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Carolyn

Sara

 

Sara and me

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

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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 September 20th, 2018.

curried_basmati_apple_pilaf

Sorry about the kind of blah looking photo. Brown food just doesn’t look all that appetizing. But the rice is delicious nevertheless.

A couple of weeks ago I offered to make dinner for 2 sets of friends who are going through some health rough patches. I decided to make meatloaf (a new recipe, up soon) and one couple asked for rice. I wasn’t about to make just plain rice – how boring – so I hunted around and found this ancient recipe that was quite easy to do.

Onion and carrot (not a lot) are cooked in oil, then you add garlic, a chopped up apple, cinnamon, fresh ginger and curry powder. The original recipe (from an old Sunset magazine, so my recipe says) called for dried apricots – I didn’t have any, so I used dates instead (see the dark brown flecks in the pilaf). Water is added, salt and pepper, and you cook it covered for 18 minutes. Done. I added a few more chopped dates at the very end, and I forgot to add the toasted almonds! On the diet I’m on, I can’t eat rice, but I did taste one bite, and liked it a LOT. If you’re looking for some different way to do rice, this doesn’t take much longer than usual (except for cooking the onion and carrot at the beginning).

What’s GOOD: the apple adds a delightful taste to this rice dish – and there’s a hint of cinnamon, and ginger, and curry. It’s not heavy with curry – if you don’t like curry, you could leave it out. I loved that aspect of it, but then, I like curry. Altogether delicious dish. I made a double recipe and gave both groups of friends some leftovers to have with another meal.

What’s NOT: not a thing.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Curried Basmati Rice and Apple Pilaf

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from an old Sunset Magazine clipping
Serving Size: 4

2 teaspoons vegetable oil — or avocado oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 small carrot — finely diced
1 garlic clove — minced
1 cup basmati rice
1 whole Granny Smith apple — peeled, cored, diced
3 tablespoons dates — minced (or minced dried apricots)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon fresh ginger — chopped peeled
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
2 tablespoons sliced almonds — toasted (garnish)

1. Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and carrot, then sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir 30 seconds.
2. Stir in rice, apple, HALF the dates, cinnamon, ginger, curry powder and salt. Add 2 cups water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until rice is tender and water is absorbed, about 18 minutes.
3. Remove from heat. Stir in additional dates. Season to taste with pepper and additional salt, if desired. Transfer pilaf to bowl. Sprinkle with almonds and serve.
Per Serving: 257 Calories; 6g Fat (20.3% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 47g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 573mg Sodium. 

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

roasted_jerusalem_artichokes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes

Serving Size: 4

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

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

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

cauliflower_slaw

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cauliflower Slaw

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

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

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

Posted in Salads, Veggies/sides, on August 3rd, 2018.

warm_barley_salad_pears

One might not think you could make a succulent salad with barley. You’ll need to try it to be a convert. Delicious flavors from prosciutto, hazelnuts and the best part, roasted pears.

Haven’t we been learning that nearly every food on the planet (well, probably not leafy greens) are enhanced with oven roasting. And pears are no exception. They turn super-sweet after a 25-minute roast in the oven, and then you let them cool.

The salad itself contains barley, which needs to be cooked, and either wheat berries or farro, which also need to be cooked. You could do that the day before, even. You may have to seek out pear vinegar – it’s a little bit hard to find, but you could probably use raspberry instead – there is some in it already – just use more. The pears are tossed with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper and roasted on a foil-lined pan, turning them a couple of times. The prosciutto slices also get roasted – you sprinkle them with sugar (imagine!) and bake until they’re crispy, caramelized and glossy-looking. The onion is sautéed in olive oil and then cooked down in white wine until they’re roasted and caramelized also. Then you mix up the salad with your choice of greens (kale was used here) and then you add in hazelnuts, the onion, the barley and wheat berries or farro, and finally toss it with the dressing. Really, really delicious.

What’s GOOD: the flavors will just blow you away – the chewiness of the grains, the pears are the STAR, though, as they’re SO sweet and delicious. The dressing is light and lovely. Very satisfying dish. Serve with a grilled protein of some kind and that’s dinner.

What’s NOT: a bit fussier than some since you have to cook the grains, toast the prosciutto, long caramelize the onion, and make a dressing. But worth it. Trust me on that!

