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The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel by JoJo Moyes. Story: Jennifer Stirling wakes up in hospital, having had a traumatic car accident. She’s introduced to her husband, of whom she has no recollection, and is sent home with him eventually, to a life she neither remembers or embraces readily. But this is the life she was raised to have, so surely it must be worth living, underneath the strange, muted tones of her daily existence. Jennifer goes through the motions, accepts what she is told is her life and all seems to bob along well enough, except when she finds a letter that isn’t her husband’s handwriting, and is clearly a link to someone she has been involved with, but whom? London, France, Africa and America all come into play in this story of a woman piecing back together her life in effort to understand what she has lost, and what she threw away. There is a bit of a time-hop from 1964 to 2003. . . from a reviewer on amazon.  I loved this book from page one to the end. There’s some bit of mystery and you so get into the head of Jennifer Stirling. I could hardly put it down. I read this while I was in England just a week or two ago (as I write this) so could so identify with the characters, the homes, the life. Great read.

Francine Rivers, an author relatively new to me, but much admired, is most known for this: Mark of the Lion : A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, As Sure As the Dawn (Vol 1-3) It’s a trilogy. The first 2 books are about Hadassah, a young woman in the time of the Roman Empire. When Jerusalem was overrun and destroyed, the Christians still alive were sent off and away, separated and derided and abused. Hadassah was one of them. She’s a slave to a wealthy family and it takes 2 of the books to read before the son of the family finally realizes that he’s in love with Hadassah. If  you’re a Christian, you’ll learn a whole lot more about the time following Christ’s crucifixion, about the lot of the struggling Christian community. The 3rd book in the trilogy is about a gladiator who is part of book 1 and 2, but not a main character. You’ll learn about his life too, after he regains his freedom from the fighting ring and the battle of his soul. These books are a fabulous read. Can’t say enough good things about them all. I’ve never been a huge fan of old-world Roman Empire reading, but this one was altogether different. Very worth reading.

Amy Belding Brown wrote this book: Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America, a true accounting in 1676, of Mary Rowlandson, a woman who was captured by Native Americans.  Even before she was captured on a winter day of violence and terror, she sometimes found herself in conflict with her rigid Puritan community. Now, her home destroyed, her children lost to her, she has been sold into the service of a powerful woman tribal leader, made a pawn in the ongoing bloody struggle between English settlers and native people. Battling cold, hunger, and exhaustion, Mary witnesses harrowing brutality but also unexpected kindness. To her confused surprise, she is drawn to her captors’ open and straightforward way of life, a feeling further complicated by her attraction to a generous, protective English-speaking native known as James Printer. The story is riveting, and perplexing once she is traded back to her home. You’ll see a different side to the Indian problem back then and find yourself conflicted. An excellent read.

Taylor Caldwell was a prolific writer, and one I read when I was younger. She died in 1980, and this book, her last, Answer As a Man certainly delivers as her others did. All his life, Jason Garrity has had to battle intolerance and injustice in his quest for power, money, and love. His new hotel will give him financial security, the means to support a loving family and become an upstanding citizen. When family secrets and financial greed combine to destroy his dreams, his rigid moral convictions are suddenly brought into question. . . from Goodreads. Caldwell believed the banking industry was way too powerful, and often took aim at it, as she did in this book. It chronicles the life of a very poor, impoverished Irish immigrant to the U.S. He was an upstanding citizen, God-fearing, but maybe naive in some respects. Good book if you enjoy very deep character study.

Another book by Diney Costeloe, Miss Mary’s Daughter. When a young women is suddenly left with no family and no job or income, she’s astounded to learn that she’s actually a granddaughter of a “grand” family in Ye Olde England. She’s very independent (at least I thought so, for the time period), but is willing to investigate this new family of hers. There are many twists and turns – is she going to inherit the family home – or is the man who has been caring for the home and his daughter the logical inheritors. There’s a villain who nearly sweeps her off her feet, much intrigue from many characters. Well developed plot with a happy ending. A good read.

Celeste Ng is a hot new author. I read another of her books (see below) but this time I read Little Fires Everywhere. There are so many various characters and plots in this book, as in her others. This book focuses on a Chinese baby abandoned at a fire station and the subsequent court battle when the single mother surfaces six months later to try to reclaim her daughter from the family in the process of adopting her. Emotions well up, waxing and waning on both sides of the issue. You may even find yourself changing your own mind about the right or wrong of a child raised with a natural-born mother (albeit late to the raising) or the mother the child has known since near birth. Ng likes to write books with lots of grit and thorny issues. Although a good read, I liked Everything I Never Told You better than this one.

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright. Oh my. This book has so many layers: (1) the young, impoverished couple and their infant son who live, literally, in a dump in Cambodia and about the precarious structure, if you can even call it that, that comprises their “house” in the midst and perched on top of trash; (2) the woman who collects the rent (hence the title and yes, people have to PAY to live there); (3) the young son’s chronic illness; (4) how they make a living out of collecting and selling trash; and (4) the life saving grace and wisdom imparted by characters in the book as the young mother begins to learn to read. If you decide to read this book, please don’t stop at about page 15-20, thinking you just don’t know if you want to read about this. Please continue. It’s so worth it. Have a highlighter pen in your hand because you’ll find so many quotes you will want to remember. Believe it or not, there is also quite a bit in this about literature.

Recently finished C.J. Box’s book The Disappeared (A Joe Pickett Novel). I just love Box’s novels. They take place in present day semi-wild west, and chronicle the fish and game warden, Joe Pickett, as he unravels another crime in his territory. A woman has disappeared, and the governor has asked him to figure it out. He does, but the tale meanders through multiple layers of intriguing story. His books are riveting. Men and women enjoy his books – so if you have a fellow in your life or family that would enjoy an intriguing book (this is not espionage) then gift him one of Box’s books.

Also finished Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. About a dysfunctional family, through and through. I picked this up from amazon from someone who read the book, named “McReader,” and she says: “Set in the 70s, the story follows a Chinese American blended family in Ohio. When Lydia [the daughter] is found floating in the lake, her family is forced to analyze what put her there. Was it pressure from her family to succeed? Was it pressure to fit in? Was it a crime of passion or convenience? I was spellbound reading the last half of this book. I loved each flawed family member, especially Hannah,. While the story went where I hoped it would go, I was not disappointed at all with the progression. It was also quite insightful on the prejudices that society had about Chinese Americans still during that timeframe and how careful parents have to be to put their dreams onto their children.” Such a good book and definitely worth reading. Would be a good book club read. You’ll be hearing more from this author. Am currently reading her next novel, Little Fires Everywhere.

