Tuesday, October 20, 2009

If only, if only I were creative, if only

A long time ago now I posted about dairy- and soy-free. I think y'all know that's an ongoing deal; we actually tested Luke and he is very strongly allergic to both food types. I was assured that infants typically outgrow these allergies once they get to be about 1 year old, and really they're not supposed to have much dairy prior to that age anyway.

But yeah, it's not easy for me. Whine whine. ;) Here are some things I have learned:

- Even "Hershey's Special Dark" chocolate has dairy in it.
- Even true dark chocolate chips, sans dairy, have soy lecithin in them. So no chocolate chip cookies for me.
- Earth Balance soy-free margarine is actually very good and I have no complaints.
- You cannot buy store-bought cookies that have no soy in them. You can buy wheat-free, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free cookies but you can't buy any freakin' soy-free.
- You can easily make soy-free cookies but they might be kinda bland, particularly because you cannot have chocolate chips in them.
- Carob sucks. (I didn't just learn that. I've always hated carob.)
- You will resent the hell out of Halloween, and Thanksgiving as well, if you have to give up soy and dairy and aren't sure of other ingredients right before these holidays.
- After two weeks of your only grain/starch side dish being quinoa, a baked potato is a culinary work of art. And it remains that way for a month or more.

Additionally, although Luke is generally a happy kid, he still has reflux and still spits up a great deal. So far he doesn't have bleeding reactions to eggs, mushrooms, potatoes, and today I'm trying wheat bread; unfortunately I think these things make him gassy instead. Poor kid.

Well. Why is this post titled about my being creative? Because I feel like, with the foods I know I *can* eat, if I had more time and more imagination I could probably make some really intereting meals. I mean, I'm nearly at a point where I have the basics for everything. Instead I just usually take those basics and make basics out of them. Meats get broiled or pan-fried, grains get boiled, and vegetables get steamed. Everything I eat is one-ingredient, with the exception now of Whole Foods wheat bread. Oh, and the afore-mentioned non-soy margarine. I guess some of that is because I really don't have the time to cook, but not a lot; a few times now I've made dinner for Dan and Dorothy, rather involved dinners in fact: turkey meatloaf, pancakes (technically not dinner, but shut up), and breaded chicken fingers. But I can't improvise to save my life, so for myself, it's just smack it in a pan and heat it up, then eat it later.

I'm going to be bringing a large portion of my Thanksgiving dinner for myself, just to be sure I can eat it (and so as not to put everyone else out), which is also what I'll be doing with my office's annual Thanksgiving potluck - even more so, in fact, since I'll have to provide my own bread, dessert, and quite possibly appetizers. (The dessert table at this potluck is intensely amazing every year so I am considering calling out sick that day.) It's not just the soy/dairy, it's that I'm only eating new foods one at a time to be sure Luke doesn't have a reaction, so I can actually write down a list of hte foods I can eat on a piece of paper and only fill about two lines. Honestly, I think it's under 20 total.

I DO have a delicious recipe for brown-sugar glazed carrots that I'll be bringing. You will all love it, guaranteed. Beyond that, I don't want to limit anyone, so I guess I'll just eat turkey and salad and bring my own dessert. Maybe something with apples.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dairy- and soy-free life for me

Due to babies with sensitive tummies, I am completely off dairy for the next seven months or perhaps longer. And for the next week or so I'm told to avoid soy as well - then I can reintroduce it and see what happens. The end result here is that I'm at a loss as to what to eat most of the time! I mean , whole foods obviously - but that's such a lot of work that I'd love to find good snackie things that are soy and dairy free... and man, there is pretty much nothing. All-wheat crackers are about it... ohand Clif nectar bars which are all friut and nuts.

The big benefit of this is, WOW to healthy eating! Talk about being forced into eating your fruit and veggie requirements. ;) But I hope I get soy back. I don't even get many options for margerine. Anyone who knows of good soy-free options, pls let me know!

The downside is that if Luke's tummy troubles don't clear up soon, I may have to stop breastfeeding. :P But we're being optimistic!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Veggie Burgers From Scratch

Happy Labor Day, everybody! A day late.

We didn't do anything special in the Phil-Charlotte household- Phil's been working everyday, so when he got from work we decided to just relax together. We did, of course, get some beer and movies and make a lot of food.

