Peach syrup

Ralph’s had California peaches on sale for 99 cents a pound the other day, so I bought some to make peach syrup with. I eat it on sourdough pancakes and it is amazing. Apparently you can also pour it in your smoothies, but I haven’t tried this.

Stuff you’ll need:

  • 4 lbs peaches
  • 2 C sugar
  • 2 T lemon juice

Peel and cut up the peaches and put them in a blender. Mash them down with your fist so that the blades can get a hold of them (a wooden spoon would work too, but this is much less viscerally satisfying). You want 5C puree; you’ll probably have to add a few peaches after you puree it down a bit.

Once you’ve pureed the peaches, go grab a heavy pot that you think is big enough to hold all of this. Then put it away and grab a bigger one. No, seriously, learn from my mistake. When this stuff hits 212 degrees, you’re going to see some serious shit. If your pan is too small it will boil over and make a giant mess under your stove burner. If you don’t have a bigger pan, do it in two batches.

Combine the peaches, the sugar, and the lemon juice in the pot and turn it to medium-high-ish heat. Stir it consistently while it heats up. Juuuuust when it starts to boil, and a pale-colored foam starts collecting between the places where the bubbles come up, kill the heat and skim off most of this foam. (Some people will add a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract at this point; I’m not a huge fan personally.)

Pour the syrup into glass jars, or whatever. It keeps well in the freezer, but some people like to do the whole pressure-canning thing. I’m not going to tell you how to do that because I have no real idea. If you’re going for the freezer or refrigerator, let it cool for a while before you put it in there.

This recipe makes about this much golden, delicious goodness:

Those are pint jars. Note that I lost a bit of syrup to the boiling-over I warned you about earlier; your second pint will probably be a bit fuller than mine.

Some people will freeze this in freezer bags or ice cube trays; I guess that works too.

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Enchiladas!

I am trying to write up some homework and it is not going so well. A few hours ago, I decided to take a break and go to the store and get ingredients for enchiladas, because I had some of them already. Unfortunately, for no apparent reason, I didn’t have a can opener, and I had to go next door and borrow one from my neighbors. The enchiladas still turned out delicious. I stole this recipe from my friend Jess who I think probably made it up.

Ingredients:
1 20-oz. package ground turkey
1/4 medium onion, diced
Cumin, black pepper, chili powder
1 butternut squash
1 can black beans
Tortillas
1 can enchilada sauce (I recommend red)
Mexican-blend shredded cheese

Directions:
First, halve the butternut squash, scoop the seeds out, put it cut-side down in something oven-safe and bake at 350º for 50 minutes. Once it’s done, scoop the squashy goodness out into a bowl.
Spray a nonstick skillet (you’re going to need a pretty big one) with a little cooking spray and dump the turkey and the onions in it. Add a sizeable dash each of cumin, black pepper and chili powder. Stab repeatedly with a spatula. Your job is to break the turkey up into little crumbly bits.
Once the turkey is mostly cooked and brownish, add the squash and the black beans. Stab and mix and stab until the squash and black beans are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
If you took the tortillas out of your fridge, warm them a little in the microwave, just so they’re flexible. Scoop a good-size blob of filling out onto a tortilla, roll it up and place it in a baking dish. Repeat as necessary.
Sprinkle with cheese, dump the sauce on top, and sprinkle with more cheese. (I like cheese.) Bake at 325º for 5-7 minutes, or just until the cheese is all melty. Don’t bake too long or they’ll dry out and be gross.

Yield: I dunno. Probably 8 or so enchiladas’ worth. I halve this recipe and use half of it to make 2 enchiladas. Do the math.

You can also make this with acorn squash if you prefer, but butternut is way better.

Cafe Rio pork!

One of the things I really miss about Utah is the ready availability of Cafe Rio – the closest one to me is clear up in L.A. County. When I discovered this recipe, and made a few modifications of my own, it helped reduce the DT’s to at least manageable levels.

