Sunday, December 10, 2017

From Valerie's Kitchen to Mine (Book Review)

I'm enjoying writing cookbook reviews as I'm testing recipes I'd never made before.

I receive no money for the cookbook reviews-just the book, which I pass on just after reviewing.

From Valerie's Home Cooking, my "first" was Egg Rolls.  The egg roll wrappers, found in the produce section of my grocery store, contain enriched wheat flour, vinegar, egg and non-GMO cornstarch.  (60 calories each)  I have to monitor my sodium intake and I could fit 130 mg sodium each into my diet.  The wrappers do not have whole grains, but the corn in the filling is whole grain.  The spinach, beans and cheese also in the filling are a great fit for most healthy diets.
We enjoyed these as dinner and lunch entrees, with the fresh tomato salsa on the side.  The egg rolls are baked, not fried. 

There are selections fitting for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack.  The Almond Apricot Muesli combined whole grains, calcium, nuts and dried fruit in this filling "rise and shine" cereal.
There is a nice selection of protein sources in the book.  When I planned my weeks' menu around testing the cookbook, it was easy to select beef, poultry, vegetarian beans, grains and egg choices.  The only non-cookbook entree I filled in for the week was seafood.  Here's Sloppy Joe and Slow Cooker Beef Giardiniere.

That's Tater Tots with the Beef Giardiniere.  The selection at the top of the post is Turkey Meatloaf and Roasted Radishes (which were very tasty).  

I loved the Applesauce Cake, which I made in individual tins with whole wheat flour and less sugar.  That's Quinoa Salad with Lime Cilantro Dressing.  Together, with a little Gruy√®re Cheese, it made a delicious luncheon.

Valerie says to imagine you are on vacation when eating your lunch.  I did just that!

I used more eggs this week (some for washes and binders) than normally and much more ketchup and mustard.  Except for Tater Tots (the recipe was for 12 and I was not successful at making 2) and Spiced Pepitas (I burned the seeds), all of the recipe were successful and delicious.

Thank you Time Inc. books for the review copy!


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sunday Suppers (Book Review)

The Southern Living cookbook has over 50 menus and recipes for family gatherings.  The meal was designed to be the last meal on Sundays before the family was back to the weekday Monday routine.  There are 3 meal components per menu-an entree, side and dessert-all of which can be exchanged for the like component on another day.  There is a nice variety of protein foods, vegetables and fruit.

Most entrees are set-up for 8 servings that can be reduced to 1/2 or even 1/4th to accommodate smaller families.  I did that in the Tomato and Feta Shrimp dish (above) to serve just the two of us.  The recipe was easy to prepare and easy to follow.  While I did see a few recipes made with whole grains in the book (corn tortillas, corn), there are not many.  My version serves the shrimp/feta/tomato dish over whole wheat spaghetti (cooked in strained shrimp shell broth).

I love the full page photos of each recipe, as seen above for the Brunswick Stew.  While the recipe called for a bottle of Chili Sauce, I made my own.  The recipes in the book "allow for wiggle room" for making changes and are very forgiving.  Some of the baked goods and desserts call for mixes, such as "cornbread mix", self rising flour, ready made crusts and jams/jellies.  Most cooks can mix their own flours, leavening ingredients and salt to achieve a similar product without added inventory or waste.

There are breakfast menus and dishes to try.  Rather than an "all-purpose baking mix" I made my own waffles with chia in place of poppy seeds.  I loved the Citrus Salad with Spiced Honey recipe.

I made the Grilled Spicy Chicken recipe with sweet pepper in place of jalapeno pepper and on stove-top rather than outside, but the food processor pesto type mix of greens, as in the recipe was very tasty.  The recipe took less than 30 minutes to prepare and made a beautiful presentation.

I particularly loved the "Southern Savvy"  paragraphs throughout the book with etiquette topics like "RSVP, Cell Phones, Allergies, and Tardiness".  Consideration of others is a component of eating pleasure and gatherings.

