Wednesday, December 06, 2006

December: the month for cooking….

For any of you that are doing any cooking at all this month, I have a few tips for you:

1) Pie Crust requires rolling and resting: To prevent pie crust from shrinking, stop stretching the dough when fitting it into the pan. The more the dough is pulled, the more it will snap back to its original shape in the oven. Instead, roll out the dough, and let it rest for a couple of minutes to relax the gluten in the flour. Then ease the disk of dough into the pie pan, avoiding any suggestion of stretching it to fit. Bob Fila – Chicago Tribune

2) When making cookies, remember to let your cookies sit for a complete minute on the pan before moving them to a rack to cool. They are easier to pick up and they will hold together better if you do this.

3) During this busy month, use your crock pot to cook most of your dinners….Last night I cooked spaghetti sauce in the crock pot. After a busy day, all I had to do to get dinner on the table was to cook the spaghetti strings and ladle on the sauce. There was enough sauce left to freeze for another meal later in the month. I don’t know what I would do without my crock pot. This recipe came from the food section in the Houston Chronicle and it has a wonderful ginger tang to it. Yumm........

SOY GINGER CHICKEN
Drumsticks and thighs hold up to long, slow cooking without drying out. If you prefer, you can substitute all thighs or all drumsticks for the combination. Cooked white rice is a natural accompaniment, but feel free to use pasta, such as fettuccine or linguine, instead of the rice. With either, there'll be enough sauce to go around.
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2/3 cup cilantro, chopped, plus sprigs for garnish
1 piece fresh ginger (about 2 inches long), peeled and cut into thin strips
5 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal (1 cup packed), divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 chicken drumsticks and 4 thighs, (about 2 1/2 pounds total), skin removed
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Cooked white rice, for serving (optional)

Slow-cooker method: In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, stir together soy sauce, sugar, garlic, cilantro, ginger, 1/2 cup scallions, vinegar, coriander and pepper. Add chicken and carrots; toss to coat. Cover and cook on low until chicken is tender, about 6 hours. Using a large spoon, skim off and discard any fat from surface of cooking liquid.
In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, whisk cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water. Ladle 1 cup cooking liquid into measuring cup; whisk to combine. Pour into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until thickened, about 1 minute. With slow cooker turned off, stir in cornstarch mixture.
Serve chicken with white rice, if desired, and garnish with cilantro sprigs and remaining 1/2 cup scallions. From: The New York Times/Special Features

Makes 4 servings, each 269 calories, 8.5 grams fat (2.3 grams saturated); 29.5 grams protein, 18.5 grams carbohydrates and 2.1 grams fiber.


4) A quick guide to varieties of olive oil. Did you know this about olive oil?

• Extra-virgin olive oil is the strongest olive flavor of the four varieties of olive oil. It's best used for drizzling, salad dressings, marinades, sauces, stews and soups.
• Virgin olive oil shares extra-virgin olive oil's strong flavor but is slightly more mild. It's best used for grilling, sautéing, drizzling, salad dressings, marinades, stews and soups.
• The oil simply labeled "olive oil" is much milder and better suited for cooking. It's best used for baking, frying, grilling and sautéing.
• Light olive oil is the mildest of the four varieties and is best used for baking, frying, grilling and sautéing.
Tip: For baking, simply substitute equal amounts of olive oil for vegetable oil.
From: McClatchy-Tribune

Now that Thanksgiving is past, I am in full swing for Christmas, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. I went by our church bookstore and bought a small nativity scene to give as a gift to a special friend. Our church Christmas party is this weekend and my brothers birthday party is the next day. Today I hope to get my ginger bread dough made in put in the frig for cooling. It is a tradition, in our family, to send these delicious cookies out to those that love them. If you are interested in the recipe for those wonderful Gingerbread cookies, just click here.

20 Comments:

At 2:11 PM, Blogger Oh great One said...

Great tips! I didn't know about the different grades of olive oil.

I usually bake a ton of cookies to distribute but since we live far away from friends and relatives I think my kids and I are going to attempt a gingerbread house. This could get messy!

 
At 4:01 PM, Blogger Fred said...

You are one busy lady, Lucy. I need to get The Missus to use the crock pot more. It would make her life so much easier.

