FOOD REVOLUTION DAY 2013!! EASY PEASY PILAF

FOOD REVOLUTION DAY 2013

Join in the FOOD REVOLUTION TODAY!

Quinoa Pilaf FRD 2013

It’s a big day for all of us who believe in bringing back real food and real cooking.  Especially Jamie Oliver, who believes so strongly that he has used his star status and success to organize a day that is being celebrated not just in Britain but all over the world for the second year in a row.

“Jamie Oliver and the Food Revolution Day team want to change the way people eat by giving them the skills and knowledge to cook again, as well as motivating people to stand up for their right to better food. Food Revolution Day aims to educate and inspire people everywhere to cook and enjoy better food and empower them to demand better food standards and improved food education from governments, schools and food manufacturers.”  foodrevolutionday.com

Visit the Food Revolution Day website to find out whats going on today and tune in to Jamie’s Food Tube Channel on YouTube to watch the festivities live.  Cook something real, something healthy, something simply good and good for you today to celebrate.
Here’s a suggestion-
Quinoa Pilaf FRD 2013

Zesty Quinoa Pilaf

serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water or broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño pepper
  • 2 teaspoons thinly sliced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Directions

  1. Place quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse under cool running water, rubbing the grains with your hand for at least 2 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Combine 1/2 cup water or broth and quinoa in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 12-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a skillet to medium-high. Add the oil and swirl it around to coat pan. Then add the bell pepper, jalapeño, garlic, salt, and pepper to pan; sauté 3-5 minutes to soften the vegetables.
  4. Stir the cooked vegetables into the cooked quinoa, then add the tomato, cilantro, and lime juice. Toss gently and pour into a serving bowl.

In From The Cold Butternut Squash And Pumpkin Soup

From the look of things, there’s probably snow on the ground where a lot of you are.  It’s hard to believe we had a big enough snow here in the South to make a snowman, but it happens on occasion.  However, unless you’re from somewhere not too far below the Mason-Dixon Line you might need a lesson on how to build one.

I’ll tell you how to make some soup that will warm you to your toes after being out in the frigid air, though.  A Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Soup that is flecked with tiny bits of bacon and warmed by a splash of sherry will do the trick nicely.  Sprinkle a few toasted pumpkin seeds and bacon pieces on top and you’ll forget all about the snow.

Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Soup

from Shortbread

makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 small pumpkin
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup cream sherry
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel squash and cut off top and bottom. Slice lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Chop into 2 inch pieces. Repeat with the pumpkin.
  3. Pile squash and pumpkin chunks into a baking dish and add 1/2 cup water. Bake about 1 hour until tender when pierced with a knife.
  4. Put the bacon pieces in a large pot and turn on the heat to medium-low. Cook until bacon is deep brown and crisp. Remove to a plate, leaving the drippings in the pot.
  5. Add the yellow and green onions and the garlic to the pot and sauté over medium heat until softened. Strip the leaves from the thyme sprigs and add them along with the bay leaf, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir for about one minute.
  6. Add the roasted squash and pumpkin and sauté 5 minutes longer, then add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the bay leaf from the pot, and puree the soup in a blender, food processor, or with a stick blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and bring back to a simmer. Add the sherry and simmer gently for another 3-5 minutes. Pour in the cream and heat through.
  8. Add additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve with a sprinkle of nutmeg and top with  the reserved bacon pieces.

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Not Your Momma’s Meatloaf {Barefoot Bloggers}

Meatloaf.  It’s what’s for dinner.  Or so I told my family.  They weren’t thrilled at the idea, the husband having flashbacks of dry, tasteless meatloaf, and the children having flashes of television shows where meatloaf is the enemy of child-kind.

But the rule is ‘you have to taste it’ at my house, so they did.  And guess what, Mikey?  They liked it.  This Ina Garten recipe for Individual Meat Loaves for this week’s Barefoot Bloggers turned out to be surprisingly delicious.

Here’s what I think made the difference:  First, you begin with sauteed onions, cooked until soft so they melt into the meat instead of staying crunchy.  Secondly, chicken broth is mixed in along with the other ingredients which keeps it from being too dry, like meatloaf sometimes tends to be.

Want to hear your husband say “this is the best meatloaf I’ve ever had”?  Click here to get the recipe a give it a go.

Sunlight At The End Of The Tunnel Baked Shrimp Scampi {Barefoot Bloggers}

Ahhh, it’s March.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a time when people were more sick of winter.  Did you ever think there could be too much snow?  And the disastrous things going on with the Earth – I know we are all praying that they will come to an end soon.

