Breast of Duck and Figs in France

I just read on the Eater that the French cuisine revival is just
getting started. After the Great Recession many French
restaurants here in the US closed. Why? Too fancy? Health
concerns? Out of style? Whatever the reason, it sounds like they
are on there way back, so expect more buerre blanc, tarte
flambée, and soufflé to appear on menus. Having experienced it
first hand, we will be on the look out.

Our host, Suzy, suggested that instead of going out the last night
of our stay, we eat in and that everyone prepare a part of the
meal. It was a great idea and the results were delicious!

The day before the meal we visited Cannes where there is a
wonderful open market and got there 30 minutes before closing.
So we all hurried around and made our selections before they
packed it all up.

And this is what we came up with: Connie started the meal with
French breakfast radishes served with coarse salt and Craig roasted red bell
peppers and they served them on slices of baguette. It turns out
French rosé is good (and inexpensive) so we took every
opportunity to enjoy it. And it goes great with radishes and
roasted pepper on slices of baguette.

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Rosé also goes with bruschetta that Sue and Greg made. The
bruschetta was so fresh and beautiful as well as delicious. Marlo
and I added a salad of baby lettuce, asparagus, fennel and
radishes dressed with a honey lemon vinaigrette. And rosé.

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For the main course Suzy and Paul made Breast of Duck with
figs: Provence recipe. It smelled wonderful as she carefully
prepared it and the figs added a nice sweetness. And guess what
we drank! Rosé!

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For dessert Sue and Greg served gelato with many wonderfully
flavored marcarons for dessert. Gelato is Italian but it turns out
that the part of France we visited once was part of Italy, so there
you go! The macarons we had are the little sandwich looking
ones and not the ones made with coconut. (Definitely French but
love both.) Oh, so good!

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We enjoyed dinner and then the stories started coming about
times traveling with good friends over the decades. We weren’t at
all bothered by the stories of blizzards back home, or swimming
pools covered in 20 inches of snow so that only the hand rails
showed. No, not even word of school closings or getting stuck at
each intersection on the way home after working all night
bothered us. Eh, they were fine. Suzy mentioned there might
be wild boar on the other side of the fence in the woods, but we
were quite content staying on the deck.

Does wild boar go with rosé?

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Thank you for reading this. I love hearing from you.

I went to Provence, France!

I went to Provence and it was wonderful!  Some dear friends invited us to a lovely retreat spot near Nice, France, and my word to you, if that opportunity ever comes, say yes!!

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So, if you have to know, what we did most was eat.  I know, you are shocked.  But we didn’t just eat, we ate wonderful food.  Oh, the croissants and the baguettes were as wonderful as I hoped.  And they probably taste even better when eaten at a corner café in open air on cobblestone streets in Paris.

 

We traveled with my sister, Connie and her husband, Craig; Paul and Suzy Cossette, our hosts; and Greg and Sue Ebert.  They are a bunch of foodies and the sum of their experience is extraordinaire. So when Paul found a cooking school for us to try while in France, we were all in!

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The cooking school was Notes de Cuisine  https://www.notesdecuisine.fr  with chef Laurence Duperthuy.  She come from a long line of people of Nice and began blogging   https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=https://variations-gourmandes.blogspot.com/&prev=search the traditional recipes. She hopes to preserve her family’s way of cooking (Nicoise) especially for their children.  Her business has the guarantee of authenticity, has been inspected and awarded the label “Cuisine Nissarde, in the respect of tradition”.  info@otcnice.com; nicetourisme.com

Her blog has been successful and has branched into a full time work for her. And this is no wonder, because she was warm, yet unassuming, confident but not bossy, quietly directive and informative.  She is a master of Nicoise and eager to pass on her expertise.  Her knowledge comes from her heart and shows the love of generations passed onto her. 

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She shared with us the jar of famous pissala started by her grandfather that is anchovy heads and entrails stored in a jar with salt.  After several weeks this mashed flavorful delight is used to enhance the flavor of dishes.  She spread a thin layer over the crust of her La pissaladière before adding the onions.  You gotta believe me, it was so delicious!

