Chickpea Brown Rice Patties

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I’ve never been much of a recipe developer, especially the past few years, when I’ve tried to get away with as little thinking about mealtimes as possible. But yesterday I was feeling tired of cheese and bread and veggie burgers, so I resolved to make something new with what was in the pantry. The only “beans” I had were chickpeas, and I knew there was a 50/50 chance M would turn her nose up at them whole. So I came up with these little patties, which are a bit like milder falafel. She said, “Mmm, this is yummy!” — and F ate all of hers and wanted more (F is my awesome eater; M could take or leave food most of the time).

Chickpea and Brown Rice Patties

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 egg
6 Ritz crackers (= 1/4 cup crushed, could probably substitute bread crumbs)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
Oil for frying

You can make these without a food processor (use a potato masher to mash the chickpeas), but your patties will probably be chunkier and might not hold together as well.

1. Put the Ritz (or similar) crackers into a food processor and pulse until your have crumbs. Add the egg and pulse a few times until it’s nicely mixed in.

2. Add the chickpeas. Pulse until they’re broken up but not completely mush. You should still see large chunks of chickpeas.

3. Add the brown rice, salt, and seasonings. You could definitely up the amounts or kinds of seasonings, if you like. I thought these were perfect for kids, though. Pulse until all ingredients are mostly mixed together but the rice hasn’t become completely puréed. Turn the mixture out into a bowl and finish mixing by hand, so you can retain some texture (just a few strong turns with a spatula should do it).

4. Pour vegetable oil (or preferred frying oil) into a small frying pan, about 1/4″ deep. I’m guessing you could also deep-fry these, and you could probably bake or sauté them, but I haven’t tried any of those. Heat it over medium to a suitable frying temp. (I just waited until a small drop of the mixture started sizzling appropriately.)

5. Make balls of about 1-2Tbsp and flatten them slightly. I used a cookie scoop that’s about 1.5Tbsp, and it was perfect. Fry a few at a time, for 2-3min per side. Place on a paper towel after frying, to absorb the extra oil.

6. Eat, eat, eat! They were really good dipped in sour cream (with chives from the garden), but F says you can eat them as-is, as fast as possible.

Yogurt

It recently came to my attention that there are yogurts with >4% milk fat. I think 4% is pretty generally considered to be “whole milk” yogurt, and of course whole milk yogurt is 100x better than low- or non-fat yogurt — so how awesome must this fabled 8-10% yogurt be? In our small town, it’s really lucky to find 4% yogurt, never mind stuff that’s also gelatin-free AND in a flavor you actually want to eat (I’m looking at you, coffee-flavored Greek yogurt). AND organic? Keep dreaming!

So I pulled out my two 1970s Salton yogurt makers and got to work. I used five cups of whole milk and two cups of whipping cream, and I’m not certain I’m doing the math right, but I think that works out to ~12% milk fat. Yes, please! Making yogurt is a bit of a process, but not that complicated — you have to heat the milk up to 190˚F to re-pasteurize it, then cool it back down to 110˚F, stir in the starter culture (I always just use a small container of plain yogurt from the store, or ~6oz from a previous batch of homemade), then put it in the yogurt maker for 6-8hrs.

M “helped” me make this batch (i.e., she stirred the milk on the stove until she realized it wasn’t going to turn into yogurt RIGHT NOW), and she really likes “the yogurt WE made”. It’s delicious. I stir in a spoonful of strawberry jam, so it’s creamy and just sweet enough. When we tried the first cup, M declared it “really good” (after every bite), and F actually started crying when it was gone. Kid and baby approved!

Kid Food

M finishing up two of her favorite foods: tofu and sweet potatoes. I want to say I was out of college before I’d even tried either of them. I can’t remember with tofu (I wasn’t a very “good” vegetarian in college, in terms of eating a complete and varied diet), and I certainly would have had access to sweet potatoes at holidays, but I was a pretty picky eater. So it’s funny to me that M loves them so much at age three. I’ve come to the conclusion, based on my own two girls and what friends have told me about their babies, that all kids like tofu. Mine would eat it every day! Tempeh, too, although that’s harder to find around here.

