Put on your thinking caps!

Let’s put on our thinking caps and help a fellow mom put food on her table.

Food bloggers are one of the most generous communities I’ve ever encountered. We stick together, and we support each other in difficult times. This is why I thought to come to you with this. Please read on!

Wanna help me give the gift of MomFood to a fellow foodie?

The woman who writes the freezer-cooking cookbook I usually use has become an online pal of mine, and she’s really neat. (I’ll tell you her name later, but I’m hoping she won’t see this post until things are finalized; I don’t think she reads the blog regularly, but she might see her name in google if I mention it.)

The past few years, her cooking has taken on one challenge after the other, though, as her family members have developed (or found out about) food sensitivities and allergies. The poor woman makes several meals every night just so she can keep up with everyone’s food restrictions.

This is where the food-blogging community comes in. I’ve been meaning to write an eBook, and now’s my chance, with your help. I will produce an e-cookbook filled with recipes that her WHOLE family can love!

Here’s how you can help:

1) Make a recipe that takes the list below into account. Or make two. Or ten! Your name will go on the recipe in the eBook, and you’ll contribute to helping a frazzled mom feed her kids. Either blog about the recipe, put it in the comments here, or email it to me via the contact page.

2) Publicize this post wherever your friends and fellow foodies hang out.

3) If you’ve made an eBook before, tell me in the comments all the things you wish you’d known before you started. :-)

Here’s her list. It’s challenging, but I have confidence you can do it!

None of the following things should be in any recipe:

Meat (except fish)

I’m going through all my recipes on both blogs to get started, but then I plan to make some new recipes, as well. The eBook’s tentative title is Cooking with Abundance,, because I really believe in concentrating on what you CAN have, not on what you can’t.

The list of what they can have includes all grains except wheat, rye, and barley; most fruits, most vegetables, most nuts, all seafood, all beans, and all spices and seasonings. With this great palette of deliciousness, I know you can come up with good stuff. If it freezes well, even better!

Korean-style braised beef

Korean braised beef stew. So good!

The starting point was Maangchi‘s recipe for Doejibulgogi, or spicy stir-fried pork.

I used a pound of chuck, and since chuck prefers a slow braise, I put the ingredients (minus the green peppers, which I didn’t have handy) into a cast-iron Dutch oven instead. I browned the beef first, then added the remaining ingredients and about a half cup of water, then cooked on low heat for about an hour and a half.

It’s not too spicy, but it’s got a little zing to it. It’s very very rich and delicious.

Korean beef braise

Two bad photos equal a good one, right? This stuff was far more tasty than it looks here.

Korean braised beef stew

Mertie’s Mondays: Acadian Stuffing and Turkey Sandwiches

Pull up a chair and have some stuffing and a slice of soup from frequent contributor Chris Hansen.

[Note from Serene: I’ve been hanging on to this recipe of Chris’s until the cool weather returned. And now I’m at school and wishing I had stuffing to eat! Thanks, Chris, for another great story, and for introducing me to another new food!]

I think that all of us who cook want to duplicate items our moms cooked. However, much of the time moms cook by touch and feel and experience, and don’t write down a recipe. Decades later, you remember something she used to make but can’t duplicate it for lack of a recipe.

My mom made the best stuffing imaginable. We used to look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas simply because we’d get turkey with her stuffing. I remember being in the kitchen when she’d make it, and what I could remember of it was that it was a combination of potatoes and bread with spices and onions. But, I didn’t want to experiment and I thought to myself that the stuffing recipe was lost forever.

However, I recently bought a cookbook called A Taste of Acadie, by Marielle Cormier-Boudreau and Melvin Gallant. Acadie, or Acadia, is the name of the area of Nova Scotia inhabited by French-Canadians. A goodly number of them left for warmer climes in Louisiana, and turned from Acadians into Cajuns, keeping their taste for fish but leaving other food preferences behind.

A quick flip through the book will show that the great resource on which a goodly amount of Acadian cookery is based is the potato. Rappie pie is made from grated potato with the water squeezed out, layered with meat and baked. Potato pancakes also feature.

The first time I went through the book I didn’t pick up on the Acadian stuffing recipe. However, a week or so ago I came across Acadian stuffing and, lo and behold, my mom’s stuffing recipe jumped out at me. It makes sense, as my mom probably got her recipe from her mom, who was born and raised in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. My grandmother’s father was a sea cook, working on the fishing vessels that sailed from Lunenburg to the Grand Banks to catch the cod that figured in many Acadian recipes.