Stuff you will need:
Pork shoulder (it shreds the best; some people also use Boston butt)
Several cans of Coke
Brown sugar
1 small onion
Garlic powder
1 can diced green chiles
1 can red enchilada sauce

If you’ve got time, put the pork in a zip-lock bag with enough Coke to cover and about 1/4 C of brown sugar and marinate it overnight.
Dump the pork in a slow cooker with the marinade (you can drain it if you really want to, but there’s no real point), and add:
1 t or so (a goodly shake) of garlic powder (at least a teaspoon);
2-3 T more brown sugar;
1/2 a small onion, diced (or more if you like onion);
and enough water or Coke to cover the pork. It’s okay if some corners are sticking out.
Cook for 3-4 hours on high or 8 hours on low, so it shreds easily.
Pull the pork out and shred it; dump the cooking liquids (and all the little bits of onion) into a blender or food processor. (Again, you can drain it if you want, but I feel like you lose a lot of pork and onion flavor that way.) Into the blender add:
1/2 to 1 can diced green chiles;
3/4 to 1 can enchilada sauce; and
1/2 to 3/4 C brown sugar.
Blend until all the onion bits and green chiles are indistinguishable from the general delicious soupiness. Put the pork back in the slow cooker, add the sauce, and cook on low for at least another 2 hours. Serve on flour tortillas with cheese, long strips of Romaine lettuce, and optional cilantro and sour cream.

Peanut vinaigrette

I had some leftover little strips of chicken, and I decided I was going to put them on a salad for lunch today. I then remembered that I had some leftover peanut sauce in the fridge, and wondered if I could turn it into a good vinaigrette.

So, I took maybe 1-1.5 T of this sauce, mixed it with white wine vinegar (rice vinegar probably would have been even better, but I don’t have any yet) until it was runny, added just a drop of sesame oil and the juice from a quarter of a lime, and it was fantastic. :9

Why baking powder is important

So I was making my sister’s recipe for honey oatmeal muffins today. (Aside: You should read my sister’s blog. She has the Midas touch with food – all of her recipes are always fantastic.) I neglected one very important ingredient: the baking powder.

Baking powder, you see, is what leavens quick breads such as muffins. It is a combination of several acidic salts, a base (usually baking soda), and some starch to keep things dry. When it hits water, it starts reacting, and it gives off lots of little bubbles of CO2. (If you want to have some fun in the name of science, try dumping some baking soda in some vinegar – you’ll see what I mean.) These little bubbles give muffins and other quick breads their light, fluffy texture. If you don’t add baking powder, here’s what you get:

You see, when a muffin and a hockey puck love each other very very much...

(Note the interesting divot effect on the bottom of the muffins.)

The picture does not do justice to the texture of the inside of the muffin. When they first came out of the oven, the inside was somewhat like a flan, only bouncier. I dug several of them out of the garbage can for this picture, and you’d be surprised how difficult it was to tear the one in half – over the intervening hours, they had hardened and become even more rubbery.


Lesson learned: Don’t forget the baking powder.

Thai peanut sauce

I have searched a lot for a peanut sauce recipe that I actually like, and that doesn’t have weird ingredients that I’d never use except for, y’know, the peanut sauce recipe. (Fish sauce, anyone?) This one is really good! The consistency is good, it’s a rich and full flavor, and it’s not hard to make either. I got it from Our Best Bites.

1/2 C chicken broth
1/4 C creamy peanut butter
1-2 t Sriracha chili sauce (How spicy do you want it?)
1 1/2 T honey (I know, right? I was surprised too.)
3 T soy sauce
1 1/2 T fresh minced ginger
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, pressed or minced

Whisk all the ingredients together in a saucepan, bring to a simmer and let it go for a couple minutes.

I put this on some linguini (because I wasn’t going to buy expensive udon noodles) with a chicken breast cut thin and some fresh chopped cilantro and some lime juice. It was really good!

Ginger cucumber salad

Yesterday we had a ward barbeque at the beach.

I’m going to pause a moment and let that sink in.

Now that I’m done with my modicum of gloating, I will post the recipe for this ginger cucumber salad stuff I brought. It’s an old family favorite, with provenance extending back through I think Aunt Verda, though I would welcome a correction here if I’m remembering this wrong. It is very light and summery, and also delicious.

Ginger Cucumber Salad
– 3 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and sliced
– 1/4 C white vinegar
– 1/4 C white sugar
– 1/2 tsp fresh-grated ginger
Instructions: … mix it all together. This recipe is not rocket science, which is another reason I like it. :D

I would, however, recommend you mix the sugar and vinegar together before adding the cucumbers, because I doubt the sugar would dissolve properly if you didn’t. Also note that it doesn’t look like a lot of liquid. This is okay! I promise it’s enough. You don’t want the cucumbers to be swimming in it, and also they are going to release some of their own internal juices when they hit the vinegar. Feel free also to mess with the amount of ginger, depending on how much you like ginger.

See Cara? I can post recipes too!