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Carolyn

Sara

 

Sara and me

I participate in an amazon program that rewards a little tiny $ something (pennies, really) to me if you purchase any books I recommend, or products that I buy and feature on my food blog. 

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Agathe von Trapp was the eldest daughter of the renowned von Trapp family. Some years ago she wrote Memories Before and After the Sound of Music: An Autobiography beginning from her first memories at age 2 (yes, really!). The book tells the honest-truth about the family’s life in Austria and Italy prior to the war, and debunks many of the story lines from the musical, The Sound of Music. Liesl, the part played by Charmian Carr, was supposedly the story of Agathe. But it wasn’t, really. As long as you know that the musical and movie were made for the stage and film, then reading the true stories about their family life, their escape (by train from Italy, with no problems at all, no hiding in an abbey) and eventual settling in Stowe, Vermont, where there still is a family lodge for paying guests. The family singers toured for many years, and earned enough money to then survive for some months in Vermont, practicing and gearing up for their next national or world tour. One of the sad parts for me was reading that although Maria von Trapp certainly kept the family together, as step-children, they didn’t always love and adore her. A good enough read. Not a long book, and not exactly an example of fine, non-fiction literature, but still, it kept my interest mostly because I’ve been a fan of the movie ever since it came out in 1965-66.

Sarah Steele wrote a quite intricate book – probably more interesting to a woman anyway – called The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon. A young woman going through a breakup of her marriage, and the death of her grandmother, finds a box in the relative’s wardrobe. In it are fabric swatches attached to dress patterns, and a postcard of a woman wearing the dress. It’s all quite mysterious. Florence decides she should re-create the dresses and the journeys. Quite an interesting theme for a book, and it’s well done here. Travel to the Riviera is included, and some fun encounters with new friends. Well worth reading.

I’ve been a fan of C.J. Box for several years. Have read most of his books. Mysteries of a sheriff in Wyoming, solving murders, usually. Box has a gift of suspense. This new book, Long Range (A Joe Pickett Novel) This one starts with the after-effects of a deadly grizzly bear attack, then extends to the murder of a judge’s wife. All interconnected, and complicated. The book was too short . . . I always want more.

Tracy Chevalier has written another fascinating book . . . A Single Thread: A Novel. The time period is between the wars, Britain. So many spinsters were left following the war, and Violet doesn’t want to become an embittered woman, caring for her angry, feeble and declining mother. So she moves on to Winchester. She works at a ho-hum job, but also becomes a volunteer at the Cathedral (ever been there? gorgeous), helping to make needlepoint kneeling pads. There are traditions even for kneeling pads (yes, really), and Violet takes this very seriously. There’s a love story woven into the fabric of this story too, and how Violet blooms and grows. Chevalier has a way with words. A good read.

An unusual book, The Weight of a Piano: A novel by Chris Cander. It begins in 1962 in Russia, a young girl is gifted a Blüthner piano. She has real skill and hopes to keep it forever. Yet, once she marries, she must leave it behind when she emigrates to the U.S. Thence the story begins, of what happens to the piano, its interim stops (even a bit about how the piano feels –  yes, some surrealism here). And about how it survives the voyage to America itself. I don’t want to give it away. You’ll learn a LOT about pianos and equally as much about Blüthner ones, how they’re made. The book does not have a happy ending – at least not in my opinion, if that’s something that’s important to you. Quite a story; and again, unusual.

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 in my life. 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 Veggies/sides, on January 8th, 2021.

bahari_green_bean_masala

New and different way to make green beans.

Do you love green beans? I sure do. I think I could have them at least once a week. But I don’t want frozen ones – only fresh. I’ve been buying groceries online, then having the grocery store deliver the filled grocery bags to the trunk of my car. My last visit I ordered a pound of green beans.

Preparing a nice dinner for myself the other night, I wanted to do something interesting and different with these green beans. The recipe I’ve had in my to-try file for awhile seemed to fit the bill. The recipe came into my recipe file in 2010 from The Wednesday Chef. Luisa is no longer updating her blog (looks like she stopped in 2018, about the time she began writing a novel). She’s written a couple of cookbooks too. And she credits Julie Sahni for the recipe.

Julie Sahni is a Brooklyn chef and writer and runs an Indian cooking school there, and she’s of Indian descent. And I learned something – the word masala means “spiced.” And Bihar is a state in India. So, this is green beans with Bihar mixed spices, or in the style of Bihar, I suppose. It’s a winner.