In my area we have had a cold, wet winter, and though not nearly as bad as other areas, it’s all relative to what you’re used to, I think.  Even though March is always a tease – one warm day followed by a week of cold ones – at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel, the tunnel named winter.

So today I bring you some sunshine in the form of bright, lemony, and garlic-y Baked Shrimp Scampi.  This dish comes from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, her most recent cookbook.  In a fun twist on traditional scampi, the shrimp is briefly marinated and then covered in a butter, herb, and breadcrumb mixture and baked.  What you find after baking is a wonderful dish of shrimp scampi with a delicate, crispy topping.  Very different and very delicious.

From the Barefoot Bloggers February selections, this recipe can be found here.

 

Southern Traditions And Ham Salad {The Kitchen Reader}

I remember the first time I saw Paula Deen on television doing the show Ready…Set…Cook! on The Food Network.  She was just so hilarious, and she looked like my aunt and had the personality of my college roommate.  It was like a (crazy) member of my family was right there on the t.v.

Soon afterward, she began starring in her own show, frying chicken and baking cakes and cooking up all kinds of good Southern food.  I was so glad to see the food I grew up with being given the attention it deserved, in a time when, as Paula states, “health-food diet mania” was consuming America.

The rest is history, and Paula Deen is now a household name.  In her autobiography, It Ain’t All About the Cookin’, however, Paula proves that everybody seems normal until you get to know them.  I guess I just assumed that she was always a success, but she reveals in her book how she spent many years of her life just struggling to make it through the day.

Growing up in Georgia, Paula says she had an idyllic childhood, with her family, grandparents, aunts and uncles all close together running a resort.  Her teen years were spent being cute, having fun, and cheering.  But at eighteen she met a boy she couldn’t resist, and wanted nothing more than to get married and be a wife and mother.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for Paula to realize that marriage wasn’t all smooth sailing all the time, and she began struggling with the fact that she couldn’t make it all better.  As is often the case, I think, being sheltered and loved by her family, and possessing the gift of “Southern charm”, that niceness that girls in the South are brought up with, caused an inner struggle for Paula.  She felt that “if being protected and cherished by my parents was being spoiled, then I guess I was.”

Then as a result of tragically loosing both her parents within four years of each other, while Paula was still in her early twenties she really began to struggle to keep her sanity.  Suffering from panic attacks and agoraphobia while raising two small children tested her every day, until she finally discovered what exactly she suffered from and began to slowly overcome it,  and eventually end her marriage.

As a single mother Paula returned to what she knew best, good Southern food.  Beginning with a catering company and expanding to a full restaurant, she kept up the traditions of the South.  She knew that “the South is all about tradition, and most of those traditions have their origins in the cooking pots and the recipes we pass down from generation to generation” and that “Southern cooking is nothing but Southern – we don’t fly in our ingredients or menus from distant parts of the world. What’s in our pots and on our plates is all home-grown.”  And keeping true to this philosophy has meant nothing but success for Paula Deen.

This book is full of Southern charm and wit, and had me laughing one minute and crying the next.  If you are from the South, you’ll find yourself nodding along with it, and if you aren’t, you’ll hopefully learn a little about what drives a Southern woman.  As Paula says, “Some people call Southern women steel magnolias to show our unfailing survival instinct. Well, if we got dimples of steel, so what. Things have to be right.”

I whipped up this Ham Salad recipe found in Paula’s autobiography, and it turned out to be just right, too.

My Best Ham Salad (Sandwich)

adapted from It Ain’t All About the Cookin’ by Paula Deen

Ingredients

  • 2 cups leftover ham, chopped in a food processor
  • 1 cup celery, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, diced
  • 1/4 cup hot pickle relish, drained
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients until well blended.
  2. Spread on white bread to make a sandwich, or serve with crackers.

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What We Eat When We Eat Alone Turkey Fapita {The Kitchen Reader}

“Women (and some men) who are tired of cooking for those ingrates called children and the occasional spouse, who are weary of cleaning up after meals and bored with eating on a schedule . . . know the pleasure of being alone at last in one’s kitchen. It’s an enjoyable moment when we get to eat whatever and whenever we want – and wherever, too, for that matter”, writes Deborah Madison in her book, written with her husband Patrick McFarlin, What We Eat When We Eat Alone.

