Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Sociologist in Da House

Congratulations and congratulations to my daughter who earned her bachelor's degree! We love you so much. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Youngstown Cash Mob Takes a Road Trip!

We’re going all the way… to Niles! Get your rib bibs out, Cash Mobsters, and meet us at Niki’z Pub this Saturday, May 18. Besides the ribs special, you can order a chicken parmesan dinner, or any of the other appetizers, salads and baskets on the menu, which can be perused here: Meatless meals include a vegetarian pita and a cheese quesadilla. We met owner Nick Logan at the Walrus Subs cash mob and they’re looking forward to our visit.

Youngstown Cash Mob
Sat. 18 May, noon – 6:00 p.m.
Niki’z Pub
509 Mason St., Niles
Ribs and Chicken Parm Dinners
Clam, Shrimp and Chicken Baskets
Quesadillas, Wings, Burgers
Dine In or Carry Out
It sounds a little crazy to say that Niles is a road trip, but we’re trying not to spread ourselves too thin. There are so many fantastic locally owned businesses we want to put in the spotlight. We’re still hoping someone in the Warren/Trumbull Co. region steps up and starts a cash mob, to talk up the great places in our neighborhoods to the north.

Congratulations to Maggies Magic Muffins, winner of the June Cash Mob! Maggies has two locations, in Boardman and Austintown. Besides incredible muffins and cupcakes, Maggies features a full and delicious lunch menu. We’re bumping up the cash mob date to Saturday, June 8.

Thanks to local artist Lisa Zitello for designing Youngstown Cash Mob merchandise for us. Check out the organic cotton t-shirts and canvas totes, and vinyl window stickers. They will only be available online, and only until June 1. You can pick them up at the June Cash Mob at Maggies Magic Muffins, or pay a small shipping fee to have them delivered to you. This is not a fundraiser for the cash mob, merely a fun way to spread the word about our organization, while supporting a local artist.

For our July cash mob we’ll be trying something completely different: an activity cash mob! On our Facebook page there have been many suggestions: a themed hike at Mill Creek Park, an art or writing class at the Y, bowling or putt-putt golf. We will take nominations on Facebook the first Sunday in June, and vote the following weekend.

If you come to Niki’z Pub Saturday, stop by the table to put your name in for a free drawing for a gift certificate from Nona’s Family Closet. Nona’s and the North Lima Business & Shopping Complex came in close second and third in a lively vote with Niki’z. They, and the many businesses that have been nominated, have obviously earned the respect and affection of our communities.

Thanks for helping us spread the word!

Cash mob: like flash mob, only the singing is optional.

Friday, May 10, 2013

More Just Desserts (and Muffins)

I'm on a streak of winner new recipes lately. I've been trying to pay attention to the companies that make the ingredients I cook and bake with. I've already sung the praises of Bob's Red Mill, so I'll just add one more note, along with a refrain for King Arthur and Organic Valley, both worker-owned companies. I can get Organic Valley butter, eggs, milk and cream cheese. I've given Stonyfield the boot - their unholy alliance with Walmart made me nervous, but when they came out against labeling GMOs, they lost me. Bob's Red Mill even makes baking power and cornstarch!

The recipe for these muffins came with my energy bill from Wisconsin Public Service. My god, those recipes were amazing. I always tried them. I took these to the open studio at the Old Ward Bakery, and lots of people knew about the recipe, so this is old news.

Glorious Morning Muffins

2 c. flour (King Arthur makes a whole wheat white flour, a cross between whole grain and refined. It’s too heavy for, say, layer cake, but works wonderfully in a recipe with fruit, nuts, oatmeal or other kinds of texture. We just learned that diverticulitis is a new disease, brought on by super-refinement of flour, so we're on the lookout for ways to un-refine.)
1 T. baking powder
2 tsp. allspice
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 ¼ sugar (I’ve been using organic coconut sugar for baking. It’s not quite granular and not quite powder. It doesn’t dissolve well in, say, coffee, but it’s fantastic for baking.)
¾ c. oil
4 eggs, slightly beaten
¾ lb. carrots, shredded
8 oz. crushed pineapple, drained
1 ½ c. raisins (I used a mixture of organic red flame raisins and mission figs. I love that Fig Newton-seediness of figs, and they were wonderful here.)
1 c. nuts, chopped (We had some so-so cocktail peanuts that weren’t being eaten, and the peanuttiness was most excellent in combination with the other flavors.)

