‘Tis the season for cooking and creativity! In November, we held the first MCPL Chopped Challenge! Participants received a take-home kit with three mystery ingredients and three cookbooks to borrow. They were tasked with preparing a dish using all three ingredients, plus their choice of additional ingredients.
Looking to change up your cooking routine? Add some new recipes to the ol’ repertoire? Some new culinary delights would be nice! You could turn to a conventional cookbook, but you’re likely to only find conventional foods there. No, what you need is something a little more cutting edge, a shake up in your giddy-up, some unconventional food for these unconventional times; what better place to look for this than in that most unconventional format: zines!
Celebrate World Baking Day by exploring one of humanity’s oldest sources of nutrition—bread! Although modern grocery store bread has little in common ancient Egypt’s first flatbreads, this dietary staple has remained popular through millennia and across the world.
It is that time of year again. Blueberries are bursting off my blueberry plants. I've already picked over 2 gallons of berries and probably have another gallon waiting for me to pick even as I am writing this. I planted my 6 plants about 12 years ago and with the rain and almost perfect weather we've had this Spring, these plants are finally making my fresh fruit dreams a reality. My family has had fresh berries to eat, pie, and for those many months when the berries aren't producing, we will be able to pull a bag from the freezer.
With all of these blueberries in play, I wanted to make a new recipe with a few of them. I'd made a cornbread-blueberry muffin years ago when I was pregnant. It was a very healthful muffin and used fruit juice concentrate instead of sugar, but I don't always have that available. So, I found that the library had a book devoted to blueberry recipes and my eye was repeatedly drawn back to the blueberry-corn muffin recipe. This recipe, from the True Blueberry cookbook, certainly isn't as healthy, but still seemed to promise a wonderful melding of cornbread flavors and blueberries.
True Blueberry has a wide variety of blueberry recipes--everything from soups and salads to drinks and desserts. The recipes also cover the various types of blueberries, from those tiny wild Maine ones to the larger sized ones in dried, frozen and fresh forms. So, some recipes would certainly have to wait for another time as I wanted to use some of the fresh berries that I just picked.
This recipe was easy to pull together and I fixed it as part of a breakfast for dinner meal with bacon and a salad. We even had some fresh blueberries on the side because that's really the best way to eat them. I would really like to try the poppy seed angel food cake with glacéed blueberries. However, I'm going to have to save that for another cooking adventure.
|5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus some for greasing the tin
|1 cup yellow corn meal
|1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
|1 cup sugar
|2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
|1 cup milk
|3/4 teaspoon salt
|1 large egg
|1 cup fresh, frozen, or dried blueberries
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Grease a large 6-hole or standard 12-hole muffin tin and set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a large bowl. Add the cornmeal and 2/3 cup of the sugar, then whisk until well mixed. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the milk and egg and beat to blend. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir with a wooden spoon just until the mixture is moistened. Do not overmix. Add the blueberries and gently fold them in. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin. Sprinkle the muffin tops with the remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Bake in the center of the oven for 25 to 28 minutes for Texas-size jumbo muffins, 20 to 24 minutes for standard-size muffins, until the muffins are golden brown. Gently loosen the muffins around the sides with a knife before taking them out.
You can use any corn meal you have available in this recipe, but I used some I purchased at Spring Mill State Park. It is from corn grown locally and they grind it right there at the grist mill. Because it is ground between mill stones, it has a very coarse, hearty texture that I find very appealing. Although the recipe turned out well, I thought it suggested sprinkling too much sugar on top of the muffins and wasn't as exact with the instructions as I like. So I did leave some of the sugar off the top and the muffins still tasted delicious.
What are your favorite fruits of Summer and what recipes do you like to stir them into?
When enthusiastic home cook, Jennifer Reese lost her job she wondered if making homemade staples would be more cost effective. Is homemade mayonnaise cheaper than the tub you buy in the store? And just as important, does it taste better? Her book, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter has over 120 recipes for the from-scratch cook - looking for both cost savings and taste improvements.
Reese's journey to make and taste homemade versions of cupboard regulars like peanut butter and bread and the more exotic like camembert and prosciutto includes helpful input from her family. She makes it sound like making your own ginger ale isn't crazy -- but actually fairly easy, cheaper than store bought, and delicious. Her voice throughout the book is casual and often really funny. The best part of the book is her interest in the highly practical and includes a 'hassle factor' for each item. Every recipe has a realistic cost comparison with store bought and an indication of how difficult each item is to make. Right there is bold print is a verdict on each item: Make it or Buy it. A few items get a warning. Make or buy cream cheese? Reese says to make it once and then decide. Make or buy English muffins? Depends on whether you are eating them plain or as a base for eggs benedict.
Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner and hot days are near. For many people this means firing up the grill. Interested in shaking up your grill routine? The library has loads of cookbooks with many new ideas -- for both meat eaters and vegetarians.
The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein delivers over 500 recipes covering many different types of ice creams, sorbets and granitas. He also gives ideas for recipe variations and toppings. Pictures aren't included, but this serves as a fairly straight forward reference and would be great for beginners.