Salt the Vegetables

I get really hungry at work and to try to be healthy and feel good, I brought cut up vegetables all ready to crunch into when I began to think I might starve to death. So I was crunching along and after I had eaten a bunch, I realized these vegetables are not very tasty. I ate a few more before I remembered I had Kosher salt at work and I could put some on these vegetables.

So I did and what a difference that made. Duh! Everyone knows salt is wonderful and makes food taste better. For so long I was led to believe that salt was bad and I should eat as little of it as possible. Salt in food has been held responsible for hypertension, heart disease and stroke to name a few. Now I believe in my heart of hearts that, yes, too much salt is bad, but that most of our salt we eat comes from packaged foods and eating out. Food prepared at home seasoned to taste has so much less salt so I rest assured I can season as I wish and not worry about too much salt.

It is true that people suffering heart failure and other diseases need to restrict salt severely and they should follow their health care providers guidance closely to continue to do well.

My patients used to tell me how they put salt on fresh home grown tomatoes and I would cringe. Well, have you tried that? That’s delicious! A little salt just makes food zing! And also, Kosher salt is coarser, more flaky, therefore less salty per pinch. Kosher salt has a more mild, less metallic taste, so food tastes better.

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So the next morning, I cut up my cucumber, red bell pepper, peeled my carrots and gave them a chop and then sprinkled all of them with Kosher salt. I gave them a little shake in their sealed container and took them to work. Later that day—yum!! Here’s the recipe.

Why You Eat What You Eat

I read the book, ‘Why You Eat What You Eat. The Science Behind Our Relationship with Food’ by Rachel Herz, PhD and am convinced that food and eating are very complex and interesting. Here are my top 10 takeaways from the book:


1. Taste is significantly impacted by smell. Try this: Plug your nose and place a gum drop or jelly bean in your mouth and chew about 5-10 seconds, then unplug your nose and note the flavor. Everyone (ok, 6) I have seen do it, has been surprised. I was amazed to realize how much difference smell makes to taste.

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2. Loud noise while eating diminishes taste. This may be why airplane food tastes so bad. It could explain why eating in a loud restaurant may be less satisfying.

3. If you eat a food a certain particular (and even peculiar) way each time you eat it, such as eating the individual strings of mozzarella cheese stick one by one, you enjoy it more and are more satisfied and may tend to eat less later.


4. If you see food, you are quite likely to eat it. So she says if you do not want to eat something, get it out of sight.


5. How you feel emotionally when you eat, impacts how the food tastes. She wrote that if a person eats when happy, food tastes better, but if you eat when sad or upset, the same food might taste less or even bad.


6. The sound generated while eating a food may make a difference how much we enjoy it and how much it satisfies. For instance, if people wore ear plugs while eating crunchy potato chips they rated them less tasty and reported being less satisfied after eating them.


7. The appearance of the food affects how it tastes. If a person is served an artistically arranged salad, they tended to rate it tastier and more satisfying than if the salad was thrown together. Eating yogurt out of a heavy breakable bowl compared to a disposable plastic dish was rated with more satisfaction and satiety.


8. The more time and energy you put into food the more you may enjoy it and find it more satisfying. Several converging studies (my new favorite phrase when trying to impress) showed people rated food more enjoyable, more satisfying, and tended to eat less if they prepared it.


9. If you go on a ‘diet’ and feel deprived, you may actually end up eating more. I remember people telling me this and the author backed it up with studies. It appears the idea in your mind of doing without, makes it more likely for a person to eat more.


Rachel Herz encourages folks to step back and enjoy food. Her ending paragraph goes like this:


Food nourishes the body and the soul, and knowing how to get the most from our senses and our mind while eating makes it all that it can be. Food is an aesthetic immersion, whether you turn a salad into a Kandinsky painting or not. Food connects us to our past, to other people, to the world, and to ourselves. Food is memory, celebration, identity, conversation, emotion, glory, pleasure, pain, fear, disgust, comfort, and guilt. Food is aromatic salty, sour, sweet, bitter, savory, tingly, hot, and cold. Food is flavor and savor, art and sight, sound and music, texture and design, works and poetry, divine and decadent. Food is love and food is life. And knowledge of how our mind and body are affected by our food choices, and how our senses and psychology alter our experience of food and the consequences of eating, is power.

I read that paragraph several times. It’s an amazing paragraph! How about let’s eat!! If you made it all the way to the end of this, thank you and way to go. I would love to hear what you think.

