Suburban Pioneers

The Adventures and Misadventures of Homesteading in 21st-Century America

Lauren: The Best Sauteed Fresh Corn Recipe: the taste of grilled corn on the cob in a fraction of the time July 23, 2013

Filed under: Food & Cooking,Veggies — lkcook20 @ 11:30 am
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I don’t know about you, but I have not mastered the art of grilling corn. We’ve tried leaving the husks on, taking them off, wrapping them in foil and found that it is just so hard to predict the precise moment they are done. And sometimes they end up burned which is such a waste because I love the taste of grilled corn on the cob.

And then I discovered the awesomeness of sauteed fresh corn. How did it take me so long?

It was like the scene from Sleepless in Seattle when Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks finally meet on the top of the Empire State Building: perfect and a long time coming. They stare into each other’s eyes and just know. Cue happy, emotional music.

Sauteed fresh corn is that good.

Our story: I needed something to do with all the fresh corn we get from our CSA (community supported agriculture) program. Side note: I highly recommend CSA’s. When we pick up our box of local fresh produce, it seriously feels like Christmas every week. Some weeks our present is a bushel of corn. That’s 45 ears! We give some away, freeze some, and one day I decided to slice the kernels off and saute them. The idea just came to me. Then it was love at first bite and the rest is, as they say, history.

It’s so easy I feel weird calling it a recipe. So here’s the “recipe”:

Ingredients:

1-2 ears of corn per person

1 tbsp of butter per 3-4 ears of corn (or more or less to taste)

Kosher salt to taste

Directions:

1. Remove husks and silks from the corn cob.

2. Melt the butter in a large skillet. DSCN17873, Slice off kernels with a knife (remember to cut away from you!) into a bowl or right into the skillet.DSCN1791

4. Saute over medium heat for about 8 minutes. Add salt. Salivate, then enjoy! DSCN1792

 

5 Reason It’s So Good: 

1. It still maintains its fresh crunch. Canned corn cannot compete.

2. You can taste the butter and salt in every bite.

3. It’s the taste of grilled corn in a fraction of the time!

4. You can eat more of it because you can pile giant heapings on your spoon instead of trying to maneuver around a cob.

5. You can avoid the debate of whether it’s better and more efficient to eat in rows across the ear of corn or to go around in circles. My husband claims his family tested it one time and the circle method was far superior time-wise. I’m not convinced and think maybe he’s been reading too much Cheaper by the Dozen. But anyway, if you saute your corn, you can avoid that argument. That’s right, I’m claiming that sauteed fresh corn is better for your marriage. It doesn’t get any better than that.

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Lauren: Salted Caramel Mocha / Hot Chocolate December 12, 2012

This is one of my very favorite treats. I like the homemade version even better than the Starbucks one- and so does my wallet, which also makes my husband happy. It’s a win-win-win!

DSCN1245

Shout out to my incredibly talented sister-in-law who made the mug!

Ingredients:

2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp honey

1/4 cup water

2 tsp caramel (Try to find some at the store with only five or six ingredients. They are out there! Or make your own!)

generous pinch of sea salt (not coarse)

1 cup milk

Homemade whipped cream (see below)

caramel and salt (for drizzling and/or sprinkling)

Microwave Directions: 

1. Add cocoa powder, honey, and water to a mug. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Add caramel and sea salt. Stir until dissolved.

2. Microwave milk in a seperate glass for one or one and a half minutes. Slowly pour into chocolate sauce while stirring. Top with whipped cream, caramel, and salt.

Stovetop Directions:

1. Add cocoa powder, honey, and water to a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until honey is dissolved. Add caramel and sea salt and stir until both are dissolved.

2.Add milk. Heat until hot but not boiling, stirring occasionally.  Pour into your favorite mug and then top with whipped cream, caramel, and salt.

For the more caffeinated version:

Reduce milk to 1/2 cup and add 1/2- 3/4 cup strong coffee. Pour in the coffee at the same time that you add the milk in the recipes above.

Homemade Whipped Cream:

1. Chill the mixing bowl for about fifteen minutes. Add 1 cup heavy whipping cream and 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract to the cold bowl. Mix on medium speed until soft peaks form (about five minutes). Don’t leave it too long or you’ll make yourself some butter!

