Athena Magazine

Fashion, lifestyle, passions

Domestic Goddess – Old School October 12, 2009

Filed under: Domestic Goddess,Food is Good,The Real Stuff,Worldly women — rebmas03 @ 9:58 pm
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Julia Child portrait 

By Julia Pantoga

You may harbor the fantasy that your domestic goddess spends her days cooking and reading cookbooks (I sometimes entertain that fantasy, too), but that is far from the case. Actually, I am in graduate school and I spend most of my time reading and writing. Truthfully, those of you with children or spouses at home probably spend more time cooking and planning meals than I do.

 

 

Anyhow, once every two weeks or so, about six of us students take a break from our studying and watch two episodes of “The French Chef” starring Julia Child, from the DVD set I was given for my birthday. This is high entertainment, especially for those of us who scrutinize cooking shows regularly and spend a fair amount of time in our own kitchens.

 french chef DVD cover

The first thing I noticed when we started watching is that the age spots on Julia Child’s hands are plainly visible. Does the Food Network use hand models or do all their actor-cooks have perfect hands? The next thing I noticed is how Julia Child dresses in the kitchen:  she wears her glasses and an apron and tucks a towel into her apron ties.  Hey, that’s how I look in the kitchen!  I thought I was the only one who doesn’t wear fashionable clothes that flatter my figure and reveal cleavage when I bend down to taste the broth.

 

Speaking of tasting, we just about died laughing when Julia Child tasted her potato dish, then returned her tasting spoon to the drawer!

Julia Child in the kitchen 

Not only does Julia Child wear a sensible apron in the kitchen, she wipes onion juice off the counter, splashes milk on the stovetop when she pours it and has to put a casserole on the dryer to cool because she has run out of counter space. Remember, this was the first cooking TV show, before the invention of such familiar TV tricks as turning the camera off for clean-ups, multiple takes and advance space planning.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best cooking show on TV today (in my opinion) is America’s Test Kitchen (ATK). Although the chefs wear appropriate attire in the kitchen, even they edit out their mistakes. I once saw one of the ATK chefs live at a bookstore, where she was promoting a cookbook and she summed it up this way: “Of course we always cook 10 of the same things at once. Turkeys are cheap. Television crews are not.”

 ATK-Group-Photo

You wouldn’t watch “The French Chef” today to learn how to cook; it’s really dated. For example, no one, but the most skilled professional, would cut ten cups of onions by hand today. Most of us would drag our food processors out. The amount of butter and cream used is laughable to our cholesterol conscious eyes and Child talks at length about how to take care of a carbide steel knife, which I have never even seen. But these old shows are amusing and I can pick up tips from watching anyone in the kitchen. (Did you know you can poach eggs ahead of time and store them in water in the refrigerator for future use?) Most of all, it was terribly re-assuring for me to see that other people look a bit dorky in the kitchen and spill, drop and splatter things too.

 

Homemade Soup Stock: Mystery solved March 5, 2009

finished-soup-stockBy Julia Pantoga

One of the ways to “trick” people into thinking that you’re really a pro when it comes to cooking is to make the same thing over and over again and stock your freezer with it. This is what I do with soup stock. I’ve been making soup stock from the same two recipes for years now; and since I make soup once a week, I end up making soup stock over and over again.

Making soup stock isn’t really easy, but it isn’t really hard either. The word I’d use is “satisfying.” Making soup stock involves chopping, making a mess and squishing vegetables with your hands, all good things in my book. In the end, you have at least three quarts of homemade stock in your freezer, which I guarantee will gain you instant domestic goddess (or god) status.

Vegetarian cookbooks of the seventies will have you believe that all you have to do to make vegetarian soup stock is save the cuttings from your vegetables and boil them. I haven’t found that to be true. For one thing, your stock will always taste different depending on the scraps you have. For another thing, it’s just not likely that, in these days of packaged bite-sized carrots, you will ever have enough carrot scraps. Most importantly though is that soup stock made from a recipe is an awesome addition to soup; it makes a huge difference flavor-wise.

What follows are recipes for stock, not broth. What is the difference, you might ask.  Stock is an ingredient in soup, broth can be eaten alone.

The first step to making soup stock is assembling the equipment. When I tell you what you will need, you may think this is going to be complicated. This is where doing the same thing over and over comes in handy—after you do this once you will always have the equipment on hand.

