12.25.2010

PERFECT DINNER ROLLS

Perfectly Easy Dinner Rolls

This is a no fail recipe. If you have never tried making bread, this is a great recipe to try! It makes delicious yeast rolls that are a perfect accomaniment for any meal, whether it's a special dinner or a simple soup.

1 cup warm water
2 pkgs. yeast
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. salt
4-4 1/2 cups flour

Combine the warm water and yeast in a large bowl.  Let the mixture stand until yeast becomes foamy, about 5 minutes.
Stir in butter, sugar, eggs and salt. 
Beat in flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough is too stiff to mix. Some flour may not be needed. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or up to 4 days.
Grease a 9x13 baking pan. Turn the chilled dough out onto a lightly floured board. Divide into 24 equal-size pieces.  Roll each piece into a smooth round ball, and place evenly in the baking dish. Cover and let rise until double, about 1-1/2 hours. 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake until rolls are golden brown, 15-20 minutes.  Brush warm rolls with melted butter, if desired. Break apart to serve.

I use my stand mixer to mix this recipe but you can mix it by hand. I usually use all of the 4 1/2 cups of flour. The dough will still be a bit sticky when you are done adding the flour, but that's okay. These are yeasty, sweet tasting rolls. Yield 2 dozen

CHRISTMAS DAY 2010

CANTONESE CHICKEN AND MUSHROOMS

We are having our family Christmas meal the day after Christmas this year.  Our one traditional food for Christmas day is shrimp cocktail, so tonight we plan to have that with some wine, imported cheeses, and crackers. I'll cook a ham and all the trimmings for tomorrow's meal so I decided to try this new recipe that I've been saving, for our Christmas day meal. We all liked it a lot. Every bite is a discovery of a new flavor, from the slightly fishy taste of the oyster sauce, to the crunchy freshness of the bok choy, and the nutty sweetness of exotic mushrooms. I did add some dried hot peppers from our garden to give it a bit of a kick, as well as one carrot  sliced diagonally.  The carrot adds much needed color as well as crunch.  

Most of the work involved in making this dish is in the preparation. Once all the ingredients are prepped the actual cooking time is relatively short. The dish has a very authentic taste, which I attribute to the oyster sauce.  Yes, it has a slightly fishy taste, but it's not off-putting at all. This is a low-calorie dish with only 303 calories per serving.

1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup oyster sauce
2 TBS cornstarch
2 TBS peanut oil ( I used olive oil)
6 scallions, cut into 2 inch pieces
8 thin slices peeled ginger
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
8-10 ounces sliced mushrooms, such as cremini, shitake or a mix
12 ounces baby bok choy, cut crosswies into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/4 c low-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil (again I used olive oil)
Cooked rice, for serving
1. Toss chicken with oyster sauce in a bowl.  Mix cornstarch with 3 TBS cold water in another bowl.
2. Heat a wok or deep skillet over high heat until hot.  Add the peanut oil, then scallions, ginger and garlic, and stir-fry for 20 seconds. Add chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink on outside, 2-3 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and bok choy.
3. Add broth and sesame oil to skillet and bring to boil over high heat.  Add cornstarch mixture, and return to boil, cooking and tossing until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thick and glossy, 2-3 minutes.  Serve over rice

12.21.2010

CAT STORIES

BUSTER the CAT

I don't know where the time goes. It's been almost a month since I last posted, which is unacceptable! I love reading blogs, and have quite a list of favorites that I go to on a regular basis. It's always a sad day to find that nothing new has been posted! I'm not sure why I like reading blogs as much as I do. It might be the same reason that I enjoy reading memoirs so much.  They are one of my favorite genres.

Today I had quite the excitment here in our little corner of the world. Whoever thinks that living in the country is boring is very wrong, although, this story could have happened in a big city as much as here in a rural setting.

Before Richard and I got married we got a puppy. He was part sheepdog..a mutt..of the most delightful kind. He was adorable and a very good dog. Richard was an avid reader and named him after a literary character: Reepicheep. I wonder if any of my followers will know what book that is from??

Over the years, we had dogs and cats. We had indoor and outdoor pets. One time we had a dog that got pregnant without our knowing and we only found out after it came from the barn with a puppy dangling from it!!! Oh my GOSH! That was quite the experience!

When you live in the country you usually are able to find FREE pets when you want them.  There are always signs out for free kittens or puppies. Of course, you can't be choosy, but you usually can pick the one you want. From time to time, you also find animals on your doorstep. It does seem cruel and thoughtless, but people still drop off unwanted pets near a country house in the hopes that someone will adopt, feed, and give it a place to sleep.  We've been the lucky recipients of numerous cats by this drop-off method. One cat, who we named Dan, was near death when he was abandoned.

I was outdoors and heard a weak 'mewing' sound and there he was sitting in the middle of the road. It's a narrow, country road with little traffic, but still a dangerous place for a cat who wasn't able to move very fast.  I think he was sitting there waiting for his owners to come back and get him. It was VERY pitiful. He was starving and emaciated. Richard didn't want to take him in, but Cole and I insisted, and as it turned out, he was one of our best cats ever.  I truly believe he realized we snatched him from death's door and returned the favor by being a really sweet cat.

Dan was an indoor cat, but one day he got out and didn't return. After several days we had lost hope of his returning, and since we didn't find him in the road, we thought it was possible that a coyote or even our neighborhood Bald Eagle had snatched him for food. We were all quite devestated, and Richard would go out and call for him for weeks without fail, hoping against hope, that he would return.

Meanwhile, we got our current cat, Buster, who was also a dark tiger cat and looked a lot like Dan. Several months passed, when one day Richard came home from work and walked in the door carrying a cat and said "didn't you guys know Buster was outdoors???"...and we looked at him, and then we looked at BUSTER who just walked into the room, and realized that DAN was back!! He was in the garage when Richard drove in. He called to him and he came right to him so he brought him in the house. It was six months since Dan had run away!! We always considered him our little miracle cat!

We like to keep cats both outdoors and inside as well because we live in the country.  We have corn and soy bean fields all around us, and when the crops are harvested, the little critters-mice-have to have somewhere to go and they sometimes get into the house. It's cool out by then, and they are looking for a place to be warm. Dan was a good 'mouser'. He would catch the mice, kill them, then bring them to us to dispose of! PROPER cat ettiquette!

Buster is another story. He is such a wuss. He may know there is a mouse about, and he lurks waiting for it to appear, but he prefers chasing, tormenting, and playing with it. So, if he actually does happen to get it in his teeth, he doesn't kill it, he shakes it a bit, then drops it and runs after it, over and over again! It's very frustrating, and as you can imagine, makes for a lot of screaming (me), laughing (the guys), and running about (Buster).  I do NOT like mice in the house, least of as as a plaything for the cat!

Well, a few days ago I heard a mouse behind or inside the stove. I think they come up from the basement under the stove. We set a trap and placed it behind the kick plate at the bottom of the oven...out of sight. We kept checking but not mouse! I have a fail safe way to catch mice if you are interested! If you take a nut..I usually use a walnut, and place it on the trap, and use thread to tie it securly to the trap, when the mouse attempts to eat the nut he is a goner! We've tried lots of different things, and this works the best by far!

This morning I was in the middle of sleep and wakefulness when I heard the familiar 'snap' of the trap! I was so excited I called Richard at work to tell him. He said he would expect it to be out of the house by the time he got home. I told him that would be fine as long as Cole cooperated and removed it, but he shouldn't expect that I would go anywhere near it!!

