Monday, July 16, 2018

Summer Picnics Also Nourish the Soul

A crisp fresh summer meal outdoor surrounded by beautiful scenery is an utmost pleasure to my spouse and I.  We have so enjoyed our Sunday picnics over the course of the past 5 seasons.  Most of the meal preparations are done on Saturday.  Sundays then are reserved for the enjoyment of the 1 or 2 hour drive -much of it on a 2 lane highway-to a nearby park.

This park-Mingo Creek-is a county park near Washington, Pennsylvania.  It was recommended to us by another senior citizen we'd met at a West Virginia park, who was walking his dog.  He'd seen us taking pictures and he knew we'd also enjoy this one.  

This meal features herbed baked chicken tenders, locally raised and served cold.  The corn salad is a combination of the first of the season corn (cut off the cob), cucumbers and tomatoes.  Even the bread-a whole wheat sunflower bread-was local.  We'd beat the rain that day, but the high humidity, upper 80s temperature was hot-so the cold platter hit the spot.

I hope to look back on this time as one of the most pleasurable memories of my 7th decade. 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Blended Burger at the Farmers Market

I love the grass fed beef, shiitake mushrooms, crisp carrots and spring onions from the local farmers market-tasty alone and "over-the-hill" when combined. Unbeknown to me, the art of combining beef with other vegetables to create a healthy, sustainable and flavorful recipe is part of a now four year project developed by the James Beard Foundation. At this monthly "sampling" we offer at our outdoor market, we served ours as a meatball to over 250 customers.

I first washed and chopped the vegetables in a food processor. 
I sauteed the vegetables in olive oil and drained thoroughly before combining with the raw beef, egg and seasonings in a mixing bowl.   I portioned the meatballs with a 1 tablespoon scoop onto parchment lined baking sheets and baked for about 15 minutes, when the interior registered 165 F with a meat thermometer.  To serve at the market, I covered in a simple Italian tomato sauce and served from a commercial soup crock.  For 250 servings, I needed 7 pounds of beef and equal amounts of vegetables.

Here is the recipe for 32 meatballs.  These could be be portioned into patties, larger meatballs or even meat loaf for a tasty entree that requires no condiments!

People of all ages love meatballs!

Since I'm up at 430 baking meatballs (and worked the entire day before to prepare ingredients), I'm always thankful to my husband who draws customers to our table and is an awesome public relations promoter for our profession and the farmers.  Today he was joined by a dietetic intern and a dietetic student.  Bob highlights the need for RDNs to provide this type of outreach to the community members before they become sick.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Patriotic Picnic Picks

Red, white and blue potato salad, homemade pimiento cheese, tomato olive bread, corn salad and watermelon comprised our July 4th picnic menu on an extremely hot holiday.  We thoroughly enjoyed our South Carolina pimiento cheese, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I made my favorite tomato olive bread to go with it.

Pimiento Cheese

(1 cup)

Mix mayonnaise, ground pecans and goat cheese with pepper and salt.  Add pimientos.  
1/4 cup mayonnaise with olive oil
2 tablespoon ground pecans
Fresh ground pepper
1/16th teaspoon salt
2 ounce goat cheese
2 ounce diced jarred pimientos, drained

Stir in shredded cheeses.
3 ounce extra sharp white aged Cheddar, shredded
2 ounce Gouda, shredded
Tomato Ciabatta with Olives

(2 Loaves-16 Servings)

Saute peppers and onions until soft.  Add:
1 tsp. Olive Oil
1/4 cup Yellow Onions, diced
1/4 Sweet Red Pepper

Add tomato paste, olives, tomatoes and cayenne.  Set aside to cool.

2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
Dash Cayenne
1/3 cup diced Kalamata Olives
1/2 cup Tomatoes, diced 

Mix in bowl of electric mixer

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. rapid rise yeast
1 tsp. sugar

Slowly add water.  Beat at medium speed 2 minutes.

1 3/4 cup Water (125 degrees)
Add 1 cup flour. salt and oil.  Beat at medium speed 2 minutes.

1 cup whole wheat Flour
2 Tbsp.olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

With dough hook, continue to beat at low speed, adding
Tomato olive mixture
3/4 cup semolina flour
1 cup all purpose flour
Knead until dough leaves side of bowl.
Cover and let rise for 1 hour. 
Punch dough in half.  On pastry cloth sprinkled with flour, shape with hands into long loaves. Place in double baguette type pans sprayed with Pam.
Bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool on rack. 

