10.03.2011

O is for OCTOBER

O suns and skies and clouds of June,

And flowers of June together,

Ye cannot rival for one hour

October's bright blue weather.

I just recently read this on another blog. I think's it's the most delightful poem. I love everything about Autumn. Cooler days, sunny skies, apples and pumpkins, bonfires, the colors as trees begin to turn.  September came and went almost without notice. I hope to keep my October schedule light, so that I can make every day last as long as possible.

It's hard to believe how much time has passed since I posted on this blog.  The kitchen remodel has taken over our lives in many ways. It has made planning meals difficult and most unenjoyable. Worse than that is that nothing is where it belongs. I have storage crates and bins sitting here and there, the microwave has taken up residence on the dining room table, and there is hardly a cleared surface anywhere.  Keeping a house clean under these circumstances is pretty much impossible.  I've pretty much given up on the whole thing and have now made this my new mantra... "Perhaps Tomorrow"!!

Meanwhile, I look forward to making soup over a fire on the weekends, and revisiting some of our favorite cool weather recipes. Fortunately, I've been able to keep the stove hooked up during our kitchen project.  I'm looking forward to making bread once again. We had such a hot September this year, so now that October is here and the temperature has dropped it is nice to use the oven to take that 'cool' edge off the air!



8.06.2011

ASIAN INSPIRED ZUCCHINI SALAD

Really lousy picture of: FRESH ZUCCHINI SALAD WITH HEIRLOOM TOMATOES


Recently I purchased a unique kitchen tool from Pampered Chef. It slices veggies into strips similar to sphagetti. I've used it on cucumbers and zucchini and I made a salad for dinner tonight using the tool on zucchini. I was watching Aarti Party, a cooking show, and she was making a zucchini ribbon salad. I don't have a mandolin that slices ribbons, but I do have this little tool so I decided to use her ingredient list and cut the zucchini into strips.  I took a picture but it turned out awful! I wish I had checked the camera before we ate the salad, because I couldn't redo the picture!! So, you will have to use your imagination a bit!

The dressing for this salad is supposed to have fish sauce but I used oyster sauce because that's what I had in the fridge. She also used lime juice but I had lemon. She used fresh chopped chilis, which I didn't have, so I used chili paste instead. I also added about a tablespoon of soy sauce and a bit of olive oil, and 2 finely grated garlic cloves.  The other ingredient she added was cilantro and I used dill from the garden. I loved the tang and heat this dressing gave off. I could have used a little more heat but Richard doesn't like much heat so I was careful not to over-do with the heat. Oh yes, I also added 2 tablespoons of brown sugar...and lovely hot/sweet/sour combination that was perfect with fresh zucchini.

I added several varieties of heirloom tomatoes and marinated it for 1/2 hour before we ate. It was DELICOUS! You might, however, get a different opinion from my husband! He's not as much of a fan of asian cuisine...me? It's my favorite! When I opened the container it was marinating in he said "WHAT?...is that SMELL?" Good grief!!! I could have said the same thing to him when he brought in the grilled burger he wanted for dinner!! I don't care much for burgers and wouldn't miss it if I never had one again!  We also had the sweet corn we bought at the farmer's market today and it was so sweet and tender!

A perfect summer dinner....in MY opinion!

TO MARKET TO MARKET


This morning we went to the Farmer's Market in downtown Toledo. We've been going on a pretty regular basis due the fact that the drought conditions we had in July greatly effected our garden!  Last year we had bumper crops so I did a lot of canning and freezing. It's a good thing, because some of the leftover canned things will take us into the late fall.  I do have some things to can from the garden and that should be enough to carry us through until the next growing season. 

For any farmer or gardener, this is normal! It's just part of the program. I keep thinking of all those who are CSA farmers. We have one down the road from us and their prouduce looks amazing, but they did some pretty heavy watering or it wouldn't have been that way!  We have a well for water supply, and with the dry conditions, you really don't know how much you can water without putting your own water supply in jeopardy. So, we water the tomatoes, and the basil, and my flowering plants. The rest depends on Mother Nature. Fortuneatly for us, She came though at the very last moment and most of the plants and veggies were rescued. The dry conditions greatly effected the yield.



While water effects the yield, CRITTERS do as well!! In the 20+ years we've lived and gardened here, we never had a rabbit, coon, deer, or woodchuck in our garden before. This year? We had deer, rabbits, coon, AND woodchuck!!! HORRORS! But, I've heard other farmers say the same thing! There is a huge woodchuck hole in the middle of the corn patch. We planted 12 , 50 ft.long rows of corn. An early variety and a late variety. The night before we harvested the early corn, the coons had cleaned us out! Not one ear left on the stalks! The later varitey we harvested last week. Normally from this amount of corn we would harvest about 8-10 bushels of corn. We'd have plenty to eat, can, and give away. This year, we didn't even have enough to fill a picnic cooler! So sad! Gladly I froze so much last year, we should be able to make it until next July!

Our tomatoes are just beginning to ripen so it won't be long until I start canning them and making marinar sauce to can. We've been out for a couple of months and I've missed it so much. The taste is so different from anything else! I still have some basil that I will be using for more pesto and basil cubes, and we have lot of peppers so it's time to make more hot pepper marmalade!  If I am going to can pickled green beans I guess I'll have to purchase them from the market because the beans didn't do well either this year. I did manage to can about 60 quarts, but our son wanted 50 quarts for his family. Sad to say, they will only be getting half that amount. As the year progesses, we'll share with them if it looks like we have extras. 


ZUCCHINI! There is such a funny story in the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle , about zucchini. There is a tradition that during zucchini season, when you know people are away from home you drop off all your extra zucchinis on their porch anonymously! While I think that's funny, I would rather find someone who actually wants them and will use them. The hard thing is finding those people!!  I think I'm going to make some zucchini pickles this year. I love a good bread & butter pickle, but I'm the only one here that does so I never can them. This year, we have so many zucchini that I think I'll make one batch of pickles for me!! I love them with cottage cheese...crazy..I know!

We love our zucchini. I make the most delicious summer vegetable chowder with it, cake, muffins, bread, casseroles, and grilled! It is SO versatile! For years I have frozen it but I don't like the outcome and I always end up throwing some away the next year. That's a lot of work to go to waste, so this year I'm not planning on doing that.

Tomorrow we'll have one of our favorite zucchini dishes - calavasa. I believe that's spanish for squash. It's a spicy dish that my mother always cooked and it's served over rice. So delicious! I also have some okra from the market and I'll fry that along with some green tomatoes which I bought. The next day we'll eat the fresh beets I bought. Normally we would have beets coming out of our ears! I usually pickle at least 2 dozen pints of beets but ours didn't even grow! Not only that, we love the greens and would eat them every day for as many weeks as we could! I recently read that someone planted them in August for October harvest. I think we'll give that a try. We'll wait until a little later in the month and hopefully have some for Thanksgiving!

I'm watching Aarti Party on the Food Network and she's going to make a raw zucchini salad so I need to go and give that my full attention! It's one way I have never had it!!

7.03.2011

A TASTE OF SUMMER SUNSHINE IN OUR MOUTHS!

RED WHITE AND BLUE ~CAPRESE SALAD
The garden is beginning to reward our hard work. I should say, Richard's hard work since he's the gardener. We are having a dry spell, in fact this past June was the driest on record! It was supposed to rain last night but it went around us instead so we will have to do some pretty agressive watering. Fortuneately for us, we have a well that supplies us with all the water we need so the vegetables are going to get a good, long drink tonight!

