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Brad Sondahl's
Cooking from scratch by dead reckoning
"I reckon it's dead, so's we can cook it..."
or
"Nobody's dead yet, so's I reckon I'll try some..."


For Grandma Rosenwald's Pfefferneusse recipe, click on the picture above.

My philosophy of cooking is that cooking should be fun, simple, and trivialities like recipes and measuring cups shouldn't get in the way of getting good food produced quickly.  The main purpose for measuring is to control the size of the final product.
Most family meals take about 15 minutes to eat-- I figure an hour is the maximum anyone ought to spend on preparing a meal, or there's a lot of serious time waste happening.
Also, I believe in cooking from scratch--no mixes, because the results are usually tastier and more economical.
This is a guide for the beginning cook who wants to stop buying all those packaged foods at the store.  If you already know the basics, skip them and you'll still find a few interesting ideas...

So here's my basic cookery.  There's nothing fancy here, nothing that you wouldn't want to eat once a week for life...

Also, I've revisited to reduce cholesterol.

Meat
We got a lot of "Jack Spratt's" in the family, so it's easiest to trim off most of the fat before cooking.  More than that, stir frying in oil after slicing up and soaking in a bit of soy sauce is a great way to produce a great topping that goes with potatoes, rice, or noodles.   To make sure it's cooked thoroughly, I usually pour some water on and  steam it a while with the lid on, too.
If the meat is tough or greasy, I prefer simmering it in water for a longer time, which softens it and gives the grease a chance to go into the water, where it can be poured off and fed to the dog or chickens.
I'm not too partial to broiling 'cause it messes up the oven, and I've never cared to barbecue, so you're on your own if you want to do those things to meat.

Potatoes
The staff of life, particularly for us Idahoans.
Here's the regular ways to cook them that aren't too hard:

Baked Potatoes:
Wash them and pop them in a 400-425 degree oven, about an hour.  Prick them with a fork first to keep them from exploding.  They're done when you can squeeze them with a hot pad and they break open.  And yes, you can microwave them, but the results are noticeably different in taste and texture.  Make a lot at at time, and you can reheat them in the microwave, or make--

Fried Potatoes:
Leftover baked potatoes make good fried potatoes.  Cut the peels off them with a knife, and cut them into chunks.  Fry them in some margarine or butter.

Mashed Potatoes:
Peel them and cut them in chunks, boil them for half an hour in more water than you might think you'd need.  If they're tender when poked with a fork, pour off the water and add some soft margarine or butter, salt (to taste), and milk, and mash with masher.  If it's a pretty big pot, I use half a stick of margarine, and a teaspoon or so of salt, and milk is added a little at a time till the consistency is creamy.  Serve with grated cheese, or meat or vegetable toppings.  Leftovers  are good in potato soup or:

Potato Poppers:
Mash some old mashed potatoes with grated cheese, cut up meat (particularly salami or sausage),  and add up to  a teaspoon of paprika, depending on how much you're making. Leftover vegetables can be added too, if you're not too particular.  Form them into round balls, ping pong  or larger in size, and bake in a hot oven for 15-30 minutes, depending on how hungry you are. Each person will want 3 or more poppers as a serving..
 

Breads
I don't like weeds in my bread, so don't look here for fancy herb breads.  One good dough can make any of these treats:
bread, cinnamon or raisin bread,  french bread, buns, cinnamon or nut rolls, Swedish tea ring, bread sticks, pizza.
So gimme the dough!
Okay, I admit it, even though this is cooking by dead reckoning, some measurement is useful to make sure you make enough portions.  So this is my basic recipe for about 2 1/2 loaves of bread.

Basic Bread
1 qt. warm water
1 Tbsp yeast or so.
Same with sugar.
2 Tbsp veg. oil
1 tsp salt

Mix those and let the yeast go blurp.  Then add two cups whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and enough white flour to make the dough so you can knead it.  To figure out how much that is, pour it in and stir it a cup or two at a time, easing off as you get close to a kneadable dough.  Kneading is tough to teach by words--the idea is to mix the dough thoroughly by twisting and folding it a bit, on a non sticky surface.  I knead it right in the bowl--scraping the sticky scraps off the inside of the bowl and throwing in a little dry flour to keep it nonsticky.  Kneading should be done for a couple minutes, until the dough is elastic when poked and bounces back out at you.  Stick it in a large oiled bowl (I just oil the bowl I mix and knead it in--don't use too more than about a teaspoonful, or the bread may fall apart after baking).
Once you've got dough, most books advise you to let it double in size once and punch it down.  That's for sissies. Well, okay, maybe it does make better bread, but here's two things you can make with the dough immediately-- pizza and breadsticks.