At the time, Cole was sleeping so I waited to tell him until he woke up. While I was on the phone an hour or so later, I heard sound and looked into the kitchen and saw Buster with the trap on the floor-mouse attached-batting it around with his paw!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!!!! I yelled "NO! BUSTER! NO!" and he immediately picked up the trap in his mouth and ran down the hall and up the stairs!!

I ran into the bathroom-because all the excitement made it necessary to visit that room-and called as loudly as I could (because I wasn't going near the stairway) "COLE! COLE! COLE!" and when he responded I said -very emphatically and alarmingly-"I NEED YOU NOW!!!!". Well, he probably thought I was in need of emergency help, because he came running. I told him what happened and said "you need to go upstairs and get the mouse", to whiche he said "well, Buster doesn't have the mouse anymore, cause I just saw him"!  I told him to go back upstairs and look until he found it!

He soon came down with the trap and mouse and said it was just laying in the hallway and he could have stepped on it on his way down!!

The mouse is now in the cold snow somewhere, and I'm sure one of the ferral cats in the area will find it a tasty treat! Lest you should read this story and think I am indifferent to mice, let me tell you, I am NOT. I do not like them at all. They are dirty, nasty, creepy creatures. I'm just glad we don't have them often. Usually one or two in the fall or spring and that's it.  I have to admit that it makes for excitment in an otherwise uneventful day!

Just a few days and Christmas will be here. We are looking forward to having our precious little granddaughters come for a few days this week and again next week. I realize this is a 'food' blog, but during Christmas we don't focus as much on food as we do on being with family and people we love. I'll have some pictures of our get-togethers and food we ate at some point. We have a 'soup night' party planned in which each couple brings a soup and at the end of the evening of sampling we vote on our favorites! It's always a fun night.

Merry Christmas!!!

11.29.2010

THANKSGIVING SIDE DISHES

CRANBERRY SUCCOTASH SALAD

This dish is an original Stebbins recipe. I would say, though, that it is a strong and possibly 'acquired' taste.  The flavors are pungent but sweet, and we look forward all year to fresh cranberries so we can make it!  The dressing is a chick pea dressing. If you like hummus, you will like this, since it is basically a runnier version of hummus.  We have been fixing this dish for many years and I don't remember now how we came up with it!

First, slice the cranberries in half or quarters depending on the size of the berries. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and let set for about 1/2 hour before mixing with remaining ingredients.  This will help to take some of the sharpness of the berries out. It will not remove it all, so don't expect that. If you don't like the taste of cranberries, you most likley won't like this dish! The berries remain tart!

Meanwhile, cook the baby lima beans according to directions, along with corn. I use my own frozen garden corn, but if you need to use store bought corn, you could use canned corn or frozen niblets. Cook the frozen corn until done and drain along with the lima beans.  You can select the version of vegetables you prefer. I use frozen limas but canned would work just as well, I suppose. I think frozen vegetables have more nutritional value and usually taste fresher.

Once the veggies are drained, add them to the berries and combine. 

This dressing is one we make from time to time to have on salads. We love the flavor on a green salad...it's garlic-y and salty, which goes really well with a green lettuce salad.  Start by putting 1 can of chick peas-or garabanzo beans- in a blender or food processor. Do not drain the beans. Blend until creamy.  Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, juice from 1/2 lemon, 1 good Tablespoon of Tahini (sesame paste), and blend again.  You can  make the dressing without the tahini, but it won't taste the same. Tahini will give it that 'authentic' hummus flavor. While blending, add in a slow pour, about 1/3 cup olive oil. You can use regular vegetable oil in a pinch, but again, that will change the flavor. If the consistency is too thick, you can add more oil, or a bit of water. 

This recipe will make about 2+ cups, so there will be plenty for this salad recipe, and leftovers for salads. Once you dress the veggies with this, refrigerate for several hours or overnight to give the flavors time to 'marry'. I'll be curious to see if anyone reading this blog actually tries this recipe. I can tell you, if you like these ingredients seperately, you will love this recipe! I want to enter it in a contest some year...I think it's a winner!!


CORN CASSEROLE
This is a family favorite. We never have Thanksgiving without it, and it's probably safe to say, we never have a family get together of any kind without this dish on the table! It's just that good, and so easy to make!  In a greased or buttered casserole dish combine: 1 can whole kernel corn, 1 can cream style corn, 1 box jiffy corn muffin mix, 1 stick melted butter, 1 8oz. carton of sour cream. Stir together well, wipe the edges of your dish off with a paper towel, and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.  Again, I use my own garden frozen corn, so I think I actually have more corn in my dish. You might want to use 2 cans of whole kernel corn. Either way, it's a delicious, easy side dish for any dinner.

CORN BREAD STUFFING or DRESSING
This is my favorite Thanksgiving dish. We plan a meal that includes corn bread in the days ahead of Thanksgiving so I have leftovers. I then crumble the leftover cornbread and dry it out. I also use dried bread of some kind. This year, I found a loaf of herb bread at the store marked down, so I bought that, broke it into rough pieces, and place it in the oven with the corn bread on 200 degrees for 1/2 hour and then turned the oven off and left it in there overnight. In the morning the crumbs were perfectly crunchy and dry and ready for the stuffing.

In a large pan I place lot of chopped carrots, celery and onions. I like my veggies a bit on the large side, but you can chop them to whatever size you prefer.  I cook the veggies in chicken broth and a stick of butter for about 10 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste as well as plenty of sage. You can use fresh sage if you have it, or rubbed or powdered sage. I then place it in a casserole and bake it for 1/2 hour at 350.  Yummy, yummy! After taking the turkey out of the oven and draining off the rich turkey juices, I strain any vegetables out and use the juices to make a rich gravy, which is then poured over the dressing, mashed potatoes, turkey, and pumpkin pie! (just kidding...hahaha...just checking to see if you were paying attention!)

So, now my friend Lydia knows what we had for Thanksgiving including pictures. I don't know why I didn't take a picture of the 'bird'. It think when we were cutting it, there was a lot going on and the camera was not on my mind! Today is Monday, which is usually 'Meatless Monday' at our house, but today will be an execpetion. We're looking forward to leftover Thanksgiving for dinner tonight!

11.27.2010

DAY 2 CANDY MAKING

I AM TIRED! I forget how much easier it is to make candy when there are several people working together to do it!  By 2 o'clock this afternoon I was ready for a break, so we went out for a cup of coffee and a bagel. I had the caramels to cover with chocolate when I got home but I am done for the day.  I might make a batch of date balls yet, but it will have to be later this week.

We were craving Thanksgiving leftovers since we were at our son's for the day and we didn't cook at our house...so...NO leftovers! Yesterday, Richard went to the store and bought a small turkey and tomorrow we're having Thanksgiving #2!!  We're really looking forward to it...almost as much as we did on Thursday!

I thought I'd post a few more candy pictures just for fun!
PEANUT BRITTLE...PERFECTLY HONECOMBED!

PEANUT BRITTLE...MY GRANDPA'S RECIPE

ALMOND BON BONS

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHEWY CARAMELS

11.26.2010

CANDY MAKING DAY 2010

Step 1: Shaving the chocolate

We drove to our son's house in Marysville for Thanksgiving. We went on Wednesday and stayed overnight to help with the dinner. Ian had had back surgery on Monday and was recovering. Our main job was just being grandparents, baking the pies, and then on Thursday we helped make casseroles and get the meal prepared.  We had a nice turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn casserole, green bean casserole, scalloped oysters, cranberry jelly, homemade dinner rolls, deviled eggs, red beet pickled eggs, and stuffing. Dessert was pumpkin and apple pie, and there was lots of coffee.

