Friday, December 13, 2013

The good, the bad, and the ugly

That pretty much describes a few of my culinary experiments in the last few months (man, time flies!). First the good:

I receive a daily e-mail from Mother Earth News. Sometimes the stuff is great; sometimes the stuff isn't. As with most of life, it is a mixed bag. Back in August/September or thereabouts, there was a link to broccoli chips. Basically, you take the leaves of broccoli plants and bake them. They call for olive oil and other such stuff in the article, but we're avoiding added oils, so I figured I'd give it a try as just leaves.

We had a few broccoli plants that were done; I was going to pull them and compost them anyway. So, I cut off some leaves and cut them into smaller squares. I popped them into the oven at 250°F, stirred after 15 minutes, let them go another 15 minutes and pulled them out.

They were delicious! We scarfed them down and I made another pan. We've had them multiple times since then—until the deep freeze at the beginning of November happened. One piece of advice: make sure to cut them small enough! I tried to make some of them bigger, but when you bite into them, they disintegrate. Crumbs all over the floor...

The bad? Peanut butter granola. I had to try was bad. 'Nuff said.

The ugly? I've made baked corn chips off and on for the last couple of years, with fairly good success. I would mix the cornmeal with whole wheat flour to give it substance. Once we got our grain mill in the fall of 2012, I couldn't get the flour fine enough anymore, so I gave up. Until earlier this week. I decided to try it with straight cornmeal. We currently buy our cornmeal at the Co-op and it is more a combination of corn flour and cornmeal than straight cornmeal. I like it a lot for cornbread, but hadn't tried it for corn chips.

I thought it might hold together better than traditional cornmeal. Well, it did— stuck to the counter once I rolled it out. So, I figured I'd use the old wax paper method where you roll it out between two sheets of wax paper and transfer it to the stone. It stuck to the wax paper!

No problem; I'll just use parchment paper, so I thought...if it doesn't come loose, I'll just lay the whole thing on the stone. I figured that the baking would loosen it from the paper. Well, it did—kinda. It tasted good—when you didn't get a bite of parchment paper with it. And it was ugly!

So that's my latest experiments...the broccoli chips are a keeper! And I've tweaked one of my cornbread recipes again. I now like this cornbread better than the milk, eggs, and oil version that I used to make. That's saying a lot, because I grew up on that recipe and had always felt that the plant-based ones didn't quite measure up. Now it does...

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