Pizza:
In a pizza joint, they let you order thick crust or thin crust pizza.  When you cook by dead reckoning,  you make pizza and find out if it's thick crust or thin crust.  Of course, how much dough you start with on the pan has a lot to do with that, and there's no school like experience....
Dough is a bit like silly putty--if you pull on it fast it breaks, and if you pull slowly, it stretches.  When qualified pizza chefs twirl  pizzas, they're slowly stretching it with the centripetal force of twirling.  Those of us less gifted at twirling can use gravity to stretch out dough, or just moosh it around on the pan with our hands.  To gravity stretch the dough, flatten it with hands a fair amount, and then hang on to one side of it, letting it droop.  Change positions partway round and continue drooping it.  This will stretch it in such a way as to make a thin crust possible.  Place it on a slightly oiled pan,  and finish patting it out, particularly the outer edges which shouldn't be too fat.  Brush on tomato paste (thinly--the smallest can will do two large pizzas), add your favorite toppings, sprinkle on some oregano and/or basil, top with grated cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, or jack), and bake it in a hot oven (400) for about 15 minutes.  When the topping is bubbling and the bottom of the crust is stiff and brown, it's done.

Bread sticks:
Talk about redundant--serving bread sticks and pizza--both  wheat products.  Ditto with french bread and pasta--wheat and wheat.  Oh well.  Bread sticks are fun and quick  If you aren't careful these will come out about as big as a hot dog bun, which really is how my family prefers them as you can put more  peanut butter or jam on them then.  But if you like them skinny and crisp, make them really skinny to start with and cook them longer than 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Oh yeah, how to shape them-- pinch off a little dough and roll it into a tube shape between your hands. Then stretch it out longer, and set it on a greased cookie sheet.  Leave space between them to allow for raising.

Regular Bread
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
For small holey, lighter bread, punch it down once and let it raise awhile more.  Then punch it again, and pinch it into loaves.
The basic bread recipe makes two large loaves and maybe some leftover.  I often make a few cinnamon rolls for breakfast with the leftovers. But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Pinch off enough dough to fill the breadpan half full.  Stretch it (slowly) and fold it on itself and roll it into a little loaf shape.  Stick it in a slightly oiled pan.  Let it raise till filling the pan, and bake for 35 minutes.
Remove from pan immediately after baking and let cool a few minutes before trying to cut it.

Cinnamon or raisin bread
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
After the bread dough  has risen and been punched down a couple times, divide it in two lumps, and  roll it out on a floured surface and cover it with brown sugar and sprinkled cinnamon.  When you roll it out, you usually get an elongated elliptical shape. To get the most layers of cinnamon-sugar in it, roll it up so that it is as narrow as possible while rolling.  Add raisins at this time if you like raisin bread.  Also roll it tight to keep from getting those big air holes in it.  Place it in a greased bread pan, with the final seam side down.  Let it rise again till it's a good loaf size and bake at 350, about 40 minutes (takes longer than just bread). Take out onto cooling rack when done.  Cuts better when cool--tastes best when hot.  Figure out which is most important to you...

Doughnuts
Doughnuts always take the rap for being dietary no-nos.  If you want to eat doughnuts, you can control a lot of the bad nonos by making them yourself.  First, use canola oil for deep fat frying--it's low in saturated fat and cooks well.  When you're done, let it cool and store it in the freezer in a jar to keep it from developing a bad flavor (which might be oxygenation or might be flour glop getting eaten by bacteria).  To use again, set it in a pan of warm water to get the oil liquid again, then pour it in the pan you will use, taking care not to get any water in (which causes spatters).  Getting back to the bad no-nos, cake doughnuts are the real bad guys, as their open texture absorbs grease like a sponge.  Raised doughnuts have a more sealed surface, and even ignoring all the oil that ends up on the absorbent paper, a batch seldom uses more than half a cup of oil to make.
Okay, now let's make some healthy great tasting gut busters!  Take some basic bread dough and roll it out on a floured surface, about a half inch thick.  Take a wide mouthed jar and punch out a bunch of circles, as close to each other as you can.  Then take an empty glass bottle (like juices are sold in at the store) and cut out the middle holes.  Do this while heating the oil to 350 degrees (candy thermometer recommended here).  Then get a good nonleaky bag and throw in some cinnamon and sugar, powdered sugar, or straight sugar.  Fry the doughnuts in the oil, turning as they get brown--tongs are the best for grabbing them, but in a pinch (pun intended) you can use a potato masher to fish them out.  Set them on a clean brown grocery bag to drain--start some more--then grab the finished ones and shake them in the sugar.  Once you get rolling it's a factory process.
One note: these are best eaten within an hour of manufacture.  There are probably some tricks to making them stay tender for a long time, but it doesn't really matter to me since they never last that long anyway.

