Monday, July 15, 2019

Bread Can Be the Highlight of the Menu

Our summer picnics all are fun, meeting the meal criteria for environment, menu and service. The environment-a beautiful state park on a shady table and a summer day is hard to beat. The service-between a loving couple is a bright and cheer setting. The platter, with cold salsas, roasted vegetables and chicken, garnished with aged cheddar cheese was good. The bread was the highlight.

Tomato Baguette with Olives, Pepper & Onions

(2 large baquettes-16 servings)

Saute onions and peppers in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes.
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup yellow onions, diced
1/4 cup sweet red pepper, diced

Add tomato paste, cayenne, olives and tomatoes.  Set aside to cool.
2 tablespoon tomato paste
Dash Cayenne
1/3 cup Kalamata Olives, diced
1/2 cup tomatoes, diced

In bowl of electric mixer with dough hook in place, mix flours, yeast, salt and pepper.
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoon 3/4 teaspoon rapid rise yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Slowly add warm water to bowl.  Beat at medium speed 2 minutes, stirring bowl down.
1 3/4 cup water (125 F)

Add flour and oil.  Beat 2 minutes at medium speed, stirring bowl down mid-way.
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoon olive oil

Add tomato-olive mixture with semolina flour and knead at low speed.  Then slowly add remaining whole wheat flour, kneading at low speed for about 6 minutes until dough leaves sides of the bowl.
Tomato olive mixture
3/4 cup semolina flour
1 cup whole wheat flour 

Turn dough into a bowl greased with olive oil spray.  Turn and cover.  Let rise for about 45 minutes.

Divide dough into half and place each piece in large baguette pan greased with olive oil spread.  Smooth and round edges of dough to within 2 inches from edges.  Bake at 450 F for 25-30 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

The roasted vegetables on the platter were assorted squashes, coated in olive oil and this seasoning:
Za'atar Seasoning
3 Tbsp. Dry Thyme
1 Tbsp. Toasted Sesame Seed
1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
2 Tbsp. Lemon Peel

The small roasted chicken was first spatchcocked (I removed the backbone) and soaked refrigerated in apple juice, peppercorns and thyme before roasting. We made several meals out of the vegetables and chicken. I threw in some cooked black beans, fresh sliced cucumbers and homemade salsa. (tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, green onion and garlic).

Our picnic today was at Cedar Creek, a West Virginia State Park near Glenville.  This was a  2 hour drive, some of it on country roads.

When leaving the park, Bob spotted a blue heron.

It was a great adventure!


Sunday, July 7, 2019

Star Spangled Picnic

The star of our picnic platter was the Crab Potato and Corn Salad. Farmers market red potatoes, jumbo white crab meat and corn formed the base of the salad with celery, red pepper, chives and my homemade bay spice mix providing the seasoning. It was so good and affordable (this recipe has 4 ounces of crab meat for 3 servings).

Crab Potato and Corn Salad

(Serves 3)

Scrub potatoes.  Cut in 1/2 inch cubes.  Cook in boiling water, covered, for 10-12 minutes until tender.
4 medium size red potatoes

Mix drained and cooled potatoes with crab, vegetables and seasoning.  Keep cold for transport.
4 ounces jumbo white crabmeat
1/2 cup corn
1/4 cup celery, diced
1 mini red pepper, diced
2 tablespoon snipped chives
3 tablespoon mayonnaise, made with olive oil
1 teaspoon bay seasoning

Seafood Seasoning 

(Makes 2/3 cup)

4 tablespoon celery seed
3 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 1/3 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

We stopped at the Bridgeport Farmers Market on our way to Deegan Hinkle Lake where purchased one white cupcake decorated with creamy white icing and a few red, white and blue sprinkles.  We shared this at the end of the meal. That's fresh pineapple tidbits and farmers market golden cherry tomatoes on the side with a whole grain roll.

We had a very nice view of the lake from our table and a path to walk:


Friday, July 5, 2019

Repurposing the Sourdough Starter: Zucchini Bread

Having made the sourdough starter and feeding it weekly, I'm trying different ways to use it.  This week's finished product was a Zucchini Bread. Since I knew I'd be eating slices with either buttery spread or peanut butter, I decided to substitute the butter in side the loaf with my own home canned applesauce.  The loaf still has plenty of fat inside-with both olive oil and walnuts. My loaf is entirely whole grain-a mix of Ezekiel and Spelt Flours-ones I'd already ground from the berries. This would work with any mix of gluten containing flours.