So I wonder what M will try for the first time in her twenties. Maybe a hamburger*, I guess!

*I don’t know many adults who were raised vegetarian, but I think all of the ones I’ve met have actually become vegan once they were grown. So maybe M will go all-lentil and wonder why I fed her so much cheese as a child.

Lately

— I’m going through the 30-day device detox from The Power of Off, and apparently that means all my extra time is being directed toward the kitchen. I saved up enough eggs (we’re currently getting 1-2 a day, and I like to keep an “egg buffer”, so we never run out) to make pasta on Sunday. M was in charge of putting the dough into the extruder — you have to feed it little pieces every so often. I did the cutting and laying out to dry. I used most of the macaroni noodles to make a big batch of mac ‘n’ cheese (this basic recipe never fails), and the girls and I ate it up in two days. The baby can really put away some noodles!

— I took some sliced apples (from our neighbors’ trees) out of the freezer to make a pie. It was originally going to be apple-blackberry, but when the blackberries thawed, they smelled and tasted a little… ferment-y? So I gave them to the chickens instead. The pie came out super pretty, but I decided it NEEDED custard to be truly A+.

— I also made beans and rice, even though since it has salsa (aka pieces of things) in it, I wasn’t sure it M would eat it. But she did! F cleaned her plate, too. Success.

— On Monday, I gave M a new haircut. A bob. M looks good in anything, so of course she’s super adorable with her new, shorter hair. I can’t believe how she looks like a little… PERSON now, with her real haircut. She’s pretty proud. And after I clipped her fingernails yesterday, I asked if she wanted me to paint them. I never have before, and I think I’ve only painted mine once since she was born (when she was really little), so it was a new concept for her. But what’s not to love about making part of your body PINK, with GLITTER? She held perfectly still and didn’t smudge them even a little. And after we did her fingers, she decided her toes needed to be painted, too. She’s such a grown-up kid now!

Food Stuffs

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After more than a year of seriously contemplating it, I finally bought a deep fryer. This one. (It was $80 when I bought it — looks like the price has gone up!) I had thought about getting a small, cheap one, but I wanted it to be dependable, and I realized that soon enough there will be three of us to cook for — and that’s when it’s just me and the girls. I’ve used the fryer twice so far, and I’m really happy with it. It feels safe (from a hot oil standpoint), cooks the food well, and the filter and oil storage box are awesome. Once that oil is cleaned up, the frying smell dissipates quickly.

I made donuts to start — how could I not? They were delicious fresh, but I won’t make that recipe again. The dough was a little too light and yeasty, so it was a perfect sponge for the oil. I guess I’ll just have to try recipe after recipe, donut after donut, until I get it right. SIGH.

Yesterday, I made hand-cut fries, following these instructions. Perfection! It’s really satisfying and magical-feeling to totally nail (in my humble opinion) something on the first try, and those fries couldn’t have gotten any better. If you ask me.

I also made ice cream yesterday, and with the leftover egg whites, I baked an angel food cake. We’re getting fewer eggs these days — two of my hens are molting, and one is broody, so only two are laying. But as long as I don’t give in to M’s request to make scrambled eggs EVERY morning, I can save up enough for treats. This is my go-to ice cream recipe. I’ve made it several times now, in several flavors, and it’s been perfect every time. I think the trick (as with so many things) is just to not skimp on the good stuff. Need the cream, need the sugar, need all those egg yolks. I churned in some broken Oreo pieces right before the ice cream was done, so it’s cookies and (real) cream. M approves! The angel food is an older Betty Crocker recipe — no need to reinvent the wheel. It’s just impossibly fluffy. Those chickens do good work.

Junior Noodler

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I’m pretty sure there’s a box of spaghetti in the pantry that’s been there for a year or two. Same goes for whatever other dried pasta is in there. I almost never cook it. Yet, since I started making fresh pasta, we’ve gone through THAT at an astonishing pace. It’s not even the same kind of food, somehow. (“Somehow” probably = eggs.) I’ll make a batch or two of noodles, freeze them, and then they’re gone before I know it.