The menu included:

     La pissaladière

     Roasted Cod filet with thyme and olive oil, creamy polenta, crumble garlic and parmesan sheese, basil coulis

     And for dessert-Panna cotta au mascarpone et cardamome, minestrone de fraises

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What a delightful day for me!  Here is the recipe for the la pissaladière (onion tart).

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Do go to her website (variations-gourmandes-blogspot.com).  Her pictures are beautiful and the French language looks so pretty. Please ask me any questions you have.  This is so much fun to talk about!

Buttery Homemade Buns

I was without a job for the first time in decades and what I thought to do first was cook and bake.  I had subscribed to several blogs by email and found a bread recipe that looked promising on Food52.  The author told how this recipe is served as a starter to each dinner table at Kindred Restaurant in Davidson, North Carolina, and how people gobble it up.  She mentioned how she was going to just have a taste while she waited for someone to join her, and before she knew, it was all gone and she wanted more.

I thought this could be the perfect thing to occupy my time, plus produce something wonderful. And besides, I had never tried the dough hook on my stand mixer and always kinda wanted to, and this recipe told exactly how to do it.  Bingo!

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So I made the bread and everyone that tried it agreed it was delicious.  How could you miss when you consider the cream and butter topped with flaky sea salt?  It has become my go to for buns for holidays and so I made a batch for Easter.  Here’s how I did it:

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Cooking with Connie

Food brings us together.  It gives us a reason to get together and get to know each other and enjoy each other.  Part of a healthy lifestyle is sharing life with others and through that we are all better.

When I first hit upon the idea of blogging, I was having lunch with my sister, Connie, and mentioned it to her.  She said, “That’s a great idea!”  (Believe you me I had tried several other ‘career of the day’ ideas that did not get that response from her or anyone else). She not only encouraged me from the start but has edited each of my posts and is always there to tell me to knock it off.

But going back, Connie has always loved food.  She and her husband, Craig, have enjoyed wonderful restaurants all over the world and Connie is happy to recommend a good place to eat if you are going anywhere.  We always follow her recommendations and have eaten in some fabulous places.

She has been a great inspiration to good food for me and my family.  I remember one time when the kids were little, we were in Minneapolis and Connie and Craig happened to be there, too.  It just so happened that Marlo and Craig were doing something else, so Connie and I and the kids were downtown for lunch.  Connie suggested a place she had heard about that was new and was supposed to be good.  If Connie wanted to go, I certainly was willing to go with her.

The Dakota Jazz is still very much alive and was nice and quiet for lunch with three small children.  I searched their ‘out of the box’ gourmet menu for something for the kids and found the mac and cheese and gave it a go.  But the five cheeses and the lovely trumpet mushrooms were a bit too much for them and at $15 a plate (mid 1990’s) I didn’t want to repeat that experience.  But that did not bother Connie and the kids still had a great time.

After that, we took a more moderate approach to choosing restaurants until the kids got a bit older.  Now they all enjoy adventuresome dining and I give a lot of the credit for that to Connie and Craig.

So here is the delicious pizza Connie has served us in her home. She has worked over the years to fine tune this dish using the dough recipe from Roberta’s in Brooklyn, NY, and Ina Garten’s sauce recipe and then added their favorite toppings.  You will love this.  Give it a try.  The recipe is here:

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Connie’s Delicious Pizza

Roberta's Pizza Dough

Yield: Two 12-inch pizzas

Time:  20 minutes plus at least 3 hours' rising

Ingredients:

     153 grams 00 flour (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon)

     153 grams all-purpose flour (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons)

     8 grams fine sea salt (1 teaspoon)

     2 grams active dry yeast (3/4 teaspoon)

     4 grams extra-virgin olive oil (1 teaspoon)

Preparation:

     Step 1  In a large mixing bowl, combine flours and salt.

     Step 2  In a small mixing bowl, stir together 200 grams (a little less than 1 cup) lukewarm tap water, the yeast and the olive oil, then pour it into flour mixture.  Knead with your hands until well combined, approximately 3 minutes, then let the mixture rest for 15 minutes.

     Step 3  Knead rested dough for 3 minutes.  Cut into 2 equal pieces and shape each into a ball.  Place on a heavily floured surface, cover with dampened cloth, and let rest and rise for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature or for 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator.  (If you refrigerate the dough, remove it 30 to 45 minutes before you begin to shape it for pizza.)