 

Lauren: Spiced Stuffed Acorn Squash December 9, 2012

DSCN1124I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of plain baked acorn squash, but I love it stuffed with couscous, garbanzo beans, carrots, peppers, raisins, and apples. Underneath all those delicious ingredients, the acorn squash gives just a hint of sweetness in every bite. Yum!

This recipe is very flexible. Feel free to substitute other fruits or veggies, and if you don’t have some of the spices on hand, omit them or use other ones.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp butter                                                                              1 tsp cumin

4 acorn squash                                                                           1/2 tsp coriander

2 tbsp olive oil                                                                            1/2 tsp turmeric

2 cloves garlic, minced                                                                1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 carrots, chopped (small)                                                           1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup red pepper, chopped                                                     1/4 tsp ginger

1 can garbanzo beans, drained                                                   1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup raisins                                                                           1 14 ounce can chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup peeled, chopped apple                                                  1 cup uncooked whole wheat couscous

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Cut squash in half. Place cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes or until tender. After removing the squash from the oven, spread butter on squash.

3. Meanwhile, heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, carrot, and pepper. Cook approximately five minutes. Add garbanzo beans, raisins, and apples. Stir in cumin, coriander, turmeric  cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.DSCN1122

4. Pour the broth into the skillet and mix in the couscous. Cover and turn off heat. Let sit for five minutes. Then stuff squash halves with the skillet mixture. Serve and enjoy.

 

Sarah: Join us for Deprocessed December! December 6, 2012

I don’t know about you all, but I find December one of the harder months to resist…

chocolate

In fact, I’d better just admit the dark (or milk) chocolate truth.  I love most sweets.  And chocolate is pretty much at the top of the list.  I would eat it for breakfast.  And lunch.  And dinner and dessert, too.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I have eaten it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert in various forms (and quite possibly on the same day).

The down side (apart from cavities and possible weight gain)?

This:

The problem is that, in December, the chocolate pie, the chocolate chip cookies, the hot chocolate, and all the other sweets that end up getting passed around the office or at a potluck or with family are often processed.  And that’s pretty much because we all think we don’t have enough time to make actual food with real ingredients.

That’s why we’d like to invite you to join us on a winter adventure: Deprocessed December. Let’s kick the intake of chemicals, preservatives, refined sugars, and hydrogenated oils this month.

That doesn’t mean we won’t eat sweets or snacks or other delicious comfort food at all.  No, indeed!  That’s not possible for me in December (or any other time, really).

Instead, we’ll look at all the things we could easily be making with real food, without additives.

Every few days, we will post a recipe for snacks or food that we often buy prepackaged that just isn’t that difficult to make at home.  Here’s our promise: as few ingredients as possible.  No refined sugar or prepackaged items.  And as fast as possible.  The above stipulations are necessary because we’re both busy people with children who scream if we are in the kitchen too long.

So…this might mean spending just a few extra minutes in the kitchen before the office holiday party or the family gathering. But our bodies, our scales, and our wallets will thank us for resisting the over-processed and instead taking responsibility for the process.  Who’s in?

And to start us off, here’s our first recipe:

Replace this   Protein Bars which not only contains exciting ingredients such as Organic Oat Syrup Solids and Vegetable Glycerin in addition to the ever-mysterious “Natural Flavors,” but also costs $1 per bar

With this:

Homemade Protein Bars

2 c. flour (+ more if needed)
2 c. rolled oats
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 c. peanut butter (all natural…no sugar, no oil)
1 c. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. molasses

Those are all the necessary ingredients…the fun part comes when you add extra goodies:

1/2 c. flax seed (this just makes it healthier, but if you omit, you might need more flour)
1/2 c. slivered almonds or walnuts or any other nut you desire
1 tsp almond extract or vanilla extract (or none at all if you prefer)
1/2 c. raisins, cranberries, chocolate chips, or any other goodies

Combine all dry ingredients (flour, oats, salt, baking soda, flax seed, nuts, and dried fruit/chocolate.  Then stir in wet ingredients (peanut butter, maple syrup, and molasses).  Press mixture into a 9×13 baking dish and bake 20-30 m. until a fork stuck in it comes out clean.

Screen Shot 2012-12-05 at 10.43.31 PM

A 9×13 baking pan will yield about 12 thick and delicious bars.  I eat them for breakfast.  Or lunch.  Or dinner or snack, as the mood strikes.