CAPRESE WITH FRESH PICKED BASIL AND HOMEMADE MOZARELLA
I was so excited to see how much the basil had grown this past week. I bought the ingredients I need to make pesto, and later today I'll be making big batches of pesto to freeze as well as basil cubes. For the cubes, I just run the basil in the food processor with a bit of water, pop them in an ice cube try until they are solid, then put them in a gallon sized freezer bag. I freeze about 3 bags like that to last us through until the next season. They are so easy to use for marinara or soups throughout the winter. The pesto is great on pizza, bread, and pasta.
BASIL PLANTS READY TO HARVEST
(lettuce on the right, tomatoe plants on the left)
BUT, the real pi'ece de resistance is the Caprese Salad we had for lunch today! In my opinon, it is the highlight of gardening season to be able to use fresh basil from the garden for this salad. The only drawback is that the tomatoes are not in season here yet, so I have to resort to 'on the vine' tomatoes from the grocery. They aren't anything near as tasty as the home grown tomatoes we will have in another month or so, but they were a pretty good alternative.

Now, if you are going to have a Caprese Salad, you need not only fresh basil, but fresh mozarella! I have been making mozarella cheese for several years now and it's so delicious and easy to  make. When I saw that basil this morning in the garden, I knew I wanted to make some fresh cheese to compliment it. You can see from the pictures how pretty this salad is. It's like eating a piece of summer sunshine!! It will transport you to Tuscany or Provence in an instant!

Making fresh mozarella cheese is not only easy but so much fun! It's like watching magic! The milk gradually curdles, and the cuds begin to get larger, until you have a pan full of curds and the whey sepeartes.  The whey that is left after straining off the curds is great to use in breads or pizza dough. Since we'll be having fresh pizza on the grill tomorrow, I'm going to be using the whey in the dough recipe, and I'll save the rest and freeze it for future use. It adds nutrition and flavor to the dough.  I use the same recipe for foccacia, too, and also use the why in that.

The only special equipment or ingredients needed to make the cheese is vegetable rennet, citric acid, and a thermometer. It takes 3 minutes from start to finish, so it really is easy for both the novice or the seasoned cook.
Step 1- gather the ingredients:citric acid, rennet, thermometer,salt, milk
Thoroughly mixing in the citric acid at 88 degrees
At 100 degrees the curds are ready to strain out
The final product, after kneading out all the whey .
The cheese can be stretched and made into balls or
formed into a log for easy slicing. I added kosher salt and
cracked black pepper (that's the flecks you see).
One recipe makes just a little over a pound!

6.30.2011

MUTANT RADISH!


Can you believe the size of this radish? Some of our radishes didn't get picked at optimal size, but I have to say, even though they are very large, they are still very delicious! The one large one with the baby in the picture, however, was not edible. It had gotten 'pithy' inside. It gets soft and a bit mushy and doesn't have the usual firmness and snap when biting into a radish.

Several in this batch were as large or larger than a ping pong ball. They are quite hot but we like them that way. I had never heard of using them for a sandwich but someone mentioned that she like them that way. We've never had enough of them to use them that way until now. I have to say, it was very good! I also used fresh lettuce and arugala and just a bit of salt on the radishes and used wheat bread.

My only other comment about these radishes is that if you radishes, I hope you will find a farmer's market and get some that are FRESH. They taste nothing like the ones you get in a little plastic bag in the store!

Incidentally, we don't fertilize or use pesticides!


6.29.2011

IN MY OPINION

ME WITH A HAPPY FACE
FOODIE POST SOON TO FOLLOW!!


I'm really exposing myself with this post. I don't know why, I just thought it was something I wanted to share. I have Mother-In-Law issues. She once asked me "don't you want/try/think about losing weight?" OMG!  What? Are you serious? Yeah, I think/ try/ AND want to lose weight. Today, and every other day of the week. FYI (this isn't a good question to ask me if you want to be my friend...lol)

So, I suppose there are others who know me personally that might actually have the same question so I decided to write a few of my feelings and opinions here. Call it risky, stupidity, whatEVer, maybe it will give you a different perspective. Maybe it will help you not to be judgemental. We all need a little understanding and tolerance toward others...no just over THIS issue, but many issues! Oh yeah, and let me say, I'm a happy person. I'm not writing this because I'm miserable or unhappy. I've always been a pretty contented, happy, out-going person. I like myself (for the most part) and have learned how to like myself.

I recently came across a book at the library and it's been so interesting to read. The title- Nourishing Traditions-the Cookbook The Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.
Quite the title, isn't it!?

This is a big, thick book filled with some of the most interesting facts and studies, as well as recipes. I haven't had time to even look at the recipes because I've been so captured by all the information in the book!

I don't think anyone I know isn't concerned about their diet. Some are trying to lose weight, some want to lower their cholesterol, others need a gluten free diet, or fat free, or vegan, or.....and the list goes on and on! I think it comes down to a desire to be healthy and live a long life. No one wants to cut their life short because of bad nutrition. At the same time, many people are taking the word of this guru or that guru and basically following the newest diet craze to hit the media! TV commercials are filled with all kinds of information and before & after pictures and success stories of Hollywood stars who have re-made their image (and incidentally, who have been paid for dieting!).

In my quest for weight loss, I have tried pretty much every diet available. I don't think I need to list them but I can assure you, if you have thought of it, I've tried it. Some of them have been quite succesful, but the end result is that EXTREME dieting MANY times does not have a lasting effect. It is proven that yo-yo dieting is worse for you and harder on your body that maintaining your weight, even if you are overweight. I'm not advocating being overweight, I'm just pointing out that it really does take a toll on your body-your health-your strength, to be extreme and not use common sense. It shows in your face and skin...it ages you. I've seen it happen in many cases.

One of the solutions that is currently quite popular by many people is weight loss surgery. I've seriously considered this. I've seen it work for people with great results. At least in the fact that they 'look' good. My whole life has been a battle of weight, so for  me, the look issue is a NON issue. I don't have to be thin to like myself. I've learned to be a happy person in a fat body. BUT, I want to be as healthy as I possibly can and so I consider all my options. I also know, personally, people who have had weight loss surgery that have not survived. I know some who have had the surgery and within a short time, have gained all the weight back and then some, leaving them worse off than before! After weighing (pun intended lol) all options, I don't think I could ever choose the surgery route.

So, all of this comes out because I've been reading some very interesting info in this book! It is probably assumed that because I'm overweight I sit around eating bon-bons and donuts every day. Guess what? Not true. Instead, my husband, skinny butt and all, has a donut ritual. He gets donuts every friday on his way to work, and sometimes on the weekend. He also has a sweet treat every evening. He has a peanut butter and jelly english muffin every day. But, he also works hard physically, which I do not and genetics come into play. He had tall slender parents. I did not.

When I started this blog, it was my intent to make a decision to change how we ate.To make conscious food decisions, and see if it made a difference in our health. Recently I had blood work done and while I'm not going to post my numbers here, let me say that my Dr. was very pleased with results. I believe it's a result of the way we have changed our diet and the foods we eat, so I wanted to share what we have done differently and also about what this book talks about.

