Welcome to Up To Scratch, a blog about cooking with the purest ingredients available to us. If you're new here, please visit the about page to learn more about the project. If you're old here, continue reading.

Oh, hey, if you haven't signed up to follow along, please take a minute to do that. You can follow on Twitter, through RSS feeds, or via email. Cool, huh?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rita's Recipes: Potato Soup

Article first published as Rita's Recipes: Potato Soup on Blogcritics.

{© Rita Daue, c. 1942}
When my husband's grandmother passed away a few years ago, I had the good fortune of inheriting her cookbooks. While the majority of them were either commercial printings or collections of clippings, one was a hand-written journal from 1940s Germany. It was a Christmas gift, given to her in 1935, and she began recording her favorite meals in 1942.

With my husband's help, I'm translating her recipes from German to English. With a little trial and error, I'm updating her methods and adjusting the ingredients to those that might be found in a typical American kitchen.

Rita's Potato Soup is a rich, thick dish perfect for cold, dreary days. Pair with sausage and bread for a true German experience!

Rita's Potato Soup
Serves 4-5 people

Ingredients:
4-6 strips of bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
8 cups water
3-4 Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 cups water*
3 beef bouillon cubes*
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley for garnish

*You may substitute 3 cups beef broth or beef stock

Directions:
1. In a medium saucepan, cook the bacon. Drain on paper towels and crumble. Set aside.
2. In the same saucepan, cook the onions and celery until tender. Remove from the pan and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, bring 8 cups of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and boil until the flesh is easily pierced with a knife. Drain.
4. In the saucepan, bring the 3 cups of water to a boil. Add beef bouillon cubes and stir until dissolved. If using beef broth, skip this step. If using beef stock, boil the stock before use.
5. Puree cooked potatoes with onion and celery in a food processor or blender, adding the beef broth as necessary. Work in batches to prevent clumping.
6. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with crumbled bacon and parsley. Serve hot.

Enjoy!

If you liked this post, please consider sharing it. You can email it, blog it, Tweet it, share it on Facebook, or Buzz about it by clicking the appropriate icon at the bottom of the post.

Subscribe to Up To Scratch by email

Friday, April 15, 2011

10 Snacks in Under 10 Minutes

Article first published as 10 Snacks in Under 10 Minutes on Blogcritics.


[image source: Amazon.com]
One of the many obstacles to eating healthy and losing weight is the issue of time management. So often, it's so much easier to grab a bag of chips or a cookie from that strategically-placed box on the counter than it is to prepare a healthy, filling snack. If you can find ten minutes in your afternoon, however, then you have ten delicious snacks to add to your diet. Bonus? All of these are 150 calories or less.

Peanut Butter Pleasure
Peanut butter can add a much-needed zing to an otherwise bland meal or snack. All of these preparations use full-fat, smooth peanut butter. For more calorie savings, try using a reduced-fat version.

Apple with Peanut Butter: Cut an apple in half along the core. Remove the seeds and fibrous parts and fill with peanut butter (½ apple, 50 cal; 1 Tbsp peanut butter, 90 cal; total calories, 140).

Ants on a Log: Wash a celery stalk and remove the ends. Cut into 2-inch pieces, fill with peanut butter, and top with raisins (1 stalk celery, 10 cal; 1 Tbsp peanut butter, 90 cal; 12 raisins, 20 cal, total calories, 120).

Peanut Butter Crackers: Top saltine crackers with peanut butter (3 crackers, 60 cal; 1 Tbsp peanut butter, 90 cal; total calories, 150).

Fats, the Non-Jiggly Kind
Some fat is essential to any healthy diet; the trick is finding which kind and how much. These three preparations include the “good” fats – monosaturated and polyunsaturated.

Hummus with Bell Pepper Slices: Wash, seed, and slice a sweet bell pepper. Serve with hummus (3 Tbsp commercially-prepared hummus, 100 cal; ½ yellow bell pepper, 25 cal; total calories, 125).

Avocado-Cream Cheese Spread on Toast Soldiers: Mix mashed avocado with softened cream cheese. Spread onto toasted strips of white bread (1/8 avocado, 40 cal; 1/12 c low-fat cream cheese, 40 cal; 1 slice commercially-prepared white bread, 65 cal; total calories, 145).

Ranch Dip with Carrot Sticks: Mix sour cream with powdered ranch mix. Serve with carrot matchsticks (1/16 c sour cream, 55 cal; 1 serving ranch mix, 5 cal; 1 c carrot sticks, 50 cal; total calories, 110).

Grab 'n Go
Some days, you simply don't have the time to prepare anything. Thankfully, there's an alternative to chips and cookies that's just as fast.

Almonds: 19 kernels, 145 cal.
Pretzels: 6 twists, 140 cal.
Grapes: 1 cup, 60 cal.
Low Moisture, Part-Skim String Cheese: 1 stick, 80 cal.

Happy snacking!

Nutritional information was gathered from Nutrition.gov, a creation of the National Agricultural Library, U.S. Department of Agriculture. All calorie values are rounded; actual caloric content may vary.

