Sep 24, 2010

slightly cheesy mac & meat

nowadays i often cook dishes that will be easy to take to work for lunch/dinner, since our canteen will not be for another 2 yrs...

last week i decided to tune old time (finnish) favourite macaroni and meat. here's what went in:

5 dl / 2 cups whole wheat elbow macaroni, boiled to very al dente, rinsed
400 gr / 14 oz (lean) minced beef, browned
1 big onion, minced and sauteed
150 gr / 5 oz grated cheese (best to grate your own)
2 eggs
7,5 dl / 3 cups liquid (combination of cooking cream and any stock you might
crushed black pepper, to taste
serves 4 to 6

first mix the macaroni, browned mince and sauteed onion

then add the grated cheese and mix well. i used this mix but it's best to grate your favourite, these bags aren't very economical...

then mix the wet ingredients and black pepper. i had some 10% cooking cream so i used that, any leaner or fatter will work, as will any stock you might have. i was tempted to add some curry powder but decided to keep it "traditional" with just black pepper. if you use salt, now would be the time to add some

then mix the wet with the dry and you'll have something similar to should be quite wet as the macaroni will suck up most of the moisture while in the oven. that is why you shouldn't cook the macaroni too soft in the first place. second, if you cook whole wheat pasta into can-be-eaten-by-babies-and-people-with-no-teeth mush, you've lost the nutrients that make whole wheat better, and that is not a good thing

grease a 20x26cm / 8x10inch baking dish, place mixture on it and cook in 200C / 400F oven for 30 mins, or until bubbly and slightly brown on top

i had mine with ketchup, but pickled beets or cukes would have been great as well. or green salad, green salad goes with everything...

Sep 23, 2010

autumn gardening

there is a spot in the garden at the shack that's been covered with black plastic for...hmm, 3 yrs! this week i decided to finally do something about it. it was also time to empty the composter for the first time.

we (well, i did) started the composter about a year ago and it seems that most of has been put in there has become soil. i was actually quite surprised how "earthy" everything was, even egg shells. but i would advise not to put dog hair in a compost, nothing happens to it...

i took out a whole wheelbarrow of soil. the compost has been working great, it did freeze in the winter but that was no wonder in the very arctic weather we had last winter

the eyesore wasn't even in hiding

took all the plastic out. the plastic was there to kill whatever might be growing in that patch. it'll be interesting to see what will come up in the spring, despite the effort to "kill" everything beneath

to make sure there won't be too many unwanted plants i placed fabric-like material that will let water thru...

...before dumping and spreading the soil from compost and some peat

i had decided on these, the muscari being certain someone's favourites

planted the tall tulips in the back, the dowels are there to mark the are where i placed the bulbs

to finish i spread bark mulch on top. had to stop here for a few days, the nursery i bought the bulbs from had no perennials i was interested in

yesterday after work i bought some sedum

and phlox

i hope the sedum and the phlox will survive the winter. i took both of them because of "easy maintenance", could be that the soil here is too rich for them...we'll see.

next week i really have to start making apple sauce in earnest!

Sep 22, 2010

souvenir apple torte

certain someone's cousin's wife baked this buttery apple torte in ontario while we were visiting. the torte was lovely and certainly interesting (and i love her kitchen, have i mentioned that?) (well, while i'm at it, i love their house).

anyways, since the apples are plentifull, i decided to try this at the shack. now, planning is good, i most often plan, but this time something happened and this torte got to drive around a bit...

the recipe calls for either raspberry or apricot jam, i used my mom's raspberry jam that i thinned out a bit. kami's (the wife) recipe is originally from the magazine canadian family, but the recipe in the link is the same, brand names have been changed

i used 8 of these beauties, cored, halved and thinly sliced

my dough was a lot drier than kami's, but i managed to spread it on the pan quite evenly

this part was all new to me, jam between the dough and cream cheese

i used 5% fat cream cheese, not good. after adding one egg to it, i could pour the mixture onto the dough and jam. will definitely use full fat cream cheese next time to get a more substantial layer of cream cheese

sliced apples rolled in sugar and cinnamon went on top, with some sliced almonds

by the time i had put the torte into the oven i realized that i had an hour and a half to get the torte out of the oven and be at work on time...i ended up taking the piping hot torte with me in a huge pan with a lid. left the pan in my car to cool off while i was working...

and ended up having a slice at midnight when i got home. as you can see, the torte could have used a few more minutes in the time it will. i did like the cream cheese in the middle, it's almost like having vanilla pudding with the torte