Lefse:
Another great use for leftover mashed potatoes.  Mash in enough white flour to some mashed potatoes to make a dough that can be shaped into balls without sticking to your hands. Form all the balls, roll the balls in more flour, and set in a row on a floured surface.  Roll it out with a pin on a floured pastry cloth or bread board (Novice note: always roll from the middle of the ball towards an outside edge to avoid having the dough roll around the pin).  Fry on a hot ungreased skillet (electric frypan turned up all the way is good).  Turn when bubbles form and dark dots are common on the bottom.  Serve fresh from the pan or rewarmed with butter and brown sugar, cinnamon, jam, etc.

Rolls and Swedish Tea Ring

These are basically the same idea, only the rolls are cut into chunks, and the ring is formed into a slashed spare tire.  Take about half a batch of bread dough, and roll it flat on a floured surface.  Cover it with brown sugar, and sprinkle on cinnamon.  When you roll it out, you usually get an elongated elliptical shape. To get the most layers of cinnamon-sugar in it, roll it up so that it is as narrow as possible while rolling.  Then pick up the dough and stretch it, before laying down to cut it.  For cinnamon rolls, cut it into 1 inch (that's 2.54 centimeters for some of you) sections and lay in a shallow greased pan.

For tea ring, lay it out in a ring on a larger cookie sheet, and make cuts into it from the outside with a scissors.  Rolls take about 20 minutes to bake, tea ring 30 or so.  Remove it from the pan, which will be awash in melted brown sugar gook, and cool it on a rack.
When cooled, the tea ring can be frosted with white frosting and decorated with little cutesy bits of stuff.  Tastes good for a day or so. Can be microwaved briefly by the slice to revive it.

Elephant Tracks - adapted  from Terri Jens via rec.foods.cooking

These flat chewy cinnamon rolls improve with age, or at least are good when dried out.

Combine 1/2 cup scalded milk, 2 tablespoons shortening, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt. Cool to lukewarm. Soften 1 package yeast in 1/4 cup
lukewarm water. Add to first mixture. Stir in 1 whole egg. Add 2 1/2 cups flour. The dough will be real stiff. Work until
smooth. Turn dough out on floured board for 10 minutes. Mix together 1 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Roll dough out on floured board in
rectangular shape. Brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar mixture. Roll up and seal edges. Cut slices 1 inch think. Put generous amount of
sugar mixture on board. Roll slices until flat and about 5 inches in diameter. Place on greased baking sheet. Let rise 30 minutes. Bake at 325
degrees 15 to 18 minutes.

Quick Breads

Anything using soda or baking powder is called a quick bread, since you don't have to wait for the yeast to rise.  And they only differ by the amount of liquids/oils, and sugar/flavorings.  Going from wet to dry, you're going to get either pancakes, waffles, cakes, muffins, biscuits, and finally cookies, all generally using 2 cups of flour as the base.  Of these only the cakes, muffins, and cookies  tend to have much sugar in them.  If you don't use any eggs, you get flakier biscuit sort of things.
So as you try to make any of these, and they come out too dry or wet--you can control that and improve the results.  My cakes used to be kind of tough, till I tried adding more water than the recipe called for, and found (duhh!) they were moister and more tender.
So here are some basic ideas on the quick bread spectrum.

