Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hunkering down for winter...

The lack of posts doesn't indicate that I have fallen off the wagon, though I will say I'm hanging over the tailgate a wee bit. I've had a death in my family and been diagnosed with a new disorder (well new to me) called Trigeminal Neuralgia. This has meant not having much strength or energy to care about, much less pursue good food. If I were more established in eating good food it wouldn't be less crucial that I be well, as what I eat and how to get it all together would be more ingrained.

Though Fall is my favorite season and Winter a close second, I am finding it doesn't scream "eat yummy real food" quite like the bounty of summer did. Thankfully there are the good soups and whole grain breads which do fit right into the landscape of wholesomeness as well as hot breakfast cereals and the like. Perhaps I can add a muffin or two to my repertoire? The proverbs 31 woman is supposed to have no fear of winter (I console myself that it was referring to clothes for her household and then I remember I am still wearing sandals to the store) This woman is needing to get back to her focus on good eats before she starts slipping back to old habits. I haven't lost my taste for the good stuff but I have once again eaten the odd commercial candy bar and in doing so know that it could spoil my taste for better things. Mama was right when she said some things "spoil your appetite" but I know she didn't mean it the way I do.

I'll try to start posting again more faithfully about foods for winter and foods made from winter's bounty. We did enjoy turkey this thanksgiving though it was our first year going back to commercial injected and frozen. The hormone free etc birds we've had these past two years have just been dry and less than yummy, that and 37 cents a pound called to us economically. One does what one has to. We've enjoyed yummy winter squash, pumpkin pie, and favorite soups thus far this winter and Glenn has made some stellar bread, both whole wheat and white.

Pray for me if you think of me, that I am able to continue to learn how to love eating food that is nutritious AND satisfying, especially amidst a fair amount of pain and meds that are almost as bad as what I'm taking them for.
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

If you want to think about food...

This series, I believe has 7 parts, is thought provoking regardless of where you are coming from on the food topic. It has a most unfortunate painting behind the podium which one is forced to look at the whole time, and the youth in it take a good while to settle down, but once the video series gets going it's worth a look and discussion.

And then there was pie...

How yummy are field fresh Strawberries? I happened to be at the Co-op when these were brought from the back room and put out for sale. I could feel the warmth of the sun on them. Do you know who grows what you eat? It's a lovely feeling to know where, really WHERE your food comes from. (As opposed to sorta where, ie the name of the store.) Even if you get food at a stand, if there is a farm name, take a moment and notice this and rejoice that there are people who will bring this fresh local food to market.

I have eaten many a piece of strawberry pie in my day, most of them yummy. The Amish Market in Annapolis comes to mind for decent Strawberry pie. That said, some strawberry pies have seemed unnaturally brightly colored or overly filled with gel by comparison to the actual strawberry. I had to look around for a while to find a recipe that didn't call for gelatin or food coloring. I was very pleased with the taste but found the pie was not as pretty with the gel. I'd like to continue my search (and please recommend a recipe if you have one)and find a recipe that will gracefully and completely fill in the spaces between sanding strawberries without glopping over them, sort of like I picture the gel in a fruit tarte, something prettier. I did cheat (no wonder it was easy to make) and baked a frozen Marie Callendar brand pie crust. I think I have decided they are nicer than the off brand if you are using it for a desert pie. For quiche, I go with cheapest.

That said, I was amazed how EASY it was to make a fresh strawberry pie. I know the season is pretty much past so you'll have to come back to this next summer, but think about making one yourself. It takes very little time to make, though you need to allow the pie to cool in the fridge for a couple hours. Share with me any experiences you have had with this wonderful food of summer. And yes, we had real freshly whipped cream, which for some reason wouldn't stiffen up much.

Call me Popeye...

Ok, I know I'm going to lose some of you on this one, but I love Spinach. Always have done. In bad IBS years it was not so easy for me to tolerate but I'm doing better with all that these days.

Even as a child, when my Mom would take me to the Hot Shoppes Cafeteria at Tyson's or Landover (a long gone chain for you young folk) I always asked if I could just get mashed potatoes with gravy and steamed spinach. She'd raise her eyebrows at my choices but she let me and I was in hog heaven. I'd usually get one of their scrummy white cloverleaf dinner rolls as well. What REAL foods did you love years ago that you may have left in the dust of memory? Can you try to rekindle what it is you liked about it in order to make something like that as a gift to yourself and your family now?