     Step 4  to make pizza, place each dough ball on a heavily floured surface and use your fingers to stretch it, then your hands to shape it into rounds or squares.  Top and bake.

 

Baking the pizza crust.

I use a pizza stone in the oven. I put the pizza stone in oven about an hour before I want to cook the pizza, and set the oven to 500 degrees to really get the oven and stone well heated.

Put the pizza dough on a piece of parchment paper (with a little flour under the dough). Add all the stuff to the top of the pizza then transfer the pizza onto the hot pizza stone using a pizza peel. I use a wood one, and it works well to slide it right under the parchment and then slide the parchment and pizza directly onto the hot pizza stone in the oven.

Leave the pizza in the oven about 13 minutes, time required will vary depending upon your toppings, leave it in until there is some good browning on the crust and the cheese.

Use the pizza peel to remove the pizza (slide the pizza peel under the parchment paper and pizza) and transfer it to a cutting board to cut the pizza. It’s hot, so be careful.

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Sauce:

1 onion, finely chopped (sometimes add one clove of garlic too, depending upon my mood)

2 tablespoons olive oil (or butter – live it up, it’s pizza)

1 link hot Italian sausage, removed from casing and broken into pieces (Johnsonville is my first choice), can skip sausage and still delicious

1 can tomatoes, diced or whole (if whole, I crush them into the saucepan with my hands)

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

salt to taste

(sometimes I also add red pepper flakes, if you want more heat)

fresh mozzarella and fresh basil for top of pizza

 

In a saucepan, sauté the onion and the sausage in the olive oil until sausage is browned and onions are translucent.  Add the tomato, oregano, basil, vinegar, and brown sugar. Taste and add salt if it needs it (and hot pepper flakes you need it.)

Pizza:

Form dough into a round, spoon on the pizza sauce (with the sausage incorporated), add fresh mozzarella.  After you take the pizza out of the oven, add the leaves of fresh basil.

Really, give this a try and let me know what you think!  I love to hear from you.

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The DASH Diet Review

Eat lots of fruit and vegetables.  And I mean a lot.  Most adults should eat 4-5 servings of fruit a day and 4-5 servings of vegetables a day.  That is from the DASH Diet.

I think the DASH diet is great!  It was formulated and extensively studied by the National Institute of Health so that is your tax dollar at work.   It has been named the best diet by US News and World Report for 8 years!  DASH stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension and it has been shown to effectively lower blood pressure.  And not only that, but it can manage and prevent diabetes, is heart healthy, and a healthy eating plan for everyone in the family.  Recently, and in fact this week, a study showed that the DASH diet can reduce risk of depression.

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Why has the DASH diet chosen as the best diet so many years in a row?  Because it is proven to improve health, has a balance of nutritious food groups and it actually works.  It is a plant-focused diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, nuts, with low fat and non-fat dairy, lean meats, fish, poultry, mostly whole grains and heart healthy fats.

The DASH Diet Plan can be found here.  So, is it even possible to eat that many fruit and vegetables?  Won’t you choke?  Maybe, but if you start the day with a fruit smoothie and have a large salad as one of your meals or with a meal, you did it.  I can’t say I follow the DASH Diet everyday, but I follow it most days and so does Marlo.

Our culture seems to be waking up to the idea of more fruits and vegetables.  Lots of recipes are easily available online and there are some really great ones.  Dan Barber, a world-renowned chef, has been developing hybrid squash and beets selecting for flavor instead of productivity, uniformity or ability to stand up to shipping.  He hopes to sell the seed for his Honeynut squash and Badger Flame beets at Walmart!  He wants the seed available to everyone.  Reportedly, the squash and the beets taste wonderful and so much better than the usual.  Dan Barber foresees children eating beets like we eat carrots.  Perhaps our vegetables will get so much better.  I hope so.

I would love to hear what you think of this.  Please let me know.

 

    

I'm Starving and We Don't Have Anything to Eat!

This probably happens to all of us now and then. So what do you do? This is one of my go to plans. Everyone is not going to go for this recipe, but I like and maybe, you will, too!