The Boston Girl: A Novel by Anita Diamant. A very, very intriguing book. The book is written from the voice of a Jewish grandmother as she tells her granddaughter the saga of her life starting about 1910, who struggles with her own individuality, with her domineering mother who never says a kind word to her. It’s certainly a coming-of-age story as she grows up, finds a job, makes friends, joins a literary girls club, moves out, but still suffers under her mother’s thumb and tongue. She becomes a reporter on a local newspaper, which opens her eyes to more of the world than she ever knew. She finally meets the right man (of course!) and she shares the stories about her life, and her friends and family members as she grows up, giving some sage advice along the way. Part of the time she’s talking to herself – to her young self  (really wanting to tell young Addie to keep on, forgive herself for her perceived transgressions, to live life, and experience the world).

One of the best books I’ve read in a long time – Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Rivers is a prodigious writer of Christian fiction, and I’d never read anything by her until now. As I write this, I’ve already read this, another one (below) and just purchased the Kindle trilogy called Mark of the Lion (Vol 1-3) that I haven’t yet started. (Two of my friends have said the trilogy is her best.) Redeeming Love details the fictional story of a godly man, Michael Hosea, forging his way in the era of the Gold Rush. He’s “driven” to rescue a beautiful prostitute who lives and works her trade in a nearby town. The entire book is about the story, the rescue, and it parallels a bit of scripture about Hosea who rescues a prostitute names Gomer. You get into the heads of both Hosea and the prostitute, named Angel. We read this for one of my book groups. A great read.

As soon as I finished the above book I promptly visited my church library and found a whole shelf of Rivers’ books, and grabbed one called The Atonement Child. This book takes place in the 1980s or 90s, about a young college student who is raped. She was engaged to be married, was a stellar student. The book chronicles what happens to her when she discovers she is pregnant from the rape. Every possible thing goes wrong in her life. I don’t want to spoil the story if you’re interested in reading it, but I couldn’t put it down. I ended up spending a good part of a day plowing through it. You hear her inner voice (I’m guessing this is a common thread in Rivers’ books) from a Christian perspective. Lots of meaty issues to discuss in a book club if your group would be interested and willing to talk about rape, abortion, adoption and the thorny issues surrounding all of those things, but with a Christian bent, for sure.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen. It’s kind of amazing how many and varied plot lines can be created from events of WWII. This is another one, about a current day woman who finds papers in the attic, after her father’s death, with references to “the child.” She never knew her father could have had another child – could she have a step-sibling somewhere? Her father she knew, had been shot down over Italy, but he never talked much about it. But of course, she must go to Italy to find out about this “child.” The book flips back and forth from this daughter on the search, to her father during the war, all of it taking place in a very small town in Tuscany. It’s about the varied people she meets who want her to go away and not dredge up anything about the war years (are they hiding something, you question), about how much she loves the landscape, and some of the people. And about the intense love affair between the injured pilot and a caring woman of the village. Very charming story. I could almost smell the flowers, taste the olives, hear the bees flitting, and loved the prose about the simple meals that were described. I really enjoyed the book. Perhaps not enough meat for a book club read, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy reading it nonetheless.

Leaving Blythe River: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Almost a page turner. When one uses the phrase “coming of age,” it usually means (I think) love and loss/boyfriend/girlfriend, and in this case it’s somewhat that way. When Ethan, a 17-year old boy and his mother come home unexpectedly to find dad and his young secretary in a compromising position, all hell breaks loose. Separation happens instantly and just as his father moves out, his mother has to go take care of her aging mother. Ethan’s too young to be left in the NYC apartment alone, so Mom sends son to the father who is escaping from the world in Wyoming, living in a primitive A-frame house, and continuing his daily 20+ mile running journeys. Ethan and his father are barely speaking. They live in the middle of nowhere. Ethan feels betrayed by his father in every possible way, and somewhat by his mother for forcing him to live with his father for a temporary period. Then his father doesn’t return one day from his run. The authorities do a cursory search, but they are under the impression the dad wants to “get lost” on purpose. Ethan, although he thinks he doesn’t care, really does. What happens next is best left to you reading this book. Very interesting people (kind of loners) enter the picture and off they go to search. So worth reading.

The Girl With No Name by Diney Costelhoe. What a good book. Perhaps you’ve read before about the huge numbers of German refugee children who were sent to England before Hitler closed down any exits. This is a novel about one particular young girl, who is devastated when her mother puts her on one of the boats. She ends up in London, in an orphanage kind of place, and is eventually placed with a childless couple. She speaks no English. They speak no German, but they manage soon enough. Lisa (who eventually becomes Charlotte) is so homesick. She’s bullied at school, because most people and children don’t want any Germans there. A boy steps up to protect her, and as she grows up, she’s attracted to him. She shouldn’t be – he’s also German and from her own home town. He’s not a good match for her. You live with her through the blitz during all those war years and during one attack, she’s badly injured and loses her memory (and no ID on her). Through a series of mishaps she ends up in a village far from London, with a spinster woman who does eventually come to love her very much – they name her Charlotte and Charlotte she becomes. She goes to school there, still longing, though, for her mother and brother and her London foster family too. Then when she’s 16 she returns to London to help at the orphanage where she was originally placed and tries to find her foster parents. The story goes on from there, with the boy/man who “wants” her, the bad boy, and a good boy/man she befriends in the village in the country. Eventually she regains her memory. SUCH a good read.

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyanseo Lee. If you, like me, know little about North Korea and how it came to be what it is today, you’ve got to read this book. It’s a memoir written by a young woman who escaped from North Korea about 9 years ago. Her journey – and I mean JOURNEY – is harrowing, frightening, amazing, heart-rendering all at the same time. She chronicles the lives of the Kims (Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il to current Kim Jong Un), shares the strict propaganda that surrounds every North Korean citizen, the poverty and hunger, as well as the underground black market for food and goods. It took her awhile to get from North Korea, to China and eventually to South Korea, where she currently lives. She’s well educated and speaks English quite well. She was invited to be a speaker at a TED talk – you know about those, right? TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a media organization which posts talks online for free distribution, under the slogan “ideas worth spreading.” I listen to them as  podcasts now and then. Always very educational, if sometimes over my head when it gets very technical. She works diligently for human rights now, doing her best to help other North Koreans escape. You owe it to yourself to read this book.

Also just finished reading The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. Another WOW book. I’ve always liked the author – many years ago I read his book, Midwives and really liked it. Don’t confuse this book with the one I recently read, The Last Midwife: A Novel by Sandra Dallas that I reviewed recently. I think we read it in one of my book groups. He’s a brilliant writer, and this one has a lot of characters and twists. It’s a novel, but based on a lot of truth regarding the Armenian genocide. Most of the book takes place in Aleppo, Syria with some good Samaritan folk trying to help rescue people (mostly children) following the forced long marches the Turks made prodding the Turkish Armenians to exit their country. But it also jumps to near present day as a family member is trying to piece together obscure parts of her grandparents’ former lives there. She uncovers some hidden truths (many survivors of the genocide never-ever-ever wanted to talk about it) and a bit more about her Armenian heritage. A riveting book – I could hardly put it down. Lots to discuss for a book club read. I simply must read more of Bohjalian’s books (he’s written many).