Sourdough Zucchini Bread

(14 Slices)

Mix flours, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
2 cups whole grain flours
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar

Shred zucchini in a food processor.  Place shredded product on a clean absorbent cloth.  Roll and squeeze out moisture.  Mix with flours. 
2 1/4 cups shredded zucchini 

Add nuts and zest to flour-zucchini mix.
1 cup toasted and ground walnuts
Zest of 1 lemon

Stir sourdough starter into flour-squash-nut mix.
3/4 cup sourdough starter

In a separate bowl or glass, beat eggs with honey, olive oil and vanilla.  Stir in applesauce.
2 eggs
2 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
Slowly add liquid mix to mixing bowl with other ingredients.  Stir only until no flour is visible.

Pour into 9 X 5 inch loaf pan greased with olive oil. Bake at 350 about 1 hour, until skewer inserted into loaf comes out clean. 

Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes.  Then loosed sides with a spatula and finish cooling bread on the rack.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Fiber and Foods Good for the Gut

When asked to speak at my Mom's Senior Center, I chose the topic of fiber as most people don't get enough of it.  People know it's what we need to avoid constipation. Many know  that certain fibers help to lower bad cholesterol. Most don't think of fiber as helping to control blood sugar, yet it does this as well as helping us feel full longer.

Fiber is found only in plant foods. Whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables all contribute important nutrients. 

The recommended amount for seniors is 21 grams for women and 30 grams for men.
It's important to drink plenty of water.

When buying packaged foods, check the label for fiber content. Look for the words "whole grain" as the first ingredient on the label. Whole grains contain amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and cholesterol lowering properties. They're all unique. 

I visited the grocery stores near the senior center and purchased a few whole grains as examples and drew random numbers to give these away.  We reviewed package labels and ingredients and discussed ways to cook Whole Wheat Spaghetti, Whole Wheat Orzo, Brown Rice and Quinoa. From our local farmers market, I purchased buckwheat flour and horticulture beans as examples of fiber rich foods. The lucky winner of the Buckwheat Flour promised to make the young center director buckwheat cakes in the fall!

I made everyone a sample serving of my muesli, made with oats, blackberries, seeds and nuts-all on the fiber rich list of foods. Oats are rich in a prebiotic fiber. Prebiotics are soluble fibers linked to the helpful bacteria in the gut. They improve GI health and enhance calcium absorption.

Fennel Muesli

12 (1/3 cup) servings

Mix pepitas, almonds, pecans and seeds (It is fine to substitute other nuts). Toss on a wide rim baking sheet.  Toast in a 350 F. oven for 7 minutes.  Reduce oven to 275F.
1/3 cup pepitas
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup pecans
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 teaspoon fennel seeds

Mix honey, peanut butter, oil, orange and vanilla until smooth.  
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla

Toss peanut butter sauce with nuts and seeds and oats.  Mix until completely covered.
2 cups old fashioned oats
Spread onto parchment lined rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  Stir.  

Chop apricots and berries in a food processor.  Mix with partially roasted granola.  Bake in oven for another 30 minutes.
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2-2 cups fresh berries, chopped (I used wild black raspberries picked last season and frozen) This works with as little as 1/2 cup to as much as 2 cups of berries. No difference in baking time is needed-using the higher amount will add about 6 more servings.

I suggested eating the muesli (prebiotic containing) with yogurt (probiotic containing).
Probiotics are the good bacteria-live cultures-that boost overall health, immunity and GI health. Prebiotics are meals for Probiotics. Yogurt and Kefir both are probiotic rich foods.

We ended by sampling Kefir.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

BYO Summer Cabin Cooking

For our annual summer retreat in the hills of West Virginia, we bring our own food. The one room cabin, built by the CCC during the Great Depression, has a fully stocked kitchen. We pack a large cooler with plenty of ice blocks and take everything we need for a 3 night and 4 day stay. My major foods are purchased from our local Farmer's Market. Free range chicken and beef, eggs and squash, garlic, green onions, red potatoes and carrots were all readily available. I brought every vegetable in my cooler! I was saving those petite fillets (seen above) for this special occasion and added them frozen to our cooler along with a blended beef-mushroom-carrot mix that I froze a few weeks ago. Since I wasn't sure when we'd be able to check in to our cabin, I baked a chicken breast the day before, sliced and took for the first lunch meal. Before leaving our home, I snipped some of all my herbs from the container garden on the deck and brought in a zipper bag at room temperature. My dinner menus were as follows:

Petite Fillets
Herbed Sliced Summer Vegetables
Spelt Muffins

Mexicana Shrimp Kabobs
Multigrain Bread

Blended Meatloaf
Roasted New Red Potatoes

The blended beef, mushroom and vegetable recipe I used was one I usually make into meatballs. I baked it in an oval loaf shape along with new potatoes.  The loaf had 1/2 pound of ground beef (& equal parts of vegetables). We ate half of it the first night and had the rest to slice for lunch the next 2 days.  

