What a busy fall!

Let me begin by saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATIE!!!! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIZA!!! My beautiful niece and beautiful ‘adopted’ daughter share this birthday. It’s the big 21 for Liza….I wish you both love and joy!!

This has been an amazingly busy month and it’s not over yet. Two weeks ago our younger daughter was home for the weekend. Last weekend number one child was here. We had a visit from Liza, and there is more to come. This weekend a childhood friend is coming to visit. Phew!

Of course this means there was a lot of food prep and consumption! For our Moose there was an amazing Harvest Minestrone soup. The recipe is from MindBodyGreen and is amazing.

I made a six quart pot of it….. And then for my carnivorous hubby, I took out two quarts, added 16 oz of beef stock and mini meatballs. Everyone was happy.

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I made kisir with both Moose and Liza. The recipe can be found in my previous post “Food is love…… A totally fun afternoon…..”. Both girls enjoyed it and will hopefully make it themselves.

With Tammy there was a trip to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. So much fun! And a leisurely dinner at Aroma Thyme. where we enjoyed great food and lovely company. The festival was a hoot too.

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All of the usual suspects continued in my day to day planning….. Meatloaf, quinoa, chicken…..ooooh!!! So for Sunday dinner with Tammy here, I made a YUMMY pasta dinner….
Pasta
Pesto
Sundried tomatoes
Chicken medallions
OH MY MY HOW DELISH!!! And super simple.

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This morning I prepared the fruit and nuts in sherry for the first fruit cake cookies of the season. Thanks Ina Garten!

What have you been cooking up?

The flavors of fall are the best. Get cooking people! And enjoy!!!!

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Sweet corn and a two soup day

So yesterday I spent a great deal of time in the kitchen. I call it puttering. Among my other kitchen accomplishments I froze two bags of corn for the holidays. Freezing corn is so simple. I read a number of sites and suggestions and went with what seemed simple and sensible.

Here goes…. Shuck the ears of corn. Get all of the silk. No one wants to eat corn off the cob and get silk in their teeth! Put it in your best corn pot, cover with water, and boil for 3-7 minutes. I chose 5! After it is boiled, you have to shock it in ice water for the same number of minutes as you boiled it. Longer is fine, but no less. You can prepare a big bowl of water and ice, and at first I did. Then I thought, if I take the pot to the sink, run cold water in the pot until it cools and throw ice in there, it is easier. And I am always looking for easier. LOL

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Now I will give you another trick that I saw a number of chefs do and it works like a charm. To cut the kernels off the cob, and not make a huge mess, put a small bowl upside down inside a large bowl….

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Now use the small bowl to steady the ear and cut the kernels off as close as you can to get all of the deliciousness, but not so close to get hard pieces of cob….

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When you are done, take the small bowl out and break the kernels apart….

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Put the corn into freezer bags. Mark them with the contents and date.

Everything I read says that without blanching (boiling and shocking) the corn should stay fresh for 6 months. With blanching you can go 8-10. Frankly, I have frozen about a dozen bags of corn, and we have already eaten two, and I pulled one out today to use in soup…. So if I still have some left for the holidays I will be happy. And that is only three months away.

Phew! Now go freeze some corn and stop buying processed stuff!!! LOL

I made not one, but two pots of soup today. What better way to usher in the fall!? I made a yummy 15 bean soup and beef vegetable. Barry had the bean soup for dinner. He had seconds, so it’s a keeper.

I don’t think there are many soups he won’t eat, but he LOVES beans…all kinds. So bean soup is always a hit for him.

So we will talk more about soups, but I am tired. My kitchen is cleaned up, the soups cooled and put away, and lunch made for tomorrow. Time to put my feet up and ….. Enjoy!

Finding Balance

Finding balance may be easy for some, but for me it is sometimes a challenge and the journey is always interesting. As things change in your life, as you encounter new obstacles, it is best to pause and consider…something I do often. Reflection is always better than abrupt lifestyle change.

And so I did what I have always done: plan, plan, plan!! So much of what I already do was perfect for my current circumstance, that being ‘medicinal eating.’ LOL The same preparations that come from that planning have gotten me through the worst of the adjustment with little effort. Again, I had to tone down the seasonings, herbs, and spices in my food, but the basic premise of planning ahead and planned leftovers has worked marvelously. One thing…

I MISS MY COFFEE!!!!