I bought Happy Herbivore's Backyard Vegan E-Cookbook a few months ago and still haven't made anything, so I thought Labor Day (what I always think of as the last weekend in summer) might be a good opportunity to try out some recipes. I made the mushroom burgers and the potato salad. We loved both!

Here's Phil's:
His has mustard, sprouts, avocado, tomato (that's the thick green thing-- they were heirlooms) and onion.

And mine:
Same as Phil's but with lettuce instead of sprouts and the addition of ketchup.

I baked ours, then panfried them (without oil-- still frying?). They turned out well for the most part, but next time I might reduce the amount of water in the recipe. I had to bake them for a really long time for them to firm up enough to not fall apart, and even then only the outside was firm. Biting into them was sort of like biting into a casing full of mush ... that tasted good. The whole thing was really satisfying, however, and we have leftovers shaped up in the freezer for another night.

I really liked the potato salad. It was incredibly simple, but great. I also made garlicky sauteed kale. Here's my whole plate:

We devoured our food while watching the first disc of season 3 of Dexter, our new favorite show. All in all, a good night.

BTW, the buns we used are made by Ultimate Grains, and are 100% whole grain and "all natural". For a product review, check out my blog!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lightlife Foods Lemon Flavored Tempehtations

I tried something new this past weekend. While shopping at Whole Foods recently, I noticed this little package of lemon flavored tempeh made by Lightlife Foods. I like tempeh but I wasn't exactly sure what to do with this stuff. So I let it sit for a few days until I got some inspiration. What I ended up doing was making the usual, a rice salad full of vegetables from my refrigerator and pantry that I thought would go well with the lemon-flavored tempeh. Since the tempeh was already flavored, I felt that there was not much need for me to add much in the way of seasonings. Basically, I started by making 2 servings of rice in the way I usually cook rice, that is, by sauteeing onion, adding the rice and then cooking the rice in vegetable broth for 15-20 minutes. While the rice was cooking, I chopped some garlic and sauteed that in a saucepan or skillet with enough spinach to serve 2 people. I added quartered artichoke hearts and some cherry tomatoes which I had heated in a pan with some olive oil until the tomatoes got a little bursted looking. I added everything to the spinach mixture, rice and all and then gave it a big tossing so that all was combined and then I ate half of it since it was essentially 2 servings. Personally, I have to say that the rice salad itself was delicious, but the tempeh with the lemon flavoring was so strong that I don't think I could have eaten it without the rice or artichokes or spinach. The tempeh was good in combination with those foods, but by itself I think it would almost have been unpleasant. But then I guess that's the way it is with tempeh. I ate the second half a couple of days later for lunch and it was a bit better. Very satisfying and very filling! Plus, I was surprised to find that it was not very high in sodium. That's always a good thing!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Try it, you'll like it - maybe

Tonight for dinner it was just me so I decided to heat up this chicken-less cutlet that I had picked up at Trader Joe's. I had gotten them (there are 2 cutlets in a package) for one of my vegetarian daughters who had visited last week; she ate one and said it was pretty good, and I was looking forward to trying one of them myself even though I am not vegetarian. Anyway, to make a short story short, it was pretty good! Very tasty and nice, the only problem is that you feel like you could eat several of them. So just be sure to have them with some rice and a salad or vegetable. If I were rating them, I would definitely give them 4 stars - I can't give them 5 since they are a little on the light side and leave you wanting more!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pantry Staples Revisited

A short while ago, one of my daughters posted here about Pantry Staples. I would like to add my thoughts about pantry staples here because I think personally that these pantry staples should be everyone's pantry staples. The items I have listed here go a long way towards adding flavor, and should always be on hand.

Lemons - limes can be substituted for a slightly different twist.
Soy sauce - use low-sodium; soy sauce has so much flavor, and you really do not need the added sodium.
vegetable broth - again, low sodium works well. You don't need the sodium when you have the full flavor of the veggie broth which is so much better than just plain water.
vinegar - preferably apple cider vinegar, but you can try any variety. Go easy on balsamic, however. It has a lot of acidity.
capers - I don't know what these little buggers are but yum, they give a nice little kick when added with lemon juice. And just a small jar goes a long long way.
Roasted red peppers - chop them up and add them to rice, vegetables, or whatever and you've got a blast going on! They're great!

