Tuesday, May 17, 2011

  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

My first job was working in a strawberry patch.  My sister's in-laws owned 7 acres of strawberries that they sold to the general public, and I landed the role as cashier for the people coming to pay for their u-picked strawberries.  Every morning I arrived promptly at 6 am when the berry patch opened and worked diligently throughout the morning directing people to the correct fields, weighing buckets of berries, and collecting money from patrons anxious to show family members their juicy and delicious collection.

I was convinced that I had the best job at the berry patch.  I watched my fellow co-workers trekking around in the dew covered fields, getting mud on their shoes and knees. I saw their red-stained fingers from picking berry after berry, and I heard about their strained arm muscles from carrying filled buckets of strawberries to the cash register.  All the while, I remained stationary at my post, sitting in my lawn chair perfectly angled toward the sun.  My feet rested comfortably on the top of my shoes, my sleeves rolled up to my shoulders, and my face tilted upward as to not cast a shadow on my neck. 

Sun goddess or cashier?  Hard to tell the difference.

Monday, May 16, 2011

  Steak Teriyaki with Sugar Snap Peas

Teriyaki is a Japanese cooking technique for broiling or grilling meats which are marinated or basted in a soy sauce.  It is derived from teri- meaning glaze and -yaki meaning broil. Traditional teriyaki is actually not overly sweet;  it is made from equal parts sake, mirin (a rice wine), and dark soy sauce with a small quantity of sugar added. 

However most premade bottles of teriyaki sauce are overly sugary and artificial tasting.  Please don't use them.  I know that they are convenient and a real time saver for weekday meals, but bottled sauces are not good, maybe hinging on gross in some cases.  I have no personal vandetta against the manufacturer's of those sauces--they must make a living too.  However, making your own teriyaki sauce is not difficult and takes only a few steps.  Steps I feel are well worth your time.

This recipe for Steak Teriyaki with Sugar Snap Peas originally called recipe for 1/2 cup sugar, which I have already reduced and changed into a combination of brown sugar and honey.  This recipe makes a very good sauce, one that complements the steak and sugar snap peas.  Everyone in my family, especially our recovered picky eater and my 11-month old, loved this meal.  In fact, my son asked me to put this on our "make again" list...and we didn't have a make-again list before this meal.:-) 

I encourage you to make this sauce for other meats as well.  Chicken, burgers, and salmon would taste great smothered in this sauce too.

  Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia

For many, many years, I was not brave enough to use yeast.  The process was overwhelming to me, and as a result, I would not attempt to bake any kind of bread.  There was a part of me that felt no need (no pun intended) to attempt bread.  Why hassle with yeast and go through the work of kneading when a wide variety of breads, buns, pizza doughs, and the like is readily available at the bakery and grocery store?  I'd like to say that I had some amazing pivotal moment or an epiphany, but I didn't.  One day, now many years ago, I simply decided it was time to try; I was already cooking and baking 90% of what my family ate, so why not?

What stood out the most to me about yeast was how easy the process of proofing is.  It's really just a matter of adding yeast to water, ensuring that the water is the right temperature, and allowing it to sit for 5 minutes to see if the yeast is active or not.  And the kneading?  With the use of a Kitchen Aid mixer, no kneading is necessary;  the machine does it for you.  Suddenly, the "big deal" with yeast and bread, was really no big deal at all.   And I'm glad I overcame my fear of yeast--otherwise I would never have experienced freshly baked breads like this focaccia.