Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Lucky One: Turkey on Homemade Bread, Vanilla Custard Ice Cream

For my final (at least for now) project inspired by The Lucky One, I decided to prepare something that Logan often fixes for himself:  turkey sandwiches.  Except I'm sure Logan doesn't make his own bread.  For dessert we have custard-style ice cream, because Beth makes some for Logan one fine evening.

First, the turkey sandwiches; allow me to set the scene:  Logan standing in Beth's kitchen watching Beth prepare tacos for dinner.  He looks around, notices that her kitchen is much prettier than his own, and admires the way she expertly breezes about, gathering ingredients and dicing vegetables and such like.

"Need a hand?"
She shot him a skeptical look.  "Don't tell me that in addition to training dogs, fixing cars, and being a musician, you're an expert chef."
"I wouldn't go that far.  But I know my way around the kitchen.  I make dinner every night."
"Oh yeah?  What did you have last night?"
"Turkey sandwich on wheat.  With a pickle."
"And the night before?"
"Turkey sandwich on wheat.  No pickle."
She giggled.  "What was the last hot meal you cooked?"
He pretended to rack his brains.  "Uh...beans and franks.  On Monday."
She feigned amazement.  "I stand corrected.  How are you at grating cheese?"
"In that, I would consider myself an expert."
(The Lucky One, p. 127-128)

I decided to make a loaf of Joe's favorite bread: my mother-in-law's delicious molasses oat bread.  I'll give you her version first, and then mine that I adapted for my bread machine.


4 3/4 to 5 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 packages active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup light molasses
2 eggs

In large mixer bowl, combine 3 cups of the flour, the oats, brown sugar, yeast and salt.  In saucepan, combine milk, water, shortening and molasses.  Cook over low heat till warm, stirring to melt shortening.  Add molasses mixture with eggs to flour mixture.  Beat at low speed on electric mixer for 1/2 minute, scraping sides of bowl constantly.  Beat 3 minutes at high speed.  By hand, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Turn out on lightly floured surface and knead till smooth, 4 to 5 minutes.  Place in greased bowl, turning once, grease surface.  Cover and let rise till double, about 1 1/2 hours.  Punch down; turn out on lightly floured surface.  Divide dough in half.  Shape each into a loaf.  brush with a little water.  roll in additional rolled oats.  Place in two greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 5/8 inch loaf pans.  Cover and let rise till double, about 1 hour.  Bake in 350 oven for 40 to 45 minutes.  Makes two loaves.


1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup shortening
2 tablespoons molasses
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (I never sift)
1 cup rolled oats (either quick or regular; it doesn't really matter)
1 package (1 1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast

In saucepan, combine milk, water, shortening, and molasses.  Cook over low heat till warm, stirring to melt shortening.  Add molasses mixture to bread pan; then add egg, salt, and brown sugar.  Add flour and oats; then add yeast last.  I like to make a little hollow at the top of my flour/oat pile for the yeast.  DO NOT STIR, THE MACHINE DOES THIS FOR YOU.  Set machine for white bread, medium crust.


This was the first time I made this using REAL milk and REAL eggs; because of Moe's allergies, I had always made it with Egg Replacer and rice or soy milk.  Now that he's allowed to have these things in breads and the like, I was able to use the real stuff, and boy what a difference it makes!  Joe says (and unfortunately since I'm on a gluten free diet I wasn't really able to sample it) it was the best loaf I've made yet.  Next time I might try substituting butter for the shortening to see if that makes it even better.  And someday, I might just try a gluten free version of this...maybe.

We don't normally use this type of bread for sandwiches; we just cut off hunks and eat them with dinner.  The bread was a little bit crumbly, but the general consensus was that it made for a fabulous sandwich.

(The supplies.  I had thought I would get some fancy-schmancy gourmet turkey, but Moe says that the packaged turkey cold cuts from Costco are his favorite.  Not pictured:  bacon.)

(Joe's sandwich.  The coleslaw is some that my mother-in-law's friend had made and brought to their house on Father's Day when we all had dinner together.  I think I want to get the recipe from her...)


One night after work, Logan stops in at Beth's house, and guess what she's preparing for them?  Yep--turkey sandwiches.  AND, she makes ice cream for dessert.  Hand-cranked, of course.  Just like Denise in The Rescue.