Well, that's all I can think of for now. But I think that's a good start to a well-stocked pantry of flavor.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

how to prepare some pretty good rice

We eat a lot of rice in our house. My daughters grew up with rice as a regular side, one that was more commonplace than potatoes or pasta. Very early on I learned a valuable cooking tool from my mother-in-law who is quite a good cook. She taught me how to make really good rice. And it's very easy. Here's how: Take a little bit of chopped onion and saute in your rice pan with some olive oil. After the chopped onion begins to sweat, add your measured rice and toast the rice with the onion. It doesn't matter really how long you toast your rice, as long as you don't over-toast it. I actually walked away from mine the other evening while it was toasting and I forgot about it for a couple of minutes. When I came back to the pot, the rice was golden-toasty and no worse for the wear. I was afraid I had burned it but luck was mine and the rice was fine. After you have toasted your rice in the olive oil with the onion, you can add your liquid. Here you can use your own imagination and add or substitute whatever liquid strikes your fancy. I frequently use vegetable broth, low-sodium, but water works well here too. When the liquid comes to the boil, cover your pot and cook as directed, which usually means on a low flame for approximately 15 minutes. When your cooking time is up, voila! You have pretty tasty rice!

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Best Breakfast (or anytime food) Ever

One thing you may not know about me is that I read a few food blogs, in which the bloggers chronicle pretty much everything they eat over the course of a day. I kind of have a love/hate relationship with these blogs. On one hand, in most cases they are written by women who are around my age who have transformed their eating habits, lost weight, and are maintaining their new lifestyle, which I find inspirational. They also tend to have good ideas about recipes and new foods that I might not hear about otherwise. At the same time, reading these blogs makes me feel a little inadequate about my own eating habits. But that's not hard to do considering my somewhat wonky relationship with food and fitness. So I guess it's par for the course, really.

At any rate, one thing I read about close to 1,000 times on these blogs was something called the Green Monster. People rave about these things; apparently they are good for your energy levels, low in calories, pack a nutritional punch, and help promote healthy skin. That's a lot of good in one glass. I was intrigued by this from the first moment I read about it, especially considering that your basic Green Monster has a total of four ingredients, about 240 calories per serving, and potential for a lot of add-ins or substitutions. The only problem was that in my previous apartment, there was no blender, and once I realized I was going to be moving, I didn't feel like buying one. So I waited to try my hand at the Green Monster...until this morning! We now have a blender (my roommate and I, that is. It's her blender), so this past week I remembered to make sure I would have ingredients for a GM on hand. Basic ingredients are as follows (for one serving):
  • 2 cups spinach (you could substitute any green here, though. I know other people use kale pretty frequently. Just keep in mind that you probably want something fairly robust [lettuce might not be the best choice!] but also on the mild side);
  • 1 cup soy milk (as with the spinach, you could substitute here and use cow's milk, almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, etc. I used the Silk Light variety);
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax (once again, something you probably don't necessarily need if you don't have it on hand, but it does add fiber and healthy fats, especially Omega-3s);
  • 1 banana (I froze mine but you could skip that step, I'm sure).
Put all these ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. The result is a seriously delicious concoction that is almost like a smoothie in texture. Don't let the green color scare you--the taste is mostly banana and soy milk. I can't even say how good this was from the first sip. It's not overly sweet, and it doesn't taste disgustingly healthy. It's just really, really good. Plus, you're getting in two cups of greens without any effort at all, and that's not easy to do.

If you're looking for a quick way to get more greens into your diet, a pleasant way to refresh on a hot day, or just a fun and different snack or breakfast (I complemented my GM this morning with some yogurt and Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal, which is also really good), I think you should give a Green Monster a try!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Forgot to add: food relevance

Haha, but just barely.

I read somewhere that pineapple is considered by some to be a food to eat to "stimulate contractions". I think that's a load of bunk, but it does make me want pineapple... just because that is one delicious fruit!

Due Day

Well, here we are, July 30th. It's my due date, and no baby! I'm having plenty of the following:

- achy pelvis
- kicky baby down kinda low in pelvis
- crampy feeling, from kicking
- braxton hicks contractions of varying intensity
- neck/shoulder pain (possibly related, not sure)
- anxiety over not delivering before my scheduled c-section of evil.