First you make the topping (toasting the almonds), then you make the sauce which includes coconut milk. Onions are sweated first, then you add garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, red pepper flakes and then the coconut milk. Once that is done, you add the green beans and steam them in the spicy coconut liquid until they’re just crisp-tender. Lastly, some lime juice is added in. The green beans are served with the toasted almonds sprinkled on top. When I pulled the beans out, I merely put them on the serving platter and didn’t include the lovely lightly orange colored coconut sauce. In Bihar this is an entrée, served with rice and you’d want all that lovely liquid drizzled over the rice. A vegetarian entrée, if you will.

What’s GOOD: loved the flavors from the cumin, coriander, garlic and onion, and the hint of lime juice at the end. Altogether lovely dish – whether you serve it as a side dish, as I did, or as an entrée with rice. A keeper. Easy to make, and quick, too.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Bihari Green Beans Masala

Recipe By: Julie Sahni, via The Wednesday Chef blog, 2010
Serving Size: 4

4 tablespoons vegetable oil — or light olive oil
4 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 cup finely chopped onion
6 large cloves garlic — finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 1/2 pounds green beans — trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons lime juice
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1. Heat the oil in a 3-quart sauté pan over medium heat. Add almonds and cook, stirring, until light golden. Remove from heat and transfer almonds to a plate or bowl; set aside for garnish.
2. Add onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, chili pepper flakes and salt to the unwashed sauté pan, and return to medium heat. Sauté until the onion is tender and begins to fry, about 4 minutes.
3. Add coconut milk and green beans. Mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the beans are tender, about 6 minutes.
4. Sprinkle beans with lime juice, and toss lightly. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and garnish with almonds and cilantro. Serve with plain cooked rice or roti flatbread.
Per Serving: 446 Calories; 39g Fat (72.6% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 25g Carbohydrate; 9g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 897mg Sodium; 11g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 131mg Calcium; 5mg Iron; 783mg Potassium; 215mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on November 29th, 2020.

pan_roasted_brussels_apples_almonds

A quick and easy side dish; great for fall.

Normally I wouldn’t have thought to combine apples and Brussels sprouts; yet it works really nicely here. I found the recipe in a supplemental magazine from Cook’s Illustrated, and I followed it except I used a bit less apple, only because I had but one, not two. Next time I’d leave the apples just a tad bit bigger. I chopped them fairly small (recipe said diced) and I think I’d more “cube” them. The Brussels I had were quite large, so definitely they needed to be cut in half. I was lazy and didn’t toast the almonds. Other than salt and pepper, the only other ingredients were garlic and butter. Altogether nice ingredients!

First the apple is cooked in a little bit of the butter until the chunks are barely cooked through. That’s removed, then you add the Brussels, water, garlic, butter, salt and pepper. You cook that down until the water has evaporated. The intent is that the Brussels are cooked through. I was using a fairly hot burner, so the water evaporated before the Brussels were done, so I merely added a tad more water then covered the pan for a short time. At the end, the apples are added back in, then you add the almonds. Done.

I made these when I went to my friends, Bud & Cherrie’s home – what a treat to go to friends and share a meal. We were planning to eat outside (it’s still nice and warm here) but the no-see-ums were in proud form that evening, so we didn’t go outside. Anyway, I made meatloaf and these Brussels sprouts. Cherrie offered two appetizers and smashed roasted potatoes and a peach coffeecake for dessert. My grandson Vaughan was visiting during this time (this was back a couple of weeks) and he and Bud played rummy tiles and Cherrie, Bud and I shared a delicious gin and tonic. Vaughan enjoyed a new brand of ginger ale.

This dish does want to be fixed just before serving – it would not be good to over-cook them, but preparing them and reheating unless you’re really careful about the exact done-ness of the Brussels. I like them barely chewy.

What’s GOOD: easy, if you have all the ingredients ready to go (wait to chop up the apple until the last minute, however). This was good. Not exactly a personal fav, but it was good. I’ve run out of ways to cook Brussels, so anything to make them differently is good for me.

What’s NOT: nothing really, except they should be fixed just before serving.

