Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Anna Sultana’s Chicken Pot Pie, February’s Full Snow Moon and The Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon

A little over a week ago ago I posted the recipe for Ma’s Coconut Cream Pie.
It was based on the Impossible Pie that was featured on the box of Bisquick™ a few years ago.
If you're my age I'm sure you remember how popular that was a few years ago.

I got an e mail from a young lady who’d decided to buy a box of Bisquick™ and use that in the recipe.
She’d like to know if Ma had any other recipes that could make use of the rest of the Bisquick™.

Well, of course she did.

Ma had originally gotten a recipe which used Bisquick™ as a biscuit topping for chicken stew.
As with the Impossible Pie, Ma preferred not using a biscuit mix.
I’ll give you the recipes using both, as I did with the Coconut Cream Pie.

If you’d like to make the biscuit topping using Bisquick™:

Do not combine together the oil, milk and vinegar.
You'll just be adding the sour cream and milk for the liquid in this version.

In a medium bowl place
1 Cup Bisquick™
1/4 Cup sour cream
3 Tablespoons milk 
Stir just enough to make a stiff dough.
Spoon the dough in 6 mounds over the chicken mixture.


This recipe is a good way to use leftover rotisserie chicken, or cooked turkey or ham.
You can use a can of condensed cream of broccoli or asparagus soup, instead of the condensed cream of chicken soup.

You can also use canned or leftover cooked vegetables. 
A bit more or less of the vegetables - or meat - doesn’t matter.

If your family really likes biscuits, double the biscuit recipe and bake the extra biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet while you are baking the pie.

If you’d like the pot pie with a bit more flavour, add finely chopped scallions or your favourite spices to the meat/vegetable mixture or to the biscuit mix.

If you’d like to reduce the fat content, you can use a can of low fat soup, and skim milk, as well as light sour cream and cheese.
You can also leave out the sour cream and/or the cheese.

                        Chicken Pot Pie

3 Cups frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, green beans, peas)

Grease an 8 inch square baking pan

Preheat oven to 375º F

In a measuring cup stir together (this is for the biscuits)
1/4 Cup oil
1/2 Cup milk
1 teaspoon vinegar
Let sit while preparing the pie filling.

Pour into the prepared pan
1 can (10 fl oz) condensed cream of chicken soup 
1 can water
3/4 Cup sour cream
Stir just enough to blend.
4 Cups chopped cooked chicken
The thawed vegetables
1 Cup shredded old cheddar cheese 

In a medium bowl combine
2  Cup flour                               
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Stir in the milk mixture.
Stir just enough to make a stiff dough.
Spoon the dough in 6 mounds over the chicken mixture.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown.
Serve warm.
If you'd like more vegetables, a salad or a cooked vegetable would be fine.

About the sky this week, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac…

February 3 – Midpoint of winter. This is the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. First Quarter Moon, 11:19 pm.

February 7 – The large waxing gibbous Moon will appear inside the very large asterism that we in the Northern Hemisphere call the Winter Circle, sometimes called the Winter Hexagon. 

February 9 – The large waxing gibbous Moon will be just 4 degrees from the Beehive Cluster, also known as Praesape, and M44.

February 10 – February’s Full Snow Moon at 7:33 p.m. Learn how February’s full Moon got its many names in this short Farmers’ Almanac video

February 11 – The Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon. This eclipse favours the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, where the Moon enters the Earth’s outer (penumbral) shadow soon after moonrise. 
For the rest of the United States and Canada, the eclipse will already be underway as it rises. The Moon will be passing through the southern part of the Earth’s shadow and at maximum its upper limb will come tantalizingly close to the much darker central shadow (the umbra). 
So at maximum, a subtle, but perceptible dimming will be evident along the Moon’s upper limb. 
Moon Enters Penumbra: 5:34 pm
Maximum Eclipse: 7:45 pm 
Moon Leaves Penumbra: 9:53 pm
Magnitude of the Eclipse: 0.988

Friday, January 27, 2017

Happy Year of the Rooster, 2017 / Chinese New Year Traditions

Kung Hei Fat Choy!
Happy Chinese New Year - the Year of the Rooster, the Fire Rooster, to be exact.
The Rooster brings surprises in both adventures and romance.
The festivities will end with  the Lantern Festival, which happens two weeks from now on the 15th day of the first month.
Plenty of time to party hearty!!

A New Year always means a new beginning. 
To celebrate properly one should have paid off all debts, purchased new clothes, painted the front door, and gotten a new haircut.
Maybe trying a new recipe counts, too.

Homes are cleaned before the beginning of the new year.
So give the place a quick once over.
And put away all cleaning equipment before New Year's Eve because good fortune may be swept away if you are tempted to clean on New Year's Day.

