Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. If you buy the cheese and pasta on sale, it actually costs less per serving than packaged noodles with cheese powder, cooks almost as quickly, tastes better and is a lot better for you.

2 – 3 C. pasta (macaroni, rotini, shells, etc.)
2 – 3 T. cooking oil
1 C. cold water
2 – 4 T. flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. ketchup
1/4 pound cheddar cheese, grated

Cook the pasta until almost tender, drain. Put a little cooking oil in the pot, add the pasta and toss to coat. Put the cold water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Mix the flour, salt and pepper with a little more cool water in a jar, mix in the ketchup, and add this mixture to the boiling water. Cook, stirring every few minutes, until thickened, add grated cheese (reserve some for the topping) and stir constantly until cheese has melted – don’t let the sauce burn! Stir most of the cheese sauce into the pasta to coat it evenly. Place pasta in a baking dish (glass is best) pour the rest of the cheese sauce over the top, sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese. Bake in a 350ºF oven for 20 – 30 minutes. Serve hot.
Hints: Use good olive oil or margarine to coat the pasta if you have it. Using fancy pasta like rotini, fusili or shells gives that “gourmet touch” for the same money (but most kids just love old fashioned macaroni).
Suggestions: Mix chopped tomatoes, green pepper, frozen vegetables into the pasta mix before placing in baking dish. Double the recipe and freeze individual or family portions for quick meals on busy nights.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Easy to make, Corned Beef and Cabbage is not only a gourmet treat, but is an honored tradition here in the Canadian Maritimes. We call it “boiled dinner” and substitute pickled pork hocks, necks or ribs, fresh beef or fresh fish for the corned beef. Honorable mention goes out to Dave Osborne, who requested this recipe from Gramma Willi. NOT for the cholesterol-shy!

1-2 pound piece of corned beef

4-5 liters of Water

2-3 lbs. potatoes, scrubbed or peeled, chopped into bite size pieces

3-5 large carrots, peeled and sliced into thick chunks

1 medium sized turnip, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces

1 medium cabbage, cored and cut into 8 equal portions

Fill a large cooking pot with water, add the corned beef, bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for an hour or two, until the meat is pretty much cooked. Cut the meat into nice sized chunks and return to the cooking water.

Add the carrots, turnip and potatoes, add water to cover if necessary. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to medium-low and cook 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are almost tender. Add the cabbage over top of everything, bring to a boil, and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, until the cabbage is done. This is a delicious, satisfying and hearty meal served with home made bannock or corn bread.

Tip: If you’re making a fish boiled dinner, cook the vegetables first (I’d leave out the cabbage); add the fish during the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking.

Money-Saving Hint: cut-price smoked meat or pastrami end-cuts work very well with this recipe and really save money! Cook them for a shorter time by adding all the meat and vegetables at once, bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour.

Apple Crumble

Rough Times Cookbook Recipes

This dessert smells and tastes like apple pie, but is a lot quicker and easier to make. It’s one of my standard contributions to pot luck dinners and “emergency” fancy dinners when unexpected hungry guests drop in.


Filling:
5-6 large apples, washed, cored and diced or thinly sliced
cinnamon and brown sugar to taste

Crumb topping mixture:
2 C. whole wheat flour
1 C. rolled oats
1-2 tsp. cinnamon, to taste
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4-1 1/2 C. brown sugar (depends on sweetness of the apples and your taste)
3/4-1 C margarine or butter

Lightly grease a regular sized cake pan or small casserole dish.
Mix the dry crumb topping ingredients really well with a fork in a large bowl. Cut in the margarine or butter with the fork and mix until crumbs are even sizes, not too large. Spread 1/3 of the crumb topping mixture on the bottom of the pan, press down with the fork; top with the chopped/sliced apples and sprinkle them lightly with a little cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar.
Add the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the apples, pressing lightly with the fork, especially in corners. Bake at 350ºF for 40 minutes to 1 hour (until it smells just right the apples are nice and soft and the topping is golden brown).
Serve as is or with whipped, thick or ice cream (Maritimers will probably enjoy a little canned milk on top.)

Hints: You can use white sugar if you have no brown; add a little extra cinnamon to improve the flavor… this makes a great breakfast in a bowl topped with yogurt or heated with warm milk. A great way to use up apples that are past their prime; no one will notice wrinkled skins or little bruises once the apples are all baked and smelling soooo good – I promise! This recipe is easy to double or triple.
Variations: You can vary this recipe by adding dried raisins, currants, fresh or dried cranberries, even frozen fruit like strawberries to the filling. Add flaked coconut, sunflower seeds or other nuts to the crumble topping for a nice texture, flavor and extra protein.