And…to give credit where credit is due, I would like to thank Terry Walters’ book Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source for inspiring me to bake without butter and sugar.  Her “Teff Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies” on page 275 were a revelation.  The purchase of the entire book was worth it for that one recipe!

 

Sarah: Keith’s Quest September 23, 2012

 

Keith claims it all started the night we found out that I was pregnant.

 

We had  been hoping to have a baby for quite a while, so when the test was positive, I drove out to the lab where Keith works to share the news with him (incidentally, the lab was locked and there is only spotty cell phone reception, so I had to linger creepily by the door until an unsuspecting undergraduate exited).  When I walked into his office, Keith panicked, asking, “What’s wrong?!?”  But once we cleared up the misunderstanding, and he realized that something was instead very right, he decided we should go out to celebrate.  We were trying not to go out to eat too often (remember…do-it-yourself spirit of frugality?), but that night was a bit surreal, and we felt the need to commemorate it somehow.

Oaxaca, one of Mexico’s 31 states. Did you know Mexico had 31 states? I’m embarrassed to admit that I had no idea until I researched it for this post. Can you believe that I’ve lived almost 30 years without knowing the number of states in a country that borders ours?

 

We went to El Monte Grill.  Though this white girl is pretty partial to mushy refried beans and basic taco salad (see my previous post about my mom’s idea of family dinner night), Keith likes “authentic Mexican food.”  So El Monte is no Tex-Mex place.  It specializes in Oaxacan food (Keith tells me that “Oaxaca” is pronounced “wa-haw-ka,” but I have to ask him to say it again every time–“Hey, how do you say that word that’s the name of that state in Mexico?”–to his credit, Keith always knows what I’m talking about).

 

Well, as we ate our celebratory meal at El Monte, Keith was completely distracted from the purpose of being there.  “So, we’re going to have a baby,” I kept starting, and Keith would say things like, “Yeah.  I can’t believe it.  I’m so…hey, these beans are really good!”  “Yes,” I would reply impatiently, “but a baby!  I mean our lives are going to change!” And Keith would respond, “So maybe it will be a boy.  Or maybe a girl…hey, sweetheart, you really need to try these beans!”

 

These are the moments in the “happily ever after” phase of marriage that the movies don’t show you.

 

“I didn’t know that beans could taste like that!” Keith said later of his meal at El Monte.  “I mean, I was distracted from the main dish by the thing that was supposed to be the side dish!” And so, according to him, the quest for flavorful, from-scratch, authentic, stand-alone beans began.

Though Keith normally loves carne asade tacos, the side of beans was more engrossing that night.

Our track record with beans has not been good, so I have to admire his gumption for trying again.  Six years before that night at El Monte, in our humble Bratislava apartment, we first attempted to cook beans, and it is a painful memory.

 

Though we both loved quesadillas and craved Mexican food, we could not find beans (see previous post about packaged foods in Slovakia looking different than packaged foods in the States).  But we vaguely remembered that, if one couldn’t find canned beans, there were these hard things one could soak and then cook, and then, voila! It was just as if one had opened a can of beans.

the original bean recipe from Keith’s stepmom

 

We got a recipe from Keith’s stepmom.  It involved soaking uncooked beans overnight in a pot of water, adding (actual) garlic (not garlic powder?!), and cooking them in boiling water with other things like onion and salt and pepper.

 

Our first attempt at beans went beyond mischance or misadventure.  In fact, it was an unmitigated disaster approaching calamity status.  Full of do-it-yourself spirit, we put the beans in a pot on the stove to soak.  Then, overwhelmed by the day-to-day responsibilities of teaching, we forgot that we were soaking beans.

 

A few days later, we started sniffing the air.  “Does it smell funny in here to you?” I asked Keith upon entering the apartment one day.  “Hmm.  Yeah.  Kind of like something died?” he responded.  “Like that,” I said. “Maybe it’s time to do some dishes.”  I’m not proud of this fact, but it’s true: dirty dishes occasionally pile up haphazardly on our counters.  For extended periods of time.  Until they start to look crusty or fuzzy or until we have company coming.  Gross, I know.

Our kitchen in the Bratislava apartment…note the dishes scattered about. This picture was not posed for blogging purposes.

So Keith manfully started in on the dishes.  I elected to clean the bathroom.  When possible, we try to clean at the same time.  It’s much easier to clean when you’re suffering through it with someone else.  Misery loves company and all that.