The Good Widow: A Novel by Lisa Steinke. All I can say is “wow.” In a general sense, this book is based on the premise of The Pilot’s Wife. But this one has some totally different twists and turns. A young wife is met at the door by police, informing her that her husband has died in an auto accident. Then she finds out he died in Hawaii – not Kansas, where she thought he was, on business. Then she finds out there was a woman in the car. Then she meets the fiance of the woman passenger and the two of them embark on a fact-finding mission in Hawaii to discover the truth. Well, I’m just sayin’ . . . the plot thickens. And thickens. And thickens clear up to the last few pages. Hang onto your seat. A really, really good, suspenseful read.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes. What a WONDERFUL book. It opens up a shameful part of America’s past, but one you might not have heard about before this. In the late 1800s thousands of Chinese workers were brought to the West Coast to help with a variety of construction projects and a myriad of other things where laborers were needed. Many settled, married and made a new life for themselves. But suddenly the white population didn’t want them here anymore and they summarily ordered them ALL out of our country. This book chronicles a young Chinese girl, who was on a ship that was supposed to take her family to China, but the ship’s captain decided en route to dump them all overboard, to drown. The girl’s father knew it was going to happen and in order to save her, he threw his daughter off the ship as they were passing Orcas Island (in the San Juan Islands west of Seattle). She was saved. The book switches from that time to current time as a woman is rebuilding her family’s home on Orcas and finds a beautifully embroidered silk Chinese robe sleeve hidden under a stair step. The book is about that sordid past and the young girl’s descendents, and about the woman who is rebuilding. Stunner of a novel. Good for a book club read, I think. It has a reader’s guide at the back with good questions for book groups.

How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively. I find it hard to describe this book – it’s wonderful. I loved it. But describing it is perplexing. The title relates to one of the characters, a woman of a certain age, who is mugged, and has to go live with her daughter and son in law for awhile since she’s stuck with crutches and has mobility problems. That starts the cavalcade of events that spread around her, with the characters. And she knows nothing whatsoever about them, hardly. They’re all somewhat inter-related (not much family, but mostly by circumstance) and they all get into some rather logical and some peculiar relationships. You engage  with each and every one of them; at least I sure did; and was trying to tell some of them to back away from what they were about to do. Or “be careful;” or “don’t go there.” That kind of thing. There is nothing insidious, no mystery involved – it’s all about these people and what happens to them. I was sad when the book was finished. The author, Lively, does add a chapter at the end – I wonder if it wasn’t part of the master plan – that kind of tidies up everything, and you get to see all of the characters move on with their lives, happy or not, but mostly happy. Really enjoyed the book. Am not sure it would be a good book club read, as the only thing to discuss are the characters themselves. Lively paints these characters well; you can just picture them as they get themselves in and out of relationship mischief.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Dr. Gundry friendly, lectin-free, Soups, on September 16th, 2018.

moroccan_harira_ground_turkey

Extra tasty soup with tons of flavor, and some spiciness. Made lectin-free by using pressure cooked garbanzo beans and strained tomatoes (without skin and seeds).

Most of you aren’t eating this diet I’m on, so you can just not pay any attention to the “lectin free” info. This is just a sure-fire winner of a soup no matter whether you use pressure cooked garbanzos or not. I make a lot of soups around my house. Even in the summer. The A/C is on, so I’m not uncomfortable having hot or cold soups all summer long.

I was craving this harira soup (it’s a real favorite of mine) – I’ve made it before, but in the past I’ve made it with a big bunch of chicken thighs and then you need to cool them, skin them if they’re not already, pull the meat off and wait for it to cool enough to chop up and add back into the soup. This time I bought ground turkey to make it a bit leaner, and easier.

As I’ve continued to be on this diet I’m on (which is still working, otherwise I’d have quit), from the Plant Paradox book (Dr. Stephen Gundry), I’ve been trying to adapt some of my existing recipes, and since I knew I loved this soup already, I wanted to make it a bit more friendly for my diet. Legumes (beans) are a no-no on this diet UNLESS they have been pressure cooked, which cooks out the bad bug lectins in them. (Who knew, right?) Technically, since I’m trying to lose weight, I shouldn’t be adding these beans into my diet, but I decided to seek out the Eden brand canned garbanzos (Whole Foods carries the whole line of Eden pressure-cooked beans) and I didn’t put very many in the soup in any case. You don’t know from the can or the label that they’re pressure cooked, but they just are. I could have pressure cooked my own, but I wasn’t in the mood.

I used most of the same seasonings, pretty much the same quantities of things (less water, though, because I was not adding lentils) and the soup was sensational. Don’t be dismayed by the long-long list of ingredients. None of them are difficult to add (lots of spices) and much of the soup is normal ingredients you’d have on hand anyway.

Another of the lectin no-no’s is tomatoes with skins and seeds. At first I wasn’t eating tomatoes at all, but gosh, that really puts a limitation on soups. So I’ve researched lots of canned tomatoes and found that if it says “strained,” it means no skins or seeds. That type is also called passata in Italian. You can buy canned whole tomatoes and try to cut them open to remove the seeds too. That’s not too difficult. Most whole canned tomatoes already have the skins removed. I am eating fresh tomatoes (albeit not too many) as long as they’re big enough to peel and seed.

So, I made this soup one day and didn’t eat it until the next (always a good thing with soups, IMHO). And oh gosh, was it ever good. I didn’t miss having chicken pieces in it – the ground turkey was very satisfying. And I loved the few garbanzos in it as well. If you’re sensitive to spice (heat) you can tone down the harissa a little bit, and you don’t have to add the chiles, either. I used a small can of whole green chiles (mild) and easily removed the seeds (yes, those are a no-no also, the skin and seeds of any kind of peppers), then chopped them up finely. Although they were the “mild” kind, they did have some heat to them. Just right for me, however.

What’s GOOD: well, for me, it’s that this soup is Gundry diet friendly – but the flavor of this soup is just right down my alley. I love love this soup. Love the spice in it, the texture and flavor of the soup/broth part. It’s very filling. A 1 1/2 cup serving is ample (for me anyway).