This basically sums where I am in life related to alone time in the kitchen.  Most of my time in the kitchen is spent cooking for others, trying to provide meals that are healthy, that everyone will eat and (mostly) enjoy, and cleaning up the mess afterward.  When I find myself alone, cooking for only me, I absolutely relish that time and try to make the most of it.  And if this time happens to be on an extremely rare night alone, it will include “more red wine than usual”, as many of the interviewees in Madison’s book confided.

In Madison and McFarlin’s book they interviewed anyone they encountered to find out their preferences when faced with eating alone.  It was discovered that often people felt that cooking for one was not worth a big production, and as a result people usually threw together a few pantry items, like toast and sardines, crackers and milk, or soup from a can, and called it a night.

Others, however, shared some relatively simple but tasty recipes they save for alone times, usually because they are things only they like (kidneys) or they are a little embarrassed to admit to liking them (Frito pie).  The authors took many of these recipes and tested them out themselves, finding that indeed they were worthy of preparing, and shared them in the book.  A couple I plan to try in my own kitchen – Asparagus with Chopped Egg, Torn Bread, and Mustard Vinaigrette; and Potato Wedges with Red Chile.

I spent many years before marriage cooking for one, and I would say the only drawback was having to scale everything down so you didn’t end up eating a whole cake alone, or ending up with gallons of soup to eat for the rest of the year.  But being someone who really enjoys cooking and eating good tasting food, I didn’t compromise just because I was the only one eating.  And even now when I am alone, if I have a little energy to spare, I will whip up something just for me.  Because like one contributor to the book admitted, “Eating alone is nothing less than a luxurious, even decadent, act, because I get to thing about myself. I don’t have to think about someone else.”  That could even mean chips and a really good dip for dinner, even, just because I can.

Here’s a recipe I might have shared with the authors if asked, an easy but tasty recipe I’ve been making for myself since my school days, called a Turkey Fapita.  Deli turkey, onion, Worcestershire or soy sauce, and a pita or tortilla wrap are all you need to make it.  Of course it can be embellished with anything else you have on hand, such as peppers, cheese, salsa, a squeeze of lime, etc., but it is perfectly good and filling as is.

Turkey Fapita

from Shortbread

makes one

Ingredients

  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup onion, sliced
  • 4 slices deli turkey, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
  • hot sauce, to taste (optional)
  • 1 pita or tortilla

Directions

  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned.
  3. Add turkey to pan and stir for one minute.
  4. Add sauce(s) to pan and cook another minute. Remove from heat.
  5. Warm pita or tortilla (in microwave, skillet, or over stove flame). Put turkey mixture on top and roll up.

No Fakin’ Hot And Spicy Sausage Dip

I have a confession to make.  I used to be a football ‘faker’.  I would feign interest in football games just to be part of the crowd – clap when everyone clapped, stand up when everyone stood, and yell out things I heard others yell out.  My boyfriend was on our college football team, and I had no idea what went on for four years.

I feel a little ashamed now, especially knowing the reason for my lack of interest – it all just seemed way too complicated.  And if I hadn’t learned the rules before college, well it was simply too late.

Since being married to a football fan who is very dedicated to his college team, I have once again found myself attending football games, this time with young kids often in tow.  And they ask me questions . . . about football.  Well, I can’t have the children growing up in ignorance like their mother did.  So I’ve been forced to actually pay attention and figure out what’s going on.  I guess it’ll keep my brain young and all, you know, learning something new.  And my kids won’t have to fake it either.

Now, something I don’t have to fake is cooking up some tasty football snacks.  If you’re in need of a warm and spicy dip for the game, this is what you need to put on the table.  Sausage, cream cheese, spicy tomatoes and hot sauce melt together to make a delicious dip for corn chips, baguette slices, or crackers.  It also tastes just as fabulous with turkey sausage and light cream cheese as it does with the regular stuff.

Trust me, there’s no fakin’ the fabulousness of this dip.

Hot and Spicy Sausage Dip

from Shortbread

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (16 oz) ground sausage, pork or turkey
  • 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
  • 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, regular or reduced fat
  • hot sauce to taste

Directions

  1. Cook sausage in a large saucepan over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain and return to pan.
  2. Add tomatoes and cream cheese to pan and cook, stirring occasionally until thoroughly blended and heated through.
  3. Stir in hot sauce to you liking.
  4. Serve warm with corn chips, crackers, or baguette slices.

