A personal kitchen diary. I try new recipes and make notes on what works and what doesn't. Sometimes I can things, and sometimes I dry herbs. This is the story of my kitchen.

Month: October 2015

Cantonese Steamed Fish

Cantonese Steamed Fish

This recipe is getting moved to my Pinterest “Recipes Tried and Worth Keeping” board.  I’ll make a few small changes, but overall this was so simple and fast–and delicious–I will definitely be making it again. Notice that there aren’t a lot of ingredients! The recipe […]

Caramelized Onions

Caramelized Onions

Edited to update photos 2/19/18 I couldn’t remember if I had posted about caramelized onions before.  But when I found that I had, I also found that the pictures were awful, and since I took pictures through the process yesterday, I decided I would update […]

Apple Pie!

Apple Pie!

I went out to Peters Orchards in Waverly Missouri a few weeks ago and got two gigantic bags of apples to carry us through the winter (seriously, I find it amazing that if you keep them in your garage fridge, in the bags they come in, they will keep all winter).  I haven’t had a chance to make an apple pie yet, but today was the day.

I’m really swamped today so I’m not making my pie crust from scratch.  Yes, I know it is easy and fast, and in fact I make good pie crust.  I just don’t have time today.  Take a look at the Fresh Peach Pie post for how I make pie crust.
I already have the flour, cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg measured out, along with the butter, and prepare to peel the apples.  I’m using a mix of Granny Smiths and Jonathans.  I read somewhere that you should mix apples and I have no idea if that is true but I’ve done it ever since.
Now for one of the best kitchen gadgets I have:
Bed Bath and Beyond, $19.99 and you know you never buy anything at BBB without a 20% off coupon.
Peel, slice, and core each apple in seconds.
All my apples are ready for the next step.
 

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I cut them in half vertically to get perfect slices for my pie.
I then use a small paring knife to clean them up a little bit, which doesn’t take long.  The  tops and bottoms that didn’t get peeled are simply snacks for me as I finish the pie.  I wasn’t working fast enough and they browned a little.   They will taste fine of course.
Mix up the flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl.
And carefully add to the bowl of sliced apples and gently mix until all the apple slices are coated.

(See my snacks?)

The apples go into the prepared pie pan and are dotted with butter.
Yes, I do use a pie “bird” and it really does help to keep the filling from overflowing.
Top with the second crust and cut vents to release steam, and then I like to sprinkle some sugar on top.  Onto a pan to catch any possible overflow, and into the oven at 400 Farhenheit.
About 50 minutes later your pie is done.  It always starts smelling delicious just before you should take it out of the oven.
Yes, my house smells like fall today.
I use the Better Homes and Garden red checked cookbook Perfect Apple Pie recipe.  It was published in 1978 and I apparently felt the need to inscribe my name on the the front page.  It’s my maiden name so I am guessing I got this probably when I was 18–maybe as a HS graduation gift!
It’s page 271.
Perfect Apple Pie
6-8 tart apples, pared, cored, and thinly sliced (6 cups) (I always use 8 because I have a deep dish pan)
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 to 1 tsp ground cinnamon (I always use 1 tsp–we like cinnamon)
Dash ground nutmeg
Pastry for 2-crust 9 inch pie
2 Tablespoons butter
Oven 400 Fahrenheit
 
You may add 1 Tablespoon lemon juice to the apples if they are not tart.
 
Combine sugar, flour, spices, and dash salt; mix with apples.
 
Line 9 inch pie plate with pastry and fill with the apple mixture, dot with butter.
 
Add top crust, cutting slits in the crust for venting steam.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Bake at 400 for 50 minutes or done.  I always start checking at 40 minutes. 
Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches – that Midwestern Classic.

Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches – that Midwestern Classic.

I’m not from the midwest, but my husband’s family is.  Each of the five years I was dating Steve, he would go back to Missouri on vacation and he and his mom, sister, and brothers couldn’t stop talking about how they couldn’t wait to have […]

‘Not Bad’ Tomato Mozzarella Melts

‘Not Bad’ Tomato Mozzarella Melts

I had the tail end of some bread from my CSA, 1 last tomato, it was lunchtime and I was hungry. I decided to make some tomato melts. The last bits of a round loaf of bread are harder to slice evenly than you would […]

Sweet Potato Oven Fries – Couldn’t be easier

Sweet Potato Oven Fries – Couldn’t be easier

There’s nothing original about this happening in Merri’s kitchen. Simple sweet potato fries with ranch dressing.

