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Clean out the pantry for a fresh new start in 2020

Series: Welcome to my Kitchen | Story 20

Last updated 1/18/2020 at 1:24pm

December holidays have come and gone, and now we are in the new year 2020. Resolutions have been made and maybe one of yours is to prepare more home cooked meals. My hope in writing this column, is that the recipes and tips shared will help you to this end.

March of 2020 will mark 16 years of writing this column, sharing readers’ recipes and cooking tips, as well as recipes from my personal collection. We have searched out recipes for dishes shared at potluck meals and answered culinary questions. We recently added a Welcome to My Kitchen Facebook page, where I share tips and recipes I run out of room to share in a timely manner in the column.

Let’s start 2020 with a pantry inventory. Most of us have great plans for holiday baking. And most of us have some items on the shelf that didn’t get used. Gather up those items and either make a plan for using them up in the next month or so or donate them to the food bank, so they can be used up before their expiration dates. Clear your shelf space for meal preparation staples.

Check the refrigerator for perishable leftovers. Toss what no one will eat and make plans, soup or casseroles, for what remains. Note: I have four of the six soups I know I will need to make for Lent suppers in the freezer, made from Christmas turkey and ham bones.

Barbara Walter shared her recipe for Roasted Winter Vegetables. Since you can vary the vegetable mix, this is a great recipe for clearing out your refrigerator vegetable bin. The recipe calls for, winter squash, yams and onion, but other winter vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, carrots and beets work well.

Roasted Winter Vegetables

2 cups coarsely chopped winter squash, like butternut or acorn

2 cups coarsely chopped yams

1 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp garlic salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine vegetables with oil and seasoning, mixing well to evenly coat. Spread vegetables on a large rimmed baking pan and bake 30 minutes, or until vegetables are golden brown and tender. Yield: 6-8 side servings.

Note: Double or triple the recipe if you have lots of vegetables on hand. The mixture reheats nicely in the microwave or conventional oven.

Chocolate Torte, the dessert Barbara served at a December Christmas party, is flour and gluten free. The rich chocolate flavor pairs nicely with whipped cream and berry toppings.

Chocolate Torte

1/2 cup butter

1 cup good quality chocolate chips

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/8 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Line an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick baking spray. Set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter. Add chocolate chips and whisk until melted. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Add sugar, salt, vanilla and eggs. Whisk until well blended. Stir in cocoa powder.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 25 minutes. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack. IMMEDIATELY, flip right side up, and cool completely. Serve with whipped cream and fresh berries. Yield: 8 to 10 very rich servings.

Note: When working with gluten-free recipes, it is important to pay attention to pan size, cooking temperature and exact measurements. Also, substituting other ingredients is not recommended.

Bread baking has been a favorite kitchen craft of mine for most of my life. Kneading dough is great therapy. Rye Beer Bread is a recipe I got from Debbie Buscher in 1989. A batter proofed bread, you set it to work overnight to mix and bake the next day. The finished product is delicious with soups and stews, or for deli sandwiches.

Rye Beer Bread

1 packet regular yeast

1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)

1 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup beer

1/2 cup molasses

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp caraway seed

1 1/2 cups rye flour

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 Tbsp very soft butter or margarine

About 5 cups all-purpose flour

In a small dish, soften yeast in the warm water.

Scald buttermilk (150 degrees). Pour into a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl. Add beer, molasses, salt, caraway seed and rye flour. Beat mixture until smooth.

Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place overnight.

Next morning, stir in brown sugar and soft butter and 2 cups of the all-purpose flour. Stir in additional flour to make soft but not sticky dough, about 2 1/2 cups.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place dough in a large greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface. Cover loosely and let rise until double in bulk.

Punch dough down and divide in half. Let dough rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile grease the bottom of two round cake pans.

Form each portion into a round loaf and place in prepared pans. With a sharp knife or bread lame cut 3 parallel lines across loaf surface. Cover loosely and let rise until double.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaves 40 minutes or until they sound hollow when thumped with two fingers. Remove from oven and pans and place on racks to cool completely. Yield: 2 large round loaves.

What are your favorite family meal recipes, make-ahead and freezer meals and Insta-pot and air-fryer recipes?

Send your recipes to: Welcome to My Kitchen, c/o The Odessa Record, P.O. Box 458, Odessa. WA 99159, email or drop them in the Welcome to My Kitchen mail tin in The Odessa Record office. Follow us on Facebook at Welcome to My Kitchen. Winter heating season can be hard on most houseplants. Misting with water at the same time as watering can help keep your plants looking nice.


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