The table settings throughout the book are lovely.  There are many settings, adaptable to many situations.  The recipe above is for "Meatball Minestrone".  I have never cooked meatballs in broth before, and these 1 tablespoon raw balls cooked in just 12 minutes of boiling broth.  The lean meat did not add layers of fat to the soup.

Finally, the section on "Timing a Menu" is so important, particularly when guests are invited.  I was glad to review the process as I was preparing my Thanksgiving plans.

Thank you Time Inc. Books for the review copy!


In the South, relaxing Sunday afternoons regularly drift into laid-back, informal Sunday suppers. These evening gatherings are sometimes a full meal, sometimes a soup and sandwich, but they are always all about family.

Sunday Suppers: Simple, Delicious Menus for Family Gatherings (Oxmoor House, November 7, 2017, $27.99) by James Beard Award-winning author Cynthia Graubart is new full-color cookbook that will revitalize the iconic Southern Sunday meal, inspired by suppers of the past and present.

Whether the plan is a small family gathering, a feast for a crowd, or a summer afternoon cookout, readers will find 52 inspired menus with classic Southern flair for a year of Sunday suppers, including:
• Fall Chicken Casserole, Fresh Herb Spoon Rolls, and Tart Cherry Crisp (page 26)
• Slow-Cooker Pork, Baked Macaroni and Cheese, and White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (page 66)
• Lemon Grilled Salmon, Roasted Carrots with Avocado and Feta Vinaigrette, and Vanilla-Buttermilk Tarts (page 100)
• And much more!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Buena Comida! A Taste of Latin America Book Review

The recipes are full of colorful vegetables-with whole grains, eggs and a variety of meats.  Many of the foods include a onion, garlic, peppers saute with a spice mix of cumin, oregano, cilantro and olives.  The book is colorful too.  Each recipe includes a full page photo listing serving size and level of difficulty.  Each chapter is based on the specific country and region of Latin America, complete with maps and photos from Mexico, Costa Rica, Cuba, Puerto Rico and all of South America.  While there are similarities (they are all tropical and most speak Spanish), there are differences in availability of foods. This book examines each country.

Colombia is known for thick corn cakes, known as "arepas".   These are stuffed with meats and cheeses. These tortilla style beads are featured below with seasoned chicken.  Columbia offers both a temperate and a tropical climate, where tubers and root vegetables grow year-round.  The "Sopa de habas y cerbada" (Barley and bean soup) has potatoes, chickpeas, limas and carrots.

Beef is more popular in Cuba than seafood.  Rice and beans is a mainstay.  This Ropa Vieja with shredded steak, served with rice and beans, was an easy main dish for dinner.  The "Frijoles Cubanos" (Cuban beans) had a tasty sauce that worked great with the leftovers from dinner for a next day lunch soup.  

I combined foods from Puerto Rica and Venezuela in this meal featuring "Pollo Al Jerez" (Chicken in Sherry)  with "Bollo Picante Vegetariano" (Cornmeal Roll in Banana Leaf).   

Chicken in Sherry

(Serves 2)

Season chicken with salt, pepper and thyme.  Heat oil in an iron skillet.  Add chicken pieces ans sear on all sides.  Remove chicken.
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 drumsticks
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Salt and pepper

In same skillet, saute onion and garlic until soft.  Add chicken, potatoes, broth and bay leaves.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
1/4 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minces
2 small potatoes, peeled and cut in 1 inch pieaces
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 bay leaves

Add sherry.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes more.  Sprinkle with cilantro.
1/2 cup sherry
2 tablespoon snipped cilantro 

An anytime go to meal, "Huevos Rancheros"  (Mexican Style Eggs) is perhaps my favorite.  Broken eggs, baked in a fresh tomato and sauce skillet with cheese-served with corn tortillas is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The recipes are made with whole foods, with a nice assortment of vegetables, beans and whole grains.  I like that!  I cut back on the amount of meat (and even the variety) in most recipes.  Most of the ingredients are easy to obtain.  