It works because I almost always have canned beans and frozen green beans on hand.  They both last a long time and can be prepared in minutes!  The dish is filling and satisfying and extremely nutritious. Here it is:

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Micro Steamed Green Beans and Garbanzos

Serves: One

Ingredients:

     2 cups frozen green beans (8 ounces, actually I just fill a big soup bowl)

     ½ cup (or more) canned garbanzo beans, rinsed with hot water (to warm them) and drained

     Drizzle of olive oil

     Coarse salt to taste (a reader suggested I add Garam Masala to vegetables so I got some and tried it today for lunch and it was good, used 1/8 tsp)

Directions:

     Place all ingredients except the garbanzo beans in a large soup bowl and cover with a silicone lid and microware for 5 minutes.  Remove from microwave, add the garbanzos, and then stir. Be careful because it will be hot. How simple is that!  No, you don’t need to add water. Surprisingly, quite a bit of water accumulates on the bottom.

So if you are starving and you don’t have anything to eat in the house, try this!  Go here for a copy of the recipe on the recipe page.  I would love to hear what you think.

 

 

Kimchi and Fried Brown Rice

At an auction for our children’s private school, we bid on a dinner for 4, and got it! The cook was aspiring to be a chef but eventually became a lawyer and practices international law.  I think this gives insight to the kind of individual he is and that he was trying food unfamiliar to most of us. Keep in mind this was 20 years ago.

So one of the dishes he served that evening was kimchi in rice and amazingly, we all liked it, including Marlo!  So I asked our cook how to make it and it was quite easy.  I figured it out and we have eaten it many times throughout the years. The brown rice has nutritional benefit of fiber, carbohydrates, minerals (magnesium, manganese, and selenium) plus protein and is gluten-free.

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The kimchi, consisting of cabbage and other vegetables, is a good source of vitamin A and C, other various vitamins and minerals, and lots of fiber. Kimchi is fermented so provides healthy bacteria to the digestive system and may help food digestion and absorption, protect the intestines, and prevent constipation.  It does all this and tastes great, too!

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Speaking of great taste, it is high in salt, so that should be kept in mind if high blood pressure is a concern.  It usually is not eaten alone, but mixed with other foods, so the salt content of the dish ends up not so high.

This dish is a bit exotic and fun, so give it a try. (recipe)  Get back to me on how it goes.

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My Go To Quick Spinach and White Bean Soup

This is a Martha Stewart recipe I found when I wanted to make soup with cannellini beans.  It was delicious the first time and it was so fast that I have made it many times when I’m hungry and want to eat right now.  (That’s most of the time.)  The original recipe is for kale and white beans and if I use baby kale or a tender kale, I like it, but some kale will give this a bitter green taste. I always hated that as a kid, and come to think of it, I still do! So to be sure, I use spinach, but kale of some kinds works great.

The directions say to add half of the beans and mash with a fork, but I found that a potato masher works so much easier.  I have tried an immersion blender and that worked but it tended to over blend and turn the soup an undesireable green color.  Besides, I like this soup with plenty of whole beans and mashing half the beans gives the soup a nice creaminess.

I usually skip the toast on top, but I would add that to Marlo’s if he liked this soup.  No, it is not one of his favorites.

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Honestly, this soup goes together in less than 15 minutes.  Give it a try and I would love to hear how it goes for you.  Thank you for reading this.

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Slow-Cooker Sausage, Potato and Spinach Stew at Sundance

I happened upon this recipe and thought this would be perfect for Marlo.  We’ve served it several times in our home and people loved it.  Because of the sausage, I don’t eat it, but that just leaves more for others.  It’s easy because the sausage gives the flavor so it is always delicious with little flavor adjustment. I definitely agree with Samin Nosrat (Salt Fat Acid Heat) who recommends ALWAYS taste and adjust before serving.  Just yesterday I served Marlo a butter tilapia wrapped in naan and did not taste it.  Needed more salt. When will I learn?