Red, White and Blue Potato Salad

(Serves 4)

Scrub and cook in boiling water.  Remove from water according to size when done.  Peel when cool.  Dice.  Add diced celery and tomato.  Toss with cooked salad dressing.
12 ounce red, white and blue Potatoes, diced uniformly
Cooked Potato Salad Dressing
Combine sugar, dry mustard, flour and egg in double boiler.  Cook until thick.  Remove from heat.  Stir in water and vinegar.  Return to heat to thicken.
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 dry mustard
1 1/2 tbsp  flour
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp. vinegar

In place of a double boiler, use 2 pans that fit together, heating water in the bottom pan and the ingredients in the top pan.

Corn Salad

(Serves 4)

Mix ingredients and chill.
1 ear of corn, cooked and cut off the cob
1/3 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1 mini cucumber, diced
2 tablespoon fresh snipped chives
Fresh basil and parsley, snipped
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

Our picnic today was at Teter Creek Wildlife Management Area near Philippi, West Virginia.  It was a very hot day, but we found a favorite spot in the shade with a little breeze.  Our cold picnic foods were delicious.  We stopped on our trip back to town for ice cream!


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Easy Like Sunday Picnics

It may not seem like it, but summer picnics can be lazy lunches.  Gather eggs, lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli and radishes from the Farmers Market.  Add peas, herbs and wild berries from our homestead.  Round out with local grainy bread and shrimp to assemble a salad platter, heavy with produce.

This salad was garnished with toasted sesame seeds, ground cashews and this dressing from Clean Eating Magazine.  

Maple Sesame Dressing

(Serves 2)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon reduced sodium soy sauce
Fresh ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, minced

The wild black raspberries in our development are the best ever.  Yesterday when the power was out for a few hours, we picked berries in the rain.  I made a black raspberry cobbler with this recipe for the topping.  

The environment is equally important to the menu.  We chose a county park a few miles out of town, under a pavilion and by a rolling creek.

There was a gentle breeze and only the noise of a nearby tractor mowing grass.

The service is 4 star in our view as I prepare the meal and Bob takes us to the location.  We enjoy every bit of our Sunday outing together.




Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Why This Retail RDN Posted Nutrition Labels

I viewed this as one of my major career accomplishments-providing nutrition labels at point of service on all menu items served in the Health Sciences Center Cafeteria.  Customers could even view the nutrition label by clicking on each menu item on the electronic menu.  Made from scratch, standardized recipes were entered into the Nutritionist Pro and Labeling Software Program.  Labels were printed complete with ingredients.

It took me many years to accomplish this task.  I started the analysis at a time bulk food distributors were not required to provide the nutritional information on institutional packaging.

Why did I do it?

Customers wanted it.  They wanted to know much more than calories-they requested and expected protein, carbohydrate, fiber, sodium and every nutrient listed on grocery store packaging. 

Physicians wanted it.  Just when I was about to complete the lunch labels, the former Chief of Staff (a good customer) declared "You need to post breakfast labels".  That did not take me as long to accomplish.

Dietitians wanted it.  While we were not an in-patient meal provider, some of our goods were ordered for patient programs and we had many surrounding out-patient services.

Customers with insulin pumps counted on the labels.  One of my proudest moments was when a resident with diabetes told me our homemade dessert information was "spot on".

Customers on Weight Watchers could calculate their points.

Customers in the Ornish Program could check compliance.

Customers with allergies had readily available ingredient listing.  If more information was needed for a specific ingredient, we could easily bring that item from kitchen storage.

Nutrition labeling became a tool for this Retail Menu Planner. I used the information to plan meal deals, to meet the Mayo Clinic guidelines for sodium, to meet the American Heart Association guidelines for added sugar, to determine eligibility for the Whole Grains Stamp and to add value before testing.  Adjustments could be made in ingredients to improve the nutrient density.

Analyzing nutrient information and food cost on standardized recipes went hand-in-hand before a new item was added the menu.

In my volunteer work since retirement, I no longer have access to a nutrition analysis program.  Since my meals now are for just a few, I can project protein, sugar, fat and sodium  After a career of planning meals for 1000 + customers a day, I've had lots of practice.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Picnic Pockets

Fresh baked pockets of dough filled with vegetables and cheese might exemplify comfort food. Now serve that outdoors on a moss covered floor seated across from your life partner-and that feeling is achieved.  

We kept our picnic close to home today-less than 20 miles-traveling to Coopers Rock (WV) State Park.  I refrigerated a small portion of dough made yesterday, along with vegetables and beef, cut and cooked, and shredded cheese.  I was ready to fill and bake 1 hour before leaving, by preheating the oven and setting out the dough.