Here’s what you’re going to need: 2 eight-quart stock pots, a colander or strainer that fits on the top of one of your stock pots without falling in, cheese cloth (enough to generously line the colander) and containers to store 3 or 4 quarts of stock. The two types of stock I make are vegetable and chicken, which look exactly alike, so I also have packing tape and a permanent marker on hand to label each container “V” or “C”.

Here are the recipes I use:

Chicken Stock

4 carrots – chopped into 2 inch pieces
4 stalks of celery – chopped into 2 inch pieces
4 onions – cut into eight pieces each
15 parsley stems
2 bay leaves
10 peppercorns
1 small chicken

In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need two bowls for sorting the chicken from the bones.

sorting-the-chicken1

sorted chicken

1.     Put all the ingredients in a pot and cover with water.
2.    Bring to a boil and skim off the foam that rises to the surface. Reduce heat and simmer for four hours.
3.    Turn the heat off and let cool.
4.    This is the messy part. Put your extra stock pot in the sink. Put your colander on top of the pot and line the colander with cheese cloth. Go change into a T-shirt that you can splatter chicken grease on and wash your hands. When the stock is cool enough to put your hands into, pull the chicken out and plop it into the colander. I’ve tried using tongs, big spoons and other devices to remove the chicken from the pot and found that good old hands work best. Over the colander, to catch any broth that drips off the chicken, separate the chicken meat from the skin and bones. This step is a mess, but totally worth it. The chicken you will gather is great shredded chicken for chicken salad and/or to put in soups.

5.    Once you recover from that step by throwing the chicken bones away, putting the shredded chicken in the refrigerator and washing your hands again, strain the rest of the stock by pouring vegetables through the cheese cloth and colander. Squeeze the cooked vegetables with your hands to get the juices out. Wrap the (now smashed and sorry) vegetables in the cheese cloth, give the whole thing a final squeeze and throw them away. At this point, I move the stock pot to the counter, wash my hands again and have a cup of coffee.
6.    Pour the finished stock into freezer containers, label and freeze.

 

straining-the-vegetables

straining the vegetables

Vegetable Stock
(much neater, but involves more shopping and chopping – and no great shredded chicken leftovers to show for your efforts)

3 tablespoons butter (for vegan broth, use olive oil)
3 large onions
3 big carrots
1 broccoli stalk
1 large leek
2 stalks celery
1 small zucchini
1 ¼ cup white wine
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove – cut in half
1 whole clove

1.     Cut the onions into rings and sauté in butter.
2.    Add broccoli, leek. Carrots, celery and zucchini and sauté.
3.    Add wine and 4 quarts of water.
4.    Add thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, garlic and clove.
5.    Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours.
7.    Put your extra stock pot in the sink. Put your colander on top of the pot and line the colander with cheese cloth. Strain the stock by pouring vegetables through the cheese cloth and colander. Squeeze the cooked vegetables with your hands to get the juices out. Wrap the (now smashed and sorry) vegetables in the cheese cloth, give the whole thing a final squeeze and throw them away.
6.    Pour the finished stock into freezer containers, label and freeze.

 

Yeah! Easy Rice Pudding February 26, 2009

Filed under: Domestic Goddess,Food is Good — rebmas03 @ 2:57 am
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Rice pudding for company

Rice pudding for company

By Julia Pantoga

 

 

Here’s something easy to do with leftover rice—it works with the rice leftover from your Chinese take-out order, or the rice you have left over from last night’s dinner. Rice pudding can be dressed up in cups with some fresh berries and nuts for guests or spooned right out of the casserole dish into a bowl for breakfast (which is what I do). It’s mostly eggs, rice and milk—doesn’t that sound breakfast-y?

 

 

 

 

Easy Rice Pudding

2 eggs
2 cups milk (I use whole milk)
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups cooked rice
½ cup raisins
ground nutmeg

1. Heat oven to 325°.

2. In an ungreased (music to my ears) 1.5 quart casserole dish, beat eggs.

3. Add next five ingredients in the order listed, beating lightly after each addition.

4. Add raisins. Don’t stir, they will sink.

5. Sprinkle nutmeg on top.

6. Bake for 60 min. or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Rachel Ray Never Has These Problems.  I had a friend coming over for lunch in 1 hour and I was planning to serve rice pudding for dessert. Since I had yet to mix the ingredients, you can do the math and figure that I was already running late. I really love rice pudding, so all morning I was thinking about the rice pudding and looking forward to eating it. I followed steps 1-3 above (you’ll note that the rice is the last item on the list). Committed to rice pudding now, I took my leftover rice out of the fridge (which I remembered as only a few days old, but I obviously remembered wrong) and it was moldy. I had no choice but to throw it out and make a new pot of rice. My garbage can was full, so I had to take out the garbage before I could throw out the moldy rice. I’m sure that when Rachel Ray makes those 30-minute meals, she never pulls moldy rice out of her refrigerator, leading to more dishes to wash and trash to take out.  I love RR, but even she would have to admit that she and I live in completely different worlds.