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Warm Barley Salad with Roasted Pears

Recipe By: From a cooking class with Tarla Fallgatter, 2018
Serving Size: 8

3 red bartlett pears — firm, cored, cut in wedges
3 tablespoons olive oil — divided use
1 tablespoon fresh thyme — chopped kosher
salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 pound prosciutto — thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup pearl barley — cooked
1/2 cup wheat berries, raw — cooked (or farro)
1 whole red onion — thinly sliced
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 cups mixed greens — use winter greens if available
1/2 cup hazelnuts — toasted and peeled
VINAIGRETTE:
3 tablespoons pear vinegar
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
2 teaspoons honey mustard
salt and pepper to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F degrees. In a large bowl, gently toss the pears, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon thyme, one-fourth teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper. Spread out the pears in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast, turning occasionally, until golden brown and fragrant, about 25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
2. On a large, parchment-lined baking sheet, arrange the prosciutto slices, making sure they do not touch. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the slices. Bake the prosciutto until the slices are caramelized and glossy, 8 to 10 minutes. Rotate the tray while baking for even coloring, and watch toward the end of baking that the sugar does not burn (it burns quickly). Remove and allow to crisp and cool completely.
3. Cook the barley and wheat berries, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 30 minutes; drain well.
4. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, one-fourth teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the wine, then return the pan to medium-high heat. Cook until most of the wine is absorbed, about 2 minutes, stirring often and removing any bits of flavoring from the bottom of the pan.
5. In a large bowl, combine the barley and wheat berries with the vinaigrette. Stir in the mixed greens. Gently stir in the pears and hazelnuts if using and check seasoning. Spoon salad onto a serving platter; crumble the candied prosciutto over the top before serving.
Per Serving: 439 Calories; 24g Fat (49.2% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 46g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 14mg Cholesterol; 511mg Sodium.

Posted in Salads, Veggies/sides, on July 24th, 2018.

roasted_eggplant_salad_feta_pinenuts

Really, you might want to call this a roasted red bell pepper and roasted eggplant salad with feta, kalamata olives and pine nuts. Lots going on in this salad. All delicious.

Every so often in the course of running a blog you have to clean house. The digital house, that is. I store files on backup CDs and over the years I’ve collected about 4 dozen of so with the photos I’ve used. Not the stories, the write-ups. Those are saved by the blog server once a week. But the original photos and the finished ones. That’s when I ran across these files for a bunch of recipes I’d forgotten to post. So here I’m doing it now.

This salad was so refreshing – good for a summer evening. If you had a grilled chicken breast along side or a lovely piece of grilled salmon, this could be a complete meal. There are a lot of layers of flavor in this salad – the peppers and eggplant for sure, the spice rub you’ll sprinkle on the eggplant and onions, the feta, then the crisp arugula. And the light crunch of toasted pine nuts too. Or you could compliment the salad dressing too. Or maybe the subtle garlic (roasted also) thrown into the mix. A lot of them, really, but they’re so mellow once roasted. If you don’t want to roast the red peppers, buy jarred ones – they’ll be just fine. That’s save one roasting step.

Do try to find fig balsamic – it adds a lovely light sweetness to the dressing, along with the honey mustard in it. Use good olive oil too. And don’t forget those toasted pine nuts, either.

What’s GOOD: all the flavors you’ll find rolling around your taste buds. Great for a summer outdoor evening, I think.

What’s NOT: nothing other than waiting for the eggplant to roast (40 minutes or so) and taking the time to roast the garlic (30 minutes, but at a different oven temp, so you can’t do them together). Have 2 ovens? Perfect! If not, make the garlic ahead.

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Roasted Eggplant Salad with Feta and Pine Nuts

Recipe By: From a cooking class with Tarla Fallgatter, 2018
Serving Size: 8

2 large red bell peppers — roasted, peeled, seeded, sliced lengthwise
2 pounds japanese eggplants — trimmed, quarter lengthwise
1 whole red onion — peeled, cut in 1/2″ slices
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons Mediterranean spice rub
16 whole garlic cloves
16 whole kalamata olives — pitted, chopped
2 small frisee lettuce — torn
2 cups arugula
1/3 cup pine nuts — toasted
6 ounces Feta cheese — cut in small cubes
VINAIGRETTE:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fig balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey mustard
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss eggplant and onion slices with olive oil, spice rub, salt and pepper to taste and spread out on a large parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast until tender, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes.
2. Wrap garlic cloves in foil and place in a 300°F oven for 30 minutes, until cloves are very soft. Chop. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together. Add the roasted garlic.
3. Toss eggplant, onions, pepper and olives with vinaigrette to coat. Toss in frisee and arugula and add to the eggplant mixture. Divide among plates. Sprinkle with feta cheese and pine nuts. Serve.
Per Serving: 312 Calories; 27g Fat (73.9% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 19mg Cholesterol; 381mg Sodium.

