August 20, 2014

A New Blog!

Chicken Fannie Biryani
Beaver and I do love to cook.  We love researching recipes and shopping for ingredients.  We'd rather spend the evening in the kitchen making something amazing than going to a restaurant.  Since we're apart some of the time due to Beave's work, when we talk on the phone, guess what we always talk about?  You got it -- COOKING!

Because of our shared interest and because I don't want to overrun this blog with recipes -- I want to encourage myself to cover more subjects so I can practice my writing -- I've started a new blog that will be co-authored by both me (Bonnie) and Beaver.  Here's our (my) first post:  Chicken Fannie Biryani.  If you're a Google+ friend you'll see the posts from Cooking With Beaver and Bonnie automatically on your timeline, just like you see these No Foot posts.  Otherwise please bookmark our cooking site and visit often!

August 17, 2014

Recipe - Cheese Crisps

Vintage appetizer recipe, Cheese Crisps, ready to bake.

Before the days when appetizers were called "munchies," most holidays, parties and gatherings called for some planning ahead, locating recipes, cooking or baking, creating something special to serve with cocktails or as a pre-dinner snack. For example, back in the 60s and 70s, my mother made Cheese Crisps to keep on hand and serve anyone who might drop by during the Christmas season.  They were standard fare at parties during that time too.  I haven't thought of them in over 30 years, not until the May 2014 issue of Southern Living featured a very similar recipe.  It took some digging but I found my mom's version, hand written on a piece of notepaper (with the words, "When the going gets Tough, the Tough go SHOPPING" printed on top). When I made these wafers the other day I followed her recipe for sentimental reasons, and they came out great, just like I remembered.

Curious about the history of the recipe I went through my cookbook collection and found many variations, the earliest being in renowned Texas cook Helen Corbitt's Cookbook (1957). Her "Cheese Pastries" had many variations but the basic recipe consisted of shredded cheese, shortening, flour, salt and cayenne pepper.  I found "Cheese Wafers" in the General Foods Kitchens Cookbook (1959):  Perfect for a mother-daughter graduation tea party, these delicate wafers called for "snappy cheese" and "butter or other shortening" in addition to the common other ingredients.  I also found "Cheese Crisps" in my grandmother's late-sixties cookbook produced by VEPCO (Virginia Electric & Power Company) which featured pecans in the dough and called for shaping the dough into rolls which were refrigerated and then sliced thin to form the wafers.  In 1972, Southern Living's Party Cookbook included "Crunchy Cheese Biscuits."  It is nearly identical to my mother's recipe, though hers is doubled; and finally there's a recipe from D.S. Freeman (Richmond, VA) High School's Faculty Favorites, probably published in the early 70s, which was submitted courtesy the Home Economics Department.  It featured the addition of an egg white to the otherwise standard mixture.

Since this recipe is so easy (you can buy your cheese already shredded) why not give it a try next time you need an appetizer?  We're all tired of tortilla chips and salsa, potato chips and onion dip, and even though we haven't seen corn chips and bean dip in a while that would be a yawner too.  Here's my mom's version of a very old favorite (she used grated Velveeta), but it's so adaptable I urge you to tweak it to your liking and make it a tradition in your home.

Patricia Axtell's Cheese Crisps

Makes about 80 wafers

Ingredients

2 cups grated yellow cheese
2 sticks softened margarine
2 cups flour
2 cups Rice Krispies
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Procedure

Preheat oven to 350

1.  Mix cheese and margarine; add flour and mix well.

2.  Mix in Rice Krispies and seasonings.

Well mixed and ready to shape into balls.

3.  Shape into small balls (shooter marble size) and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Mash with fork crisscross.

4.  Bake at 350 degrees about 10 minutes.

"If you wish you may substitute 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper for the Tabasco, onion salt and Worcestershire sauce.  Both ways are good."

Cheese Crisps ready for baking.

August 14, 2014

Recipe - Home-style Chicken Curry

Chicken curry ingredients.
I make my favorite meals over and over again, but sometimes suppertime rolls around and I want to try something different and feel up to spending a little more time on preparation.  Because it's normally a spur of the moment thing, the challenge is always finding a recipe that matches stuff I have in my refrigerator, freezer and pantry.  Last night I had a craving for Chicken Pub Curry, an English favorite that my son Captain Morgan made for us a while ago.  I was shocked to discover that I had only one onion, and not at all shocked to confirm that I had no curry paste, so that recipe was out.  Lucky for me and my taste buds I found an online recipe which was very similar to the Pub curry; and I had all the ingredients on the list, or reasonable substitutions.  It came out great!  And today my house smells rather exotic, making me hungry for another bowl of this glorious stew.  Thank goodness for leftovers!

Home-style Chicken Curry

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

1 large onion (Note: I had to use a red one but I recommend a yellow or white onion)
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon ginger paste
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon hot Madras curry powder or garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sugar
14 ounce can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
8 oz hot chicken bouillon or stock
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Procedure

1.  Peel the onion and place in a food processor.  Add a tablespoon or two of water and process into a thin paste.  Pour into a small bowl and set aside.

2.  Put the garlic and ginger paste into the food processor and process until pureed.  Scrape into a small bowl and set aside.

Mmmmm...The fragrance of the cumin, fennel and cinnamon  is incredible.