 
At 9:25 PM, Blogger SusieQ said...

I thought I might use the crock pot chicken recipe you posted until I saw that cilantro was a listed ingredient. My husband can't stand cilantro, and I love it.

Good tips here especially on the pie dough!

 
At 11:31 PM, Blogger Mountain Mama said...

Thanks for the tips. I have been baking pies for over 50 years and didn't know what made the crust shrink!! Can you believe that?
I will be making several kinds of cookies this year so thanks for the hint about letting them rest a full minute.
I'm always in too much of a hurry!

 
At 5:51 AM, Blogger East of Oregon said...

I enjoyed reading your blog this morning! take care:)

 
At 7:35 AM, Blogger East of Oregon said...

oh thanks for visiting my blog this morning and for your nice comments! let's do visit again!

 
At 6:27 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

Thanks for the great tips and info!! I love the crock pot too. So handy!!

 
At 1:58 AM, Blogger fairscape said...

ls

I'll never forget the first time I made piecrust from scratch and misread tablespoons for teaspoons on the salt. Oh! The comments lasted a lifetime.

Have you thought of a cookie exchange for the holidays? You get together with a dozen like minded people and you each bake 12 dozen of one kind of cookie. Some one has to coordinate the whole thing to prevent overlapping cookie variety and to set up an evening for the exchange. Everybody goes in with 12 dozen of one kind of cookie and comes out with 12 different kinds of cookies.

I like PAM olive oil spray for cooking. It's tidy to use and less wasteful with no dripping. It's also a good quick hand lotion while your handling food so your skin doesn't dry out with all the hand washing and you don't get perfumey chemicals in your food.

Thanks for visiting

fairsCaPe

 
At 12:41 PM, Blogger Velcro said...

Hey, good looking blog. Thanks for commenting on Gabbatha.

 
At 5:13 PM, Blogger DayByDay4-2Day said...

I used to do a lot of cookies at this time too. However none this year since my husband is diabetic.

 
At 1:50 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

I love nativity scenes,my friend has one that was hand knitted..its just beautiful :o)
I have missed all your wonderful recipes and tips, i look forward to catching up on all your news :o)

 
At 8:31 AM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Sounds delicious!

Thank you, Lucy! You have indeed been there through every step and stumble of the way.

Many blessings to you and yours this holiday season.

 
At 11:29 AM, Blogger Velcro said...

I'm not going to cook, but I'm going to eat a whole, whole lot

 
At 4:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, I never knew about letting a pie crust rest.

Stephen M (Ethesis)

 
At 5:47 PM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Lucy, thanks for all your recipes and great comments.

Many blessings for a happy holiday season.

 
At 9:50 AM, Blogger An80sNut said...

Been trying to use more olive oil as they say the health benefits are tremendous.

 
At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Lucy!

PB

 
At 6:25 PM, Blogger Big Dave T said...

Gee, I'm too late. My wife already has her cookies baked and ready to send to my brother in South Dakota. No gingerbread, though. Oatmeal, buckeyes, chocolate chip, Xmas cutouts and peanut butter. Mmmmmmmm.

 
At 11:33 PM, Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Oh Great One - I mailed out five boxes of cookies today, from Florida to Hawaii. Good luck with your Gingerbread house.

Fred - I live by my crock pot in December.

suzieq - try the recipe without the cilantro.

mountain mama - I learn something new every day. The cookies definately turn out better when I let them sit.

east of oregan - Thanks come again.

rachel - love that crock pot

fairscape - love cookie exchanges, we do them sometime in our church. I love Olive Oil too.

velvet cowboy - come again.

daybyday4-2dat - It's hard to have cookies around when someone in the house is diabetic.

michelle - glad you are back!

Barbara - blessing to you and your family too.

velcro - some of us cook, some of us eat, and some of us do both. Good luck

Stephen - it is an amazing little tip.

Martin - I am using more Olive Oil too.

PB - Merry Christmas to you too. Miss ya, guy.

Big Dave - Sounds like Wendy has been really busy with all types of cookies. Send me some and I will send you some of my Gingerbread....

 
At 7:38 PM, Blogger DayByDay4-2Day said...

just stopping by to say hi...
HI

 

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