Archive | November, 2014

Time for Some Levity

26 Nov Poking the Pillsbury dough boy

Please join me in remembering a great icon – the veteran Pillsbury spokesman. The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71. Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. The gravesite was piled high with flours.

 

Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch.

 

His long time friend, Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy, describing Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very “smart” cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times, he even still, as a crusty old man, was considered a roll model for millions. Toward the end it was thought he would rise again, but alas, he was no Tart.

 

Doughboy is survived by his wife, Play Dough; two children, Jane and John Dough; plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart. The funeral will be held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.

 

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I figured since many of us would be baking for Thanksgiving that you would enjoy this. I can’t remember who sent it to me or when, but I’m glad I found it in my files!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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New Food Friday Flash – Passatelli

21 Nov Passatelli pasta

This recipe has been a long time coming because I have wanted to make my own pasta for years and now I have finally done that! Hooray! You know how it is, you have to have the correct ingredients on hand, you have to have the time to do it, you also have to have the right equipment/tools to make the pasta. Everything but the stars and the moon have to be aligned! Having the right equipment/tools was actually the biggest holdup for me. Plus, I wanted a recipe that sounded good. Passatelli pasta was all that I dreamed of and that is why this post is my choice for this New Food Friday Flash.

 

To whom do I owe my thanks for this recipe? Mary Ann Esposito of the Ciao Italia! program on PBS. Thank you Mary Ann!

 

Here Are the Tools You Don’t Need

You don’t need a rack to hang these pastas up to dry.

You don’t need a pasta machine to make the dough paper thin.

You don’t need a rolling pin to roll out the dough

You don’t need to buy a special stamp to stamp special designs on the pasta.

And gloriosky, you don’t need to knead the dough!

 

Here Are the Tools You Need

A Cheese Grater

 

I’m assuming you have a bowl, a spoon, and a pot!

 

Ingredients

½ cup + 2 tablespoons flour

¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 cup toasted bread crumbs

2 eggs

1 ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

zest of 1 lemon

1/8 – ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Grate the cheese. I ended up grating too much but can you ever have too much Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese? I think not.

 

Add the flour. I made this recipe on a very damp, rainy day and had to add 3 tablespoons more flour to make a “rough” dough.

 

Add the bread crumbs. I grated bread crumbs a few days prior to making this recipe from an Italian artisan boule that I bought at Meijer.

Defrosting Artisan breadcrumbs

Artisan bread crumbs that I froze

It was very good and chewy, just how I like it but I had to sacrifice half the loaf so that I could make breadcrumbs out of it. It wasn’t easy because I wanted to smear it with butter and devour the entire thing! After I grated it, I put it in the freezer knowing that I would use it for something!

 

Add the lemon juice and the zest. I didn’t have a whole lemon to zest so I added a teeny bit more lemon juice.

 

Add the nutmeg. As you can see from the photo, I have enough nutmeg to last the rest of my life.

Grating nutmeg

Nutmeg and nutmeg grater

I bought this nutmeg online a few years ago and this is what they sent me along with all the other ingredients I ordered from an Italian supermarket in Cleveland called Gallucci’s. OK, I lied. You also need a tool called a nutmeg grater. But really, you could get away with using a regular grater or, heaven forbid, buy nutmeg already grated.

 

Add salt and pepper to taste. You don’t need much salt because the cheese is salty (and so is the bread) and we’re watching our salt intake, aren’t we? I only added ½ teaspoon. I don’t remember what Maryanne said was needed for the salt or for the nutmeg for that matter. I used only 1/8 of a teaspoon of nutmeg. (I’m saving them because I want to take some with me when I go. You know, like the Egyptians.) I’m kidding! Nutmeg is a strong flavor and I didn’t want it to overpower the Passatelli.

 

Gather all the ingredients into a ball. It will be “rough.” (Mary Ann’s words.) I took that to mean a shaggy dough. My dough was sticky so I slowly added up to 3 tablespoons more flour until it looked more “rough” to me. Cover it and put the dough in the refrigerator for 6 – 7 hours.

