Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cookin' Projects

It has been a big weekend of cooking projects around here, all of which I am excited to share with you.  Yesterday was a chilly, rainy wash-out; a perfect two-soup day, with some baking thrown in to benefit a visiting cookie monster (Baby J's Pops).  The first soup was actually more of a cassoulet than a soupy-soup, and was adapted from this recipe for Rancho Gordo's Giant White Lima Beans with Roasted Red Peppers by the Wednesday Chef.  We had Rancho Gordo Cannellini Beans on hand, and used those instead and it worked beautifully.  The end result was this big pot of beany love:

I really love this recipe.  It is quite healthy, with a minimum of chopping and prepping; perfect for a day with multiple projects going on in the kitchen.  And I can't say enough good things about Rancho Gordo beans. I know what you are thinking.  Special-ordered heirloom beans from Napa?  Is this still on the recession-friendly menu?  Well, yes.  Firstly, I am lucky to have a bean smuggler, in the form of my sister, who lives near the Ferry Building and can stock us up.  Some people go to California to fill up a suitcase with wine from Napa. My mom goes to visit my sister, and brings home a suitcase full of beans from Napa instead, and is kind enough to share the wealth.  But even if I did need to personally mail order these, I probably still would, as the cost-per-dish for a meal made with these beans is still pennies compared to a meat-based dinner, and the flavor and texture of their beans is unsurpassed.  Supporting a great company while creating high-fiber, high-flavor, low-fat, (comparatively) low-cost creations?  Yes, please.

For my baking project, I whipped up a big batch of Sweet Mama Jane's Cherry Garcia Cookies, named such for having the same flavor profile as the classic Ben & Jerry's flavor (another fab Vermont company we love), and in celebration of the late, great Jerry Garcia (RIP, Jerry... we love you, too).

1 cup softened soy margarine (or butter)
1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt
Scant ½  teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 ½ cups (or ½ bag) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened dried cherries, finely chopped
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Beat together margarine and sugars until creamy.
3. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well.
4. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg; mix well.
5. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips and chopped cherries; mix well.
6. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
7. Bake 10 minutes, until edges are golden.
Makes about 4 dozen.  Unless you get into this stuff, which is as good as the cookies themselves:
I like using soy margarine because many of my loved ones/cookie customers happen to be lactose intolerant, and I actually really like the flavor of Earth Balance Natural Spread for baking, but softened butter would work just as well.  These cookies are a definite crowd-pleaser.

My other soup is a Thai Squash soup which is on its way to turning out beautifully, but needs some flavor adjustments today.  Once I have the recipe perfected, I'll share it later on this week.  In the meantime, we have sports to watch this fine Sunday!  The husband is knee-deep in the Patriots game, to be followed by cheering on the University of Vermont hockey team to a season-opening victory.

Go Cats go!
Happy Sunday!

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