My next Posse
Recipe! Haven’t done much food posts lately, but couldn’t resist sharing this one found today on Allrecipes.com
I love watching Hell’s Kitchen and Master Chef. If I catch another cooking show like Lydia’s Kitchen, I’ll watch that, too. I’ve become an ingredient snob. The only olive oil I will use is of the “first cold pressing” and I must see the sediment floating around in the oil. It’s a MUST~! That is where all the flavor is. I love to eat tuna steak, shark steak, and swordfish, you know, that fish meat that makes you feel like you’re eating something.
I love what great ingredients can do to a dish! I’m a true Italian in the cooking arena. Creative cooking is so much a part of me that it makes my whole body sing. “Like Water For Chocolate” is one of my favorite movies. The connection Maria has with the ingredients and the food she makes is phenomenal and inspiring. That’s how I feel when I’m cooking, like my whole self is going into it. I’ve got to chuckle because sometimes my experimentation is not appreciated and sometimes for good reason. DH hates mushrooms. He can’t get out of his mind that they are fungi. My dad’s neighbor in PA is from the old country and knows how to forage for mushrooms. He dries them and gives to my dad, and he in turn gives me some. What a different taste. Another item that once you’ve had the real thing, you can’t go back to canned. Canned mushrooms are so bland and scuzzy I don’t buy them anymore.
Herbs. Fresh all the way. I used to have a pretty nice herb garden up until last year… until my landlord’s son pulled everything out because he wanted to make his girlfriend happy and give her a flower garden. Don’t mind the fact that his father gave me permission years ago to plant there, AND that same December they broke up… but I won’t go there. I got over it and we ironed things out. Still, I miss the rosemary and English and French lavender bushes. I miss my lemon thyme and greek oregano. I miss my basil and spearmint. I managed to fit quite a bit in my little plot of clayish earth. This past year or so, I’ve splurged on saffron and two years ago, whole vanilla beans. Once I started grinding up my own spices, I started blending them for my cooking.
Once you taste fresh nutmeg, mace, allspice, cinnamon, etc., you can’t go back to the pre-ground up kind. Mace. I thank my friend Pauline for turning me onto that one! She gifted me with some fresh whole nutmeg nuts, so I had the luxury of trying out fresh mace, and I will not soon forget that. See that reddish web-like stuff around the pit? Thats mace. Smell that? Ah~! I use nutmeg (sometimes mace) on chicken in the oven. I discovered that when I stopped cooking with salt and needed to find other substitutes. Now, while I do use salt, I use much less than recommended in recipes. Oh, and I love using course sea salt.
I’ve always been one to experiment in the kitchen, and now I’m adding home canning, and pickling into the mix. I have my mind set to try out homemade dairy products like making butter, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and utilizing whey and whatever else, oh, cream. There are plenty of tutorials on the net with loads of pictures and that’s right up my alley.
Oh. so the reason for this post. This past year, I’ve had to pretty much give up on quality ingredients for my cooking. Or rather, I don’t cook much at all. So what I’d like to do here is tell you how I am getting by on pretty much nothing fresh. I hate it, but I keep telling myself that it’s temporary until things start looking up around here. My pep talk pretty much consists of me telling myself that it could be worse and that others have it much harder than we do. It’s temporary.
My basic goal is to cook everything in one pan. First cook whatever meat, chicken, beef, whatever. Then remove the cooked meat and use those juices as a base for sautéing veggies. I don’t like to cook veggies too long. I prefer my veggies to have bright colors to them. Also, if you recook them another day, they won’t be totally overcooked and mushy. After the veggies are done, I quickly throw the meat back in and whatever extras and serve when everything is hot. You can imagine my glee when I found a recipe online for a one pot pasta dish.
Pasta. Pasta can be healthy and it can be filling. My favorite experiments are with left over veggies and pasta, Pasta Primavera. There is no set-in-stone recipe; but the key, I think, is to have at least one veggie going in there that is not a left over. The cool thing about primavera is that you and use any veggie you want. Another thing that I strive to do as much as I can is “One Pot Meals.” Just found one recipe on Pinterest and it blew my mind to put dry pasta in with all the ingredients into one pot, cover, cook, and VOILA, it’s a meal 20 minutes or so later… and all the water is used, no draining. Pasta, Tomatoes, Veggies Recipe link.