As we drove home with stuffed bellies, we couldn't help but express our disappointment that the leftovers stayed in Marysville (as they should, of course), so today, Richard went out to the store and bought us a small turkey which is thawing in the fridge. I think we'll try cooking it on Sunday so we have some leftovers for sandwiches. We all love turkey sandwiches. We had Stove Top stuffing on Thanksgiving, and I really missed homemade stuffing, so I plan on making some to go with our meal. I'll use leftover cornbread and lots of celery, onion, and mushrooms, and I'll make a nice turkey gravy to pour over it. I will make some corn for a vegetable, and Richard wants some pumpkin pie. I guess he didn't get enough on Thanksgiving!

After a very busy Wednesday and Thursday, I didn't have much motivation to get too carried away making candy today. I made one batch of almond roca, one batch of peanut butter fudge, and one batch of buckeyes.  I'll finish up with candy making tomorrow when I make peanut brittle, bon bons, and date balls.



Almond Roca-cook butter and sugar to 300 degrees and pour over chocolate and nuts

After the Almond Roca cools, break into pieces

Super delicious peanut butter fudge

Buckeyes, rolled and ready for chocolate

Dipping Buckeyes

Use a toothpick to dip them into the chocolate, then tap with your finger to remove the hole

Three perfect Buckeyes!!!

A candy thermometer, wooden spoons, and a heavy pot are all necessary for a successful day of candy making!



EASH FAMILY CANDY MAKING DAY

TOLEDO BLADE ARTICLE, 1984. MY MOM & HER BROTHER WES AT TOP

For years, my mother's brothers and sisters got together the day after Thanksgiving for a day of making candy that would be divided between the families for gift giving and enjoyment over the holiday season.  There were 6 children in my mom's family so when we got together along with all the cousins, it was a houseful!  We alternated between the aunts or uncles who lived in the Archbold area.  Those who lived elsewhere would usually drive in for the day and sometimes make it an overnight stay. 

Everyone participated in some way.  Of course, the 'stove' duties were always filled by the adults, but there were also fun things for the kids to do if they wanted to.  Sometimes we just played with our cousins, but for the most part, it was a family affair and everyone enjoyed helping.  There were usually cut-out cookies for decorating with all kinds of frosting colors and toppings which the kids enjoyed putting their artistic touches to.  We would also get to help roll buckeyes and dip pretzels, or wrap caramels in waxed paper.  It was an assembly line process at times, with shoulder to shoulder family! These are some of my happiest memories.

We always stopped at lunch time and had a meal together. This was a family of good cooks.  Our lunches were somewhat of a pot luck with everyone bringing dishes to pass.  The aunts did not cut corners. Hot dogs and macaroni and cheese were not on the menus! Everything about this day was touched with love.  The love of being together with family, the love of sharing the work of making the candy, and the love of laughter. 

Don't get the idea, though, that this was anything other than a 'work' day.  By the end of the day there would be well over 100 pounds of candy to divide up.  I think, looking back, the only regret was that my mom guarded that candy with an iron fist!! We begged to eat it but her response was always the same: "no, it's to give away". It was used as gifts...for the mailman, teachers, friends, neighbors, and taken to the Eash family Christmas get together where we were free to eat what we wanted!

One year I decided it would be fun to contact the food editor at the Toledo Blade, the local newspaper to see if she would be interested in featuring our family.  I wrote to her early in the year about our candy  making day.  We were so excited and surprised when she contaced us and the plans were made for her to come out with a photographer on that day to interview the family and take pictures.  It was a full page spread in the newspaper. (The above picture is a small part of the article. The cousins sat around the table with all kinds of candy as the picture was 'staged'. You can see the top of my head at the bottom of the picture on the right. ) In recent years, I found the original article that my mom had saved and decided to scan some of it to post on the blog. 

It's a very special memory. What a fun day that was!! We felt like celebreties!

As the families grew, cousins married and moved away, aunts and uncles passed away, the candy making day became the responsiblity of each individual family.  We've struggle to keep it alive, but busy schedules and the distance of miles have made it difficult.  Most of us still make candy the day after Thanksgiving, but at our own home, with our own family. Once in a while a few of us will try to arrange to get together to do it, but it doesn't happen often.  Much of the joy of that day is missing without other family members to help with the work and enjoy the day with. 

I will be making candy the day after Thanksgiving this year. It will just be my husband and myself, so we won't be making 100 pounds, but I do have big plans.  I'll be making:

PEANUT BRITTLE
DATE BALLS
SOFT CARAMEL
PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE
ALMOND ROCA
ALMOND BON BONS
BUCKEYES


This is a postscipt: Today, the day after Thanksgiving, I made a batch of buckeyes, almond roca, and peanut butter fudge.  I'll make more candy tomorrow. I have to say, making candy by yourself is not much fun. I did put Christmas music on the radio and that helped make the atmosphere 'merry', but my mind was filled with memories of my mom and siblings getting together to make candy, and all the holiday merriment involved. There would be singing, laughter, and the more hands you have, the more candy you are able to make in one day! I truly miss those days!!

11.21.2010

THANKSGIVING 2010

I look forward to this day all year. It's my favorite holiday by far for several reasons. It's the only holiday we have that the focus is food. Cooking is something I enjoy doing.  Nothing makes me quite as happy as making a good meal for the people I love!  This year, our son is having back surgery the Monday before Thanksgiving. He'll be in the hospital for a couple of days before returning home to recuperate. He won't be able to travel, and we told him we would just skip Thanksgiving so he could rest, but he was having none it!  I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. He is a great cook himself and looks forward to the special foods that are traditionally prepared for our turkey day meal.

We plan to go to their house on Wednesday and stay overnight. I'll make the pies on Wednesday evening...dutch apple and pumpkin.  Then on Thursday morning our daughter in law will be  making her first turkey with my help! I'm so excited to help her learn this skill. In our family, we use a baking bag for the turkey. We don't 'present' the turkey whole at the table to be carved, but rather slice it and place it on a platter. When using a baking bag, the turkey skin sometimes sticks to the bag and makes for a less pleasing presentation, that is if you are serving it whole.  That's one reason it doesn't matter that we use the bag, because we prefer just having it all plattered for ease of serving. 

If you have never cared for turkey because it tends to be dry, you really should try a baking bag once. You will be amazed at the difference it makes. I never, EVER, have a dry turkey!! It's moist and delicious every time. We'll also have mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, corn casserole, green bean casserole, and cranberry relish, and as I said earlier, pie for dessert. 

One of our favorite side dishes is scalloped oysters. My mom always made this for Thanksgiving and it isn't Thanksgiving without it! It's so delicious. It's not a cheap dish to make, but once a year, we indulge.  My mom would have also served deviled eggs and a cranberry jellied salad and possibly a 7-layer salad.  I'm not sure what all is planned for our meal on Thursday yet...whether we'll have a salad or bread...but I do know that it will be the kind of Thanksgiving that makes me happiest. Filled with good food, and family close by.  I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving day with your families.  I'd love to hear what dishes you will be enjoying!

CUMIN SCENTED SWEET POTATOES WITH RED ONIONS

Cumin Scented Sweet Potatoes with Red Onion

Thanksgiving Day is the only day in the year that I will eat sweet potatoes made with marshmallows.  I prefer savory  potatoes.  Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamins B and C as well as potassium and lots of other great nutrients.  They are in season right now so they are plentiful and inexpensive.  I  saw this dish on a recent blog post and decided to give it a try. It was very good!!  The combination of cumin and onion was nutty and complimented the sweetness of the potatoes. 

