Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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A Spicy Winter Tonic

Every Autumn when the weather starts to cool down and I begin to interact with more people on the day-job, I inevitably come down with a bad head cold. This year I thought I would start early — last March to be exact — in developing ways to build my immune system. One of those ways was to make a batch of what I call “winter tonic.” This is an old folk remedy with many names. I am going to start taking a daily teaspoonful dose in hope that this spicy concoction will minimize my acquisition of a nasty cold.   Or is it decoction? Maybe it might be a type of tincture? Whatever… a jar has been sitting in my refrigerator all spring and summer so it is good and potent now.

When I made it last Spring, I mixed together chopped onion, garlic, fresh horseradish, fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, honey, cayenne and star anise, put this all in a glass jar covered with apple cider vinegar and let sit in the refrigerator for a month. I then strained the solids out of it. At that point it was ready for consumption. I have to admit that at the very least it will clear sinuses — or be put to use as a salad dressing. I will see about the immune-boosting qualities as the season progresses.

I got this recipe from a master herbalist:

Spicy

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Farmers’ Market Creativity

I have been trying to eat in a healthy manner these days so I visited my local farmers’ market yesterday to get some ideas and ingredients for dishes that are fresh, organic, local and seasonal. I came away with a bag of produce that filled the bill, including several bunches of fresh herbs: basil, parsley, cilantro and mint. Mint was an interesting choice for me since I don’t often cook with it, but something about it said “Make something with me!”

When I got home, I started googling recipes and I ended up with selecting an Indian mint-cilantro chutney. Now I just needed something to put the chutney ON. Such a sauce is often served with samosas and pakoras, yet these Indian appetizers are usually deep fried. Also, I wanted to use cheap and handy ingredients. So the Creative Muse jumped into the situation and I ended up improvising my own oven-baked version of a potato pakora.  Using ingredients on hand, a creative moment ended up with a yummy and healthy result.

Mint-Cilantro Chutney

2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 inch of peeled fresh ginger
1 clove of peeled fresh garlic
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
salt

Put everything in a food processor or blender with a little water (about 1/4 cup) and grind into a paste.

Miss Pelican’s Improvised Oven-Baked Potato Pakoras

2 cups of chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 heaping tablespoon curry powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper powder
Pinch of salt
About 3 cups (or half of 2 pound bag) of frozen hash browns, defrosted
1 cup water

Preheat the oven to 450F. Mix the flour, powders, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Add the defrosted potatoes and water. Mix until the potatoes are thoroughly coated with batter.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop spoonfuls of the potato batter on the lined cookie sheets, like you were making cookies. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, flip each “cookie”, return to the oven and back another 10 minutes. Remove and cool. The pakoras should be a little crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Serve with the
chutney.

ljgloyd


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Tea and the Art of Slowing Down

Tea was meant to be slowly sipped and savored, unlike coffee which is usually grabbed on the run and chug-a-lugged in a hurry so that its rocket fuel qualities can ignite your day.

Tea is a gentle, quiet beverage.  Maybe that’s why Teas are at the end of the day, so that the drinker can relax and unwind.   The way tea is made is a slow affair.  Done correctly, you need to bring the water to a boil, pour it over the loose leaves, and let the leaves steep for several minutes.  You cannot help but chill out while you wait.

Since you are required to slow down to make a cuppa, you might as well make an art form out of it.  Oh, wait, that’s already been done:

Okay, so maybe you don’t want to slow down that much. Here is a another way to make it:   How to Make the Perfect Cup of Tea

ljgloyd (c) 2017


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Omelettes, Et Cetera

It is my opinion that if you master just these five recipes, you can properly entertain others and  feed yourself without becoming bored with your own cooking.

Omelettes.  Learn how to make a proper plain omelette, and you can make a number of main dishes just by varying the “innards”– cheese, vegetables, meats, anything.  Also, by understanding the omelette, you can dumb it down to simple scrambled eggs or fancy it up to a frittata.

Roast chicken.  If you can properly roast a chicken, you can apply the same knowledge to turkey or duck.  Thanksgiving dinner won’t be the scary thing it has become to some if you can master a chicken.

Boeuf Bourguignon.  Learning to braise a meat in a liquid will set you up to make all kinds of stews and chilies.

Marinara Sauce.  Master this and you have mastered all manner of pizza and pasta dishes.

Apple Pie.  A tender, flaky pastry can be parlayed into many sweet and savory goodies:  summer fruit tarts, pumpkin or sweet potato pie, chicken pot pies, and meat-filled pasties and turnovers.

You don’t need to learn a huge repertoire of dishes.  Just take the time to master a few.

 

ljg


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Feasting and Fellowship

No matter if our ancient ancestors were gathered around a campfire on some game-laden savanna, or if we are seated around a finely laid out and festooned table of crystal, silver and fresh flower centerpieces, we are bound together across time and space with the notion that food is best shared with friends, families, and especially strangers. In this age of social media, let us not forget how to forge relationships through the fine art of conversation over a well cooked meal.

Try this on someone:

 

Chicken with apricot mustard glaze

Preheat the oven 425F.  Line a baking dish with foil.  Wash and dry 4 large chicken thighs, skin on.  Coat the chicken with olive oil.  Salt and pepper the chicken pieces to taste. Set aside.

In a small bowl mix together 1/2 cup of apricot jam, a tablespoon of grainy Dijon mustard, and a tablespoon of honey. When thoroughly blended, coat all sides of the chicken pieces with the glaze. Place the chicken in the baking dish and bake uncovered for about 30 minutes. Test the chicken pieces with a thermometer. If they read 175F it is done. If not, return to oven for another 10 minutes.

When finished, remove the chicken from the dish and drain the drippings into a sauce pan. Add a tablespoon of butter and heat on low, whisking the sauce until the butter melts. Serve as a sauce for the chicken or a side of steamed rice.

Serves two to four people depending on the size of the thighs, what else you are having with it and how much conversation engages you.