A cornmeal meal and something exotic. . .
My mom mentioned she needed to buy cornmeal, reminding me I’ve had about a cup full in the cupboard for years. I mean years. I cooked some up for the neighborhood’s stray cats and they were unimpressed.
But I can’t seem to throw anything out, so I started to play. I imagined toasting a tablespoon full in a skillet and cracking an egg on top. I went to the internet to see if someone else had tried this. I found that during the Depression, people mixed cornmeal into scrambled eggs to stretch their egg supply. Now eggs are about the least expensive thing to make into a main meal. So I made a crispy-bottomed fried egg with success. Then I did the same with discs of baked sweet potato and served it with bacon that also had a dab of cornmeal to make it extra crispy. I could eat this all week. Now I just have a half cup of cornmeal to use up.
By the way, my mom claims they don’t make corn meal the way they used to. She means the meal is more fine now, and that makes for a too “slick” dressing. She likes a good texture in her mouth. I’m sure I can find her some coarse ground somewhere, because since she pointed that out, she kind of ruined the dressing for me.
Roger Mooking does pizza like my family does omelets; it’s a standing date. A weekly pizza is a good way to get the whole family cooking and clean out the fridge to create something new with leftovers. He makes some dough on Sundays, takes his girls swimming and returns to assemble custom pizza.
It’s all in his book, “Everyday Exotic: The Cookbook,” written with Allan Magee and based on the TV show. Mooking was once called “exotic” by a teacher and has decided to live up to the title. His tip is that everything from hamburger to five spice is exotic to someone, so experiment, taste and enjoy.
This book offers a new way of experience ingredients you know. Your macaroni could be made into a curry pie and a switch to blood orange will give your dish a glow. Photos of dishes colored with spices will entice cooks. Dishes aren’t difficult, they’re bold. They have long titles to reflect ingredients, such as Nori-Crusted Salmon served with Soba Noodle Salad and Green Tea and Papaya Barbecued Chicken served with Coconut Rice and Watercress Papaya Salad. Roast an eggplant with nothing more than salt and pepper and shave your veggies to make Broccoli Dust. He grew up in the Caribbean and cooks with what he calls Obedient Ingredients. Here’s something to make with what you already have in your pantry. Marinate some wings and top with a crunchy peanut and pepper mixture, that’s also in the book.
Peanut Butter Marinade
2 cups smooth, natural peanut butter
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup soy sauce
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup water
juice of two limes
Zest of one lime
1 teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
Place all the ingredients into a large bowl, stir to incorporate, set asice.
Store in a clean, air-tight container in the fridge for up to three days. Makes enough for four portions of Peanut Butter Chicken Wings.
Serving guests low cal vodka
We’ll come round to vodka in this discussion, so read on:
Invite your honey to the holidays with Honeydrop, a line of natural teas and juices with a spoon full of honey. Green Tea, Lemon Tea and Lemon Ginger Tea are new in the low-calorie line. I like the Blood Orange. I love how these natural companies have causes. Buy a Bottle - Save a Bee helps beehives get built around the country.
Hint Water takes it down a notch with a no-calorie unsweetened essence water in 10 flavors including Blackberry, Watermelon, Pomegranate-Tangerine, Strawberry-Kiwi, Mango-Grapefruit, and Raspberry-Lime. I’ve had some in the past and just tried another round, adding watermelon to vodka. Hint and Honeydrop are great ways for children to cut back on sugary drinks, and adults can work on their figures by mixing cocktails with them.
Voli Light Vodka makers say it is the first low calorie fruit and fusion flavored vodka in the world. Voli Light Vodkas are on average 25 to 40 percent lower in calorie than leading brands with natural ingredients. I got a great flavor and aroma from Lemon, Lyte and Raspberry Cocoa. Bottles look sleek, but don’t think this is all too girly. My husband liked the refreshing flavor combos you can concoct. The Orange Vanilla goes with apple cider and cinnamon stick; Lemon meets pomegranate and flamed orange zest to get Sympathy for the Devil; and Lyte, jalapeno and pineapple get you a spicy kick. The Voil Vamp, below, cuts calories big time:
1 1/2 ounce Voli Lemon (or Lyte)
1/4 ounce Chambord (Raspberry Liqueur)
2 ounce Cranberry juice
Top with club soda
Build over ice and stir
Serve in a “rocks” glass with lemon or lime twist. Calories: 135 (100 calories if made with diet cranberry)
A cookie company gives you a brownie recipe that will no doubt satisfy cave men as well as your brood. Caveman Cookies are based on the back-to-basics principles of the Paleolithic Diet of natural stuff. I’ve tried and enjoyed the slightly sweet and chewing sensation of cookies in original, alpine and tropical. It wasn’t just me, my testers went for seconds, too.
The company goes for dairy and gluten-free ingredients, to satisfy the caveman inside us all is craving a simpler time when food was not processed and was free of additives with only all-natural ingredients that the body can easily digest. Visit cavemancookies.com to learn more, and try these:
Paleo* Pumpkin Pecan Brownies
(*Paleolithic except for the chocolate… so enjoy it as a treat.)
4 ounces dark chocolate
½ cup honey
16 ounce unsalted almond butter
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, divided
3/4 cup pumpkin
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, lightly whisk eggs; set aside. Break chocolate bar into pieces and combine with honey in saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat once chocolate is melted.
Add half the chopped pecans and all other remaining ingredients in bowl with eggs; pour in chocolate-honey mixture. Mix well. Pour batter into parchment-lined or lightly greased baking pan (9- by 13-inches) and sprinkle with remaining chopped pecans. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes until firm to the touch.