As an adult I discovered how yummy creamed spinach is and there was a brand I can't recall, that used to make quite good frozen creamed spinach. Seabrook? something like that. I think Birdseye made a similar thing. A couple years ago when Glenn and I went out to dinner at the Cottonwood Grille, I had a lovely cream of spinach soup there. With this in mind I went off to foodgawker and hunted away. I settled on a
recipe by Mark Bittman from the New York times. Made as it was, I found it a bit thin, so I made a roux with butter and flour and added this, which made it more like I had in mind. To be fair, it's probably not an issue with the original recipe,I may have accidentally had thinner soup due to having to halve his recipe. Anyway it's good to know if you want it thicker you can make it so. I also might try it with some Parmesan cheese added.

This one is a keeper! And it made a great companion to the Bagel chips.
(Take two bagels, slice across so you are left with circles, sprinkle up to 1/4 cup of oil-I used olive and if you like sprinkle them with some garlic salt. Bake on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan at 300 until lightly brown, check every 5 mins so they don't burn, this made enough for soup and a snack the next day.)

That Barefoot Contessa...

Never seen her, never watched her, but her name comes up in recipe recommendations from my daughter. Took out one of her cookbooks months ago and didn't find anything that sounded like I'd make it, so I must have gotten the wrong book because the few things I have her recipes for look and taste wonderful.I've not been able to find this recipe exactly under her name, so this may be an adaptation. I am quite pleased with my substitution of Bob's Red Mill Large Flake coconut. I love coconut but don't miss the sugaryness of the old fashioned kind. Also the large flake is pretty. Bob's also makes a small traditional grated unsweetened. Many grocery stores are carrying Bob's products and they are also easily available online.

My hubby loves this. I find it a bit too sweet, so I'm going to tweek it for my own taste and I'll get back to you. I think the sweetness I find too much isn't in the base, that's perfect, it's the cranraisens.

Homemade Granola

makes 12 cups

4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut(some folk omit, or use just a handful to omit calories...I substituted unsweetened large flake coconut by Bob's Red Mill)
2 cups sliced almonds
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup good honey
1 1/2 cup of cranraisins
1 cup of golden raisins
any other dried fruit that you would like (I like a cup of Pecans)

preheat oven to 350 degrees
Toss the oats, coconut, and almonds together in a large bowl. Whisk together the oil and honey in a small bowl. Pour the liquids over the oat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oat mixture and nuts are coated. Pour into a 13x18 inch baking sheet.(What is called a Jelly Roll pan, improvise as needed) Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice even golden brown about 45 minutes. (you need to check this frequently as you don't want it to burn)

Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Add the cranraisins, golden raisins and pecans. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.

If you have never tried Greek Yoghurt please do so for me, just one little thing, pretty please? I don't like regular yogurt very well, but the greek, yes indeedy. AND it's better for you. It is a bit thicker than the American style, not as tart, and nicely creamy. I believe it is lower in fat and higher in protien as well.
Even though this was too sweet (just a bit) It was glorious soon after cooling with my greek yogurt. I find it in regular grocery stores now, but if not, try health food stores or ethnic markets if you have such.

Roasted Veggie Pasta

Even though I do not like Raw tomatoes, I do like this dish quite well using the tiny grape tomatoes. The one's I got at the co-op were a gorgeous assortment of 4 varieties including an almost purple heirloom tomato. I'd eaten this at my daughter's house and enjoyed it, even though I did let my 2 year old grandson eat many of the tomatoes off my plate. They get to a consistency I can appreciate and lose that raw taste. I leave out the basil of this recipe because for my taste, as Fabu as basil is, it can overpower. Here's the link to the recipe at Everyday Food, a favorite site and magazine... with pictures following.I have Rebecca to thank for my making this as I'd not likely have tried the recipe without her having fed it to me first.

Veggie Before and After. Do watch them closely after the first 10 mins or so. I cooked them until there were some veggies blackening as it tastes best that way and I like my veggies softish. I also used more yellow squash and less zuchinni as the recipe calls for. The later is prettier I think but I don't fancy zuchinni as much as summer squash. You can really splash out and do what you want with this. In face I only made a half recipe and it was enough for the three of us for one meal.

This is a very satisfying and yet healthful dish. I ate mine as was, hubby wanted a lot of black pepper and some parmesan on his. To each his own!

First a trip to my Beloved Boise Co-op

Lately, my cooking begins with thinking about what is in season and then web browsing for food that looks good, usually via FoodGawker Then comes the inevitable trip to the Boise-Co-op. On this day there were lovely figs and the marvelous strawberries grown by Farmer Richardson.