Monday, July 25, 2005

Ice Cream Freezers

Most of us remember cranking ice cream by hand in Mom and Dad’s or Grandma’s old ice cream freezer. We’d whine and complain about how long it was taking, how hot we were, why we were doing more cranking than our younger siblings. Oh. Wait. That may have just been me.

I doubt it, though.

Purists still say that the old hand-crank freezers make the best ice cream. The reasoning goes that a human can sense when the ice cream is starting to thicken and respond by speeding up the crank. Faster cranking whips more air into the ice cream, giving it a nicer texture.
Hand-crank makers are still available, and you can get a hand-crafted machine with a pine bucket and stainless steel blades from the White Mountain Freezer company (now owned by Rival) for $150-$200. But most of us go for the electric models now. Electric crank models that are similar to the old bucket models run from $20-$40 and can make 4-6 quarts of ice cream. I have one of these and I break it out when I want to make ice cream for a crowd. But for ice cream for the family on a Friday night, I use my Rival 1 1/2-quart maker. The freezer canister has a gel in it that freezes the ice cream without ice. It lives in the deep freeze at my house. When I get the urge to make a batch of ice cream, I mix up the ingredients, take the canister from the freezer, snap on the electric motor unit and in about 15 minutes I have ice cream. It makes a nice, small amount.

Today’s electric ice cream freezers make homemade ice cream a snap. But if you find yourself missing the whining of kids during the freezing process (hey, someone might!), try this recipe for “Kick the Can Ice Cream:”

Kick the Can Ice Cream

A couple of kids, bored ones work best
1 empty 1-pound coffee can, with lid
1 empty 3-pound coffee can, with lid
Masking or Duct Tape
Crushed Ice
3/4 cup salt
3/4 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Flavoring, if you choose, like chocolate or strawberry syrup

Mix the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and flavoring together in the small coffee can. Put the lid on and tape it shut. Place the small can inside the larger can. Pack crushed ice around it. Pour the salt all around on the ice. Put the lid on the can and tape it shut. Have the two bored kids roll the can back and forth with their feet for 10-15 minutes.

This recipe is from
Information on ice cream freezers from Alton Brown’s “Gear for Your Kitchen”, Steward, Tabori & Chang, 2003.

For The Lancaster News

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Dinner on the Grill

Dinner on the Grill
Originally uploaded by
Food Fanatic.

Steak on the grill is one thing. But steak on a campfire is an entirely different experience. You can get that campfire taste by using hardwood charcoal, but sitting around the campfire in lawn chairs, watching your supper cook over an open fire really adds to your meal.

The corn was wonderful. It's recommended that you soak it in water for a while before grilling it, but we found just putting it directly on the grill with the husks peeled back worked just great. And the little fires that burned away the husks were entertaining, too.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Stick to Your Own Backyard

Actually, I do like to travel. But when it comes to food, I find it's best to stay home. I mean that in more than one sense of the word. No, I am not stuck in a rut, thinking I have to eat all one kind of cuisine. I like to try foods from all over the world. I learned that from my mother. And no, I am not necessarily thinking I have to eat at home all the time, never going out to eat at restaurants.

But the fact of the matter is, most of the time the best food I have is that which I prepare myself. And furthermore, the best food I have is locally grown. And to go even further, I really do think it's best to eat what's in season.

That said, here is my conundrum: tomatoes and okra just hit their stride in South Carolina, where I live. What did I do? Did I rush out and get as much of it as I could and then start preserving it for the winter, stuffing as much down my gullet along the way? No! I left on a trip to Minnesota!

Here in Minnesota the tomatoes are still green and very hard. And there is very little okra grown here. It will start coming in at about the time I leave for South Carolina, where the tomatoes will be pretty much done for the year.

So, I'm here for two weeks, feeling kind of bad about missing all that tomato and okra bounty. I am, however, assuaging my grief with lots of fresh sweet corn.