Pancakes/waffles.
They're really pretty easy, and the only reason I can figure that mixes developed for them was marketing.  The only difference in the batters is that waffles tend to be a thicker batter.  The key to success with both is having the griddle/iron hot enough and greased so it won't stick.  If the first one does stick, clear the wreckage and make sure the pan is hotter and better greased.  What makes homemade pancakes/waffles/biscuits/muffins great is usually BUTTERMILK!  This soured milk provides the acid to make the baking soda most effective at bubbling.  You'll get a fluffy great tasting product with buttermilk. However, there's a catch--buttermilk is thick, and makes a thick batter.  That's okay for waffles, but it can make pancakes so thick that the middles don't get done.  So I thin the batter for pancakes with milk, or even water.  Here's a basic batter (with some guessing, since I don't usually measure anything but the flour):
3 cups buttermilk
1 whole egg plus 1-2 egg whites
2 tbsp oil (combine the liquids and beat)
2 cups flour (half whole wheat is good)
1 tsp. baking soda
If batter is too thick, add some regular milk or water.
I use an electric fry pan at 350 degrees.  If the pan is too hot, you'll get black tiger stripes in a hurry, and the oil which you put in to make the pan less sticky will smoke. If it's too cold, the pancake will stick and take forever.
You can add chopped apple, raspberries, blueberries etc. to the batter, but on the whole they taste better uncooked added on top...  Also, if you add more eggs (like 4), you can have a richer denser pancake, and even cook this puppy in the oven in a low pan at 425 for 25 minutes.  If you skip the buttermilk and soda and add more regular milk and eggs, you can have thin Swedish or crepes type pancakes.  These take a long time to make a bunch of, since they're so thin.  Also you can substitute a cup of cornmeal and make corny pancakes which are really pretty good.
 
 


Aggkake or Oven pancake.

The English make something quite similar called Yorkshire pudding.   Put it in cupcake cups and it'll make popovers.  This is from an old church cookbook.
1 whole egg plus 5 egg whites
3 cups milk
1/4 cup melted soft margarine or butter (I heat this in the baking pan in the oven as I mix the batter)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup white flour.

Beat eggs.  Add milk and dry ingredients, beat until smooth.  Add melted butter or margarine.  Pour into a greased (or buttered) 9 X 12 cake pan, and bake 20-25 minutes in a 420 degree oven. It will have a brown lumpy top and fluff up from the eggs while baking. When removed from the oven, it will fall, but that doesn't matter.  Cut into pieces and remove with spatula. Serve with fruit and syrup or jam.  Serves about 4.
 

Cakes
Cakes vary mostly by the flavorings and frostings, since most people like a good spongy cake.  I make all my cakes using a fork to beat them, but if you have an electric mixer it will probably yield finer bubbles and fewer lumps.  I learned to make cakes from a 1950's Betty Crocker cookbook (great book rereleased last year as a facsimile edition), but with time have come to some general ideas to go by.
If your batter is stiff, the cake will be denser and drier.  To alleviate this, add more water or milk.  The batter should pour freely into the cake pans.
Use vegetable oil rather than margarine or shortening--it's better for you and stirs in a lot easier.
The cake's usually still pretty good even if you don't beat it for hours.
Okay, here's a basic recipe for cake, with variations afterwards:

Cake
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs (or whites of 3 eggs)
1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar
2 to 2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. soda or baking powder.
1 to 1 1/2 cups water or milk or buttermilk.
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix the wet ingredients, and beat in the dry ones, mixing up  the leavening (soda or baking powder) in the flour first.
Pour into two greased and floured cake pans.  If your cakes tend to stick, you can cut circles of waxed paper to put in the bottom of the pans which can be peeled off when the cake is removed.  Bake in a 350 degree oven 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick poked in the middle comes out clean.
This basic recipe is sometimes called yellow or white cake (depending on whether butter or shortening was used to make it).
Add 1/2 cup of cocoa and it's chocolate cake.  Or add 3 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice and it's lemon cake.  Add a half  teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and maybe some raisins, and it's spice cake.  Stick in canned sliced peaches, and it's apple pie! (Just seeing if you're still alert. But you can add grated apple and cinnamon and it makes a good apple cake)  Pour it over pineapple rings and it's pineapple upside down cake.
All of these benefit from related frostings.

Basic Frosting
1/2 cup soft margarine.
1 small bag of powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. or more of milk or water.
1 tsp. of vanilla or other flavorings.
Slice and mash up the margarine, and add powdered sugar and start mixing.  Add liquid slowly to avoid getting it too runny.  Beat until smooth.
Add any (but not all) of these: food coloring, 1/4 to 1/2 cup cocoa,  lemon juice, almond flavor, mapleine,  1/2 tsp. cinnamon, chopped fruit, coconut, m&ms, etc.

