Egg Rolls

This is a terrific cookbook. I picked my copy up at a yard sale or thrift shop a couple years ago, but I only this month really curled up with it and gave it a good read. It’s a treasure.

The Thursday Night Feast and Good Plain Meals Cookbook by Sigrid M. Shepard is an outstanding source for authentic Asian home-cooking using ingredients that you can usually find even in our local grocery stores (where one of three grocery stores carries tofu, and not very much of that, and not at all reasonably priced).

Within each category the selections are pretty comprehensive, but it’s more of an ‘eastern’ cookbook than Asian. The categories include Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indonesian, Indian, and Japanese cuisine. In each of those categories we have an general overview, meal suggestions, an explanation of basic ingredients and how to make, obtain, or substitute for them, soups, appetizers, salads, breads (if applicable), pickles, rice and noodles, vegetable side dishes, vegetable main dishes, meat main dishes, and sweets.

Unfortunately, it’s out of print. According to Amazon, Mrs. Shepard has published two other cookbooks of eastern or Asian cuisine, and though I haven’t seen them, I can’t imagine they would not be just as excellent. In fact, I wonder if at least one of them might not be a republishing of the Thursday Feasts book. The other two books are Asian Food Feast and Natural food feasts from the Eastern World.

The Thursday Feast book gets its name from a Thursday evening cooking class Mrs. Shepard taught. She and her students made a dozen or so dishes every Thursday over a year, and then they feasted. Every recipe is explained clearly and most are accompanied with clear pen and ink sketches of the processes and ingredients.

Here’s one of the egg roll recipes.  I’ll share others over the course of next week.

Deep-Fried Shrimp or Crab Egg Rolls (serves 6 to 8)

4 eggs and 3 egg yolks, beaten until well mixed but not frothy
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp peanut oil
OR vegetable oil

Add salt to eggs. Mix well. Heat a medium cast iron skillet over medium heat. Oil skillet with a pastry brush. When a small drop of egg sets, add 3 Tbsp egg mixture. Roll pan to evenly distribute egg mixture. Fry 1 to 2 minutes until edge is brown and easily pulls away from sides of skillet. Loosen edges with a knife and flip egg skin. Fry 30 seconds. Remove from pan. Oil pan again. Repeat process until all egg mixture is used. Set egg skins aside for later use.

Mrs. Shepard published this book in 1976 when ethnic foods of all sorts were considered exotic if you lived anyplace smaller than, say, New York City. I remember my parents complaining about not being able to find some staple in Tex-Mex cooking when they moved to Canada in the sixties. Now even most Wal-marts carry ready-made egg roll wrappers. This cookbook is thorough- no ready made convenience foods here. Once your wrappers are made, you are ready to begin work on the filling:

1 Tbsp peanut oil
OR vegetable oil
2 thin slices fresh ginger root, minced.
2 green onions, cut into thin diagonal slices.

Heat a wok over high heat. Add oil. Heat until a piece of onion added sizzles. Add ginger and onion. Stir and fry 30 seconds.

1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
OR green beans, cut into long thin diagonals

Add to wok. Stir and fry 1 minute to heat.

1/2 cup small fresh or canned shimp
OR crab meat

Add to wok. Stir and fry 1 minute to heat.

2 cups cabbage shredded
OR bean sprouts
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp mild honey

Add cabbage or bean sprouts. Sprinkle salt and honey over vegetables. Mix well. Cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Place in a bowl. Cool.

1 egg white
1 Tbsp arrowroot starch
1 tsp mild honey
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp soy sauce

Beat egg white slightly. Add starch. Mix well. add salt and honey. Mix well. Pour over filling mixture. Mix well.

Paste:

2 egg whites
1 Tbsp arrowroot starch

Beat egg whites slightly. Add starch. Mix well.

3 cups peanut oil
OR vegetable oil

ASSEMBLING AND FRYING EGG ROLL:
Place egg skin on bread board sprinkled lightly with arrowroot starch. Paste inside of egg skin. Place 3 Tbsp filling on skin. spread filling evenly over egg skin. Leave 1 inch free on right, left and top sides of egg skin. Fold right side over filling. Fold left side over filling. Roll toward unfilled top. Seal edge of roll with paste. Continue process until all skins are used. Heat a wok over high heat. Add oil and heat until a piece of egg skin added sizzles. Place 1 egg roll on a large wire spoon or tempura spoon. Lower into hot oil. Fry over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oil. Fry until all egg rolls are cooked. Cut into 1 inch slices. Best served warm. Serve with mustard sauce or plum sauce to dip egg rolls in. Excellent snack or appetizer. Good served as one of the dishes in cold course at a feast.