What’s NOT: only that there is a long list of stuff to add – just plow through it – it doesn’t take all that long.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Moroccan Harira with Ground Turkey, Gundry friendly

Recipe By: My own concoction, 2018
Serving Size: 6

1 large onion — diced
4 stalks celery — diced
1 bunch cilantro — see notes
1 bunch Italian parsley — see notes
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 pound ground turkey
3 cloves garlic — minced
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon harissa — or sriracha
4 ounces green chiles — canned (skinned and seeded)
2 teaspoons salt — or more to taste
6 cups water — or more if needed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces Eden organic garbanzo beans — drained and rinsed, or use pressure cooked beans you’ve made from scratch
24 ounces canned tomatoes, strained — called “passata” in Italian
GARNISHES:
1/2 cup sour cream chopped
Italian parsley (see quantity above)
chopped cilantro (see quantity above)

NOTES: If you’re not following the Stephen Gundry diet, you can use any kind of garbanzo beans and tomatoes. To make this a Gundry soup, you must use lectin-free beans (only Eden brand are pressure cooked) and tomatoes with no skin or seeds.
1. Cut off the little brown ends of the cilantro and parsley, then cut the stems off and mince them up finely with a knife (you’ll add the leaves as a garnish).
2. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the vegetables and saute until the onions have begun to turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and parsley and cilantro stems and cook for 1-2 minutes just until they’re fragrant, then add the ground turkey and stir to break up the meat. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Then add canned tomatoes, the chicken soup base, green chiles, garlic and water. Bring to a simmer. While it’s warming up, add all the seasonings.
3. Cover and keep over low heat for about 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
4. Add the garbanzo beans and taste for seasoning. Add more water if needed. This is best made the day before, but I’ve eaten immediately and it’s still delicious!
5. Serve in wide bowls (about 1 1/2 cups per serving) and add a dollop of sour cream on top and garnish with cilantro and parsley.
Per Serving: 321 Calories; 16g Fat (44.5% calories from fat); 21g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 68mg Cholesterol; 870mg Sodium.

Posted in Appetizers, Breads, on September 12th, 2018.

cheesy_shrimp_garlic_bread

Oh my, garlic bread, but on steroids. This is ciabatta bread, sliced in half horizontally, piled with a bunch of cheeses, tomatoes and shrimp. With a bunch of other flavor enhancers added in too.

Having had this at a cooking class, my friend Cherrie and I decided that after having had the watermelon blueberry drink, then this garlic bread, that could have been our “dinner,” and we’d have happily gone home. Not really, but we were somewhat full when we got done with this. (Although, I didn’t eat any of the bread – – the topping was wonderful, just sayin’.)

If you’re ever wanting to have some amped up kind of garlic bread – this is it – and you could serve this without the shrimp as a bread to go with a bowl of soup. If it was fish soup, then the shrimp would be fine there! You could also cut this up into much smaller squares and put it out on a buffet table.

What it is is delicious. Unctuous in my book. All that cheesy stuff going on. Shrimp is cooked through barely, then you add in chopped tomatoes and garlic. Then you chop up the shrimp a bit (or do it ahead of time, which might be easier) and add mayo, lemon juice, mozzarella and Parm. That gets piled onto the top of the ciabatta bread, sprinkled with more cheese (plus some Fontina there also), baked for 18-20 minutes, and garnish with chopped parsley. Phillis Carey made this at a class, and she happened to have bacon fat in a frying pan because she’d cooked up a bunch of bacon for a salad, so she cooked the shrimp in the bacon grease. Which might have made this even more tasty.

You can do all of the work ahead of time, except for piling the mixture on top of the bread – then you bake it. Easy peasy.

What’s GOOD: all the cheesy flavors are wonderful. Gooey deliciousness. The shrimp add something different – bet you’ve never had garlic bread with shrimp on the top, have you?

What’s not: nothing that I can think of. Really good dish.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Cheesy Shrimp Garlic Bread

Recipe By: Cooking class, Phillis Carey, 2018
Serving Size: 6 (I think more than that)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 packages shrimp — cleaned, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 tomatoes — diced
3 cloves garlic — minced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese — grated
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
1 small ciabatta loaf — halved horizontally, lengthwise
TOPPING:
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese — grated
1/4 cup Fontina cheese — grated
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
1/4 cup fresh parsley — chopped

NOTE: Buy a thin ciabbatta loaf if possible, i.e. you do not want height with this as it will be too bready.
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter (if you have bacon fat on hand, use that). Add chopped shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook until pink and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes, then stir in tomatoes and garlic and cook until fragrant, about one more minute. Remove from heat and cool.
2. Transfer shrimp to a bowl and mix with mayo, lemon juice, zest mozzarella and Parm. Season with more salt and pepper.
3. Spread shrimp mixture onto bread and add toppings: more Mozzarella, Fontina, Parm. Bake until bread is crispy and cheese is bubbly and golden on top, 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and add parsley immediately (so it sticks to the bubbly cheese). Cool for 2-4 minutes only, then cut into stick-sized portions and serve.
Per Serving: 393 Calories; 20g Fat (46.1% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 41g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 38mg Cholesterol; 548mg Sodium.

Posted in Beverages, on September 8th, 2018.

watermelon_sangria_blueberry_float

The blueberries have sunk to the bottom, so I don’t exactly know why you’d call it a float when the fruit sinks! But you get the reward at the end of the sipping!

This drink is just so refreshing. Watermelon isn’t on my diet these days, but I ate/drank it anyway. It’s only that most fruit is so high in sugar that it sends a signal to the brain – more, more – so it’s best not to eat too much. Berries are okay and I eat them every day.

You’ll need to make one trip to the market – to buy a bottle of Moscato. It’s a slightly sweet Italian wine. Chill it ahead of time if you think of it. So you combine in a blender 4 cups of cubed up watermelon, the bottle of Moscata, white rum (be sure to use white rum, as dark rum turns this drink brown – not at all appetizing), lime juice and zest plus the tablespoon of sugar and whiz it up. Chill, then serve with the blueberries floating on top if you can get them to do it!cherrie_with_sangria

If you’d rather not have watermelon pulp in your drink, strain it, then chill. Garnish the drink with a slice of lime on the side if you want to make it fancy.

There’s a photo of Cherrie at the cooking class with Phillis Carey, when we were served these drinks. The blueberries in her drink sunk to the bottom too. Oh well, the drink still tasted just lovely. This would make a great drink to serve to a women’s gathering.

What’s GOOD: refreshing for sure. Easy to make. It’ll keep for a day or two as well. But I’ll bet you’ll drink it all down. Do note the low calories of this drink.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Watermelon Sangria with Blueberry Float

Recipe By: Cooking class, Phillis Carey, 2018
Serving Size: 6

4 cups watermelon — cubed
1 bottle Moscato wine — (slightly sweet Italian wine)
1 cup white rum zest of 2 limes
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup fresh blueberries
lime slices for garnishing

1. In a blender combine watermelon, Moscato wine, rum, lime juice and zest with sugar and blend until smooth.
2. Refrigerate for a few hours to chill completely.
3. Serve in glasses with blueberries floating on top (if possible) and a lime slice.
Per Serving: 136 Calories; trace Fat (7.8% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 12g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 3mg Sodium.

Posted in Beef, Grilling, on September 4th, 2018.

greek_marinated_skirt_steak

Have you joined the fans clamoring for skirt steak? It’s relatively inexpensive, as steak goes, but it does require careful grilling and it needs to be sliced thin as it’s a more-chewy cut of meat.