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Parlez Vous Anglais? Oven-Roasted Figs

oven-roasted figs

In David Lebovitz’s book, The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City, Lebovitz treats us to his gift of sarcastic wit while exploring the city’s ironic and perplexing customs.  Along the way, he shares some of his favorite recipes created and enjoyed there.  This month a few fellow food bloggers and I, as a part of  The Kitchen Reader, read The Sweet Life in Paris so we could share our opinion of the book with our readers and each other.  Here are my thoughts.

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Barefoot Bloggers Curried Couscous

bb curried couscous

If I had a million dollars, I would first hire a cleaning lady, then I would hire a personal chef to prepare healthy, flavorful meals for us every day.  I would still cook and bake at leisure, but the rest of the time I could choose recipes with my chef that he/she could prepare, like this Curried Couscous from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

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Ina’s Pork Loin And Barefoot Bloggers OUTRAGEOUS Brownies

BB Picnik collage

Once while in college, my boyfriend and I and another couple had gotten together to grill some steaks for dinner.  After my friend and I chatted and had a drink or two, the guys brought the finished steaks inside.  As I was cutting into mine, I spotted something green on the steak.  “What is this…grass?”, I asked.  After a lot of man-laughing, they told me they had dropped one of the steaks on the ground.  “Why’d you give it to me?”, I said.  Of course, the gentlemanly thing would have been for one of them to eat it.  But what did they do?  They just wiped it off and put it back on the grill and let whoever get that one.  I took my boyfriend’s steak and gave him the grassy one.

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Barefoot Bloggers Tuna Salad Ina Style

BB Tuna Salad

HELP!!  I’m drowning in parent-of-school-age-children-end-of-the-year–hectic-ness!  Field trips, dance recitals, baseball games, school carnivals….STOP!  I need to come up for air!

I’m always so glad to see the end of the school year, not just because I’ll no longer have to get up at the crack of dawn to rouse children that are dead to the world, but also because after the stressful month of May I just need to decompress.

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Barefoot Bloggers Croque Monsieur

bb-croque-monsieur1
Not the most photogenic sandwich in the world, but soooo rich and cheesy.

The Barefoot Bloggers pick this week comes from Kathy of All Food Considered.  This French sandwich recipe appears in Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook.  It’s basically a seriously over-the-top grilled cheese.  Dijon, ham, Gruyere, and a white sauce with more cheese makes ONE SERIOUS SANDWICH.  Not necessarily something you would just throw together everyday, but after you make it once, you know it won’t be the last.

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Don’t Get Them Started Brioche French Toast

brioche-french-toast1

At the grocery store the other day I was in dire need of some windshield washer fluid, and the only kind they had said it was ‘scented’.  I wasn’t really sure how much you would be able to smell something that’s sprayed on the outside of the car, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.  Much to my amazement, I could actually smell the scent of the fluid after I used it the first time.  It was sort of nice.

Fast forward to about a month later, with the family in the car on the way home from dinner.  After hearing many large insects splatting on my windshield (you know it’s spring in the South), and having just had my car washed that day, I suggested to the husband that he spray some cleaner on it.  This is the conversation that followed:

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Barefoot Bloggers Chinese Chicken Salad

bb-chinese-chicken-salad

Today I received an email from my best friend/college roommate saying she joined Facebook and that I should “get my butt on there, girl!”  Apparently, she has recently joined and reunited with all our sorority sisters, her high school graduating class, her first boyfriend in kindergarten – well, maybe not him (yet).

I have other friends who are on it, too, but I just can’t bring myself to put it all out there like that.  I know, I know, you can choose who can see your page, and refuse to be “friends”, but this is a Southern girl you’re talking to and we don’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings, you know?

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Not So Guilty Pleasure Black Bean Nachos

black-bean-nachos

Most of the time I try to cook and eat wholesome, homemade food.  I try to avoid a lot of processed foods, additives and preservatives.  But when it comes to stadium food, my will power goes out the door.  I’m a sucker for hot dogs, peanuts, nachos, popcorn and pretzels.  These things just don’t taste the same at home, good thing.

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No Cereal Bar Charleston Shrimp

shrimp salad

My husband’s favorite food is cereal.  He could eat it for every meal and snack, with a little chocolate thrown in for good measure, and never get tired of it.  Doesn’t allow me much room for creativity, does it?

Thankfully, he is willing to change it up at dinnertime and eat what I cook.  Lucky for him, he can now get his vitamins from something other than the powdered ones sprayed on his Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

His second favorite food is shrimp, which was his only request for our wedding reception (after being told we couldn’t have a cereal bar).  He loves them in any form (except jumbo) and any flavor, but loves them the most with a big helping of creamy grits.

