Archive | Musings RSS feed for this section

I’ve moved – check out my new site!

9 Aug

After creating Spice Woman Cooks, I decided to change the name and design. Please come visit my redesigned site. I have a whole passel of simple and delicious recipes that will help you show off your newfound skills as a confident home cook.   For example, you can make my own mom’s chicken cutlets  or try my basil sun-dried tomato and goat cheese appetizer . Lots of advice too – like how to find the best tomatoes and even how to use your cooking and baking skills to help your romantic life.

Hope to see you soon.

Regards, Laura a/k/a SpiceWoman a/k/a MotherWouldKnow

PS – Follow me on twitter at @MotherWouldKnow and like me on Facebook too.


Plan ahead –how much time will you spend on this recipe?

10 Aug

Even if you can fix a recipe, should you take the time to do it? Here’s a lesson that I have to learn over, and over.

We planted a grape vine years ago because it looked nice on our picket fence.

grapevines with grapes

our grapevine - find the grapes if you can

Then lo and behold, grapes appeared this year and I couldn’t resist trying to use them.

grapes from grapevines

our grapes - tiny, seeded, and meant for wine

Instead of doing a reprise of the famous Lucille Ball “recipe” for wine – which is what I should have done, I roasted the grapes.

First mistake – I used a recipe for ripe, seedless red grapes and substituted tiny, seeded red grapes that weren’t all ripe.  When I made recipe before, following it, the result was divine. This time result was weird mush that had seeds throughout.

So – did I give up?  No way. I looked for quick cake recipe, and figured that I would use the grapes (put through sieve, with sugar) as a jam-like filling.  An hour later, I had my cake.

Did the grapes make a luscious filling?  Not quite – second mistake. There wasn’t enough grape filling and it was missing a bit of something. But never fear, I wasn’t done yet.  I added chopped fresh mint, some blueberries, and a few tablespoons of blueberry preserves. By now the salvage operation had taken another half hour and the kitchen was a mess.

Then I split the cake in two and put in the filling. Then I added a glaze on top of the cake. What began as a quick, no fuss, roasted grape adventure ended with a 2-layer filled and iced cake.

Was it worth it?  Time-wise maybe not.  The roasted grape recipe takes 15 minutes to prepare and uses 1 pan. The cake adventure took about 2 hours and used the original pan for the grapes, a cake pan, several bowls and the mixer, and a bunch of extra ingredients.

But I have to admit, that the cake made an unexpected and delightful summer dessert!

cake with grape-blueberry filling

2 hours later, we had cake!

Secrets of “in season” cooking

28 Jul

Have you noticed that locally produced food is all the rage?  Do you wonder whether you should use in season produce you see at farmers markets, but you’re not sure what to buy or how to use it? Keep in mind that locally produced fruit and vegetables are sold in grocery stores, too  – not just farmers markets.

Go ahead – try some of that luscious food you see in bushels or on tables at the farmer’s market or marked with a big sign in your grocery store. Using locally produced ingredients could make your food taste infinitely better and even save you money without any extra work.

If it sounds too good to be true, try two tests.

First – the taste test. Buy a tomato that is mass-produced, far away from wherever you live and looks ripe. Now buy a ripe tomato that is local, either at a grocery or farmer’s market. Take a bite from each. Can you tell the difference?  I’m betting that the local tomato tests a lot better than one that traveled thousands of miles.

Second – the price test. Go to a reasonably large grocery store and check out the price of a fruit that is out of season locally and is imported from a climate where the fruit can grow at this time of year. For example, now (mid-late summer) you may find Granny Smith apples in US stores that come from New Zealand or Australia.  A few months from now, when the fruit is in season in your area, price the same fruit grown locally. Usually, the imported, out-of-season produce (fruit or vegetable) will be more expensive than the locally grown version that is available only in season.

So, if you make an effort to eat fruits and vegetable that are in season and produced locally, you’ll probably enjoy their taste more and may well find them less expensive than out-of-season produce shipped from far away.

Why learn to cook for yourself and others?

28 Jul

There’s no question that restaurant chefs cook better than you probably ever will. And cooking takes time, not to mention shopping for food and planning what to make.  Plus, if you’re living alone, why bother cooking when it’s just a hassle? If you live with a significant other or roommates who don’t cook, why be the one who goes to the trouble while others take advantage of your efforts and barely wash the dishes afterwards?

While we’re at it, any other reasons not to cook?  Oh yes, there’s the expense and space required to buy and keep all those kitchen pots, pans and gadgets that TV chefs wield like culinary samurai.

So why bother?

  • How wonderful is it to eat something delicious right out of the oven, in your pajamas if you don’t feel like getting dressed?
  • How nice is it not to have to worry about whether the restaurant will be crowded if you go at a popular time or whether it will be open when you want to eat late at night?
  • Have you noticed how expensive it is to eat out?
  • Aren’t you tired of eating the same thing all the time if you only know a couple of dishes, like that easy pasta dish you learned from your mom years ago or found in a magazine at the doctor’s office?
  • Have you ever had someone marvel at your cooking and beg for recipes, vowing that they have never, ever eaten anything so wonderful?

For food lovers who can’t cook

28 Jul
food friends - happy ingredients waiting to be used in your delicious cooking

you're among friends - food friends

If you love good food, this blog is for you. This blog is really, definitely, and especially for you …

if you haven’t done much cooking up until now, and

if you wish you could bake and cook up a storm – or just make a really good meal, and

if you don’t ask for recipes from your mom or friends because you’re afraid you won’t be able to make the dish as well as they did, and

if you’re not conversant with all the intricacies of kitchen gadgets or knowledgeable about various types of cuisine, and

if you are adventurous by nature, but perhaps a bit intimidated by the foodie bloggers and celebrity chefs, and

if you like to be health conscious but you’re not health-crazed, and

if you can’t afford to eat out as much as you would like or just prefer not to eat out all the time.