My favorite steak is ribeye. That’s no secret if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time. I haven’t had a steak for awhile – once in a blue moon I do make one for myself – and it’s very satisfying, I must admit. When my DH was alive, we’d have a steak every 2-4 weeks, for sure. Dave love-loved them. And he had perfected the cooking of them on the outdoor grill. My poor barbecue doesn’t get much of a workout with just me these days. We’ve had a really hot and muggy summer here in SoCal. Hotter earlier than usual, and more muggy than usual. So I don’t tend to go outdoors in the early evening as it’s just too uncomfortable. So this recipe would fit perfectly into that routine since it can be done on an indoor grill.

This skirt steak (also called flap meat in some grocery stores – it’s a boneless portion of the diaphragm muscle attached to the 6th through 12th ribs on the underside of the short plate) does need to be marinated for at least 8 hours, or overnight if you can make the time to do it. That helps tenderize the rather chewy cut of meat. And in case you’ve never done a skirt steak, when you buy it, it’s a big, long piece of meat, relatively thin and very grainy when you look at it. Do cut it up into manageable pieces before marinating and then grilling them.

This marinade is heavy in the oil component. It needs it here, although when you’re done, that marinade gets thrown out anyway. Combine the ingredients in a plastic Ziploc bag, and turn the meat a few times to coat everything well. Then seal it up and stick it in the frig until later.

Make the garlic yogurt sauce – it’s easy to do – Phillis Carey (this came from a class with her) prefers regular yogurt, not Greek, but I think I’d use Greek. She said you could, it’s just that the sauce will be much thicker. Do make it several hours ahead too, so the garlic and lemon juice will mix and flavor all the yogurt. Chill it until you’re ready to serve it – can be made the day before if you want.

INDOOR GRILLING:

Use your indoor grill pan and place a piece of heavy-duty foil on top. Oil it and grill as usual. Easy cleanup.

Now, the grilling. I was so impressed – Phillis discovered that you can save all the cleanup of an indoor grill by covering the top with foil – you just lay the foil on top – don’t press it in/on it. Spray or brush the foil with some of the oil from the marinade – try to get just the oil, not the lemon juice part. Or, barring that, just spray with olive oil spray. Pick up the meat pieces with tongs and just let them drain for 5-10 seconds (over the open bag) then place on the pre-heated grill. You’ll be so surprised – the meat gets grill marks just as if it’s right on the pan itself. This meat, however, only wants to be grilled for 3-5 minutes per side. The meat shrinks up something fierce – you might think that 2-3 pounds of skirt steak would feed 10 people, but NO, it shrinks a lot. In case you don’t know, skirt steak is quite fatty – you can’t SEE the fat very much – but enter the meat into any nutrition info and you’ll find that it’s very fatty. Sad to say . . . but it’s full of flavor. More flavor than regular steaks, it’s true.

Let the meat sit, tented with foil, for about 5 minutes once you’ve taken it off the grill then use tongs and a sharp knife and cut it across the grain into thin slices. Pile it onto a heated platter and serve with some of the garlic yogurt sauce drizzled over it, and serve the remaining in a bowl to pass at the table. Or, as I suggested a few days ago, serve this steak with the BLT Salad with Grilled Corn and Buttermilk Parm Dressing.

What’s GOOD: the flavor, first of all. Easy to do, easy marinade, easy grilling – just watch it carefully and don’t overcook it – served medium-rare at most (cooking it further may make the meat more tough).

What’s NOT: really nothing except watching the grilling carefully.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Greek-Marinated Skirt Steak with Garlic Yogurt Sauce

Recipe By: Cooking class, Phillis Carey, 2018
Serving Size: 6

2 1/2 pounds skirt steak
2 tablespoons Italian parsley — chopped (garnish)
MARINADE:
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 cloves garlic — minced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
YOGURT SAUCE:
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt — full fat (may use Greek, but it will be thick)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. STEAK: Combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, herbs, salt and pepper in a large Ziploc bag. Mix well, then add the skirt steak(s), turning to coat well. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
2. SAUCE: mash the garlic with the salt into a paste. Stir the garlic into the yogurt along with lemon juice.Cover and refrigerate up to one day ahead.
3. Preheat grill. If using an indoor grill, place a piece of heavy-duty almuminum foil on top of the grill and oil it. Remove steak from refrigerator about 45 minutes before cooking time. Using tongs, remove steak from marinade and let it drain for 10-15 seconds (over the bag), then place on grill for 3-5 minutes per side for medium rare (depends on the thickness of the meat), then let meat rest on a cutting board, tented with foil, for 5 minutes before slicing thinly on the diagonal (across the grain). Mound meat on a heated platter, drizzle with some of the yogurt sauce, sprinkle with parsley and serve remaining sauce on the table.
Per Serving (assumes you’re consuming all the marinade, which you don’t): 694 Calories; 57g Fat (74.6% calories from fat); 39g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 102mg Cholesterol; 727mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on August 31st, 2018.

blt_salad_grilled_corn_buttermilk_parm_dressing

 

There’s still time, this summer, to make this really refreshing and satisfying salad. Grill the corn, fry up some bacon, plus a few croutons while you’re at it, and add usual ingredients.

You will need buttermilk, to make the dressing for this salad. Frozen and defrosted buttermilk doesn’t hold together, so you do have to buy some buttermilk. The dressing is easy – shallot, cider vinegar, mayo, Parm, salt, pepper and a tiny sprinkle of sugar. Plus the buttermilk. The mayo gives it plenty of richness and thickness as well as there is only 1/2 cup of buttermilk in the dressing. It won’t keep for too long, so better to use it and then make it again fresh. OR, Phillis said if you wanted to make it further ahead, don’t add the shallots until an hour or so before serving.

This came from a cooking class with Phillis Carey. My friend Cherrie and I love going to classes with Phillis – she makes the kind of food we both really like. Only trouble is we have to drive to San Diego to attend. We leave at about 4 from Cherrie’s house and get there about 5:30 for a 6:00 class. Then, of course, drive back north, drop off Cherrie and I can get home by about 9:30 pm. Cherrie is suffering from two “frozen shoulders,” so she really doesn’t drive except close to home as it’s painful and she doesn’t feel as safe on the open road or freeway, so I’ve been doing the driving for awhile.

Anyway, you’ll see at least 4 recipes from the last class (this one, watermelon sangria, a shrimp and cheese toast kind of appetizer, a skirt steak one too). I think the skirt steak recipe would be a great addition to this salad and it would be a complete meal with just the two items.

Phillis made home made croutons, but you could buy ready-made ones if you don’t want to bother. The dressing should be made a few hours ahead so the flavors will meld. The corn could be grilled earlier in the day – you don’t want to serve it hot on the salad as it would wild the greens. Phillis grilled the corn on an indoor grill, and she put foil on the grill pan, greased it and the corn browned beautifully through the foil. Such easy cleanup.