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Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Almonds

Recipe By: Cook’s Illustrated special supplement for fall recipes
Serving Size: 5

5 tablespoons butter — divided use
2 medium apples — cored and diced, Gala or other sweet apple
1 cup water
2 pounds brussels sprouts — hard side removed and cut in half
2 cloves garlic — minced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme — or half as much if dried
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup slivered almonds — toasted

1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
2. Add Brussels sprouts, 1 cup water, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, and remaining butter to empty skillet and bring to boil over med-high heat. Reduce to med-low; simmer until water has evaporated and Brussels sprouts are not quite tender, about 15 minutes (depending on the size of the Brussels sprouts). Test for tenderness. If the Brussels sprouts are really large, you may wish to cover the pan for about 5 minutes during this time for thorough cooking.
3. Increase heat to medium, continue cooking, stirring frequently until they are light golden brown, 3-5 minutes. Stir in toasted almonds and apples and cook until heated through, about one minute. Serve.
Per Serving: 295 Calories; 18g Fat (48.9% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 11g Dietary Fiber; 30mg Cholesterol; 602mg Sodium; 15g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 120mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 900mg Potassium; 194mg 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 Appetizers, Veggies/sides, on July 3rd, 2020.

asparagus_appetizer_secret_sauce

Most likely you’re going to laugh. Secret sauce? Eh-what?

Making this appetizer is so very simple – other than having to cook the asparagus to just that right al-dente bite. You don’t want limp asparagus. You want them barely cooked through, but not so they’d totally fall over in a stand-up container. Part of the fun of this is using some kind of fun vertical container. If I had a glass cylinder that wasn’t too tall, I’d use that, just so you can see the asparagus full length.

It’s been decades since I first read or heard about this method of offering asparagus as an appetizer. To tell you the truth, I don’t remember where I got it. It could have been at a Weight Watcher’s meeting. It might have been from some old-old cookbook. It might have been at a cooking class. I didn’t even have a recipe written up for this – like a real, honest to goodness recipe to follow. I had to write one for this post. Asparagus, some salt, water, and then the secret ingredient. And a tad of sesame seeds as a garnish.

First, you just have to steam or simmer the trimmed asparagus in salted water until they’re just barely tender. Sorry, I’m repeating myself here. It’s important you not overcook them, so they stand up. Drain them and let them dry. If you’re in a hurry, put them out on paper towels or a tea towel and gently dry them off. I prefer these cool or cold, but that’s up to you.

Then, ta-da, you merely roll them in some seasoned rice wine vinegar and sprinkle them with the sesame seeds. That’s it. You DO NOT make this ahead (the acid in the rice wine vinegar will make the asparagus turn an insipid canned-asparagus-color). Not good. So JUST before you’re ready to serve them, you put them in a flat dish or flat bowl, sprinkle a bit of the seasoned rice wine vinegar over them, roll them around with your fingers. If I’m feeling adventurous, I also sprinkle toasted secret_sauce_rice_wine_vinegarsesame seeds around the top of the asparagus, picking up a bunch in my hand. Then stand them up in your chosen vertical vessel. Coffee mugs are just about the right height. I took this to my a family dinner a week or so ago. They were gone in a flash. Even my grandson Vaughan, who professes to not like asparagus very much, had a bunch.

I forgot to take the sesame seeds when I served them last time, so you can’t see them sticking to the tops. I’m making them again today, so am going to put out the sesame seeds – so I don’t forget!

What’s GOOD: so easy and extremely low calorie. Nice for a picnic although do take a wet paper towel to wipe off your fingers after you’ve used the vinegar. The vinegar has some sugar in it (that makes it “seasoned”) so it’ll make your fingers sticky. I guarantee you, they’ll be a hit. One of the fun things is serving this in a vertical container.

What’s NOT: only that you have to do the seasoning (finger-rolling in the vinegar) at the last minute, but truly it’ll take you less than one minute to do it.

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Asparagus Appetizer with Secret Sauce

Recipe By: Can’t remember; I’ve been making these for 40+ years
Serving Size: 6

1 pound asparagus — not too thin, not too thick
salted water to cook the asparagus
1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds — toasted, garnish

NOTE: This is meant as an appetizer, but it can also be served as a side dish.
1. Trim asparagus of woody stems. You do not want them to be all the same length.
2. Using a wide saucepan, bring a cup or so of water to a simmer (just enough to cover the asparagus), add some salt to taste, then add the asparagus. Bring the water back to a simmer again, watching it carefully and cook for 3-5 minutes, until the asparagus is just barely al-dente, stirring and rolling the asparagus around so all the stalks are under the water line. Do not overcook them. They need to be firm enough they’ll stand up in a mug or tall container.
3. Remove asparagus and cool, then blot dry with paper towels or tea towel. Chill if you have the time.
4. Into a shallow dish place the asparagus and sprinkle the rice wine vinegar over the top, drizzling back and forth. Using your fingers, roll the asparagus so all of them have been in contact with the vinegar. DO NOT make this ahead as the asparagus will turn yellow. Holding the asparagus in one hand, gently sprinkle the sesame seeds on the tops of the asparagus, as you turn the asparagus around. Stand the asparagus into a vertical container (coffee mug or similar shape) and serve immediately. If you’re not sure you’ll eat all the asparagus it’s wise to season some of it, serve, then if you need more you can always add more to the vinegar and serve more of them.
Per Serving: 21 Calories; trace Fat (7.8% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 89mg Sodium; 1g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 21mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 154mg Potassium; 41mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on May 5th, 2020.