Ball of Dough to make Passatelli

My ball of Passatelli dough

 

After 5 hours I took the dough out of the refrigerator. (I’m sorry. I couldn’t wait.) I got my grater and using the BIG holes, grated some of the cold ball of dough. Now I ask you, how fun is that? I suppose it doesn’t have to be a ball shape. You could probably form it into a rectangle. Whatever is easier for you! When you have a pile of grated Passatelli, slide them into boiling homemade chicken broth and boil 3 minutes OR until the pasta floats to the surface.

 

I had 3 jars of homemade chicken broth on hand but you need 8 cups of broth and I only had 6 cups so I made more.

Frozen chicken broth defrosting

Frozen homemade chicken broth

I had some chicken bones I was saving in the freezer and I also had some meaty chicken backs and bellies, and made another pot of chicken soup. Now I had more than enough broth.

Broth for my Passatelli

Making more chicken broth

 

If you don’t want to cook the grated Passatelli right away, you can grate them and then put them in the freezer. If you do it that way remember NOT to defrost the Passatelli when you put them in the boiling broth. Just dump them frozen into the boiling soup broth and boil for 3 minutes OR until they float to the top.

Passatelli boiling in chicken broth

Boiling chicken broth with my Passatelli

 

Homemade pasta doesn’t need to cook as long as store bought pasta so don’t boil it too long or you will have mush.

 

Prior to putting my ball of dough into the refrigerator, I was thinking how to make other versions, such as:

 

Use other flours like semolina flour

Add other herbs like minced parsley or powdered dry sage

Add one more egg

Use one LESS egg

Add minced prosciutto (is that a possibility?)

Use a different cheese like Asiago

Add cooked, minced spinach or butternut squash

Boil/cook the Passatelli then scoop them out of the broth and sauté them in butter

 

It seemed my luck was holding out for this recipe because the weather was taking a temperature tumble. If I had made it one day sooner, I wouldn’t want to have eaten hot Passatelli in 79 degree weather! Last night cold winds blew all the heat away and today is damp and cold with temperatures expecting to go into the 20’s by the weekend, perfect for a hot bowl of Passatelli! Sometimes being a slave to the weather is a good thing!

 

The Surprises in this Recipe

When I grated the ball of dough, it looked as though it was too soft and that the Passatelli would all clump together in the pot of broth. Surprise! They separate and rise to the top when they are cooking! I was eager to taste the Passatelli and took a spoonful of the broth and pasta. Surprise! I had forgotten there was lemon in the Passatelli! It was a nice, light-flavored surprise taste. I also wasn’t prepared for the softness of the pasta. Surprise! This recipe would make a great soup for when you are sick in bed with a cold. A hot, nourishing chicken broth with soft homemade noodles that slide down your sore throat will make you better in no time! This medium size ball of dough makes A LOT of pasta so surprise! I thought with all the cheese I put in the recipe (remember, I put in too much?) it would taste cheesy. SURPRISE!

 

I think I remember Mary Ann saying that this was an “old” recipe and that she wanted to keep recipes like this alive. I’m all for that. Sometimes the old ways are better. Like heirloom seeds for the gardener, this recipe is a keeper for the cook! Let me know if you make this! Your kids will enjoy watching you grate the round ball of dough into pasta!

I grated all of it then cooked and ate half and I froze the rest.

Passatelli pasta

A delicious bowl of Passatelli pasta

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How an Inheritance can Fracture Your Family

12 Nov DaVinciS

After seeing how inheritance issues have left my extended family with hurt feelings and relatives not talking to each other anymore, I concluded that adult children should be treated equally when it comes to an inheritance. I came across an article by Jean Chatzky  a best-selling author and an award-winning personal finance journalist and thought I’d share it with you. Below are excerpts from her article. It opened my eyes. She quotes several experts in the field. I’ve added my own rebuttals below each of her 5 steps. I added a 6th step.