I used whole cumin seeds instead of ground.  They were a nice surprise when they popped in your mouth while eating this dish. I peeled the potatoes and cut them in uniform small diced pieces. I first sauteed a good amount of red onion (our last one from the garden..sad face) in a bit of olive oil then added the cumin seeds.  Saute until you can 'smell' the cumin...they will release their oils after sauteeing a few minutes. Be careful not to burn the onion or cumin.  Add the diced sweet potato and stir fry until they are just beginning to soften. I don't like them mushy..I prefer a bit of 'tooth'.  This is an easy side dish and very healthy! 

11.20.2010

WALNUT CREAM POTATO GRATIN

RICHARD AND ELLIANA HARVESTING POTATOES

Last night we had a dinner party. I made a small prime rib, a potato gratin, dilled carrots, salad, cake and ice cream! We had some friends over and everyone went  crazy over this delicious potato recipe. I wish I had taken a picture of it but I didn't.  It was a new recipe, in fact, I had just seen it this week on the Food Network and it looked so good I decided to try it. 

I've been looking for ways to use our potatoes. We have quite a few in the basement that we harvested from the garden.  Our basement it's cool enough to keep them for the whole winter, so I need to use them before they get soft.  They are still firm and the taste is so much better than store bought potatoes!

This is a very easy recipe.  Place heavy cream in a small saucepan along with 2 Tbsp. of butter, and 1/2 - 1 c. finely chopped walnuts.  Heat over very low heat to melt the butter and combine flavors.

Meanwhile, peel your potatoes and slice thinly using whatever grater or slicer you have. If you don't have a slicer, slice with a knife as thinly as possible.  Place a layer of potatoes in a casserole dish. Salt and pepper lightly, poor some of the cream mixture over the layer along with some shredded parmesan cheese.  Add another potato layer along with the remaining cream and top with another light layer of parmesan.  Bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes or until fork tender.  The melted cheese will be golden and form a crunchy topping.  The combination of nuts, cream, and potatoes is so delicious!! I have never had such a wonderful potatoe casserole that was this easy to make. I will be making this one again!

10.23.2010

PORK ~ POTATOES ~ CABBAGE

Richard has been sick most of the week which changed my menu plans quite a bit. He didn't have much of an appetite, and one day he just wanted a grilled cheese and tomato soup.  We have Campbell's tomato in the pantry, but we also have lots of home canned whole tomatoes.  He said he just wanted Campbells' soup...which didn't sound good to me...so we came to a compromise. I had a pint of whole tomatoes in the fridge left over from a recipe, so I added those to the can of soup, along with a basil cube from the freezer. It made a much nicer tasting soup than just opening a can and heating it up!  I bought some nice Italian bread, a Granny Smith apple, and some smoked Gouda cheese and made grilled cheese with those ingredients.  It was delicious! If you have never had apple slices on a grilled cheese, you should try it sometime...it's so good!

Our dinner tonight, while not from the Simply In Season cookbook, was a seasonal meal just the same!  Our potatoes are so good right now, so I just made plain and simple boiled potatotes. They are so flavorful that they don't need a fancy preparation to be enjoyed.  Nothing goes with potatoes like pork and cabbage.  I saw a cooking show this week using these ingredients so I made the cabbage dish that was featured. 

I fried the pork chops in my black iron skillet, which gives them a nice crust on each side and really seals in the juices.  They were so moist and delicious...we all agreed they were some of the best pork chops we'd ever had!  The cabbage dish was fabulous as well!  Cabbage is in season right now, and if you are able to get to a farmer's market, you can find cabbage heads the size of basketballs!  This is a great recipe for fresh cabbage!

In a saute pan, slowly melt 2 Tbsp. of butter. Do not let it brown.  Add 1 1/2 tsp. of cumin seed, and 1 tsp. of caraway seed. I omitted the caraway, but I think it would be a great addition.  Let the seeds bloom in the butter. Do not burn them! Add shredded cabbage and stir to mix the butter and spices.  Add in thinly sliced apples...I used 1 apple to 1 med. head of cabbage.  Also add in one poblano pepper, diced with ribs and seeds removed and 2Tbsp. of grated fresh ginger.  After the cabbage begins to cook down, add in 1 cup of whole tomatoes. They will break down as they cook. Stir the dish to combine all the ingredients and let cook until the cabbage is tender.  This is a great accompaniment to the pork chops and potatoes.

10.19.2010

SIMPLY IN SEASON - DAY TWO

HOT GERMAN GREEN BEAN SALAD
The tatse of German Potato Salad - with green beans!

While the idea of this cookbook is cooking in season, I used home canned green beans instead of fresh ones which this recipe called for.  The recipe is in the 'summer' section of the cookbook and green beans are obviously not in season now.  I really like hot German potato salad, so I thought I'd give this recipe a try.  I worked today, and on the days that I work, Richard usually has dinner cooked when I get home. I told him what I was doing this week with cooking and blogging and he said he would give this recipe a try. I assured him it was easy enough for him to handle!

While the taste was 'somewhat' like hot German potato salad, it was just a bit too sweet for our liking. Although, I had told Richard to follow the recipe but use two quarts of canned beans. Instead, he used one and used the same amounts the recipe called for. It was too sweet for that amount of beans but not bad enough that we didn't want to eat any! I like balsamic vinegar with green beans and this had a similar taste.

Here is the recipe in case you want to give it a try. I would think that using frozen whole green beans would be a good alternative if beans aren't in season.
Hot German Green Bean Salad
From Cooking In Season


1 1/2 pounds green beans cut in 1 inch pieces, Cook until barely tender
Drain reserving 1/4 c. cooking liquid

3 slices bacon (I used turkey bacon)
Cook until crisp, drain and crumble. Drain all but 2 Tbsp. of bacon drippings

2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice or white vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 small onion sliced in rings
Add to bacon drippings along with reserved liquid.

1/4 c. water & 2 tsp. cornstarch mixed together
Stir into fry pan and stir until clear and thickened.
Add cooked beans and heat through. Sprinkle with bacon and serve.

10.18.2010

ONE WEEK OF SIMPLY IN SEASON

DAY ONE

EASY POTATO BAKE


I think potatoes are my favorite vegetable. You can do so much with them, but the basics are always delicious and you never seem to tire of them! Our garden had them in abundance this year, and they were some of the nicest ones we've ever raised with few blemishes.  The recipe I used for the potatoes is called Easy Potato Bake. It's an adaptation of the old familiar scalloped potato dish.  I'm just recovering from a stomach virus and have had to stay away from all dairy products, so this recipe was easy to adapt. Most scalloped potato dishes use milk to moisten the recipe, and usually also have butter in them.  This recipe called for butter, but I substituted olive oil.

I was surprised how good the recipe turned out! I sliced the potatoes and placed them in the dish along with 3 good sized shallots, also from our garden, and then drizzled olive oil over them along with  salt and pepper and about 2 teaspoons of powdered thyme.  The potatoes bake in a covered casserole at 425 degrees for 40 minutes, then the cover is removed and a light layer of cheddar cheese was added and baked uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.  If you are lactose sensitive, the cheese can be left out. I would, however, still remove the cover, and bake uncovered for a few minutes at the end to give the top of the potatoes a little 'crust'.