roasted_sw_potatoes_parm

Why is it we never think to pair Parm with sweet potatoes?

Is it because sweet potatoes are sweet that we think they don’t pair well with something umami and savory as Parm? I don’t know – but this combo is really fabulous. It’s weeks since we celebrated (albeit at home) Easter – that was my Easter dinner plate. A little bit of ham, fresh green beans and garlic and these potatoes. My plan had been to eat half of the potatoes and save the remainder for another meal. The ham wasn’t very good – it had been in my frig altogether too long. It wasn’t spoiled, but it didn’t taste good, either. I had two bites and tossed the rest. So that left me with green beans (devoured) and sweet potatoes (also gone in a flash).

While I was eating my dinner I zoom-ed with my family who live about 40 miles away, so we were sort of enjoying our Easter dinners together. In between bites of food we visited.

Usually I buy the yellow fleshed sweet potatoes, not the orange. But beggars can’t be choosers when your neighbors are doing the grocery shopping. So orange was what I got! I peeled the one large sweet potato, cut it into cubes, tossed it with a bit of EVOO and melted butter, fresh garlic, Italian seasoning and the grated Parm. So very easy to do. Onto a parchment lined baking sheet it went, with a bit of salt and pepper and it roasted for at max about 20 minutes. Depends on how big you cut the cubes. My sweet potato was long and skinny, so I did smaller chunks. When I took it out of the oven, the sheet pan was bubbling hot. Such a sweet sound!

You could easily vary the flavors here – use all EVOO if you’d prefer. Use a different seasoning than Italian if that’s not your preference. You could also use less Parm if you’re trying to keep it more “light.”  I know I found this recipe online somewhere, but the source got lost in translation somewhere between the online recipe and my downloaded one.

What’s GOOD: sweet potato in any way shape or form is fine in my book. This one was super easy, delicious and oh, those little crispy bits that caramelized on the pan? Yum. Definitely a keeper recipe.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes Parmesan

Serving Size: 6

3 cups sweet potatoes — peeled, cubed 1″
1 tablespoon butter — melted
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Chopped parsley for garnish

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Prepare a cookie sheet by lining with tin foil or parchment paper. Very lightly spray the tin foil or parchment paper to prevent any sticking. It’s important to spray – the potatoes WILL stick.
2. Place cubed sweet potatoes into a bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir together until all sweet potatoes are coated. Pour onto prepared cookie sheet and evenly spread out so potatoes are in a single layer.
3. Bake for 20-25 minutes (less if you cubed the potatoes smaller than 1″) stirring the potatoes at least twice during cook time so that all sides can get crispy and roasted.
4. Serve warm and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
Per Serving: 129 Calories; 7g Fat (45.6% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 5mg Cholesterol; 200mg Sodium.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on March 31st, 2020.

roasted_asparagus_dijon_thyme

Roasted asparagus with a butter Dijon sauce poured on top.

Asparagus is one of my very favorite vegetables. And they’re just coming into season about now, though the ones I’ve seen have been quite thin. I prefer them a bit more matured rather than pencil thin. So, this recipe, from a class with Phillis Carey, was so simple to make. The trimmed asparagus was tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted at 450°F. That’s one HOT oven. These were done in 8 minutes. So, in the interim, you make the buttery sauce – with garlic, Dijon and thyme. Once the asparagus come out of the oven you pour it over and toss well. Finished. How easy is that?

The only suggestion is to make sure you spread the asparagus out in a single layer – no overlapping. They roast better that way. I love spearing an asparagus with my fork and munching it down to the base. I’ve been known to pick them up in my fingers too, butter and all, to munch them. Not according to Emily Post, for sure.

What’s GOOD: how easy these are to make – just get the ingredients for the sauce out before you put the asparagus in the oven. Delicious.

What’s NOT: not a thing.