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Monday Red Beans And Rice

red beans and rice

Last summer I came across a reference online to a cookbook called Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose, and well, the title had me at ‘screen doors’.  I promptly went to Amazon and ordered it, and it turned out to be even better than I imagined.

This book is full of traditional and contemporary Southern recipes from the author’s native Mississippi and I am slowly making my way through each one.  Since I love to read and to cook, I really enjoy cookbooks like this one that have stories and history along with the recipes. Continue reading

I Miss You Fish Man Pecan-Crusted Tilapia

pecan crusted tilapia

In the town where we lived previously, I used to get my fish from a man who would travel on Thursday from Greensboro to Topsail Island and pick up loads of fish and shrimp and bring them back to sell on Friday and Saturday.  I discovered him one day set up across from the Farmer’s Market and bought some shrimp that turned out to be the best shrimp I had ever eaten.  After that I was hooked (pun intended).

I started getting all my seafood from “the fish man”, as my children called him, and would pick it up on Fridays after school (which caused no small amount of moaning and groaning in the back seat).  It was all fresh, never frozen, and top quality.  I found out that I could cook fish at home that tasted better than even what I ate at most restaurants.  Spoiled is what I would call it.

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Low Maintenance Oven Roasted Butternut Squash

butternut squash

Say hello to my newest favorite fall/winter vegetable, the butternut squash.  No offense to the sweet potato, which still carries me through the fall and winter with its sunny and warm disposition.  But now I can add another just as sunny and warm vegetable to my weekly grocery list.  It has all the things you could want – it’s healthy, tasty enough the kids will eat it, and easy to prepare.  Trust me, I’m not a fan of high maintenance vegetables.  Roasting it in the oven (my newest favorite way to cook vegetables) really takes it over the top.  If you haven’t already discovered the beauty of the  butternut squash, don’t put it off any longer!

Here are some great tips for preparing this jewel:

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Chicken Of The Sea Herb Butter Scottish Salmon

herb butter salmon

Until just recently, my children knew of only two types of animal protein:  “chicken” and “meat”.  The chicken category included not only chicken, but also fish, pork and turkey.  And the meat category included beef, venison, and sometimes ham.  They were told to “eat your chicken” or “eat your meat”, no matter what it was.  This was mainly to avoid the whole “eeewww, I don’t like fish/pork/turkey” reply for as long as possible.

Apparently, Jessica Simpson’s mother never got past this point with Jessica, but we have now started to call things by their real name, and the kids have become curious as to where all their food comes from, so we have to tell them that, too.  And since they have eaten these things before and like them, they can’t really argue about eating it just because it has a strange name.

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Barefoot Bloggers Real Meatballs And Spaghetti

meatballs and spaghetti

When I was a new bride, I already had a few dishes in my cooking repertoire, but I wanted to learn to make some of my husband’s favorite dishes, too.  So I asked his mother to teach me to make these recipes, and one of them was spaghetti.

Here’s what she puts in:  onion, ground beef, tomato sauce (sounds pretty ordinary so far, right?), ketchup, tomato soup, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and 1/3 cup of sugar.  Not that it tastes bad or anything, I mean I had eaten it a few times before and it tasted fine, but not only is it way different than what I learned to make from my mother, but it’s almost like sacrilege to even call it spaghetti sauce, what with all the crazy things it contains.  My brain just can’t seem to accept it as spaghetti sauce.

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My Grandmother Was Green Peanut Noodle Salad

peanut noodle salad

My Grandmother was green.

Not the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba Thropp kind of green, but the eco-friendly, earth-preserving kind of green.  She kept her thermostat turned way down in the winter and way up in the summer (if on at all).  She never let the water run while washing the dishes.  She hung her clothes on a clothes line.  She re-used plastic wrap and aluminum foil.  She had a garden that grew a lot of her food.  She used her coffee grounds and egg shells in her flower garden.  And she never threw away food.

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Snow Days Breakfast Casserole

breakfast-casserole

When I was growing up, my family lived beside my grandparents.  I had an aunt and uncle that lived about two hours away in the country.  I remember that whenever there was a big snow, though, they were always at our Grandma’s.  I really didn’t think about it much at the time, my cousins and I were having too much fun playing and sledding and being out of school.  But when I got older I realized that they must have heard the forecast and started frantically packing everyone in the car to head to Grandma’s house so they wouldn’t be stuck out in the middle of nowhere with no power, no neighbors, and worse yet, no one to play with in the snow.