Muffins
Basically if you pour pancake batter into muffin tins, you get muffins. But usually the batter is drier, so cut back on the liquids by about half.   This is the basic recipe for muffins:
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 egg plus one egg white
2 tbsp oil (combine the liquids and beat)
2 cups flour (half whole wheat is good)
1 tsp. baking soda
  Usually a little sugar is added  (up to a cup).  If more than a cup of sugar is added, you enter the realm of cupcakes.  Fruit, nuts, and other grains like oats can all be added to make variations on the theme.  A dash of vanilla improves the flavor, as may a half tsp. salt.   Frozen blueberries or raspberries are good, but thaw them in the oven as it's preheating (or microwave) before folding them in at the end of the mixing. Substitute cornmeal for half of the flour, and add some honey (up to half a cup), and you have corn muffins.  Bake them at 350 for about 15 minutes, until they spring back when touched on top in the middle.

Biscuits
Dry out the muffins, drop the eggs, and you get biscuits. Although oil will work for biscuits, they hold together better in forming if margarine or butter is used for the shortening.
2 cups flour
1/2 cup margarine
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
Mush up the margarine with a fork, before dumping in the dry ingredients.  After getting the margarine distributed, add the buttermilk and mix until a rollable dough is made.  As usual, I'm guessing at quantities--Add the liquid slowly to make sure the dough isn't too runny.  Roll or pat out the dough on a floured surface about 3/4 inch thick, and cut out biscuits with a tumbler or cookie cutter.  Bake in a hot oven 375-400  10 to 12 minutes.

Popovers

These are unleavened, meaning no soda or baking powder or yeast.  They rise due to something in the eggs.  Don't overbeat or they will not rise so much.
2 cups flour
1 egg plus 4 egg whites
1 tsp salt
2 cups milk
Mix a bit and spoon  into well greased muffin tins, fillng them 3/4 full.  This usually makes 18 popovers for me.  Bake them at 425 for about 20 minutes, on an upper rack.  When all the magic works together, you get hollow muffins with a little hole in the bottom of each one, into which you can insert fruit, jam, etc.  If the magic isn't so good, you can poke a hole in them with your thumb and they still taste as good...   Serve them hot from the oven.

Fritters

Shown above--batter with apple chunks.  Fritters cooking.   Fritters in bowl unsugared.  Fritters with cinnamon and sugar.
Fritters are pieces of fruit dipped in batter and deep fat fried. The kind you get at a bakery the fruit is usually chopped up fine and it's more of a doughnut.   If it were vegetables and you used rice flour, it would be tempura. Fritters are high fat, no holds barred.  You can kid yourself about the piece of fruit inside being good for you, but if you have to count calories, don't make these often. But make them once in a while.
1 egg plus 3 egg whites
1/2 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Beat it all together while the oil is heating to 350 degrees.  Cut up apples, pear, peaches, bananas (removing peelings of all  first), and have them ready in a bowl.  The pieces can be finely chopped and mixed in the batter, or large chunks and dipped in (which I prefer).   If the finely chopped, drop by teaspoonful in the oil (too large a lump and the middles will stay raw).  If large chunks (and the fruit is sturdy, like apples), you can still mix a bunch in the batter and fish them out to slowly slide into the oil (to avoid splashing).  Brown them, and flip them with a tongs before depositing on brown paper, or a cooling rack over brown paper.  Eat while still warm.

Vegetables
Steaming
I prefer vegetables like green beans, peas, corn, cauliflower, and broccoli steamed.  Cut the vegetable to serving sizes, and place in a pan with a tight lid, with about a half cup of water.  Cook on medium high heat until they poke right with a fork (or as directions say for frozen vegetables).  Adding a touch of margarine or butter will bring out the best flavor of most vegetables. The only warning with steaming (besides watching out for the steam when opening the pan), is to make sure there is enough water so it doesn't boil off and burn the stuff.)  You can add all the water you want, but if you have to drain off a lot at the end, you drain away some flavor and nutrients as well...  Most steamed vegetables are enjoyed by adult palates with--

Cream and/or cheese sauce
Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a sauce pan. While heating it stir in some flour, a tablespoon or more.  Pour in some milk, add more as it thickens if it seems too thick.  Add a bit of salt or pepper or paprika.   Add grated cheese at the end to make it cheese sauce.