 

The unmitigated-disaster-approaching-calamity happened when Keith unthinkingly grabbed a dirty pot off the stove to carry it to the sink…except that it wasn’t just a dirty pot.  That was when we remembered the beans because they spilled, along with their fermenting bean juice, all over the stove, the wall behind the stove, and the floor under the stove.  And that was also when we pinpointed the source of the foul smell in our apartment.

 

I pretended to be very engrossed in bathroom cleaning, despite Keith’s curses and pointed mutters of, “Disgusting! Foul! Wow, this is a lot of cleaning!”  I don’t think I emerged from the bathroom until he directly requested my help in lifting the stove so that he could clean behind it.  After performing my part while breathing only through my mouth, I beat a hasty retreat back to the bathroom to give the toilet yet another scrub as he finished removing all traces of bean juice and scouring the offensive pot.  I refused to come out until he assured me there was no way I could be called into service to clean any bean-juice-drenched objects.  Yeah, I probably still owe him for that one.

 

We waited several months before our second attempt.  We tried making beans again a few times, but we never really got it down to a science or an art, either one.  Haunted by our foul failure, when we returned to the States we resumed our habit of buying beans in cans.  After several years of buying the store-brand cans of beans (they’re cheaper, you know, than the name brand ones), we finally decided that we really couldn’t stomach the canned bean-sauce taste any longer.  I guess people who want the convenience of canned beans without the canned-bean taste probably rinse and drain their beans.  We, however, didn’t think of that, and so our bean consumption dwindled.  We kept thinking we needed to pull out that old recipe and try again, but somehow we didn’t get around to it.

Beans, beans, the musical fruit…let’s eat beans at every meal!

 

That brings us to the fateful (in oh, so many ways) night of Keith’s revelation and the beginning of an intense phase of bean research.

 

Keith took copious notes and did some scientific experiments (when not cooking beans, Keith studies electrical engineering, so he has a very exacting approach to kitchen work, changing one variable at a time and eating on the results for several days to really take in the full impact of his work).  His version of Mexican beans is good.  Really good.  Like I said, I am a fan of the refried bean mush found at most Tex-Mex places.  However, I have set aside my predilections and trained my palate to appreciate the fruits of his labors.  His beans have good flavor.  When he doesn’t put too much chipotle in them (white girl, remember?), I like to eat them in burritos or tacos or on their own as a side–or a main–dish.  They’re also really healthy because they have other vegetables in them, too, AND they use up some of that garden produce that otherwise tends to slowly wilt its way from our refrigerator to our compost pile!

 

I am disseminating the results of his experimentation here free of charge (with his full permission), though Keith would add the disclaimer that, like any quest, this one is not (and probably never will be) finished.  He welcomes your input and recipe adjustments.  Feel free to add comments!

 

Step 1: Soak 2 and 1/2 cups of beans (any kind, really–pinto, black, red, or a mix) overnight.  This makes A LOT of beans, so prepare to freeze some or feed a family reunion.

Step 2: Next day, in the food processor, pulverize 3 carrots, 3 celery stalks, 3 cloves of garlic,  a bell pepper (any kind), and 1 onion –NOTE: we usually double these vegetables and use half of the resulting mixture to make marinara sauce a la Giada de Laaurentiis, a delicious and very easy marinara sauce that enables you to say impressively, “Why yes, I did make this from scratch.”  You can also use this veggie blend as part of salsa or chicken stock.  It’s very efficient!

Step 3: Sauté pulverized vegetables in a BIG sauce pan with bit of olive oil.  After the onions become translucent, add spices: 1 Tbsp. paprika, 1 Tbsp. cumin, 1 tsp of chipotle powder (though I like pretty much none…and Keith likes it with 1 Tbsp…it just depends on how hot you want your beans).  Sauté spices with vegetables 5-10 m. until very fragrant.

Step 4: Add all beans to the sauté and just enough of the bean water to cover the beans.  Bring to a hard boil and then turn down to a simmer.  Simmer several hours, stirring occasionally til beans are soft.

Step 5: At the end, add all other flavors: 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1 Tbsp. salt (to taste), diced jalapeño (if desired), 2 Tbsp. vinegar, and the juice of 1 lime or 1/4 c. orange juice.

 

If you’re interested in other bean recipes, I’m really digging this website called the Kitchn.  The title of their section on beans is “Beautiful Beans.”  What’s not to love about a website that glorifies the musical fruit?

 

 
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