For the kabobs, I mixed the dry seasonings and transported in a large zipper bags. I portioned the lemon juice-olive oil into a small container with a lid to add  to the seasonings along with the shrimp and vegetables 1 hour before baking, This is an easy recipe, and I simply pulled the frozen raw shrimp from the freezer and threw in the cooler the morning of the trip.

Mexicana Shrimp & Vegetable Kabobs

(Serves 2)

Peel shrimp, leaving tail intact.  Clean and cut vegetables.
12 jumbo, tail on, raw shrimp
6-8 baby portobello mushrooms, halved or quartered, depending on size
1 zucchini squash, sliced in 3/4 inch pieces
6-8 mini red and orange sweet peppers, seeded and cut in half

Mix marinade ingredients.
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves

Place shrimp and vegetables in a large zipper storage bag.  Pour over marinade.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

Assemble kabobs, alternating colors on skewers.  Bake at 325 F. for 15 minutes.

The chicken breast I prebaked for our first lunch was seasoned using this recipe.  
We need no recipe for the meal pictured at the top, made the first night of our trip. The wood kindling in the fire added a nice smoked taste to both the meal and vegetables. I added the fresh herbs I brought from home and the meal was a real treat.

Breakfasts daily included eggs over easy, sometimes enjoyed for one dinner a week at home. Bob brought his frozen biscuits and I my spelt muffins. I took a cantaloupe, apples and grapes for fruit. On the last night of our stay, we went to the park restaurant and shared the homemade blackberry cobber (a la mode).

We plan to return to Holly River State Park, in Webster County, West Virginia year after year. It's the biggest park in the state land wise. There are 10 cabins-we've stayed in 4-and so look forward to the entire stay.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Squash and Spelt Muffins

These muffins are 100% whole grain and made with the first squash of the season.  Made with fresh ground spelt berries, chopped yellow squash, lemon zest and fresh grated ginger, these muffins are a satisfying complement to any meal.

Squash and Spelt Muffins

(6 Muffins)

In a mixing bowl, blend flour, baking powder, soda, salt and sugar.
1 1/4 cup ground spelt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar

Chop squash in a food processor.  Drain on a clean cloth (squeeze cloth).  Mix squash into flour, then add zest and ginger.
1 cup finely chopped yellow squash, ends removed (keep the skin) (about 1 squash)
Zest from 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

Beat egg with small whisk.  Add oil, applesauce and lemon juice.  Stir into flour mixture.  Mix only until no flour is visible.
1/4 cup eggs, beaten (about 1 1/2)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Drop batter by 1/4 cup scoop into muffin tin greased with olive oil.  Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, until pick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes in pan on wire rack.  Loosen sides with small spatula.  Remove to rack to complete cooling.



Sunday, June 16, 2019

Hero Chicken

Our picnic chicken tenders were marinated in a "Jerk" sauce prior to baking. Since my thoughtful husband suggested we picnic on Saturday instead of a rainy forecast Sunday-we did.  Sunday is Fathers Day, and he is everything opposite of a jerk-so I called this my "Hero" Chicken.  My 2 Bean Salad is made with South Carolina red peas.  The dressing is so good-we even dipped our chicken in it!  We had mango slices on the side and shared a fresh baked cream horn from our farmer's market baker friend Patty.  

Jerk Marinade

(Serves 2)

Mix hot coffee with remaining ingredients.  Pour over chicken.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. 
2 Tablespoon fum
2 Tablespoon white vinegar
2 Tablespoon strong coffee
1 1/2 teaspoon molasses
1 1/2 Tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tespoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Fresh grated nutmeg 
Fresh grated ginger
2 garlic scapes, minced
4 raw chicken breast tenders  
Bake or grill chicken until internal temperature is 165 F.

Our picnic today was at North Bend State Park near Cairo, West Virginia.  There is fishing, boating, hiking, swimming, bird watching, a nature center and off course-picnic tables near full service restrooms.