Demented Ramblings life is too short to refrain from eating jam out of the jar


Life is too short to refrain from eating jam out of the jar.

When I was a wee little girl, my dad used to bring home jellyrolls and share them with me. Cellophane wrapped sponge cake with raspberry jelly peeking out. I believe that they were from Kern's bakery. I don't know if Kern's has closed up or isn't as readily available around here or if they just stopped making jelly rolls, but I haven't had one in years.

Sunday, when Mimi and I were checking out Jungle Jim's, I saw a lovely jelly roll in the bakery there, all oozing with jelly. If I'd been in my right mind, I probably would have bought it. Instead I'd just been traumatized by a big dead eyeball staring up at me from the meatcase and my brain was all agoggle. In retrospect, I guess that's much better than a live eyeball staring up at me from the meatcase, but that isn't the point. The point is the cake.

Sunday night, I dreamed of cake. Not just any cake, multiple layers of golden yellow cake with raspberry jam between them. Rather like the jellyrolls of my youth, but not rolled. I saw a tower of thin layers and red jam.

Tonight I finally had enough energy after work to dive into this project. I used the 1-2-3-4 Yellow Cake recipe from The Joy of Cooking, making 3 layers. I sliced each of these layers in half, spreading raspberry preserves between each layer. Then I mixed a little Chambord with the remaining preserves and drizzled them over the top.

What we have here are six layers of love.


Not quite PB&J

Several years ago, pop and I went through a summer of canning. We made a lot of jams that year: strawberry, blackberry, peach, apple butter. We also experimented with canning fruits (only the cherries didn't turn out so well) and making our own mincemeat.

It's just the two of us and we really don't eat that many biscuits. Or, at least, I don't. And he's barely gone through half in the 5 years since we made it. These things don't keep until the end of time, so I've been trying to think of ways to use up some of it.

I started googling for cake recipes using strawberry jam. Sparks' birthday is coming up and I'm trying to find a nice cake to make for him. I found a recipe that practically screamed his name: peanut butter and strawberry jam cake with white chocolate peanut butter ganache. Sparks doesn't really like nuts, except peanuts (a legume, I know) and loves peanut butter cookies more than any other cookie. So, this morning I set out to give this recipe a try.


Not so cold Gazpacho

The other night when I ate the gazpacho straight from the fridge, it made me cold. Tonight, I popped it in the microwave just long enough to knock off the chill. Plus, I dropped a dollop of ricotta in the middle of it, adding a bit of dairy goodness and cutting the acid a bit. Hopefully, it won't cause the reflux to act up too badly.

I've added a new section to my links. I've decided to keep links to the food blogs I've raided for recipes that have actually been used. One should definitely give credit to the folks who help them out.


Harvest time

I don't know if I've mentioned it here or not, but I hate tomatoes. Ok, so maybe "hate" is a bit too strong of a word these days. I am slowly acclimating myself to a tolerance of them, most especially if disguised. I love salsa after all.

Although Pop's tomato plants have some sort of weird fungus (it makes the plants start dying from the ground up) we have a plethora of tomatoes. My auntie's tomato plants have no such blight, so she keeps sending dad home with them. Way more than one man, no matter how much he likes them, has been able to keep up with.

So, today I put a rather large dent in his stash of tomatoes. I made pizza with homemade sauce (I make the best pizza ever) and gazpacho. The boyfriend even helped out with the gazpacho since he'd actually eaten it before and I had not.

My pizza sauce is made in the style of margerhita pizza, only then I throw lots of toppings on the pizza. Start with a few tomatoes, squeeze out some of the juice and seeds and chop them up. Then add a couple of crushed cloves of garlic, a generous pinch of kosher salt, and a splash of olive oil. Chiffonade some fresh basil and allow the whole thing to mingle for a bit before using.

I can barely stand to get pizza out anymore, I've ruined myself for it. I spread this sauce on a prepared pizza crust (like a Boboli crust, only I buy the Kroger brand), top it with lots of yummy things (shallots, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, olives, more basil) and several kinds of cheese. This is when I quite often clean out small leftover amounts of things from the fridge, like some kalamata olives that I'd bought a few weeks ago and a couple of feta stuffed hot peppers, just chop them up fine and spread them about. Yum yum yum.

As for the gazpacho, it won't be truly ready until tomorrow. I used this recipe as a starting point. Of course, I never measure much of anything, and I left out the celery because I don't care for it much. I did, however, add a bit of celery seed to the soup. Pop and I tasted it and agreed it was quite tasty, that will be tomorrow night's dinner, along with a bit of garlic toast. Almost a healthy meal, if not for the garlic toast.

Best of all, I reduced the number of tomatoes rotting away on the windowsill and found one more way in which I will endure a tomato.


Shrimp and NOT Grits

A couple of weeks ago, the birthday girl made us dinner. She served Shrimp and Grits, which was quite tasty, but made the boyfriend say "gack" because he refuses to let a grit get near him. Hates them with the fire of a hundred burning suns or some such very large amount. I decided that I must learn to make this dish, yet change it to accommodate him. The sweet girl never has remembered to send me the recipe, which I can't fault since I am more than a little bit of a procrastinator myself. So, I took what I remembered from her dish and several recipes that I found online and combined them all together.

There is nothing healthy about this dish, but it tastes terrific. I will give you the recipe as close as possible, since I sort of made it up as I went along. Besides, I need to remember this as much as possible so that I can do it again.

Shrimp and Not Grits

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 14 oz shrimp (that's the size bag I found, you could go with a little more or less)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • fresh thyme
  • white wine
  • cornstarch
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • chives
  • risotto
  • vegetable stock
  • salt
  • pepper
  • parmesan cheese (1/2 cup?)
  • white cheddar cheese (4 oz?)

Start off by chopping the bacon into pieces and frying it until crispy. Drain it, saving the grease, and place on a paper towel

Melt 2 T butter and 2 T olive oil in a pan, add 1 cup risotto and allow to saute/toast. Add 1 cup of veggie broth at a time, stirring constantly and allowing all broth to soak in before adding the next cup. Repeat until you've added 3 cups of broth total. When risotto is finished, add another T of butter, shredded white cheddar cheese, and parmesan. Add a bit more broth if necessary, salt and pepper to taste. Top with chives.

While the risotto is cooking, in bacon pan melt 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil. Saute red pepper, onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Add a few sprigs of thyme and a pinch of herbs de provence. Cook until veggies are tender. Add shrimp and continue to saute until shrimp is done. Mix reserved bacon grease with about a cup of white wine and add to mixture. When it comes to a boil, add cornstarch/water mixture to thicken. When it is almost done, stir in chopped tomatoes, green onions, and bacon.

Serve the shrimp mixture over the risotto. This kicks ass.

As a side dish I sauted up some yellow squash, zucchini, and onion with a bit of rosemary. Very tasty.

The boyfriend says that mine was better than the original, but that's only because I didn't use grits. I thought the original was better, but that was mainly because someone else cooked it for me. Either way, it's a wonderful dish. If I don't forget before then, this might be mum's next birthday dinner.