Ideally, if you’re making this for a big platter presentation (it’s really beautiful), you’ll spread the Romaine lettuce you’ve chopped up, then the tomatoes, the corn, and the bacon last. You drizzle part of the dressing on top and serve the remaining dressing on the side.

What’s GOOD: such a lovely summer salad. I succumbed to the corn and ate some (not on my diet, but I enjoyed the few kernels that jumped onto my fork!), and all of it has a lovely full-flavored taste. I could have eaten an entire meal of this salad, it was so good. And as I mentioned, the skirt steak recipe coming up in a few days would be especially good with this.

What’s NOT: A bit more prep since you do need to make the dressing, grill the corn and crisp up some bacon. But oh-so worth it.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 (click link to open recipe)

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BLT Salad with Grilled Corn and Buttermilk Parm Dressing

Recipe By: Cooking class, Phillis Carey, 2018
Serving Size: 6
CROUTONS:
2 1/2 cups French bread — cubed
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
DRESSING:
1 tablespoon shallot — minced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar
SALAD:
3 ears corn — husked
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces Romaine lettuce — chopped (use hearts for best appearance)
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes — assorted types, chopped
6 slices thick-sliced bacon — cut in small strips
1/2 cup fresh basil — chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. For croutons, toss bread with melted butter, salt and pepper. Place on foil lined baking sheet and bake for 7-8 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and set aside to cool.
  2. DRESSING: Combine shallot and vinegar in a medium bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Whisk in buttermilk, mayo, Parm, salt, pepper and sugar. Cover and chill until ready to use, up to 2 days ahead. If you want to make this further ahead, don’t add the shallot and vinegar – wait until half an hour before using to add that, then use it within 2 days.
  3. CORN: Brush corn with oil, season with salt and pepper and grill until nicely brown on all sides. Cool and cut corn from the cobs.
  4. SALAD: Ideally serve this on a large platter (presentation is best this way). Arrange lettuce on the platter. Top with tomatoes, all over, then corn, then sprinkle on the cooked bacon. Drizzle with about 3 T. of the dressing, then sprinkle with croutons, parsley and the just chopped fresh basil. Serve with more dressing on the side.
    Per Serving (you may not use all the dressing, so the calorie count may be off): 712 Calories; 44g Fat (53.8% calories from fat); 17g Protein; 68g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 37mg Cholesterol; 1531mg Sodium.

Posted in Breads, on August 29th, 2018.

pumpkin_cr_cheese_muffins_tin

(A post from Sara) These very tasty muffins are great to stuff in my son’s lunches or for snacks. Full of flavor and warm fall spices.

pumpkin_cr_cheese_muffin_batterMy 18-year old H.S. senior son plays football. And he eats a LOT. When my husband and I recently went on Weight Watcher’s, my son lost weight he didn’t need to. Although he says he’s fine at his new, lower weight, he needs tons of calories (and carbs) during football season. That’s like NOW. So, even though I’m not baking much these days, I still need to make things for John.

My mom, Carolyn, was visiting over the weekend, so we made these muffins. ‘Tis the season for pumpkin, and I knew John would like the combination of pumpkin and cream cheese. The recipe is supposed to be a copycat of Starbuck’s version. I found it at Genius Kitchen, but as my mom and I read all the comments (many) we decided to change the recipe some. And after we had made half of them we decided to change it a little bit more.

cr_cheese_fillingThere was cocoa in the recipe, and although we used it, we both decided it didn’t add anything. You couldn’t taste chocolate, so why bother, right? We were glad we didn’t add molasses, but we did up the spices a lot. It called for 1 1/4 cups of oil – we decided to use 3/4 cup of buttermilk and 1/2 cup of oil instead (suggested in one of the comments). These were still very moist and tender. And the biggest tweak we did was, for each muffin cup, to pour 2/3 of the batter in first (instead of half which was the instruction in the original recipe), then spoon the cream cheese filling (a brick of cream cheese, an egg, some sugar and vanilla) across the middle, then we spooned the remaining batter on top, but left some of the cream cheese portion visible. We thought it made these much more interesting to look at.

So, there was a little bit of quality control going on that day – my mom had a couple of bites – and I ate a little bit too. Even though a muffin isn’t on either of our diets. But we needed to tell you these were good, right? And they were. I’d definitely make these again (when I’m off a low carb diet!). All the muffins are safely stored in my freezer to be pulled out as needed.

What’s GOOD: the warm fall spices were the best part, I think. And the look of the top – the cream cheese peeking through. Loved the pumpkin flavor, of course. We thought next time we might use more nuts on top – we were very stingy with them. Be generous.

What’s NOT: only that you do have to make 2 batters, but really, the cream cheese one isn’t difficult in the least. My muffin tin is a bit on the small side, so we got more muffins from this recipe than it indicated. If you have larger muffin tins, of course, you’ll yield fewer. Just so you know . . .

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Serving Size: 32
Recipe By: Adapted from Genius Kitchen

FILLING:
8 ounces cream cheese — softened
1 large egg
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
MUFFINS:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
chopped pecans for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Mix cream cheese with one egg and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Set aside.
3. Combine all the dry ingredients (not the nuts) in a medium mixing bowl and use a whisk to mix everything together well. In another large bowl combine eggs, pumpkin, buttermilk and oil, and use a whisk to mix thoroughly. Pour dry mixture into the liquid mixture and stir until all lumps are gone.
6. Fill muffin tins (greased or paper cups) two-thirds full.
7. Spoon cream cheese cross-wise in the middle with some reaching to the outside edge. Spoon remaining one-third muffin batter on top, allowing some of the cream cheese filling to show, if possible. Sprinkle pecans (or other nuts of your choice) on top.
8. Bake for 18- 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the muffin (do not test in the cream cheese part).
9. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely. Do not touch the cream cheese until it cools.
Per Serving: 168 Calories; 7g Fat (36.5% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 41mg Cholesterol; 145mg Sodium.

Posted in Fish, on August 27th, 2018.

halibut_lemon_rosemary_aleppo

Is it halibut season? Found some at Costco and couldn’t resist!

Rarely these days do I have halibut – it’s so gosh-darned expensive. But I found a lovely 3-serving size slab of it at Costco for just under $20. I searched through my to-try recipes and didn’t really find anything that wowed me, so I went on the ‘net and found a recipe at epicurious that wasn’t difficult and contained plenty of lemons. I have fresh rosemary in my garden, and I’d just happened to have bought a small jar of Aleppo pepper at Penzey’s last week, so I was in business.

I made this in my toaster oven, believe it or not, and it turned out just fine. I lined a small rimmed baking sheet with foil, sprayed it with nonstick oil, blotted dry the piece of halibut and placed it on top. The top of the fish was oiled with EVOO (not much), then was sprinkled with salt and Aleppo pepper. You can see it on the front edges of the lemon slices in the picture above – Aleppo is quite bright red – and it’s not particularly spicy hot, so I was generous with the sprinkling of it.

