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Sara

Sara and me

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Erik Larson’s tome, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. This book covers the “reign” of Winston Churchill during the height of WWII. You’ll learn so much more about him. About the war. About the inner workings of the British government, including political. I’m a great admirer of the late Mr. Churchill. One of my more recent trips to England I visited Chartwell, the family home and where Winston died. If you’ve never been there, do add it to your itinerary next time. Beautiful grounds, including the small studio he used to paint.

Ken Follett is one of my fav authors, and I pre-ordered his newest, The Evening and the Morning (Kingsbridge), which is a prequel to The Pillars of the Earth: A Novel (Kingsbridge), my all-time favorite book I’ve ever read. Time period: 975 to about 1007 or so. Give or take. It follows a poor, but eager and intelligent builder as he earns his trade. It’s about his loves. His failures. The families all around, and much about the ever-present church (and its leaders, some honest, many not). Could hardly put the book down. Love Follett’s style of writing.

Every so often I read a romance of some kind. Historical ones mostly. And most I don’t include them here. But one I liked a lot is The Secrets of Saffron Hall by Clare Marchant. It happens to be very inexpensive right now on amazon, on Kindle, in case you’re interested. It jumps from 1538 and to 2019. Having to do with a precious book, a Book of Hours, and what secrets it contains. The growing of saffron plays large here and both romance in Tudor times and a tenuous marriage in current time, but nearly all of it takes place at a Tudor castle. Loved the book.

The book Where the Blind Horse Sings: Love and Healing at an Animal Sanctuary shares the story of a number of animals brought to an animal sanctuary in the Catskills. If you’re an animal lover, you’ll enjoy the stories, each animal bringing more to the human-animal relationship than you might even guess. Profound stories of love of animals. Not a long book; I think I got it as a bargain book from bookbub.

The title caught my attention on this one: Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim by Sabeeha Rehman. She’s written her own autobiography, beginning when she was a young child in Pakistan, to her eventual settling in New York. It’s about the Muslim experience. Their beliefs, their customs and traditions, told in a very pleasing and informational way. She marries in American Pakistani Muslim (an arranged marriage) and it’s the story of everything. Nothing much is left out of the journey she made, and still makes. She became a kind of activist for her religion, trying to bring Muslim customs to integrate into American culture (not always an easy task). Her husband is a doctor; she a hospital administrator. Likely you’ll learn more than you thought about Muslims. Very well written. Enjoyed it very much.

Finished Chinn’s story, The English Wife. What a great read. Could hardly put it down. I’m reading 3-4 books a week these days, and am so happy when I have a book I can’t wait to get back to. Really the story is about two sisters. Partly in Norwich, England, then in Newfoundland. One there, one here. And some of it takes place during WWII in Norwich, and much of it Newfoundland, then, and more recent. I loved the part of the book that took place on 9/11 when flights were diverted to Newfoundland. Family secrets, family lies, much anger between the sisters. There’s romance. There’s war. There is love of family. Particularly I savored the descriptions of Newfoundland, mostly rock, if you’ve never been there. It’s a twisted tale, by that I mean the family secrets which become the undoing. It’s a bargain on amazon right now, as I write this.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. The story is all about Mary, her growing up, her scholarly pursuits, and then from the moment she meets Jesus as a young man. The story follows along to and beyond his death on the cross. In the time of Christ it was extremely uncommon for a man not to marry. It was almost unseemly. Fraught with suspicions, I’d suppose. Although scripture, as scripture, does not play a very strong part here, if you’ve read the Bible you’ll see many of the stories of Jesus’ life through Mary’s eyes. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. Her husband was a journalist, and his life was always in danger because he wrote the truth, and that was taking a risk. The story is about her escape, with harrowing chapters as she makes her way north from Acapulco, with various major detours, one step, or sometimes nothing more than a hair’s width ahead of the cartel minions trying to find her. I could NOT put this book down. The author is not Hispanic, and some have criticized her for that, but she did her research, and many authors write about places and people they are not. I have nothing but respect for her having told this story. You need to read this.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice, living in an English home which lacks much, leaps to agree to marry a visiting American. It was an escape for her. He is a man of some family wealth, and she travels from England to Kentucky, during the 1920s. Once settled into the family home, she discovers married life is not what she had expected. Affection is lacking, and she must share the home with her tyrannical father-in-law, the owner of mines in the deep mountains. And with the ghost of the deceased mother-in-law. The family cook won’t tolerate Alice’s help in the kitchen. Alice is terribly lonely and unhappy. The town doesn’t much like this English woman with her funny way of speaking. But then, she meets a woman who encourages her to join the Horseback Librarians. With trepidation, she begins traversing the remote hills, through unbelievable weather, to deliver old, battered and tattered books to the remote inhabitants of the area. She makes friends, wonderful, loving people from all walks of life. There is tremendous tension from the danger of the mines, the unions trying to get a foothold, plus the unraveling of her marriage, including the dreaded father-in-law who feels she should answer to him, behave as he wants. Uh, no. Alice goes her own route. Her new friends become her family, and, oh, what love. There has been much criticism of Moyes’ possible plagiarism of another book regarding the Horseback Librarians. I read the other book – but I didn’t feel remotely as intrigued by that story as I was by Moyes’ version. A feel good story, but it takes some while getting to that “feel good” part, nearly to the end.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat. It’s about Ellen. Her early years, under much hardship. About her teens, some of it as an orphan. Then a young adult, which includes marriage, a marriage blanc, which I didn’t understand until you learn the meaning. Then a child enters the picture, a child that will become a focus for the remainder of the book. Through the war, and beyond. I cried several times, as will you, I suspect. What’s a constant is the descriptions of the place, a town called Upton, near Southampton. About the hills and dales, the flora and fauna, the rain, the mud sometimes, the flooding sometimes. But throughout, it’s about neighbors caring for neighbors, and about love. A must read. Would make a really good book club read.

Jamie Ford has written another good one, Love and Other Consolation Prizes. Remember, he wrote The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Loved that book. This one takes on a rather ugly part of America’s past, when Chinese people were treated like trinkets. Ernest Young is such a boy, who ends up being a “prize” at an event, and with great angst, ends up as a kind of servant at a high-class bordello in Seattle. Yet, the women and girls there become HIS family. He is intelligent and learns many lessons. Eventually, when society women battle to close down such houses of ill repute, he leaves that life, with his wife. They have children. The bulk of the book is about the early years around the turn of the 20th century, then you pick up the threads nearing the end of his life, and his wife’s. There are any number of small mysteries, which unravel with a word here or there – you know that word foreshadowing? Really interesting read.

In between more literary novels, I bought a comedic memoir . . . Juliette Sobanet’s Meet Me in Paris. There’s the falling apart of a marriage (and divorce), but in the inbetween, she decides to take a trip (sans husband) around Europe to get her head straight. The kind of tour that would drive me crazy, but it was one night, maybe two at each major city. She knew no one, but soon enough bonds with  three other women. Then she has a chance-meeting of a young Frenchman who had been an exchange student in her home town. They’d lost touch, yet there were definitely sparks there, never realized. Some of the touristy stuff was trite, I must say, although the women do try to take in all the major sites, if only for a few minutes. There is plenty of humor. Some steamy stuff too as she meets up with the young man in another city. Apparently it’s a happy-ever-after story. Great literature it is not, but it was a fun romp, so to speak.

Recently finished Thomas Nelson’s The Hideaway. It seems like there are SO many novels out there about families finding, inheriting or otherwise going to an old house with memories. Especially ones on the water. With stories to tell. It’s a great way to introduce some light mystery to the telling of some other family story. In this case it’s Sara’s grandmother who was enigmatic in every way. And Sara inherits the run-down, ramshackle B&B on Mobile Bay. Cute story with lots of twists and turns.