Facebook friends already had a field day with the sweet potato positioning so we will just leave that for now.
Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit.
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into fry shapes all about the same size so they are all done at the same time.   By the way, this was one large sweet potato.
Place the strips in a large bowl and drizzle olive oil over them and a few cranks of coarse sea salt.
Lay them out on a baking sheet, ensuring there is some space between them.
Bake 20 minutes and then turn the potatoes over. I found I needed to use a spatula rather than tongs or they stuck. Another 20 minutes and they were done. I could have left a few minutes more to get them crispier but I was hungry. Served with ranch dressing for dipping.
Pretty Good Cashew Chicken

Pretty Good Cashew Chicken

I’m not really sure why I decided I wanted to try making Cashew Chicken this week.  But, I got it in my head, and I mostly had everything I needed except cashews (or so I thought). So, Googling, Pinterest, and Yummly searching done and I […]

Salsa Sunday (not really, you can have this anytime, it’s reallyRobin’s Salsa)

Salsa Sunday (not really, you can have this anytime, it’s reallyRobin’s Salsa)

My friend Robin would whip up this salsa in a flash every time we had a gathering.  It is so good, and so many people would ask her for the recipe, that she finally made a bunch of copies and keeps a stack in her […]

Sorta Shirley’s Meat Loaf

Sorta Shirley’s Meat Loaf

My Mom made awful meatloaf (sorry Mom!) so I thought all meatloaf was awful.  Then I had my mother-in-law’s meatloaf.  I miss them both very much, but I miss my MIL’s cooking more.

I never watched her make it before we got married, and we immediately moved away.  I tried to make it on my own, but let’s just say there were a few times dinner didn’t get eaten.
After Steve graduated we moved back to Washington and I paid cursory attention to the meatloaf making.  Then Safeway had these “meatloaf packs” that had ground beef and pork in them (along with onions and green peppers but the green peppers were NOT going to happen).
Eventually I came up with my own setup.
My meatloaf is far from fancy, and I hesitate a little to share it here.  But it is really, truly good, and it is what happens in my kitchen.
It’s also barely a recipe.  I could never write a cookbook!  Here are the basics:
Ground Beef and Ground Pork, in a 2:1 ratio
1 or 2 eggs, depending on how much meat you have
Garlic salt and Onion Salt. Sprinkle it on until it smells good.
A few grinds of black pepper
A handful or so of Quaker Oats-the quick cooking kind.  Why? Because that is what Shirley used.
A few squeezes of ketchup.   Be  careful here, if it is too much the meat will be too loose and not actually make a loaf!

I have tried making with chopped onion and minced garlic, and honestly using the salt works better.  It distributes through the loaf better.  Just don’t add any additional salt!  You could also use garlic or onion powder to control the salt content, but use less.  I have a harder time controlling the flavor with powder though.

You really need to take off your rings and bracelets and dig in with your hands to mix it properly though.  A spoon or spatula doesn’t cut it.  Mix until throroughly combined, but no more.  Don’t overmix.
Pat the meat mixture evenly into your baking pan.  Here I had 2 1bs ground beef and 1 lb pork, so I used 9×11.  I usually like to make a smaller meatlof and use the 9×9 pan.
And spread ketchup on top for the glaze.
Put it in the oven at 350 Farhenheit for about an hour (once it smells good, check for doneness)
And you have meat loaf.  Lots of fat!  No one said it was healthy.
Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and usually green beans but I was just that lazy that night.
Caldarello Sausage and Sauerkraut

Caldarello Sausage and Sauerkraut

I can’t take credit for any of this, but since this is about What’s Happening in Merri’s Kitchen, this also happened today. Caldarello is a local company, and their sausage is incredible (www.caldarello.com).  I have sauerkraut from my CSA, Fair Share Farm–and it is the […]