As it stands now, we buy frozen veggies. Not fresh, but much better than canned. In addition to the excessive salt content of can, those veggies are mushy and I hate that. I only tolerate canned corn and peas for their texture. What can I say? We don’t eat as nearly healthy enough as we should. It’s temporary. I throw out nothing. I make use of left overs within the week. Actually, I love repurposing leftovers and creating another different meal from them. Left over broccoli? Broccoli and egg omelet the next morning or for lunch. Stale bread? Don’t throw it out! Make french toast or bread crumbs. Two or three bowls of fragmented veggies hanging out in the fridge? Do I see beans in there? Throw it all together for a primavera dish tonight, or add a bit of tomato sauce and make a nice side dish. Do you have garlic that’s not looking so plump anymore, or onions in the same predicament? Chop up those babies and stick them in a sandwich bag and into the freezer they go. What I like to do with garlic is mix it up with butter in the food processor with some basil, if I have it, and whip up some delicious garlic butter. Add some olive oil and you have a nice spread. Some milk that’s approaching the questionable point? Throw it in a blender with some ice and a packet of hot chocolate mix for a quick summer’s chocolate treat for the kids (or yourself). Add a teaspoon or more of instant coffee and make it a mocha.
Okay, I guess that’s enough to boggle your mind with today. These are just some things I like to do to keep things interesting and useable on a limited budget. Once you try out some ideas, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to just think up something new, delightful and unique to your own refrigerator and cupboards. Next time maybe I’ll talk about how easy it is to make your own pita chips and roti. Oh, and easy slushy-type drinks.
- Hells Kitchen and MasterChef Favorites! (ohhsofattening.com)
- Farmers Market Pasta (fromthebartolinikitchens.com)
- Being flexible with recipes (chillisageandlemon.wordpress.com)
- The Lazy Spinster’s Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables (spinstersunday.wordpress.com)
- Cooking Secrets That Will Turn You Into A Master Chef (easyhomemadechocolate.com)
- Eat Fit Not Fat- Spaghetti Squash Primavera (2fatnerds.com)
- Chesapeake cook aims for veggie TV show (hamptonroads.com)
- Aglio e Olio (missfoodies.wordpress.com)
Wow, had to just reblog this post real quick. My regular readers know that I’ve been a bit financially challenged lately. Well, if you look at the picture of the salad mix that has been causing the extensive and serious illnesses in 15 states, you will see the salad mix that I’ve been using…. or not using since our financial situation woes struck. We’ve also eaten other products–romaine lettuce and red cabbage.
Thank you to James’ World 2 for reporting this story.
UPDATED and EDiTED: 7/31/2013… 3:47PM
I’ve edited this post to delete reference to Wegman’s per the comment Valerie Fox, Media Specialist at Wegman’s to correct this story. I am posting her comment to bring it up into the post:
Our product has not been implicated in the on-going cyclospora outbreak. The slideshow that accompanied the story on the Huffington Post, which included a photo of Wegmans Organic Spring Mix, was from food safety outbreaks of 2012.
I would suggest that if anyone has any questions or concerns to contact their local Wegman’s. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Click link below picture
Health officials in Iowa and Nebraska on Tuesday identified prepackaged salad mix as the source of a severe stomach bug that sickened hundreds of people in both states, but federal authorities said it’s not clear whether cyclospora outbreaks elsewhere in the U.S. are also linked to that produce.
Cyclospora is a rare parasite that causes a lengthy gastrointestinal illness, and outbreaks of the illness have been reported in 15 states. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that it’s not clear whether all of the illnesses are linked to a single source. The outbreak has sickened at least 145 residents in Iowa and 78 in Nebraska.
Nebraska officials said the salad mix in question included iceberg and romaine lettuce, along with red cabbage and carrots, which came through national distribution chains. They did not identify specific brands. A Nebraska health department…
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I’ve been feeling very sluggish lately and I’m realizing more and more that my emotional state is the culprit. I really don’t want to come off as a complainer, or negative person; but what I do want to do is explore what the heck is going on in my head. Isn’t this blogging stuff supposed to be about that? Our deep thoughts? Anyway, don’t really think anyone who knows me actually reads my blog, so I’m safe.
Well, when our son was born I had to quit my job after trying to get them to let me either work from home or as a part-time employee. Yes, I feel that I have to interject that part–the effort I made to keep my employment in some form or another. That makes me feel better and that my intentions were not to become a deadbeat. What a conflict of emotions. It was ingrained in me while growing up that I was going to be a wife and SAHM (stay at home mom). It was the 1970’s and that’s what most women did. If they were working, when they had their babies, they quit work and stayed home to raise the kids. My time was a time that was this was still socially the norm, yet little by little women were making headway in the workplace. While attaining “careers” but still a rare breed. High school career day did not feature any careers for women aside from secretary. Ah, I’m blubbering and you get the idea. The other side of this is that I needed a job to make me feel valuable and useful, financially. Socially, if you do not have a job, you’re a worthless, lazy deadbeat.
So, I’ll start off by saying that I “know” that the work of the mom is THE most important work that anyone can do. It’s your job and responsibility to raise and teach your children to grow into GOOD people. Caring people, compassionate, smart, loving, giving, resourceful, and SUCCESSFUL, self-sufficient, independent people. In our case, “independent” and “self-sufficient” are particularly important. So. I know this…..