Also just finished James Conroyd Martin’s Fortune’s Child: A Novel of Empress Theodora (Book 1 of 2). Theodora grew up the daughter of a circus performer, but then moved onto “the boards,” as acting was called back in Byzantine times (Constantinople, 6th century). She always had high expectations – she just “knew” she was going to accomplish great things. She was an occasional prostitute, a mistress, and then, behold, the son of Emperor Justin is mesmerized by her beauty, takes her on, and makes her his wife, amid much royal machinations. A young eunuch also plays large in the story too, a man hopelessly in love with Thea, but knows his love can never be returned or fulfilled. He becomes an historian to the Empress. Quite a story – much of it chronicles her early life and not a lot of it in Constantinople. But riveting story.

I’m doing SO much reading of late. Read this book in one day. The Glass Hotel: A novel by Emily St. John Mandel. Loosely based on the story of Bernie Madoff (Ponzi scheme), it tells a novelized version of a man with incredible power and charisma who gathers a group of willing partners. It’s about the people he cuckolded, and the people who took him down. At the beginning drugs come into play and I almost didn’t continue, but that was a very short section. Well worth reading. Lots to discuss if you’re looking for a book club read.

Once in awhile I read a poignant animal story, as you know if you’ve followed this sidebar for any length of time. Craig & Fred: A Marine, A Stray Dog, and How They Rescued Each Other by Craig Gross, tells the story of his military duty in Afghanistan, in a war zone. And how his unit befriended a dog, a stray, and how that dog really did become his lifeline.

Cara Wall’s new book, The Dearly Beloved: A Novel. It tells the story of two couples. The two husbands become co-pastors of a New York City church. The wives? Oh my, are they ever different. They don’t abide. The husbands try to get a grip on their jobs, pastoring, preaching, and keeping the wives happy.

Loved-loved Gregory Buford’s humorous memoir, Kept: An American Househusband in India. He aims to be a U.S. diplomat, takes the tests and fails. On a whim, his wife takes the test and is hired. Their first assignment: Chennai, India. They spent two years there, with his much-loved wife going off to do diplomatic duties (albeit at a low level – everyone must pay their dues at the beginning) and Greg is left at home to deal with the servants, the house, the beggars, the nanny, the construction next door, shopping, and also partly caring for their infant.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Shirley Ann Grau’s book, The Keepers of the House. Hmmm. Much to think about. [from an amazon review]: There is a reason it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1965. Seven generations of Howlands have lived on this rural Alabama plantation in good times and bad. It tells the story of this family from the time its patriarch settled the land in the early 1800s to the mid-20th century.

Marie Martin wrote Harbored Secrets. From amazon: In May of 1935, Blinny Platt’s homestead shack burns to the ground forever leaving her family asunder, scattering them like the embers flew on the Montana wind. She was only 8, sent away and in charge of her little sister. She could handle that because Platts take care of Platts. However, it is the hidden secrets of her parents smoldering beneath the charred remains that haunts Blinny until 1982.

Best book I’ve read recently. Not new. Called Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape. I stayed up all hours to keep reading. The book was written from the many journals and writing compiled by her children. Her name: Mary Ingles. And it chronicles her 1000-mile trek in treacherous weather and over uncharted ground. What an amazing woman, and what a story.

Alan Hlad has written quite a novel. From true life. The Long Flight Home. It tells the story based on family history, of the homing pigeons that were used in Britain during WWII that flew back and forth across the English Channel into German-occupied France. It’s a heartwarming story. Heart-wrenching sometimes. War is an awful thing no matter which side you’re on when it comes to how it affects everyday people. You’ll learn a lot about pigeons, but also about love. Great read.

Riveted to Katie Munnick’s novel The Heart Beats in Secret. It begins in Scotland in 1940. A woman, a single mother. A journey across the sea. Then her daughter’s story, and finally the granddaughter’s story, when she inherits her grandmother’s old cottage back in Scotland. Plenty of mother-daughter dysfunction. But it comes right in the end.

Sarah Vallance has written a book about her devastating brain injury. Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain. What a story. What a saga of her recovery. And how she did it. An open wide sharing of her angst, her anger, her journey. Well worth reading. If you have anyone who has suffered a brain injury, it would be wise reading.

Just love all of Amy Harmon’s books. This one is no exception. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel. A pioneer story of a young woman made a widow on the trail to the west. 1850s. As it was in life, tragedies occur. But there is caring and love too. Loved it.

Read Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers. After leaving her childhood home of Switzerland, young Marta Schneider dreams of one day owning a boardinghouse, until marriage and motherhood change her ambitions. Determined to give her family a better life, she vows to raise strong children. But her tough love is often misunderstood, especially by her oldest daughter, Hildemara Rose, creating repercussions that will echo for generations.

Esther Freud’s book The Sea House: A Novel is about a small village on England’s southern coast.  The book is about love found, love lost, love sometimes found again, sometimes not. About how fleeting it can be or seem.

Amor Towles’ book, Rules of Civility: A Novel was quite a read. It’s NYC, 1937. Twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent [Kon-TENT she iterates to many] is in a Greenwich Village jazz bar when a handsome banker happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society.

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien. What an adorable book. True story about Stacey’s 20 years with a feisty but lovable barn owl.

Loved The Wedding Officer: A Novel by Anthony Capella. It takes place in the middle of WWII in Naples. A young British officer, Captain James Gould, is sent to Naples to wade through the zilions of applications from soldiers to marry local Italian women (and presumably take them back to England when the war ends).

Reading behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian by Jill Grunenwald. So interesting. Jill is  young, with a newly minted degree in library science at a time when the economy was very slow. She accepts a position in a minimum security prison in Ohio.

The Walls of Lucca by Steve Physioc. A novel that takes place in between WWI and II about a weary Italian soldier.

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna. A novel about Croatia in the aftermath of their more recent wars.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

Having read all of Kristin Hannah’s books, I knew I’d read her latest too: Between Sisters: A Novel.  Two sisters, raised by the same mother but different fathers. At a young age a rift occurs and the sisters go their own way.

Just finished Matt McCarthy’s book The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year. It tells the true life story of his first year as an intern at a New York hospital.

Also read Karen Harper’s book The Royal Nanny: A Novel. The time frame is 1890s onward, at Sandringham, when Charlotte Bill (a real person) was hired by the Duke and Duchess of York, to care for their children.

Also read Roger Swindell’s Mendelevski’s Box. It’s an historical novel about the aftermath of WWII in impoverished Amsterdam.

Also read a very quirky non-fiction book: The Perfect Gentleman: The remarkable life of Dr. James Miranda Barry by June Rose. This is a biography about a person who lived in the mid-1800s. He was a surgeon; graduated from Edinburgh Medical School at the age of 14. Joined the British Army as a medical officer then sent off to South Africa and many other tropical outposts during his career.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. The premise of this book is different . . . a woman writer goes to Scotland to connect with her distant heritage.

Another great read, The Island of Sea Women: A Novel by Lisa See. It’s about Jeju Island off the coast of Korea where the island as a whole is matriarchal because the women were trained from a young age to deep dive, free dive, for mollusks. These women were the breadwinners. Husbands stayed home and cared for the babies. The island is real. The history is real.

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford. A novel about the early days of radio in London.

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler. This book is a novel, but based on the life of Alva Smith Vanderbilt (Belmont). Her family was nearly destitute (and faking it) when a marriage was proposed for her with William Vanderbilt.  You see the inner life of Alva – her day to day busy work, charity work, visiting for afternoon tea, the undercurrent of society’s morals.

Also read In Falling Snow: A Novel, by Mary-Rose McColl. From amazon: Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. 

Also couldn’t put down The Secret Wife by Gill Paul. A long story that begins in war-torn Russia. Cavalry officer Dmitri falls head over heels in love with one of the daughters of Tzar Nicholas.

Uncommon Woman. A book about Colonial America, but really the western frontier at that time, which is in western Pennsylvania.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. And then what happens to him as he grows up. Riveting.