VARIATION:
VEGETARIAN DEEP-FRIED EGG ROLLS [serves 6 to 8]

Leave out shrimp in filling

Follow recipe for deep fried shrimp or Crab Egg Rolls. Cook as directed. Leave out shrimp in filing. Excellent snack or appetizer. Good served as one of dishes in cold course at a feast.

Variations are also given for meat and chicken filled egg rolls.


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Chinese Cabbage and Tofu

I know a lot of the health food blogs I read really object to tofu, unless it’s been fermented.  They say it’s not a traditional food and has all kinds of problems- it’s usually genetically modified, that kind of thing.

I can’t make up my mind about it, partly because I just love it, and partly because I just don’t believe that’s not a traditional food.  It’s been around for at least two thousand years.

Many of the whole foods people also say you should definitely avoid it if you’ve had breast cancer or think you are high risk for it.

If tofu scares you, substitute tempeh (which the anti-tofu people say is okay because it’s fermented) or seasoned, cooked meat.  I think chicken, beef, or pork would be delicious.  So would shrimp, but then it’s no longer a peasant dish.

We like to freeze, defrost, and then drain our tofu. It produces a texture firmer than scrambled eggs, and slightly less firm than chicken. Once defrosted, you have to drain it really well- press down on it, hard, until no more liquid comes out.  It’s not required, but if you dislike the soft texture of tofu, you might prefer to do this.

 Stir Fried Chinese Cabbage and Tofu

Drain tofu in colander, weighting down the tofu with something heavy on top, for at least half an hour. I usually use a big bowl of water on top of the tofu to press it, drain it, and make it firmer.  Once it’s as firm as you like, slice it into cubes.

Then have ready:

1/2 t. ginger root, fresh, peeled and diced
1/4 t. bouillion, dissolved in 2 T. water
1 1/2 t. cornstarch, mixed into 2 T. water
4 cups Chinese cabbage, you may want to separate crunchier ends from leafier bits
2 cloves crushed garlic

Heat oil in a skillet or wok. Add ginger and one clove crushed garlic, fry til brown, then remove, add the sliced tofu and stir so the flavored oil covers all the tofu pieces.

Add 1 T soy sauce or amino acids, 1/4 salt. Cook for two minutes, remove with all juices.

Add 1 T. oil to same pan, add other crushed garlic, fry until brown, remove, then add the thicker sections of the cabbage and stir, cooking one minute. Add dissolved bouiillion 1/4 t. salt, cover and steam for two minutes. Add remaining cabbage, stir, cover and cook one minute. Return tofu to pan, dribble the cornstarch mixture into the center of the pan, stir and cook until thickened and then serve immediately. Serves 6, only 4 grams of carbs per serving.

Delicious topped with chow mein noodles, slivered almonds (toasted), served over brown rice, topped with bean sprouts, or with snow peas added to the stir fry.
Posted in Asian, frugal, low-carb, vegetarian | Leave a comment

Cranberry Pear Crisp

There are two versions of this- the one with sugar, the one with more natural sweeteners.  The one pictured here was made by our fifteen year old, and she actually combined the two- she put sugar in the fruit, but sprinkled the top with the oat, date mixture.

1 package, 12 ounces cranberries (3 cups)
2 large unpeeled pears, cored and sliced thin
1 cup granulated sugar (or blend dates, coconut, and oats together to taste in food processor, and sprinkle over the top)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup flour, divided (or use ground almonds or oats)
1/4 packed brown sugar (use more date and coconut, and then stir in a tablespoon or so of molasses)
3/4 cup each regular oats and chopped walnuts
milk or cream, optional

In lightly greased 1 1/2 quart baking dish, thoroughly mix cranberries, pears, granulated sugar (or date and coconut mixture), cinnamon, and 1 Tablespoon flour, set aside.
In medium bowl mix remaining 3 Tablespoons flour with the brown sugar (or with the date/coconut/molasses mixture.  With pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (we generally just whirl it through the food processor with the S-blades).  Stir in oats and nuts, sprinkle evenly over fruit mixture.   Bake in preheated 375 degrees oven 40 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let stand at least ten minutes.  Serve wtih milk. Delicious over yogurt.  Serves 8.