The first thing we have done is cut back our meat consumption to at least half of what it was. When I make a batch of chili, I add more beans and half the amount of ground meat. I usually use turkey instead of beef. We eat several meatless meals a week. We have a huge garden and eat a lot of veggies. We eat seasonally as much as possible. We try to eat organic foods that are highest in pesticides. We eat more whole grains and legumes. We rarely eat out and don't eat processed foods much. You can tell from looking at the recipes I post in this blog that we don't eat celery and lettuce meals. We eat good meals, filled with a wide range of ingredients, but they are wholesome foods.

So, I think I got a little sidetracked! Back to the book! Here is an example of the info in the book. In 1960 scientists did a study at the U of M with rats. One group of rats was fed corn flakes and water, second group water and the box the cereal came in, third group water and rat food/pellets. The group that had the cornflakes all died first, with the last rat in that group dying as the first one in the box group died, leaving the scientists to prove that eating the BOX the cereal comes in is better for you than the cereal itself! So much of our food is gentically modified, fortified with this that and the other, and we have been fooled into thinking it's GOOD for us! hmmm Maybe not! We try to eat foods that have a short ingredient list, and that we actually know what the ingredients are!

From the book: Research has shown that three raw carrots eaten daily, lower blood cholesterol; and that a single carrot a day lowers the risk of lung cancer among smokers by one half! (Now, I'm not a smoker, but I know some smokers and I've shared this with them. If I did smoke, believe me, I'd be eating carrots!) Carrots are rich sources of carotenoids, B vitamins, phosphorus, calcium and iodine.

From time to time I'm going to post more from this book. It will help show why we eat the way we do and make the food choices we make. Sorry for such a long post. Maybe you were bored reading it, but this afternoon I'm going to be making a batch of arugala pesto from the garden so there will be a more FUN post with pictures coming soon!!

6.27.2011

MEATLESS MONDAY 6.27.11

With so many options, it's hard to get bored with Meatless Monday! We are gradually finding ourselves expanding our meatless days to at least 2 more days a week. During the summer, when the heat and humidity are almost unbearable, it's much more desireable to eat a light meal. A small portion of meat or fish on the grill is also nice, but now that the garden has started to produce fresh food, our meals focus on vegetables rather than a meat portion.

COUSCOUS TIMBALE WITH FRUIT SALAD

Quinoa and couscous are favorites of mine. Fortunately the family also enjoy them depending on what I add to the dish or how it's served. My favorite is couscous, preferably whole wheat. It's so quick and easy to fix, and a very healthy dish!

In the summer when the AC is running all day, and you really don't want to add any heat to the kitchen, I sometimes resort to using the microwave to cook the couscous. It comes out light and fluffy and only takes about 3-4 minutes to cook, making it a quick fix! Couscous tastes great with just a bit of  soy sauce or with lots of veggies or other ingredients.

At the store this weekend, they had 'old' cauliflower heads for $.99. They had just a touch of brown here and there, but they were firm and overall pretty nice looking. I also found little packages with mini sweet peppers. They were yellow, orange, and red and the package had about 9 of them for $.99!!
So, with these vegetables that needed to be used as soon as possible, I cut up about 2 cups of the cauliflower, and sliced about 6 of the peppers, along with 2 minced garlic cloves. On the marked down veggie rack were packages of yellow tomatoes for $.99 as well, so I chunked up 2 large tomatoes and added these ingredients to a bit of olive oil in a saute pan.

I cooked the couscous in the microwave and set it aside to cool after I had fluffed it up a bit with a fork. Once the veggies were cooked slightly, about 5 minutes, I added about 1c. currants, 1 c. kalamta olives, juice of one lemon, lemon zest, and salt and pepper taste. After tasting it I thought it needed a little additional punch so I added in some thyme and curry powder. Perfect!! So delicious. I love the sweet little surprise the currants add to the dish!

I had planned to add chick peas to the dish but forgot to take them out of the freezer and decided that the dish really didn't need them anyway. This dish tastes great warm or at room temperature making it perfect for a hot summer day. The leftovers are tasty as lettuce wraps!

Nutritional value: When you pair chick peas with couscous you make a complete portein, just like meat. But unlike meat, it only takes 3 minutes in themicrowave to cook the cousous!
1 c. couscous per 2 c. water. Cover and microwave for 3-4 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let set.

6.26.2011

SPRING QUICHE TRIO

THE COOKBOOK I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT!

I think my favorite cookbook is Simply in Season. It's filled with delicious, reasonable recipes featuring fresh, local foods. The recipes are reasonable, in the sense that they use ingredients you will find at most any supermarket, if not actually in your own pantry! Recipes are arranged in order of their seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, using seasonal ingredients found in your own garden or at a local farmer's market.

Every recipe I have tried from this book has turned out to be a favorite that I repeat again, and again. Today was no exception! We finally started harvesting fresh arugala along with a few other vegetables. The arugala came on gang busters and we can't eat it all fresh so I looked for ideas in this cookbook.  Spring Quiche Trio, on page60-61 of the cookbook, offers 3 filling choices, and 2 crust choices.

SRPING QUICHE TRIO - pg. 60-61

I had 6 potatoes that needed to be used up, so I chose the potato crust instead of a pastry type crust. I should have baked it a bit longer because the bottom of the crust, where it was the thickest, was a bit mushy or soft, rather than crisp and brown. I am sometimes impatient! The taste was still great!

One filling featured ramps, another asparagus, and yet another broccoli-leek-spinach. We are eating lots of green onions from the garden and I still had 2 nice long pieces of fresh asparagus from the garden(the last of the season) and the arugala. I thought those 3 ingredients would make a great quiche so I adapted the recipe using them. One recipe called for bacon, and I chose to use turkey bacon instead. The result was simply wonderful! It's delicious and I know we'll like it cold for lunch. I think a little dollop of salsa would be great!

The arugala did not overpower the flavors. It's a pungent vegetable, with a little peppery bite, but it was a perfect companion to the scallions, eggs, cheese, and asparagus.  We had grilled tuna steaks and a small fresh fruit kabob for healthy, light, summery dinner!

GRILLED TUNA STEAK, QUICHE, MELON KABOB, ICE TEA



If you have never seen this cookbook, check your local library for a copy. There are really wonderful recipes and some great reading as well! Give this recipe a try. It's not only easy, it's a nice way to use some of the season's produce!

SPRING QUICHE TRIO
 For potato crust: 3 cups uncooked potatoes coaresly grated
3 TBS oil ( I used olive oil)
Mix together and press into the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate. Bake in 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes until just starting to brown. Remove from oven and turn oven temp to 350.


POTATO CRUST


3 eggs
1 c.evaporated milk
1/4 tsp.each salt and pepper
Beat these together and stir in 1 c.shredded cheese of your choice(swiss, cheddar,or feta would all be great). I used sharp cheddar but want to try one with feta-YUM!

FILLING INGREDIENTS


For the filling:
In saute pan, saute chopped asparagus (about 1 1/2 c.) and 8 green onions thinly sliced about 5-10 minutes then add arugala until wilted. Add cooked and crumbled bacon or turkey bacon. I used about 6 slices...just for flavoring. Add to egg mixture and pour into potato crust. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until set. Allow to cool slightly before cutting. Also good served at room temperature!