Moloka’i: A Novel by Alan Brennert. A riveting book about the early days of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and the stigma attached to the victims AND their families. It chronicles the story of a young woman, diagnosed almost as a child, and ostracized from her family, subsequently learning to live alone and remote.

House by the Fjord by Rosalind Laker. What a darling story. From amazon: A touching and atmospheric love story – When Anna Harvik travels to Norway in 1946 in order to visit the family of her late husband, the country is only just recovering from five cruel years of Nazi occupation.

Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This story, which takes place in a kind of Texas backwater, sets a town into an angry mess when two young boys, one white, one black, become friends, something most folks don’t like. At all. There’s a dog involved, the father of the black boy, the father of the white boy plus a woman who lives in the town and does her best to avoid people altogether. But they all get fused. Wonderful story.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. You might think what a stretch – what does an Indian (Native American) tribe have to do with the FBI. Read and you’ll find out. This is back in time, 50s I think, and a number of murders have taken place on the Osage Reservation. A wake up call, even for today.

Oh wow. Just finished reading David Guterson’s book, East of the Mountains. You know this author from his most well known book, Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the Cedars book when I read it years ago, and assumed I’d like this other book (not new) as well. Have you learned to trust my judgment when I tell you, you HAVE to read a book? If I tell you the story line, I can already hear you thinking . . . oh no, I don’t want to read this kind of a book. Please trust me. You’ll come away from it being glad you did.

A fabulous read – Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? Raymond, a youngster, an older teenager, who  lacks self-confidence and feels like an odd duck sometimes, reluctantly (at first) befriends an elderly woman in the apartment building where he lives with his mother and step-father. Sweet story.

Magic Hour: A Novel

Excellent Women

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee. Everyone should read this one.

An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel by Tayari Jones. DIdn’t like it much, but others do.

Recently finished Sally Field’s memoir (autobiography) called In Pieces.

If you want grit, well, read Kristen Hannah’s newest book, The Great Alone: A Novel.

You’ve got to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book – Take Me With You. What a story.

 

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 Chicken, on October 19th, 2020.

food_cart_chix_curry

My riff on a chicken curry recipe similar to what’s served from food carts in India.

You all know who Ruth Reichl is, right? From the venerable halls of food writers and editors, and cookbook authors. Memoir writers too. She used to work at the Los Angeles Times, so I’d been familiar with her for decades. I’m not sure which one of her books this recipe came from (I own a couple of her books, but not all of them). She’s such a good writer, witty and informative, providing plenty of humility when it comes to cooking. Anyway, this came through on one of my feeds from a blog – not sure which one. So the story goes, Ruth has spent more than one trip food-crawling in India, or maybe it was a similar food-crawl in New York City, but no matter how, this is one of her favorite pastimes, partaking of the chicken served from street food carts. She wrote:

The entire city smells like curry. Passing the fourth halal chicken cart, I can’t resist.

Spicy, tangy, irresistible. The taste of now.” Ruth Reichl

Lately I’ve been craving curry again, and since this was a recent recipe I added to my chicken recipes, it was what was on my mind. As I’m writing this it’s early October and this won’t post until later in the month, but what’s important is that I finally began going to grocery stores. It had been 7 months since I’d set foot in one. For my first foray, I visited a nice, new one, a bit smaller than the mega-grocery chains, and found it not crowded, which made me feel better about being there. I was able to buy a red onion for this dish, then I defrosted a pouch of chicken thighs. I used most of them in a soup that I’ll post in a few days, but I saved out some and made this chicken curry and served it on a bed of cauliflower rice.

Several hours ahead I marinated the chicken in a mixture of spices, with some EVOO and lemon juice added. That rested in the frig. Meanwhile I pulsed some fresh cauliflower (I’ve made a big decision – I much prefer prepping a big whole cauliflower into “cauliflower rice” than I like eating the stuff already prepared and sold as “cauliflower rice.” I’m guessing that by the time it gets to stores, it’s several days old. I may never buy the cut up bag  (but still raw) stuff again. I cooked the cauliflower rice in butter over low heat until it was just barely tender.

zucchini_with_food_cart_chix

The CHICKEN: When you’re ready to cook, have everything ready, as the dinner comes together quickly. Into a nonstick pan the chicken goes – it doesn’t need any fat as there is enough in the marinade. Cook it low and slow – it takes about 10 minutes. Test a little piece of chicken to see if it’s done. As I said, meanwhile I did the cauliflower with nothing more than butter in it. I plated the dish.

The ZUCCHINI: I also chopped up one big zucchini and sautéed it in the same pan once I removed the curry. The pan still had a bit of fat in it, AND some of the wonderful spices too. So I got two portions of veggies – the cauliflower rice under the curry AND the zucchini on the side.

I scaled down this recipe since I’m just one person, but two chicken thighs made enough for me to have at least 2 meals. I might even stretch it to 3. Especially if I serve a moderate portion of the zucchini as well. The only change I made to this recipe was to add some Greek yogurt at the end. And I used a bit more of the oregano than the original called for. As for the yogurt – I like a creamy curry. Street carts don’t do that, apparently, so I did veer off a little bit. Food carts serve a cold sauce on the side that’s a mixture of yogurt, mayo, sugar, salt, pepper and vinegar. So, your choice. I let the yogurt simmer too long so it began to separate – so do as I say, not as I did – simmer the yogurt for just long enough to heat it through, then serve.

What’s GOOD: This dish is divine! What else can I say – SO delicious. So comfort-food for me. I nearly licked the plate. Everything about it was fantastic. I’ll be making this again and again. Thank you, Ruth Reichl!

What’s NOT: only that you need to start this the night before or at least 4 hours ahead to marinate the chicken. The seasoning permeates the chicken well during that time – don’t eliminate that step.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Food Cart Chicken Curry

Recipe By: Adapted from Ruth Reichl
Serving Size: 4

1 pound chicken thigh, meat only — boneless, skinless
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 red onion — halved, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
2 cloves garlic — minced
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt, full-fat
Cilantro as garnish
Serve with rice or cauliflower rice and zucchini on the side

NOTE: I served this with a side of zucchini, trimmed, chopped, and cooked quickly over high heat in the seasoning and oil that was left in the skillet after making the curry.
1. Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks, and slice the onion into thin slices.
2. Make a paste by combining the olive oil with 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, the coriander, garlic, curry powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper.
3. Place onions and chicken into a plastic bag, with the marinade, and squish it all round so the onions and chicken are thoroughly coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
4. Add onions and chicken to large skillet (nonstick) and saute for about 5 minutes, tossing every minute or so. It will splutter a bit.Taste the chicken to see if it’s tender and add additional salt and pepper to taste.
5. Serve over white rice or cauliflower rice. At many food carts they serve this with a white sauce – combine equal parts of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt, then add a dollop of sugar, salt and pepper, and a splash of vinegar. Some prefer to sprinkle on red hot sauce.
Per Serving: 354 Calories; 22g Fat (57.3% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 138mg Cholesterol; 157mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 43mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 372mg Potassium; 227mg Phosphorus.

Posted in easy, Fish, on October 16th, 2020.

steamed_salmon_butter_sauce_spinach

Such an easy dinner – and so savory. Salmon is super tender.

About a week ago my grandson, Vaughan, age 13, came to stay with me for about 5 days. He lives about an hour or two away and his parents were taking a quick trip to Montana, and he would have had wi-fi difficulty there as he is doing middle school remotely for now. He’s been a joy to have around, and on top of that, he knows how to cook. His parents are foodies, and I’ve posted numerous pictures and recipes from Karen, my daughter-in-law, and of my son Powell’s grilling pursuits. Vaughan’s not like a lot of kids, unwilling to try new things. Nope. He’ll try most everything, and even likes vegetables (most, anyway). He asked if we could have salmon one night – sure, I said. Had some in the freezer, so he told me what he needed. Usually he makes this with watercress, but that I didn’t have, so we used spinach instead.

vaughan_cooking

There he is, stirring the lemon butter sauce, and the salmon is in the closer pan, lidded for steaming.