If you liked this post, please consider sharing it. You can email it, blog it, Tweet it, share it on Facebook, or Buzz about it by clicking the appropriate icon at the bottom of the post.

Subscribe to Up To Scratch by email

Friday, April 8, 2011

Announcement: Up to Scratch is Now on Blogcritics.org!

[blogcritics.org]
I have some good news: I'm now writing over at Blogcritics.org!

A few days ago, the publisher of the online magazine invited me to join their group of contributing writers for the relaunched TASTES channel, which focuses on food and lifestyle. After looking over their policies and the caliber of writing on the site, I decided to accept her invitation.

I'm excited. I've written for other websites before, but this is the first one that actually reached out to me instead of the other way around. It's funny - growing up, I was completely uninterested in anything domestic (i.e. cooking, sewing) and I much preferred math and science to literature and history. Now, it looks like I'm going to have an opportunity to write about domestic issues.

One of the things that I really like about the website is that you have the opportunity to increase your quantity of articles by writing short opinion pieces and news flashes. My first article on the site - which was required within 24 hours of receiving your log-in credentials - is an opinion piece on fresh pasta. You can read that here: Fresh Pasta FTW!

A lot of posts on Up To Scratch are now going to be reprints of what's on Blogcritics.org (two birds with one stone, yo), but we'll still bring you original content on a somewhat regular basis. In the meantime, relive our Month of Awesome by going through the archives or check out some of the other articles on the TASTES channel.

If you liked this post, please consider sharing it. You can email it, blog it, Tweet it, share it on Facebook, or Buzz about it by clicking the appropriate icon at the bottom of the post.

Subscribe to Up To Scratch by email

Friday, March 25, 2011

recipe: granola


It occurred to me that I never posted the actual recipe for the homemade granola that I made my family during the Month of Awesome. I think that part of that was because I hadn't yet discovered the U.S. copyright policy for recipes and the basis for my recipe came from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook: Celebrating the Promise. Now that I'm more educated, though, I can drop some knowledge on you.

Ingredients:
  • 2 c regular rolled oats
  • 1 c coarsely chopped pecans (can substitute walnuts or almonds)
  • 1/2 c shelled sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 c toasted wheat germ
  • 1/4 c flax seeds
  • 1/2 c honey (can substitute maple syrup)
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grease a 13x9x2-inch casserole dish and set aside. 
  2. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. Make a well and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the honey and cooking oil. Pour honey mixture into the well in the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly coated.
  3. Spread mixture evenly into the greased casserole dish. Bake for 20 minutes in a 300-degree oven. Stir, then bake for 15 more minutes or until cereal is light brown.
  4. Spread baked granola onto a large piece of foil. When cooled, store in an airtight container for up to a week OR store in freezer bags and freeze for up to 2 months. Enjoy with milk.
If you liked this post, please consider sharing it. You can email it, blog it, Tweet it, share it on Facebook, or Buzz about it by clicking the appropriate icon at the bottom of the post.

Subscribe to Up To Scratch by email

Friday, March 18, 2011

the aftermath: waste

[image source]
One of our goals for the Month of Awesome was to create less waste. As far as we can tell, we reduced our trash output by about 15 gallons, or a little over one trash can-full, per week. On average, we fill the trash can three times during the week; during the Month of Awesome, it was only about two.

Prior to the Month of Awesome, we threw out a lot of food that we just didn't get around to eating. During the Month of Awesome, I reused so much food in other dishes that very little of it spoiled and had to be thrown out. We also ate more leftovers instead of resorting to take-out or fast food.

Of what we did throw out, most of it was was biodegradable. We produced a lot of vegetable peels and kitchen scraps, as well as paper packaging for flour, sugar, etc. The plastic and glass packaging was limited to beans and grains, wheat germ, and wine bottles, things that we could recycle if it was a little more convenient for our area.

(OK, let me be honest--recycling here is probably more convenient than it is elsewhere, but we're too lazy to buy the bins, rinse the bottles, and put trash our TWICE a week. This may change in the future ... but probably not.)

The majority of our waste comes from diapers. We have two kids who still sport the swaddle-butt, and we don't use cloth diapers.

I know. No recycling AND disposable diapers. We're the reason the earth is going to decompose and 'splode into a gazillion little pieces, spewing the remnants of civilization into the inky darkness of the infinite universe.

Anyway.

Our disposable diapers take up a lot of trash space, and that's one thing that we couldn't reduce. If anything, we had MORE dirty diapers because the kids were pooping on a more regular basis.

If I may ... we all were. Everyone was regularly flushed out in a comfortable manner, and I think that's the major benefit of the Month of Awesome. We had fewer complaints about stomach aches, and everyone generally seemed happier, lighter, and more energetic.

Now that we've incorporated pre-prepared food back into our diets, we're seeing changes back to the way things were, but not as pronounced as they were before. Our trash production is still down, especially since we started composting, and if we start recycling, we can probably get that down to one can a week.

How else can we cut our trash output?

If you liked this post, please consider sharing it. You can email it, blog it, Tweet it, share it on Facebook, or Buzz about it by clicking the appropriate icon at the bottom of the post.

Subscribe to Up To Scratch by email
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...