The Birth of Ollie's Yummy in Your Tummy

 Ollie's Yummy in Your Tummy came to be out of two separate events in my life. My youngest son loved to cook with me. At an early age he declared he wanted to open a restaurant when he was older, called "Tyler's Yummy in Your Tummy" He never did open that restaurant but I loved the name and decided to use it for my Blog on Cooking and Recipes.

 "Ollie" replaced the name "Tyler" in the title simply because that same son suggested the nickname Ollie when my first grandchild was born. My middle name is Olive after my Grandmother, and I became Grandma Ollie to my grandchildren. And thus Ollie's Yummy in Your Tummy was born!

 This blog will be a collection of recipes - family, my own, and any others I can find in my collection. I've been cooking for almost 50 years - having started as a pre-teen. In Ollie's Yummy in Your Tummy I'll share my favourite recipes, tips and techniques with you.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ollie's Never Give Up Tortillas

The Final Never Give Up Tortillas
I tried my hand at Tortilla making for the first time early this morning. It was a failure. The dough was crumbly and didn't cook properly. I set off the smoke alarm which not only beeps a shrill alarm but calls out in French and English "Fire! Feu!" The dogs were freaked out. Hubs woke up (it was early - 6 am) and was not impressed.

After much puzzling over what went wrong, I figured it out. I used corn flour because hubs mistakenly bought it in place of cornmeal and I wanted to use it up. So I did a straight substitution for all-purpose flour called for in the Tortilla recipe I was using. Big mistake. I didn't realize that corn flour has no guten and will not stick together (ah, that accounts for the crumbliness!). So it must always be used with another flour - whole wheat or all-purpose. DUH!

Okay after much hunting online for a recipe using corn flour, I gave up and semi-invented my own. And it worked! I cooked 6 medium size tortillas that both hubs and I are happy with. And no one began yelling "FIRE! FEU!" as I cooked. I am covered in flour and the kitchen's one huge mess but that's the price to pay for being creative. Okay -- messy and careless.

 You need one bowl to mix the following ingredients:

3/4 cup yellow corn flour
1 1/4 cup flour (I used all-purpose)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

When that is mixed, add 1 capful of vegetable oil (I told you I invented this, I don't usually measure ingredients!). I estimate my capful was about 1 Tbsp.

Blend and then slowly start adding warm water. Keep stirring with a fork, not a spoon. I can' t tell you how much water, just keep adding and stirring until your dough looks like the dough on the left. It's not too dry and not too wet. Not sticky, yet it holds together.

Knead this dough ball a half-dozen times, just the way you knead bread dough. You do make home-made bread, right? Now put the dough back in the mixing bowl to rest for about 10 minutes under a damp tea towel.

After 10 minutes take the dough ball out and form it into a rough sausage shape. I can't remember if I continued or I let the sausage rest for another 5 or 10 minutes! I think I let it rest.

Next step is to pinch off equal amounts of dough. I did 6 because I wanted 6 fairly large tortillas. You wouldn't get more than 12 or they'd be really tiny.

On a lightly floured surface, take one of your dough balls and press it into a round with the heel of your hand. You're ready to start rolling it out. If you want a fairly decent consistent circle, only do one "push" with your rolling pin. Start in the middle of the dough and make that one short push UP and then one short push DOWN back across the middle and down the same distance as you went UP.

Then you rotate your dough 70' and repeat the UP-DOWN push. Turn it another 70' (in the same direction) and repeat the UP-DOWN push. Continue rotating for 7 or 8 turns. You're not rolling to the very edge until the last couple of rolls. The more careful you are with this rolling out, the more perfect a circle you will have.

Confused? Never mind, not everyone is as anal retentive as I am. Just roll your dough balls out as you want to.

Now you're ready to heat a griddle or a cast iron fry pan on medium to high heat. I used a little bit of oil - a spray kind of canola oil just to lightly coat the griddle.

When it's hot, start cooking your tortillas, one or two at a time. They will start to form bubbles and after a couple of minutes you can flip them over and cook the other side. When they are golden brown they're done!

This shows you how thick the tortillas are. I think I'm going to make them a little thinner on my next try. I ended up with 6 tortillas about 6 or 7 inches in diameter from this recipe. And I got to use a bit of my corn flour!

Serve with anything you like - scrambled eggs, sauteed vegetables, beans and rice, flaked tuna .... the possibilities are endless.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Reenie's Rhubarb Loaf

Today I took some of the rhubarb I froze a few days ago and made rhubarb loaf. It was so yummy! I could have made rhubarb muffins with this recipe but my husband hates muffins so I baked this in 2 loaf pans and he loves it. Go figure...

Since I was using frozen chopped rhubarb I just pulled out 2 bags and popped them in the microwave (open them first!) for about 1 1/2 minutes. They defrost very quickly, with a fair bit of liquid which you use in the recipe. Don't discard it.

I didn't invent this but I call the recipe Reenie's Rhubarb Loaf because my husband and a few friends call me 'Reen or 'Reenie. 

Ingredients (except I forgot to put brown sugar in the photo)
In one large bowl, you'll need to mix the following:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

In a smaller bowl, blend 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Gently whisk in 1 egg, 1 cup buttermilk (I substituted 2%milk + 1 tsp white vinegar), and 1 tsp. vanilla.