6.25.2011

FIRST FRESH SALAD OF 2011

FRESH GARDEN SALAD


We start planning our garden when the first seed catalog arrives in the mail in January! When it's freezing cold outside, and it's been below zero for days, going to mailbox and finding a seed catalog is as good as any session with a therapist. The colors are vibrant and each page is filled with hope! These catalogs are one of my favorite parts of gardening.

Notice I said 'one' of the favorite parts. I think anyone who gardens will say that the best part of gardening is being able to eat and enjoy the fruits of your labors! Today I reached to the back of my tupperware cupboard and pulled out the salad spinner. I was so excited to be able to use it for the first time this gardening season. Richard came in with fresh arugala, leaf lettuce, green onions, and radishes from the garden. Some of the things are just not growing very well but the 'salad makings' are doing great.

I added some sliced red onion, cucumber, toasted sunflower seeds, shaved parmesan cheese, sun-dried tomatoes (frozen from last years garden), radishes, and a squeeze of lemon juice, a bit of olive oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt! Simply delicious! It's one of our favorite dressings for a salad fresh from the garden. The green onions, arugal, and radishes all had a pleasant peppery kick that complimented each other.

I had some enchilada casserole frozen in the freezer from a week ago,so we each had a small side dish of that to go with the salad. A very quick and tasty meal!

The green beans in the picture are canned from our 2010 garden. They're spicy pickled beans. I'll be making more of them this year. It was a new recipe and we all liked them and every time we go visit our son out of town he wants us to bring more!

Normally, the pea pod plants are high up the pea fence and may be blossomed by now. We got a late start for them so they are quite behind. That is the other favorite garden item in the spring. A simple garden salad, sauteed garlic pea pods, and some brown rice...such a satisfying summer meal!

The edible peas aren't ready, but another favorite of mine-sweet peas- are blossoming and brightening up the house.
SWEET PEAS - SO FRAGANT!


6.13.2011

FOCCACIA - PIZZA - CALZONE RECIPE

Kind of hard to try a recipe if I don't post it, isn't it?! I just forgot, so now the recipe will appear before the post! I'm not a very accomplished blogger, that's for sure! Be sure to check out the next post to see pictures and more info on this recipe.

FOCCACIA/PIZZA DOUGH

In stand mixer dissolve 2 pkgs. yeast in 2 c. warm water (I use rapid rise)

Then add in slowly as mixer is running: 1 Tbs. sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 1 Tbs. olive oil, 1/2 c. veg or canola oil, and 3 c. flour. Beat this with the paddle hook for 5 minutes before gradually adding in another 2 -2 1/2 c. flour. That last amount seems to depend on the weather or something. I usually add the full 2 1/2 c. but just a scant 1/2 c. The dough will be light and slightly sticky but will not stick to your fingers. If, while adding the last amounts of flour, it begins to look like the dough is getting stiff do NOT add more flour.

Sit in draft free area and let rise until doubled. Punch down and knead to disperse air bubbles. Let dough rest for about 5-10 minutes before trying to roll out or it will just spring right back!!

This recipe makes 2-3 pizza crusts. For us, it makes one large thin crust and one thick crust that is about 16 inches. I use stoneware to bake on and it gives a nice crunch. I also spray or oil the pan and then lightly sprinkle with corn meal before placing the crust on the pan to bake. That additional corn meal makes the crust extra crispy!!

Let me know if you have questions about this recipe, and I'd love to know if you try it and how it turned out for you!

MEATLESS MONDAY

Nothing very exciting for Meatless Monday. I made Baked 3-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese. Richard grilled eggplant and fresh pineapple slices while I watched the calzones that were baking.




Our daughter had surgery this week so I've been baking and cooking for them. Today I made calzones from scratch. I have the best dough recipe. It can be used for PIZZA, CALZONES, or FOCCACIA. I've used it for all three and it's really delicious and so easy to make. The dough turns out perfect every time! I like those no-fail recipes!
STEP 1- After the dough has risen, punch down and divide into sections and let rest for 10 minutes before rolling out. For calzones place ingredients on one half before covering with other half of dough. 
I have a Kitchen Aide stand mixer that I use to mix the dough so I don't even get sticky hands when I made it. The recipe makes 2 to 3 pizzas depending on the size. I made 13 good sized calzones from one recipe.
STEP 2- After filling one half, fold over dough and press. Then roll and press to seal, and place on parchment paper cookie sheet.


It was a bit of a challenge making the calzones. My daughter is a vegetarian so hers had to be meat free. Her husband and daughter wanted ham and cheese and they like green peppers and onions but not black olives, feta cheese, spinach, or mushrooms which I was putting in Leah's (daughter). My son doens't like green peppers and only a few onions and prefers pepperoni. By the time I got to Richard and mine I just put in whatever I had...which ended up being all of it!

I had recently checked out a cookbook from the library that had a "freezer food" theme. Calzones happened to be one of the items in the book. It suggested partially baking the calzones for about 20 minutes before freezing, and then finishing the baking when you wanted to eat them. I haven't done it this way before but it made sense to me so I'm giving it a try. I hope it will be good since I'm giving most of these away. I made 9 for the 3 of them and kept 4 for us.
STEP 3- If you have cooked these until done, then just EAT and ENJOY. If you have cooked them partially, they will need to cool before wrapping in foil and freezing for later use. Even though these look golden, the inside dough is not completely baked and will require an additional 12-15 minutes before they are done. 
Aren't they beauties?? They smelled amazing when they were baking. It was a perfect day for the dough. It rose fast and light. It's a very nice dough to work with. The measurements are perfect and the dought doesn't stick to you fingers when you are working with it and doesn't require additional flour to roll out.



I hope you will be tempted to give this recipe a try. Remember- this recipe can be used for pizza dough, foccacia, or calzones. If you want to try grilling pizza, roll out your dough and transfer with a 'peel' onto the grill. Let the first side get grilled and then flip and top with your pizza toppings. Close the grill to melt the cheese or cook your ingredients. Enjoy!

6.12.2011

CHICKEN MOLE---OLE!

CHICKEN MOLE OVER RICE WITH AVOCADO AND LIME


When I was in grade school, the church we were attending sent my parents as missionaries to help start a church in a neighboring town.  There was a large group of Mexican people that lived there and our church started a church for them. None of us spoke Spanish so I'm not sure why they sent us, other than the fact that my parents were willing to go. It was where we went to church for a number of years. My mom learned to speak Spanish and we made many wonderful friends there.

On Sunday after the services, all the ladies of the church brought food and we had a pot luck lunch. The smells were extremely distracting as we sat and listened to the sermon in Spanish...not understanding a word!  There were many authentic Mexican dishes (the tortillas?? so, so good!) and one that we had regularly was mole. I can still see what it looked like! It was dark brown and from the first time I tasted it I was in love! It isn't a spicy hot dish, but it is SO full of flavor! All these years later I was determined to master making it until I found out just how difficult the dish is! True, authentic mole takes hours to make and is very labor intensive.

After watching a cooking show I tried my hand at making a Spanish dish called Paella and was thrilled with the results. It isn't quite as difficult to make as mole and has a wonderful ethnic flavor. But, I was still wanting to master the 'mole'!

This past week I was watching a cooking show and the show's host was making something called Quick Mole! HMMMM interesting! Mole?? Quick?? She had me hooked. I taped the show and have watched it several times and couldn't wait to try it myself!