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Roasted Asparagus with Dijon and Thyme

Recipe By: From a cooking class with Phillis Carey, 2020
Serving Size: 4

1 pound asparagus — ends snapped off
4 teaspoons EVOO
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small cloves garlic — minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh thyme — chopped

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Toss asparagus with EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast asparagus for 8 minutes, or until asparagus is just tender.
3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds, then whisk in mustard and thyme. Keep warm until ready to serve and toss over the hot, roasted asparagus.
Per Serving: 109 Calories; 10g Fat (82.4% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 16mg Cholesterol; 34mg Sodium.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on March 12th, 2020.

indiv_potato_gratin

Goodness me, yummy deliciousness going on here – what’s there not to like about potatoes, cheese and cream?

A few weeks ago my friend Cherrie and I attended a class with Phillis Carey. She did a special menu aimed at Valentine’s Day. Beef wellingtons made individually (see in photo, top right) were demonstrated – I doubt I’ll ever make them. They were fabulous, but more work than I’d want to do. I’ll post the asparagus recipe in a few days.

These little gratins are relatively easy to make – you can even do them early in the day and keep refrigerated (unbaked) until about 30 minutes before baking. Yes, they’re rich. And cheesy. A mixture of Boursin herb/garlic cheese and cream compose the cream sauce – how easy is that? The potatoes need to be very thinly sliced (makes for quicker baking time) so don’t streamline on that part – or know it’ll take longer than 30-40 minutes to bake them until they are tender.

First you melt the cheese and cream together to make the cheesy sauce. The muffin tin or ramekin needs to be greased first. Potatoes are layered inside, half way, then cheese sprinkled on top, then more potatoes, with salt and pepper on both layers. Then more cheese, and the cream sauce poured over. Top with foil – dome it slightly so the foil doesn’t touch the cheese – and bake for 30-40 minutes, removing the foil half way through. Test them to make sure the potatoes are tender.

What’s GOOD: super comfort food. Rich. Altogether great taste. Can be made ahead the morning you need to serve them.

What’s NOT: only that it takes a little bit of time to make the layers, grate cheese, make the sauce, etc. Nothing hard, just a bit time consuming.

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Individual Potato Gratins with Garlic-Herb Cheese

Recipe By: Adapted from a Phillis Carey cooking class recipe.
Serving Size: 4

nonstick spray
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 ounces Boursin cheese
2 medium russet potatoes — peeled, VERY thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — or Romano, freshly grated

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Spray 4 muffin tins or ramekins with vegetable spray.
3. Heat heavy cream and Boursin cheese in small saucepan, stirring occasionally, over low heat until melted and mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
4. Layer potato slices into muffin cups or ramekins, filling half way up sides. Season with salt and pepper and top with 1/2 tablespoon grated Parm in each one. Fill with remaining potatoes. Do not over-fill as it will spill during baking. Season again with salt and pepper and top with remaining cheese. Pour 2 tablespoons of cream mixture into each one.
5. Cover pan with foil, doming slightly so foil doesn’t touch the cheese. (Gratins may be made to this point early in the day, then refrigerated. Allow to sit out at room temp for 30 minutes before proceeding.) Bake gratins for 30-40 minutes, removing foil half way through baking time, to allow tops to brown. Test potatoes with sharp knife to make sure they’re tender. Invert onto warmed plate, then tip them back so the nice caramelized cheese is on top. Hearty eaters may want two of them.
Per Serving: 218 Calories; 20g Fat (80.5% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 66mg Cholesterol; 157mg Sodium.

Posted in Gundry-friendly, lectin-free, Salads, Veggies/sides, on November 24th, 2019.

warm_brussels_sprout_salad_bacon_apples

Trust me on this one – so delicious. The Brussels sprouts are raw – it’s the bacon dressing that makes it kind of warm.

This was a stunner of a recipe at a recent class with Phillis Carey. She made a huge amount of it and I gobbled every bite on that plate. I have all the ingredients in my frig right now, to make it myself. The recipe came from Rachel Ray (from her magazine, I think).

Phillis cut up the apples in advance and kept them soaking in Sprite (or use water with some lemon juice) until she was ready to assemble. The pecans were toasted ahead also. The dressing she made at the moment – mostly because you start off with some bacon slices and you use the bacon fat + some EVOO (yes it needs it) to make a bacon vinaigrette. If you made the dressing ahead, the bacon at room temp would congeal and you’d have to heat it up anyway. So just keep the bacon grease in the pan once you’ve fried up the bacon pieces.