Posted in Pork, Veggies/sides, on June 16th, 2018.

roast_pork_tenderl_carrot_romesco

Simple spice-rubbed pork tenderloin, but served with luscious cooked carrots. Who knew they could taste so good when roasted? You may want to make these again and again. Then there’s the grits, creamy with smoked Gouda. And then there’s the salad too, with a sherry and honey mustard vinaigrette.

Pork tenderloin is something I cook for myself now and then. I probably should buy one, cut it in half and freeze the other half because one pork tenderloin (at least the Costco ones) are big – usually enough for 4 meals for me. Maybe even 5 if I don’t dole out too much on any one serving. And by day three, I’m tired of pork tenderloin! But this meal, this pork tenderloin is merely a way to eat the scrumptious carrots on top, the creamy grits with Gouda and the lovely green salad on the side. I’m telling you true, your fork is going to want all of those carrots to the exclusion of everything else on the plate.

The carrots, scrubbed and halved, are roasted for 15-20 minutes in a hot-hot oven, sprinkled with some kind of various spice rub (your choice). Once cooled, you whiz some of them up with pine nuts and olive oil to make the Romesco part. The remaining carrots are served in the salad. The pork is seasoned with the same spice rub, browned on the stove, then finished off in the oven.

Meanwhile, you make the grits – using a combination of broth and milk to make them creamy, then at the last, add in the Gouda (did you know it’s pronounced gow-da? not goo-da, as we do?) and serve it right away while it’s still piping hot. When I make this, I use regular Gouda, not smoked. I’m not a big fan of smoked cheeses for some reason – I like the pure stuff, but suit your own palate. Place the pork tenderloin slices napped over the edge of the grits and top with the Romesco carrots.

carrot_watercress_salad_alongside_pork_tenderloinYou will have tossed up a lovely green salad too (adding arugula for sure, maybe even watercress or some other unusual greens if you can find them), toss with the sherry wine vinegar vinaigrette and the remaining carrots, and that’s dinner. The recipes came from a cooking class a couple of months ago with Tarla Fallgatter. I was still eating some carbs then, so I can attest to the deliciousness of those carrots. Now I’m only eating raw carrots.

What’s GOOD: well, the carrots Romesco are the best part of this dish in my opinion, but the grits are good, as is the pork AND the lovely greens on the side. Altogether great meal – would definitely be suitable for a company dinner.

What’s NOT: maybe a bit more prep than some meals.

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

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Roast Pork Tenderloin with Carrot Romesco

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter cooking class, 2018
Serving Size: 6

CARROTS:
1 1/2 pounds carrots — small, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon spice rub — (your choice)
Salt and pepper to taste
ROMESCO:
1/4 cup pine nuts — toasted
1 clove garlic
1 pinch red chili flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
PORK:
2 pork tenderloins — silverskin removed, trimmed
2 teaspoons spice rub — (use same as in carrots)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups greens — watercress, arugula, dark hearty lettuces
VINAIGRETTE:
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon honey mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss carrots with oil, spice rub and salt and pepper to taste. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, tossing occasionally, until carrots are softened, browned, about 15-20 minutes. Carrots should be very tender. Let cool slightly.
2. Meanwhile, season pork with salt, pepper and spice rub. Heat a saute pan to high, add oil and sear tenderloin on all sides. Transfer to oven and roast until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 145°F, about 10 minutes. Remove, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
3. Pulse the pine nuts, garlic and red chili flakes in a food processor with oil, salt and pepper to taste. Add about a cup of the cooked carrots, vinegar and process until it reaches a coarse texture, adding more oil if necessary. Taste for seasonings.
4. SALAD: Toss the greens and the remaining carrots with vinaigrette. Slice pork and serve with romesco alongside the salad.
Per Serving: 373 Calories; 28g Fat (66.8% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 49mg Cholesterol; 90mg Sodium.