I’d really like to focus on my current day-to-day living. We are barely getting by and where it shows the most is with the food we buy. I love to cook and I love to cook with fresh everything, meat, veggies, cheese, and fresh spices preferably grown in my own backyard. Well, I can’t do any of those things now and it hurts me in every way. I love fresh ground coffee. I loved going to farmer’s markets in the summertime. I loved that occasional purchase of something totally different to what we’re used to buying. I know that hubby loves doing this, too, but we’ve long since stopped the extras and stuck with the bare necessities. What used to make me very happy was just going food shopping. Now, my hubby does that shopping and while I know that he’s trying to save money, the stuff he buys is not very healthy. I keep quiet because I know that he’s trying to do the best he can with the money (or credit) he has. Without getting into specifics, we are buying cheap. We practically purchase our food on a day-to-day basis, which means I cannot cook the way I want to cook. Heating up freezer food is not my idea of cooking and, indeed, it is NOT cooking at all. No leftovers to create another meal. No divided servings in the freezer from cooking a lot at once. No real ingredients on hand to put together something delicious at the last minute. Oh, but I can say that I did just that only yesterday. I made an awesome white bean dip with beans, mayonnaise, sun-dried tomatoes left over from March, a bit of left over sour cream and spices that have been in my cupboard, and a bit of honey. I made a meal out of that for myself and dipped pretzels in there. Believe it or not, it made me forget. It gave me control over the food.
Last year I took a canning class and I was so set on canning blueberries or whatever presented itself when I had the extra money to buy the ingredients. Well, it didn’t happen for the blueberries and not sure when, or with what I’ll be able to do this magic of canning. It’s a bit depressing since I did make sure to get all implements of canning last year, especially for the jellies, jams and preserves. What I did manage to can was about five jars of honey mustard. It came out thick, pastier than expected but then again I did “tweak” the recipe and so I had to deal with the result. Still, it tasted great and I was very happy with that batch~!
So, it’s not only about the food. It’s about the skyrocketing costs in gas and tolls, and the ability, or non-ability to bank. I do not have a bank account or even a credit card of my own. Don’t cry for me on that one because I am glad that I don’t have a credit card, but miserable that I don’t have a bank account. TOLLS. $28.00 in bridge tolls alone to visit my brother out on Long Island, NY, from Elizabeth, NJ. Same goes for Brooklyn, NY, my hometown. The Port Authority should be ASHAMED of themselves! So, what do I tell my family and friends when I say we can’t visit? It’s a bummer. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, a mere few miles away, and I can’t even visit there. I drive myself crazy trying to combine activities on trips, but that’s really not fair especially the last minute plans. It’s also about worrying about conserving gas and I end up not going out at all to meet up with friends. Our, or I should say MY lifestyle has changed so much and it’s not even like I’m used to luxury. Never had that, but I always managed to do something stupid to make myself feel like I’m doing something special. My old tricks are not effective any longer and so, I’m feeling a bit depressed. When I think of “luxury,” I think of going out for dinner at a nice restaurant, maybe take in a movie. Oh, and that diamond ring, earrings and necklace! (Ha, a leftover sentiment from my last post, Dream Home, Dream On. DH and I have given up on date night, let alone spring for a vacation. We probably don’t need a vacay since we’re not working, right?
DH is doing the best that he can. He finally got his degree and even substituted five days the last week of school. However, he is now finding out what I’ve known all along… that there are no jobs out there. I have sacrificed the skills and experience that I have, professionally, and applying for supermarket jobs, preferably for overnight, or late night. I realize that this is needed as DH really needs to work daytime and I can comfortably work nighttime. DH has applied several places and has not received back a whisper of interest. This is definitely depressing, especially since we really need health insurance. Nobody is offering health insurance these days. Yeah, and on that topic, I really want to know if the president and congress will give up their gold card health insurance plans and put themselves on Obamacare with the rest of this country. Congress! That’s a whole other disgrace~!
I might paint a pretty awful picture, and I tried not to get “complaintive” with it. When I think about it, I’ve got to be grateful for what I do have. What we do have, at least for this month, is a roof over our heads and an air conditioner that works. Maybe we should start really worrying when we can’t get provide the basics for our eight year old boy. Also, if I were working, I’d never have adequate time to advocate and prepare for his educational needs. I’d never have the time to research and go for training on Autism. So what the HECK. Something’s got to give. Unfortunately, I can’t get paid to advocate for my child. I’d love to feel free enough to devote my time for what I think is truly important–my son’s education. If I were working, I’d never have found out, as soon as I did, about the school district re-drawing the school borders, effectively kicking my son out of his present school and into another one. So, this week I had the time to research into that, make and keep an appointment with our principal, then write and hand deliver a letter requesting they make an exception for my son and keep him in his current school. HO LY Crap! Counting my blessings on THAT one.