She told us that for this salad she uses her food processor to slice the Brussels sprouts – she likes them sliced at 3mm (one of the slicing disks that comes with a food processor) and she stands each trimmed B.S. in upright (several of them in the feed tube) and slices away. It takes just a minute or two to make enough for this entire salad. The Manchego cheese may be grated or in small slices/shaved. The recipe calls for Fuji apples, or Ambrosia. Phillis said she bought Ambrosia and mentioned that if you buy organic (sweet crisp style) you can leave on the peels.

What’s GOOD: this salad is stupendous. It will be my dinner tonight, and probably for a couple of nights to come. I won’t mix it up to keep it, however. Maybe the B.S. can be done ahead, the pecans too. The dressing except the bacon fat could be done ahead too.

What’s NOT: there are several steps to making this . . . would be a marvelous one to make or take to a Thanksgiving dinner, just saying .. .

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Brussels Sprouts Salad with Apples, Pecans and Manchego

Recipe By: Cooking class with Phillis Carey, Nov. 2019
Serving Size: 8

1 pound brussels sprouts — trimmed
3 Ambrosia apples — or other sweet, crisp apple
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 slices thick-cut bacon — cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large clove garlic — finely chopped
4 teaspoons dijon mustard
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup pecan halves — toasted and chopped
3 ounces manchego cheese — shaved or grated

NOTE: Don’t not add the EVOO to the dressing – the salad needs it.
1. Using a food processor fitted with a slicing attachment (use the 3mm one if you have it), thinly slice the brussels sprouts by placing them into the feed tube stem end down (standing up like trees).
2. Core and coarsely chop the apples. In a bowl, toss the apples with 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate. Add the garlic to the remaining fat in the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in the mustard, remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice and the vinegar; season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. In a large bowl, combine the brussels sprouts, apples, pecans and cheese. Toss with the bacon and warm vinaigrette. Make this salad just before serving as the bacon fat will congeal if left to sit – it needs to be served warm.
Per Serving: 139 Calories; 12g Fat (68.9% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 53mg Sodium.

Posted in Gundry-friendly, lectin-free, Veggies/sides, on November 23rd, 2019.

yellow_sw_potato_gratin_parm

Pure heaven. How could it not be pure heaven when there is so much heavy cream in it.

This is another recipe from a Phillis Carey class. And I’m telling you, these sweet potatoes are just to-die-for. And funny thing, on this anti-lectin diet I’m on, I can have  heavy cream and Parm AND sweet potatoes (because they’re a resistant starch). I ate every bite, and would have been happy to have seconds, but I didn’t.

This dish is very easy – truly it is. You can make it up ahead, sliced, layered, add the cream mixture, or wait until later. Either way is fine. If you’re going to transport this, I’d suggest waiting to add the liquid. Takes about an hour to bake in the oven. Feeds a lot – although if they’re anything like me, and seconds were available, it wouldn’t feed as many! On my notes I wrote “beyond fabulous.” Does that tell you what you need to know?

What’s GOOD: how unbelievably silky tasting these are – the cheese (not all that much) – the cream. The little bit of cayenne. Oh my yes, make this.

What’s NOT: well, only the fat grams. Don’t read the nutrition on this. Know it’s something you’ll have as a special occasion.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Yellow Sweet Potato Gratin with Parm

Recipe By: Cooking Class with Phillis Carey, Nov. 2019
Serving Size: 8

3 tablespoons unsalted butter — divided use
4 pounds sweet potatoes — yellow flesh, NOT orange
3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Heavily butter a 9×13 baking dish with 1 T. butter. Arrange a third of the yellow sweet potatoes, overlapping slightly, in the dish. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat with two more layers of sweet potatoes and cheese.
3. In a small, medium bowl combine cream, salt, pepper and cayenne. Pour over potatoes. Dot with remaining butter. Cover dish with foil and bake 20 minutes (or up to 30-40 if needed) until potatoes are not quite fork tender. Remove foil and continue baking until sweet potatoes are fully tender and top is browned, about 20-25 minutes. NOTE: Casserole can be made ahead and refrigerated (covered). If doing so, remove from refrigerator at least an hour before baking. The casserole can sit at room temp for at least 20-30 minutes and still be hot enough to serve. Fresh minced rosemary can be added to the layers, if desired.
Per Serving: 416 Calories; 27g Fat (57.1% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 41g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 93mg Cholesterol; 312mg Sodium.

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