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Parts Is Parts Venison Stew

Venison Stew

My husband is a hunter.  It’s his hobby, pastime, passion.  He brings home the bacon in both senses.  And I like the idea of getting some of our meat from the wild instead of a grocery store.

I was raised, however, in the era of the cleaned and washed, plastic wrapped, part-labeled meat package.  Very neat and tidy with no confusion as to what piece of meat you have.  To my dismay, the person who does the packaging of the meat my husband brings him is not too concerned with which part is which, there are no labels at all.  Obviously, to him “parts is parts”.

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Six Degrees of Martha Stewart Cheese Grits

Cheddar Grits With Roasted Vegetables and Egg

When I used to live in the “Furniture Capital of the US”, I was invited to the premiere of Martha Stewart’s furniture line at one of the showrooms there.  I’m not really sure how I ended up on the guest list, and I thought it was a joke at first, but I RSVP’d for me and my guest and my mother and I dressed up and went.  As we sat there with all the furniture buyers and sellers, we realized listening to Martha speak that she actually has a really good sense of humor.  She is actually very funny in person, something my mom and I agreed wasn’t displayed in her television shows. Continue reading

Tickle Your Taste Buds Crispy Apricot Pork Chops

Crispy Pork Chops

I have read that children have a greater number and more sensitive taste buds than adults.  I have also seen it noted that it can take a child anywhere from 10 to 20 tries of a new food before they develop a taste for the food.  Also, around the age of seven is when children begin to be more open to the idea of trying new foods.  Lucky for me, my children have just arrived at that magical age!  Not so lucky for them, I now get to flex my wings and dive into the vast expanse of the produce section.

Gone are the canned green beans and frozen corn.  Today there will be eggplant, zucchini, arugula, butternut squash and even (gasp) turnips!  Beans of every variety and melon and grapefruit.  I might only be able to convince them to taste one bite, but that’ll do for now. Continue reading

What’s The Dill Potatoes

Dill Potatoes

I have often wondered what the deal is with going into a store looking for some help, only to find that all the employees of said store have gone to lunch/gone on break/mysteriously disappeared/were never there in the first place.  Recently I went to a major home improvement store to buy some light fixtures.  After a long dialogue with myself and my daughter about which fixtures to buy and a lot of putting things in and taking them out of my cart, I finally made a decision.  Then I realized that the last one I needed was on the VERY TOP SHELF. Continue reading

Barefoot Bloggers Banana Sour Cream Pancakes

Banana Sour Cream Pancakes

*There was no entry yesterday since high winds and rain caused a loss of cable and internet service and a tree to fall on my vehicle.  No kidding.  More on that subject tomorrow.

Today is about pancakes, one of my cooking obsessions.  I’m not sure when my obsession started, possibly when I got married and realized I would be making them every weekend forever.  Or it could have to do with my perfectionist tendencies and the fact that I can’t be satisfied with good or even great.  I need to hear “these are the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten!” Continue reading

Back From the Black Hole Tomato and Olive Pasta

tomato and olive pasta

Our garage has turned into a black hole.  Like the washer and dryer that secretly steal single socks, the garage has been sucking things into the vast emptiness of oblivion, never to be seen again.  The tool box, the dog’s backpack, my Christmas china.

I blame this on the fact that we have moved twice in the past two years and on the moving company we used for our last move to try to save money.  JUST-PLAIN-SCARY.  However, during the transition we didn’t unpack all the boxes from the first move.  So I have also rediscovered things I forgot I had.  An ice cream maker, a gilt frame mirror, these soup/pasta bowls that go with my Christmas china. Continue reading

A Fresh Start

I believe there are two categories of cooks – those who cook so others can enjoy the food, and those who cook so they can enjoy the food.  I happen to fall into the second category, so my family and friends are often served creations from my kitchen which incorporate my favorite food groups:  cheese, bread, and potatoes (preferably french fried), and we almost never have the same thing twice.  I always thought this was the case in every household until I met my mother-in-law, who will not eat anything made with cheese, mayonnaise, milk, or processed meat products.  I discovered this at our wedding shower when she didn’t eat, even though there was creamy olive dip, cocktail hot dogs, cucumber sandwiches with cream cheese, and chicken salad.  However, she makes some of the best homemade macaroni and cheese, ham salad, and cheesecake.  Go figure.  She once asked me if there was any food I didn’t like…I was stumped. Continue reading