This recipe is so very easy. You could pull this together in a matter of about 20 minutes with no difficulty at all. It helps if you have everything out and ready, mis en place. The salmon is salted and peppered. You bring about an inch of water to a boil in a pan large enough to hold the salmon, and tall enough so the lid won’t rest on the salmon (like mine did). Use a steamer basket or rack. We used a small metal rack, then I put the salmon on a piece of foil, poked about 20 little holes in the foil and put that in the pan. The lid went on and we started a timer for 5 1/2 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan (the one he’s stirring) he melted butter, then added just a little jot of lemon juice (and add more, he says, if you like a more lemony taste). If you have thicker salmon, it might need an extra minute, or if your salmon is thinner, maybe 30-60 seconds less time. Remove the salmon when it has reached 135°F.

Once the salmon was cooked – we tested it  – we removed the salmon and the rack. If you want, tent the salmon with foil to keep it warm. We poured out the water from the pan, then melted more butter and cooked the spinach. Taste for salt and pepper.

Simple – plate the salmon, place the spinach along side, then gently pour the butter sauce over the salmon. If some of it dribbles over the spinach that’s fine. Thank you, grandson Vaughan, for a delicious dinner!

What’s GOOD: for me, the fact that the dish was SO easy and quick to make, and it was so delicious. The salmon is super tender – just right. And the lemon butter sauce – not only is it hardly a cooked sauce, it was quick and added lovely flavor to the salmon.

What’s NOT: Nothing, really. The next time I make it I won’t have my grandson doing all the cooking!
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Steamed Salmon with Lemon Butter and Spinach

Recipe By: Adapted from Food & Wine
Serving Size: 4

SALMON:
2 pounds salmon fillets — cut into 4 pieces
salt and pepper to taste
LEMON BUTTER SAUCE:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons lemon juice — or more if you like more lemony flavor
SPINACH:
1 pound spinach — tough stems removed
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

NOTE: Select a pan or pot that will hold a steamer rack or similar device and be tall enough that the lid won’t touch the salmon. Or use a steam setting on a rice cooker or instant pot.
1. In a large pot, bring about an inch of water to a boil.
2. Season the salmon fillets with ample salt and pepper. Place them in a large steamer basket, skin-side down. Or improvise with a rack, a piece of foil that you poke about 20-30 holes in, and place that on top of the rack.
3. Place the steamer basket with the fish over (not in) the boiling water and cover the pan. Reduce heat to a full simmer and cook the salmon until it is just barely done (the fish should still be translucent in the center), about 5 1/2 minutes for a 1-inch-thick fillet. Do not over cook. Use an instant read thermometer and it’s done at 135°F.
4. Meanwhile, in a small stainless-steel saucepan, melt the butter. Add the lemon juice plus a dash of salt and pepper. Taste sauce to see if it needs additional lemon juice; if so, add in small increments. Keep warm.
5. Remove salmon, tent with foil, then empty the pan of water. Add butter and melt it, then add the spinach, pressing and nestling the spinach until it’s all in the pan. Stir well and continue cooking until spinach is fully cooked. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
6. Serve the salmon with the lemon butter sauce poured over it and spinach on the side.You may use frozen spinach for this.
Per Serving: 426 Calories; 23g Fat (49.4% calories from fat); 49g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 206mg Cholesterol; 227mg Sodium; 1g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 142mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 1618mg Potassium; 703mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on October 7th, 2020.

roasted_savoy_cabbage_cilantro_sesame

It’s been awhile since I wrote up a recipe where I blasted out at you saying – you have to make this! Maybe the Curried Shepherd’s Pie recently. I think I watched a Cook’s Country program where they made this cabbage – or maybe it was just that I’ve been going through my old issues pulling out recipes that sound amazing. This one did.

The recipe indicated it’s imperative you use Savoy and not a regular cabbage. Savoy is more delicate and roasts differently (quicker and better, I would imagine). Fortunately I was able to buy one and couldn’t wait to try this. You need to start about 45 minutes ahead of time – giving ample time for the oven to heat to 475°F, and to let a chunk of butter warm to room temp (important) and in that time you prep the cabbage. Pull off any discolored or damaged outer leaves. Cut the cabbage into wedges with EACH wedge containing part of the core (which holds it together during roasting). Foil line a roasting sheetpan. Using your hand, grab about a tablespoon of the softened butter (I warmed mine in the microwave – took about 14 seconds) and gently rub it on the two cut sides, the outer edge, then gently lift some of the layers and spread a bit in there too. There is not enough butter to do all the various layers.

savoy_before_roastingBoth sides of each wedge get a sprinkling of salt and pepper, then place them on the foil-lined baking pan. Cover the pan with another sheet of foil. Into the oven they go for 15 minutes. Then the top foil is removed, turn the pan around and put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes. In that time the edges will have turned golden and a few of the outer leaves may have blackened (it’s okay – they even taste good).

Meanwhile, you make the sauce: simple ingredients – unseasoned rice wine vinegar (if all you have is seasoned [sweetened] eliminate the honey), soy sauce, EVOO, honey, paprika, cayenne. I didn’t heat it as I was able to get the honey to dissolve with some vigorous stirring. Have at the ready a small amount of toasted sesame seeds, and a bit of chopped up cilantro leaves for garnish.

Once the cabbage comes out of the oven, it’s serving time. If you remember, trim off the cabbage core before plating. If you’re serving guests, have a heated platter (or pop one in that hot-hot oven for about 2-3 minutes before plating the cabbage on it). I used a spatula to pick up one wedge and onto my own dinner plate, then gently poured some of the sauce over the cut side. Those juices – some from the cabbage but also the sauce will pool a bit on the plate. Sprinkle the cut side with some toasted sesame seeds and cilantro. Done. For me, I used a half of the Savoy head, cut into 3 wedges. A whole head would serve 6 unless you have hungry football players at your table.

What’s GOOD: sublime. Absolutely unctuous, sweet (but not overly so), tasty cabbage. I had to restrain myself to not eat a second portion. I’d served it with a pork chop (another recipe coming up next) and was full – but I wanted more. I’m happy to have leftovers. Can’t wait!

What’s NOT: only that you want to start this about an hour ahead; maybe 45 minutes at a minimum. You could do all the prep ahead and the 30 minutes of roasting would be done at the last minute. This wasn’t quite as good warmed up as leftovers, so keep that in mind – only make as much as you need for one meal.

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Roasted Savoy Cabbage with Cilantro and Sesame

Recipe By: Cooks Country, Aug/Sept 2019
Serving Size: 6

2 pound savoy cabbage — tough outer leaves removed, cut into 4 or 6 even wedges
4 tablespoons salted butter — (1/2 stick) cut into 4 pieces and softened
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar — (do not use seasoned style)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon EVOO
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons sesame seeds — toasted
1 cup fresh cilantro — lightly packed, roughly chopped

NOTE: Do not use regular cabbage and do use softened butter. If you don’t have regular rice wine vinegar, you can use seasoned, but then eliminate the honey from the sauce. Depending on the size of the cabbage, you may get more servings from one cabbage.
1. Heat oven to 475°F with rack in middle position. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Using hands and 1 T butter per cabbage wedge, rub butter on all sides and into layers. Sprinkle each with 1/4 tsp salt and black pepper. Place wedges cut side down on baking sheet. Cover tightly with foil and roast until a skewer inserted at the thickest part of the cabbage meets a little resistance, about 15 min.
2. Uncover sheet pan and roast until deeply browned on all sides, another 15 min, flipping wedges halway through.
3. In small bowl whisk vinegar, soy, oil, honey, paprika, cayenne, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Set aside.
4. Transfer cabbage to cutting board, trim off and discard core from each wedge. Place cabbage on heated platter and drizzle each wedge with 1 T of sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro. Serve with remaining sauce on the side.
Per Serving: 161 Calories; 12g Fat (60.7% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 20mg Cholesterol; 397mg Sodium; 6g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 91mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 427mg Potassium; 99mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salads, Veggies/sides, on October 1st, 2020.

shaved_carrot_salad_poppy_seeds

An easy something-different, colorful side salad.