For a simple recipe like this one, I would suggest the very best quality potato since there is not a lot of other flavors or ingredients added.  I prefer Yukon Gold potatoes for a dish like this. Both their consistency and their flavor are perfect when you want to highlight the potato.

NUTTY CAULIFLOWER SKILLET

Over a week ago, we picked up a head of cauliflower at the farmer's market. It was huge! I used it in one dish, but still had quite a bit left over that needed to be used.  Since today was MEATLESS MONDAY, I thought this recipe for would go well as a side dish for our meal.   Again, I adapted it to our tastes. I first sauteed 1 Tbsp. of grated fresh ginger, and 2 garlic cloves in a bit of olive oil. Then I added the cauliflower which I had cut into small florets, and added 1 teaspoon of fresh ground cumin seed, salt and pepper, and 1 teaspoon of paprika.  The recipe called for turmeric but I was out of it, so I used paprika instead, more for color than anything!  I added an additional bit of olive oil and sauteed the cauliflower to incorporate the spices.  I then added 1/2 cup of canned whole tomatoes and continued to simmer until the cauliflower was crisp-tender. I added 2 Tbsp. of capers and about 1/4 cup of pitted kalamata olives.  The recipe didn't call for the capers or olives but I thought they would be a good addition.  I was right!! We loved it!!

LENTIL PATTIES on ASIAGO FOCCACIA

I had a container of cooked lentils in the freezer, so I thawed them out and made lentil patties to go with the meal.  I sauteed a little bit of shallot in oil, and added the lentils along with Worcestershire sauce, spicy mustard, and a bit of hot sauce. One egg was added to help it hold together along with seasoned bread crumbs, until the consistency was thick enough to hold together and roll into a ball the size of a baseball.  I then rolled it in flour, flattened it, and sauteed in a bit of olive oil until crispy and browned.  I toasted the foccacia and put ketchup on one side, and spicy mustard on the other and placed the lentil patty on it. Delicious!! It's one of our favorite meals. I honestly do not miss meat when we have a meal like this.  The lentil patties are filling and very healthy and full of protein.  We usually eat our lentil patties with no bread, but yesterday a friend of mine gave us this foccacia so I thought it would go nicely them.  We probably could have done with out the additional carbs that the bread added, but we only had a small serving of the potatoes so I think it was still a pretty well-balanced, healthy meal!

On Tuesday and Thursday my husband cooks dinner for us. I don't get home from work those days until 6:30 so it's usually ready when I get home. It's always a treat! Tomorrow he wants to have a bonfire and have hot dogs over the fire. Hot dogs are not my favorites at all. I could live the rest of my life without ever eating one, but I sometimes make concessions! So, I'll make a nice side dish from the Simply In Season cookbook to accompany his hot dogs. I have one lentil pattie left over from our dinner tonight, and if it doesn't get eaten, I'll have that, otherwise it will be a spicy black bean veggie burger for me.  I don't like hamburgers and will eat a hot dog on occasion if I HAVE to...tomorrow night I won't have to...fortunately!


SIMPLY IN SEASON

I'm pretty much recovered from the flu. It was a long week of eating chicken noodle soup and bland toast, so I thought this week I would plan our menu around my favorite cookbook - Simply In Season.  Yes, I do plan a menu each week.  I have found that by planning a menu, we actually save money. It alleviates last minute runs to the store or visits to a restaurant.

I've been making a weekly menu plan and grocery list for over a year now, and it does save money. The other thing it saves is the frustration that comes with having no idea what to cook for dinner!  I usually plan one extra meal so that I have a choice if I don't 'fell' like cooking something on the list.  From time to time, I plan our menu from what I have on hand in the pantry so that I can use items up.  I much prefer meal planning to coming up with something day to day.

So, this week, our meals come from the Simply In Season cookbook. This is a great time of the year to cook seasonally.  We've just harvested beets and potatoes from our garden, and there are lots of veggies in the farmer's markets that are favorites of ours. This cookbook is great help in planning healthy, seasonal meals. I'm looking forward to sharing our weekly menu with pictures!

10.11.2010

Shredded Beet Salad

I hadn't planned on blogging about a dinner of homemade chicken noodle soup. I think everyone has a favorite recipe for that. It really does hit the spot when you are feeling a little under the weather. I haven't eaten much the last few days because of a mild case of the flu, and now that I'm feeling a little better, chicken soup seemed the only thing I was really hungry for.

While I was smelling the soup cook, I started to think about the beets we had just harvested this weekend from the garden.  I had about a dozen of them in the fridge for several weeks that I would cook as I wanted. I got out three good sized beets and cooked them until tender, then let them cool to room temperature.
From the Simply In Season cookbook (of course!) I used the recipe for Shredded Beet Salad with Tahini dressing.

This dressing is so good! I'm trying to think of some other ways to use it. It's  a nice blend of tangy, citrus, and nutty flavors that went so well with this salad.  I shredded the beets along with one large carrot and added a good sized shallot before adding the dressing. SO GOOD!!

Here is the recipe for the dressing..easy...peasy!

TAHINI DRESSING
Shake together in a jar with a tight fitting lid:
1/2 c. tahini
1/2 c. oil (combination canola, sesame, olive-I used EVOO)
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. soy sauce
Add water for desired consistency. I did NOT add water and I also adjusted the amounts and only made a small amount..maybe 1/2 a recipe.
I think it would be a great recipe for a shredded cabbage slaw or possibly some kind of pasta & veggie salad.

Autumn In Ohio



I have been neglectful in updating this blog. I find it disappointing to check on blogs that I follow and find nothing new written. I'm not even sure I have a valid excuse. I will say that having my mother in law here for 2 weeks was emotionally draining for me and I didn't do much but breathe!

I have all my canning done and Richard harvested the last of our potatoes and beets from the garden this weekend. I had stomach flu all weekend and finally this afternoon I think I'm feeling like I'm over it. We usually observe Meatless Monday but today I wanted nothing other than homemade chicken noodle soup! It's no fun being sick when the weather is amazing! It's been unbelievably beautiful here. Autumn is my favorite season and this one has not disappointed me in any way!

We are planning on breaking out our cast iron soup pot this weekend when we have some friends over for a cook out over the fire. If the weather permits, we'll sit outdoors by the fire as the soup cooks. Today as I was thinking about cooking the soup and also the fact that I had not blogged in a while, I decided to do something fun (at least I think it will be ) and make a menu for our meals next week entirely from the Simply In Season cookbook. I've mentioned this book before. It is truly my favorite of all time. I only have a few that I consider indespensable and this is one. It should provide lots of fun pictures and blogging!

I don't usually get many comments on this blog, but if you do read this, I'd love to know what some of your favorite 'Autumn Season' food is? 

9.29.2010

HOT PEPPER MARMALADE

There are gorgeous peppers at the Farmer's Market right now. Small ones, large ones, red, yellow, green, hot and sweet to name a few.  We had tons of hot banana peppers in our garden and I made this recipe with some of them.  Once again, the recipe comes from my most used and favorite book, Simply In Season. The book suggested using it with cheese and crackers.

I warmed a wheel of Brie cheese in a 350 degree oven until it was soft and melted (about 15 minutes) and topped it with the hot pepper marmalade about 5 minutes before removing from the oven.  What an amazing taste treat it was!

I made two batches of the marmalade and the second time I increased the hot peppers from 3 to 4 to give it a little more kick. I could easily have added yet one more hot pepper since my banana peppers were not that hot, but it probably appeals to more people if it's not too hot, so I decided to stop with 4.  The recipe calls for 3-5.  This is a very simple recipe to make and only requires a hot water bath to can the marmalade. 