I’ve made Slow-Cooker Sausage, Potato and Spinach Stew the last couple years at Sundance and it has gone over well. The recipe is for the slow-cooker, but when we needed to make it faster we used the stovetop and it was no problem. At home I use Bulk Italian Sausage from our local Dan’s Supermarket but at Sundance we used Johnsonville Hot Italian squeezed it out of the casings and everyone liked it. The sausage was browned in a skillet on the stovetop, the onions sautéed a bit to soften, and the potatoes rough chopped and microsteamed (fancy for microwaving) for 5-6 minutes.  Then all but the spinach was combined in a large kettle and brought to a boil and then simmered until the potatoes were nice and soft.  I do not like potatoes even a little bit undone.

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At the very end I added the fresh spinach and allowed it to wilt before serving.  The spinach adds such beautiful color and it is totally amazing how much spinach you can consume unwittingly when it’s cooked.  It wilts down to nothing! And the flavor is so mild that Marlo does not mind it. Here’s the recipe.

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Thank you for reading this.  If anything comes to mind, I love to hear from you.

Sundancing at the Festival!

It’s been unbelievable that we go to the Sundance Film Festival and this was our seventh year!  This started because our son, Tom, loves movies and has made it his career. (he is a film distributor at Cinema Guild)  During his senior year of college he wanted to go to Sundance and my sister, Connie and her husband, Craig, made it possible.  Now we tag along and love it.

Simply touch these pictures to see them all.

Over the 10 day period we watch movies, discuss movies and wait for the next movie.  We see between 25 and 30 movies leaving little time for eating.  But do not worry, we do not go hungry.  We bring homemade snacks, cook some meals in the condo, and enjoy a few meals out.

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These snacks are tasty, trust me.  I tried them all.  It wasn’t all healthy.

Here’s a couple of Marlo’s choices.

Our go to place at Park City is High West Distillery and Saloon.  We have had so much fun mixing it up with other Sundancers over the years over a favorite drink, Dead Man’s Boot.

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But a huge highlight this year was Facetiming with our dear granddaughter, Margot!

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On the way home, we stopped by another favorite, the Red Iguana 2 in Salt Lake City. They make you feel at home and the food is delicious!

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It's wonderful and exhausting!

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Thank you for checking in.  I love to hear your comments. (Take note of the pizza box in the foreground.  Yummy!)

 

 

A Favorite Vegetable Soup (Lebanese Vegetable Soup)

There was a restaurant in Bismarck probably about 20-30 years ago that was called Good Earth or Green Earth, maybe Mother Earth, I can’t remember.  I researched it and found one article on restaurants you won’t remember in Bismarck, but this one did not make the list.  So I am still wondering.  Maybe you remember.

Anyway, this restaurant had great soups and sandwiches, and, oh! the cakes and cookies! But sadly, they went out of business a while back.  A pharmaceutical representative, (I am not sure who), would bring lunch from this restaurant and I just loved this soup.  I asked if I could get the recipe and he went to the trouble to ask the chef who wrote it down and I still have the copy in the chef’s handwriting.  I have enjoyed it many times and it was one of the first soups I learned about after deciding to eat pescatarian (1997).

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I usually have everything on hand that I need for this recipe except the artichoke hearts.  You don’t want to skip those because they add interesting flavor and texture. This time I used quartered medium sized ones, but small artichokes might be nicer. The recipe had two large tomatoes but if I don’t have fresh tomatoes, I use canned and this time I used a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes in place of the fresh ones.  I do believe what experts say that vegetables are canned at the peak of freshness so canned tomatoes are great and I use them a lot.

The chef specified that the liquid from the artichokes and chickpeas be included, so I do.  Eliminating that would be a way to decrease sodium content and there would still be plenty of flavor.

 

Thank you for reading and giving your feedback. I love to know what you think.

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Slow Roasted Tomatoes


I had two pints of grape tomatoes that we forgot to eat and they
were getting just beyond peak flavor, some were a bit soft. I
hated to throw them away and then I remembered my sister,
Connie, had slow-roasted tomatoes this summer when she had a
bunch of them fresh from her garden. You would think I would
call and ask her how she did that, but, no. I Googled it and found
a recipe on simplebites.net.
Of course, I didn’t follow it exactly. (I don’t think I ever do.) For
one thing, I used grape tomatoes instead of cherry, so I adjusted
the time, figuring it wouldn’t take as long for smaller tomatoes.
Plus, I didn’t have Thyme, or time to go to the store for some, so I
used poultry seasoning.
We both enjoyed them and ate them on a bed of fresh spinach. I
plan to do this again.