Aahhh…that’s better…not really, but it was nice of you all to let me share.

The key to any change has always been the same for me. Make changes wisely. Make changes thoughtfully. Make changes you can live with, not just temporary diets. Though my doctor will undoubtedly makes a few minor tweaks when I see him again in a month, the changes I am making are comfortable and doable. And when I am back to eating three times a day, that will be gradual. And adding the flavors I have come to love back into my cooking will be gradual too.

When the healing has taken place, we had a discussion of building up the stomach wall again to ‘tolerate’ spices, coffee, and so on. So I know that my flavor seeking days are only postponed and not denied. I did find in the midst of this that I had gradually altered my husband’s palate, an accomplishment which makes me quite proud. He loved the hot chilis in the North African eggs, where before he would have set the plate aside. He ordered a soup when we went out last week… it was a chicken tortilla soup…. spicy though he denied that it was! {wink} I am happy for him to be ignorant of what I have done to him.

Well, my thoughts for today… I have to go make Barry more of his favorite apple bread. We have added raisins to it now! The fridge and freezer have ample planned leftovers at the ready to make dinner for the week. Planning ahead and cooking ahead are the way I live. You should try it and always be able to enjoy!

 

Flavor Seeker ~ Black bean and quinoa burgers

I am making two dinners tonight. Moose and Kenz are on their way for a visit. There will be black bean and quinoa burgers. And I am making beef stew with red wine and green beans; an unusual addition to stew, but Barry’s favorite veggie. This is no imposition as I love to cook and love to see my family enjoy my food!

I started with the burgers… that is what I am sharing with you today!

Here is what you need:

  • 1 – 15 oz can black beans ~ be sure to rinse and drain them!!
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup veggie broth (you can use water – see below*)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup minced bell pepper – I used red today
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder – or you can use fresh, but for this, the powder is better
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 egg
  • olive oil for the pan

Open and rinse the beans first. They can drain well while you cook the quinoa. Now if you are like me, quinoa is never made in small amounts. I made a pot of quinoa and used what I needed. The rest is cooling to put away to eat later! * I also always use veggie broth for my quinoa but you can use water.

If you are only making enough for the burgers you put the 1/4 cup quinoa in 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium heat. Cook for 18 minutes, stirring occasionally. While that is cooking, mash the black beans with a fork leaving some whole black beans in a paste-like mixture.

Rough mash the beans!

Rough mash the beans!

When the quinoa is ready, mix the quinoa, bread crumbs, pepper, onion, garlic powder, paprika, salt, hot sauce, and egg into the black beans. Mix well.

Mixing the ingredients

Mixing the ingredients

Now since there is raw egg in this, you can’t taste a little to see if it is good, so make a small patty. Put it in a hot pan with olive oil. Cook 2-3 minutes per side. Making a test patty lets you decide if you need to add a little more of anything before you cook the rest.

Burger time

Mmmmm….. Lunch!

My test patty made a lovely lunch and was perfect as is. The rest of the batter is in the fridge for dinner later. This will allow it to stiffen and actually make better burger patties.  Moose will love these.

Off to start the stew, but I encourage you to try these yummy and nutritious burgers.

As always… enjoy!!

Thoughts of a Foodie ~ I am thankful for farmers!

Tammy and Mike have a lovely Farmer’s Market near their home in Arlington, VA. I love going with them on a Saturday morning when we are visiting. These two do their best to eat healthy and eat right. They enjoy the seasonal goodness that nature provides. They mourn the winter months when they have to supplement with grocery store purchases. If you saw their market you would empathize.

“I wish we had a market like this at home!” I say it every time I go with them. This led to a challenge from my daughter for me to explore my own county and find farm freshness in my own backyard. I have found a network of Farmer’s Markets that I follow on Facebook and go when I can. I also found a local grocery store that is employee-owned and buys produce from local farmers as much as possible.

Farmers are heroes. A person who can put seeds in the ground and make healthy delicious items grow is a marvel to me. As much as I love fresh produce, I can’t grow anything. I mean it. I don’t have a green thumb at all . . . in fact, I have a black thumb. I accidentally kill anything I try to grow. I hope that I make up for it in my use of the produce I buy.

