Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Homemade Pizza

Homemade pizza tastes nice, and I like making it from scratch.

Pizza's true origin is unknown. But, what is known about it is from the time of King Darius I (a predecessor of the King Darius who lost many battles to Alexander the Great). When his army did not have an oven handy and couldn't make a fire, if it was sunny, they supposedly baked bread on top of their shields. They then melted cheese on top and put on olives. Later, in one of Homer's poems, he said, "See we devoured the plates on which we fed on." The plates were made of flour and bread. Pizza finally came to America in the 1800s.

You can make the dough in a bread machine or mix it up in a bowl. After is rises and rests, shape it into pizza rounds. Shaping it just right can be difficult. But remember, even if it's oblong, according to geometry, there are at least two equal pieces opposite each other on the pizza, so oblong is all right.

I like pepperoni and a fine sprinkling of spinach on my pizza. We often make two pizzas, so the second can be a combo pizza, with olives, pepperoni, mushroom, and spinach.

Pizza is fun to make as a family. And it doesn't take very long.

Pizza Dough for the Bread Machine(adapted from Betty Crocker's Best Bread Machine Cookbook)
Makes 2 pizzas, 8 wedges each

1 cup water
2 Tbls olive oil
2 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp Italian seasoning (dry parsley, oregano, basil)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar or honey
2 1/2 tsp bread machine or quick active dry yeast

1) Place all ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order given above.

2) Select the Dough/Manual cycle. Do not use delay cycles.

3) Remove dough from pan, using lightly floured hands. Knead 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface (if necessary, knead in enough flour to make the dough easy to handle). Cover and let reast 10 minutes.

4) Heat oven tp 450 degrees. Greased two large cookie sheets or two 12-inch pizza pans. Pat dough into 13-inch circle; pinch edge, forming 1/2-inch rim. Top with your favorite pizza sauce and toppings.

Our Favorite Toppings
Tomato paste
Basil and/or oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
Finely grated parmesan cheese


Monday, April 2, 2012

Poultry Pie

Shepherd's Pie is supposed to be made out of ground mutton (old sheep), while Cottage Pie is made with beef. Cottage Pie was really for poor people, a way to use what little food they had in their kitchens.

We sometimes make Cottage Pie, but we usually use ground turkey, so we call it Poultry Pie.

I like to add Worcestershire Sauce to my pie, which makes it even tastier. The potato topping, or crust, is my favorite part. We mix russet and sweet potatoes (the dark orange ones) together, which makes it yummy.

My mom never makes it the same way twice, but this is the recipe she gave me.

Cottage (Poultry) Pie
3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut for boiling
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut for boiling

2 Tbsp cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
A few handfuls of chopped spinach
Chopped green beans (to bite-size)
Chopped carrots (I pick these out)
(You can also add peas, corn, soy beans, or other veggies, but I prefer my Cottage Pie without them.)
Ground black pepper to taste
A few dashes of Worcesertshire Sauce
1 lb. ground turkey
3 Tbsp corn starch
1/4 cup water

Cheddar cheese, for topping

1. Put the potatoes in a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Potatoes are ready for mashing when a pointy knife tip slides easily into the potatoes.

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil. Put in the onions, and sautee until clear. Next add the spinach, green beans, and carrots.Add pepper to taste and a few dashes of Worcestershire. Cover the skillet, lower the heat to medium, and let cook until the spinach has wilted and the carrots are a bit soft (not fully cooked, as they will cook more in the oven). Add the ground turkey, breaking it up and cooking thoroughly.

3. In a small bowl or a lidded plastic container, whisk or shake together the corn starch and water, until smooth. Add to the ground turkey mixture. If the mixture needs more liquid for gravy, add water from the potatoes.

4. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Put in a large cookie sheet to heat.

5. Once the turkey is cooked, put it into a casserole dish. Mash the potatoes with the butter and cream, then top the turkey mixture with the mashed potatoes, making sure to spread the potatoes evenly, all the way to the edges of the casserole dish. Grate cheddar cheese on top. Carefully place the casserole dish on the large cookie sheet in the oven. Bake until the cheese starts bubbling, maybe even allowing it to brown a bit.

6. Be very careful when removing from the oven and bringing to the table. The dish will be hot and the pie will retain its heat for a long time.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Sausage is a food preservation technique, because sausages are cured, dried or smoked, which extends the shelf-life of the meat.

