Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pretty Enough to Eat?

Photo of Green Bean and Nasturtium Salad With Tarragon Dressing

I found the above photo on foodistablog's photostream on flickr. Pretty, isn't it? I learned something interesting recently, and wanted to share it with you. A lot of people realize that some flowers are edible. Nasturtiums, like the ones shown above in that beautiful salad, dandelions, chamomile and lavender flowers are commonly used as food. There's a great article on What's Cooking America, which goes into detail which flowers are edible and how you can prepare and use them.

The interesting fact that I learned, which I mentioned above, is that morning glories are definitely NOT on the edible list!

Not that I had planned on eating my morning glories, I think they are too pretty to cut. This beautiful bloom is from my own garden, caught after a morning rain.

Eating morning glories can cause LSD-like hallucinations, which in itself doesn't sound all that horrible if that's your cup of tea, but the "...which leads to rapid heart rate, failure, and death" part didn't appeal to me!

The part that bugs me the most is that I can't find the site that listed all of those poisonous plants and the symptoms that accompany contact with them. Let's just say that I was attempting to look up what it was that I tried pulling out of my garden without gloves. The little spines that stuck my hand left my right hand feeling like it had been injected with novacaine for about 24 hours. A little alarming, but it didn't warrant a half-hour drive to the ER at 9pm that night. I took some Benedryl before bed, though!

Word to the wise: know which plants in your area are poisonous, and always wear gardening gloves!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mmm... Pot Roast with Potatoes

A good, tender, pot roast is really not so difficult. In fact, I like to make this when it gets cool outside, especially since it's not labor intensive at all.

First, heat (on high heat) about 1/4 to 1/3 cup oil in a big pot with a lid. I use Extra Virgin Olive Oil, since it's better for you and it will make your roast delicious. When the oil is very hot, carefully place the chuck roast into the pan, take care not to splatter the hot oil on yourself. I use either two large forks, or a large fork and a knife. You don't want to just flip this into the pan, you may get burned.

Season well with salt, garlic salt or powder, and black pepper. Sear the roast on high heat for a few minutes on each side, until dark brown. It may look close to burned, but it's not.

After the beef has been seared on both sides, add 1 cup of water. Cover and transfer from the stove top to a 350 degree oven for one to one and a half hours (depending on the size of the roast - I did an hour and a half for a 3-lb. chuck roast). After the first hour, add quartered potatoes, some carrots, and onion if you like. Stir those into the meat juices and return to the oven for 30-40 minutes I was really rushed with other things tonight, so I only added the potatoes and did the mixed veggies in the microwave.

When the timer goes off, check a potato to see if it's tender. If it is, you are done!
If you like gravy, transfer all of the meat and veggies from the pot to a large bowl or roaster pan and cover, leaving the meat juices in the original pan. Add about 1 1/2 cups water to the pan, blending the meat juices with the water. If the mixture does not taste strong enough, add a cube or two of beef boullion. The broth should be strong. In a separate bowl (or even better yet - a cup with a tight-fitting lid, combine 3 tablespoons flour and 1 cup of water, mixing or shaking until all the lumps are gone. Stir thoroughly into the broth. Heat to boiling, stiring constantly as to avoid lumps. Boil for at least one full minute. Gravy will thicken a little more as it cools. If you like mushrooms, add a can of cream of mushroom soup to the gravy - that will stretch it a little further. I never seem to make enough gravy for potatoes, my guys all like it a lot - so the cream soup is a handy trick I picked up from my mother-in-law.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

S'More Bars

I will admit, when the mixture for these bars was all blended together, I thought, "wow. This looks awful." The hot marshmallow goo melted the Hershey's chocolate and the whole mixture looked like a sticky brown mess. But when I tasted one, I no longer cared what it looked like. It was heaven! Not only that, it helped me use up the enormous quantity of marshmallows I purchased for my middle son's birthday party. Hardly anyone made s'mores, so what would our family do with all the leftovers? My husband hates anything marshmallow-related, even Rocky Road. Blasphemy! How can anyone hate Rocky Road???

S'More Bars

5-6 cups Kellogg's Crispix Cereal (1/2 a box)
1 pack graham crackers, crunched into 1" to 1/2" pieces
6 1.5-oz bars of Hershey's chocolate (an entire 6-bar multi pack), broken
into 1/2" to 1" pieces (reserve 1 broken up candy bar for the top of the bars)
2 bags of marshmallows, at least one of those bags should be mini's
1 stick of butter

Mix the cereal, graham cracker pieces, half a bag of mini-marshmallows
(reserve 1 cup of the minis for the top) and 5 of the broken candy bars (except
for one for the top) in a really big bowl.

Grease a large 9x13 pan with some of the butter.

Melt the rest of the butter on low to medium heat, just until melted. Add a
full bag of marshmallows and what's left of the other after putting half of it
into the cereal mix & holding out a cup for the topping. Mix the
marshmallows and butter together while they melt, blending until smooth.

First, coat your hands with a bit of butter or shortening - this will get
sticky. This next part should be done quickly, the marshmallow goo cools

Once the marshmallow is melted and gooey, pour over the cereal mix, mixing
together until everything is covered in marshmallow.

Dump the mix into the pan, pressing it down evenly. While still warm, top
with the remaining pieces of chocolate and marshmallow and then allow for at
least 30-40 minutes before serving. I would recommend refridgerating this one if
your kitchen is warm, so the chocolate doesn't get too melted on top.