Linked at Real Food Foragers Fat Tuesdays.
Recipes I Can’t Wait To Try
Southern Fairy Tale’s Mouthwatering Mondays

Posted in dessert, fruit | 1 Response

Creamed Kale

One pound fresh kale, or ten ounces frozen, chopped kale
salt to taste
two tablespoons butter
two tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
White pepper

Remove coarse stems of fresh kale, put in sauce pan, add lightly salted boiling water, simmer, covered 20 minutes.  Drain well, chop fine.  If using frozen kale, just defrost it and chop fine.  Melt butter in skillet, stir in flour, making a fine paste.  Gradually add the milk, stirring until thickened and smooth.
Add chopped kale and simmer 3 minutes.

Season with salt and white pepper.

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Oatmeal Casserole

Here’s another favorite oatmeal standby- I first discovered the original about 18 years ago in the big family newsletter Bill and Mary Pride’s family published (I cannot think of the name right now, but it was full of helpful, practical advice and recipes from other larger than average families). The original recipe used butter or margarine, and was sweetened with brown sugar, lots of brown sugar, and it tasted something like an oatmeal cookie with milk. We’ve tweaked it in various fashions, and I finally created this version, submitted it to a glossy homeschooling magazine a few years ago, it was published in said glossy homeschooling magazine, and then went almost instantly all over the internet as every other food blogger’s favorite breakfast oatmeal dish.=)

Am I complaining? No, it tickles me.  After all, I got the original from somebody else in the first place.

——-Gingerbread Oatmeal Casserole

4 eggs
2 cups milk
1 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup molasses
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon each cinnamon, allspice, and ginger
6 cups oatmeal (not instant)

Combine above ingredients, mixing well. Pour into greased 13X9 inch pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

12-15 servings

You can serve it plain, or in a bowl with cold milk. Some like it hot.
Some like it cold. Some like more molasses for a flavor that it is bold!

This recipe has endless variations. It’s incredibly adaptable.
Here are some of the variations we have used and enjoyed:
Use one can of frozen juice concentrate instead of molasses (we like apple juice)
Substitute 1 cup melted butter for the fat (any oil can be used here)
Use maple syrup instead of molasses You can use brown sugar for sweetener, up to 1 1/2 cups. This makes it taste like oatmeal cookies!
Vary the spices to suit your family’s preferences- you can add vanilla or orange extract. We like a version where the only spices we use are orange extract and cinnamon.
Sweeten with applesauce or mashed apricots.
Add dried fruit

This is one of the first breakfast meals my children learn to make, because it is so easy (and so forgiving!). It’s easy to mix it the night before and bake it in the morning. It is also popular with overnight guests, even guests who think they do not like oatmeal. In fact, I recently attended a woman’s retreat at an area camp where they all kept talking about the special oatmeal dish this place was famed for, and how they hoped that was what was served- and when it this wonderful dish was served, I surprised to see it was just my old friend the oatmeal casserole!

Here are sources for groats and millet.

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Granola

Here’s our granola recipe:
Skillet Granola- this recipe is quicker to make than most granola recipes (you can mix it up, cook it and eat it in less than half an hour), but it doesn’t store for as long because it’s moister than the oven dried granola. This does not matter to us because we eat it before it could possibly have time to mold.

1/3 cup each oil and a sweetener (honey, sucanat, molasses, etc) You can use stevia for the sweetener, but I do not know how much you would use.

4 cups oats

1 cup dried fruit (raisins, diced apricots, etc)

Seasoning of choice (cinnamon, vanilla, orange extract, nutmeg, cloves, etc) One of our favorites is cinnamon and orange extract with a little bit of orange peel.* Yummmy!

Stir oil and sweetener together in a large skillet. Heat until warm, Add herbs and seasonings now and stir in well. Add oats, mix until well coated. Heat over low to medium heat, stirring until lightly brown.

Remove from heat.

Add optional ingredients: coconut, nuts, seeds, wheat germ, etc.

You can store this in a sealed container for at least two weeks. We usually make a huge batch in a roasting pan and that’s how long it lasts us. It might last longer, but we always eat it sooner than that. We like it with milk or yogurt.

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Slow Cooked Grains for Breakfast

Breakfast (you must begin this the evening before) :

Slow-cooker Cereal
1 c. oat groats
1 c. millet
1/4 c. unflavored tvp (tvp is available at your health food store and is sold as texturized protein granules. You can make this without the tvp, but you will probably be hungry again sooner. TVP is a protein, and most of my family do better with protein in our breakfast)
2+ tsp. cinnamon (more or less)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
In the evening, stir together dry ingredients in 4 qt slow cooker.
add:
8 cups cold water
3+ tsp. vanilla ( more or less- we also like orange extract and cinnamon)

Gently stir and finish stirring by leveling out the dry ingredients on
the bottom.

