Iced Tea

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The 90 degree temperatures and lack of air conditioning have not inspired me to cook or bake this week. Which is good because with those temperatures, I don’t feel like eating. What I do feel like doing is drinking lots and lots of liquid, especially liquid in the form of iced tea.

Iced Tea
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
10 regular tea bags
4 quarts water, divided
Sweetener of choice to taste
In a 2 1/2 quart sauce pan over medium heat, combine two quarts of water and the tea bags. Let tea cook and steep for 30 minutes. Remove tea bags and pour into a gallon sized pitcher. Add 2 more quarts of water and sweetener of choice. Stir well and chill. 1 gallon iced tea

Quick Pickles

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I am well known among my family and friends as being unconventional. I don’t drive. I refuse to have a credit card, even for “emergencies”. I don’t have a microwave. I have a noisy flock of 3 cockatiels, 7 parakeets, a gerbil and 2 foster rats. I recently left a position I held for the last 6 1/2 years to become a cake decorator. I love to bake and cook and do it at least once a day, every day.

Of all my unconventional traits, it’s the cooking and baking that most often get me into trouble. Not trouble exactly, but when you have the reputation of being a good cook and baker, you can’t just buy something to take to someone’s event. It always needs to be homemade.

I like to make these pickles as an unconventional hostess gift when I am invited to dinner or a barbecue. I like them because unlike most quick pickles, these are tangy, not sweetish.

The only bad thing about these pickles is Kirby cucumbers are only available for a limited time in the summer. Although, you can occasionally find them at random times the rest of the year, like I did with the Kirby cucumbers I used to make the batch of pickles in the photo. Don’t try to use regular cucumbers with this recipe. They just don’t work for this recipe.

Quick Pickles

4 kirby cucumbers
½ cup cider vinegar
2 TBS kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 cups water

Cut cucumbers into 1/4 inch slices. Combine 2 cups water, the vinegar, salt and sugar in a non-reactive bowl, stirring to dissolve. Add the cucumbers ensuring that they are completely covered, add more water if necessary. Cover the bowl and let stand at room temperature for 12 hours or overnight. With a slotted spoon, transfer the cucumbers to a colender and rinse with cold water. Divide the cucumbers garlic, peppercorns and mustard seeds between the 2 pint jars or other non reactive container with a lid. Pour the brine over the cucumbers ensuring that the pickles are entirely submerged. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. The pickles can be kept, refrigerated for about 1 month. 2 pints or 1 quart.

Adapted from Veggie Burgers, Every Which Way

Vegetable Stir Fry — What to Cook When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking #2

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I am not much of a vegetable eater. I know I should be but I am not. I think the problem is I just don’t know how to cook vegetables any other way then boiling them or putting then in salads, which gets pretty boring after awhile. My summer project is to try new vegetables and learn new ways to cook old favorites.

This stir fry is one of my old favorites. It only takes about 15 minutes from start to finish and is a great way to use up bits and pieces of left over vegetables you have in the fridge. Feel free to change up the vegetables. Just remember to add the hard vegetables first and cook them till they are almost crisp tender before add the softer vegetables.

Vegetable Stir Fry

2 TBS canola oil
1 TBS minced garlic
1 TBS minced ginger
½ cup chopped scallion or onion
1 large carrot, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
8 oz snow peas, trimmed
¼ cup stock or water
2 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp dark sesame oil

Heat a large deep skillet over medium-heat for 3 – 4 minutes. Add the oil, and almost immediately, the garlic, ginger, and scallion. Cook, stirring, for about 15 seconds, add carrot, celery, snow peas, and stock. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. If the mixture is completely dry, add a couple of tablespoons more of stock or water, then the soy sauce, and sesame oil; stir and take off the heat. Serve or store, covered, in the refrigerator up to one day.

Adapted from How to Cook Everything

Chocolate Pancakes

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One of the great things about starting my own  recipe blog has been finding new recipe blogs to explore. One of my new favorite recipe blogs is Pixel Baking. The recipes are fantastic and the pictures make you gain twenty pounds just by looking at them. The blog isn’t small batch but it is definitely worth a looking at.

The chocolate pancakes are the first recipe I attempted to adapt from Pixel Baking’s site. The pancakes are thick, fluffy and full of chocolate flavor, almost like cake. I served these pancakes with a drizzle of maple syrup but these would be good with strawberries, pineapple, and banana or just a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

Chocolate Pancakes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 TBS sugar
2 1/2 TBS cocoa powder
2 TBS brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 1/2 TBS canola oil
1/2 cup milk
3/4 tsp vanilla

Preheat the griddle or frying pan over medium heat; about 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda , and salt; mix well. In another bowl, combine the egg, milk, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. Drop by ¼ cupfuls onto a heated pan coated with cooking spray. Cook until the bottom is golden, 2-4 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook until the other side is golden. This recipe makes three, 2 pancake servings.

Adapted from Pixel Baking

How to Clean Burnt On Food From Pots and Pans

Damn the men of the Fast and Furious for being so pretty to look at! This morning they distracted me, causing me to put a pan I had just emptied back onto the high heat and leaving it there until the remaining food in the pan burned and fused to the bottom of the pan.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t Paul Walker and Vin Disel’s fault but I am still blaming them. It certainly couldn’t be my fault because I am absent minded. Anyway, the resulting mess sent me to the internet to find possible ways to save the pan.

I never knew there were so many home remedies for cleaning burnt on food from pots and pans. Some were out because they used caustic chemicals like oven cleaner or toilet bowl cleaner. Others were out because I didn’t have access to the ingredients.

I finally settled on this particular idea because I had all the ingredients and it had very positive reviews. The best part is the procedure really works. The gunk on the bottom of my pan was pretty burned on so I repeated the procedure twice, scrubbing off as much of the gunk as I could in between the boilings. My pan went from unusable to like new by the time I was done. I was so impressed with the results, I did my grungy drip pans also, to equally stunning results.

How To Remove Burnt Food From The Bottom Of A Pan
Add enough water to the pan to cover the burnt on food.
Add 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup baking soda.
Bring to a full boil and let boil for at least half an hour.
Add more water, if necessary.
Pour out the water and wash pan as usual.

Notes– Depending on how burnt on the food is, you may have to repeat the procedure once or twice.

— When the baking soda hits the water, you will get quite a reaction so make sure there is enough room in the pan to contain it. If there isn’t try to use a big kettle.