Preheat oven to 375. Combine first seven ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and stir only until wet and dry ingredients are combined. Spoon into greased or paper-lined muffin tins. Bake 15-20 min., until top springs back. Makes 24. (I used mini-muffins, and they were spectacular. I kept three pans in circulation and it made about a gazillion.) (I prefer not to use papers, to get a better muffin edge, but I had some papers to use up and it worked fine.)

New York Cheesecake

I clipped this one from the newspaper. It calls for a graham cracker crust, but I’m a bit of a snob in that department. I think graham crackers are bitter and pedestrian, especially for cheesecake, which is elegant and expensive. Why not go all the way? It’s the only time I buy cookies, but I linger over the Pepperidge Farm display. I chose lemon this time, and they were terrific, but chocolate, ginger, shortbread, really any flavor, would be delicious, since the neutral creaminess of the cheesecake sets off any crust.

Basic crumb crust:

1 ½ c. cookie crumbs (I freeze leftover cookies, too, and this is a great way to use them.) (If you're using graham crackers, add 1/4 c. sugar.)
6 T. butter, melted

Drop into springform pan bottom. Don’t smush it down – the cheesecake will hold it together, and if it isn’t plastered onto the bottom, it will slide right off the pan for easy serving.


2 lb. cream cheese (I like Organic Valley, or Neufchatel (light). A lower fat cream cheese should just be cream cheese, no starch or other fillers. Avoid carrageenan!)
¾ c. sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 T. cornstarch
1 c. sour cream

Preheat oven to 400. In large mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth and light. (Walk away. Let this whirl for five minutes to eliminate lumpiness.)
Beat in eggs, vanilla and cornstarch, only until mixed.
Stir in sour cream. Pour onto prepared crust and bake 45 min. Allow cake to cool in oven, with door propped open slightly, for three hours. Chill.
The top will be a bit shrivelly and unattractive, so I like to top it with something right before serving. For this one, I shaved dark chocolate with a peeler, and the chocolate set off the lemon crust nicely.

This recipe was clipped from a flour bag.

Oatmeal Cookies

1 ½ c. flour
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1` egg, beaten
1 c. sugar
½ c. butter, melted
½ c. shortening
1 T. molasses
¼ c. milk
1 ¾ c. oatmeal (I use Bob’s Red Mill thick cut oats, and it makes for a wonderfully chewiness.)
1 c. raisins or nuts, chopped, or ½ c. each (I used organic red flame raisins, which aren’t overpoweringly raisiny. Would also be great with chocolate chips or pieces.)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease baking sheets.
Sift together the dry ingredients. Blend in the remaining ingredients and drop by teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets. Bake 10-12 min., until edges are golden brown. Makes about six dozen.

Peggy Potts won first place in 2004 for this recipe, my newspaper clipping tells me. And no wonder.

Razz-Ma-Tazz Bars

½ c. butter
1 (12 oz.) package of white chocolate chips (I love Ghirardelli. I began boycotting Nestle in high school, and they’ve been continuously evil since then.)
2 large eggs
½ c. sugar
1 c. flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. almond extract
½ c. seedless raspberry jam
¼ c. toasted sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 325. Grease and sugar a 9” baking dish.
Melt butter in microwave on high for one minute. Add one cup chips, do not stir; let stand.
Beat eggs until foamy. Add sugar and beat until light lemon color (about five min.). Stir in chip-butter mixture.
Add flour, salt and extract. Mix at low speed until combined.
Spread 2/3 mixture in pan. Bake 15-17 min. until light brown. Remove from oven. Heat jam in microwave for 30 sec. Spread over top of mixture. Stir remaining chips in batter and spoon on top of jam layer. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake 25-30 min. or until edges are browned. (Center will be soft.) Cool. (Eat a little spoonful warm. Mmmm.) Cut small – these are so rich, and so lovely.