This is a picture of my attempt and we were all pleasantly pleased with the results. It was as close to that childhood memory of what it tasted and looked like as any I have ever had in Mexican restaurants! So, if you are so inclined to give it a try, this recipe is completly easy and do-able!

If you give it a try I would love to hear how it turned out and if you liked it!

QUICK CHICKEN MOLE

Purchase a rotisserie chicken and debone and shred. Set aside.

Saute 1 chopped onion and 3 minced garlic cloves in EVOO until transparent
Add: 2 c. canned whole tomatoes- crush with your hands
1 c raisins
1 chopped up chipotle pepper
1 Tbsp. chipotle sauce
Cook for a few minutes to blend ingredients

(I used two chipotle peppers...I like it spicy...use what tastes right to you! The chipotle sauce is what you find the peppers in when you open a can of peppers. I open a can and place the leftovers in a freezer bag and take out what I need and replace in the freezer!)

Add: 2 C. chicken broth
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. chili powder
3 Tbs. peanut butter
Cook all together for 5 minutes to blend flavors.

To the sauce add the shredded chicken. It should be about 3 cups.  Also add 1 1/2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate. I used Ghiradelli 100%. Stir to mix and melt chocolate. Simmer until ready to serve over rice.  Add zest of orange and stir to combine.

Serve with lime slices, avocado slices, chopped peanuts, chopped cilantro and sesame seeds. I didn't have all of these ingredients on hand so I added the peanuts and avocado along with lime slices. Choose the ones you like and enjoy!


6.11.2011

STRAWBERRY SEASON

Fresh from the Farmer's Market - Pesticide free and local!

One of my first paying jobs was picking strawberries. I don't remember how much we were paid, but it wasn't much. I didn't last long either. It was a hot job and I hate it! We have now returned to our childhood because this year we purchased our berries at the Farmer's Market, already picked! I'd rather pay a little more and have someone else pick them, and so would Richard. 

The challenge is to find berries that have not been sprayed with pesticides. There were several at the market that had pesticide free berries. I think they are responding to customer requests. More people prefer the berries that are not sprayed. The really nice thing is that you can just pop one in your mouth without washing it and now worry about what you are eating...well, other than a little leftover sand or a small leaf! 

I came home and made 2 batches of strawberry jam. It took 4 quarts to make the jam and we had one quart left for strawberry shortcake for dinner.  I sent Richard to the store to get 'kool-whip' and he said "I'm not buying kool-whip for MY shortcake..I want the real thing!" So he bought whipping cream and I let him whip it up! It was a delicious, fresh taste of summer!  The way we always knew it was strawberry season was that it fell on Vacation Bible School week, which usually was the second week in June.

The garden is looking nice. We've had some very nice rain at just the right time. Everything is growing great and looks strong. Richard brought in 2 little arugala leaves today! I rinsed them off and we each had one. Oh what a treat!! We should be able to have an arugala salad with fresh radishes and onions in another week or so. I'm VERY excited to say the least!

This is the first year we've seen rabbits here. We were sitting on the deck having our dinner this evening and I saw a little baby bunny run across the yard just past the garden! They are so cute, but I knew if there was a baby there was also an adult somewhere! It wasn't long until we saw Mr. AND Mrs. Bunny go into the garden. Oh my! My pacifist, gentle husband turned into RoboCop! He said "I'll SHOOT rabbits if they get in my garden!" to which I just cracked up! There isn't a chance in the world that he would shoot an animal. He doesn't even have a gun! But, out he went to the garden, quick as could be, clapping his hands and making noise to chase them away. It was great entertainment! We'll have to keep an eye out for evidence of rabbit trespassing!

Richard also noticed that the potatoes are showing signs of potato bugs so tomorrow morning he's planning on going out and taking them off. Thus begins a daily job!

I haven't posted much lately about MEATLESS MONDAY. We have still been eating meatless on monday but I've been in a funk about what to have. I've been looking for new ideas and recipes. It seems I am just circulating the same dishes! Now that it's grill season that will change. I bought an eggplant at the store this weekend and Monday we will have grilled eggplant and romaine. I have never grilled the lettuce but have seen it many times on cooking shows so I want to try it. I have a recipe for Green Goddess dressing that I plan to make for the grilled romaine and I'm making a couscous dish that has feta cheese and currants in it.

Next week I don't have to work so I'll have time to work on projects here at home. I have a door I want to paint and I also bought an old wooden step ladder that I'm going to paint and add shelves to for a repurposed book shelf thingy!

The other project for the week comes from a blog post I saw somewhere. I'm going to make a summer reading adventure for the little grandkids. I'll have to take some pics to post. Each child will have a little bucket to collect tokens which I will print off on the computer for each 20 minutes that they read or are read to.  I'll give our son suggested books for him to get at their local library. I'm going to have small craft ideas and they will get prizes as they accumulate tokens. At the end of the summer we'll have a pizza party with games at a park. I have a lot of work this week coming up with the suggested reading and making all the tokens, and decorating the buckets.  I'm excited about it and hope they will be, too. At least enough so they spend some time with books over the summer instead of in front of the TV! The older one can read to the younger ones for credit. I really do think they'll have fun with it.

I suppose my next post will be a picture of our first garden produce. I hope it comes soon! Hope you are enjoying the season of planting and anticipation! I'm interested to hear what your favorite way is to have strawberry shortcake? What type of 'cake'...'biscuit'...etc. 



5.23.2011

GARDENING TAKES TIME!

We had thought about cutting back this year and make a smaller garden. Once we start planting and planning it seems like an impossible task to cut back. There as just so many wonderful things we want to plant!! The rows in the garden are about 50 feet long. We have 13 rows of corn, 3 rows of green beans, 3 rows of potatoes(3 varieties), 1/2 row of red beets, 1/2 row of carrots, 2 rows of sugar peas, and lettuces, arugala, bell peppers, heirloom, regular, and roma tomatoes,onions, dill, basil, nasturtiums, and radishes. I may have forgot something, but you get the idea! We are NOT cutting back! I think there will be plenty to share and give away. The challenge comes in finding someone who is willing to come out in the humidity and heat of NW Ohio and harvest things.

It's hot, hard work, and not many have the stamina. Just saying...! We've been enjoying asparagus and can hardly eat it fast enough. Today I froze some because we couldn't use it fast enough, and tomorrow I'm taking some to my niece to eat.  As long as we keep it picked it will continue to produce for a while. Over the weekend we grilled some. I wrapped the stalks in thin slices of bacon (1/2 slice per spear) and grilled them until the bacon was crispy. Even our grandson, who said he doesn't like asparagus enjoyed it!!


Pinto beans, Spanish rice, and homemade tortillas!

Tonight was MEATLESS MONDAY and we had one of our favorite MM meals...pinto beans, spanish rice, and tortillas. I had lots of fresh cilantro and chopped that to add to the rice and beans as a topping. So Yummmmy!!!


Apple Dapple Cake

I made this cake the other day. It's called Apple Dapple cake and it is so moist and delicious. It's great, espcially when apples are in season! After making the cake in a tube pan, you poked holes in it and pour over it a brown sugar/ milk/ butter mixture and let it soak into the cake. Of course, no icing is needed for this cake! It's really good with a cup of coffee or tea!

Richard came in earlier and said that the beans and corn are now up! He always gets excited when the first seeds poke their little heads up. The rains have been just about right for watering the plants. Not too  much to drown them out, but enough to help them grow! I can hardly wait for that first lettuce salad!

