The Prairie Homestead Cookbook, a cookbook review

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I received a review copy of The Prairie Homestead Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Heritage Cooking in Any Kitchen by Jill Winger.  By name alone, I was expecting a lot of comfort food recipes just because that’s what I tend to think of when I think of stereotypical American cooking. And while there are comfort food recipe in the book, I feel like the soul of this book is more about cooking building blocks, and taking the DIY route in the kitchen.

The book is divided into these chapters:

  • Country Breakfasts
  • Hearty Mains
  • Farm-Style Sides
  • Home Bakery
  • Old-Fashioned Sweets
  • Homestead Sips
  • Prairie Pantry Staples
  • Herbs and Veggies
  • Eggs, Milk, and Meat
  • Stocking the Larder

 

Here are some recipes that you can look forward to:

  • Baked Eggs with Cream and Chives
  • Homemade Bacon
  • Homemade Chorizo
  • Old-Fashioned Sausage Gravy
  • Wyoming Burger
  • Cheddar and Herb Meatloaf
  • Saucy Spiced Beef and Onions
  • Old Homestead Pie
  • Chicken Poblano Chowder
  • Parmesan Roasted Cabbage Steaks
  • Herbed Crescent Rolls
  • Sourdough Crackers
  • Old-Fashioned Gingerbread with Caramel Sauce

 

The Herbs and Veggies, and the Eggs, Milk, and Meat chapters of the cookbook are the homesteading chapters, chapters which I wasn’t expecting at all.  Herbs and Veggies are pretty much what you might expect. It’s an introduction to gardening outdoors, more with a focus on raised beds. I basically live in a city with very little land space so I don’t have much use for information that isn’t about container gardening.  The chapter finishes up with a vegetable growing guide, covering the most conventional vegetables that you’d find consumed in North America.

The only information in the Herbs and Veggies chapter that I personally found worthwhile is the homemade organic garden spray recipe.  It makes me willing to try growing kale again (which is pretty easy… until it’s infested with bugs which also happens pretty easily).

The Eggs, Milk, and Meat chapter is about raising chickens, cows, and goats.  While I could technically raise chickens where I live, I’m really not about to.  (Let’s be honest. I don’t even own house pets because I’m cheap and lazy that way.)  Nevermind cows and goats for a city girl like me. Since I have zero experience with raising livestock, I will be fair and refrain from making any comments or critiques. I don’t know how useful the provided information is, and I probably never will.

It was the homesteading chapters that I saw first when I first flipped through this book.  I doubted how much this book would be useful to me. But the recipes? Now that I’ve had time to ruminate over the rest of the book, I think the recipes themselves are useful to have.

I made the creamy tomato garlic soup recipe as my inaugural recipe.  As the warm weather eases into New England, I am suddenly hankering for soups and all things slow cooked.  I want to enjoy all of it as much as I can before it gets too hot to cook much of anything.

I was really happy with my results.  It’s a very rich tomato soup. The ingredients are: butter, onion, garlic, all purpose flour, a bit of sugar, dried basil, sea salt, black pepper, chicken stock, fresh/home-canned/commercial canned tomatoes, heavy cream, and cheese for garnish.  Swap the heavy cream with evaporated milk, and you have a very pantry friendly recipe. It’s almost too rich for me, so I’m thinking about swapping some of the butter for olive oil too. But the flavor and texture is good and comforting.

I thought I’d put the book down once I was done with my recipe test and move onto my ever-growing backlog of “to try” recipes.  But there’s something to be said about a cookbook with a lot of basic recipes, because I write this review, I have her simple roast chicken (using the slow cooker option) cooking now.

While everything in the book sounds reasonably tasty, it’s Winger’s more basic recipe that I’m more drawn to.  In addition to the roast chicken I’ve got going, I want to try the roast beef, the slow cooker pulled pork (which I almost made but ultimately decided to carry home a whole chicken than a pork shoulder), the cast iron skillet bread, and the cream of wheat (key ingredient?  Actual whole wheat berries).

All in all, I’m happy to recommend this cookbook.  It might not be for everyone, but it’s handy to have.

 

Disclaimer – I kindly received this book from Flatiron Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.

 

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The Easy Asian Cookbook, a cookbook review

True story:  Despite my love for all kinds of Asian food, I rarely cook any at home.  Also a true story: I love using my slow cooker.

(No, I haven’t jumped on the Instant Pot train yet, and I’m not sure if I ever will.  In the meantime, I really want to experiment with an air fryer. I will take sponsors.  lol!)

But if I can cook Asian food in a slow cooker, will I make it more often?  

If I’m to go by the recipe offerings in The Easy Asian Cookbook for Slow Cookers by Nancy Cho, the answer might very well be a resounding yes.

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There are so many pros about this book in general.  The author hasn’t confined herself to just Japanese, Chinese, or Korean dishes.  Sri Lanka, India, and the Philippines are also represented. There’s per serving nutritional information listed.  It’s pretty basic information, but if you just want the calories, total fat, protein, carbs, fiber, sugar, and salt info (which is what most people want), it’s there!  There’s also general allergy information at the top of each page like nut-free and gluten-free.