One Pot Meals

Rough Times Cookbook Recipes

Got a Crock Pot? Roast Pan? Casserole Dish? Since civilizations began, slow cooked, one pot meals have fed busy people with hungry bellies. Simple to prepare and made from almost any combination of staple foods, grains, vegetables, beans, meat, you can pretty much use whatever you’ve got. Here’s an example of a simple vegetable stew that can feed about 8. Use a bigger or smaller pot and more or less stuff to feed more or less people. Depending on the ingredients, this stew freezes quite well.

Simple Vegetarian Winter Stew

6-8 liters water or vegetable broth
3 C diced root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, turnip, parsnip, etc.)
onion and garlic to taste (imho – the more the better!)
1/2-1 C grains (rice, millet, barley)
1/2-1 1/2 C green, fresh, frozen or canned vegetables (cabbage, chard, spinach, tomatoes, corn, green or yellow beans)
2 C cooked “legumes” beans (e.g. lentils, kidney, romano, pinto, adzuki, black turtle, navy, soy, chickpeas)
Herbs and spices to taste (oregano, parsley, savory, thyme, lemon; see curry hint below)
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tsp. apple cider or white vinegar (to purify and add a nice tangy flavor. You can use the juice from pickles too!)
1 C mixture 1/2 milk or yogurt and 1/2 water

Put the grains in a big pot and bring to a boil. While you’re waiting, sauté or fry onions and garlic until soft; you can add your green veggies and sauté them for a few minutes. Add to the boiling pot of grains with vegetables, beans and your choice of herbs and spices.
Simmer on top of the stove for 2-5 hours, (or put in a crock pot all day/overnight). Stir once in a while to make sure that the food isn’t sticking to the pot and that there’s enough liquid. Add water/broth if necessary.
When everything is cooked and you’re almost ready to serve, adjust your spices, add the yogurt/milk and water mix, salt and pepper and heat through. Serve with hearty bread and a big pot of herb tea or cider!

Hints: This is especially good with curry spices (garam masala, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, mustard seed, ginger, mint) – warm the curry spices in the onion-garlic sauté to enhance the flavors. This recipe is a great for using up leftovers! Use a pressure cooker if you’ve got one to reduce cooking time and retain more vitamins in the food.
Vegan options: Instead of yogurt or dairy milk, use coconut milk with a root vegetable-based stew; most excellent with curry or Thai spices. Add some marinated firm tofu, lightly browned in a frying pan to increase protein and add really nice texture and body to this dish.
Lazy/Busy Day options: Prepare the ingredients the night before, store in the pot in the fridge; in the morning, add boiling water over everything, bring to a boil, then let simmer for hours/all day (my personal favorite technique!). Put the ingredients in a big roast pan and cook in the oven; add some extra water or broth so it doesn’t dry out.
Meat Lover’s option: add diced cooked (beef and chicken are nice) to replace 1/2 or all of the beans for protein… or use both for an extra-high protein meal.
Note: This recipe was added at the specific request of legendary Toronto activist Josephine Grey.

Simple & Easy Subversion for Making Positive Change

Gramma Willi’s Random Blogging

5 March 2009

Some pals asked what I’m doing to re-engineer the current systems, subvert it, or any efforts towards positive change. Here’s my answer:

I seek to be, provide and share examples and opportunities for the actual application of change, especially social, environmental and economic sustainability. The thinking that I rely on holds each person as responsible to the next seven generations, as in the famous quotation, “We do not own the earth, we borrow it from our children.” I also say, we borrow from Mother Earth too, we depend on her for everything.

Using these kinds of teachings, I can avoid “stinking thinking.” This means, in a nutshell, “less is more.” The less money and resources that are wasted or destroyed, the more that they are respected and wisely used, the better. The more ways to give back as much as you get, the better.

As an example, I try to always make purchases from businesses that are at least working towards zero environmental impact. Everyone needs to be “in the loop.” I commit acts of subversion in my public questions and statements to people that I make purchases from, e.g. “Have you got a product that is non-toxic?” “organic?” “fair trade?” “made from renewable resources?” If they don’t have what I’m looking for, I sometimes walk away, but more often, I stay and tell them why I won’t buy the inferior product. Quite often, the next time I visit the business, a change has been made … victory!!!

I believe that the combined purchasing power of ordinary people holds the greatest potential for change at this time in history. And so, I commit acts of subversion by letting people know how powerful they really are. Sometimes I do this in groups around kitchen tables, yard sales, campfires and coffee shops; my own family is not immune to my actions to subvert “stinking thinking”.

The purchasing power that ordinary people have is a great tool to help us to make changes for ourselves and work with other ordinary folks.

Lately, I’ve been checking out blogs. This also seems to have the potential for maximizing the gifts of many people concurrently, all at once and in harmony. I like that!

All My Relations