Recipe:
Ingredients:
1 pint cherry tomatoes
¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning
Coarse Salt
Black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
4-5 cloves of garlic, sliced
Instructions:
1 Cut the tomatoes in half end-to- end, and place cut side
up on a pan.
2 Sprinkle sliced garlic over the tomatoes.

3 Sprinkle poultry seasoning over the tomatoes.
4 Season with coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper
and drizzle extra-virgin olive oil liberally over the
tomatoes.
5 Place in oven at 200 degrees F for 6-8 hours; the
tomatoes will collapse, but not completely dry out.
6 Cool and eat. They are so yummy and pretty.


Now here’s a tip I hope I remember next time. What we didn’t eat
for dinner I left in the oven to cool, thinking that would make full
use of the heat from the oven. Although I said to myself,
“Remember to take care of the tomatoes before you go to bed”,
when I woke up in the morning, I threw them away.
Thank you for reading.

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ThermoPop Thermometer Review

I just love this little thing and I think you will, too.

I have tried several thermometers over the years, from a conventional old school thermometer (that always seemed to fog up), to an electronic one with a probe that could be placed in the oven.  They both worked somewhat but had problems.  Bottom line, I just was not sure I could believe them.  It always took a while to see numbers and then I wasn’t sure when to stop waiting.

But chefs and food experts always talk about checking the temperature to be sure, so I kept trying.  America’s Test Kitchen recommends the Thermoworks Therapen, but that costs a hundred dollars and I wasn’t ready to spend that.  We did eventually eat all that food I was testing, so how much was I going to gain?

But then Thermoworks came up with a cheaper alternative and it has tested well by America’s Test Kitchen.  It’s the ThermoPop!  And it’s great because:

·      It gives results in 3 minutes.

·      The end is sharp for easy insertion.

·      It does not fog up.

·      It comes in many colors.

·      It costs about $30 (rather than $100)

·      I believe it.

·      It has a clip, so you could wear it if you were outside using the grill.

·      It is so cute!!!

I got mine online through Thermoworks and I have not seen them any other place but they probably are available other places.

What do I use it for? Samin Nosrat in her book Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat says you watch the food and by doing it repeatedly, you will know when it is done by how it looks, feels and smells.  I’m sure she is right.  However, I obviously have not done it enough times yet. So, if I spring for a pricey piece of meat, like a filet of beef, I like to have the thermometer to be sure it’s right. I also use it on hamburgers, chicken and pork because of the risk of harboring bacteria if not completely cooked.  I like to get food done but not overdone which can ruin the flavor. And this thermometer is so easy to use, that I use it more than previous ones. 

Feel free to use the comment section below for questions or thoughts.  I love to hear them and will get back to each one.

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Slow Cooker Lentil Soup (Greek Comfort Food)

I have had requests for ideas for the Instant Pot, but I don’t have one yet and am working on that.  But this would work in the slow cooker mode.

I got this recipe from a dear patient when I tried to convince her to eat legumes with very little fat or salt.  This was a family recipe for her and she would say you need to use some olive oil for the taste.  Use at least a little bit.  She was so right.

I have made this many times over the years and have tweaked the recipe to add even more flavor.  My lentils came from our brother-in-law, Lyle Sevre, who grows them on his farm near Wildrose, North Dakota. They are locally sourced and delicious! They are straight from the farm, so I take an extra step of cleaning to get rid of the chaff.  I simply put the lentils in a big bowl of water the chaff floats to the top and I simply pour it off.  Then I rinse the lentils in a colander and they are ready to go.

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The recipe is here.  Let me know what you think and I will get back to you.

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Should You Shovel the Snow?

So it snowed all afternoon and into the night and now the driveway needs to be cleared.  But, as I have mentioned before, Marlo, my husband, has coronary artery disease.  Should he shovel?

Shoveling is such a problem because:

·      It’s often done first thing in the morning.

·      It is often done in a hurry.

·      It is often done in the cold.

·      It is often done in the wind (which makes it so much worse).

·      Every shovel load can vary in weight and can be very heavy.

He was thinking about the snow last evening and mentioned when he would get up and get the snow blower going.  He was concerned about starting the snow blower for the first time this season.  But he also mentioned that he would be sure to keep his nitroglycerin handy.