The things I am *not* having are most of the signs they call actual preludes to labor. The increased intensity and frequency of the braxton hicks are the only textbook symptom I have. Otherwise all of it (I'll spare you guys the yucky details about what I am obsessively looking for) is just not happening!

What's very hard to remind myself is that anything and everything could just HAPPEN. What's even worse about knowing that is, every day when it DOESN'T happen, it's like I've wasted another day. You can tell I'm on an emotional roller coaster - I'm at once very anxious, very excited, and very disheartened, all at the same time. It's madness at my house I tell you!

And every so often I get a series of HUGE kicks in a row, making my stomach jump repeatedly, and it's the funniest thing you've ever seen. :) Well, I just thought anyone keeping up with this blog might want an update from me, since I am the world's worst at making phone calls!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cannellini Bean Mash

This picture doesn't do this dish justice, because it looks pretty bland but it actually is really delicious. It's cannellini beans mashed with garlic-infused olive oil with lemon zest added to the olive oil. And what a great alternative to rice, potatoes, or pasta this is. I actually got this recipe from Nigella Lawson on the Food Network. Go here for the recipe. And don't let the part about the flash fried steak deter you from reading or using this recipe, because I just used the part of the recipe that called for the bean mash. It's extremely easy to make, and I added a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the end. The result is a nice big dish of mashed comfort food - outstanding! You could probably add some fresh herbs or other seasonings if you have a mind to. But it's awesome without it. I didn't have to use any salt by the way - the lemon juice took care of that. Give it a try!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Power Outages Conspire Against Me

I totally had made this gigantic post yesterday and was nearly ready to post it when our power just went out. Like THAT! Imagine me snapping my fingers. (It's fun and interactive.)

Anyway it wasn't really about all that much, just a kickass lasagna I made for dinner on Sunday night. Proof of its kickassness was that Dorothy ate it both Sunday and Monday night without needing to be prodded! Usually she loses interest in a lot of the foods we serve her, but even though she was hesitant with this one (the ricotta had a lot of spinach mixed into it), once we persuaded her to take a bite she was like "Gimme that fork! Omnomnom".

It's a recipe from Everyday Food magazine (naturally) and the nice part is that I made a second one which is sitting in the freezer, waiting to be needed. ^_^

I guess I'll just talk about the rest of the week's food plans...

Last night was a good bulgur salad. Supposed to have pine nuts in it, but Whole Foods was out of them in the bulk section (WHAT?!?! Charlotte I'm looking at you) so even though Dorothy wasn't going to have any I figured I'd just skip it. It was good but lemony! and a little sparse for my appetite. Tonight I'm making chicken and macaroni salad... we'll see how that goes.

I don't know how much cooking I'm going to do after tonight. I can probably manage something on the weekends but generally I'd just like to collapse and have someone provide me with food from here on out. By rights I should be allowed takeout every night, if you ask me. Well, no one did! :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

This Pecan Crust is a Must!

I have a great recipe for Pecan Crusted Chicken that I got from eatingwell.com. If you are a vegetarian, please do not think that this post does not pertain to you! Please read on. For one thing, the eating well website is one of my favorites for getting ideas for dinner, etc. Their recipes are generally good and what I consider to be nutritious. They also give nutritional information for each recipe. This particular recipe is good because it's not too hard to make, and the end result is very tasty. And not only is the chicken delicious, the pecan mixture that is used for the crust topping is out of this world. I got the idea of mixing some of it in with my grilled asparagus last evening when I made it, and it was a great addition to the vegetable. It has a nice kick with the addition of ground chipotle pepper, plus a slight flavor of orange from the orange zest, and then of course the nutty flavor of the toasted pecans. Yum! I would like to try it with tofu as a replacement for the chicken - I think it would be quite good. I apologize for the lack of the picture but my computer is being difficult tonight and it won't let me upload a photo :( Oh well, try some pecan crust mixture on your tofu or vegetables, or even chicken if you want. Hope you like it!

Blueberry Pancakes on a Sunday Morn...

... with fresh strawberries, maple syrup AND powdered sugar. Man, I really spoiled myself this morning.