My intention was to use these jars as gifts during the holidays by combining the marmalade with some special cheese and crackers in a gift basket, but the marmalade is so delicious, I want to be sure to keep some for us to enjoy!

I just found out that I can 'glean' from a field of red peppers. I can pick bushels of these peppers, so I might actually make a few more batches using red peppers and hot peppers. The recipe calls for red, green, and yellow, but I'm sure it would be much the same if using only red.

 I still have a lot of beets to harvest from our garden, but I've already canned a lot of pickled beets. We will try to store some of them, but most likely will need to give some away so they don't go to waste. Other than the beets, we still have two rows of potatoes to finish harvesting, then our 2010 gardening season is done! I think my 'season' of canning has come to an end. I made a large batch of peach jam last week, as well as 27 pints of applesauce. I got the apples for FREE and it was delicious!

So many people have fruit trees that they don't use, as was this case. In some larger cities, there are groups of  'gleaners' that collect from trees that people don't use to give to charities or soup kitchens. I wish there was something like this locally. So much food goes unused! All you need to do is look around as you drive this time of the year, to realize just how true this is! I'll be sure to take a picture of the ACRES of red peppers that are going to waste, just because the farmer 'met his quota' for the pepper harvest. I do not understand this! For insurance reasons, many farmers will not let people into their fields for gleaning. Really? When there are people who can't afford to buy food? We'll pick several bushes of these peppers and give them to a local soup kitchen-it's the right thing to do!!

I'll post the recipe if requested!

9.22.2010

FIESTA!

When I was in grade school, my parents helped start a church in a neighboring town. It was the first spanish Mennonite church in that town. For a number of years, it was the only church we went to. All the services were in spanish and none of us spoke spanish! My mom did take lessons and became fluent. The rest of us just limped along!

On Sundays, after the service, the whole church came together for a pot luck meal. The food was 'authentic' mexican food! Fresh made tortillas, chicken and mole, beans, rice, and a whole bunch of other wonderful foods. Even as a young person, I could tell this food was the real thing! It tasted so different from what we were used to getting at home. Macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, pot roast, corn, etc.!

For years, I've tried to make my own mole sauce. I could remember that flavor of that dish but could never replicate it, or find it in any Mexican restaurant...UNTIL TODAY!! 


Our daughter recommended a little unassuming restaurant in Napoleon, Ohio. My mother-in-law wanted to take us out for dinner so we thought we'd be brave and give this place a try. It's hard to find mexican food that tastes REAL when you've had the real thing cooked by real Mexican cooks!! The only complaint we had about this place was that the tortillas weren't all that great. They were dry, a bit tough, and tasted like any tortilla available off the shelf at your local grocer. But, the mole?  The enchiladas? The tamales??  They were just fabulous. My MIL had a chicken dish served in a hollow pineapple which she really liked.


The dining room is pretty cool with lot of great murals on the walls in bright colors.  The tables and chairs are hand carved wood and on some weekends, they have Mariachi music!! If youlive in the area, you might want to give this place a try if you like mexican food. The mole was the real deal...it brought back such vivid memories with the very first taste! The waiter was extrememly friendly and helpful in our selections. We tipped him well, he really deserved it!

The chips and salsa that they bring to the table before you order were freshly made. They were light and crispy and the salsa was good. Both Cole and I prefer our salsa a little hotter and they brought out their 'hot' salsa which was different from anything I've ever tasted. It had a 'roasted' pepper flavor, full of the seeds that make it hot. It didn't really burn like hot salsa does. It was like an oven being turned on...it just kept heating up and getting hotter...and hotter...and hotter!! We also tried several varieties of their habanero sauces in bottles...on which was XXXHot. Now that was extremely PAINFUL!!!


When we got home, I walked straight to the cupboard and popped 2 Xtra strong TUMS!!! The servings were very large and two of us brought home enough leftovers for another meal. Since tomorrow is a work day for me, I'm thrilled to have some leftover mole, 1 tamale and a few chips to take with me! I hope I remember to take a couple of TUMS with me, too!

9.20.2010

MEATLESS MONDAY DELIGHT!



Several days a week we eat meatless. We've cut back our meat consumption to a minimal amount.  Monday is always meatless Monday at our house as much as possible. I never feel that it's a sacrifice. The benefits far outweigh the challenge of cooking interesting food without meat.

Winter squash is now in abundance at the farmer's market.  We grew butternut squash in the garden but didn't have room for acorn squash.  Last Saturday we purchased nice size acorn squash for $.50 a piece at the market! I think the most common way to cook these is with a bit of butter and brown sugar and then baked in the oven.  When we eat a meal without meat, I try to 'pimp' up the meal so my carnivore son doesn't complain.  Today, though, he's not going to be here so I can use ingredients that we like but he would turn up his nose at. 

My mother-in-law is with us for a couple of weeks so I try to make our meals a bit special, even though she has complained every day that "all we do is EAT!...or...why do you FUSS so?.." and other irritating comments. 

In the Simply In Season cookbook there are several suggestions for stuffed acorn squash.  I used it as a guideline and combined several of the recipes and came up with this delicious dish!!! 

First, clean halved squashes, and drizzle olive oil on the inside along with salt and pepper.  Place cut side down in a baking pan. I lined mine with parchment because experience tells me that the pan will be difficult to clean after the squash bakes.  This is not a necessary step, but you won't be sorry you did this. Aluminum foil would also work to line your pan.  Bake the squash until just tender...about 40 minutes.  Turn the squash over and leave in  your baking pan. 

Meanwhile, I cooked 1 cup of brown rice until nice and tender.  In a saute pan I placed some olive oil, chopped carrot, chopped onion, 1/4 c. raisins, 1 small chopped green pepper, salt and pepper to taste, some oregano, and about 1/2 cup rough chopped walnuts.  I then added a seasoning packet from an Oriental ramen noodle package that I had saved, along with about 1-2 Tbsp. of honey.  This stuffing then goes in the squash and the whole thing is baked for an additional 15-20 minutes before serving. 

I made fresh applesauce this morning and we'll have some of that as a side dish.  I'm also going to heat a small wheel of Brie cheese topped with my hot pepper marmalade and serve it with wheat crackers! MMMM Sounds so yummy!!

Hope you enjoy your Monday...what did you cook???

9.18.2010

BAKING AND SHRIMPING!


For my birthday my brother and sister in law sent me this oven mitt. It's actually an oven 'glove' and it has fake fur trim!  A little bit of Hollywood glamour in my corner of the world! It was fun to use and made me laugh a bit...thanks Lamont & Char!!

I also baked an apple pie for our dessert tonight, and a cherry pie to take to our son's family when we go visit them tomorrow and meet in person our newest little granddaughter! I can't wait!!! 



This morning was also shrimp harvest at the Shrimp Farm down the road from us. These shrimp are fed naturally and they are so delicious. We only ordered 3 pounds but it will be enough for the four of us to have a nice taste.  I enjoy cleaning them. They are slippery little buggers though!  I had read a lot about them and found that many say that the best flavor you can get from them is a result of leaving the shells and heads intact for cooking. Many say the heads have the best flavor. After cooking just seperate the heads and sort of 'crunch' on them and suck out their juices and enjoy.