When a person has coronary artery disease, the entire system of arteries that feed the heart is affected making the person vulnerable to possible rupture of the artery wall.  If the artery wall ruptures, it bleeds, blocking the artery and keeping blood from getting to downstream areas of the heart.  This causes a heart attack.  If this happens nitroglycerin will not help.  You need to get help right away (call 911).  The artery needs to be reopened which can be done by emergency angioplasty.

On the other hand, if you know you have coronary artery disease, but your blood pressure and cholesterol have been well controlled, plus you are doing your best to follow the treatment plan recommended by your doctor, then your coronary arteries are smooth inside.  They are likely stabilized and more normally functioning.  If you have been regularly exercising, your other muscles are ready to work more efficiently. This takes the load off your heart and makes it possible to function well.

However, if you go out to shovel snow and do not feel well (because of chest discomfort or shortness of breath, for instance) you may have a partial blockage in your coronary artery.  This is what Marlo had in May last year resulting in multiple coronary artery stent placement and medical therapy. So if you have concerning symptoms with more than usual exertion, it’s time to see your doctor and get help.

A partial blockage may be helped by using nitroglycerin at the time of symptoms.  The nitroglycerin opens the arteries a tiny bit, that may be enough to allow a bit more blood flow and the heart may be fed adequately. However, if this starts happening, you need to talk to your doctor.

So Marlo got the snow blower started with some trouble. He was able to snow blow the entire driveway and used the shovel for some of it.  He was warmly dressed and allowed enough time so did not feel hurried.  He said he felt fine.

Thanks for your comments and feedback.  Ask any questions that come to mind.  I’m always here.

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Roasted Flax Seed

I have had requests for the recipe for roasted flax seed so I worked on that this morning and actually measured the flax and timed the roasting.  I hope having this clarified will make it easier for you to try this.

In ‘Crunchies, Nuts and Seeds’ I mentioned the benefits of flax seeds being full of vitamins, minerals, monosaturated fats, energy and fiber.  I make them part of my breakfast most every morning.

Julia Child told us you will know when something is done when you can smell it.  For flax, it will be a toasty brown color and smell better than you think.  It’s happened a number of times that when the kids were little, they would smell the flax and ask, hopefully, “What are we having?”, only to be quite disappointed that it was flax.

But give the recipe a try.  I hope it doesn’t disappoint you.  Let me know what you think.

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About Cholesterol

Let’s talk about cholesterol.  Not mine—my husband's.  Ok, mine, too. 

In May of this year, when Marlo began have chest pain when he walked up some of Bismarck’s hills, we learned he has severe coronary artery disease.  He had multiple stents placed in his coronary arteries and now feels fine. Looking forward, he wants to do whatever he can to prevent the disease from causing more problem.

What can he do?  Exercise, control his blood pressure, and attain ideal weight, but these are for another discussion.  The one I am thinking about to today is to lower his cholesterol.

Having high levels of cholesterol in your blood has been shown to increase the likelihood of having coronary artery disease.  This can lead to heart attacks and kills more Americans than any other disease. 

To lower cholesterol, Marlo tries to:

·      Avoid trans fats.  These are in some baked and fried foods.

·      Lose weight.  Even a modest weight loss can lower cholesterol significantly.

·      Exercise 2 ½ hours a week.  Marlo does more that this and logs more than 10,000 steps a day.

·      Eat fish 2-4 times a week. (at least two)

·      Avoid smoking and second hand smoke.

However, one thing he does has more impact than the other efforts.  He takes a statin medication.  And he takes it faithfully, according to his doctor’s recommendation.

As one of the best-studied medications in randomized clinical trials, statins are proven to extend life and reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes, even among individuals with normal cholesterol levels.  These are the kind of studies that actually show cause and effect and not just associations.  These drugs have been scrutinized by the best study techniques over and over again and repeatedly show benefit.  Of course, they may have side effects, but since Marlo can take his statin without problem, he hopefully will enjoy heart protection.

I am so glad he can take the statin and works at all the other ways to lower his cholesterol, too.  He sees his cardiologist soon and we are hoping for good results.