Now add the wet to the dry along with 2 cups of chopped rhubarb. Since I used frozen, I defrosted it and left the liquid that came with defrosting in to equal 2 cups.

Final Mixture
Mix gently by hand just until the flour mixture is blended in. I use a rubber spatula for this step.

This is where you decide if you are making muffins or loaves. Grease whatever pans you are using. I use Spray Canola Oil to grease my pans.

I used 2 meatloaf pans sprayed with Canola Oil. After you pour and scrape the mixture into your pans, you are ready to make the topping.

Ready for the oven
The topping is easy - just melt 1 Tbsp butter or margarine and add 1/2 cup packed brown sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Then sprinkle the topping over your muffins or loaves. 

The loaves or muffins go in a 350' oven. Bake loaves for 40 to 45 minutes. Muffins only take 20 to 25 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a very sharp knife if you don't have a cake tester. If the knife comes away clean, your goodies are done.

Cooling on a rack
After you take your muffins or loaves out of the oven, let them sit for 10 minutes before turning them out on a rack. Eat the first bite while your baking is warm - indescribably delicious!

This recipe has been changed from the original which I got a few years ago - but I forget where I found it. I did change it slightly and will probably tweak it some more even though I really like the taste.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Harvesting Rhubarb, Freezing it and Saving Some for Rhubarb Muffins

I love rhubarb. As a kid we always had some growing in the backyard. I used to go out with a dish of sugar, break off a stalk (discard the poisonous leaf of course!), dip the rhubarb in the sugar and start eating. MMmmmmm I still remember how good that was!

You can do many things with rhubarb. You can freeze it and use it all winter. You can stew it and either eat it poured over ice cream, by itself or a myriad of ways. You can also freeze or preserve stewed rhubarb. You can bake pies or muffins, make jam... the list of what you can do with rhubarb is endless!

I used to make rhubarb custard pie when my kids were younger. I confess I haven't made one in more than 15 years. As much as I love them I eat way too much when I make them. My favourite food to make with rhubarb is Rhubarb Muffins.  There's something about them that just cries out GOODNESS! HEALTH! YUMMY!

When I moved from town (where I had my own little patch of rhubarb growing in the backyard) I made my new husband dig up the rhubarb to replant out here in the country. It took a few years but it grew. And it spread. Rhubarb is tenacious and hardy, it takes a lot to kill it. My two plants had huge mounds of earth dumped on them and one actually survived and sprang up from the earth mound a year later. So this year hubs tilled a huge garden (30x40 feet) around that lonely rhubarb plant. He set out railroad ties in a square about 12x12 around that one rhubarb plant and we are going to help it spread.

Today I decided I better harvest some as it seems to be loving the new freedom it has and I swear it's spreading already. The way I harvest rhubarb is to take a very sharp butcher knife and using it like a machete, I chop the rhubarb as far down the stalk to the ground as I can reach.

Then I hold the stalk and with one swing, chop the poisonous leaf off. I put the leaves into a tub for hubs to dispose of, and the stalks go into my bucket.

After you have harvested the rhubarb you want, bring it in the house and put it in a sink of cold water to wash any dirt or bugs off.

Next lay your rhubarb out to dry. When it's completely dry, I cut it into 1 inch lengths. Some people prefer it to be in 2 inch lengths. Then I put it into small freezer bags, make sure all the air is gone from the bag and then seal and label it.

I like to freeze rhubarb in the amounts I will need for making muffins or for stewing a small amount for hubs and I to enjoy with vanilla ice cream.

I just finished chopping and putting the rhubarb in small ziplock bags for the freezer and am happy to say I got about 12 cups of rhubarb harvested today. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Planting My Herb Garden

 Well, hubs and I bought the herbs I wanted for my herb garden this year. I got 8 plants of thyme and 8 of sage, 2 each of oregano, rosemary, basil, marjoram, parsley, mint and cardamon.

Because I can't crouch or kneel or stoop due to physical limitations, hubs set up sturdy plastic shelves for me last year and I did my herbs in window boxes on the shelves. It worked great, so this year I bought more.

Hubs had to plant them for me as exhuastion quickly sets in when I try to do things like that. He carefully took each little plant out of its plastic container and set them in the window boxes - 4 to each box.

When they have grown and spread, I'll harvest them in the fall and dry them inside the house on drying racks. Parsley can't be dried but I'll put it in ice cube trays to freeze in small blocks.

 Meantime I'll be enjoying my fresh herbs all summer long in various recipes! Then in the late winter I'll still have fresh sage, thyme and marjoram for the turkey at Christmas. Yum!

I am not likely to use the mint but I wanted to experiment with making mint tea

After hubs planted my herbs where I wanted, I labelled each one with white "stakes" with their names. That's not for me, as I know what each herb is! But I often send hubs or a family member out to cut a few fresh leaves for me while I'm making supper, and no one recognizes anything except parsley!

If I send my son out for thyme he's as apt to return with a handful of basil leaves. So hopefully the white labels will solve that little problem.

Here's an interesting book on growing herbs for anyone interested in starting. It's a great way to enjoy fresh tastes all year long and they smell wonderful when drying inside in the winter.