The book is divided into these chapters:

  • Asian Slow Cooker 101
  • Rice and Noodles
  • Soups and Stews
  • Curries
  • Vegetables and Tofu
  • Chicken
  • Meat
  • Dessert
  • Side Dishes and Salads

 

The recipes I want to try most:

  • Mushroom jook (kudos to the author for using the word “jook” as it appeals to my Cantonese heritage)
  • Black bean sauce noodles
  • Pumpkin soup (has ginger, curry, and cream in it)
  • Lentil soup (Indian inspired)
  • Red lentil curry (Sri Lankan inspired)
  • Filipino chicken curry
  • Simmer pumpkin

 

The recipe I decided to start with was chicken lo mein because I was missing my mom’s version, and the book’s version sounded like it might be close.  It’s got chicken thighs, chicken stock, garlic, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, white pepper, bok choy, shallots, red bell pepper, scallions, cornstarch, and store bought lo mein noodles.

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Mess in place

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I made the recipe as closely as possible.  Ultimately, I had to cut back on the shallots and scallions, and replace the bok choy with napa cabbage.  I also had to make the noodles separately the day after making the sauce and chicken, because of time (but also because someone… aka me… forgot to pick up noodles earlier that day).

Overall impressions, the sauce is really good.  It’s a bit salty on its own, but once mixed with the noodles, it’s perfect.  It does remind me of something my mother might make. The chicken was also really good.  I’ve made some Asian inspired sesame and garlic chicken in the slow cooker before that I wasn’t totally won over by.  This one? I’m happy to make it again in the future.

But!!! There’s a lot of sauce and noodles in this recipe!  I think I could scale down both and up the amount of veggies.  That’s just me nitpicking, and me trying to cut down on the amount of simple carbs I eat.  For other people, the sauce-chicken-veggie ratio might be perfect. I’m not that person though.  I ended up adding more veggies as I needed to when I ate a serving. And because it made a lot, it was a good meal prep option for dinner this past week.

I am definitely recommending this book if you want to make more Asian flavored dishes and/or want to experiment with your slow cooker.  I was more than satisfied with my first recipe attempt.

(Sorry I don’t have a flip through video of this cookbook – the copy I have is a .pdf file, not a hard copy.)

Disclaimer – I received this book from Rockridge Press for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.

Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker, a cookbook review

My most recent cookbook acquisition is Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker, which I was pretty dang excited about.  I appreciate a good slow cooker recipe, but the only other slow cooker cookbook I have is America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution.  I have used the ATK book, but probably not as often as I should.  Amazingly, I feel like the recipes in each book are different enough that the books complement each other in my cookbook collection.

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The good things about Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker:

  • Good variety of recipes.  The book is divided into these sections: meat, poultry, seafood, meatless, side dishes, breakfast, sweets, and stocks/sauces.  There is a decent global feel to each of the sections.  For example, chicken section includes the following recipes: chicken tagine, Tex-Mex chicken and beans, chicken mole, Hainanese Chicken, and Ethiopian Chicken Stew.
  • Every recipe comes with a photograph.
  • Most of the recipes are not intimidating.

The (possibly) bad things about this book:

  • Some of the recipes require stove top cooking as part of the prep work.  In the boullabaisse recipe, you have to soften in a skillet the vegetables, aromatics, and then cook down diced tomatoes.  After all that, then you get to load up the slow cooker.
  • This might just be me being greedy, but I’d prefer if most of the sections had a few more recipes.  The meat section has a little over 30 recipes.  The poultry section has 18 recipes, 4 of them are duck recipes, and only 1 recipe is turkey related.  The breakfast section only has about 9 recipes.

Honestly though, I have high hopes for this book.  I made the chicken korma recipe this past weekend.  Overall, I was very pleased with the results.  It was a little unusual for a chicken korma recipe since it involves cashew butter and almond butter (it does mention that you can blend up nuts instead of getting the nut butters), but I think it does add to the texture of the korma sauce.

Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post.  

Reference Link:

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/215168/martha-stewarts-slow-cooker-by-from-the-kitchens-of-martha-stewart/

kimchi fail so let me try amazake instead

It’s hard to see, but the radishes in my dongchimi had some color change.  Everything smelled fine, but I wasn’t convinced so I didn’t eat it.

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Both photos were after I drained out the liquid.  Before I drained it, it looked like this:

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That’s a lot of life going on in there.

I haven’t had the energy to buy the ingredients again.  But I still wanted to work on some fermentation so I decided to try my hand at amazake.

Amazake is a drink made from sticky rice and koji grains.  Koji are rice grains that have been inoculated with the bacteria you would use to make miso soup and other Japanese fermented products.  Amazake, like yogurt, needs a certain temperature range to ferment.  It was the primary reason why I never bothered to make it.

Last week, it occurred to me that I had access to a couple of sous vide products which could make DIY amazake possible in my house.  So, it’s currently doing its thing in a slow cooker hooked up to a Codlo device.

This is what determination looks like:

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It’s not the most thought-out set-up, but that’s what I get for not planning ahead.  What you see is a 3qt sauce pan (with the rice and koji) set into a 4.5 qt oval slow cooker.  The sauce pan was too tall, and the handle was in the way.  So, I resorted to covering it with aluminum foil.

I am ridiculous, I know.

This also won’t be done until about 10pm because cooking the rice and then cooling it took me longer than I had anticipated.