For the record, the pancake wasn't really quite that big, as it was made in a mold my mom (SueWho) gave me. Actually this particular mold was the largest of three different sized rings and they all have the same sized hole in the middle so you can fill your pancake stack with goodies. My goody-of-choice was strawberries, obviously. I couldn't decide on syrup or powdered sugar, so I (wisely) did both. It was still huge and really filled me up. I can't believe anyone would need all three rings, but I did make mine pretty thick. It was also practically erupting with juicy blueberries! YUM!

The pancake recipe is the basic pancake recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance, with a lot of frozen blueberries folded in. I found it already posted on the web by someone else, so I am copying and pasting it on to here. But, you should buy the cookbook-- or one of her other ones.

1-1/4 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/3 c water
1 to 1-1/4 c plain rice or soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup

Sift or stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix the remaining ingredients in another bowl. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined, like muffins (you know, a couple of lumps are fine-overmixing results in tough pancakes and tough muffins).

Add oil to a large skillet and heat the skillet over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes. Add batter and cook until the pancake has some bubbles on top and is browned on the bottom. This takes about 4 minutes. Turn pancakes and finish (until bottoms are browned). Repeat until batter is used up. Oil skillet between pancakes or as needed.

She recommends folding in 1 c. of blueberries, but I just dumped in however much I wanted. I also had to use the whole 1 1/4 c. of rice milk (soy in my case) as well as a lot of water because it was so thick.

Top with syrup or whatever you want!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

To Food or Not To Food

I thought "I should post something on this here Team Blog."

Then it took me like five minutes to figure out how. This is so pathetic of me!

Ignoring that, tonight I am making a tomato ricotta tart. I will let everyone know just how it comes out. I've made it before and saved the recipe, so even though I have no memory of how it tastes I can only assume it must've been pretty good. I will say, I love ricotta cheese. Whole milk or skim milk, doesn't matter, there's just something in the texture that makes me want to sit down and eat it from the container. Preferably with honey or something on it. It's like eating a very-slightly-sweetened dessert. I almost never buy it, except for recipes, but perhaps I should start...

I would promise a picture or something of my tart, but funny thing about that. I stubbornly refuse to do anything that requires any off-site registrations, so I won't have a place to put any photos that I take... therefore it ain't gonna happen. Make up a picture in your head! (Mine is of a camel!)

Network News - the new National Enquirer?

What has happened to network news programs these days? It seems lately, like maybe in the past year or two, they have started devoting sizable portions of their programming to news events involving celebrities that get stretched out way beyond their natural life. Right now it is the death and aftermath of Michael Jackson. And it's so sensationalist too! I'm not talking about the Fox network (which I expect to be sensationalist); I'm talking about NBC, CBS, etc. Every morning as I prepare to go to work, I watch the news. Up to now, I have always watched the Today show. But the show is too full of talk about MJ's death, MJ's estate, MJ's kids, MJ's cause of death, etc. Yes, I agree, to an extent, some of this is newsworthy, but much of it is not! It's full of speculation and to a large degree, gossip and chit chat. I have tired of it, and I will now only watch CNN in the morning before I go to work. I will probably find out that they, too, do the same with their programming! But there just happens to be an historic confirmation hearing going on right now involving a woman of Puerto Rican descent who has been picked to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. It saddens me to think that the executives at NBC, CBS, etc., have decided that we are more interested in celebrity news than political news and thus have opted to show us only little snippets of information regarding the confirmation hearings. One definitely has to tune into cable news networks to get informative news it seems.
On a brighter note, I promise to have a food-related post next time!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pantry Staples

I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I'm not much of a cook. When I do cook, I think I do a good job, and I watch the Food Network all the time so I know a lot about cooking, but I am by no means whatsoever very creative in the kitchen. I really dislike grocery shopping, and meal planning tends to make me a bit anxious. I also only cook for myself, and I alternate between periods when I'm really busy, and times when I'm just really lazy. As a result, I often end up trying to come up with meals that can be made with just a few ingredients, a few minutes, and a minimal amount of effort. Of course, just to complicate matters, I like to keep my meals as healthy as possible.

Enter one of my favorite dishes recently. I think there are probably about 1,000 variations you could do on this one-dish meal, all of which would be delicious. Here's the combination I have been making lately (based largely on what I had on hand and what I had time and energy to deal with):
I know this isn't the greatest picture, but it does give you a pretty clear idea of the four ingredients that went into this bowl--white rice (normally I use brown, but I didn't feel like waiting for it to cook today), edamame, chick peas, and a bit of grated cheddar cheese. While the rice is cooking (I like to make a couple servings so I have some to put away for the next meal), I saute the edamame (which I buy frozen, shelled) and chick peas in a pan with a bit of cooking spray. Once the rice is done, I combine the ingredients and add the cheese. The result is super simple but also delicious and satisfying.