  1. Can you communicate openly? According to Detroit area elder law attorney Mark Accettura. “Estate planning is not a democratic process. It’s really the parent’s wishes,” he says. Parents should give kids a basic sense of where they stand financially — always noting that the situation can change if more money needs to be spent on their own medical care — as well as clear instructions about whom to contact and where important papers are kept.

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Me: As someone who majored in Communications, I firmly believe it’s a miracle that any of us can understand what anybody says. Seriously. Yes, some of us are better at communicating than others, but you better be prepared for that good old “perspective” not to mention someone’s life experiences to throw you for a loop!

Here’s a test. Picture an apple. In fact, draw an apple and jot down all the details of your apple. Did you do that yet? Good! There are over 400 followers on this blog. Guess how many of you will have the same exact apple details? NOBODY! One of you will have a red apple, one of you will have a green apple, one of you will have a small apple, or a big apple, or a sliced apple, or a baked apple, or applesauce, etc. That test was our communication only about a simple apple.

guitargoa

The Big Apple

Answer this question. How many families have open communication? Aren’t families notorious for having “family secrets”? Don’t get me wrong, open communication is a great idea. If you can accomplish it, you’re way ahead of the game. Also, I might add, do you feel comfortable about telling your children where you stand financially? Sorry, I don’t. I might as well post my assets on my blog. Haven’t we been brought up never to talk about “religion, politics, and money”? Now, nearing our deathbed (or not), we’re supposed to tell our kids about our assets? That’s like telling our kids what sex positions we like. Does my son know my basic financial worth? I think so. Who can remember? A better question is, “Does he give a flying leap?”

  1. Are you treating each child equally? One of the most frequently asked questions by anyone leaving an inheritance is whether they have to treat the kids equally. Experts say it certainly helps.

“If you want to minimize fighting, leave it as equal as you possibly can,” says Accettura. That applies not just to assets but also to responsibilities for settling your affairs. “When parents appoint responsibility they’re making a statement as to who is worthy, capable, who they trust. It’s a final statement and it’s irrevocable, so it’s important to be concerned about people’s feelings.” He suggests that anyone capable should at least have a small role.

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Me: Ah, this is such a subtle thing, appointing responsibilities but Accettura really nails it on the head when he talks about “a parent’s statement as to who is worthy, capable, and who they trust.” How many parents take this into consideration? It seems minor, but it’s about as minor as a walk across a minefield.

  1. Did you leave the decision making up to one child? Leanna Hamill, a Boston-area estate planning attorney, has seen parents with, say, a $200,000 life insurance policy name their oldest child beneficiary and trust him (or her) to divvy it up among the siblings. Big mistake.

“If you want all siblings to inherit equally, put them all down as beneficiaries,” she says. If you have jewelry, art or other items to bequeath, leave a list of who gets what, along with a method for dividing up whatever is left so that people can take turns calmly.

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Me: Suppose one of your children is a Financial Advisor. You should have that child be the beneficiary and trust him or her to divvy it up. Right? Big Mistake in my opinion! Put them all down as beneficiaries and follow the rest of the advice of Hamill.

  1. Are you distributing unequally based on what you think you know about your children’s assets? There are reasons parents do this — perhaps one child earns significantly more than another, and therefore needs less — but it can lead to resentment, which is why, Hamill says, many people avoid talking to their kids about inheritances in the first place. At the very least, write a note to go with the will, she says. “Leave something that says, ‘I love you all equally. Here is why I am doing the distributions the way I am.'”

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Me: This goes back to #1. Communicating AND my two cents about perspective. Does the parent really know the income/savings of each child or are they guestimating? If you distribute unequally, maybe you better get copies of their income tax returns first! You might be surprised! And who’s to say that the child who has more doesn’t lose half of it in the stock market or housing crash, earthquake, flood, or whatever, 10 minutes before you die? All the more reason to distribute equally. The only exception I see to this rule would be if you gave money to one child while you were alive.