My Meyer lemon tree is on its last few lemons of the season, and some of them still have juice in them, but the flesh has shrunk away from the outer peel – so interesting – have never seen this before – but probably owing to our extreme heat this summer. The lemon slices worked better by cutting each round in half and kind of layering them on top. I also sprinkled a little bit of chopped fresh rosemary on top of the fish before layering the lemon slices.

halibut_lemon_rosemary_before_bakingInto a 450°F oven it went. The recipe indicated 10 minutes, but this wasn’t cooked through to 120°F interior temp until about 13-14 minutes and I whisked it out in a hurry so it wouldn’t overcook. I drizzled the top with additional lemon juice and served a wedge on the plate as well. I removed the lemon slices, but if serving to guests, I’d leave the lemons on top just because it looks prettier. The lemon really didn’t “cook” as such and doubt you’d want to eat them. The recipe indicates broiling the fish at the last for 1-2 minutes until the lemons are charred. I didn’t do that step because I didn’t want the halibut to cook too much. To serve, I chopped up more fresh rosemary and sprinkled that on top too along with a dash more salt. The leftovers are going to be flaked into a large green salad. Doesn’t that sound good?

What’s GOOD: halibut has such a lovely tender flake to it – don’t overcook it, so use your instant read thermometer and remove it at 120°F as it will continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes. I loved the intense lemony flavor and liked the rosemary too. And I liked the little bit of heat from the Aleppo peppers. Was this off the charts? No, but it was really good and very, very easy!

What’s NOT: nothing, really. It was easy to do. Tasty, so no negatives.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Roasted Halibut with Lemons and Rosemary

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from epicurious
Serving Size: 2

2 halibut fillets — preferably at least 1-inch thick
1 1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil — or more if needed
Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo chile pepper
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 small lemon — very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary — minced, for garnish
1 small lemon — cut in wedges, for garnish
more salt to sprinkle on top

1. Heat oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray nonstick spray on the foil. Allow fish to sit out for 10-15 minutes, then blot the fish dry with paper towels. Place fish on the foil. Brush fillets with 1 teaspoon or so of oil and season with salt and Aleppo chili flakes. Top each fillet with several small rosemary branches and several slices of lemon. Drizzle remaining oil over lemon slices and sprinkle with additional salt. If desired, you can scatter Kalamata olive slices over fish.
2. Bake until just opaque, about 10 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 120°F. If lemon slices have not browned or singed (this will depend on how thinly you slice them), place pan under broiler for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve drizzled with more olive oil; sprinkle with more salt and Aleppo, if desired. Sprinkle additional minced rosemary on top and serve with lemon wedges.
Per Serving: 157 Calories; 6g Fat (31.9% calories from fat); 22g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 33mg Cholesterol; 57mg Sodium.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on August 23rd, 2018.

roasted_jerusalem_artichokes

Have you ever prepared Jerusalem artichokes? I had not, but decided to give them a try. They’re really good!

Truly, the only reason I decided to try these little knobby guys was because Jerusalem artichokes (also called sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple, or topinambour), are a starch, not quite a true carbohydrate. And not that I understand the metabolic chemistry behind this, but this starch turns into inulin (no, that’s not misspelled) instead of sugar (as would a potato). Here’s what Wikipedia says about it:

Inulins are a group of naturally occurring polysaccharides produced by many types of plants, industrially most often extracted from chicory. The inulins belong to a class of dietary fibers known as fructans. Inulin is used by some plants as a means of storing energy and is typically found in roots or rhizomes.

jerusalem_artichokesJerusalem artichokes are a tuber, closely related to the sunflower plant. Imagine that? And what I’d read was that prepared certain ways they can give you the illusion of a potato. I kind of miss having a potato now and then. So I bought a one-pound package of them, peeled them with my Meissermeister peeler, then cut the larger ones in half. I poured a little bit of avocado oil on top, tossed them around a bit on the baking sheet to coat them, sprinkled them with salt and pepper and roasted them in a 425°F oven for 33 minutes. Larger ones would take a tiny bit longer.

I’m still following the diet I’ve mentioned here and there, the Stephen Gundry, M.D. one which restricts all carbs. And trust me, if this diet wasn’t working, I wouldn’t be doing it at all. The enemy is lectins, a bad bug that we ingest in foods – a bug that then wreaks havoc in our intestines. I’ve never had intestinal issues, but after reading The Plant Paradox, I’m a convert. So – — Jerusalem artichokes don’t contain any lectins, hence they’re a safe food. And they’re not a true carb, either, so they mostly slip through your system.

So how were they? I thought they were delicious. I read a recipe for making baked Jerusalem artichoke chips, so I may try that recipe soon also. Because I’d never bought them before, or prepped them before, or ever eaten them before, I wanted to taste them without a lot of seasonings, hence just salt and pepper. The texture is not fluffy like a potato, but yet it has some toothsome feel to it – somebody else compared it to the texture of a cooked turnip. I’m not a turnip fan, so that wasn’t appealing to me, but perhaps the texture description is true. Coming straight off the baking sheet the outside edges were semi-crispy, which I liked. The leftovers weren’t crispy since they sat in the refrigerator container for a day or two and got soft, so next time I might stick them in my toaster oven for 10 minutes to crisp them up a little. I was also having asparagus, so during the 33 minute roasting time, I plopped the narrow asparagus on top (also coated with a bit of avocado oil) for about 9 minutes and they were perfectly done at the 33 minute mark. I’d made salmon, so had the Jerusalem artichokes alongside, and with the asparagus. Very satisfying.

If  you’re interested, I’m losing about a pound every week. Some weeks it’s more than that. And I’m not hungry. That’s the 2nd best part – the first being that I’m losing weight consistently, albeit not every day, but almost. I have a scales that measures half pounds, and it’s SO fun to stand there and see, every 2-3 days that I’m down another half pound. Yea!

This diet isn’t for everybody. There are a lot of tasty foods out there that I can’t eat – I haven’t had a piece of bread, rice, a potato, or pasta, corn or peas, any bean, a speck of sugar or flour/grains at all in several months. Do I miss them? Yes. But the motivation is there to stick to this diet because it’s working. I miss having dessert (except fruit [berries mostly], which I can have, but a very small amount I might add). I miss baking. But once I lose the weight I need to, there are some things I can add back in (beans that are pressure cooked, since that removes the lectins) maybe oatmeal on occasion (I wasn’t much of an oatmeal fan to begin with so I don’t miss that). And baking without grains, which will be a bit more challenging. If you’re asking, what does she eat, then? Protein and vegetables mostly. And salads by the bucket load. Nearly every day I have for lunch or dinner a big veggie-centric salad with protein on it. BTW, Gundry recommends stevia as a sweetener (I like Truvia and also Sweet Leaf) and I also use a lemon flavored monkfruit sweetener too. I don’t use much sweetener – sometimes a speck in a salad dressing, or iced tea or iced coffee. Honey is a safe sweetener, but not during the lose-weight phase of this diet.

