Friday, February 02, 2007

Happy Whistle Pig Day!

Did you hear? Spring is coming! Woohoo! We were supposed to get snow last night and today (only a few inches) but the morning dawned bright and sunny and almost above freezing! Anyway, a few odds and ends today.

First: I just joined Netflix. We don't go to the movies and we only rent movies maybe once or twice a month. But for two movies at Blockbuster, its almost $10. So when I saw that Netfliz had a $9.99 plan, one movie at a time, unlimited for a month, I thought well, cheaper than Blockbuster and probably lots more movies and documentaries that I'd like to watch than are available at Blockbuster. Two weeks later and I'm a Netflix addict and eagerly awaiting the little red envelope in my mailbox. At home right now, the first disc of the multipart documentary "The Farmer's Wife" originally shown on PBS. But you know how you can never think of what you want when forced to choose? Well I just can't think of all those indie films or foreign films or missed PBS series when I'm scrolling through the choices. So what are some of your favorite films? Things that you think I would like. I want to keep the red enevelopes coming.

Second: I promised a few recipes to some people and have thrown in a few that I've made recently and have really, really liked.

I made French Lentil Soup on Saturday. Yummy and suprisingly easy. And I served it with Farmgirl's Beyond Easy Beer Bread. Whenever I've made beer bread in the past, it has always turned out semi-brick like. But this recipe resulted in a really nice loaf that was a close approximation of real bread. I added shredded sharp cheese, garlic, and cayenne pepper and it went really well with the soup.

I promised Jamie this recipe for Fig Cake. This cake is the reason we lug back several jars of fig preserves from North Carolina every September. Yummy. And different.

Frances’ Fig Cake

Preheat oven to 350°
Grease bundt pan and dust with flour

3 eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
½ tsp. Nutmeg
½ tsp. Cloves
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Salt
2 cups plain white flour
½ cup buttermilk
1 tsp. Baking soda, dissolved in 1 Tbs. Water
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 cup preserved figs, chopped
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped

In a medium bowl, beat eggs until light and foamy. Add sugar and beat until pale and thick. Add oil and beat another minute.

Sift together spices, salt and flour. Add to eggs alternately with buttermilk beating well after each addition.

Stir in soda, dissolved in water, vanilla, figs and nuts.

Pour into pan and place in preheated oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Cool in pan for 20 minutes and then invert onto a rack and cool completely. Dust with confectioners sugar if you want.

Serves 10-12

Recipe from The Backporch Restaurant Cookbook by Debbie Wells

And since I have this cookbook in my hands at the moment, I think I promised this black bean casserole recipe to Liz about a year ago.

Cuban Black Bean and Monterey Jack Cheese Casserole

2 cups dried black beans, picked over for rocks, covered completely with water, and soaked overnight
½ gallon water
1 tsp. Salt
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. Dried oregano
2 tsp. Dried thyme
2 tsp. Fresh minced garlic
1 ¼ cup water
½ cup white rice
dash salt
2 Tbs. Olive oil
1 ½ cups onion, diced
1 cup green bell pepper, diced
1 cup red bell pepper, diced
2 tsp. Fresh minced garlic
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken or veggie broth
¼ tsp. Salt or more to taste
2 dashes coarse black pepper
¼ tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes
4 tsp. Ground cumin
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup blanched almonds
4 cups (about 1 pound) grated Monterey Jack Cheese
¼ cup dry bread crumbs

Drain soaking water from beans, rinse thoroughly and put in a heavy bottomed soup pot with ½ gallon water. Bring to a boil, skim off the foam that forms on top, then add salt, bay leaf, oregano, thyme and garlic. Cover and cook for about 2 hours until beans are soft and the liquid is thick. Stir often.

Bring 1 ¼ cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add rice and dash of salt, cover and lower heat. Cook until rice is soft and all water is absorbed. Set aside.

Heat 2 Tbs. Oil in large sauté pan. Add onions, peppers, and garlic. Saute until soft.

When beans are done, add the cooked rice, peppers and onions, wine, broth, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, cumin, raisins, and almonds. Stir well to blend and cook over low heat for 8-10 minutes until mixture begins to thicken. Correct salt if necessary.

Butter a deep 10 x 13 casserole dish and cover bottom and sides with the grated cheese, reserving ¾ cup for the top. Fill with the bean mixture. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and reserved cheese.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until top is crusty and beans are bubbling.

Approx. 6-8 servings.

Also from the Backporch Cookbook.

If you ever find yourself on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, you can't beat this restaurant. And do order the Blue Crab Beignets. To.Die.For.


Blogger Liz said...

Thanks for the recipe! I had more to say, but Blogger swallowed it whole. Grrr.

1:57 PM  
Blogger EFB said...

The fig cake recipe sounds great. I want to try that. I just watched the documentary 49UP which was pretty interesting.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took the casserole recipe, we both love black beans, and everything else in it. May be back for the lentil recipe, too.

5:20 PM  
Blogger El said...

Girl, you're on a roll!

This is how I look for movies on Netflix. I go to IMDB.COM and do searches, then I go to Netflix.

We love Netflix, being out in the boonies as we are too...and we watch tv series like The Wire and The Shield when the kid is asleep. I am into documentaries, Tom is into weird stuff like Leave It To Beaver, and inevitably, one person will mess with the queue and really make you mad.

Those recipes sound great!

8:00 PM  
Blogger wurwolf said...

The same thing happened to me, Liz. I don't feel like going through it all again, except to say that I've been wanting to make Farmgirl's beer bread for a while now, and seeing that you've tried it and liked it might just be the thing to motivate me.

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I love Netflix...I've been a member for about a year now. It's great because we also don't go to the movies, plus I'm more an Independant movie type person. One hint is to go to a movie you like and see what they suggest. I've seen some really good ones this way.
Your recipes sound yummy. It's so cold here I think a big pot of split pea soup is in order for the weekend. =)

9:00 AM  
Blogger Juli said...

I'm a mega-movie watcher and love Netflix. I saw The Farmer's Wife... it's slow and made us do a lot of talking. I don't watch TV so all my TV series viewing is from DVDs. I get many from the library.

I could go on and on with a suggestion list... here are a couple that come to mind:

Frontier House (another PBS series)
Texas Ranch House (yet ANOTHER PBS series)
Inconvenient Truth
Who Killed the Electric Car?
Why We Fight
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price
Is Wal-Mart Good for America?: Frontline
Natural History of the Chicken

Off the Map
The Motorcycle Diaries
The World's Fastest Indian
Cinema Paradiso

11:11 AM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

I have selected the whole 7up (and on to 49) series. They look really good. Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm feeling a little guilty about all this tv watching, but I'm sure it will diminish when it gets warmer and I can be outside. But right now its in the single digits at night and I just want to be on the couch under a blanket. Brrrr.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in NE North Carolina, and honeymooned on Ocracoke. I bought that cookbook then (6 years ago) and love it. The Fig Cake is fabulous (I preserve figs in the summer and have used them in the cake). The bean casserole is great too, but way too much work for me to do on any kind of regular basis. The Lemon Blueberry Muffins in that book are my favorite muffins ever.

As for movies, if you like cooking and foreign movies (and happy movies), you should get "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman" It is a great film.
I just got to your blog today from Liz's (Pocket Farm). But, I saw this post and had to comment.

11:28 AM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

Hi Molly. I will try the muffin recipe as I haven't gotten to that one yet. Yes, the bean casserole is a lot of work and I only make it once or twice a year, but it makes a lot so that sort of makes up for all the effort.

1:26 PM  

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