  1. A trust might eliminate some uncertainty. If you want to make sure your children use the money wisely, consider putting it in trust with a few strings attached. Many estate planning attorneys recommend distributing the assets in chunks (typically one-third at age 25, one-third at age 30 and one-third at age 35).

The thinking is that with maturity will come better financial decision-making. You can also include a provision that if your child is going through some sort of substance abuse problem at that time, the distribution can be held to a later date.

***

Me: Wow! They surprised me with the mention of a child having a substance abuse problem. What are the chances that the child will be substance-abuse free by age 35 or 40 or 50! Tough decisions, very tough decisions. Fodder for making the decision to have only one child or none! Or, spending it all on yourself or giving it away to charities! That’s not so far-fetched so I added a Step 6.

  1. Don’t leave your children anything. The singer Sting, formerly of The Police who is worth over $300 million, stated he would not be leaving an inheritance to his children. Other wealthy parents who share this point of view are Bill Gates, Warren Oats, and Nigella Lawson, just to mention a few.

Leaving and/or receiving an inheritance should be good for your mental and physical health, but it isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s just the opposite. Proceed cautiously.

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Pumpkin Pie From a Pie Pumpkin (with Bourbon)

6 Nov Pumpkin Pie

Pie pumpkins were running amuck at my local Meijer but I was too busy to make a pie. About a week later, I had time to make a pie but I couldn’t find any pie pumpkins! Luckily, I spied three in the squash area next to the Butternut squash. I picked one of the three but they each looked good. I began wondering how I cooked pumpkin the last time I bought a pie pumpkin. I couldn’t remember.

 

I was watching P. Allen Smith’s Garden to Table program and he suggested roasting a pie pumpkin by first piercing it all over with a fork. I used a knife instead and roasted it for 45 minutes in my convection toaster oven. When it cooled, it was so easy to peel the skin off! I’ll have to remember the technique for when I bake Butternut squash which I do often. I had been peeling it with a paring knife. It’s a miracle I still have all my digits! By the way, this is an easy pie to prepare. I suggest you take out all your ingredients and place them on your counter so you don’t forget to add one. There are a lot of them!

 

But back to the pumpkin. I made a pumpkin pie from a recipe in my Good Housekeeping Cookbook called Pilgrim Pumpkin Pie that I followed loosely. The original recipe had no Bourbon. I used the crust recipe from my Cake that Thinks it’s a Pie recipe. I defrosted my dough completely before lining my pie pan.

 

Ingredients

1 9-inch unbaked piecrust

1 pie pumpkin (2 cups)

1 13-ounce can evaporated milk

2 eggs

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt

1 ounce bourbon

 

Directions

Wash then cook the pumpkin in your preferred way. Then break apart or cube the pumpkin in a large bowl beating the pumpkin with a mixer at medium speed with next 11 ingredients. Pour into pie crust. I find that every time I make this recipe, I have extra pie mixture. This time I froze the leftover. There is enough for a small pie. It will give me a chance to add more spices that I mention below.

 

The photo shows pumpkin pie and a Butternut squash because you can also make this pie using Butternut squash in case you can’t find pumpkin.

Pumpkin Pie

You Can Use Butternut Squash in Place of Pumpkin

Butternut squash is always available. Both are high in fiber. This recipe is helpful if you are trying to get your calcium requirements for the day; note the evaporated milk ingredient.

 

I was very generous with all the spices in this recipe. I didn’t level off anything because I wanted it to be a bit spicy. It was very flavorful, but I still wanted more spice! I caught an episode of America’s Test Kitchen while they were making gingersnap cookies. I love gingersnaps but, you know how it is, they just don’t make ‘em like they used to! ATK made the cookies with black pepper, cayenne pepper, two tablespoons ginger and two tablespoons grated, fresh ginger! Wow! That’ll wake you up! I wish I had seen ATK before I made my pie. I’ll  include more ginger and maybe some pepper too in my small pie! This pie keeps well in the refrigerator.

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