I let M help make spaghetti today. I’ve always made pasta while she’s distracted by something else — when I make macaroni noodles, for example, it always feels just a little stressful, making sure to cut them at the right point and then trying to stop them all sticking together. And forget about letting a child near a motorized pasta ROLLER. It makes me a little light-headed just to think of tiny fingers near that thing. But the extruder is safe enough, with adult supervision, and the spaghetti always comes out perfectly.

M was so excited to help! She had some real flair when it came to pitching the dough balls into the hopper — for some reason, I’d just been dropping them in, like a boring person. And watching the noodles come out is good entertainment if you’re two and a half. (Or, let’s be honest, if you’re a grown adult.) We wound up with plenty of spaghetti for the freezer, and I cooked some up — with pesto and broccoli — for our dinner. She loves those noodles!

Recent Food Stuff

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1. I used the bread machine to make a batch of pizza dough (enough for three crusts — I froze two of them). Then I made a pizza with homegrown/homemade tomato sauce and four cheeses. Then we ate it. It was as good as it looks!

2. I decided it’s time to start making yogurt again, since it’s so hard to find (unsweetened) organic yogurt close to home. I used my two thrifted Salton yogurt makers, like usual, but this time I used whole milk (I think I’ve done 1% in the past), and when I was heating the yogurt, I kept it at 190˚F for twenty minutes before cooling it to add the culture. One or both of those things resulted in much thicker yogurt, with no whey separation. Perfect!

3. Then I made a sauce/compote with organic, frozen strawberries and honey — to put in the yogurt. Not bad! If I buy gallons of berries when they’re locally in season, then I can freeze them and make this regularly.

4. And speaking of local, I feel like I hit the jackpot in my eat-local ‘research’ (I put that in quotes because it wasn’t so much research as it was just plain old shopping at the co-op). I belong to a co-op that isn’t SUPER close (about an hour away), but it’s somewhere we occasionally run errands, and I really like the store. And they carry some products by Sunrise Flour Mill — which turns out to be about 45 minutes away from where we live (and not far from the co-op). Local, organic, and with an emphasis on heritage grains? Perfect! I didn’t realize until looking up their website that they have such a variety of products — I’ll have to track those down. For now, I bought some of the refined wheat flour, to see how it compares to the white bread flour I’ve been buying. SO excited to be able to make super local pasta (with eggs from the hens, of course), too!

Christmastime

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Happy Christmas to everybody who celebrated it (and to those who didn’t, in case you just like joining in on happy wishes). Even though I didn’t do much besides making a cheese log and driving down to my parents’ house, it still felt like quite an exhausting Christmas Eve and Day. M had been eagerly anticipating Christmas for quite a while, and she had a blast opening all her presents. She was disappointed to see that Grandma and Grandpa’s Christmas tree didn’t have a star at the top, which she thinks is most of the point of having a tree inside, I guess.

Not to make any of my other presents feel bad, but I think my favorite is the set of pasta roller/cutter attachments Rob gave me for my Kitchenaid stand mixer. Super fun and satisfying! I tested it out yesterday and made a batch of noodles — some spaghetti, some fettuccine. I’d been dreaming of homemade pasta for a while (especially since it uses up some of the chickens’ eggs!), and it was definitely worth the wait and the ‘work’. (It’s not that much work when there’s electricity involved.) I haven’t bought a single loaf of bread since we got our bread maker, so here’s hoping I’ll never buy noodles again, either!

The chickens had less of an exciting Christmas, since they were locked up while we were away, and then it snowed a fair bit yesterday. I opened their pop door to let them out into their run (which is covered and partially sheltered), and they each took a turn standing in the doorway, looking out at the snow and muttering about the weather before going back inside. So my free-rangers are going a little stir-crazy. I’ve been bringing them ‘fancy’ salads — really just our scraps or produce that’s on its way out, but I try to toss in whatever I think they’d like, and they always seem to appreciate it.

So happy holidays! Time to brace for 2016!