As you plan your holiday gift giving list, this 2017 cookbook will be in in time for Christmas.

"Acclaimed chef Patricia Cartin cooks with Latin America’s history and traditions in every recipe. Ten Latin American countries are represented, including Patricia’s native Costa Rica, with dishes that are savory, sweet, spicy, mild, and everything in between. Tempting options for main dishes, vegetables, sides, and desserts, everyone can get creative in the kitchen with flavorful recipes for every part of a successful meal. Food is the perfect gateway to gaining an understanding of cultures and breaking bread with the people of the world."  

Sunday, November 12, 2017

All Season Cobbler

I first gave a fruit cobbler demo during the peak of summer when fresh local peaches were in season.  The demo was for the Tri-Towns Senior Center.  I brought a large baked cobbler for dessert, then did my demo in a family size baking dish.  I finished baking the second cobbler at my Moms' house.  

I wanted the cobbler to be made of ingredients found in most homes and did not specify what kind of fruit, juice, flour, milk or sugar.  It works with any!  This recipes can be made in any type of pan with any amount of fruit.  It is easy to make and allows for quick mixing and panning.  Measurements do not have to be perfect.

For added fiber and nutrients, use whole grain flours.  Mine has 1/3 whole wheat flour, 1/3 whole grain corn meal and 1/3 all purpose flour.

There is no fat in the cobbler alone.  My plan to serve with ice cream added some fat and calcium to the whole grain and fruit dessert.  

The wild berries we picked along our hillside and froze made for a delicious late autumn dessert in November.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

True Grit at the Community Farmers Market

"Real food is food we trust to nourish our bodies our farmers and our planet."  This was the theme of Kimbal Musk's keynote address at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo 2017.  

In many communities, the local farmers market is the place to find real food.  Today was the last outdoor market ending our third season of monthly farm fresh samplings.  We prepared and served over 200 samplings of Beef Apple Chili with Cheesy Polenta Bites to inspire enthusiastic customers.  Our sampling featured fresh sliced sirloin from our sponsor-Working H Farms  -with cheese and produce donations from other market vendors.  Adding the apples to a chili was a challenge from the local orchard vendor and made for a mild and tasty flavor profile.  The cheese in the polenta bites added still another gold star to the mix.

For 220 samples, I made 4 times the recipe for chili and 9 times the recipe for the polenta bites.

Today we had the assistance of a distance dietetic intern who lives in our community.  She met many people and local RDNs, and I'm sure she appreciates the dedicated customers and vendors.

We look forward to the first Saturday in May 2018 when we'll be sharing recipes to create with real food we trust to nourish our bodies, our farmers and our planet!"


Saturday, October 28, 2017

What Grandma Ate is What I Eat

At the Food and Nutrition Centennial, several presentations covered links to healthy eating patterns then and now.  I really enjoyed John Coupland's presentations where he discussed social and technological causes on changes in our diet. I'm fortunate to interview my Mother, now in her 10th decade, about her meals as a child.

As a young child, Mom's Dad had a dairy, where milk was homogenized and bottled.  When she only 3, he opened a grocery store. There was no school lunch, so the kids walked home to eat the mid day meal, then walked back to school.  Many times she ate lunch at her Grandmother's house, which was closer to school. 

Breakfast was oatmeal with milk. Lunch was often a soup with vegetables or potato soup, prepared by Grandad Mullan.  There were always Saltine crackers. Grandad Mullan had a big garden and canned many vegetables and fruit.  After his death, when they sold the house, there was a whole cellar full of these home canned treasures.  Mom enjoyed the pickled beets and canned pears. 

Mom's mother cooked a full meal with meat and vegetables.  The store had 2 ice boxes.  Ice was delivered twice a week to keep the meat fresh.  McIntyres Bakery was just across the street.  The bread was at first purchased as whole unsliced loaves until the innovation of a machine that sliced the bread.  Every Sunday, Grandma served chicken with 3 kinds of potatoes-sweet, white and potato salad. As the Depression ended, Grandma sold the store.  They never went hungry and never let any one else go hungry.  The neighbors needed help with food and they were there.  In later years, the family found carbide cans of bills that were owed by people that could never pay.

