When I was in Detroit Lakes a couple of weeks ago to give a cooking demonstration at the hospital there, I took time to browse around downtown. I couldn’t pass up the Boys and Girls Club thrift store. I’ve discovered some real treasures at second-hand stores. This time I came out with a cookbook. I could have come out with two books, actually. Buy one book for 50 cents and get another book free. But, I didn’t have a lot of time and one book for 50 cents seemed like a real bargain to me.
"Ritual of the Hearth," by Roberta Sickler was published in 1973. The book contains 20 seasonal menus and 116 vegetarian recipes. In the introduction, Sickler states, "Cooking with fresh, whole, healthy foods is an interaction with nature than can take place anywhere there is fire and appetite. A good cook, like all artists, takes cues from the subtle change of nature. Our foods are seasonal." That sounds exactly like what so many of us are trying to do these days — eat food that is good for us, food that is fresh, seasonal and as local as possible.
I was finally able to purchase fresh corn on the cob that was grown just a few hours from my house. I used some of that corn to make some Fresh Corn Soup. With few ingredients, it’s not difficult to make, doesn’t take a lot of time and has pure sweet corn flavor. The recipe is in my newspaper column this week. You’ll find my recipe for Fresh Corn Soup right here.
I came upon a recipe for Crunchy Corn Tortillas in Sickler’s cookbook. They sounded easy enough to make, so I thought I’d give them a try. They turned out more like soft, thin pancakes rather than crunchy tortillas. But they were very tasty.
When pushed into a bowl, the soft tortillas form an edible cup for an a la king type mixture with Fresh Corn Soup as the base. I stirred a little adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers into the soup. (I seldom use a whole can at one time. I freeze any of the pepper and sauce in a ziptop bag. When I need some, I simply break a piece off of the frozen chunk.) Add chipotle peppers or adobo sauce just a little at a time. Taste and add more until it holds the heat you desire. It doesn’t take much adobo sauce to make your mouth burn.
I stir fried some chicken that I seasoned with Emeril’s Southwest Essence. I think chili powder would work well, too. I seeded some tomatoes and chopped them up. It was easy to tuck warm tortillas (wrapped in a paper towel and heated for just seconds in the microwave) into bowls. I ladled the hot (and spicy) corn soup into each tortilla cup and arranged the chicken and tomatoes over the top. A sprinkling of chopped cilantro adds nice flavor.
These soft Crunchy Tortillas from Sickler’s cookbook would also make delicious breakfast burritos.
I put one of the tortillas directly on a rack in a hot oven to see if it would get crunchy. It did get crunchy, but I actually prefer the flavor of the tortillas when they are warm and soft. I broke the baked, crunchy tortilla into pieces and used the pieces to garnish the Fresh Corn Soup.
I’m trying to decide which of Roberta Sickler’s recipes to try next. I’m leaning toward Blueberry Skillet Souffle. I hear there are blueberries ready to pick on a nearby farm.
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons soy oil (I used grapeseed oil)
- 1/2 cup corn flour (I used finely ground organic corn meal)
- 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Use a whisk to mix the egg, milk and oil. Add flours and salt all at once and mix just until blended. Set the batter aside for at least 30 minutes.
Ladle the batter onto a hot, oiled griddle, about 1/4 cup at a time. Turn the tortilla when it is brown on the bottom. The tortilla should be brown on each side. Lay the tortillas on paper towels. Makes about 4 to 5 tortillas.
Recipe from "Ritual of the Hearth," by Roberta Sickler. 1973.