Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Smooth--Real Smooth

A friend of mine, whose counter space measures in the acres, recently bought one of those high-end, fancy-dancy blenders that can purée into baby-food-worthy smoothness everything from kale to the living room sofa. And she puts it to good use, whipping up daily concoctions to dose her family.

Now, I love a good smoothie as much as the next person, and having spent a few months working in a juice bar, I got to indulge myself with new flavors and combinations of ingredients which I sadly cannot reproduce at home. Not because I couldn't reconstruct them, but because I don't have the apparatus to deconstruct some of the tougher, more fibrous ingredients.

Here's my trusty blender, circa 1950, I'm sure. Part of Oster's If-It-Ain't-Broke-Don't-Fix-It line.

Somehow "Osterize" never caught on as a synonym for "blend"
If you don't throw in celery, kale, or gummy items, this sort of home appliance does the trick.

Witness this morning's smoothie offering. I had one over-ripe banana, a leftover half-avocado, some yogurt, and some frozen berries:

I know I've told you about making my own yogurt before, but I haven't had the time lately. So sue me.

Throw all that into the Osterizer, along with enough milk periodically to smooth it out.

Another one of my award-winning photos. But the one without the flash looked like mysterious figures in a dark nightclub.
Blend, stop, stir and smash. Blend, stop, stir and smash. And voilà!

Okay, so it was still too thick. One daughter even added homemade granola to the top and ate it as a parfait. But it was tasty tasty!

If you're part of the low-end blender crowd, here are some tips I've learned from experience:

  • Boost protein with avocado (can't taste it, really), yogurt, peanut butter, or almond butter;
  • Pomegranate "seeds" are awful! They don't add flavor--just seeds big enough that you can spit them out like we used to do with watermelon;
  • Frozen berries are awesome, but there's a fair amount of seed chewing;
  • Frozen berries do mask green color, however, like when you've added avocado and spinach and don't want your consumers to know;
  • For a little sweetness, try honey or maple syrup or even almond extract;
  • The all-fruit smoothie days are over--even my vegetable-averse son will tolerate the avocado, a little cucumber, and even some fresh herbs. If you happened to have cooked carrot or a wee bit of cooked butternut squash, I bet that could be snuck in, no prob.
I'll keep the meantime, cheers!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Make Your Own Breakfast Sausage

I have a discovery for you, necessity being the mother of invention.

Since my husband was out of town this week, I thought I'd take advantage of the situation and serve the infamous "breakfast for dinner" which my kids like and he doesn't.

The only problem? I didn't have any bacon or breakfast sausage, and I was determined not to go to the store. The solution? What else--the Internet! It took all of one minute to investigate three different recipes and decide which one I had all the ingredients for. (And if you'd like to see the original recipe, which requires two pounds of ground pork, it's right here. Otherwise, for my one-pound version, keep reading.)

Somehow it never occurred to me that you could whip up your own sausage and skip the package of Jimmy Dean, the ingredients of which are as follows:


Not too shabby, if you pay no attention the items which make up less than 2% of the total.

Homemade, on the other hand, contains one package of Skagit River Ranch ground pork and less than 2% of the following:

We are the 2%

You measure the goodies and mix them with the pork.

Form the mixture into patties of whatever size you like.

Note the non-uniform shape that screams "homemade"!

Fry the patties a few minutes on each side.

And serve them up with your other favorite breakfast items. In our case it was eggs scrambled in butter and pancakes made with whole wheat pastry flour. (We did have some celery and carrot sticks on the side, not in keeping with the breakfast theme but rather with the you-should-always-have-fruits-and-vegetables theme.)

Which leaves just one question to be decided: to ketchup or not to ketchup?

Homemade Breakfast Sausage Patties
(serves 4)

1 lb quality ground pork
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp salt
pinch dried marjoram or oregano
1 tsp brown sugar
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
dash of ground cloves

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Then shape into patties. 

Heat skillet over medium. Add patties and cook on one side without disturbing for 4-5 minutes. Flip and cook another few minutes on the other side. Drain on paper towel.

Serve hot or keep warm in a 200F oven while you make the pancakes and eggs!