Hope you are enjoying spring in your part of the world and can find a little or BIG area to garden in! Even a small pot can be exhillerating when it begins to 'feed' you!!

5.05.2011

VEGETARIAN BLISS

FRESH DANDELION GREENS ~ CLEANED AND READY TO EAT!

It's been a meatless week here on the farm. I made a delicious quinoa casserole the other night and stuffed in into acorn squash halves and baked them until golden brown. It was delicious and so healthy. Very little fat, and lots of protein and nutrients. Tonight I enjoyed a helping of sauteed kale. I first sauteed onion, fresh garlic and ginger, and added rice vinegar and a touch of balsamic at the end. Kale is another power packed food that is so good for you. I had a veggie burger along side the kale. The guys had grilled brats and pasta salad.

If you would like to try the quinoa casserole here is how I made it. First cook 1 c. of quinoa in 2 c. water until water is absorbed. Saute 2 diced carrots, some mushrooms and onion until slightly cooked. Add this to the quionoa along with 1 c. peas and 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese. The recipe calls for 1 c. milk and 1 c. sour cream. I didn't want it to be too 'soupy' so I skipped the milk. I would normally use yogurt, but I had some sour cream to used up in the fridge so I used that. After cooking the squash for 1/2 hour at 350 upside down on parchment paper, I turned it over and added the casserole to the squash and topped with a small amount of cheese. To conserve on the fat content the cheese could be omitted.

I then returned it to the oven for another 15 minutes or so. It was hearty and delicious!

This weekend I'll cook a dish of dandelion. My dad would always go out this time of the year and dig a big bunch of greens and call me and say "I have dandelion, will you come cook them for us?" My mom was a great cook, but for some reason he would call me and ask me this. I think it was because he knew how much I liked eating them! I make a sour sauce and add some bacon for flavor. Of course, this is not a meatless dish, but it's packed with goodness. Dandelions are very good for your liver and gall bladder. In fact, friends of ours have parakeets that had a liver condition and they were prescribed dandelion root to give the birds! Interesting, huh!

We don't use fertilizer on our lawn and don't have dogs anymore, so we are safe to just go out in the yard and dig these. This is a sure sign that spring is here!

4.27.2011

FORKS OVER KNIVES

PAREMESAN RISOTTO WITH MUSHROOMS AND SPRING ASPARAGUS

This was our Meatless Monday dish this week. Risotto is such a delicious  meal. It's heartier than a regular rice dish so it's perfect for MM because it's filling. Richard wanted something more than the risotto so he also had a couple of bean burritos from the left-overs in the fridge.  I was so afraid to give risotto a try the first time, but once you try it you will wonder why? I guess the only drawback is that it does take some attention. While it's cooking you do need to stir it to keep it from sticking, but if you have everything else ready to go and do the risotto last, the time goes by quickly.  You'll want to serve it as soon as it's done. It takes about 20 minutes or so.

You may be wondering what the title of this blog refers to?? Well, I just heard about another 'foodie' type movie coming out. It's called Forks Over Knives and will be featured on the Dr. Oz show today. I found out about it on FB through one of my groups. I normally don't watch Dr. Oz but I may try to today.  The title refers to  the choice of 'plant protein' vs. 'animal protein' in our diets.  There are several clips on you tube about the subject along with a few trailers of the movie if you are interested. 

I can easily be a vegetarian, but I'm not sure I could go to a vegan diet. I like eggs! I think that we sometimes forget to take baby steps. It's easy to fall off the wagon when  making DRAMATIC choices, but it's much easier to make small changes that can last a lifetime. We've cut back dramatically in our meat consumption, but this new information drives me to include meatless meals as many days of the week as possible. 

I say that, but also think about the big ol HAM in my freezer that I purchased last week because it was on sale and we like ham!!! Once again, I think moderation is as important as anything. My family is not ready to become vegetarians (my daughter already is) even though I might be. Grilling season is upon us and already my 'guys' are talking burgers and brats!

Just thought I'd mention that movie and see if anyone else has heard any 'buzz' about it and what your thoughts are?

Here is my latest fun craft project! I made it last night while watching TV. It cost me a total of $0! I had a large box of butcher paper on hand from when my parents closed down their home. I knew that someday I'd find a use for it. I have so much of it I think I'll make a few more of these to give away!! The white is a nice 'springtime' touch!

STEP 1: TEAR OFF A LONG PIECE OF PAPER AND SCRUNCH IT UP INTO A WREATH FORM

CUT OUT MANY CIRCLES. THEY DON'T HAVE TO BE EXACT. MAKE THREE SIZES.

AFTER SCRUNCHING UP ALL THE PIECES, USE YOUR GLUE GUN TO LAYER SM/MD/LG. TEAR OFF A SMALL PIECE OF PAPER AND FORM INTO A BALL AND GLUE TO THE MIDDLE OF THE BLOSSOM.

GLUE THEM TO THE WREATH AND ADD LEAVES EVERY SO OFTEN. CUT OUT A LEAF FORM, SCRUNCH PAPER, THEN PINCH ONE END TOGETHER BEFORE GLUING.

4.18.2011

MEATLESS MONDAY - ZITI

One of our favorite meatless dishes is baked ziti.  Once in a while I make this dish and add 1/4 pound of proscuitto.  I chop it up and stir it into the dish. It's delicious either way!  This is a very easy dish to prepare. In fact, I think it would be possible for a child to make this with a little supervision!


BAKED ZITI

In a 9x13 baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking oil, combine the following ingredients:

8 oz. ricotta

1 tsp. salt

2 c. ziti ( I sometimes use mini ziti)

1  jar of your favorite marinara sauce

(I use my own homemade sauce - 1 quart)

3 c. water

Stir all ingredients to combine and top with 2 c. mozarella cheese.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 40 minutes.
Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes.

Adjust your baking time according to how hot your over is.
The casserole is done when the liquid is absorbed.
Remember: if you want to add a little meat flavor,
add 1/4 lb. chopped proscuitto.

4.04.2011

APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY FLOWERS AND GARDENING!!

What I am looking forward to! This is one of my favorite garden photos.

Sorry I have been quiet the past couple of weeks. We are in the middle of a big remodel or redo of our living/dining room and once that is done, we will start on the kitchen. We're getting all new floors, new painted walls, window treatments, and new cupboards and counters in the kitchen.  We've lived here for 20+ years now with very few improvements so it is past due! 

We've lived in apartments, duplexes, huge farmhouses, and this little 'cottage'. It's a small unassuming house, but we like it here. The size suits us, especially now that the kids are grown. We have one tiny bathroom and it was quite a challenge when we had 2 teens in the house, but we managed.  Contentment is a way of life for us. Living simply and being happy have always been our pursuits. It was not uncommon for visitors to comment that our home felt peaceful. 

There were certainly times when we had stress and peace seemed far off, but for the most part, we have been happy here, raising our family and enjoying country life! Gardening has always been a part of our lives. Richard was an avid gardener when I met him. He owned a garden tiller...when other 20 year olds own hot rods! We've been married almost 37 years and only a few years ago he had to replace that garden tiller with a new one! It served us well.

Once again, we are nearing planting and tilling time. Hopefully the painting and flooring will be in the living room before that happens. We are planning to wait to start the kitchen until the weather gets warm enough for us to do our cooking on the deck. All the appliances will have to be removed from the kitchen and it won't be an overnight project! Richard is building the cabinets himself. He did that years ago in a house we lived in and they were beautiful. He's talented like that!