Keto Diet

I heard the keto diet mentioned by my coworkers and was a bit surprised that people were going back to the old Atkins/Zone ideas. Then when a friend mentioned that her daughter was considering it, I thought I had to find out more about this. So I went online and then with five days before Thanksgiving, decided to try it. I know that is a really short time, but I wanted to feel what it was like to be on it and to go through the process of picking the food and deciding what to eat. Besides, with major feasting coming up, who couldn’t stand to be down a couple pounds? I will admit I am biased against a diet that does not have mounds and mounds of fruits and vegetables, not to mention beans (I love beans) but I gave it a try.

So here are keto diet pros:

1. I had just bought too much cheese (was at Sam’s-don’t judge me, it was so easy and their cheese is delicious) and this was a way to eat it and not get fat.

2. My husband loves meat and cheese and eggs and will love this.

3. Reports were that you could lose more and faster on this diet than others. (I lost three and Marlo lost two.)

4. Everyone was talking about it and I wanted to know what it was about.

5. I wanted to try making crème fraîche and this way I could eat it, too. (You know, have your cake. . .)

Keto diet cons:

1. No beans. Or nuts. Or seeds.

2. You go into ketoacidosis to burn the fat which strains the kidneys.

3. No fruit or alcohol (I love you, Mediterranean diet)

4. ‘Keto flu’-low energy feeling-fat just doesn’t burn fast enough. Then you need to eat more carbs.

5. Constipation. Major problem for me, maybe not for you. I took steps to combat that right away and it was ok.

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Menu for a day on Keto diet:

Breakfast: 2 or 3 scrambled eggs with cheese

Coffee

Lunch: Wedge salad with homemade buttermilk ranch dressing

Roasted tilapia fillets left-over from night before

Dinner: Variety of cheeses as appetizer

Grilled tuna steak

Greens, spring mix with more of that delicious homemade buttermilk dressing

(included crème fraiche)

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Overall, exploration of eating is good but bottomline, I do not think the keto diet is good for anyone long term. However, here is how I made crème fraîche and homemade buttermilk ranch dressing. I am looking forward to hearing from you in this new year. Happy New Year!







Charlie Cooks Backstrap

Marlo was given elk back strap (think filet mignon) from his trusted co-worker, Dave. Congratulations on your retirement, Dave! Marlo is not crazy about wild game (he pretty much hates it). However, we were talking with our brother-in-law, Charles Anderson, about this elk and Charles got all excited about how he cooks venison back strap. Now, I said excited and I mean it. Have you ever talked to Charles about a recipe? I know!! So I asked if we could bring the back strap to him and he would show us how he prepares it. He agreed and it happened last Sunday evening.

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Charles told us to have it thawed so Marlo and I brought it just like that and added it to the venison back strap he had. Charles had the eggs broken into a shallow dish with a little milk and Krusteaz pancake mix with buttermilk spread into another. I asked how he got started making this. He said it all started when Teddy, Charles and Kesi’s son, got a huge mule deer during youth hunt, about 16 years ago. Charles got this recipe from a good friend who hunts and fishes a great deal and has perfected this recipe.

Charles carefully trimmed any visible fat and sliced the loin in ½ inch slices. The elk was about twice the diameter of the venison so he cut each slice in half to make them uniform. With all the slices at room temperature he warmed a non-stick frying pan and melted butter-flavored Crisco and after drenching them in the egg mixture and covering with Krusteaz, he carefully fried them in batches. He cooked them about 1 ½ minutes on each side and when it was ready to turn, sprinkled lightly with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and then placed them in a warm oven being careful to keep the elk from the venison so we could taste the difference. He was careful to wipe the pan with a paper towel before starting the venison. He said he used the butter Crisco to make them crispy.

Charles said the wild taste is not a problem if you cook it right. He was careful to trim any visible fat and stressed that this was important. He has found this recipe works and the back strap is delicious! DON’T OVERCOOK..

I watched him cook all the back strap and at the same time he had potatoes boiling. While he finished the meat, Teddy mashed the potatoes, tossed a cabbage and kale salad, and stirred up delicious buttered whole kernel corn. Charles’s mother, Dorothy Anderson, arrived and Kesi, Marlo’s sister, Teddy, Charles and I all sat down to a delicious dinner.

We compared the elk and the venison and I preferred the taste of the elk but the venison was more tender. Other’s preferred the venison, hands down. Marlo ate it and liked it! He said he liked the elk better and did not mind that it was a bit tough. (Keep in mind he is kinda used to tough--he eats what I cook).

So, if you are thinking, “What? That’s vegetarian or pescatarian, or whatever?

Point well taken. I rarely eat red meat but when an occasion like this comes around, I say, “Eat!”

Here is the recipe and maybe you will have opportunity to try back strap this fall.