What’s GOOD: I thought these were really, really good. Do they compare comparably with a potato? No exactly. But it’s not too far off the mark. The texture is a bit different (soft in the cooked form). Does it taste like an artichoke? No, not at all. I suppose you could say the texture is similar to an artichoke heart, but not in taste. Anyway, I liked them, and definitely will be trying them again.

What’s NOT: only that the little knobby tubers are bit of a nuisance to peel. You can prepare them unpeeled, however. I chose not to.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes

Serving Size: 4

1 pound Jerusalem artichokes
1 tablespoon avocado oil — or EVOO
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Peel the Jerusalem artichokes. If you have one, use a swivel potato peeler to remove the skins. Cut larger ones in half – you want them all in a uniform size as best you can.
2. Place them on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet and toss with the oil, then season with salt and pepper.
3. Bake for 33-38 minutes, approximately, until the outsides begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately. If serving leftovers, reheat them in a 400°F oven for about 6-8 minutes to re-crisp the outside edges. A pound of these will barely serve 4 in small portions.
Per Serving: 116 Calories; 3g Fat (25.8% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 5mg Sodium.

Posted in Miscellaneous, Soups, on August 21st, 2018.

microwave_bowl_cozy

Isn’t that the cutest thing?

As I mention frequently, soup is a common theme here at my house. I eat soup year ‘round. Recently my best bud, Cherrie gave me one of these things. She’d won it a a Bunko night and didn’t think she’d use it. I loved it so much I ordered the larger size too.

They’re on etsy.com – here’s the link to Mary Egan’s website called “Just 2 Dang Cute”:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/just2dangcute

In the event you want the larger ones, here’s a picture of both sizes:

sm_lg_microwave_bowl_cozy

May I make a suggestion – these would make a great gift – for a birthday, or a housewarming gift, or a Christmas gift (maybe buy 2 matching ones). Or a Bunko prize! I heat soup with the cozy in the microwave and then I take the whole thing to the table and leave it on. You can pull the soup bowl out and off, but it’s just as easy to leave it. Mary makes them with all kinds of sports teams fabric, and plenty of collectible kind of designs. She makes other things too – obviously she’s an accomplished seamstress! I think these bowl cozies are just the most adorable thing! I use mine several times a week.

Mary has kindly emailed me saying that if you order anything from her during August, 2018, and write in BLOG ON THE COZY she will refund the shipping. SUCH A DEAL! Thanks, Mary.

Posted in Salads, Veggies/sides, on August 18th, 2018.

cauliflower_slaw

Do read this post, my friends – this salad is fabulous. Wish I had some in my refrigerator right now! Alas, this was gone the day after I made it.

It was nearly 2 months ago now that I was entertaining my SoCal kids, spouses and grandkids, in preparation for the trip to Europe we were planning for the last 2 weeks of July. It was our last hurrah-meeting before flying off. There were packing decisions to make (dress up clothing for going out to dinner or not [NOT]), suitcase sizes (small, but going in checked bags); use of wi-fi and settings to adjust on our cell phones; downloading the Google Trips app (I entered all the info mostly, shared it with everyone going, then they could access it all) and if you download the trip to your phone,  you don’t have to use wi-fi to access all the info (places to visit, hours of opening, hotel/airbnb locations where we were staying, car rental data, restaurant reservations, flight times LA to London, London to Florence, Florence to Paris, Paris home, etc.).

Anyway, one family brought dessert (fresh berries and whipped cream) and the other family brought a green salad. I had pork chops to grill (recipe up soon) and it was served with a cauliflower slaw to go with it. The recipe came from Suzanne Goin, the famous chef from Lucques restaurant in L.A. I am guessing this recipe came from the Los Angeles Times, but truly I don’t remember.

But, I’m telling you true, this recipe is a real winner. I sent most of the leftovers home with daughter Sara and kept but one small portion. I was sorry I didn’t have more, it was SOOO good.

First off, you need to cut and slice into tiny pieces an entire head of cauliflower. This took awhile. No chunks at all, but I pried off little florets and cut them in half or quarters, then sliced those, so no bite was very big. It also had a couple of heads of Belgian endive (chopped) in it, a hunk of fresh jalapeno chile (minced), some pecans and shredded coconut (very little). I didn’t strictly follow the recipe as I chose not to use coconut oil (I used avocado), I used less Belgian endive than called for, and I didn’t have any unsweetened coconut, so I used a lot less sweetened. Red onion is called for, and I soaked it in acidulated water for about 15 minutes before draining and adding that. The soaking takes away a bit of the sharp bite of raw onion. Goin called for cashews (I used pecans). And because I wanted to add a tetch of sweetness to it, I added about 6-8 dates, finely (every so finely) minced. You never tasted dates, but they added to the sweetness of the salad. And I wanted to add some green, so used some baby arugula. And there was cilantro in it too. The dressing included oil, vinegar, garlic, orange and lime zests plus some fresh OJ (and salt and pepper of course). The arugula and cilantro were tossed in at the last minute – otherwise the salad was ready about an hour before we ate. If you’re not a fan of cilantro, the salad will be just fine without it. If you want more pronounced date flavors, chop them rather than mincing. This salad is very flexible.

What’s GOOD: the overall flavor is marvelous. I can’t tell you if it was the orange juice? the dates? the pecans? or the coconut? that made it so good. Probably some of all of those things. This is a keeper, and one I’ll make again even for myself, it was that good.

What’s NOT: only the cutting up of the cauliflower. That was a bit tedious. The rest of it was easy, though.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe

* Exported from MasterCook *

Cauliflower Slaw

Recipe By: Adapted from Suzanne Goin, Lucques Restaurant, L.A.
Serving Size: 8

6 tablespoons avocado oil — or coconut, or EVOO
6 tablespoons vinegar
2 garlic cloves — minced
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
3 Belgian endive — halved lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced
1 jalapeño — medium-sized, minced
1 head cauliflower — florets, then very thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Kosher salt to taste
Pepper to taste
2/3 cup pecans — chopped
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes — (if using sweetened, use about 2 tablespoons)
6 whole dates — seeded and very finely minced
3 cups baby arugula

1. Prepare cauliflower and add to a large bowl.
2. Prepare dressing: orange juice, lime zest, lime juice, vinegar, garlic and avocado oil. Set aside and whisk just before adding to the salad.
3. Add to the cauliflower the Belgian endives, chopped, the minced jalapeno, cilantro, pecans, coconut flakes and dates. Pour dressing on top and toss gently. Just before serving add the arugula and toss again. Salad will keep for a couple of days though the cilantro and arugula won’t be quite so fresh.
Per Serving: 251 Calories; 26g Fat (76.4% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 9mg Sodium.

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