Farming is an extraordinary commitment. Even as I say that, I know I do not fully comprehend the amount of work. We take for granted the food that we eat. But I do know we benefit from the toil and sweat of farmers. And I know that the fewer hands between the farmer and me… well, the fresher the food!

The holidays are upon us. Thanksgiving is less than a week away!  Visit your local Farmers’ Market this weekend and buy some fresh ingredients for your Thanksgiving feast. Brussels sprouts are sweeter after the first frost, so they will be especially delicious! Root vegetables are in season so stock up. Get some taters!! Keep it fresh and healthy!

Have a happy healthy weekend! And enjoy!

 

 

Flavors of Fall ~ Chicken & Apples in the Slow Cooker

I have all of these beautiful apples and am eager to enjoy the flavor. With family weddings and weekends away I have sadly neglected the crate in my basement! I made apples and pork, cranberry- apple sauce, and rustic apple pie. Today I am putting dinner in the slow cooker and using some of my yummy apples. I am also going to make another rustic apple pie for dessert.

So Chicken & Apples in the Slow Cooker:

  • 2 lbs. chicken ~ I defrosted chicken breast purchased on sale a couple of weeks ago.
  • 2 white or yellow onions ~ sliced
  • 3 large apples ~ peeled, cored, and sliced
  • a healthy pinch of Kosher salt
  • a pinch of ground pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup apple cider or juice
  • 1 tbsp tarragon

It is really as simple as this. Arrange slices of onion and apple in the bottom of the slow cooker, making a lovely bed for the chicken. Place the chicken on that, and season with the salt & pepper. Gently pour the broth and cider over the whole thing.  Sprinkle the tarragon over the top. Slow cook for 3 – 4 hours.

Now if you prefer a different flavor, you could replace the tarragon with rosemary, or any seasoning of your choice. You could also put rice into the crock pot (2 cups cooked)! We are not big rice eaters, but how great if you are. Dinner in the slow cooker. Add a green or salad and eat up.

I will serve this with some potatoes for Barry and a green vegetable. I will make a small pot of cranberry and applesauce. And there will be apple pie for dessert for my hubby.

What are you making for dinner? If you hadn’t decided it is not too late to put this lovely meal in the slow cooker. Enjoy!

Flavors of Fall ~ What’s fresh in your area?

I have said it before and I will repeat myself for this worthy cause. Find out what produce is in season in your area. And not just now. Find a website, an APP, or a newspaper that can keep you current. This is the best way to know, seek, and buy the freshest produce you can. One possibility is Sustainable table http://www.sustainabletable.org/shop/seasonal/ where you simply put in your state and the season and you get a list.

In my area, the Catskill Mountains of NY, this site says we have the following freshness:

Early November:

  • beets
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • celery
  • onions
  • pears
  • potatoes
  • radishes
  • snap peas
  • squash
  • sweet potatoes
  • tomatoes
  • turnips

You have to know your area and the impact of weather on the growing seasons. We went almost too late this year for apples. One of the orchards we visited were “picked out” because the weather has been chillier than usual. Pumpkins, too, are beyond their peak. Tomatoes aren’t really that nice anymore but I change my recipes and make less salsa!

This is another chart that is user friendly http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/F2S/documents/HarvestChart.pdf came from my state department of agriculture and can be printed and posted on the fridge or back of a cabinet door. 😉 The beauty of this chart is that it flows through the months. It also distinguishes between what is in peak harvest and what is available. So celery is available all year, but it is fresh and in season now.

It is good to be aware of what is in season and how to store those good flavors. For example, cranberries have shown up in the market (not a NY produce but seasonal nonetheless)! I made my first cranberry sauce last week with apples, and served it with pork tenderloin. Did you know you can take those cranberries and freeze them for later? Otherwise the goodness is gone until next year. In fact, the cranberry institute says…

“Can I freeze fresh cranberries? Yes. In fact cranberries freeze very well either whole or sliced. Sealed in an airtight container frozen cranberries will keep for nearly a year.”  http://www.cranberryinstitute.org/cranfacts/faq.htm 

So buy an extra bag when you pick one up for fresh cooking. Put it in the freezer. Then in the ‘dark of winter’, you can pull them out and make a bright and tasty sauce!

Well, I have to go shopping. I am out of onions, can you imagine!? And I am going to make buttery marinara so I need at least one!

Please find the freshest options you can. Buy healthy, eat healthy. See you back here soon.

Enjoy!