I have a great husband, beautiful son, and I am so very proud of both of them. I wish that I could get rid of this feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, but I can’t. It’s with me day and night. I postpone waking up in the morning for as long as I can. My doctor says that stress is not good for me right now and I look at him and wonder why I came to see him in the first place. No way this stress is leaving any time soon, but you can be sure that when my son wants a cuddle, I will give him the best cuddle I can give.
- Confessions of a Housewife (carpentersquill.wordpress.com)
- Diabetes (shitmyfildoes.wordpress.com)
- Inside Story – Jyoti Madras Sambhar Recipe (jyotinaturalfoods.wordpress.com)
- Culinary school helps special students (wxyz.com)
- Nutrition and the Community (marileepsu.wordpress.com)
- Budget Thursday… (halfdozendaily.typepad.com)
- A Life of No Regrets (everydaypatriotism.com)
- Your Easy Weeknight Dinner Plan: Creamy Mustard Chicken (thedailymuse.com)
- How to get started with water bath canning (examiner.com)
- How canned foods help you cook like the pros (lifestylewebtv.com)
This just a quickie. Tomorrow will be writing about Little Drake’s (remember him?) birthday; but for right now, I want to share this great little recipe for the most delish homemade pita chips.
Very simple really. You know how sometimes we don’t consume a purchased amount of product, then end up throwing it out… OR feed the birds? Well, we have a bird problem in my neck of the woods, precisely because my neighbor feeds them. Every week my car gets bombed with pigeon doody and it sckseeves me out, totally; and I’m steadfastly refuse to contribute to the problem. Seriously, one time, well, several times there were bread slices on the roof of the garage and whole half loaves of artesian bread sitting in our driveway.
So, last week I had a high volume of breadstuffs left over from a gathering at the house, and one was an almost whole package of pita pockets. Ten big, fresh pockets which proceeded to get hard by the end of the week. I’m an advocate for DIY’ing anything I can and knew that I could do this.
Okay, so before I get into this recipe, please note that there are no exact measurements. Just throw the stuff in, to your taste. If you don’t like garlic, then by all means don’t use it. You can use any herbs you like, as little or as much as you want. Have a problem with salt? You don’t have to use it….
- Preheat your oven to 400 deg., line a shallow cookie pan with aluminum foil.
- Prepare herb oil by heating up 1-2 cups of olive oil, then adding sea salt, garlic-I use Goya Garlic paste in the glass jar, rosemary, oregano. Mix that up real well, then set aside. I had this mixture already in the fridge, so if you are using something you already have, just heat it up a bit in the microwave, just so that all the oil is melted and back into liquid form.
- Cut up your round pita into eight or so triangle pieces. Remember that these will be snackable chips. Arrange these slices all over your lined pan.
- Bush herb oil mixture all over your pita slices.
- Pop into the oven for 7-10 minutes. You must keep checking as these can burn pretty quickly and if I remember correctly, I did not readily smell the pitas toasting. Depending on the brownness, either take them right out, or flip them over to toast the other side…. these will only require a couple of minutes until done.
And that, people, is IT. These are very sturdy chips and will stay strong through the roughest of spinach dips. Want to add a little extra something? Try sprinkling asiago cheese on top before putting into the oven. What I love about this recipe is that anything goes. No exact measurements, all ingredients are added to taste. Don’t like garlic, though it’s good for you, don’t put it into your oil. Want a sweeter taste? I’m sure you can brainstorm and maybe add a little honey into the mix. I’ve never tried that, but I’m thinking it will be some kind of awesome adventure to see how it lends itself to this recipe. I would just experiment on a few pieces as opposed to whole batches for experiments, however.
Well, I’d love to hear about whatever you come up with!
In my post yesterday, I mentioned that I made potato soup. I just thought I’d share it today. Not sure if I am going to make a “Recipe” page or how I will work that out, but keep an eye out…. I’ll let you know. I am always scuttling around the net looking for recipes, so if anyone wants to see a particular type of recipe, just give me a shout out and I’ll see what I can come up with. Of course, I have plenty of c-h-o-c-o-l-a-t-e related stuff!
I am posting this for my sister, LeeWee… just in case she finally reads my blog. She’s been looking for a potato soup recipe. Don’t tell her that I have some in my freezer for her! I’ll definitely know she’s read Dragon’s Yen when she asks for it!
CHUNKY POTATO SOUP
- Bring water to a boil, add fresh herbs and vegetables. Boil for 5 minutes, add milk, butter, boil for 3 minutes more; add spices and seasonings, then add flour and cheese.
- Stir very well so that the flour and cheese do not clump; continue stirring.
- Serve when vegetables are tender and flavors are well blended.
- Serve topped with cheddar cheese and add a few saltine crackers.