Firecrackers are set off on New Year's Eve to welcome in the New Year.
Flowers are an important part of New Year decorations. 
Red is a key colour, as it symbolizes a bright and happy future.
Homes are usually decorated with special red and gold banners, to represent happiness and prosperity.

There are many different traditions observed over the New Year period:
 • Decorate your house with apricot and peach blossoms, 
                 symbols of new beginnings
 • Share a New Year’s feast: enjoy uncut noodles, symbol of longevity, 
                 and fish and chicken, symbols of prosperity
 • Traditional dishes are steamed rice pudding, long noodles, and dumplings
 • For luck, wealth, good health, and a long life eat oranges and tangerines
 • For happiness and wealth eat persimmons
 • Do not cut your hair or use sharp knives or scissors on New Year’s Day 
                 as you may cut off good fortune
 • Wear red to scare away evil spirits and bad fortune
 • Give red envelopes to friends and family for good luck and prosperity

About food...
 • Many people avoid meat on the first day to bring good luck in the New Year. 
 • Day seven is the birthday of human beings, and long noodles (for longevity) 
                 and raw fish (for success) are eaten. 
 • On the 13th day, people eat rice congee and mustard greens
                 to settle their stomachs.
 • The 14th day is spent getting ready for the Lantern Festival on the 15th night
                 and eating some leftovers. 

Your behaviour on New Year’s Day sets the tone for the year.
No pressure.
Just so you know… the Year of the Rooster is
 • the Best Year for: Dragons
 • an Amazing Year for: Rooster, Ox, Snake
 • a Good Year for: Tigers, Rats
 • a Mixed Year for: Pigs, Goats, Monkeys
 • a Difficult Year for: Dogs, Rabbits, Horses

Sometimes the year of the Rooster is called the year of the Phoenix or the year of the Chicken. Two recipes that might suit the chicken theme, Italian style:

About the ‘do not use sharp knives on New Year’s Day’ rule…
Maybe you should pick up some chicken parts.
Better to be safe.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Anna Sultana’s Coconut Cream Pie for the Family or Two / Bisquick™ Impossible Pie

Goodness! January is over half over.
It’s been one of those months. 
Yeah… THOSE months.
But, no matter what’s happening during the month, we all have to eat.
And a bit of dessert takes some of the rough edges off of the day.
Well, you knew it would.

About fifty years ago Bisquick™ included a recipe for Impossible Pie on the back of its box.
Bisquick™ is a baking mix that can be used for making biscuits, dumplings, pancakes and other meal staples.
It's handy for camping trips and in-a-rush meals.
Well, one of their cooks invented Impossible Pie, and it soon became quite popular.
The flour settles to a crust, the coconut makes a topping, and the centre is a custard.
You don’t have to make a crust and yet you can serve the family a pie! 
What’s not to love?

Ma wasn’t big on buying mixes.
To be honest, neither were most of her friends.
So, somebody came up with a recipe using flour instead of the mix.
Ma got the recipe and tweaked it.
Well, you knew she would.


If you want to use the whole 14 ounce bag of coconut, do it.
If you think the mixture is too much for your pie plate, put some in a custard cup - or two - and bake along with the pie.
If you want a firmer texture, place the baked pie in the refrigerator for two hours.

You can pour the batter over stewed fruit, such as apples. 
Bake at 350º F for 45 minutes.

                        Coconut Cream Pie 

Grease and flour a 9 inch pie plate

Preheat oven to 350º F

Place in a blender
2 Cups milk
1 Cup shredded coconut
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
1/2 Cup flour
1/2 Cup butter 
3/4 to 1 Cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Mix well.
Pour batter into the prepared pie plate.
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until centre tests firm.

It's good warm or cold.
Cover and refrigerate leftover pie.

Want to make a dessert for two? It’s easy.
Grease 2 custard cups or an individual ramekin

Place in a blender
1/2 Cup milk
4 Tablespoons shredded coconut
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons butter 
4 Tablespoons sugar
dash salt
dash nutmeg
Pour into prepared custard cups or ramekin
Bake at 350º F for 50 minutes. 

If you’d like to make the original, using the mix, here it is:

1 Cup flaked or shredded coconut
3/4 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup Original Bisquick™ mix
1/4 Cup butter or margarine, softened
2 Cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch pie plate with shortening or cooking spray.
In medium bowl, stir all ingredients until blended. Pour into pie plate.
Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until golden brown and knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cover and refrigerate any remaining pie.

About the sky this week, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac

January 23 - Castor and Pollux, the brightest stars of Gemini, the Twins are nearly overhead at around 11:30 p.m. local time.

January 25 - About 45 minutes before sunrise look very low to the southeast horizon for a narrow sliver of the waning crescent Moon. About 5° to its lower left will be Mercury. Binoculars will help pick both objects up against the brightening dawn sky.

January 27 - New Moon at 7:07 p.m.