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Smoked Gouda Grits

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter cooking class, 2018
Serving Size: 6

1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup grits — coarse ground (NOT instant)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter — cut into pieces
3 ounces gouda cheese — smoked or regular
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Italian parsley — chopped

1. Bring milk, salt and water to a boil in a large pan over medium high heat. Gradually whisk in grits until smooth.
2. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, whisking frequently, until creamy but still with some bite, 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with Italian parsley.
Per Serving: 164 Calories; 10g Fat (52.5% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 33mg Cholesterol; 457mg Sodium.

Posted in Salads, Veggies/sides, on June 9th, 2018.

olive_bread_salad_chickpeas

A lovely salad with arugula (or kale), olives, shaved fennel, Manchego cheese, radicchio, spiced garbanzo beans, with some toasted olive bread croutons and tossed with a succulent fig balsamic dressing.

It was a month or more ago that this salad was made at a class with Tarla Fallgatter. I was trying to not eat carbs, so I didn’t have any of the olive bread croutons, or any of the chickpeas, but I lapped up everything else and really liked the salad dressing with a hint of sweetness to it. Others in the class were ooohing and aaahing, so I know both the croutons and chickpeas tasted good.

The garbanzo beans (chickpeas) are added to a pan full of garlic and red chili flakes with oil, and you cook them for 6-8 minutes until they blister. Once cooked, you remove all the loose skins. You might think that’s too much work, but it won’t take but a minute of time. The skins come off easily enough.

The vinaigrette is made with fig balsamic (if you don’t have some, you need it in your pantry arsenal), a tetch of raspberry vinegar, some balsamic mustard (another item you need in your refrigerator arsenal) and olive oil. So delicious.

Meanwhile you need some radicchio (or red endive), some thinly sliced fennel, some roasted red and yellow peppers (jarred works here), some tasty Mediterranean olives (pitted and sliced), some shaved Manchego (mmm, me likes Manchego), and the arugula. If you favor kale, use that instead. For whatever reason, sometimes kale doesn’t agree with me. I know it’s good for me, and nearly every market these days has about 4 varieties of kale to choose from. I’ll use arugula instead.Toss it all together and you have a very lovely looking and tasty salad for a summer’s eve.

What’s GOOD: the combo of all the veggies is so perfect – the shreds of Manchego, the olives, the crunch of the toasted croutons, the chickpeas, some fennel and peppers. All delicious, then when you toss it with the figgy vinaigrette, oh, what a combination – serve it with a lovely grilled chicken breast and that’s dinner. I promise you’ll hear raves.

What’s NOT: It takes a little bit of time to put together, more than some salad preparations. Worth it, though.

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

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Olive Bread Salad with Spicy Chickpeas

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter cooking class, 2018
Serving Size: 6

VINAIGRETTE:
3 tablespoons fig balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
2 teaspoons balsamic mustard salt and pepper to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil
SPICY CHICKPEAS:
15 ounces garbanzo beans, canned — rinsed, rubbed to remove outer skin
4 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/3 cup olive oil salt and pepper to taste
SALAD:
3 cups olive bread — torn into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon spice rub — your choice
2 tablespoons fresh oregano — coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley — chopped
1 head radicchio — torn into bite-sized pieces (or use red endive)
1 whole fennel bulb — thinly sliced
2 whole red bell peppers — or yellow, or one of each
1/3 cup olives — Mediterranean type, pitted, sliced
3 ounces Manchego cheese — shaved
2 cups arugula — or baby kale

1. CHICKPEAS: Cook chickpeas (drained, rinsed and blotted with paper towels) with garlic and pepper flakes in oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until garlic is golden brown and chickpeas begin to blister, 6-8 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
2. VINAIGRETTE: Combine ingredients in a lidded jar and shake. Set aside. Shake well before using.
3. SALAD: Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss bread with spice rub of your choice, salt, pepper and oil. Spread out on a large baking sheet and bake/toast, tossing once or twice, until crisp on the outside edges, but still chewy in the center, about 8-10 minutes. Let cool.
4. Place all the salad ingredients in a large serving bowl and toss with vinaigrette to coat. Add chickpeas, then divide among plates to serve.
Per Serving: 468 Calories; 39g Fat (75.4% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 384mg Sodium.

Posted in Appetizers, Vegetarian, Veggies/sides, on April 1st, 2018.

zucchini_patties_feta_dill

Tender little pancake-shaped fritters of shredded zucchini, onion, Feta and topped with a dollop of yogurt. Make sure you add the dill!