I'm looking forward to the challenge of no stove and cooking on the grill! It should provide lots of opportunity for creative cooking! I can't wait to show you the kitchen when it's done. I'll post pictures to update on our progress as we go along. OOPS...I posted the 'after' pic and then the 'before'!

After tearing out the old, stained, cruddy carpet and painting over the red walls. The door has not been painted. I'm not sure what color I'm going to piant it yet! The paint is called 'shell flower'. When the sun shines in the room it's pretty yellow...will take some getting used to!!

Before: living/ dining room. RED walls...We used tinted primer and it only took one coat to cover after the primer! Behr paint from Home Depot!!

All winter we don't buy tomatoes for salad. We keep eating salad but I just can't stand those winter tomatoes that taste like cardboard! This weekend there were Florida tomatoes at the grocery and they taste so good! I broke down and bought some and will have them for dinner tomorrwo in a taco salad. I wish I could only eat local food, but living in NW Ohio just doesn't provide that oppportunity. So, we just do the best we can to eat in a consciuos way, and will soon be enjoying our own lettuce, spinach, arugala, scallions, kohlrabi, asparagus, and pea pods...straight from the garden! Those are the first things we will harvest.  I can't wait!

Are you gardening??

3.22.2011

MEATLESS MONDAY PASTA


I read more and more about the advantages of eating meatless. Yes, there are environmental benefits, which are important to me, but the health benefits are very impressive!  It's the main reason I am drawn more to a vegetarian diet. Our daughter is a strict vegetarian and her husband and daughter are not. They've worked out a system that works well for them so that they're all happy with what they eat. Fortunate for me, Richard is happy eating vegetarian for the most part so I don't have to cook two meals! He likes his occasional hot dog or burger, but rarely requests a 'meat' meal.

I'm convinced that the reason is the delicious meat-free meals we cook and eat.  We just don't miss meat!  The dish we had last night is a great example.  Pasta is Richard's favorite food and making a meatless pasta dish is quite easy.  Pasta is pretty much a blank slate and takes well to almost any ingredients  you have on hand to add to it. 

Last week I cooked up a large batch of garbanzo beans and froze some. I thawed out the frozen chick peas to use in the pasta dish. Last summer I made and froze a lot of fresh pesto and I also thawed a jar of this out to use in the dish.  Sweet red peppers were on sale this week so I chopped one up along with an onion and about 8 baby bella mushrooms.  I sauteed the mushrooms and veggies, and then added the beans and about 1/4 c. pesto along with 1/2 c. of the pasta water.  Rigatoni was my pasta of choice and it was perfect for this dish. The 'sauce' clung to the pasta tubes.  The beans and mushrooms gave the pasta a hearty flavor.  We didn't miss the meat and it was healthier for us!

We have a good friend who is at a clinic for cancer treatment.  This clinic is out of the country and this is what the doctor at the clinic has to say:

God gave us an immune system to fight invaders and disease - if it is strong it will ward off all diseases.  Second, the American diet tends to cause people to be acidic and an acid environment supports and promotes disease.  It is better to be alkali.  An Alkaline environment kills disease.  So vegetables and fresh fruits promote and alkaline environment.  He wants his patients to be on a vegetarian diet.

I thought this was interesting information and it could (?) be why one of the benefits mentioned of a diet high is fruits and vegetables reduces cancer risk.

So, that is my story for today. We're happy to see more signs of spring every day. I love the sound of frogs in the springtime. The grass is beginning to green up and many trees and bushes have begun to bud. My lilac is looking like it will be full of blossoms this year along with the forsythia. I can't wait!

3.14.2011

MEATLESS MONDAY : DAHL, CHAPATIS, AND RAITA

CHAPATIS, DAHL, AND RAITA

In 1976, when I was pregnant with our first child, a friend of mine and her husband came to our house to cook dinner for us. My friend has met her husband in the Peace Corps.  He was born in Pakistan and moved here from Bahrain if I remember correctly. He wanted to cook a dish from his country and it just happened that I was overdue to deliver our daughter and was happy to have someone do the cooking for us.  Just hours after eating this dish I went into labor and delivered Leah the next day! 

Dahl is a curried lentil dish. It has curry powder, turmeric, and lots of garlic in it. The lentils are cooked into a sort of mushy consistency, making them easy to scoop up with the chapatis. Chapatis are like whole wheat tortillas. They're very easy to make and not only delicious, but good for you! I also made a side dish of raita to compliment the spicy curry dish.  Raita is just grated cucumber, yogurt, lemon, salt, green onions, and toasted and ground cumin.

To eat this dish, just tear a small piece of the chapati off and use it to scoop up some of the dahl and a bit of the raita. It's a very easy dish to make and a healthy choice to add to your menu!  The picture above does not do the dish justice. It does have a deep green, golden color from the curry and turmeric powders. We've made this dish many times since that first time over 35 years ago!! It's a perfect meatless dish!


3.07.2011

MEATLESS MONDAY = FALAFEL!

I like Middle Eastern foods, especially falafel served in a pita. We don't have it often, but I've always wanted to be able to make it but the recipes always sound so difficult. Recently, I saw a cooking show that featured falafel and it looked easy enough that I decided to try it for this week's Meatless Monday dish.  I'm so glad I did!

I started by cooking my own chick peas from dry beans. They are so much better than canned, but you could also used canned if you don't want to take the time to cook them.  They do take quite a while to cook. The mixture is filled with spices and herbs, lemon juice, and sauteed red pepper and onion.  Once the dough has chilled to set up a bit, it's dropped into hot oil and you make it into little football shapes something like a fritter.  It's then place in a pita pocket or I used flat bread, along with a tahini yogurt sauce, cucumber slices and lettuce.  Eat it like a burrito, rolled up with the ingredients inside the bread.

My daughter is a vegetarian and she likes falafel, too, so after we had our dinner, I made a fresh batch for her, made up a falafel roll for her and took it to her.  Later she called and said I now have a standing order for one if I should make it again! I'm sure I'll make it again. It turned out really great, and was not hard to do.  Garbanzo beans are full of wonderful goodness and nutrients and by keeping the oil at the right temperature there is very little absorbed into the fritters so it's also a very healthy meal. Here are a few pictures of what they look like!
Making the little flalfels using two tablespoons to form little football shapes called quinelles

After deep frying...golden brown and crispy

Don't start fying until the oil is at 375 degrees, and don't let it drop below 350 to keep the oil from soaking into the falafel

Wheat flat bread with flax, two lettuce leaves, yogurt tahini sauce, cucumber slices, falafel all rolled up like a burrito. Healthy, vegetarian, and so delicious!!



3.06.2011

GARBANZO BEANS

One of my favorite foods is falafel. I've always wanted to try making it so tomorrow, for Meatless Monday, I will be making it for the first time. Today, I cooked a bag of garbanzo beans to use. Cooking your own chick peas, also known as garbanzo beans, is easy to do. You can soak them overnight and cook them the next day, or if you have plenty of time around the house, you can eliminate the soaking.