Like I said, you could really vary this dish according to your preferences and *especially* what you have on hand. I am trying to put more thought into what I consider my pantry staples so that I can always make a dish like this, no matter how recently I've been grocery shopping. By keeping a few key ingredients on hand, you can really simplify your life. Especially if the thought of going grocery shopping appeals to you as much as it does to me!!

What do you think of as your pantry staples?

It's a Team Thing!

I've been thinking lately about making my blog a team blog. I have decided to invite my daughters to be my team, and I thought it would be fun if we could all post together on this blogspot about food, mostly, since this is a foodie blog. But in addition to food, we could post about anything that we feel that maybe we all have a common interest in, such as politics, movies, books, whatever. We don't all live close together anymore, so this would sort of be like we are living back together again, just like in the good ol' days. So here goes, I am giving it a try.
I don't have any food things to write about today yet but hopefully I will be back very soon!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pretty pretty chard

Hey Kids! Quick, get over to Trader Joe's. They have a bag of yummy chard, chopped already, called "Chard of Many Colors." I was drawn to the product because the name reminds me of a Dolly Parton song I first heard many years ago (I'll bet you can't guess the name of the song). On the back of the bag, they have a decent recipe for cooking this chopped chard of many colors which involves simply sauteeing garlic in some olive oil, then throwing in the chard until it's wilty, adding some broth, and seasoning with salt and pepper. I took it a little further because I added sliced onions to the garlic, increased the cooking time for the chard since it does tend to be more tough than spinach, using vegetable broth and adding a good splash of apple cider vinegar at the end so as to avoid seasoning with too much salt. A little splash of chili peppers is a nice touch too. Delicious!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Spinach again?

Sorry, I put my spinach in a crappy bowl. But at least the counter was clean.
I made spinach again the other night, but I was kind of tired of the old spinach with pine nuts and dried cranberries routine. So I had a brainstorm - why not oven roast some cherry tomatoes in olive oil and toss them with the spinach?
The end result was something that even the hubby enjoyed, he of the tomato-hating sort. The real fact is, my 84-year-old mother is living with me again on her two-week stay and she has made it pretty clear that she has to have salt in her food "or else." The "or else" factor means that if I don't salt the food for her she will tell everyone and anyone that my cooking is bland. So instead of salting the food, I have been trying to find more creative and healthy ways of making foods interesting. Since she seems to have some problems with swelling in her feet (which I feel is probably related to too much salt), I really don't want to salt my cooking any more than I do. Instead of salting the spinach, I added a little garlic (which of course was sauteed in olive oil prior to adding the spinach) and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan at the end. Sorry vegans - but I know there is another alternative out there. The end result was delicioso! No salt or apple cider vinegar needed this time.

My First Radish!

It's like my first born! My baby. My very first radish that I planted from seed! Today I saw it's little head crowning and I gave a little tug and out it came! New life!
So what if it's the only decent radish that I get all year? I feel like I have successfully planted and nourished a seed and it grew and became something I can put on my plate and devour! Don't know what I am going to do with it yet, especially since all the other radish plants are not as developed yet. I will keep you updated. It's in the refrigerator now.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

My Man of Steel

Here I am posting about my good 'ol Dad again, not writing about food. Well, what the hey!
I have been thinking a lot lately and reminiscing about my dad and how his death has affected me. It makes me sad every time I remember the words that my brother spoke as I was racing to the hospital to see him one last time before the inevitable end. My brother said, "Dad passed away, he's gone."
He passed away. My dad was my man of steel. He couldn't just die. That's something that puts him in the league with everyone else and that's just not right. But it happened.
When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I vividly remember being at home with my brother one evening (he was 11 or 12) while our parents were out at a PTA meeting. I was in bed waiting to fall asleep, feeling pretty nervous about being at home in the dark with no parents present in the house. Pretty scary stuff. My mother used to joke about the "kissing bandit" that lurked out there somewhere (maybe there was actually a kissing bandit, I never did find out). We lived in a semi-rural area where there were very dark foresty-type areas and in the spring, with the windows open at night, one could hear distant sounds of dogs (wild?) barking and bobcats squalling or whatever sounds bobcats make (horrible sound, really!). Yes, pretty scary stuff for innocents. Suddenly, I heard the front door to the house open and familiar sounding footsteps inside. My parents were home, most importantly my Dad was in the house. Nothing to worry about - the man of steel was here and no one could mess with him.
Kids, hug your dads. And that reminds me, Fathers Day is just around the corner. Tell your dad how important he is. I'm glad I got to tell my dad how much I loved him before he came to the end of his awesome life.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Rice + vegetables = rice salad

