Archive for January, 2012
This past weekend I needed to cook two meals a day for eight people. I have to admit that I had a terrible time getting the proportions right. The first day I made way too many grains, the second not enough.
Also, because there was no kitchen where I had to serve I had to make all the food in crock pots. It was tasty, but the vegetables were more of a soup than a dish and the grains got overcooked and mushy.
Another problem I had was just how much salt, herbs, and spices I needed to put in. It is very frustrating to be an excellent cook and feel like you fed a group of people a very mediocre meal. They all raved about it, but still, I know that it could have been so much better.
The things that worked well were the bread and the salad. Other than that I felt like people were OK with what was served, but not really excited about it.
So, what is your best tip for cooking for crowds from 8 to 30? I know that I’m going to need to be preparing large scale meals again. Also, what do you serve for snacks? Remember it needs to be healthy. No white sugar or flour, something prepared fresh that will feed a small army of munchers. I had fruit and freshly made popcorn that went over fairly well, but I want to get away from chips and overly sweet treats. Please leave a comment below. I’d be interested and I’m sure others would to. We’ve all come up against this bugger at one time or another.
This guest post from Edgardo Rosa
My mom and I decided to become business partners once I got really sick of staying home with the kids. I had always dreamed of opening a bakery and I finally had enough capital to do it so mom said she would come in and help and be my right-hand man which was a real relief because I didn’t want to have to do it on my own. Mom helped with all the logistical things like setting up a website for us, getting me wireless internet packages for the office is talking to our creditors about what are interest rates would be. I focus on things like recipes and decorating the store as well as getting marketing organized for the first year of business and we’ve been open now for about two months. Things are actually going much better than I even expected it to go and mom and I have been working together really well. I can’t wait to see where the next few years takes us and our fledgling little business!
When I became a vegetarian there weren’t a lot of good vegetarian cookbooks, plus most of them were for ovo-lacto vegetarians and I don’t eat eggs. For years I pined away, wishing I could make good muffins, cakes, pancakes, and the like. I tried all the egg replacers and found them to really be lacking. I did manage some decent treat using things like applesauce and yogurt, but sometimes I didn’t want their distinct flavors in what I was preparing.
Finally I began to play around with it myself and found that it is incredibly easy to make everything from cookies to pancakes from one basic recipe. How you make it into each different treat is through how much water you add to the dough, as well as what extras you put in. For instance you will put a lot less water into a cookie dough, than a pancake batter. You’ll add more sugar to cookies, too. In muffins you might want to add dried fruit, nuts, etc. Cookies may have peanut butter or things like that added to it, which all affect the level of water needed.
One of the nice things I found is that, even when I messed up I turned out something edible. Oh, maybe the muffins were a little gooey on the inside or the cookies didn’t flatten out the way I wanted, but they were all edible.
So, here’s my very basic recipe:
Basic Flour Mix
1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
Enough water to make batter/dough the consistency you need.
That being said here are a few variations I do for different recipes.
- If I want my cookies to flatten out some I add about ¼ cup sunflower or safflower oil.
- If using peanut butter you’ll need a bit more water.
- When making a sweet treat I use Sucanat, a whole sugar. Not too sweet add ½ cup, really sweet add 1 cup.
- To know how much of a spice to put in, for cookies or muffins, just refer to a recipe in a book and use their recommendation. Just remember spices you use less of, herbs you can use more of. Don’t be tempted to add a bunch more of the spices as it can be very overpowering. If you really want it to be especially cinnamony, then add about ¼ to ½ tsp more.
For cake I have a wonderful recipe that you can mix up right in the 9×13 pan.
Now you can enjoy your treats and have them healthy, too.
In this day and age you can find information about just about anything on the Internet. Unfortunately you’re at the will of the site owner as to whether the information on the site is truthful or not. One thing I’ve found really helpful is when a site that sells products has customer reviews. Also, bloggers often have good reviews about products that they themselves use. However, if it is a blog you need to check and see if they have paid entries. Take a minute to read their disclosure. Most will have a statement that they will only review products that they know and have used, plus they will only make true statements about products. If they haven’t used it, they can talk about it, but they can’t say it’s a great product or things like that. Once you’ve read that then you can have at least some confidence that their review is real. So, over time you can build up a selection of site to use as a resource library.
In searching around the web I found interesting information on the Best dehydrators to buy. I was pleased to see that my Excalibur is still considered the best large dehydrator around. It was interesting reading the reviews by people. Everyone that I read found the Excalibur to be excellent at drying and very easy to use.
One thing I found interesting was that there were companies I had not heard of before. L’Equip food dehydrators and Nesco were two of the companies that I wasn’t familiar with. Nesco is an inexpensive dehydrator. The one nit that I had with it, was I didn’t see a way to control the temperature, so if you’re concerned about drying “live” foods, then you’ll need to put up a little more money to get one with a temperature dial. The L’Equip dehydrator looked really interesting, but didn’t get as positive reviews as the others. However, it can expand to 20 racks, which would be great if you’ve got a big garden that overproduces most years. I’ve not had that problem, yet.
I enjoyed reading through the food dehydrator recipes. I’ve enjoyed making my own banana chips in the past and the recipes reminded me of how much I enjoy them. I’ll need to check for overripe bananas the next time I shop. I’ve been working on coming up with snacks and foods I can take with me when I go into town to do my weekly shopping. I became aware that I was choosing to munch on a lot of unhealthy foods, because they were quick and portable. However, over the past few months my waistline is showing the effects, plus I never feel very good the day after shopping. Being one to always look at the cause of low energy or a draggy feeling I found that it was always after shopping. It was easy for me to figure out it was my choice of foods. However, there isn’t much out there that a vegetarian that doesn’t eat onions, garlic, green chilis or mushrooms can buy and munch on other than candy bars and potato chips (and only the salted ones, any that have flavorings have onions and garlic in them, even the ones labeled salt and pepper, as do almost all dressings, so salads are out). Anyway, it renewed my interest in looking at things I can dehydrate and eat straightaway. Dehydrated foods are easy to pack and can’t be damaged by cold or heat, either. I think my dehydrator is in store for another workout.