After the dough had set out and rested in individual balls, I patted it into a round and topped with a veggie mix of sauteed mushrooms, onions and peppers, then adding chopped cooked beef round and shredded cheese.  I folded the dough over, crimped the edges and baked for 25 minutes.  To transport, I wrapped each calzone in foil, wrapped in a warm towel and placed in a zippered insulated container.  The folded dough retains the heat even better than a pizza!

Our meal today included corn-mango salsa (a mixture of corn, steamed and cut off the cob, mango, peach, tomato and fresh basil with cilantro).  No dressing is necessary.  Sticks of watermelon are on the side.  The beautiful Key Lime Pie is from a local bakery.  We split that in half and shared.


(6 servings) 

In bowl of electric mixer with dough hook in place, mix 1 cup flour and yeast.  Add water and honey.  Beat at medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl down.
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup warm (125F) water
1 tablespoon honey

Add 1/2 cup flour, salt and olive oil.  Beat at medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl down.
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Slowly add whole wheat flour, kneading on low speed until dough leaves sides of bowl, about 7 minutes.
3/4 cup whole wheat flour

Place in bowl sprayed with olive oil spray.  Turn dough.  Cover and let rise for 45-60 minutes, or place in refrigerator till ready to bake.

Calzone assembly
Divide dough into 6 pieces.  Place on floured surface and let rest (covered) for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle parchment lined baking sheets with cornmeal.
1/4 cup corn meal 
Press each dough piece into a round.
Top each piece with 2 tablespoons sauteed vegetables (mushrooms, onions and peppers)

Add 2 tablespoons chopped cooked beef round.
Top with 2 tablespoons of cheese. 
Shredded cheeses (aged cheddar and Parmigiano)
Fold dough over.  Crimp ends with a fork. 
Brush calzones with oil.
2 tablespoon olive oil 
Bake at 400 F. for 25 minutes.

Our picnic today was at Coopers Rock (WV) State Park. 

The mountain laurel is in bloom.  We beat the rain.


Sunday, June 3, 2018

Fun with Dough: Picnic Rolls

These delightful pizza rolls were soft and light and paired perfectly with a vegetable salad and berry yogurt dessert at our picnic today.  The dough is 1/2 whole grain and rolled around a marinara, cheese and vegetable filling like a cinnamon roll!  We each ate 1 1/2 of these delightful rolls.

Pizza Rolls

(12 Rolls)

In bowl of electric mixer with dough hook in place, mix 1 cup flour and yeast.  Add water and honey.  Beat at medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl down.
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup warm (125F) water
1 tablespoon honey

Add 1/2 cup flour, salt and olive oil.  Beat at medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl down.
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Slowly add whole wheat flour, kneading on low speed until dough leaves sides of bowl, about 7 minutes.
3/4 cup all purpose flour

Place in bowl sprayed with olive oil spray.  Turn dough.  Cover and let rise for 45-60 minutes.  

Saute mushrooms, peppers and onion in olive oil for about 8 minutes.
5 mushrooms (stems removed), diced
4 mini sweet peppers, diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 teaspoon olive oil.

Add garlic and saute an additional 2-3 minutes.  Empty into a bowl and cool.
2 cloves garlic, minced.
Empty into a bowl and cool.

Mix olives with sauteed vegetables.
2 tablespoon Kalamata olives, chopped

 Punch dough down.  Turn onto board sprinkled with flour.  Roll to 14 X 8 inch rectangle.  Brush marinara sauce over dough to about 1/2 inch from ends.
3 tablespoon marinara sauce
Sprinkle with all of vegetable-olive mix.

Sprinkle with cheese.
1/2 cup aged cheddar cheese, shredded

Fold in short ends of dough. From long end of dough, roll and seal seam.  Cut roll into 12 pieces.  Place cut side up on parchment paper.  Press down slightly and sprinkle with additional cheese.
1/4 cup Gruyere or Parmigiano cheese, shredded

Transfer rolls with paper to a pizza stone preheated in a 425F oven.  (I use an inverted cookie sheet to hold the paper and rolls to carefully slide to the hot baking stone.)  Bake for 12 minutes.  Cool slightly on a cooling rack.

The side salad included sauteed diced carrots, onions, celery, zucchini, sweet pepper and mushrooms with a no salt herb seasoning and combined with diced olives and radishes.  The salad did not need a dressing.

The red, white and blue parfait recipe is posted here.

Our picnic was at a nearby lake.  We first stopped at the Farmers Market, where I bought 7 pepper plants, then proceeded to the park.  It is less than 1 hour drive from home.   My husband had plenty of photos to take while I set the table.

I love our alone and together time with nature!