Everyone makes rice differently. Here’s how I make 3 cups of rice: In your pot dump 1 cup of rice, 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of oil (Any oil will do. For main dishes I usually use olive oil; for desserts, I usually use sesame oil). Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook until the rice is done, about 30 minutes.

Making rice is easy

Making rice is easy

 

Scrumptious Hot Cocoa January 29, 2009

Filed under: Domestic Goddess,Food is Good — rebmas03 @ 1:34 am
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By Julia Pantoga

serving-hot-cocoaFor the past month I’ve been on the road, visiting family. Along the way, I did plenty of domestic-goddess things including making a cake with three young children, “helping” a pre-teen clean his room (which mostly consisted of me sitting in a chair and bossing him around for two hours), making dinner with my nine year old niece, washing and chopping vegetables (several people enjoyed having someone around who loves to chop so much). One thing I didn’t do though, is write any of these columns.

Now I’m back home making hot cocoa for friends that are helping me shovel out my car from the snowstorm we had this morning. It is common these days to mix the chocolate sugar that you buy in the grocery store with skim milk and call it hot cocoa. I grew up making hot cocoa from scratch though, and from what I hear from my friends, it is something different entirely. Besides the recipe below, one tip I have is to quadruple the syrup portion of the recipe, use only one portion for the current batch of hot cocoa and keep the rest in a jar in the refrigerator, so that you’re ready for any hot cocoa emergency that pops up. I received fancy cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg as gifts for Christmas, so I expect the batch today to be awesome!

saving-syrupHomemade Hot Cocoa

Syrup
Note: Cocoa and cinnamon don’t mix well with milk, so it is essential to do this step independently from adding the milk (you can only imagine what store bought brands do to the cocoa to cause it to dissolve so easily in milk).

3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (this adds quite a bite; you may wish to use even less; but if you use your hands to add a pinch, be sure to wash them thoroughly before you touch your eye.)
Pinch salt
2 tablespoons whole milk (if you have heavy cream, or even half-and-half, for this, use it! The higher the fat content, the better)
½ teaspoon vanilla
dry-ingredients11.    Measure the first six dry ingredients into a sauce pot. Blend together thoroughly. Remember, if you are using a non-stick pan, you must not scratch the non-stick surface with metal utensils. Use a wooden or plastic spoon or a plastic whisk (not only are scratched pans unsightly, you don’t want that toxic non-stick coating in your food.)

2.    Add one tablespoon of the milk. Mix thoroughly into a course paste.
smooth-syrup
3.    Add the vanilla and 2nd tablespoon of milk. Mix thoroughly into a thick syrup. Make sure the syrup is smooth (has no lumps) before storing it or using it in Hot Cocoa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Cocoa
Syrup (recipe above)
4 cups whole milk
For garnish: chocolate sprinkles, whipped cream, wafer cookies, homemade marshmallows

With the syrup in the sauce pan, add ½ cup of the milk. Mix the syrup and the milk thoroughly before adding the next ½ cup of milk. Mix thoroughly again, then add the remaining 3 cups of milk. Heat gently, stirring often. Be careful here, you want to heat the milk, not boil it. When hot, use a molinillo (Mexican Hot Cocoa Whisk)l to create a froth and make the mixture creamier. Serve and garnish (if you must, I don’t; this hot cocoa stands on its own).

my-molinillo.

 

Best ever BBQ December 30, 2008

Filed under: Food is Good — rebmas03 @ 2:59 am
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melvins_pages_02Now that I’m back up north, I just can’t stop thinking about Melvin’s, an out-of-this-world barbeque joint in Charleston, S.C. I wish I would have gone there more than just once, but perhaps it’s for the best. Melvin’s, open since the ’60s, used to be called Piggie Park, and they have a least four distinct sauces. Being from Missouri, I have high standards for the sauce, and this was like nothing I’ve ever tasted. Fortunately, neither you nor I have to be a yearround resident of genteel Charleston to enjoy Melvin’s all year long. Just watch out; their tagline is “Pig Out,” and they mean it.  Order Melvin’s online here.