She dug out an electric mixer and a bowl, along with a measuring cup.  From the spice cabinet, she chose sugar, flour, and vanilla extract.  She added three cups of sugar and a cup of flour to the bowl and mixed it by hand, then put the bowl on the mixer.  Next, she beat in three eggs, [a quart of] half-and-half, and three teaspoons [uh, Nick, that would be one tablespoon, dude] vanilla extract before turning on the mixer.  Finally, she splashed in a bit of milk and poured the entire mixture into the cream can, put the can in the ice-cream maker, and surrounded it with crushed ice and rock salt.
(The Lucky One, p. 151-152)

Well, my ice cream maker is a newfangled electric one, complete with a freezable bowl so you don't even have to use ice or rock salt.  And normally if someone prepares something a certain way in one of Nick's books, I'll do my best to prepare it just like they do (except for Noah and Allie's crabs--one of these days I'll try that); this time, I opted to find a different recipe, because a.  If I put flour in my homemade ice cream, I can't eat it thanks to my gluten sensitivity; and b. Beth doesn't cook the eggs.  Even though the eggs we get are from happy free-roaming chickens that live on family farms and the chances of contracting salmonella from them are practically zero, I'm still a little bit squeamish of raw eggs.  I found a simple custard ice cream recipe online (and I doubled the recipe and used 2 cups milk, 2 cups cream, etc.):


1 cup whole milk
·         1 cup heavy cream or 1 cup whipping cream
·         2 egg yolks
·         1/3 cup sugar
·         1 teaspoon real vanilla extract (not imitation!)

1.  Beat eggs very well with a mixer, gradually add sugar beat until thick and lemon colored.
2.  Stir in milk and heat, stirring until thickened.
3.  Remove from heat and cool mixture.
4.  Add cream and vanilla, cover and chill mixture.
5.  Pour into ice cream maker and follow manufactures(sic) directions.

(It was hard to tell when the egg mixture was thick enough.  For a while I was afraid I might have overcooked the yolks.)

(I know it's ready when the ice cream touches the top of the plastic dasher-mixer.)

(A little soft, almost milkshake-y, even after being in the freezer for a few hours; I think it's because my refrigerator coils badly needed cleaning and the freezer wasn't getting cold enough.  I cleaned the coils today--finally!  I hope that solves the problem...)

The verdict? Delicious.  Everyone says I should always make ice cream with eggs.  No problem.

I'm not sure what my next project will be; don't be surprised if my next post is a 7 Quick Takes.  I've got some more cool stuff to share with you.  After that?  Perhaps it will be bacon pancakes with ligonberries...or coconut cream cake...or breakfast burritos...and soon I want to make those Brazilian chicken cutlets again, and do it right this time.  Stay tuned!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Mussels and Short Ribs and Dancing With The Stars Contestants I've Seen In Person


First off, a disclaimer.  Some of the photos in this post aren't the greatest because I took them with my phone.  My old one.  I now have a new phone (longish story--you can read about that here) AND, I finally got my camera back after a month in the shop.  My future posts will have better photos, I promise.


Joe and the boys, as always, cooked me a fancy dinner on Mother's Day.  They pulled out this cookbook

I took THIS photo just this morning, with my camera, not my phone...

and decided to cook mussels and short ribs.  So without further ado (now that it's almost Father's Day; good grief, I'm late posting this, sheesh):


Grill-Roasted Mussels

6 lb* (3 kg) mussels, well scrubbed and debearded (what the heck does THAT mean?)
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) dry white wine
1/4 cup (2 oz/60 g) unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped

Prepare a CHARCOAL or GAS grill for DIRECT grilling over HIGH heat.
Divide the mussels between 2 large, heavy cast-iron frying pans,* discarding any that fail to close to the touch.
CHARCOAL:  Place the pans over the hottest part of the fire.  Cover the grill and cook the mussels until they open, 3-5 minutes, stirring the mussels occasionally with tongs.  GAS*:  Place the pans directly over the heat elements.  Cover the grill and cook the mussels until they open, 3-5 minutes, stirring the mussels occasionally with tongs.
Transfer the mussels to warmed individual bowls, discarding any mussels that failed to open.  In a small flameproof saucepan, combine the wine, butter, and garlic.  Place the pan n the grill rack and swirl until the butter is melted.  Stir in the parsley.  Pour the wine mixture over the mussels, dividing evenly.  Set out a couple of empty bowls for spent shells.

(from Williams-Sonoma's Essentials of Grilling:  Recipes and Techniques for Successful Outdoor Cooking, p. 239)

*I think they halved the recipe and only got 3 lbs, and only used one pan.  We poured the mussels into one big serving platter and everyone dug in.  Oh, and we have a gas grill, not a charcoal one.