Charles is known in our family for his Christmas cranberries. These are not your regular cranberries. They have been prepared by Charles’s mom, Dorothy, over the decades and he brings some to our feast on Christmas Eve. They include generous portions of spirits and sweet sugar. They have been fondly referred to as booze berries and I think they are delicious. I have used their recipe for years and when I was talking about cooking this backstrap with Charlie, my sister and editor, Connie, asked if his cranberries would go with the backstrap. So I asked him and Charlie agreed they would be great with the backstrap. So here is Charlie’s Cranberries recipe. My mouth is watering thinking about them.

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I would love to hear what you think. Thanks for reading this.

Mother's Caramel Rolls

Does your family have that one recipe that everyone loves—that one thing that when you get together you have to have? Thought so. Ours is my mother’s caramel rolls.

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These rolls are hearty and delicious. And the best part is that one of my dear sisters took it upon herself to carefully watch Mother make them, saved the recipe, and she makes them for us every summer when we get together at the lake. This is no small task. This is bread from scratch and she makes two huge pans.



Donna Rae starts in the evening and stirs together the bread. She enlists help from others and Susan, another dear sister, has been most helpful. They measure and stir and fret over the temperature of the yeast. There is conversation and laughing and at times it gets a bit loud, especially when we all join in!

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The next morning, Donna Rae and Susan get up really early and have those delicious caramel rolls ready for all of us for breakfast. The smell-- the sight—-the taste—-is like no other. My warning--don’t take this on unless you are ready for hard work. But if you do, you will love them! Click the blue for the recipe. Please let me know what you think!

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Our Current Favorite Salad Dressing

Since I returned to work, we eat out more often, and a go to for us is Applebees, especially on the road and in a hurry. We both have the Asian Chicken Salad (with our own modifications) and love the dressing. We love it so much that we save the extra and use it at home. So, I searched how to make this thinking it couldn’t be that hard. Sure enough, I found the recipe for Asian Chicken Salad online and tried it at home. Marlo agrees it is pretty close to the real thing. And I think the Roasted Sesame Oil is key.

I served it to our family when everyone was home for a bridal open house for our son and his fiancé and people liked it and asked for the recipe. (That means success to me!) I made a salad of shredded cabbage and kale with sunflower seeds and dried cherries. The dressing is sweet from the honey and tart from the mayo and so yummy with the crunchy vegetables and seeds. And the dried cherries add an extra zing! Marlo does not like the cherries but that means more for me!

This is so good you are going to love it! Go to the recipe here. Thank you for reading. It’s good to hear from you!

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Healthiest Foods

I have long believed that if I eat nutritionally rich foods and eat less of other foods, I would have control of my weight and prevent many chronic diseases. And I think I am right!

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So, what are the healthiest foods? Dr. Joel Fuhrman has a health equation like this:

H = N/C.

Health = Nutrients/Calories

He uses this to determine what foods are the most nutritious and that makes sense to me. Using this way of thinking the most nutritious foods are:

1. Fruits

2. Vegetables

3. Nuts

4. Beans

5. Seeds

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Let’s look at these one by one.

1. Fruits: And I mean all fruits and lots of them! Even bananas that sometimes get blamed for having too many calories. They are nutritious and tasty and worth every one of those calories. Let’s face it, do you know anyone who got fat eating too much fruit?

2. Vegetables: These are the best! They have so many nutrients per calorie. Romaine lettuce contains more protein than steak! A 100-calorie portion of steak has 6 g of protein compared to 7 g of protein in 100 calories of Romaine lettuce. I will also point out that the calcium in steak is 2 mg but in lettuce is 194 mg. Let's not leave out that the amount of potassium in steak is 74 mg, but lettuce has 1,453 mg! Eating vegetables will lower blood pressure, prevent cancer, heart disease, stroke, dementia and constipation. Come on, constipation is important! So, the more vegetables you eat, the better.

3. Nuts: They are packed with protein, good fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Plus, they are so handy and available. It’s unfortunate so many are allergic to nuts and cannot eat them.

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4. Beans: They are so nutritious. And the canned ones are good, cheap, and can be stored for a long time—handy, too! They do have digestive consequences for some more than others. Some people find these consequences unacceptable and some of us deny it.

5. Seeds: Sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, and flaxseeds to name a few, help lower cholesterol and protect your heart. They are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and good fat so are sooo good for you. I have some almost every day.

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There you have it, this is pretty much what I eat. Missing from this list is meat, dairy, fish, bread to name a few. I eat these, too, but not as much and not every day.

Kinda crazy, huh! I really want to know what you think. Thanks for reading.

The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg

My sister, Connie, suggested I write about how to hard boil an egg and that brought to mind our little battle last Easter regarding who could make the egg that peeled easier.  I won, but she thinks otherwise.  This may never be resolved.