 

The most important ingredient November 20, 2008

Filed under: Domestic Goddess — rebmas03 @ 3:03 am
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heartThe Domestic Goddess wishes to remind you that the most important ingredient you add to all of your cooking and baking is LOVE.

 

Baked chicken with homemade stuffing: Yum! November 13, 2008

Written by: Heather of Lone Star Vintage Clothing

A few nights ago, I had planned on making baked chicken with veggies. How bland is that? As I turned on the oven, an idea popped into my head: stuffing! I tend to buy things to keep in the pantry to use at a later date and boxed stuffing just so happens to be one of those things. I looked in my pantry and low and behold, I found a box of stuffing! I then started to look in my refrigerator to see what I could add to the stuffing. I found cilantro, mushrooms and onions. I then went back to my pantry and found some walnuts. I also had some apples sitting in my fruit bowl on the cabinet. Horray! I had all of my ingredients to complete my stuffing.

Here’s my recipe for chicken breasts stuffed with my homemade stuffing:

Ingredients:

  • Two chicken breasts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 apple
  • Cilantro
  • Walnuts
  • Stuffing
  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic (if you choose)
  • Mushrooms
  • Poultry seasoning

First, you will need to find a pan to cook the chicken in. I typically use a glass pan. Lightly coat the pan in olive oil. Turn your oven on bake at 400 degrees F. Let the oven preheat for 10-15 minutes.

Take your onion, mushrooms, apple and cilantro. Dice/cube all of those items into to very small pieces. Take another pan out and turn the stovetop on high heat (I have a gas stove and can control the heat very easily). Add a bit of olive oil in your pan. Once the oil is heated, add your onions, mushrooms and apples first. Cook those items until the onions begin to caramelize (turn golden brown).

picture-0401

Next, you will add in your cilantro (and garlic if you choose). Add your walnuts. My walnuts were larger and I had to crush them up a bit.

picture-0411

During the time you are cooking your veggies, you will get another pan and fill it will approximately 3/4 cup of water (I never read the directions on the back of the box). You need enough water to cook your stuffing in. Add a tiny bit of olive oil to your water. Bring the water to a rapid boil. Turn off the heat and add your stuffing mixture. Cover for several minutes. Remove the lid and lightly fluff with a fork. You are now ready to add your cooked veggies, apples and walnuts to the stuffing. Your mixture should look a little like this:

picture-042

During the time you have been tending to your stuffing mixture and your oven is preheating, prepare your chicken breasts. Take each breast and cut down the center (slice an opening in the center). When you finish, they will look something like this:

picture-0431

Place the chicken breasts in the pan. Lightly coat the chicken with olive oil (just a tiny bit on both sides will be fine). Take your stuffing mixture and place in the center of each chicken breast:

picture-044

Once you’ve added the stuffing mixture in the center of the chicken breasts, you will then flip one side of each breast over. Add salt, pepper and poultry seasoning:

picture-045

Bake your chicken for approximately 30 minutes at 400 degrees F. Once your chicken is finished cooking, it should look like this:

picture-048

This is one of my own creations! Enjoy!

 

Perfect Applesauce November 2, 2008

Filed under: Domestic Goddess,Food is Good — rebmas03 @ 2:47 am
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By Julia Pantoga

I’m taking a break from my holiday preparation series to write to you about apples because we are at the end of the apple season, and if you GO RIGHT NOW, you may be able to get some great orchard apples. I know I did just a few days ago.

Here’s the thing about apples: If you have great apples, anything you do with them will be great.  If you have mediocre apples, anything you do with them will be mediocre. The sad truth is that if you bake a great apple crisp with mediocre apples, your desert will be so-so at best. However, you can just cut up a couple apples, squeeze some lime juice over them and serve them with slices of cheese, and if you have great apples, you will have a stunning and delicious desert.

In my experience, great apples are not to be found in supermarkets; I find them at fruit farms and orchards. The variety I bought this year is “Melrose,” but the variety that will work best for you is entirely dependent on the region you live in, the time of year you are going to the orchard and what you plan to do with the apples. Talk to the clerk in the orchard store. He or she will make a great recommendation. I’ve found that even listless teenagers working in orchard stores know apples. There is something magical about great apples!