I like bratwurst, bockwurst, British bangers, and Irish bangers. Bratwurst and bockwurst are German sausages."Brat" means "finely chopped meat," and "wurst" means "sausage." Bockwurst were invented in 1889 by a restaurant owner and are very popular. "Bock" means "buck" in German, but the sausage aren't made from venison. Instead, they are often eaten with bock beer (but not by me).

British sausage are called "bangers," because during World War II they used to contain so much water that they exploded when you cooked them. They don't, anymore. Bangers are part of the famous dish, "Bangers and Mash," which means sausage and mashed potatoes. This is one of my favorite dinners.

You can buy these sausages in the grocery store, usually pre-cooked, but they're not cheap (About $1.50 per sausage, or $6.00 for a pack of four). My mom found Irish bangers at Trader Joe's for St. Patrick's Day. They cost about $5.00 for six sausages, but they weren't pre-cooked. (She says to put them in a pan with a bit of water. Cover. Let cook for about 15 minutes. Remove the cover, then cook, occasionally turning them over, until brown on the outside.)

Regardless of the sausage, I like to eat them with ketchup. Other people may prefer them with brown sauce (a.k.a. steak sauce) or English mustard.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Baked Potatoes

Baked potatoes are a good side dish. They're tasty and filling. I like to put chives and sour cream on my baked potatoes.

Potatoes originally came from the Americas. Like tomatoes, potatoes are related to deadly nightshade, but don't let that stop you from eating them. They are low in fat, and have lots of potassium, vitamin C, and some folate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potato#Nutrition).

You can bake them in an oven or on the grill, or you can microwave them. Microwaving is faster, about six to eight minutes, but they're not as nice as baked in the oven or on the grill. My favorite is grilled baked potatoes. Clean the potatoes, poke a few holes through the skin, wrap in aluminum foil, and grill until a knife inserts easily into the middle of the potatoes.

For more information, you can go to the Idaho Potato Commission's website. They even have a kids' page!

Monday, March 5, 2012


Technically a flower, artichokes are served as vegetables. They are related to thistles.

I like to eat artichokes steamed. I take the petals and dip them in mayonnaise, but some people use lemon butter.

Artichokes are good for dieters, because they are low in fat and high in fiber. That is, until you dip them in butter or mayonnaise. They are also high in antioxidants.

Preapring artichokes is easier than you think. Cut the stem close to the top. Cut about 1/4 inch off the top of the artichoke. Using kitchen scissors, trim the spiky part of the leaves. Then place in a steamer for about 45 minutes, or until a sharp knife easily pierces the bottom.

To eat an artichoke, you take off the petals, dip them in your dip, then bite the fleshy bottom bit and scrape with your teeth. The closer to the heart you get, the more flesh on the petals. Don't eat the choke! That's the hairy bit in the middle. Use a fork or spoon to scrape it out, then eat the yummy heart.

Besides being a eaten as a vegetable, artichokes can be used in tea, liquor, and medicinal purposes.

The California Artichoke Advisory Board has a Kids Corner with a crossword puzzle.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Barbeque Rack of Lamb

Lamb is a really heathful meat. It has two times more iron that chicken or pork, and six times more than fish. It has lots of vitamin B12, which aids with memory.

I definitely like it better than chicken, although it is more expensive than chicken.

One of my favorite ways to have lamb is barbequed, especially rack of lamb. The exposed bones will burn easily, so cover them with aluminum foil.

Heat the barbeque or grill ro medium. Put the rack of lamb away from the flame, so is doesn't get charred. I like mine medium rare, which means that the meat is soft and springy to the touch.

Serve with barbeque sauce. I like to eat mine with a baked potato and steamed artichokes.

For more information on lamb, go to one of these sites:
Australian Lamb
New Zealand Lamb
Welsh Lamb

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Favorite Teas

The flavor of tea depends greatly on which leaf was picked, how the leaves were grown and handled. Green tea is steamed. Black tea is fermented. Oolong tea is in between. White tea is allowed to whither.

I like to add sugar to all my teas.

And now for my top three favorite teas, in order:

1. Golden Dragon Oolong: We buy it at Peet's Coffee & Tea
    I like it best because of the flavor and because it's pricey.

2. Earl Grey: Found nearly anywhere tea is sold.
    I like the Bergamot flavor in this tea.

3. English Breakfast: Found nearly anywere tea is sold. Sometimes called "British Breakfast." Similar to "Awake" in Taoz-brand teas.
    I like to add milk to this tea. Remember! Add milk before you pour the tea. It tastes totally different.

Tea is a good drink on cold days and in the afternoon. If you can have a biscuit (cookie) with it, that's even better.