3.  Heat the oil in a heavy pan over medium heat.  In a small bowl combine the cumin and fennel seeds with the cinnamon and red pepper flakes and add to the pan once the oil is hot.  Swirl everything around for about 30 seconds until the spices release a fragrant aroma.

4.  Add the onion paste -- it will sputter a bit at first.  Fry until the water evaporates and the onions turn dark golden (about 7 - 8 minutes).  Add the garlic-ginger paste and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  You will end up with a thick, dark roux.

5.  Stir in the curry powder, turmeric, and sugar and continue cooking for 20 seconds before adding the can of tomatoes.  Continue cooking on medium heat for about 10 minutes without a lid until the tomatoes reduce and darken.  Stir occasionally and adjust the heat if the mixture starts to stick to the bottom.

Coat the chicken in the masala to seal in the juices.
6.  Meanwhile cut the chicken thighs into chunks.  Once the tomatoes have thickened, add the thighs to the pan and cook for 5 minutes to coat the chicken in the masala and seal in the juices.  Add the hot chicken stock and simmer without a lid 8 - 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  You can add an extra spoonful or two of stock or broth if the curry needs it.

7.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with Indian flatbreads or fluffy basmati rice.

Delicious home-style chicken curry with a spoonful of brown basmati rice.

(This recipe was adapted from the BBC GoodFood "Home-style Chicken Curry" recipe.)

August 12, 2014

Recipe - Peach Oatmeal Muffins

One of these beauties yields over a cup of chopped peach.
My dog bit my nose.  It's a really shocking, sad thing, and I'm confused about how or why it happened. Right now I'm recuperating. I look horrible, not feeling so hot either (it feels like I hit a wall with my nose), so  I decided muffins were in order.  I had just the recipe to use on one of these fine looking peaches, too.

Peach muffins ready to pop into the oven.

Peach Oatmeal Muffins

Ingredients

1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup Greek yogurt, plain
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup chopped peaches

Note:  To make cinnamon sugar, mix 1/4 cup sugar with 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

Procedure

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with papers liners (I needed 16 muffin liners).  Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.  Set all aside.

2.  In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.

3.  In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together the beaten egg, butter and yogurt.  Add to dry ingredients and stir until moist.

4.  Fold in the peaches.

5.  Scoop the batter into the muffin cups, dividing evenly between 12 - 16 liners.  It's okay to fill to the top as these don't rise all that much.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.

6.  Check muffins at 16 minutes.  I baked mine for 18 minutes 30 seconds in an electric oven.

7.  When muffins are done and a tester comes out clean, remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Time for tea!

(Adapted from Damn Delicious)

August 5, 2014

Huntsville, Alabama Tour Part 1

Huntsville, AL  - Eternal flame for prisoners of war.
Huntsvlle, AL is a nice town with some scenic surprises, history, and fun things to do.  Beaver and I are going to try and explore the area as much as possible whenever I'm there.  When I was there in July it was just too hot.  I was pretty disappointed in that since I had hoped that going north (12 hours' drive from Melbourne Beach) would put me in an area that provided some relief from the heat and humidity of tropical summer in Florida.  Despite the heat I made myself get out and walk the trails and streets of Providence in the mornings, getting in about 3.5 miles before dragging myself up the stairs and back into the air conditioning.  And Beave and I had a nice day touring downtown together over the Fourth of July weekend, though by the end of our walk I was dripping sweat and dreaming of winter.

Beautiful crape myrtle and abundant blooms in downtown Huntsville.
John F. Kennedy said, "A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers."  With two sons serving in the US Army, Beaver and I appreciate and like to visit monuments and tributes like the Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial, which has been a source of civic pride since it was completed in 2011.  After seeing the memorials at our nation's capital in Washington, DC, I would compare this to any of those.  It honors the area's fallen sons and daughters in a park-like setting with polished marble, quotes, inscriptions, and subtle touches like a central fountain in the shape of a pentagon.

Walking up the hill from the Memorial brings you into an area of downtown Huntsville called Central Square that has bars and restaurants, many with sidewalk tables.  Gas streetlights have hanging planters overflowing with flowers, and the streets are lined with crape myrtles.  There are shrubs and flowers everywhere, making this section at least more like a neighborhood and less like a city.  In Twickenham we walked up and down shady streets where every house is on the National Register of Historic Places, but they are all private homes and they are all meticulously restored.  Markers in each front yard indicated the year the house was completed and the last name of the original owner, with dates from the Antebellum era ranging from the 1830s to the early 1900s.

The old Huntsville United Methodist Church.

Having worked our way up hill (believe me, in that heat I noticed every incline) we decided to look inside Harrison Brothers Hardware, a store that has been in operation on Huntsville’s historic courthouse square since 1897.  It's no longer a hardware store so we were disappointed.

Finally it was time to make our way back to Below The Radar, a brewery and restaurant in Central Square. We met a great server, Krys, who was enthusiastic about Huntsville nightlife and wrote down a number of clubs and eateries for us to check out.  We had lunch and sampled a couple of excellent house brews, and then it was time to head home and catch some World Cup soccer on TV.

Our own personal fireworks show, as seen from the balcony.
Independence Day was celebrated in Providence with its own fireworks show, a top-notch display made even more brilliant because we didn't have to leave home to enjoy it.  It was a great evening amid that hot and sultry three day weekend, and I hope I can return to Huntsville every Fourth of July, not just for the fireworks but for the chance to continue exploring the beautiful, walkable downtown in the summertime.