Cream of Leftover soup
Combine the leftover sauce and vegetables and blend them with some water or milk till they're a nice size to eat as soup.  Add more milk, maybe some butter if there wasn't much to begin with.  Season with salt, pepper, paprika to taste. Garnish with cheese, chopped salami, crackers, etc.

Frying Vegetables
Good for carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, apples.
Cut into thin slices, and heat the frypan with some vegetable oil in it (a tablespoon is plenty).   Dump in vegetables in order of how hard to cook they are--toughest first.  If you get tired of stirfrying, and like veggies mushy, put a little water in the lid for the pan and quickly flip the lid on, taking care not to get scalded (there, I warned you.).  And don't forget them while doing other stuff and let them burn...

Fruit Stuff
Fruits should be palatable as is, but if you place apples and cookies on the table at the same time, guess who wins?  So introduce them early in the meal, cut up into bite size pieces.  Living in the northwest, we can a lot of pears and peaches, which really are great by themselves, but if you tire of that, try

Fruit Tapioca
If you use commercial canned fruit, it is sweetened too much already, so just adding some tapioca (small pearl is quickest) and cooking until boiling, stirring constantly, and letting sit during supper to let the tapioca get soaked up is the preferred method.  If you think you don't like tapioca, try it nice and hot, with a bit of cream on it.

Fruit Cobbler/Crisp
Cobbler can be based on flour or rolled oats, and usually involves rhubarb, peaches, apples, cherries, or other tangy fruits.  If you want the dumpling kind, make a basic muffin recipe, and dab it in globs over the top of the fruit.  For a crumbly crisp cobbler,  mix the fruit with half a stick of margarine, a cup or so of flour, a cup of brown sugar, a cup or more of rolled oats.
For both of them, bake at 350 until the fruit is soft and the rest of the stuff is brown (not black).

Beans
There is a world of beans out there, but our horizons are limited to three kinds that grow around here, black beans, kidney beans, and lentils.  The experts say that flatulence is reduced if you soak the beans, and pour off the water before cooking, and even after cooking.  I'm never farsighted enough to soak beans--they usually cook in two hours as it is, lentils in 45 minutes.  As a rule double the volume of beans to get the volume of water to cook them in.  Cook them in a covered (slightly ajar lid) pan, on medium heat, stirring every hour or so to get them equally hot and check that there is enough liquid.

Black Beans and Tortillas
I usually use a quart of black beans, which leaves some leftovers which sometimes become black bean soup.  I cook them in a cast iron pan to increase their iron content (which is good to begin with).  At the same time that the beans get started (two hours before the meal), I cook the tortilla dough:

Tortillas
2 cups corn meal
3 cups water
3 TBSP oil
1 tsp salt
Stir while heating in large saucepan over medium high heat until it thickens.  Shut off heat, cover, and let cool for an hour or more.  Add white flour until it makes a rollable dough.  Divide it into a bunch of patties, dipping them in flour to keep them from sticking.  Roll out as thin as can be handled, and fry on very hot skillet, turning when bubbles form and turn brown on the underside.  Makes about a dozen tortillas.

When the beans are done (soft and mushy) pour off any remaining liquid, add a teaspoon of salt and mash with potato masher.
Put an elongated dollop onto the tortilla. Add cheese, chopped cabbage or lettuce, salsa.   Fold both sides in to cover the beans.  Roll up from the bottom, and it shouldn't leak out the ends.

Steps in making Lentils and chapatis: Mix dough with fork until kneadable.  Roll out very thin and fry on dry skillet.
Add lentils, lettuce, cheese, salsa.  Roll up with ends tucked first.

Lentils and Chapatis
Same principle as above, only the lentils cook quicker (45 minutes), and the chapatis do too, making them less work altogether.  Still one son prefers tortillas over chapatis, and the taste difference is enough to go the extra mile for the tortillas once in a while.