So folks, the posts here will be a bit sporadic for the next couple of weeks. I thought about posting about the places where I'll be eating, but decided against it. I've decided that this food blog is about home cooking, not restaurant cooking. To me, the best food blogs are photos and stories about home cooking efforts. I'll put "eating out" stuff on the other blog: Gone to Carolina, where I'll be posting nearly every day.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Heart Attack on a Plate

Originally uploaded by
Food Fanatic.
Mmmmm! Okra, rolled in cornmeal and fried in bacon grease. It gave my Zocor prescription a real workout!

The okra came in just days before we left for Minnesota. I had to snag a small amount to snack on before leaving.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Salmon on a Plank

Salmon on a Plank
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

Marinated Teriyaki Salmon Cooked on a Cedar Plank

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced or 1 tablespoon jarred minced garlic
1 lime, sliced
10 oz teriyaki sauce
2 lbs salmon fillets
4 green onions, chopped

3 hours before: stir together garlic, teriyaki sauce and lime. Marinate salmon in sauce. Soak a cedar plank (14x7x1”) in water.

When you are ready to cook, heat the grill to medium-high. Remove the salmon from the marinade and discard the marinade. Remove cedar plank from water and coat the cooking side with oil.
Place the plank on the grill directly over the coals. Place the salmon on top of the plank (if your salmon has the skin still on, place it skin side up to prevent curling) and cover the grill. Cook until the salmon is almost done, when the all but the very center has turned opaque, approximately 10 minutes. Remove the salmon from the plank and place directly on top of the grill grates, turning after 2 minutes and finishing when the center just turns opaque.
Adapted from Aldi’s Fresh, Fun & Easy” cook booklet.

More about Plank Cooking

Using wood planks to cook food is a method that has been around for centuries. Early Native American cooks used wood planks over an open fire to naturally season fish and game. Today this method is employed by home cooks and gourmet chefs alike.
Planks for cooking can be made from cedar, alder, or even recycled oak wine barrels. They can be made at home by the household handyperson or purchased in gourmet cooking supply stores or on the internet. One can even use cedar shingles purchased at a building supply store!
Foods prepared on planks need not be limited to fish and the cooking appliance doesn’t necessarily have to be an outdoor grill. Indeed, plank cooking is an excellent way to experiment with various methods and foods.

To get you started, here are a few tips:
· Always soak your plank in water until fully saturated before using. Two to three hours is a good rule of thumb.
· A little coating of oil on the cooking surface will help prevent sticking, but don’t get oil on the underside, or you could have trouble with flare-ups.
· If you use a thin plank, such as a shingle, have a water bottle handy and don’t walk away. Even properly soaked, a plank will catch fire if the heat is too hot or the plank is too close to the flame. · If you decide to cook on a plank in the oven, stick with the thicker planks and keep the oven temperature to 350 degrees or less.
· After use, if your plank has not burned too much, clean it with hot water (no soap) and place back on a 350 degree grill or in the oven for 15 minutes.
Plank cooking is a great way to impart flavor to foods with minimal fuss. The dishwashers of the family will like them too, as clean-up is easy and the food can even be served right on the plank.

Surf the internet for recipes and methods and “play with your food!”
Information for this article was seasoned with information from

For The Lancaster News


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Peach Ice Cream

Originally uploaded by
Food Fanatic.

I've decided I just don't like photographing peaches. The color just never seems to come out!

I've made this ice cream twice now. With my little Rival Electric Ice Cream Maker(1/5 qt capacity), making ice cream is an easy, last-minute dessert decision.

1 1/2 cup 1% milk
3/4 cup sugar
dash salt
1 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup half n half
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 or 4 peaches

Combine 1% milk, sugar and salt. Stir with a wire whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in 2% milk, half n half and vanilla. Pour into freezer and begin freezing process.

Meanwhile, peel, pit and chop peaches. Mash them with a potato masher or, if you prefer no chunks in the ice cream, puree them in a food processor or blender.

When the ice cream is just about done, pour in the peaches. Continue freezing until the ice cream is the consistency recommended by the freezer manufacturer.