If you are going to be peeling your apples to bake them, you will want to buy big apples. That way, you will get the best fruit-to-peeling effort ratio. If you are going to be packing your apples in your lunch, you’ll want a smaller size. Stored in a cool place, apples will taste fresh for weeks. If you will be using your apples for baking or applesauce, they will last longer.

Here’s a domestic goddess tip: Homemade applesauce is really, really impressive, and it is really, really easy to make. In the past couple of years, I’ve started to leave the skins in my applesauce, which:
•    Makes it a gorgeous pink color
•    Clearly communicates to your guests that this is homemade applesauce
•    Adds delicious and interesting texture to the applesauce and
•    Makes it even easier
Here’s how to make homemade applesauce:
1.    Cut up five huge apples and put the pieces in a pot.
2.    Add ½ cup water, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch of salt to the pot.
3.    Simmer the pot (covered) on medium low heat for 30 minutes.
4.    Turn the heat off and mash everything together.

Cooking homemade applesauce makes your home smell great too.

 

Giving away baked goods October 11, 2008

Filed under: Domestic Goddess,Food is Good — rebmas03 @ 4:49 am
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By Julia Pantoga

I know you think it is early, but there are things you can do now to make your life easier in December…

I always give baked goods as gifts. The hardest (and usually most expensive) part of giving away baking goods is packaging them. You can come up with something more festive than baggies.

Suppose you know that you are going to give away cookies.  Start thinking now about how you are going to present those precious treasures. You need containers that are big enough to hold at least one dozen cookies, but not so big that you have to bake a double batch for each gift.  Containers will probably be cheaper if you stay away from holiday merchandise. To wit:  one year I was at the hardware store and ammunition boxes were on sale for some crazy-low price, like 50 cents each. I bought ten of them and fake pebble spray-paint, laid them out on my garage floor, painted them, then filled each with bags of cookies. I hope that these ammunition boxes were useful to my friends and family after the cookies are eaten—for storing sand paper, for example.

Some things that you will give away (like spiced nuts or homemade candy) need smaller containers. My favorite small container is a coffee mug. I begin shopping in October for inexpensive coffee mugs (my local Goodwill sells brand new coffee mugs for $1 each. Department stores donate them when they don’t sell at $6-10 each.)

You will find small gift bags in the candy-making section of a craft store. I must warn you though that going into a craft store is risky business—financially, at least. These stores have so many adorable gift containers that you may forget that one of the reasons you are giving away baked goods is to save money on holiday gifts and spend way more than you ever thought you would on containers.

Another tip for buying containers is to shop for them all year around. I often find great plain red, silver and gold containers on sale right after Valentine’s Day.

Finally, you will need is ribbon. I find that if I combine a red or green ribbon with a gold or silver ribbon, I can tie a simple bow and the result is quite elegant. If you are trying to save money, buy your ribbon at the craft store and don’t tempt yourself to do more spending in the fabric store.

Here’s how it all works together:
1.    Throw a handful of nuts (or homemade candy) into a small plastic bag
2.    Secure the bag with two ribbons that you hold together
3.    Put one little bag in each coffee mug.

I make a dozen of these early in December and keep a paper grocery bag of them in the back seat of my car, so I always have little gifts ready for people who help me all the time, like the clerk at the post office.

Another category of baked goods to give away are those that need to be baked in pans. A great discovery I made last year was the Paper Gift Bakers from The Baker’s Catalogue. These, combined with the medium size Clear Gift Bags that they sell also, have made my gift-giving-life a lot easier. I bake my gift cakes right in the pan.  Once frosted, I pop them in the gift bags. I secure the bags with a silver twist tie, then stick a bow on top of the package. Voila! A beautiful gift!

I make six gift cakes at a time and store them in the freezer once they are completely wrapped. One of the tricks to baking with disposable pans is to place all the pans on a pre-heated cookie sheet before you bake them. That way, there is only one thing to put into the hot oven and one thing to take to the porch to cool.

Usually, I don’t start baking for the holidays until mid-November (although this year I did some early to get photographs for you). October is really best spent starting to accumulate packaging materials.  In early November I’ll give you the recipes for foods that I like best for giving as gifts.

 

Exciting Domestic Goddess Post Script October 7, 2008

Filed under: Domestic Goddess — rebmas03 @ 1:03 am
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I opened my Cook’s Illustrated magazine today (Nov./Dec. 2008 issue), and the center story is about CHOPPING!  We’re all happy to know that CI and I both give the same advice.—Julia Pantoga