You may remember at least a month ago I mentioned that on September 1st, I was going to dig into my big plastic storage bin and bring out my fall décor, no matter that the temperatures here in SoCal are still hovering around 90 nearly every day and our state is being ravaged by wildfires. And I did get out the plates and décor. So the plate the carrots are resting upon are my fall/pumpkin plates that I’ve been using all month. I simply love this set of plates I bought at Williams-Sonoma last fall. They were on sale, so they weren’t as “dear” as they could have been. I’ll use them through Thanksgiving, then they’ll get put away and I’ll bring out my old Christmas set. Albeit I may be spending the holidays alone. Hope not, but all depends on Covid.

Anyway, when I had read the recipe for this carrot salad it just sounded different and relatively easy. I don’t buy big, honkin’ carrots anymore, but I get the smaller ones, so my “ribbons” weren’t quite as big as they might have been. But that makes no difference in the taste or texture. The carrot strips are tossed with salt and microwaved briefly – just until crisp-tender. Do NOT overcook them or you’ll lose the whole point of making this salad. Poppy seeds are toasted – let me just say that it’s kind of hard to determine that poppy seeds are toasted, unless there happen to be some white ones in the mix – and even then it was difficult. You’re not toasting them for color, merely for the toasted flavor. I don’t think I’ve ever in my cooking life toasted poppy seeds. Have you?

The dressing is made in the same saucepan you used for the poppy seeds, then that’s poured over the carrots and tossed. Once cool, you add the poppy seeds and parsley. Done. There is no reason this couldn’t be made hours ahead. I made a smaller batch and had enough for two servings, and it was fine the 2nd day.

What’s GOOD: loved the colorful quality, and enjoyed the just barely crisp tender texture. The lemon juice and EVOO dressing was lovely with the moderate hint of garlic. I couldn’t really taste the star anise. It was delicious altogether. Nice for guests, or a picnic too.

What’s NOT: only that  you do have to prep the carrots – not difficult. Even children who are safe with a vegetable peeler could do that part. You need to use a Y-shape peeler for this, in order to get the wide ribbons.

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Shaved Carrot Salad with Poppy Seeds and Parsley

Recipe By: Milk St. Magazine
Serving Size: 5

1 1/2 pounds carrots — peeled (about 4-5 large)
3/4 teaspoon salt — or more if needed
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/4 cup EVOO
2 medium garlic cloves — peeled, smashed
2 whole star anise
1/4 cup lemon juice — or more as needed
1 teaspoon sugar — or substitute
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley — chopped

1. Using Y-style vegetable peeler or mandoline, shave carrots from top to bottom into long, wide ribbons, rotating carrot as you go. If using smaller carrots it may be easier to go from bottom to top. Discard cores. Place ribbons in a large microwave-safe bowl and toss with 3/4 tsp salt. Cover and microwave on high until crisp-tender. Depending on the thickness of the carrots, this may be 1 1/2 to 3 or up to 5 minutes total. Stir once during cooking time and taste – don’t overcook. Set aside, uncovered, leaving any juices in the bowl.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, toast poppy seeds until they are darkened just slightly, about 2 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and set aside. In the same saucepan over medium heat add oil, garlic, and star anise, stirring occasionally, until the garlic begins to brown on the edges, 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add lemon juice and sugar, then whisk occasionally until sugar dissolves. Cook for about 3 minutes. Remove and discard (spoon out) the garlic and star anise.
3. Pour warm dressing over the carrots and toss. Let stand for 15 minutes. Add poppy seeds and parsley, then toss again. Taste and season with salt, sugar or more lemon juice as needed. Transfer to serving bowl and add more parsley as garnish.
Per Serving: 173 Calories; 12g Fat (59.5% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 446mg Sodium; 8g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 86mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 511mg Potassium; 72mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, Salads, on September 25th, 2020.

chicken_salad_grapes_dill

Maybe I’m bored with my own cooking of late. Decided to do something outside the box.

As I’ve mentioned many times here, most days I have soup (laden with lots of veggies) for lunch. But you probably heard earlier this month here in SoCal, the temps were in the 100s. One day it was 108 here at my house. Even though I have AC in my house (thank you, Lord!) I could still feel hot around the edges. I didn’t want hot soup, and the soup I had in the frig wasn’t one that could be eaten cold. So I decided to fix myself an open faced sandwich. I didn’t even have leftover chicken – so I used canned chicken. I do that sometimes when I’m not wanting to cook a chicken breast. Costco’s canned chicken is very good, if you’ve never tried it.

These days, with the pandemic still keeping me at home (oh, I’m so very tired of it), I don’t always have food items I need to make something new. So I used what I had and created a chicken salad and served it atop a nice wheat type thin slice of toast, some sliced avocado (hidden under the greenery) and with arugula. So, I thought about what I could do to make this salad different. Well, I had dill. Good, that would work. I had almonds in the freezer, so that was easy, although I didn’t toast them (it was just too hot even to turn on the toaster oven). I combined the chicken, Best Foods mayo, some minutely diced celery, lemon juice, a minced up green onion, some red grapes that I diced up (optional) and then I threw in a heaping tablespoon of mango chutney. That chutney was just the ticket. It added that slight bit of sweetness and flavor variation that I was seeking. I had enough to make this sandwich three times, although only the first time did I use the toast and avocados.

It took me very few minutes to make the salad, toast the bread, slice the avocado, chop up the arugula, mince the dill, and it was done. Don’t add salt until after you’ve tasted it – the mayo has some already – so I didn’t add any, though I did grind in some pepper.

What’s GOOD: very easy and quick to make. The mango chutney was the surprise flavor here, and I really liked it. The dill was another flavor profile I enjoyed. I don’t suppose this recipe will win any county fair prizes, but it was just the answer to my wish for something easy and different.

What’s NOT: well, during a pandemic, you might not have all the ingredients. I always keep Major Gray’s mango chutney in my refrigerator – it virtually keeps forever, and the other ingredients were all staples, except for the dill. I wish I could grow dill at my house, but it’s always too hot. This sandwich isn’t low calorie – I was kind of surprised when I looked at the nutrition count. Must be the mayonnaise!

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Chicken Salad – for open faced sandwich

Recipe By: My own combo, 2020
Serving Size: 3

CHICKEN MIXTURE:
1 1/4 cups cooked chicken — chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise — Best Foods
1 tablespoon lemon juice — or more to taste
2 tablespoons red grapes — chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons mango chutney
1/4 cup celery — minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill — chopped
1 whole green onion — diced
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
SANDWICH:
3 slices whole grain bread — toasted
1 avocado — thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups arugula — chopped
3 sprigs fresh dill — for garnish
2 tablespoons sliced almonds — for garnish

1. In a bowl combine all the chicken salad ingredients, reserving some of the almonds. Taste for seasoning. It may not need salt, but pepper for sure.
2. Place toast on individual plates, add avocado slices, mound arugula next, then spoon the chicken salad on top. Garnish with additional almond slices, and a sprig of dill.
Per Serving: 490 Calories; 24g Fat (43.5% calories from fat); 38g Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 89mg Cholesterol; 406mg Sodium; 6g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 120mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 817mg Potassium; 378mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, on September 19th, 2020.

curried_shepherds_pie_spoonful

Comfort food galore. Has the weather begun to cool for you? This casserole should be in your future.