It's a rice salad. it's not a very good picture but there's rice in there with cherry tomatoes (or actually grape tomatoes), artichoke hearts, corn and peas. Plus a lemon and olive oil dressing with a little bit of hot sauce added. The rice was sauteed in olive oil with some onions and then vegetable broth was added instead of water for cooking. It was a little gummy unfortunately. But not bad. Possibly I should rinse the rice after cooking (or before?). I think you could add any vegetables you have on hand; it makes a delicious side dish. Serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hooray for Spinach!

I love spinach! I love it almost enough to eat it every night with my dinner. The only problem is that I don't know enough different ways to cook it, but I'm working on that. I did come up with a pretty quick and easy fix that I have been using quite a bit lately. it all begins with a little bit of chopped garlic (1-2 garlic cloves) quickly sauteed in approximately 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Add enough spinach to feed however many you want to feed. I usually plan on a 9-ounce bag feeding two people. When the spinach is wilted, add toasted pine nuts (1 teaspoon per serving) and approximately 1/4 cup of dried cranberries. The result is somewhat like a cold spinach salad, but it's even better because it's warm (and wilty)! I recently heard somewhere that studies have shown that cooked spinach actually is better for you than raw spinach. Yay! That suits me because like I said, I love it warm! I haven't found the need to add any seasonings other than the usual nutmeg and coarsely ground black pepper. I'm on a no-salt kick right now and I find with this method of cooking spinach, salt definitely is not an enhancer.
I apologize for the lack of picture defining my dish, but I haven't any batteries for my little camera at the moment. So you will just have to imagine how good and yummy it looks and tastes until you try it for yourself!
I promise to have pictures on my next post which will be very soon!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Dad - Now there was a Man

It's time to write about my dad again. My dad, who recently passed away, was a pretty awesome fellow. I think it was my husband that said, "when they made Bud they broke the mold." Too bad, world. There won't be any more Buds any time soon.
Back in the early 1960s, there was this sitcom on television called "The Donna Reed Show." It was cute, wholesome, you know - the usual 1960s sitcom fare. But it had Donna Reed and Shelly Fabares and they were so gorgeous to look at and even to listen to. Then there was Paul Petersen, the son/brother. He wasn't much, but he recorded a song that was played on pop radio stations over and over. It was "My Dad," and it was rather insipid as I recall. However, lately, since my dad's passing, I keep finding myself singing the refrain to that song, which was "My dad, now here is a man," except I change it to the past tense since my dad is gone now.
I'm glad I got to spend a lot of time with my dad before he passed on, but I still miss him every day. Today, I was at his house; I was sitting on the back porch looking into the back yard at the shed he built for all of his yard tools. That house and that shed are truly his places. I always feel like he's there, with me. It makes me sad that we have to sell that house, because when the house is gone, there won't be many sites left that I can go to and conjure him up like that. There are a few items of furniture in the house that I always go to when I am at the house. Like his dresser - I always open a couple of drawers in the dresser. His clothes are still in there. I look at them and I can feel his spirit or something. Today I stumbled onto his wheelchair and walker. I guess my brother had brought them back from the nursing center that he had been living at up until his death. I saw them and I whispered, "Dad." I also saw his telephone that had been brought from the nursing center and again I whispered, "Dad." I miss you, old man. RIP.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