Set slow-cooker to just under 3, or low on a crockpot.

In the morning, stir and serve.

Possible toppings:
raisins, diced apple or applesauce, other fruit, brown sugar or honey, milk, yogurt, chopped nuts, etc, singly or in combination.

Can substitute brown rice and/or barley and/or wheat for oat groats and/or millet. The texture is a bit chewier, but it’s still good. Can use any combination of the 5 grains as long as you use the same general dry-to-liquid proportions of 2 1/4 c. dry to 8 c. water.
~from the kitchen of Denise Bryce an online friend who served this delicious warm breakfast to my family once when we were traveling across country and the Bryce’s graciously invited us to use their lovely home as a bed and breakfast.

Variations:

Protein:
The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of tvp for extra protein. This helps one not to feel famished just an hour or two after eating. We’re fresh out of tvp. I made one batch with about 1/3 cup of powder from a protein shake mix. It turned out well, but I think I could have used as much as a cup.

Some time back our co-op ran a special on macadamia nut butter if the buyer purchased 12 jars. The price was really excellent (cheaper than peanut butter) so I did, but it turns out that macadamia nut butter is runny and nobody here really likes the texture much. I thought of that while mixing up the ingredients in my crockpot last night, so I added half of a small jar to the crockpot. Nobody could taste the macadmia butter except the FYG (who doesn’t like nut-butters), and everybody liked the results (except the FYG, so she ate hers with honey). I’ve very pleased with this one, and foresee several weeks of macadamia nut-butter and warm cereal in the morning.

I’d like to add some ground flax seed to it sometime, too, and see how we like that.

Grains:
We don’t have oat groats, and I’m trying very hard to stick to ‘what I have in my hand‘ instead of running to the store, so we’ve used buckwheat, millet, and barley in varying proportions. The children prefer a smoother texture, so equal amounts of buckwheat and millet appeal most to them. I prefer something chewier, so I liked it best when I used half barley and half buckwheat. We happen to have a lot of buckwheat on hand, because it turns out that I’m the only one who really enjoys my recipe for buckwheat-sesame bread. It’s too crunchy for the rest.
I’ve heard from many people who use barley and find that works very well for them.

Sweeteners
We’ve liked it topped with maple syrup, a spoonful of citrus honey, OR a spoonful of jam. Equuschick liked hers with salt, butter, and maple syrup together.
We’ve liked it when I choppped up dried apricots and added them to the grains before cooking. Some family members are sure it would be delicious with raisins, but we’re out of raisins and I don’t like them, which means we have no urgent need to replace them.

Seasonings
We’ve used cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, cloves, allspice, and mace. I think the cloves add a very pleasant extra touch.

Fats
I believe that we need fats in our diet, healthy fats, and children need them in particular. Fats also help stave off that hungry feeling that comes from stoking up with carbs. I have added up to half a cup of coconut oil to the crockpot at the start of cooking, and the cereal was tasty, not at all greasy or oily.
The Equuschick, as we mentioned, likes to add butter to hers. The nutbutters also have fats, and the fat in macadamia nut butter is supposed to be particularly healthy.

I think it would also be good with cream poured over it while still hot. Yoghurt might also be tasty.

I even added some strawberry acidophilus to the mixture one evening, and nobody noticed. I’m not sure that was as useful as one would wish, though, since the cooking temperature probably is too high to allow the cultures to survive.

We haven’t had any leftover to speak of. Most people like seconds here, and, Equuschick and Pip have each chosen to have the last small serving for an afternoon snack when there has been some leftover. My young people tend to be bigger eaters than most- I guess they have the HM’s high metabolism. So while it serves nine of us generously, it might serve a dozen or more if your family includes the sort of children who are happy with half a sandwich for lunch. We didn’t know what it was to have children like that until our sixth came along.

Last year when we had houseguests (or rather, one of the times we had winter houseguests) I added coconut oil, chopped walnuts, and diced apples along with a generous splash of our homemade vanilla, cinnamon, freshly ground cloves, ginger and a touch of molasses. For grains we used about half oat groats and half buckwheat.

Pipsqueak made granola, and for the benefit of our houseguests I set the granola on the counter near the crockpot, along with the canister of brown sugar and the butter for those who like their hot cereal with butter. Then I put out a stack of bowls and spoons and told our guests that there was vanilla yogurt and whole milk in the fridge.

This way, breakfast was available to any early birds while allowing those of us kept up by snoring spouses with stuffy noses some of us to sleep in without guilt.