Having a bit of ground beef and ground pork on hand, I needed to find a use for it, other than meatloaf or meatballs. When I spotted this old-old recipe I’ve had in my to-try file for a long time, I decided to lighten it up a bit by using riced cauliflower instead of potatoes. You don’t have to do that if you don’t care about the carbs. What you do need to know is that this casserole is spot-on fabulous. The original came from Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey, way back in 1984. But, I didn’t stick to the recipe exactly – mostly, but not verbatim.

curried_shepherds_pie_bakedFirst you cook some onions, then add garlic, then lastly a few spices (curry powder, obviously, plus ground cumin and ground coriander). Some tomatoes were added (I used fresh but you can use canned) and some chicken broth. That simmered for just a short time to blend the flavors.

Meanwhile, I cooked the cauliflower rice in an open pan so it wouldn’t get too wet and soggy. A tiny bit of butter was added, some salt and pepper, then I used my stick blender to mush it well – it didn’t need much of that – and I added in a little bit of frozen peas (I think you need them for color). The hot meat mixture went into a large ceramic pie plate (I made a half recipe), then the mashed cauliflower goes on top. I veered off just a bit by adding some grated Fontina cheese to the top. Oh-so-good.

You can bake the casserole right then, which will require nothing more than a bit of a broil to brown the top a little bit. I made it in the morning, chilled it, then baked it for about 45 minutes in my toaster oven, then turned on the broil element and browned the top with the cheese on it. The photo above, left, is the finished casserole.

It’s good to let it sit for at least 5 minutes, because it’s way too hot to eat. That was my dinner – since there were veggies on the top (the cauliflower rice, pureed) I had a full meal with my serving. But, I went back for seconds it was so darned good.

What’s GOOD: well, I love Shepherd’s Pie in any way, shape or form. This one, though, with the curry flavors, was exceptional. And how did the cauliflower go as far as a stand-in for potatoes? Well, it wasn’t JUST like potatoes, but it was close enough. It gave me the illusion anyway. As I write this I’ve had it twice, and there are at least 2 more servings in the casserole. I’ll probably freeze one portion. Remember, though, I halved the recipe. SO good.

What’s NOT: nothing whatsoever. Delicious on all levels.

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Curried Shepherd’s Pie

Recipe By: Adapted from Craig Claiborne & Pierre Franey, 1984
Serving Size: 7-8

1 tablespoon EVOO — or vegetable or corn oil
3/4 cup finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon garlic — finely minced
1 tablespoon curry powder — or more if desired
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 pounds lean ground beef — or can use half beef, half ground pork or lamb
Freshly ground pepper and sea salt to taste
1 cup tomatoes — canned imported tomatoes or fresh, chopped
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
CAULIFLOWER “POTATOES”
1 large cauliflower — or use an equivalent of cauliflower rice
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups frozen peas
1 1/2 cups Fontina cheese — grated, for topping

1. Heat the oil in a skillet and add the onions and garlic over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are wilted. Add the curry powder, cumin and coriander and cook briefly, stirring.
2. Add the meat and cook, stirring down with the side of a heavy kitchen spoon to break up the lumps. Add salt, pepper, the tomatoes, broth, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 20 to 30 minutes.
3. While the meat is cooking, cook the cauliflower in a bit of water or broth. When the mixture is cooked, test for doneness and make sure mixture is not too wet. If it is, continue cooking them until the mixture dries some. Use a stick blender to puree the cauliflower. Stir in frozen peas and cook very briefly.
6. Season with butter, salt and pepper.
7. Heat an eight-cup baking dish and pour the hot curried meat into it. Top with the hot mashed cauliflower. Smooth over the top. Sprinkle with cheese.
8. Broil until the top is golden brown. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then serve.
9. If making ahead, chill, then bring out of the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before baking at 350°F for about 45-60 minutes. Turn on the broiler at the end to brown the cheese. If you’re not sure it’s hot, use an instant read thermometer – it should reach about 150°F.
Per Serving: 477 Calories; 28g Fat (53.3% calories from fat); 44g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 148mg Cholesterol; 582mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 323mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 736mg Potassium; 498mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beverages, on September 13th, 2020.

watermelon_cocktail

Want something really refreshing and different? Oh my, were these delicious!

My daughter-in-law, Karen, made these cocktails recently, when I visited with them for a part of a day. They’re really like a smoothie in texture, but they are an alcoholic beverage. So, it’s for sipping on a hot day. You know how I get such a kick out of where recipes come from – this is one of those. I asked Karen if it would be okay to post this on my blog – she said of course – and then she went hunting for the recipe. She said it came from chewy. Say what? Chewy? If you’re not an animal owner, you’ve probably never heard of chewy. Chewy is an online pet food supply company.

shelby_2020I do subscribe to Chewy, so I get an email from them every few days, because I do buy from them occasionally, for my kitty-cat. But what surprised me was how far she (and I) had to drill down within their website to find this. It had to do with hydration. Karen, Powell and grandson Vaughan, own a Bernese Mountain Dog (think: huge, picture at left – and by the way, he’s an AKC champion). He’s a very lovable pet but he’s almost all black, so they are careful about taking him for walks when it’s hot, as the heat can really fatigue him in a hurry. But anyway, Karen was intrigued by the little subtitle regarding keeping your animal hydrated, and it was with watermelon. Once she read their write-up about it, at the end they offered another option – to make the hydration watermelon pet oriented non-alcoholic mock-tail into an adult drink. What fun, huh?

You do need to plan ahead a bit – as cubed watermelon needs to be frozen first, as those frozen cubes become the freezing catalyst to make this a smoothie style drink. Coconut milk (oh, do use the full fat to get the most flavor). Karen used Trader Joe’s brand. Add in a jigger of Malibu coconut rum, whiz it up (but not overly so or you’ll add in too much air), pour into a glass and add the lime juice to taste. Easy.

What’s GOOD: refreshing is all I can say. Lovely texture and flavors all around.

What’s NOT: nothing other than you do need to freeze the watermelon cubes ahead of time, and you need to have the Malibu rum, coconut milk and limes on hand.

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Watermelon Cocktail

Recipe By: From chewy.com
Serving Size: 1

2 cups watermelon — cubed, frozen
1/3 cup coconut milk — light or full fat
1 jigger Malibu coconut rum — or more to taste
1 lime — juiced, or up to two

1 Add frozen watermelon and coconut milk to a blender and pulse until it reaches a slushie consistency. Add coconut rum (to taste) and pulse again. Pour into a cocktail glass.
2 Slice the lime in half and squeeze the juice of both halves into the cocktail glass. Taste for the sweet-sour taste and add more lime juice as needed.
Per Serving (excluding the rum, as I don’t know the nutrition info on it): 346 Calories; 20g Fat (46.1% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 47g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 18mg Sodium; 33g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 68mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 809mg Potassium; 144mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, on September 7th, 2020.

swedish_kalpudding

This is definitely a savory dish – no pudding as we know it – it’s made with ground beef, ground pork and a lot of cabbage. And then there’s a luscious little drizzle of a sauce that starts with jam or preserves.