 I had planned on doing it this way until I had them in front of  me. I just didn't think I wanted to try it. I wouldn't hesitate doing that if it was prepared for me by someone who actually knew what they were doing...but to experiement with it didn't appeal to me at all! Plus, Richard said "I don't want a head on mine!!" I thought 3 pounds would be plenty, but once they are fixed it is not a lot of shrimp at all. We'll all get to taste them but nobody will 'fill up' on them!  It doesn't look like $36 worth of shrimp after they are cleaned!! I'm not sure yet how I want to fix them. I was going to grill them and serve them with fresh garden potatoes roasted in garlic and herbs, but since the amount looks small, I may decided to make them into a pasta dish. 

I thought you might enjoy seeing what they looked like. I think they're really beautiful! Something about pulling the heads off and cleaning them appeals to me. I was brought up with parents that butchered their own chickens in our back yard. I can remember vividly looking at the bucket of 'guts' that accumulated as my mom cleaned the insides of them.  Later, we grew our own but sent them  out to have them dressed. A few times we butchered a couple because I thought our kids should see what it's like. Our daughter still feels somewhat traumatized by that!! The only thing I can say to explain my behavior is that I am a country girl through and through.

9.15.2010

HOT PEPPER MARMALADE

What to do with a 5 gallon bucket of hot peppers? Make marmalade, of course!! My favorite cookbook,Simply In Season, has a recipe for hot pepper marmalade.  The suggestion is to serve it with cream cheese and crackers or a warmed wheel of Brie.  Both sound equally delicious to me.  You can control the amount of heat in the final result by how many hot peppers you use, and I suppose the type as well.  I don't think you would want to use habanero peppers for this recipe.  We grew a mildly hot banana variety this year.  The recipe calls for 3-5 hot peppers and I used 3 for my first recipe, and 4 for the second.  After the first recipe was done, and I had tasted it, I wanted just a little more heat so I added one additional pepper the second time around.

The other thing I did to alter the recipe was to add and additional 1/3 of a package of pectin so that my end result was firmer.  I didn't want it too runny.  I would rather have it firm so that I can spread it over a wheel of Brie before baking and let it gradually become runny and ooze over the cheese for serving.  The taste of this marmalade has a nice mild kick to it, and an excellent blend of sweet and sour.  It's going to make delightful gifts come holiday season!

HOT PEPPER MARMALADE
3-5 chili peppers minced
2 medium green peppers minced
1 medium red pepper minced
1 medium yellow pepper minced
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups sugar
Combine in a large saucepan. (I placed all peppers in my food processor and pulsed to mince them)

1 package no sugar needed pectin
Gradually add the pectin to the pan, stirring until dissolved. Boil 1 minute, skimming off foam.  Ladle into hot 1/2 pint jars to within 1/2 inch of top.  Seal and hot water bath for 10minutes. 


As you can see from this recipe I didn't use all the peppers in my 5-gallon bucket!  Last year I chopped and froze a  lot of peppers for use through the year. I still have some left to use up so I decided to just string the rest of these and hang to dry in my kitchen.  We will be able to cut off what we want and add to salsas or dishes that need a little OR a lot of kick.  Plus, they also serve as a lovely decorating item! I love them especially this time of the year.  The reds, oranges, and golds are a reminder of the next couple of months of cooling weather and changing season. 

HOT BANANA PEPPERS & HABANEROS

One last garden harvest item!  We had an over abundance of green beans this year. I canned over 50 quarts and still gave away several bushels!  We ate them fresh for over a month and they just kept growing! Now Richard is trying to clean up the garden and there are a ton of them on the vines drying.  I've never used green beans as a dry bean before, but I'm not going to let these go to waste. We'll let the bean pods dry on the plant and then later, during the cooler months, I'll shell them and use them as a dry white bean.  They'll be delicious as a white bean spread, soup, or dip!







9.13.2010

A HAPPY DAY

I don't have a picture to post and no new recipe, but I do have good news, and since this is my little corner of the world to post whatEVer I want to...here goes!

Last week I had blood work done to check my glucose and cholesterol levels. It's been a long time since I had them checked and was pretty nervous about the results. I needn't have been.  These are 'fasting' numbers: glucose - 108, triglyceride - 127, cholesterol - 178! I was extremely relieved! When you carry a lot of extra weight, your health condition is always at the forfront of your mind. While we do try to eat healthy, it still concerns you that there is weight to be lost and it's not coming off!! GRRRR

This proves two things.  I have really good genes, and weight is not a measure of health. I know someone who is not overweight and eats healthy but has very high cholesterol! The reason I decided to post this here is that I truly believe our DIET has everything to do with these test results!  I have pretty much quit eating red meat. I might have some on occasion, but rarely, and only in small amounts.  We have fish at least once a week, and other than that, I might have grilled chicken and very rarely, bacon but usually as a small addition to add flavor to a dish.  Salads and fresh veggies and fruits are our main menu items.  When cooking or sauteeing I use a nice extra virgin olive oil, and once in a while I use canola oil.  We never buy margaine and use butter in controlled amounts.

As for fried foods...okra, green tomatoes, and zucchini, but usually in olive oil or a bit of canola. Do I miss beef?  NO. Do I miss fried foods?  YES! My mom made the most amazing fried chicken and I can duplicate it, but it does require frying the chicken in oil and bacon grease!! Imagine! 

Now, if I could just get some of the weight to fall off without the use of a machete everything would be just great!~! Talking about weight issues is never comfortable, but today I just wanted to 'toot my own horn' as they say!! 

So, I will keep spreading the word about eating "MEATLESS MONDAY" and will continue to post pictures and recipes on this blog about EATING CONSICOUSLY! I guess it works!

Now, I'm off to make my second batch of Hot Pepper Marmalade. I will have pictures and a recipe to follow. This is the most delicious little gem! It's not terribly hot, you can control the heat, and it's supposed to be delicious served with cream cheese on crackers. I purchased a wheel of Brie and will serve the marmalade with a warmed Brie and some nice crackers to my mother-in-law who is visiting us for 2 weeks. It's a special treat! It looks gorgeous in the jars after it's canned and will make a really nice presentation as a gift. 

It's also MONDAY, so I might also have something to show for our dinner tonight. I haven't decided for sure what we'll be having but I do know it will include fried zucchini. Eat Well!!

9.04.2010

FRIED OKRA - SUMMER'S TREAT

Summer produce is waning. I always long for the days of cooler temperatures and the sounds of autumn but I'm also sad to see the garden begin to die down.  The butternut squash is laying on the ground waiting to be harvested, surrounded by vines and leaves that are brown and lifeless.  By this time of the year, most of my canning is done. The tomatoes have been picked and canned and the only things left in the ground are potatoes and beets.  We'll have a few fresh tomatoes to eat  as they ripen but there won't be many.  The farmer's markets are still overflowing with produce to buy so we've been shopping there the last few weeks.  We didn't have room to grow okra this year so I won't have any in the freezer for winter use. 

The past two weeks we've stopped at the market and purchased fresh okra from the farmer.  One of my favorite summer vegetable treats is fried okra. It's one vegetable that you cannot replicate in the middle of winter. It's only good when it's fresh! I also think you can't have really delicious fried okra without cooking it in cornmeal and frying it in a cast iron skillet! You can probably tell from the picture that I don't have a lot of breading on the okra. I prefer it lightly dusted with corn meal. I wash the okra, then slice into a zip-loc bag that has corn meal in it that is seasonsed with salt and pepper. After heating the pan I add a small amount of olive oil and drop in the okra. I let it brown before I turn it.  It's ready to eat when it's nicely browned on both sides.