Korean-Style Short Ribs

1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) soy sauce*
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons dry sherry (we didn't have any so I helped them choose a red wine to use instead)
3 tablespoons Asian Sesame oil*
1 1/2 tablespons peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup (1 1/2 oz/45 g) sesame seeds, toasted*
3-4 lbs (1.5-2 kg) beef short ribs, crosscut flanken style*
Lettuce Leaves

In a shallow, nonreactive dish just large enough to hold the meat in a single layer, stir together the soy sauce, vinegar, sherry, sesame oil, ginger, honey, and about 1/4 cup (1 oz/30 g) of the sesame seeds.  Add the ribs and turn to coat all sides.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or for up to 24 hours, turning occasionally.  Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.

Prepare a grill for DIRECT grilling over HIGH heat.  Oil the grill rack.  Remove the meat from the marinade, reserving the marinade.  Grill the ribs over the hottest part of the fire (for charcoal) or directly over the heat elements (for gas), turning once and brushing with the marinade for up to 5 minutes before the ribs are done, until nicely charred and cooked to your liking, 6-10 minutes per side for medium rare.  Sprinkle the ribs with the remaining sesame seeds and serve with the lettuce.

*We made some substitutions:  Gluten free tamari rather than soy sauce, canola oil instead of sesame (Moe is allergic), and Joe made Moe a separate marinade without sesame seeds.  We didn't have any dry sherry so I helped them pick out a nice red wine they could use.  And the part about "crosscut flanken style?"  They couldn't find anything like that.  Just plain old regular-cut short ribs will do; I think they just had to cook them just a tad bit longer.
(Adapted from Essentials of Grilling, p. 92)

Of course, the asparagus is the fresh, local variety! 

Joe is the grill-meister.


Before I started blogging and before I knew about Facebook and Twitter, I was really into Oprah's Book Club, and wasted many hours taking part in online discussions of her selections.  Now that Oprah has moved on to other things (I'm still miffed that she never had Nicholas Sparks on her show.  But hey, Anderson Cooper did; yay, Anderson!) I figured her book club had gone down with her.

Guess what?  Oprah's Book Club is back, and last week I read her latest selection, Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  Yesterday over at Musings of a Catholic Mom I posted my own review of sorts; check it out!


And while you're on my other blog, you might as well check out what I posted earlier this week, too.  Last Saturday I took some friends to see GAIVIN DEGRAW LIVE IN CONCERT (I just love typing that) and I still don't think I've quite come down off of Cloud Nine yet.  You know Gavin DeGraw..."Not Over You," "Sweeter"... you might have seen him this spring on Dancing With the Stars, although if you blinked you may have missed him because he got booted pretty early on, unfortunately.  So anyway he ROCKS and I got to see him and here's how I was feeling afterwards.  I took some blurry photos with my new phone; here's the best one:

And in case you missed Gavin on Dancing With the Stars, here he is on what was probably his best night (except maybe the crying part):


Speaking of people who've been on Dancing With the Stars (AND cried on the show; those evil producers try and squeeze as many tears out of them that they possibly can) and pictures I've taken of them, do you know who this is?

It's Helio Castroneves, the race car driver who won the Mirror Ball Trophy a few years back.  He also won the Indianapolis 500 three times.  I took this photo of him in Richmond back in 2008.  Yes, that's ME he's smiling at.  And why did I post this photo, you ask?  Well, do you know the name of the professional dancer who taught Helio to foxtrot and samba and quickstep and ultimately helped him become a Dancing With the Stars champion?  Julianne Hough.  Know what she's up to these days?  (Besides starring in the new movie Rock of Ages, which frankly looks like one I will most likely skip...) Right now she's down in Soutport,North Carolina, filming the next Nicholas Sparks movie, Safe Haven.  How about that? 

(Wouldn't you just love to see Nicholas Sparks on Dancing With the Stars?  I would vote for him every single week.  Hopefully they won't try and make him cry.)


Sooo....summer vacation is here and hopefully I'll have a little bit more time for this here little blog.  I've got a couple more projects up my sleeve from The Lucky One, and soon you'll probably see more Lemony Snicket and/or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo posts.  Then we'll move on to The Last Song.

I sure hope Nick will have a new story out this fall.  I'm running out of books.

Have a great weekend, and be sure to give all the dads in your life big hugs.  Oh, and Nick...Happy Father's Day!

(Check out Jen's Conversion Diary blog for more Quick Takes!)