something new this way may come

Tonight I decided to try and do something semi-original; that is, instead of using and following a recipe that someone else came up with, I decided to make my own special recipe. And this is what I made! I know, it's hard to tell what it is, but it's a spinach and mashed potato patty that I cooked on the stove top in a little bit of olive oil. There are also some green beans and at the bottom of the picture is some chicken (that's not potato oozing out of the patty). I had some mashed potatoes left over from the other night - they were the mushy, store-bought variety that come in a package and they are already mashed. I decided to saute a little bit of onions and garlic along with the spinach, and then I mixed that together with the mashed potatoes and a small amount of Parmesan cheese (sorry, not vegan, but you could probably do without the cheese - it might actually be better that way). I cooked three patties on the stove top in a little bit of olive oil until nice and crispy brown. This is where I think the store-bought potatoes are worse than using your own mashed potatoes - the patties got really gooey while cooking; they were almost liquidy inside. But the end result was pretty tasty and it was a good way to use up some leftover mashed potatoes. If I ever make this again, I might use kale and do without the cheese. I'll also probably mash my own potatoes because I like homemade mashed potatoes way better than the stuff I used.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


My dad passed away a little over a month ago. He passed away on April 2, 2009, to be exact. Even though he was 84 years old and deteriorating fairly rapidly in his last few weeks, I still miss him keenly. Even though he had a good, long, and rich life (rich in terms of people who loved him and considered him to be an awesome enough dude), I still wish he could have lived forever and would never have left. Of course, this has nothing to do with food, but no doubt I will get around to food later in this post.
Nevertheless, I find I spend my days reminiscing about my dad and remembering all the good times we had. Lots of long-buried memories have been flooding back to me. Today, for instance, I remembered how my dad used to always give blood. He was pretty religious about it, too. I guess once every 6 months or so his office arranged with the Red Cross for employees to give blood and he was always there, giving his own. I've never given blood once in my life, but I think that the next time I see an ad for a blood drive, I'm going to go register and do it. It's about time and I'm going to do it for Bud.
I could go on indefinitely about my dad, but I guess I should narrow my memorial tribute to him down to the point of this blogspot, which is food. My dad was from Philadelphia, and that might account for a lot of his taste in foods. The most striking thing that I remember was that he loved rhubarb. Not just rhubarb pie, but rhubarb anything. He had fond memories of his mother fixing stewed rhubarb for dinner. I never had that, so I don't know how that would taste. But yeah, rhubarb pie was a hit for him. He also loved cream soda. Remember cream soda? I don't even know if they make that flavor anymore - but it was pretty popular back in the day. I think every now and then I see a random can or bottle somewhere of cream soda. Then there was the pretzels and ice cream combo. I don't know if that's a Philadelphia thing or not, but my grandfather (my dad's dad) turned me on to that one, and I have to say, it's awesome! Pretzels are even better with vanilla Soy Delicious, which by the way apparently has changed it's name to "So Delicious"! And being from Pennsylvania and being the grandson of a Mennonite woman as well, it's only logical that shoo fly pie would be another of his favorites. I used to try and make shoo fly pie when I was an adolescent but I never really appreciated molasses all that much, and that pie contains a good amount of molasses. But that pie was another of my dad's favorites.
When I reread this, I see that I have only really touched on his favorite desserts, but I might begin searching for something interesting to do with rhubarb that is not a dessert. This will be my next challenge. And hopefully I will take some pictures of it too. Stay tuned for further developments in the world of rhubarb!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

a secret that's not a secret about kale

This is not really a secret, but kale is actually very very delicious. It just takes a little bit of time to find the right and perfect way to cook it. For instance, my daughter makes "kale chips," which are similar to roasted kale where the kale comes out crispy like actual chips and that's delicious. I tried to make roasted kale, but I failed and the result was dried-out and unexceptional tasting even though I tossed it with olive oil and a splash of cider vinegar. So I decided to try braised kale. I found this recipe from the Food Network, courtesy Emeril Lagasse. It was so good even my husband loved it! He ate all the leftovers (this recipe made a lot!). And my mother who always has to have cider vinegar with her greens was very happy because she didn't have to ask for the cider vinegar. This recipe was so flavorful and easy to prepare. The only change I made was to use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, which makes this a vegan recipe. Back in the old days, my grandmother used to cook kale all day long with ham bones or fat back, etc. That gave it a great taste but now I have found a new and more healthy way to prepare it that is just as tasty. You will never miss or opine for the lack of pork in your greens ever again (in case you like them that way). And if you are a vegetarian/vegan and have never had the experience of having pork in your greens, just disregard my ramble here and try this recipe.