Chapatis
Measurement useful here...  Use three cups of whole wheat flour, a cup of water, and a tablespoon of oil and a half teaspoon of  salt.  Make a dough that can be shaped into balls without sticking to your hands. Form all the balls, roll the balls in more flour, and set in a row on a floured surface.  Roll it out with a pin on a floured pastry cloth or bread board (Novice note: always roll from the middle of the ball towards an outside edge to avoid having the dough roll around the pin).  Fry on a hot ungreased skillet (electric frypan turned up all the way is good).  Turn when bubbles form and dark dots are common on the bottom.  These are best with cooked and salted lentils (salsa and chopped vegies), rolled up to make a lentil taco.

Chili
Using a large soup pan, add
1 qt of dry kidney beans (or two large cans cooked)
1 qt of tomato sauce (or one large can)
1 qt of water
1  tsp or so of salt
1-2 tablespoons chili powder.
Chopped onions are likely addition.
Bring it all to a boil, while browning a pound of hamburger in little crumbles in a fry pan.  Add the burger (with some of the grease, if it doesn't gross you out), and cook it all, covered, over medium heat, for two hours, or until the beans are nice and soft (which is pretty quick if you used canned beans).

This chili, being both beans and soup, is a good bridge to:

Soups
Potato soup
If you have a fair amount of leftover mashed potatoes, consider potato soup.  (If you don't have any leftovers, but still want to make some soup, just cook some peeled cut up potatoes until soft, retain some of the water, and mash them with margarine and salt)  Pour some milk in a pan, add the leftover mashed potatoes, and mash with a masher until creamy, while heating over medium high heat.  Then add more salt to taste, and up to a Tablespoon of paprika.  Chopped onion sauteed in oil separately may also be added.  Crisp bacon is traditional in it, but gets wimpy.  I prefer topping the soup with grated cheese, and chopped salami.

Cream of Vegetable soup
Chop up your favorite vegetables finely, (or blend them with water in a blender).  Wait a minute, maybe your favorite vegetables are different from mine. I don't know how eggplant soup would be.  Well, how about choosing any or all of these:
tomato, celery, spinach, green beans, corn, peas, onions, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots.  (Gee, I just put a whole book on soups into a sentence...)  Cook the vegetables if they need it.   Then add my basic cream sauce:
Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a sauce pan. While heating it stir in some flour, a tablespoon or more.  Pour in some milk, add more as it thickens if it seems too thick.  Add a bit of salt or pepper or paprika.   Add grated cheese at the end to make it cheese sauce.
Combine that with the soup, and add salt, pepper, salsa, basil, whatever, to taste.

Lentil or Black Bean Soup
Cooked lentils and black beans both make good distinctive soups, with the same added ingredients:
tomatoes or tomato sauce
some salt
chopped onion sauteed in some oil or margarine
salsa or chili powder (both optional--distinctive flavor without any additions)
Add enough water to make the soups thin enough that the spoon doesn't stand up by itself in the bowl.

Noodle soup
I mostly make this with leftover chicken or turkey, but it's good with tomato sauce base, and probably even with garbanzos in it.
Noodles
In small mixing bowl, beat two eggs and add white flour until a rollable dough is achieved.  Roll it out, possibly half at a time, one a pastry cloth or floured cutting board.  The dough will be stiff, so work to roll it thin.  Remember that it swells a lot in cooking.  Cut fine strips with a knife or pizza cutter, then cut them into short pieces.  Gently dump them in some boiling water (careful not to splash), along with onions, carrots, peas, or other vegetables.  Add some tomato sauce or cut up tomatoes.  Cook about 15 minutes.  As with most soups, some fat is needed to make it yummy, from butter or margarine, or animal sources.  Add salt, basil or oregano to taste.

Desserts
Yum!

Chocolate Pudding
If you've never had homemade chocolate pudding, Tch Tch!  Eat it hot, fresh from the pan, with a little cream or ice cream on it.
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg plus 2 egg whites
4 cups milk
1 tbsp butter
3 tsp vanilla
5 tbsp cocoa
Mix the milk and eggs into the dry stuff while stirring, and stir constantly over medium heat until it thickens and boils.  Serves about 4.

Most Kind of Cookies
Most kind of cookies take the following roughly.  The dough should be kind of sticky, but not too (add flour if necessary).  The extra possible ingredients are to make other kinds of cookies.
1 stick butter or margarine.  You can use soft margarine--expect a softer result.
1 1/2 to two cups sugar  (use up to half brown sugar)
1-2 eggs  (can substitute one white for one egg)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda or powder.

