Some random notes, and some cooking magazines

I haven’t tried many recipes this last week, unfortunately. Around last Thursday, I caught the cold Mom and Dad fought last month, and just like with them it laid me low for about five days. I’m slowly getting better, but I still have a dry cough and I tire way too easily.

Hopefully by next week, I can post some new recipes I’ve tried.

In the meantime, some things of interest from the world of food.

~~~

Earlier today my father attended a workshop in Great Falls about pulse crops. (Pulse crops include things such as beans, peas and lentils.) They are not grown in our area very much, although we did have one neighbor who planted a couple fields to peas last year.

The workshop had been advertised on the radio, and they had a huge turnout — Dad estimated around 400 people. Which was 50 more than had registered, and over twice the 150 attendees the presenters had originally expected.

I think turnout was high both because everything is still snowed in around here, and also because many farmers in this area are looking for crops to rotate with wheat. We used to grow barley (and some of the irrigated areas west of Great Falls still do), but the rains the last 15 years haven’t come at the right times for barley so not very many people grown dryland barley around here.

Which is a shame, because if you plant wheat on wheat, year after year, then even with fallow years in between each planting you still have problems with insect pests and crop diseases that mainly attack wheat and start getting worse each planting cycle because you’re planting the same thing each time. You can get some variety by alternating spring wheat and winter wheat — but it’s all still wheat.

Alternative crops may sound great, but all of us out here are growing crops as a way to make a living, not as a hobby farm. So, in order for an alternative crop to make sense, you have to be able to make money off of it. You’re probably not going to make money if it so different from wheat that you need entirely separate seeding or harvesting equipment. And you definitely won’t be making money if you can’t find someone who will buy it at a price that is profitable to you.

(For those people who touted camelina oil seeds at the next big crop for this area, those were major problems — it was very difficult to harvest, and the companies who had all agreed to buy it all went bankrupt when petroleum oil prices dropped and finding other types of plant-based oils and fuel was no longer as economically imperative.)

Which brings up the happy news that one of the local grain buying companies will be setting up some pulse crop processing facilities in towns around the region in the next year or two. So, perhaps there will be a steady market for them in this area soon.

My father said that one of the more surprising things he had heard was pulse crops are already working so well up in some northern parts of Montana, there are farmers there who now consider the pulse crops to be their main crop and the wheat is there mostly to have something to rotate in.

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For those of you out there who are cooks, I would highly recommend the magazine Cook’s Illustrated. Each recipe is made several different ways and tested by tasters with each version. In this way, the authors zero in on the versions that are both the best tasting and — if possible — the easiest to make.

(All of the Cook’s Illustrated recipes from back issues are available on their website if you sign up for a website subscription. You can also sign up for a 14-day free trial. The sign-up issue is why I’m not posting any direct links to the recipes below.)

Some of the recipes in the March & April 2010 issue that caught my eye were sauces made specifically for whole-wheat pasta; crisp pork tostadas with spiced shredded pork; an updated version of beef stroganoff; and an updated version of bread pudding.

We eat a lot of pork here and while a well-cooked pork roast or pork steak is always welcome, I miss some of the pork dishes I had in Mexican restaurants while living in Portland. So the next time I get a chance I would like to try either that tostada dish or maybe the tamale pie dish I’ll mention later in this post.

I also grew to really like bread pudding while I lived in Portland, so I am looking forward to trying that recipe as well.

The last time I was in a bookstore, I picked up a copy off the magazine stand of Lost Recipes: Kitchen Tested Heirloom Recipes Too Good To Forget. With a price of only $7.95 and over 70 recipes, I think it’s well worth the money. Each of the recipes was submitted by readers to Cook’s Country (Cook’s Country is published by Cook’s Illustrated) and tested by the Cook’s Country staff. Each of the published recipes comes with a bit of background history about the recipe from the person that submitted it.

There’s a lot of really good chicken dishes in it — I am currently trying to find more things to do with chicken — and also some other really interesting recipes too. In addition to finding more things to do with chicken, I’m also a bit curious to try some of the various meat-in-baked dough recipes out there, such as empanadas and pasties. In this Lost Recipes magazine, there’s a recipe from the midwest for a beef and cabbage mixture cooked with a little bit of cheese in a yeast bread that looks very tempting.

And although I don’t know if I’ll ever try making it, the last recipe in Lost Recipes is for Grandpa Boyen’s Rice Custard Pie. The recipe was submitted by a woman who currently lives in Washington state, but whose grandfather served the pie for years at a general store and bakery in Great Falls, Montana.

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The other cooking magazine I read this week was Bon Appetit. In the March 2010 issue there was tons of recipes (as always) but they had a special section on some updated casserole dishes. In particular, there was a new version of tuna noodle casserole (something we used to eat a lot here when I was a kid), a version of beef stroganoff (must be a popular month for that), and a pork and poblano tamale pie.

That’s all the recipe links I can post from this month’s issue, as they only publish the current month’s cover article recipes on their website until next month’s issue comes out.

There was also a section on desserts made with citrus, including a blood orange and polenta upside down tart, and something with crushed ice and grapefruit. I like the taste of grapefruit but it’s rarely used in recipes, except maybe in salads, so I’m always interested when I find a recipe that uses it.

And they had a section for St. Patrick’s Day, including Mrs. O’Callghan’s Soda Bread. There’s an additional section on their website devoted to St. Patrick’s Day recipes . . . and I would be posting the link they had in the magazine, but it doesn’t seem to be working. So, just go to www.bonappetit.com and search for “st patrick” in their search bar. There’s still lots of recipes that pop up.

4 thoughts on “Some random notes, and some cooking magazines

  1. Cam!

    I didn’t know you had a blog! You are a very interesting person!

    The closest I get to blogging is putting tidbits on Facebook.

    Keep it up!

    Charlotte

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