We had a rain shower today and the weather has changed drastically.  The weather report is that there will be a 50 degree drop in temperature between yesterday and tomorrow!! I think we may get our cast iron soup pot out and break it in for the autumn soup season! This is another of our favorite things. We bundle up warm, make a big bonfire, and hang the pot on the tripod over the fire and sit and relax.  It's our therapy. 

The grandkids are here for the weekend and they love making smores and have a fire so maybe we'll cook a pot of chili over the fire tomorrow evening. I'll post pictures if we do that. Until then, enjoy the cooler weather!

9.01.2010

BEAUTIFUL HARVEST


Today I was admiring this dish of pears. My friend Tammy brought them to me from her brother's tree. I love fresh fruit in season, and pears are one of my favorites. For years, we had friends who had a big pear tree and they would give us at least one bushel every year. They have passed away, and I really miss those pears! I love home canned fruit for it's fresh flavor and enjoy a simple dish of cottage cheese and fruit during the winter months. 

Another favorite way to use pears is to make pear pie.  It's not a common pie, as pies go, but to enjoy it once a year is quite a treat. It's so delicious. The flavor is very mild and is a real taste treat.  I thought I'd share this recipe since pears are in season now. It's an easy recipe, so if you are a beginner, you can make this with no trouble at all!

SUGAR CREAM FRESH FRUIT PIE

3/4 c. sugar
3 1/2 Tbs. flour
1/2 pint whipping cream
dash of cinnamon
Mix sugar and flour, then add cream and cinnamon and stir to combine ingredients. 
Peel, pare, and slice pears or peaches. Place prepared fruit in a pastry crust lined pie pan.  Pour cream filling over fruit.
Bake 15 minutes at 425, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional hour.
I usually cover the pie crust edges with foil to keep them from browning too much.

8.26.2010

PRACTICAL JOKE


Since I've been going through vintage photos, I decided to deviate a bit from the food subject of this blog to share a funny story from my childhood. My mom liked practical jokes and I inherited her penchant for playing them...even as a young girl!! 

I had one sister and two brothers. We all played instruments in school as well as taking piano lessons. Music was a huge part of our family life....but that's another story!

This photo was taken about the same time that this practical joke happened. My mom is allergic to pennicillin and had a very bad reaction to it which landed her in bed for an extended time.  Her aunt was an R.N. and came to live with us to care for her.  A bed was moved into our downstairs den so she didn't have to climb stairs and she needed complete bed rest.  This aunt was not a favorite of ours. She had never been married and she was quite eccentric with a strong personality! She was the typical old maid!

This aunt was a very good care taker for my mom, now that I look back, but at the time we resented her so much. She would not allow us into my mom's room to see her and demanded complete silence in the house! It drove us nuts! 

One particular day, Dan and I decided we had had enough and formed a plan to torture her as much as she had tortured us!  We lived in one of those big old two-story homes with a front and back stairway with an upstairs hallway running from one to the other.  It made for great chases through the house! 

We both got out our instruments, I with my flute, and Dan with his french horn.  We went to the front stairway, which had a landing about 6 steps up before turning and going the rest of the way upstairs.  On the count of three, we both blasted our horns as loud as we could...nothing musical...just LOUD , shrill, and L-O-N-G...until we heard her shoes clack-clack-clack as she RUSHED to the front to give us a piece of her mind.  Then, we stopped playing and ran up the stairs to the back stairway, down to the landing which was half way down, and began the whole procedure over again! L-O-U-D and L-O-N-G...until we heard, once again, her shoes clack-clack-clacking.  We stopped, and ran back up to the perch in the front of the house and repeated this again!

I'm not sure how many times we continued this, but she kept up her quest to stop us until my Dad finally hollered at us and told us to quit.  We laughed sooooo hard!

The really funny part is this.  Years later, when we talked about this event with my mom, she said she remembered it vividly, and she was laughing the whole time!!!

There's a Bible verse that says that laughter is like medicine to the soul...well...that day she got the medicine she needed. It really lifted her spirits..and ours!!

MY FIRST KITCHEN APPLIANCE!


I am really lucky to have a lot of old, vintage, black and white photos of family members. I always feel sorry for my friends when they say they don't have childhood pictures like these. They are such treasures! Since this  is a food blog, when I came across this photo recently I thought I'd post it here!

The look on my face is almost identical to the face I made when I got my first Kitchen Aide stand mixer! I don't think I remember getting this gift, other than that the photo is one I've always liked a lot. 

8.25.2010

SUMMER VEGETABLE GALLETE


EAT LOCAL ~ EAT FRESH ~ EAT SEASONAL

The garden is full and overflowing. We have consistently picked 8-10 eggplants every week for the past few weeks. I've given some away, but have tried to use as many as possible. We have a few favorite eggplant recipes, but I sometimes get bored, or tired of the same old thing. This week my niece Cara, who loves to cook as much as I do, said she had made a dip or spread with roasted eggplant, garlic, and onion and said I should give it a try.




So, today, I used the last of my remaining eggplant to make this recipe. I peeled 6 eggplant, one large onion, and 6 cloves of garlic and placed them in a shallow roasting pan with some kosher salt, cracked pepper, oregano and a drizzle of olive oil. The oven was set at 425 and it took about half an hour until the vegetables were soft enough to pulse into a spread in the food processor. It was so delicious! It seems that no matter what vegetable you roast in the oven, it enhances the flavor and brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetable.



I had pie crusts in the fridge that needed to be used, so I lined a cookie sheet with parchment and placed one pi crust on the sheet and rolled it out a bit. Next, I placed a thick layer of the eggplant spread on the crust, leaving a 2 inch rim of crust. After the eggplant, I added fresh sliced tomatoes, kosher salt, ground pepper, oregano and once again that special touch of an olive oil drizzle. The outside crust was then folded in on itself all the way around and brushed with olive oil. It baked at 400 degrees until it was golden brown. I don't know how long it was, I just kept an eye on it.




To serve with the gallette, I made zucchini fritters. We are still knee deep in zucchini and creativity is necessary! We've been eating these squashes for weeks now. I wish there was some way to spread their harvest out over a month so that we didn't get tired of eating them! While I was frying the fritters, Richard was in the garden getting me some green tomatoes for tomorrow's dinner. I asked for some green tomatoes so we can have fried green tomatoes. We love them! What did he bring in with him??? You guessed it! ZUCCHINI!! I can't get ahead of them.



Tomorrow's dinner menu? Fried green tomatoes, brown rice, and zucchini with tomatoes, onions, garlic, spices, and chorizo.

Our favorite zucchini recipes?

zucchini bread
zucchini bars with cinnamon frosting
calavasa-a mexican dish served over rice
zucchini veg. chowder
zucchini fritters
zucchini cooked with lots of onions and tomatoes--simple but OH so good!
fried zucchini

8.21.2010

JAMMIN '

Blueberry Raspberry Jam

My niece, Cara, has made this jam the past couple of years. After telling me about it, and hearing how delicious is was, I decided to give it a try. Sometimes in the past, when I made jam it turned out runny.  It's very disappointing to have that happen, since 'jamming' is not cheap.  This recipe calls for 5 1/2 cups of sugar, plus one quart each of blueberries, and red raspberries. 

I just finished making it and it turned out just great. After making it, it's then canned in a hot water bath for 10 minutes so that it will keep over the winter months on the pantry shelf, although, it's so delicious, I'm afraid it won't last that long!  The recipe is from our favorite cookbook- Simply In Season.  I've mentioned the book before and most likely will again. The recipes are very down to earth with regular ingredients.  You might be able to check it out at a local library if you want to take a look.