Extra possible ingredients (not to be tried all at once)
1 tsp vanilla is often a good idea
1 quarter cup lemon juice makes them mouth watering and tangy.  Add enough flour to roll them out, and you can make cut out cookies.
1 tsp cinnamon, possibly with some nutmeg, ginger, or cloves, makes them spicy.
1/2 bag of chocolate chips, mixed in early after the butter, sugar, and eggs--better double the recipe and use the whole bag.
1 cup of rolled oats, possibly with some raisins.  Molasses or brown sugar go well with oats.
Form in balls and roll in cinnamon and sugar to make snickerdoodles.
1 cup of peanut butter, and put the regulation crisscross on the top with a dry fork, pushing down this way and that.
If you like a cakier cookie, add a bit of water or another egg to the dough.  Applesauce or mashed banana works to make it that way too.

They all need baking in a 350 degree oven about 10-12 minutes.  Remove to a cooling rack if you have one (good investment).  You can usually bake two pans of cookies at once, though you may have to keep moving them up to get the tops brown.

Okay, here's a real recipe of some oatmeal cookies I just made (August 2004):

1 cup butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 cups white flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup raisins (optional)

Cream together the sugars, eggs, and fat.  add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well mixed.  Cook as above.
 

Grandma Rosenwald's Pfefferneusse

These cookies are a whole different world from all those other cookies.  First, they're hard as little rocks, so if you have dentures or loose fillings, beware. (Suck on them to soften them up.   Second, who ever heard of cooking cookie dough on the stove?  (Besides oatmeal nobakes, which also deserve mention)  Third, this recipe is the original, and makes 500 cookies per batch.  We usually eat two batches over the holiday season.  I only make them at Christmas because that's when Grandma Rosenwald would send me a coffee can full.  There are a lot of pfefferneusse recipes in the world, and some of them taste really bad.  This is the best...   If you're a sissy, try making a small batch by cutting the portions back by a factor of 3.

Cook to boiling in a 2 quart sauce pan :
1 1/3 cup corn syrup, and 1 1/3 cup honey (can be all whte or dark syrup or all honey, depending on what you've got.  Honey makes it tangier though)
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 tsp cloves, 2 tsp cinnamon

In a really big bowl, put in 11 cups of flour, 1 tsp soda, and 3 tsp cream of tartar.   Pour in the hot liquid, and stir with a big wooden spoon until it starts forming a stiff dough.  Work it with your hands until you can form coils about the diameter of a quarter.  Add more flour if it isn't stiff enough to do this.  Form all the coils before the dough cools.  Set about six of the coils on a bread board, and slice across them, each about 1/4 inch thick.  Separate the little coins and set them close together on cookie sheets (they don't swell too much).  Bake them about 12 minutes at 350 degrees--they should turn slightly brown when done, particularly on the bottom.  I bake them production style--putting in a batch every six minutes, moving them up to the top shelf for six more as the top shelf gets done. Scrape them off the pan onto the table or somewhere, and let them cool.  They are delightful when still warm, and not too hard at all.  They take on their hard persona in about a half hour.  These cookies could be hard tack for arctic expeditions--they won't crumble even if you wad them in your pocket with your keys and Swiss army knife.

Oatmeal Nobakes
Lousy name for a great candy-like cookie.
Heat in a pretty big heavy pan on the stove, medium high heat:
2 cups white sugar
4 Tbsp cocoa
1 stick margarine or 1 cup soft margarine
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup peanut butter.
1 tsp vanilla
When it boils pour in quite a lot of regular rolled oats (or quick oats), until the mixture doesn't look too gooey. (probably 5 cups or so).  Wow.  Rice Krispies  can be substituted in any percentage to make great variations on this one.  Anyway, glop it onto waxed paper or a greasy old cookie sheet in nice sized glops and refrigerate it for an hour or so.  My mom used to make relatives of this without any oatmeal, folding in mini marshmallows and salt peanuts into some kind of chocolate sauce.  Boy, I ought to get that recipe.  Of course you could try some creativity here also on your own...  I've been experimenting, heating a bowl of chocolate chips in the microwave until they melt. Then folding in Virginia peanuts and minimarshmallows.  Set onto waxed paper or a greased cookie sheet...
Pretty good.

There's probably a lot more things I know how to cook, but since I don't know if anyone will ever bother to read this, I don't think I want to go any farther with it now.  If you've enjoyed it, drop me an email. brad2@sondahl.com

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