Pull out the freezer paddle, tamp down the ice cream with a spoon, loosely cover, and place the freezer into your refrigerator-freezer for 30 minutes or so.

Of course you can make a richer version of this ice cream subbing whole milk for the 2%, half n half for the 1% and whipping cream for the half n half. Because I could not find organic whipping cream up until 2 days ago, I started making this lower fat version. I'm not sure whether we'd even like the full fat version anymore.


Monday, July 11, 2005

Hot Sausage & 3 Peppers

Originally uploaded by
Food Fanatic.
The hardest part about this meal was finding hot italian turkey sausage. In fact, I never did. The grocery stores by me carry italian turkey sausage, but it was sweet, not hot.
So this meal was made with pork sausages.

3 pounds red potatoes, quartered
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 hot italian turkey sausages (I had 5 in my package)
3 bell peppers, cut into strips (red, yellow, orange)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Preheat oven to 375.
Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Toss to coat. Bake for 40 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally.

While the potatoes cook, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Pierce the sausages several times and add to the pan. Cook 5 minutes or until lightly brown. Remove from pan.

Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in the pan. Add bell peppers; saute 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; saute 1 minute. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, vinegar, rosemary and crushed red pepper. Return the sausages to the pan; cover and cook over medium-low heat until the sausages are done at 175 degrees, approximately 15 minutes.

From "Cooking Light" magazine, November, 2004. I served this with swiss chard sauteed in garlic-infused oil.


Saturday, July 09, 2005

Green Beans in Butter

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.
Sometimes you just have to treat yourself to a lot of butter in a dish. Fresh green beans from the farm are perfect for this.

Just snap the ends off and lay the beans in a skillet. Drop in a few pieces of butter, maybe a garlic clove or two and some onion. Drop the lid on and let the beans cook at a low temperature for a while. Just until they are al dente.

I do have to say, however, that if you get hooked on this, you can make it a bit healthier by using a flavored olive oil instead of butter.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Turned Chicken

Originally uploaded by
Food Fanatic.

This is one of my favorite ways to cook chicken. The other favorite is roasting a butterflied bird at 500 degrees. I'll show you that next time I do it.
The "turned" method of cooking a whole bird is one I found in The All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking. I like it because the breast is still moist when I'm done.
This particular bird is a compilation of two recipes in Joy. The other recipe is called "Roasted Chicken with Herbs and Garlic." Here's what you do:

1 whole chicken (4 to 7 pounds)
2 tsps minced fresh rosemary or thyme (or 3/4 tsps dried)
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 to 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Mix together the rest of the ingredients. Loosen the skin on the breast and thighs and rub the herb mixture between the skin and meat.
Position the chicken on its side on a rack. You'll have a leg facing up. If your rack is flat, prop the bird up on balls of foil.
Roast for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and turn the bird over so the other leg is up. Roast another 25 minutes. Take the bird's temperature. You are looking for 175 degrees in the thigh and 165 in the breast. Keep checking the temp and flipping the bird back and forth every 20 minutes until you hit those temps. This bird was about 6 pounds, so it really took about 1 1/2 hours total to cook, so I flipped it 3 times altogether. Once you hit your target temp, remove from the oven and rest. Carryover cooking should get that temp to the suggested 180 for dark meat and 170 for white.

For The Lancaster News


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Peach Varieties and Uses

Before I moved to the southeast, I thought a peach was a peach was a peach. And in Minnesota they all seemed to come from California or Chile. They were hard to buy because they’d look great in the grocery store but invariably be dry or tasteless when I got them home. To be honest, I probably bought only about a dozen peaches in my life before moving to South Carolina. Now I live just “up the road a piece” from Springs Farm. I can go pick peaches myself or just stop in and buy a basket of fresh-picked peaches by the basket.
But what really has stunned me is the number of varieties of peaches and nectarines. Springs Farm of Fort Mill grows and sells 29 varieties of peaches and nectarines from June 1 to September 1. When you go to one of their farm stands, you can request a card that shows the variety names and when they are expected to be ripe.
Generally speaking, peach varieties are sorted into three different categories: clingstone, freestone, and semi-free. Clingstone peach flesh adheres to the pit; freestone fruit breaks away from it easily. Semi-free is a happy medium. Clingstone peaches tend to be best for jams, jellies and pickling. Freestone peaches are great for just eating fresh, freezing and using in recipes. Semi-free are good for all uses.