Please let me know if any questions pop up.  Comment at the end of this article or on the contact page.  I love to hear from you.

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Don't Give Up!

I think about a new year beginning and it is a great time to make a fresh start.  It can be a point to say, “now I will” . . . whatever. However, it is well recognized that most of us do not stick with the original plan.  Only about a third of people make new year resolutions and of those resolutions, less than half are kept. 

Despite this, I think a person should try.  Whatever the goal is, such as:

1.   stop smoking,

2.   lose weight,

3.   exercise regularly or

4.   follow a healthy diet

I think it is worthwhile to come up with a plan and give it a try.  I have found that for one person to tell another person how to go about meeting the goal is problematic.  It turns out that our daily lives filled with our schedules, work, family, food preferences, food intolerances, past food experiences, plus, just the way we are, makes designing a plan to meet any of the above goals very complex.  For one individual to be able to understand all that goes on for another individual is almost impossible.  Therefore, I think the most successful plans are honed and fashioned by yourself.  One could start with a plan that seems to fit, and make adjustments from there. 

I have taken parts from many plans over the years, but generally follow the DASH Diet.  And I throw in stuff from this plan and that plan, kind of willy nilly.  But the scale tells the truth and I check that most days.  If it isn’t where is should be, something has to change. (Yes, I bought several new scales over the years.)

And of course, I screw up.  I did before and I will again.  This is for sure.  But the important thing is to try.  Don’t give up.  Keep trying.

 

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French Tea Cakes (Madeleines)


Now we are getting quite fancy. I happened on the idea decades
ago paging through a Williams Sonoma catalog. Here was a cute
cookie with lemon flavoring (Marlo’s favorite) that looked like it
would be fun to serve friends and family. So I ordered the pans
and got ready to make them. The orange flower water was a
challenge. Since this was in the early 80’s, I didn’t know about
Amazon. I searched places locally and must have found it in
Minneapolis. I’m not sure. But we didn’t have a personal
computer until the early 90’s so I doubt I ordered it online. With
the orange flower water in hand, I had all I needed and got to
work.
I didn’t know about folding so I talked to Mother about that. She
was always encouraging of such ideas. I did have a stand mixer
to beat the egg whites, so that was good. The directions say to
generously butter the molds and of course, I tried not to (to
decrease fat and calories) and so would have a tough time getting
the pretty cookies out of the pans. However, they were always
gobbled up with pleasure, no matter what they looked like. So
that kept me trying.
When kids came along and we were so busy, I didn’t make them
very often and years went by without Madelines. I’m not sure
what year my sister, Connie, gave me silicone Madeline pans.
These are a game changer. They outperform metal Madeline
pans, despite being generously doused in butter. So, that’s what I
use. They have them available on Amazon. I know, you are
surprised. And Pam. I know butter tastes better, but Pam works
so well and is so easy.

5 Reason to Drink Coffee


Coffee has for years been regarded as a health problem and we
were advised to avoid or at least limit it. But recently, studies
have been reported showing not only that coffee is probably safe,
but it is good for you! Keep in mind, these studies were
observational and not able to prove cause and effect. But I love
coffee and never stopped drinking it anyway, so I’m going with it!


     1. Helps mental capacity. It may decrease depression,
improve memory and prevent Parkinson’s disease.
     2. Protects the heart. It may decrease the risk of
cardiovascular disease. Now, we know that some people
have bothersome palpitations after drinking coffee, so they
are better to avoid it.
     3. Protects against Type 2 diabetes. Keep in mind, we don’t
know how this may work, but it might.
     4. Helps exercise effort. It may enhance energy, boost exercise
performance and rev metabolism.
     5. It’s delicious and tastes wonderful first thing in the morning!


I usually have three cups of coffee as I go through my email and
take a shower. I encouraged Marlo to have a cup in the morning
and he is getting into it. He enjoys it but doesn’t love it. We
recently learned that the local Y has a coffee shop featuring
locally roasted beans from the Mighty Missouri Coffee Company,
so we tried it and I thought it was delicious!


Today is the day for the OXO Tongs drawing! Good luck to each
of you. I will email the result later today. I will check for new
subscriptions right before I do the drawing, so it is not too late to
subscribe.

Thank you for visiting my blog.