Back when my DH (dear hubby Dave) was alive, I cooked a regular dinner every night, unless we went out, or unless we had sufficient leftovers. Now, 6+ years on, my routine is changed significantly. About once I week I fix a traditional dinner with a meat, a veg and maybe a salad. Most evenings now, I make a big green salad with lots of raw veggies in it, with just a speck of some protein (chicken, tuna or eggs). On one of the weekend evenings, I often will fix that more traditional dinner, though. And I think back, fondly, that my DH rarely asked I cook anything in particular  – he was happy with whatever I wanted to make, bless him! Occasionally he’d ask if maybe we could barbecue a steak, as he wanted them more frequently than I thought we should. So, obviously, it was left to the cook in the house as to “what shall we have for dinner?” Most frequently my weekend meal is some kind of salmon since it’s so good for us, and I love it. The rest of the time, well, I leave it to my cravings, which are a kind of whimsical thing. I looked it up:

Often, the craving is for foods high in sugar and fats, which can make maintaining a healthful diet difficult. Food cravings are caused by the regions of the brain that are responsible for memory, pleasure, and reward. An imbalance of hormones, such as leptin and serotonin, can also cause food cravings. – from a medical website

In this instance, I don’t think it was that I was craving sugar or fat, so what does that say? What I really wanted was a casserole of some kind. And casseroles usually have carbs. That may have been my desire, yet I try really hard to eat very little carbohydrates. I still do – fruit are, and even some veggies have carbs. It’s the obvious carbs I steer clear from, like potatoes, rice, pasta, beans, bread, corn and peas. Then there’s the sugar carbs – baked goods and desserts.

swedish_kalpudding_casseroleLast week I ordered a food delivery from Amazon/Whole Foods. In the order I’d asked for a pound of organic ground pork that I was going to stick in the freezer – probably to make a fall style dish, maybe meatballs in a month or so. I didn’t know what. So when they delivered the food, it was ground beef, not ground pork. Sigh. Then my neighbor made a trip to Trader Joe’s and she found ground pork there. Rather than freezing both chunks of meat, I decided to fix something with them. So you’ll find this recipe, and probably another one shortly with the second half of the meat.

Looking up recipes in my to-try repertoire, I found a bunch (many meatball oriented) including this dish. It was probably the cabbage that sucked me in. Meatloaf is something I do crave now and then – I’d like nothing better than to have my tried and true favorite one, Sweet and Sour Meatloaf. I wrote up that recipe during the first year I had this blog, 2007. But it contains quite a bit of sugar in the tomato sauced topping, and I try to steer away from those kinds of recipes too, as best I can. Although I could easily substitute monkfruit brown sugar in lieu of the regular stuff and see if I liked it. And use cauliflower mashed potatoes. Maybe I will do that sometime soon as well. Recently I watched a Rachel Ray show and was intrigued with her Sicilian Meatballs. They are calling my name too.

swedish_kalpudding_raw_meatMeanwhile, back to this dish . . . sorry, that was a whole lot of trivia and not getting to this recipe. The explanation about this dish (I had to look it up online) is that kal in Swedish means cabbage. Someone wrote that if you’d written it as Col-pudding, lots of English/Irish speakers would know cabbage (from colcannon, potatoes and cabbage). The pudding part is so misleading. We think pudding must be sweet, but to the Swedes, I guess it’s not. It has to do with minced meat, and a savory pudding means meatloaf.

swedish_kalpudding_ready2bakeFirst you cook the cabbage in butter and a bit of molasses. In Sweden I think they’d use Lyle’s golden syrup, but most westerners would use molasses. I have some Lyle’s, but didn’t want to open the jar, so I used the molasses on the shelf. It doesn’t need much. It helps the cabbage caramelize and gives it a lovely lightly sweetened taste. It took awhile, probably 15-20 minutes, to get the cabbage cooked down and slightly caramelized. The molasses gives it the dark brown color.

Meanwhile you mix up the meatloaf part with raw onion, salt, pepper, cream and about a third of the cooked cabbage (chopped up finely). No egg in this one. It also had some bread crumbs (I used panko because that’s all I keep on hand). I halved the recipe below and I think I’ll have 3-4 more servings of it, so I used a smaller casserole dish. The meat was spread into the bottom, then the caramelized cabbage is spread on top and leveled a bit. You pour on a little bit of broth on top. It’s been way too hot to turn on my main oven lately, so I baked it in my toaster oven (it has lots of functions, so I used bake at first) and then at the end I turned on the broil function to crisp up the cabbage a little bit. Hence the finished dish (up a few paragraphs) looks slightly burned, but it’s not. Trust me on that!

swedish_kapudding_sauceWhile the meat is baking, you mix up the sauce. Lingonberry jam is what’s called for, but I didn’t have any, but I did have blueberry preserves, so they had to suffice. It’s heated up with some butter, red wine vinegar, and then a moderate amount (to taste) of Worcestershire sauce. Someone else who made this recipe substituted raspberry jam for the lingonberries. I know I could buy some if I made a trip to Ikea. It’s about 15 miles away – too far, plus I’m not shopping in stores.

What’s GOOD: altogether delicious. It definitely satisfied my cravings for a casserole. The meat was very light and tasty, and the cabbage is certainly a great variation on meatloaf. Then the sauce – oh yes, that part is really, really good. Yes, I’d make it again. I think I might make it in a bread pan next time – it might make for easier slicing and serving.

What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of, really. Very easy to make. Very filling.

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Swedish Kalpudding (Meatloaf with Caramelized Cabbage)

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from The New York Times, Sam Sifton, March 2017
Serving Size: 6

MEATLOAF:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 head cabbage — green, approximately 3 pounds, cored and shredded
3 tablespoons Molasses
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper — to taste
3/4 pound ground beef
3/4 pound ground pork
1 small yellow onion — peeled and chopped
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons bread crumbs
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth — beef or vegetable stock
FOR THE SAUCE:
1/3 cup lingonberry preserves — or blueberry
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter — optional
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce — or to taste

1. Heat oven to 350. Put a large pan over medium-high heat, and add the butter. When it starts to foam, add the cabbage and molasses, lower the heat to medium and sprinkle with salt. Cook slowly, stirring often, until all the liquid has evaporated and the cabbage is caramelized, approximately 20-25 minutes.
2. While the cabbage is cooking, lightly mix the meats in a large bowl, then add the onion, cream, salt, pepper and breadcrumbs, and mix again to combine.
3. When the cabbage is done, remove about 1/3 of it to a cutting board and chop more finely. Add it to the meat mixture, and mix to combine. Transfer the meat mixture to baking pan or ceramic casserole dish, spreading it out to cover the whole surface evenly. Spread remaining cabbage over the meat, then pour the stock or water over the top and place in the oven, on a sheet tray, to cook for approximately 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cabbage is very, very caramelized, almost dry and crunchy at the edges. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes or so before serving.
4. While the meat and cabbage cooks, make the sauce. Heat lingonberry or blueberry preserves, vinegar and butter in a small pot set over medium heat, then add Worcestershire sauce to taste. Serve alongside the Kalpudding.
Per Serving: 464 Calories; 31g Fat (60.2% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 21g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 132mg Cholesterol; 145mg Sodium; 16g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 89mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 627mg Potassium; 256mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, on September 1st, 2020.

spiced_beef_stew_shiitakes_cranberries_onions

Spiced doesn’t mean hot, it means with spices.

In the midst of a pandemic, summer heat and sometimes limited groceries, why I wanted a beef stew, I don’t know. My garage freezer is filled with meat, but it’s pork chops, salmon or halibut fillets, chicken breasts and thighs, and a few ribeye steaks. Nothing there that would make do as a stand-in for chuck roast. But, fortunately, my neighbor was going to Costco and found a huge package of chuck roasts (3 of them) and so I cut up one for stews, and the others are now vacuum sealed as roasts, for when the weather turns a bit cooler. As I’m writing this, it’s supposed to hit 100 today, or close to it. Fortunately, I made this a few days ago before this heat wave hit. But then, I live in the comfort of an air conditioned home – thank goodness!

This recipe came from a class I took with Phillis Carey 15 years ago. Before I started writing this blog, and so far as I know, I’ve never posted this recipe. It’s a good one. Ideally, it’s supposed to have red onions in it. Alas, I only had white ones and a half of a red one. And in the midst of this time, here in California, some onions produced in our central valley were contaminated with salmonella, so onions were in short supply. I had to throw out 6 very large yellow onions because they were from one of the contaminated farms.