The lunch and dinner traditions continued when I was a child.  Though we ate school lunch during the week, we were served mostly vegetable meals with perhaps a little meat on off days.  I recall big pots of cabbage and potatoes, with a can of corned beef on top.  We ate beans and ham, homemade chicken noodle soup, and vegetable soup.  In summers, we ate fried squash and tomatoes.

Mom always served a full dinner,  The table was set and we enjoyed a meat, often grilled, and accompanying vegetables.   Sunday meals were shared with my Grandparents, who lived next store.  My Grandfather had a big garden and a root cellar with potatoes. Grandma taught me how to make potato salad, with a cooked dressing. Grandma had an addition built onto their house with a kitchen for canning. For my girl scout cooking badge, Mom taught me how to make meatloaf.  These days my brother makes my Mom a full plate of homemade foods.

When we stayed at the lake during the summer, my sister and I fished, catching small perch and sunfish that Grandma and Mom cleaned and fed us several a day.  Breakfast at the lake was fresh caught fried fish.  I had a special green plate that was all mine.

Even though I sometimes ate too many packaged cookies between meals, I always ate a good My Plate kind of meal.  I loved the melons and tomatoes that were available in the summer.    

We are real people who eat real food.  I'm fortunate, like my Grandmother, to have farm friends who raise and process the fresh meat I eat today. I buy sustainable frozen seafood at the grocery store.  I also purchase many vegetables from the farmers market.

My link to a healthy meal pattern also influenced my career and hobbies.  I'm fortunate to have this exposure.  

A prayer said at the dinner table when Mom was a child:

"A little head, a little heart
Bowed down in simple prayer
Thank the Lord for food and drink
And loving daily care."      

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Bread of the Prophet

Ezekiel Bread, made with 4 grains and 4 beans, is a complete protein bread on which a Biblical prophet was able to survive for almost a year.  (Ezekiel also drank water)  The recipe was a delight for this home miller.  The cookbook was my ultimate find at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, celebrating the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics centennial year.  

in her book, Sue Becker share 100 pages of information on grains and milling, then over 100 recipes to make with the whole grain flours produced.  After almost a year experimenting with my home mill, I now have many tried and true recipes to make and enjoy.  

Ezekiel Bread

(1 9X5 inch loaf-about 12 slices)

Combine and mill grains and beans.
3/4 cup 1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon wheat berries
1/2 cup spelt berries
2 tablespoon 2 teaspoon hulled barley (not pearled)
1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon millet
1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon red and black lentils
2 teaspoon northern beans
4 teaspoon assorted heirloom dried beans

With paddle in place, mix water, oil, honey and salt in bowl of electric mixer.
1 1/2 cup hot water (130 F)
2 tablespoon 2 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add 1 2/3 cup flour to bowl and combine.

Sprinkle yeast on top of batter and combine.
2 teaspoon quick rising yeast

Add remaining flour.  Mix on low speed for 5 minutes.

Pour into loaf pan greased with olive oil spray.  Cover with cloth and allow to rise for about 30 minutes, until dough is about 1/4 inch from top.

Bake at 400 F for 40 minutes.

Unlike Ezekiel, I am not fasting.  We enjoyed our bread with Shepherds Pie, a grapefruit half and a glass of milk.

The pie is made with lean ground beef, carrots, onions, red pepper, celery and wine, then topped with fresh cooked potatoes, hand mashed with Greek yogurt, black pepper and celery leaves.   

My meals follow a pattern consisting of lean protein, colorful vegetables and fruit, whole grains and low fat dairy. I have been following this pattern for meal planning over 40 years.  A concurring theme at the conference was not to promote individual foods, rather a meal pattern like this one.