.  If you want it really low carb just don’t eat.  Sometimes I forget that if I were truly pious I wouldn’t eat breakfast.

On days I observe an absolute fast, this recipe plus 5-6 lightly beaten eggs serves as a quick dinner for the kids.

I keep cooked quinoa in the fridge for salads and adding to dishes.  If you like this recipe keep a couple of cups in the fridge so you can whip this up for breakfast.

Let the following photos serve as a reminder of why most of my recipes don’t have pictures.

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Gently saute until brown

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Add kale just to steam and wilt

 

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Stir in cooked quinoa

Ingredients

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 cup shredded zucchini

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

1/4 cup diced onion

1-2 cups kale

1 tablespoon oil

Salt to taste

  1.  Lord, bless my work.
  2. Cook quinoa, set aside.
  3. In a skillet heat the oil until shimmering.  Saute the onion and mushrooms until the onion is nearly translucent. Add the zucchini stirring gently.  Salt all the vegetables.  Continue to cook until zucchini softens and loses it color slightly.
  4. Layer 1-2 cups shredded kale on top and allow the vegetable steam to wilt it slightly.  Gently stir.  Cook until kale reaches desired doneness.  Stir in quinoa.  Serve.

 

 

 

Red lentils are easy to cook because they’re quick and they’re supposed to come out like mush.  I’m not great with lentils so, for me, that’s a win.

**Double this recipe for a family

Ingredients

1 cup red lentils

2 cups water

1 onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

One 1/2-inch piece ginger pasted, minced, or microplaned

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground black mustard

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon paprika 

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

Handful chopped fresh cilantro leaves and lemon juice

  1. Lord, bless my work.
  2. Rinse red lentils and drain.
  3. Heat onion in oil until it becomes translucent.  Add garlic and ginger cooking gently until onion starts to brown.
  4. Add remaining spices to the oil and stir gently until fragrant.
  5. Mix in tomatoes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add drained lentils, salt, and 1 1/2 cups water.  Stir to combine and simmer until lentils are very soft.  You may need to add more water to thin the dal.  Red lentils are very starchy as they cook.
  7. Whisk until smooth, but a little lumpy.
  8. Remove from heat, garnish with cilantro leaves and a dash of lemon, serve over brown rice.

When you fix pasta for dinner during the Fast be prepared to be hungry again in an hour unless you’re pious and leave the table hungry to start.  I have to get my kids through 90 minutes of karate and that won’t happen on white noodles alone.

Here are a couple of noodle hacks to try:

Whole wheat pasta takes longer to metabolize

Pasta with lentil, chickpea, or quinoa flour (most well stocked groceries have these)

Use a spaghetti squash instead and the lower carb count won’t spike your blood sugar so you won’t notice the lack of protein as much

Use zucchini “noodles” for the same effect, and zucchini has a touch more protein

Try gnocci (they’re tiny potato dumplings)

Sprinkle your pasta with nutritional yeast and ground almonds (Parmesan alternative)

Serve a side salad with sunflower seeds for a bit more protein

You can literally just add some cooked beans at the last minute, chickpeas or butter beans, something without much flavor.

I occasionally add other vegetables to this recipe.  I shred them on the box grater first.  My husband and kids prefer it in its original veggie-less form.

Mom’s Pasta Sauce

16 ounces tomato sauce

16 ounces of water

6 ounce can of tomato paste

scant 1/4 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 bay leaves

6 cloves

sprinkle of pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 teaspoon rosemary

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

  1.  Lord, bless my work.
  2. Bake your spaghetti squash or zoodle your zucchini and let it rest.
  3. Combine all over ingredients in a large sauce pan or another pot, stir, and simmer for one hour. Remove bay leave and cloves.
  4. Boil pasta with salt.
  5. Serve.

You can also do this in a crock-pot on low for 6 hours.  If you use other vegetables (carrot, celery, onion, sweat them in the pot before adding the other ingredients).

 

Dear Readers- I finally figured out how to build an index—nine years later.  Please check it out at the top of the page in the “Recipes” tab and let me know what you think.  It’s a work in progress but it’s at least functional.

Soft Pretzels

This is a tasty recipe for company or game night with the kids.  Alton Brown’s recipes are very reliable.  He suggests a baking soda bath for the pretzels and it’s pretty good.

I’ve also done it with a lye solution and that was truly the bread which strengthens man’s heart.

Amazon sells food grade lye.  You’ll need gloves, a glass bowl, and parchment paper to protect your sheet pan.  Mix 30 grams (about 1 ounce) lye with 1 liter of water (about 1 quart) and using a plastic or wooden tool dunk the pretzels for 30 seconds.  You should be really careful, especially to protect your eyes, but the flavor is totally worth the effort.  Google around for more information–seriously! Don’t try this without more research.

You can serve the pretzels with brown mustard or with “Cheese” sauce.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 package active dry yeast

22 ounches all -purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups

2 ounces unsalted vegan butter spread , melted

vegetable oil for the parchment paper

10 cups water

2/3 cup baking soda

Pretzel salt

“Egg” wash:  1:1 water corn syrup, maple syrup, 1:1 sugar water solution, or vegetable oil

**The egg wash step is optional, but your pretzels won’t be as brown or shiny, they’ll still taste great

Directions:

  1.  Lord, bless my work.
  2. Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.  Add the flour and vegan spread and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined.  Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.  Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil.  Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50-55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with oil.  Set aside.
  4. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8 quart saucepan or roasting pan.
  5. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces.  Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope.  Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press on the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of the pretzel.  Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
  6. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds.  Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula.  (Or dip in the lye bath that you researched before you began) Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the egg wash mixture and sprinkle with pretzel salt.  Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12-14 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

 

It’s my birthday today and I am officially old enough to know better.  It’s a good thing because I’ve done some crazy stuff lately, y’all.   Ah well. You fall, you get up again.  Birthday on Clean Friday.  *sigh*

Last birthday my old man gave me a pressure cooker so here’s a recipe for that.  If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can use any old pot as long as you bring the beans to a boil for ten minutes then simmer until tender.  Or, boil for ten minutes then dump them in your Crockpot for 4 hours on high or 8 on low.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, or you’re on the fence, I recommend it.  It’s a luxury I never would have allowed myself but I’m thankful for it every time I use it.  If you cook a lot of beans, it’s really, really handy.

1 pound dried navy beans, soaked over night with 1 tablespoon salt or “quick soaked”

1 large onion chopped (1 1/2 cups)

2 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup ketchup 

1/4 cup sugar (optional)

2 tablespoons yellow mustard or 1 teaspoon ground mustard

2 teaspoons liquid smoke

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 dashes garlic powder

  1.  Lord bless my work.
  2. Lord give me strength for these olive branches you’ve given me while I try to cook.
  3. On the Instant Pot saute function, or in your pot, brown onion until crisp on the edges.
  4. Add 2 1/2 cups water, molasses, ketchup, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, garlic powder and pepper to the onions.  Stir to combine.  Stir in the drained soaked beans.
  5. Pressure Cooker:  Select high pressure 35-40 minutes (I find this depends on the age of the beans).  When timer beeps turn cooker off and wait 10 minutes and do a quick pressure release.  Discard floating beans.  If the beans aren’t tender do it again for 10 minutes.
  6. Regular pot:  Bring to a boil for 10 minutes, then simmer until beans are tender 45-50 minutes.
  7. Serve with cornbread muffins.