I suppose that I should really keep this recipe for Thanksgiving or Christmas, when turkey is on the menu. But I am so excited by it that I can’t wait that long. It’s like discovering a long-lost novel that you read years ago. You have to read it again as soon as you’ve found it.

Start out with mashed potatoes. For a chicken 2 potatoes, mashed (no butter or milk) should be sufficient. Do not rice the potatoes, as lumps are good in this recipe.

Then take three pieces of bread, dry them in an oven, and crumble them. Chop 1 onion and 2 ribs of celery, and sauté them in 3 tbsp. butter. Add the bread crumbs and brown lightly, then add the mashed potatoes, salt and pepper, and 1 tbsp summer savory or Bell’s Seasoning. If the mixture is a bit dry, add a bit of water or chicken stock to moisten. Stuff your bird and roast as usual.

If you’re roasting a turkey, increase all the amounts in the recipe and if you can’t get all the stuffing in the bird, put it in a pyrex dish and bake it along with the bird.

My mom also used to stuff pork chops with this stuffing. After making the stuffing, take thick pork chops and cut a horizontal pocket in the side of the chop. Spoon stuffing into that pocket and bake as usual. You can also just pile the stuffing on top of the chop—it browns very nicely.

A word about summer savory. The Wikipedia article says that it’s used in Atlantic Canada in preference to sage. I have to say that I have never heard of it, and my mom never used it in this recipe, to my knowledge. What she used is Bell’s Seasoning. I do not know whether this is available nationwide in the US—I do know it’s not available here, but I will be bringing some back with me next time I visit Marblehead. If you can’t source Bell’s Seasoning, use sage.

You may think this is total nostalgia on my part, and you may also be right. Nostalgia is good. Aching after your past, even though you will never experience it again, helps you keep in mind the good times, the bad times, the people you loved and who loved you, the places you lived and visited, and is a memorial to all that has gone into making you you.

I remember leftover turkey going into sandwiches on Thanksgiving night. Take two slices of white bread and slather both with mayonnaise. Cover the bottom slice with sliced turkey breast, then a layer of my mom’s stuffing, then a few spoonfuls of cranberry sauce. Salt and pepper to taste, then cover with the other piece of bread and enjoy. These were absolutely delicious and were just enough to keep people who’d gorged in the early afternoon from getting hungry at 8 pm. I had leftover chicken today, but no stuffing. The sandwich I made didn’t taste the same without the stuffing, but it was close.

I’ll end with a holiday Momfood disaster that I forgot to recount in my previous post covering things my Mom didn’t get quite right. Leftover turkey is always a problem, and my mom wanted to make turkey soup. She had a recipe from her mother, and this recipe specified ½ tbsp of barley. Mom looked at the puny (to her) amount of barley and decided that the recipe must have been wrong. She put in half a cup.

When we were finally called to dinner, Mom gave us each a slice of turkey “soup”, as the amount of barley had soaked up all the liquid in the soup. As with all my mom’s culinary disasters, it tasted delicious, and whenever I have stuffing, or chicken, or turkey, I think of that slice of soup. It would go very well with stuffing.

Banchan: learning to cook Korean side dishes

Learning to make Korean banchan, tiny side dishes.

Yes, I’ve been on a Korean-food kick lately. I’ve got a batch of kimchi in the fridge; it’s a lot less salty than the last batch, but not as spicy. I’ll keep working on it.

soup and banchan dishes on the table

And I’ve bought some little dishes for banchan, because I’ve been in love with those little dishes of joy since the first time I had dinner at our favorite Korean restaurant, Sura. At Sura, they bring out a dozen or more of these little side dishes, and sometimes the little treasures last long enough to be part of the meal, as they’re intended. My idea of heaven is small amounts of lots of different kinds of food, so banchan is a natural for me. Same with Indian thali–I just LOVE little dishes of food!

We gave this concept two tries this week. First, I made a Korean cold noodle soup. Bought the broth pre-made at Koreana, along with the noodles and the banchan dishes.

Korean cold noodle soup in a white bowl, before adding things

I put out a bunch of little bowls of ingredients to add:

boiled eggs, pickled herring, more boiled eggs, pickled daikon, peas, nori, gochujang (red pepper paste), pickled garlic, pickled red cabbage, dried fried garlic

Then we each added our favorite things from the little dishes (click to embiggen).

Serene's soup with nori, pickles, peas, and gochujang The kid's bowl, with egg, nori, peas, and garlic James's bowl with egg, gochujang, pickles, and nori

Later in the week, though, I decided I wanted to learn to make some of the items I get at Sura, so I headed over to find Korean cooking videos on YouTube, and hit the motherlode. Oh, Maangchi, where have you been all my life?