So here’s a little more… I looked to The Food lab by J. Kenji López-alt and followed the directions exactly including lowering the eggs into the boiling water and cooking for 30 seconds, adding ice cubes and allowing the water to return to a boil, then reduce to a subsimmer for 11 minutes.  I was also sure to use an older egg (at least a week) so it would be easier to peel. (Ok, mine may have been quite a bit older-don’t judge me.)

In the end, the eggs were perfect softness, almost liquid in the very center, no gray/green zone, and the white was set and peeled perfectly.

However, Connie said her eggs were also perfect and her method was so much easier. She said she pretty much follows the method explained by Epicurious by David Tamarkin.

Well, turns out, it is.  I tried it and it is easy and the eggs are perfect.

 

I know there are devices especially made to boil eggs and directions to bake them in the oven and these are all good.  But this method requires no special equipment, is quick, and definitely worth a try!

 

But are eggs good for us?  How about that husband with heart disease? Eggs have been considered unhealthy because they contain cholesterol (212 mg), a lot of cholesterol.  However, many studies have shown that the dietary cholesterol in eggs does not increase cholesterol in the blood and is not related to heart disease.  And besides, eggs contain only 77 calories/egg, 5 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein and all 9 essential amino acids.  Eggs are rich in minerals and vitamins.  In fact, they are claimed by some to be one of the healthiest food on the planet.  Is this making you hungry for eggs, too?

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Well, go ahead and check out this easy way to hard boil eggs.  (Connie: 1, Jane: 0)

Lois's Minestrone Soup

My son, Tom, is marrying Sarah Dorman September 2, 2018, and we could not be happier! I mentioned possibly being included in shopping for the wedding dress and Sarah and Tom invited me to come!  I figured it would be a great opportunity to get to know everyone better, and let's face it, I love to shop!!!

Well, turns out, I had a lovely time and her parents, Lois and Jan Dorman, were gracious hosts. Lois had put together a big pot of minestrone soup a day or two ahead and let it marry in the refrigerator.  It was the perfect dish after a day of meeting with the venue folks and a possible caterer.  We cozied into their lovely home and enjoyed the delicious soup and salad before watching Father of the Bride. We found way too many similarities to our own situation!  I bet we all laughed more this time than the last time we watched it.  And Tom mentioned that none of us fell asleep.  Why do you suppose that was?

   Lois and Sarah helped me get this recipe together and I was pleased that Sarah was anxious to have this recipe written down because she always wanted to know exactly how her mom did it.  You know how that is. 

So here is Lois's Minestrone Soup recipe

Ingredients:

     2 tablespoons olive oil

     4 cloves garlic, finely minced

     2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice

     1 onion, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice

     1 leek (white part and 1 inch green), well rinsed, quartered

           lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch-slices

     3 cups finely shredded green cabbage

     2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4–inch-thick slices

     2 tablespoons tomato paste

     6 cups stock (she made hers with vegetable Better Than Bouillon) 

     5 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

     Fresh basil to taste

     Fresh rosemary to taste

     1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

     Salt to taste

     2 T. organic turbinado or organic sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes 

     1 can (19 ounces) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

     4 ripe plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch dice

     1/2 cup small pasta, she used cavatelli, (shells), cooked al dente separately according to          package directions

     Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Directions:

1.  In a large pot, heat the oil over medium add onion, leek, carrot, and garlic.   Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.  Stir in zucchini, cabbage, Italian parsley, rosemary and fresh basil. Continue cooking, stirring until vegetables are coated, 1 to 2 minutes.

2.  Add tomatoes with their juice, the turbinado or organic sugar, and enough water (about 6 cups) to cover vegetables by 1 inch.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Continue to cook until vegetables are tender and soup is thickened, about 10 minutes.  At this point, soup can be refrigerated up to 2 days in an airtight container; let cool completely before storing.  Bring to a simmer before proceeding.

3.  Stir in beans to warm, then add and pasta, cooked separately.  Season with salt and pepper.  To serve, ladle soup into bowls, then garnish with parmesan and drizzle with olive oil.

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    She served this with a lovely fresh antipasto with fennel sausage from Whole Foods and provolone cheese on the side, plus hot crusty garlic bread.  It was all so nutritious and YUMMY!!!

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    Did I mention the beautiful tray of cheeses and fruit and crackers she put out before dinner?  She just doesn't quit.  Wonderful job, Lois!

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    And the shopping trip was successful!  Sarah found a gown that was breathtaking!  I got some pictures of mom admiring bride that are I think are so lovely!  Of course, you can't see those now, but just wait!

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    I had a wonderful time and I hope you try this great soup. It is a complex recipe with many ingredients and try as I did to get this right (just ask my editor, Connie) I may have screwed up, so I really want your feedback.  I can always fix it.  Please let me know what you think!

 

 

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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