Some years ago I made a version of this, Turkish Zucchini Pancakes, and liked them. Those, that I made in 2008 contained tons of green onions instead of white onion, and had 4 eggs in the batch and included chopped walnuts too. I don’t know why I don’t make some version of these more often, because I love them. They could easily (for me anyway) be dinner. I’d have about 4 of them, I suppose. These are quite thin, and they’re fragile-tender. They’re full of flavor (from the onions, dill, the spice rub and Italian parsley), and once cooked, they have a lovely (but tender) texture. There is a bit of flour added to help hold them together (plus an egg and egg yolk).

Do start an hour or so ahead as you need to salt the grated zucchini and let it sit a bit, to give off some of their water before you start to mix up the batter. The onions (chopped) need to be squeezed of their extra fluid also. Then you can mix up everything, including about 1/2 cup of Feta. Speaking of Feta, Tarla Fallgatter, the cooking instructor who made these recently, recommended Bulgarian Feta. She buys it at a local ethnic market, and prefers it because it’s lower in sodium and she likes the flavor of Bulgarian over others. So, the batter is formed into thin patties, and you can work as you go – do some for the first batch and while they’re frying, form more rounds of them.

Into a big frying pan they go with some olive oil (you’ll likely need to add more olive oil with each subsequent batch you fry). This recipe makes 16-18 of the pancakes, but they’re thin, so surely you’d have 2 per person, or more. For an entrée you’d have 4-5 per person, I’d guess. Maybe more if your crowd is really hungry. Anyway, they take about 5 minutes per side to get golden brown. Transfer them to paper towels to drain. If you make as you go, you’d be serving them immediately. Otherwise, put them on a paper-lined rack on a tray and keep them in a 250°F oven while you finish preparing them all. Because they are thin pancakes, they’ll cool off way too fast.

Meanwhile you chop up some fresh dill for the pretty-factor. DILL is essential in these – there are just food combinations that are made in heaven – zucchini-yogurt-dill is one. To serve, make them pretty with a dollop of the yogurt and garnish with a little sprig of dill on top. My mouth is watering . . . . .

What’s GOOD: the pancakes are delicate and tender. Full of flavor and satisfying. I would think these could be prepared and frozen too, then reheated in a toaster oven easily enough. If you have a bumper crop of zucchini this could be a great make-ahead dish. This would go nicely with a roast (lamb or pork I’m thinking), or all by itself.

What’s NOT: really nothing except that you do need to drain the zucchini and onion so start a bit ahead of when you’re going to prepare them.

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

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Zucchini Patties with Feta

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter, cooking instructor
Serving Size: 8

2 1/2 cups zucchini — coarsely grated (about 3 medium)
1 teaspoon salt — divided use
1 teaspoon spice rub — or use a combo of Mediterranean spices/herbs
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup all purpose flour — (or more)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup olive oil — (about)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, full-fat — with dill to garnish

1. Toss zucchini and 1/2 teaspoon salt in large bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer to sieve. Press out excess liquid; place zucchini in dry bowl. Chop the onion finely and gather it into a couple of paper towels and allow to drain for a couple of minutes, then squeeze to extract some of the liquid from the onions. Add onion in with zucchini. Mix in egg, yolk, 1/2 cup flour, cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix in parsley and dill. If batter is very wet, add more flour by spoonfuls.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, drop batter by rounded tablespoonfuls into skillet. Fry patties until golden, 5 minutes per side, adding more olive oil oil as needed. Transfer to paper towels. Serve immediately or keep warm by placing patties on paper towels on a rack, on a baking sheet in a 225°F oven. Serve with yogurt and garnish with dill.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Place on baking sheet, cover, and chill. Rewarm uncovered in 350°F oven 12 minutes.
Per Serving: 218 Calories; 18g Fat (73.9% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 67mg Cholesterol; 396mg Sodium.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on January 31st, 2018.

yukon_gold_parsnip_mash

 This recipe should have been posted before the holidays – in case you wanted to serve such a side dish when you had guests. The combo of parsnips and potatoes is really a good match.

It’s been some months ago I went to a cooking class where these were served, and I loved them. But then, I like parsnips in any way, shape or form. I forget about them, however, as they’re not a common produce item at my markets. Are they at yours? Over the holidays I saw them, but didn’t buy any – should have, because I’d like to make these now.

These aren’t anything unusual in the making of them – other than the addition of mascarpone and crème fraiche to them. A lot, actually, but the recipe makes a lot. Fresh sage adds just a lovely, subtle hint of the herb, and the freshly grated nutmeg is just perfect in them – some in the potatoes and a bit sprinkled on top when it’s served. IF you like these ingredients, save this recipe for next winter, perhaps, or for Easter dinner maybe?