Here is what I do. I chop a large onion and add a 1 pound bag of dry beans to a large stock pot and over them with water, plus about 3 more quarts of water. Bring them to a full boil, then turn down on low and simmer for about 4-5 hours. Add lots of water because it does boil off and you don't want them to get dry. Also, the broth you get from cooking these is soooo delicious. You will want to use this instead of chicken broth from now on! It's really flavorful and so good for you. It doesn't have the fat that homemade chicken broth does. Cook the beans, checking periodically for water level, keeping them covered in water in a covered pot, until they are nice a tender.

One bag will make a large amount. I'm having a mug of the beans with a little S & P and a drip of rice wine vinegar...so delicious and good for you! Tomorrow I will attempt falafel and I'll be sure to post the results along with a picture!

3.04.2011

SAN FRANCISCO FISH STEW


One of my favorite cookbooks is More With Less cookbook. The recipes are healthy and use ingredients that are both economical and items most kitchens have on hand. After being vegetarians for many years, when we started eating fish products, I found this recipe and gave it a try.  We liked it a lot, but I hadn't made it for a long time.

Fish was on sale last week at the grocery to I put this on our week's menu. It is such a delicious dish. Soup is comfort food, no matter what recipe you use. This is not a 'fishy' tasting dish at all. The fish taste is very light and the other vegetables compliment it so well. It's perfect for a cool evening with a couple of biscuits on the side.

Here is the recipe if you would like to try it:

SAN FRANCISCO FISH STEW
Serves 5-6
In large saucepan or dutch oven saute:
1 T. oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped green pepper

Add:
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
2 c. cooked tomatoes
3/4 c. tomato paste (small can)
1 c. chicken broth
1 Tb. lemon juice
1 small bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Cook u ncovered 20 minutes.  Add:

1- 1 1/2 lbs. flounder or other white fish, cut into large pieces

Cook 10-15 minutes, or until fish flakes easily.  Serve over rice.
(I had 2 c. left over rice from last night's dinner, and just added it to the stew)





2.09.2011

GREAT FOOD ALL DAY LONG by Maya Angelou

I just finished reading Maya Angelou's newest book/cookbook. I am a huge fan of her writing, poetry, and cookbooks. One of my favorites is her book Hallelujah! The Welcome Table.

In this, her newest book, she shares recipes and philosophies related to her eating habits. Her dedication says it simply:

I dedicate the ambitious intent of this book to those who would love to eat and love to lose weight at the same time.

Who doesn't want to do that?

This past week my dear friend and niece posted this quote on her facebook page:

"Scientific truth may be put quite briefly; eat moderately, having an ordinary diet and don't worry." ~ Sir Robert Hutchison, Newcastle Medical Journal (1932)



This would agree with the intent of the cookbook Great Food All Day Long by Ms. Angelou. It has been the intent of this blog to promote eating in a conscious and moderate way, using ordinary ingredients, and to enjoy the act of eating with the people you love. I have not been able to accomplish the 'don't worry' part, but we do try very hard to eat moderately and in a conservative and healthy way. One of the things Maya wrote in her book was that if a diner ate only a small portion of food, and then waited 20 minutes, they would find that they were satisfied. This is true, she says, if the food is delicious, and full of flavor. She began to eat this way, eating a small amount throughout the day every 3 hours or so, and noticed that he clothes began to get loose. She was losing weight and it was a result of this kind of eating.

I'm not necessarily promoting this but I do agree that eating really 'good' food, that is not only delicious but good for you will satisfy you more than eating some diet guru's idea of a 'diet' meal. We are getting ready to redo our kitchen and when we do, one of my first purchases is going to be new dishware. I'm buying small dishes. It's hard to control portions when the dish is 8-10 inches across.

My intent in writing this blog post was to remind us all to eat an ordinary diet with moderation and not to worry. It is what it is...

Tonight we had a homemade chicken vegetable stew. I threw in a small handfull of noodles to soak up some of the broth and used carrots, celery, onion, and cabbage along with chicken breast and herbs. One mug of soup was highly satisfying along with a whole wheat muffin with a drizzle of honey.  This muffin recipe is easy and delicious if you want to give it a try. I added raisins this time and you can also add chopped nuts. They are delicious plain as well!

WHOLE WHEAT MUFFINS
 1 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. sour milk (i used buttermilk)
1/2 c. oil (i used applesauce)
This makes 12 muffins. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until edges brown and a tap on the top of a muffin pops back!
Add 1 c. dried fruit or some chopped nuts if you want

2.01.2011

HOT N SOUR SOUP


I love Chinese food. P.F.Chang's is my favorite restaurant. I always get hot n sour soup when I eat in a Chinese restaurant and Chang's is some of the best I've had. The recipe for the soup is always daunting and there are so many ingredients that I have never given it a try at home. It's just easier to drive by the restaurant and take some home!
Sriracha chile paste, sesame oil, rice vinegar, firm tofu, scallions, dried shitakes, black fungus, soy sauce, bamboo shoots, and dried lilybuds

This week I saw a post on one of my facebook group pages with a recipe for the soup and an explanation about the ingredients so I decided to give it a try! The post explained that you need to have 'lilybuds' to make it authentic, so we went to the Asian grocery and bought some! I knew that the long black strands that were always in my hot n sour soup were something a bit unusual. Who knew they were flowers!


The soup is not hard to make, but it does take time. The result, though, is worth the effort. We all thought it was delicious and tasted every bit as good as what we've had at  PF Chang's.  I'll make it again, but I don't think it will be a soup I make often. It's more of a special treat than something I would cook on a normal basis.

In a couple of weeks, we are having a dinner with friends. It's called "Soup Night" and all the couples bring a homemade soup and we sample all the soups and then vote on our favorite with a prize going to the winning soup. Since we are hosting, my soup won't be in on the voting which is fine. I'm pretty sure I'll make this soup. I hope the others like the flavors of hot n sour.

If anyone wants this recipe, you'll have to let me know. I'll post it if there is interest, but, since it's involved, I'm not going to bother unless there is someone who will actually like to give it a try.


1.31.2011

SEEDED OATMEAL SODA BREAD

Soup and bread are two comfort foods that are perfect for a cold winter day. Baking bread makes the house smell good and helps make it warmer, too! Sometimes I want the warmth and goodness of bread without the time it takes to make a yeast bread. This is one of those recipes. It's a quick, no-rise bread that will delight you! There is a nutty goodness in every bite from the seeds that toast on the crust during the baking. The oats in the bread also give it a 'hearty' flavor. It's not your typical 'white' bread fluffiness. You definitely feel like you are eating a healthy slice of goodness!

Today we've been under a winter storm warning. The predictions are for a possible 10+ inches! Whenever it snows or we have one of these winter storm warnings, I think about making bread. There is nothing like the smell of bread baking to make you feel warm inside!  This is an EASY recipe...anyone can make this! Give it a try!!
SEEDED OATMEAL SODA BREAD
2 c. oats
2 1/4 c. flour
1 3/4tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 c. buttermilk
In food processor or blender place oats and blend until it resembles a coarse meal. Then combine all ingredients. Grease a bread pan or baking sheet (I used my stone) and line with parchment paper. If using a sheet pan, form into a round loaf. You may need to lightly flour your hands, as dough is a bit sticky. Use 2 TBSP. additional buttermilk to brush the top of the loaf with, the sprinkle with desired seeds. I used sesame, but poppy seeds would work as well. As the loaf bakes the seeds roast and give it a very nutty taste!

Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes. Slice and enjoy!