What makes it “spiced” is the addition of allspice and cinnamon to the flour mixture you use to dredge the beef stew cubes. The other thing that’s different about this stew is the addition of dried cranberries. They add a sweetness to the stew you wouldn’t ordinary expect. But I like them in there. I use Unsweetened Dried Cranberries. The stew also calls for sugar, though you might not need it if you use sweetened dried cranberries. Taste the soupy mixture to see before adding the sugar. The stew is full of mushrooms – both shiitake and button, but you can use whatever mushrooms you have. Shiitake add a different, more boosted mushroom flavor, though they’re expensive, so I don’t use much of them.

You could probably make this stew in the instant pot (pressure), which would take much less time, but when doing a braised type of meat, I think the long, slow cooking (in this case 2 hours) adds more flavor to a dish. I made it one day, cooled and chilled it, then had some the following day. I made half of the below recipe, so had about 4 small servings. What I didn’t eat in the 2 meals went into ziploc bags and are now in the freezer. What it did do was satisfy my craving for a beef stew. This stew doesn’t use potatoes, although you could add them if you wanted to. I think it’d be terrific with mashed cauliflower or mashed potatoes on the side. Some of that stew liquid spread into them would be delicious. You could even serve the stew in a bowl on TOP of mashed cauliflower or mashed potatoes.

What’s GOOD: loved the flavor. Very tender beef after 2 hours of slow cooking. The mushrooms added tons of flavor, and the onions, of course. The carrots kind of lost their flavor (I think they gave up their flavor to the stew so there wasn’t much left for the carrots themselves). The juice/liquid is what tastes so good, plus the dried cranberries added in.

What’s NOT: nothing, really. A keeper. If encountering something sweet in a stew is not your thing, you might not like this version.

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Spiced Beef Stew with Red Onions, Dried Cranberries and Shiitake Mushrooms

Recipe By: Phillis Carey recipe, 2005
Serving Size: 6

3 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 pounds chuck roast — boneless, cut into 1″ cubes
5 tablespoons vegetable oil — divided use
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms — stems removed and quartered or sliced
1 cup white mushrooms — chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
3 cups carrots — julienned
3/4 cup dried cranberries — [I used unsweetened]
2 tablespoons sugar — or sugar substitute
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 cup red wine — Pinot Noir or Merlot
2 cups beef stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Italian Parsley for garnish (chopped)

1. Combine flour, salt, spices and pepper in a plastic bag. Shake or toss beef in the mixture, coating pieces evenly; reserve any extra flour for later use.
2. Heat 1 T oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a third of the beef and cook until browned on all sides, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with remaining meat in batches, adding another T. of oil to skillet with each batch. Transfer meat to the bowl after it’s browned.
3. Add another T. of oil to the skillet and add mushrooms plus a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until mushrooms soften, about 4 minutes. Remove and add to beef in reserved bowl.
4. Add another T. of oil to a 5-quart Dutch oven. Add onions and cranberries. Cook until onions are soft and light brown, about 12 minutes, stirring frequently. Mix in sugar, vinegar and water. Increase heat to medium high and cook until onions brown, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
5. Add beef and mushrooms to onion mixture along with any remaining flour mixture. Mix in wine and stock; bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer until beef is tender, about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Uncover stew during last 30 minutes of cooking if cooking liquid is too thin – or add a small amount of beef stock or red wine if stew is too dry. Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately with Italian parsley on top. Can be made a day ahead and reheated. A side of riced cauliflower or mashed potatoes would go well with the stew liquid.
Per Serving: 633 Calories; 26g Fat (37.2% calories from fat); 56g Protein; 41g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 153mg Cholesterol; 884mg Sodium; 27g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 96mg Calcium; 6mg Iron; 1502mg Potassium; 554mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Lamb, on August 26th, 2020.

snow_capped_lamb_chops

Lovely little lamb chops with an easy pan sauce.

Pulling out of the freezer a small vacuum-sealed package, I thought I was defrosting a little ribeye steak. But when it was fully defrosted . . . no, it was little baby lamb chops. The sealed pouch edge had kind of curled up and I never saw the L-A-M-B I’d written on the label. I had a day to think about what I’d make with them, and recalled an old recipe I used to make often. I thought I’d posted it here – lucky for you, I had not. You need this recipe – especially if you like lamb.

Back in the early days of my first marriage, we shopped at the military commissary, and lamb shoulder chops were very inexpensive. Growing up, my dad wouldn’t eat lamb – no way, no how – so I’d not had lamb but a couple of times in my life up to that point. Once in a great while, if my dad was on a business trip, my mom and I would have lamb. She missed it too! You can make this recipe with either shoulder chops (cook them longer) or the super-tender loin lamb chops.

But, then move forward to the 60s, as a newlywed, I didn’t have very many cookbooks – only a couple were given to me upon my marriage, but I’d acquired a military wives’ cookbook. Over the years I bought several of them, and I still refer to them now and then. They’re pretty tattered and spotted, the pages having gradually turned a bit on the yellow side. This recipe came from one of those cookbooks.

In this instance I had beautiful little lamb chops – they may not look small in the photo, but they were. Maybe only 4 small bites per chop. The recipe indicates one chop per person, but that kind of depends on how big the chops are. You’ll need to use your own judgment as to whether your guests would eat one or two of them.

The chops are seasoned with salt and pepper and briefly sautéed in a frying pan in EVOO. I took them out of the pan when they’d reached about 110°F. They cook some more later on, so I knew I was safe removing them at that temp. Then you cook the pan sauce – green onions, celery, broth, thyme, and lastly some mushrooms, minced up finely. Then the chops are added back into the pan and cooked until they’re almost done (about 125°F or more), then you add a dollop of sour cream to the top of each chop. Cover it and let it simmer slowly for about one minute just to take the chill off that sour cream. Onto plates they go, with some of that pan sauce spooned in and over them. Garnish the sour cream with more green onions and some chopped parsley.

What’s GOOD: lovely flavor – oh, I do love lamb chops. I should have them more often. I think these came from Costco and I froze them in little 2-chop vacuum seal packages. So that means I probably have a couple more of them in the freezer. The pan sauce is just perfect with the chops, and the little dollop of sour cream adds a nice richness and color to it all. It’s a keeper of a recipe, and easy to make too.

What’s NOT: only if you don’t have all the ingredients to do the sauce – like the mushrooms, for instance. They add a lovely richness to the sauce profile. Not a thing to complain about this recipe.

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Snow-Capped Lamb Chops

Serving Size: 4

4 lamb loin chops — 1/2″- 1″ thick
1 tablespoon olive oil salt and pepper
8 ounces low sodium chicken broth — or beef broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme — if fresh, triple quantity
1/3 cup celery — finely chopped
1/3 cup green onions — finely chopped
1 cup mushrooms — finely minced
2 tablespoons parsley — minced
1/3 cup sour cream
Minced parsley and green onion, for garnish

Note: If you prefer more of a gravy, thicken the liquid with a small shaken-up mixture of flour and water (about 1 tablespoon flour to 3 ounces of water). Add this after cooking the vegetables and stir to prevent sticking. Add more broth if needed as you cook it to your desired consistency.
1. Brown the lamb chops in olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Drain off any fat from the pan, then add the green onions, thyme and celery. Simmer for about 6-8 minutes until the chops are just cooked through. Use an instant read thermometer and remove them once they reach about 115-120°F. Remove the chops and place in a warm oven while you prepare the sauce. The chops will continue to cook as they sit – they will reach about 130°F to be medium-rare.
2. To the pan add mushrooms and parsley and cook until the mushrooms are cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Simmer until the liquid has reduced somewhat. Add the lamb chops back into the pan. Place a large dollop of sour cream on top of each chop, cover and simmer for about a minute until the sour cream has warmed through. Place the lamb chops on individual plates, spooning some of the pan sauce on and over each chop, then add additional green onions and parsley sprinkled on top of the sour cream.
Per Serving: 383 Calories; 32g Fat (75.7% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 80mg Cholesterol; 87mg Sodium; 2g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 49mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 507mg Potassium; 230mg Phosphorus. Exchanges: .

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