Besides yellow-fleshed peaches, there are white peaches and nectarines to consider. They tend to be sweeter than yellow ones, but the flavor is more delicate. Be careful using them in recipes. They can be easily overpowered if used in recipes with other strong flavors. Last summer I ruined a batch of organic white peaches by using Mexican vanilla with them in peach ice cream. Next time I’ll stick with a non-Mexican vanilla, and I may halve the amount, as well.
Place firm peaches on the counter for a day or two to ripen. You can hurry them along by putting them in a brown paper bag, but check them every few hours because they can go bad quickly. Once they are ripe, peaches can be moved to the refrigerator, where they will keep for about a week. Sliced peaches can be kept from browning by sprinkling them lightly with Fruit Fresh®, which can be found in your grocer’s canning section.

Springs Farm Peach Stand on Highway 160 and 21 Bypass, and their Farm Market on Springfield Parkway are open seven days a week. The Farm Market is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sundays. The Peach Stand is open until 9 p.m. Sunday though Friday and until 10 p.m. on Saturday. Opening hours vary. Call them at 803.547.7563. They also have a website with internet mail order available. Their address is They do a fantastic job packing peaches for shipping.
Now that I’m a Carolinian, I can definitely agree with author George du Maurier, who said “An apple is an excellent thing, until you have tried a peach.”

Information for this article was harvested from, the website for Dickey Farms of Musella, GA.

For The Lancaster News


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Peach Yogurt Freeze

We've been having a lot of these after supper instead of ice cream. The recipe says it serves 4, which is only about 1/2 cup per person. Weight Watchers would like that, but the average person really wants about 3 servings, which is what is in this glass.

I have had a bit of trouble getting the frozen peaches to process. I found it works better to let them soften a tiny bit before processing.

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

1 lb fresh or frozen unsweetened peaches
1/2 tsp vitam C powder or Fruit Fresh
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt

If using fresh peaches, remove their skins, pit, and cut into 1-inch chunks. Place them on a cookie sheet and sprinkle them with vitamin C or Fruit Fresh. Freeze until firm.

About 15 minutes before serving, remove the peaches from the freezer. Combine with sugar in a food processor. Process until finely chopped. Taste and adjust sugar. With the machine running, add vanilla and yogurt. Continue processing until smooth and fluffy. Serve.

From Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook


Friday, July 01, 2005

Spaghetti with Lemon Butter & Shredded Zucchini

The other night I made this again and used yellow summer squash instead of zucchini. I doubled the squash and, at the request of 10-year old Taylor, dropped a bit of the lemon zest. He felt the last batch was "too lemon-ey." Using yellow squash instead of green definitely lowered the eye appeal of the dish, but the results were pure nirvana. I had the rest for breakfast the next day. I like how quickly this recipe goes together, the fact that it uses up some of that ubiquitous yellow squash, and that it's easy to get my kids to eat it, since it's basically buttery noodles.

12 ounces spaghetti, spaghettini, or vermicelli

4 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 small or 1 medium (about 6 ounces) trimmed and shredded zucchini

Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, to taste

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente, or firm to the bite, 7 to 10 minutes; drain.

Meanwhile, press excess liquid from shredded zucchini. Melt butter in a skillet over low heat. Stir in zucchini. Heat, stirring, until the zucchini is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and juice; toss with the hot pasta. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper and a little red pepper, if desired. Serve.

Adapted from “365 Ways to Cook Pasta” by Marie Simmons, Harper & Row, 1988

For The Lancaster News