What’s GOOD: the parsnip flavor is just so yummy-good. The cream products add a lovely lushness to the mixture. Altogether delicious and a keeper of a recipe.

What’s NOT: maybe only finding parsnips?

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

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Yukon Gold and Parsnip Mash

Recipe By: from a cooking class with Susan V, 2017
Serving Size: 9

4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes — or Russett
1 pound parsnips — peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut in 2″ pieces
4 tablespoons butter
8 ounces creme fraiche
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg — divided use

1. Place potatoes and parsnips in a large pot. Cover with water. Add a tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes and parsnips are tender. Drain. Put them back in the pot with butter and coarsely mash. Add creme fraiche, mascarpone, HALF the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
2. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle remaining nutmeg on top. Serve immediately.
Per Serving: 372 Calories; 18g Fat (44.6% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 45g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 54mg Cholesterol; 87mg Sodium.

Posted in Salads, Vegetarian, Veggies/sides, on November 3rd, 2017.

nutted_wild_rice_salad

That photo just doesn’t do justice to this rice salad. Even though I use Photoshop to crop and work with my photos, sometimes you just can’t make brown food look wonderful. 

Behind the scenes of any blog, or maybe I should say a food blog with recipes, is a whole lot of file administration. You might not think so, but there are many, many steps to getting a story written, photos worked on, sized correctly, inserted in the right places, recipe itself prepared, stripped of formatting, uploaded and then put into a finished format on the blog. It’s not seamless. And all that is to say that this recipe that I made months ago somehow got lost in the mix. At least it didn’t get deleted. I can’t even remember when I made this (photo properties says I took the photo on August 5th), or for what family occasion (it was probably our group family birthday we do about that time of year). I wouldn’t have made it just for myself; that I know. But as soon as I glanced at the photo, I remembered eating it, and my mouth was watering.

The recipe came from cooks.com and has no attribution. But I used some white rice in it too, so am not sure where I found the recipe, or if I adapted it myself. In years past, I’ve made the Silver Palate’s wild rice salad numerous times (but never written up here), and I have another one here on my blog from a museum restaurant in D.C. The Mitsitam. And yet another one that’s a copycat one from a local restaurant here in my neck of the woods that contained fresh corn. But this one is just a simple-enough wild rice and white rice salad enhanced with pecans, golden raisins, green onions, orange juice and zest. And it’s downright delicious.

I won’t tell you that this salad is cinchy quick – it has several steps, and you have to watch the rice carefully that it doesn’t overcook. That would be a crime, since you want the wild rice to still have some tooth. But once the rice is made, the other ingredients are straight forward and easy. A lovely honey vinaigrette is added and it can sit for awhile. You can eat it warm or cold, and leftovers are still good, although the pecans sometimes get a bit soft. But worth making? Yes.

What’s GOOD: a great salad for a crowd. Can be made ahead. Delicious warm or cold, or room temp. Leftovers still taste good, too. Of all my wild rice salads I’ve made, this probably wasn’t my favorite, but I liked the orange zest and juice in it. And the green onions.

What’s NOT: a few steps to make, but not hard at all.

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

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Nutted Wild Rice Salad

Recipe By: adapted from cooks.com
Serving Size: 8

1 cup long grain white rice
1/2 cup wild rice — raw
5 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup pecans — toasted
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 whole orange — ZESTED & juiced
1/4 cup honey
4 whole green onions — thinly sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter — melted
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar — or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste

1. Strain wild rice in strainer and run cold water over it. Rinse the rice thoroughly.
2. Place wild rice in heavy saucepan. Add stock (or water) and bring to to a rapid boil. Adjust heat to simmer and cook uncovered for 30+ minutes until rice is just barely cooked through. Do not overcook.
3. In another pot, cook white rice in water until it’s barely done – do not overcook. Drain, transfer both rices to a bowl and stir in butter and oil.
4. Combine the orange juice and honey; stir to combine. Add all remaining ingredients, adjusting for seasonings, or more vinegar, or orange juice. Let mixture stand for about 2 hours to allow flavors to develop. Taste rice for seasonings. Serve at room temp.
Per Serving: 404 Calories; 19g Fat (41.0% calories from fat); 12g Protein; 49g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 8mg Cholesterol; 361mg Sodium.

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