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Corn and Pumpkin Stew

 Corn and pumpkin Stew

  Recipe comes from The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American– I really like his cookbooks. The HG says she found several of them at Goodwill recently, but wasn’t in the mood to spend two dollars on cookbooks, not even hardbacks. Ouch.

This feeds six

3 ears of corn or a ten ounce package of frozen corn
1 small pumpkin, about 3 pounds
1 diced onion
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

Shuck the corn and mash to a pulp- The Frugal Gourmet just slices it off and runs it through the food processor. Do the same if you have frozen corn- don’t even bother with defrosting. You could also put the water and corn through the blender or run an immersion blender in the pot.
Peel and seed the pumpkin and cut into small pieces.Pumpkin is a hard squash, so make sure you have a sharp knife. Place all ingredients in a covered saucepan and simmer until pumpkin is soft. Depending on the size of your pumpkin chunks, this should take about half an hour.

You could substitute any hard winter squash for the pumpkin.
You could cook the pumpkin in water until soft, then puree it with corn, heat, and stir in some cream for a really rich creamy soup.
You could top with some cheese or salted and roasted pumpkin seeds- because you did save the seeds from the pumpkin for salting and roasting, didn’t you?

Linked at Dining with Debbie

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Butternut Squash With cheese and Tomatoes

  Butternut squash baked with tomatoes and cheese
feeds six, comes from the Hollyhocks and Radishes cookbook:

Ingredients:
2 pounds butternut squash
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil
salt and pepper to taste
8-10 green peppers, sliced
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (I would just use canned)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 325 (actually, I almost never preheat)
Peel squash, cut in half, scrape out seeds and strings (I use a grapefruit spoon for this job- the serrated tip is very helpful. Slice the squash into bite sized chunks.

Saute them in butter and oil until lightly browned, season to taste, then move them to a buttered baking dish (not too deep). Saute the onions in the same skillet, season again, spoon them over the squash.
If you are using raw tomatoes, you have to go through the nonsense of peeling them, seeding them, chopping them, and cooking them until soft and the liquid is partially evaporated.
OR you can just open a can and pour it over the onions and squash. Guess which one I do.

Top with cheese if you are using cheese. Many people who have dairy allergies can tolerate raw organic cheese made from cows fed on grasses rather than grains. That is not a frugal solution, but it is a delicious and healthy one.

Bake this for half an hour, then increase the heat to 425 and bake another few minutes, just to brown the cheese.

Easier variation
: toss the chopped squash and onion in oil, season to taste, put in a shallow jelly roll pan in as single layer and roast. When the squash is nearly done, top with tomatoes and cheese and bake until squash is done, cheese is browning, and all is heated through.

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Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

This recipe is based on these sour cream muffins from Amish country.  We had to make some rapid improvisation, however,when I discovered that what I thought was sour cream in my fridge was actually cottage cheese.

I will post two recipes- what we actually did to get the delectable ‘breaded blueberries’ you see in this picture, and what I want to try next time for a soaked grain version that is slightly less sweet.

What we did:

1 Cup vanilla yogurt
2 Eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (if you grate your own it will taste better)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda.
2 cups blueberries

The recipe says to sift the dry ingredients together three times. I never do that. I just mix them up well.
Beat eggs well and add to yogurt, mixing well. Mix all together and beat well. Pour into greased muffin or tart tins or use silicon tart pans. If you use muffin pans, barely fill them half way.  Bake 20-35 minutes at 300 degrees.

My 15 year old (the FYG) made these, and they were delicious. However, I told her to put one cup of our fresh blueberries in the muffins, and she decided that did not look like enough, so she doubled it.  I wouldn’t say that was a mistake, because they are very, very good, but you can do just one cup.

Also, when I had to substitute vanilla yogurt for the sour cream, I did not think about the extra sweetener in vanilla yogurt, or I would have reduced the sugar by about half.

For a soaked grain version:

1 Cup vanilla yogurt
2 Eggs
1/2 cup sugar, or 3/4 cup of ground dates
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (if you grate your own it will taste better)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda.
2 cups blueberries

About four hours before, if you are using freshly ground whole wheat flour, or the night before if you are not, combine yogurt and whole wheat flour (and the spices if you like), mix well.  It will make a thick, almost pasty stiff mixture.  Let this sit.
Beat eggs well and add to a spoonful of sour cream or yogurt, mixing well. Slightly warm up the flour and yogurt mixture, then combine all ingredients and beat well. Pour into greased muffin or tart tins or use silicon tart pans. If you use muffin pans, barely fill them half way.  Bake 20-35 minutes at 300 degrees.

Posted in breakfast | 2 Responses