Maangchi is the embodiment of Mom Food. Simply and cheerfully, she makes the recipes of her childhood while telling stories of Korea and her family. She clearly tastes home when she eats the results of her cooking, and her love of sharing her Mom Food is palpable. (“You could palp it if you wanted to.” — Tripod)

I made most of the banchan you see in the photo below. If you want to know more about each dish, I’ve given the names, and you can go to Maangchi’s site and find out how to make them.

Rice in a covered bowl. Big bowls of figs and bulgogi. Little bowls of kimchi, pickled herring, seaweed, kongnamul muchim, pickled garlic, Korean barbecue sauce, musaengchae, plain myulchibokkeum, gamjachae bokkeum, spicy myulchibokkeum, and gochujang

I bought 5 of the things in this photo at the store: pickled garlic, seaweed salad, Korean barbecue sauce, gochujang, and pickled herring. I picked the figs off Guy’s tree. I made the rest.

The bulgogi is from Bonnie’s recipe; kimchi is from Closet Cooking’s recipe; the kongnamul muchim (soybean sprout side dish), musaengchae (radish salad), plain myulchibokkeum (pan-friend dried anchovies), gamjachae bokkeum (potato and oyster mushroom side dish), and spicy myulchibokkeum all came from Maangchi.

Thank you, Maangchi! As you can see, we really like this way of eating!

the remains of the banchan (mostly eaten)

Frugal Cooks Note: The recipes for banchan all make a fair amount, and most keep for a really long time, so beyond the fact that the recipes are cheap to begin with, they’re even cheaper because they’ll serve you for several meals. I plan to continue learning new banchan dishes and re-making faves so that we have a steady stream of things to fill our cute little bowls with.

OPMF: Kimchi

Mom Food from extended family members: this time, from Korean in-laws.

[If you’re visiting from SITS, welcome! And for those of you who don’t know what SITS is, it’s a blogger community (The Secret’s In The Support!) where I love to hang out and schmooze with other bloggers. Some of them may be visiting today. Be nice. Or if you can’t be nice, be funny and interesting and maybe they won’t notice.]

[OPMF = Other People’s Mom Food]

Remember the other day when I told you about my brother Rick and the Caesar salad he taught me to make? Well, that got me thinking about his family and what Mom Foods we’ve gotten from his wife’s side of the family.

Debbie, who we all love, is a wonderful sister-in-law to have. Her mother Bonnie came from Korea, so in the twenty or so years since my brother and she got together, her side of the family has added a couple of Korean Mom Foods to our repertoire around here. The carnivores among us love nothing better than Bonnie’s Korean ribs (galbi).

Galbi at Asahi
[Photo courtesy of Selena N. B. H.]

But me? I could eat her kimchi all day and half the night.

Kimchi, all done!

A week or two ago, I did a photo shoot at our local Korean grocery store (for Oakland Magazine — I’ll let you know when the article comes out), and I decided I needed to make kimchi. Goodness knows we spend enough money on the stuff at the store; why not try my own hand at it? I bought a nice container to ferment the stuff in, a big head of napa cabbage, a bucket of gochujang (red pepper paste), and I was off!

The red pepper paste

Homemade kimchi is a thing of delightment. I have never had store-bought that could touch Bonnie’s, and I probably will never make homemade that’s as good, but I finally decided to give it a shot. It was MUCH easier than I expected, and not fussy at all. I used Closet Cooking’s recipe as a starting point, but I had gochujang rather than gochugaru (red pepper flakes), so I hunted around the web and decided to use about 6 tablespoons of the paste in place of the cup of flakes. It might not be spicy enough for some people, but it was perfect for us. A little too salty, but I gathered from reading some recipes online that it will be less salty if instead of salting it directly next time, I soak it in salty water. We’ll see.

Here’s the cabbage before salting:

The raw cabbage, before salting

And here’s the same amount of cabbage after adding salt and time (and then rinsing/draining):

Cabbage after salting

Mix it all together:

All the kimchi ingredients in a bowlKimchi mixed together, before fermenting

Et voila!

Kimchi in the fermenting container

We left it out for about two and a half days to ferment, then stuck it in the fridge while we were out of town for a week. It was perfect when we opened it, minus the slightly too salty thing.

The joy of this for us is the almost carbonated sizzle you get from a newly opened batch of the stuff. It feels alive or something. This batch had that tingly feeling, and while it wasn’t nearly as good as Bonnie’s, it brought me some of that Mom Food joy, even though her kimchi is now 500 miles away, where I can’t get to it.