Friday, July 30, 2021

My Pioneer Woman Adventure


Rhee Drummond is a trailblazer and creator of recipes, a television show, cookbooks and wares. I'm now the proud owner of the very pan the Pioneer Woman used on the set. Here's how that happened:

On a trip home to West Virginia from Colorado, we made a side trip to Pawhuska, Oklahoma to visit her Mercantile and Bakery. 

I'd read that the Drummond Ranch Lodge, where the Food Network segments are filmed, was open for tours certain weeks of the year. "Ask for tickets and directions at the Mercantile". We then followed the printed directions first 12 miles along the highway, then 7 miles more on gravel roads. The directions are sweet like the woman herself. "The sign was knocked over by a cow not long ago, so we're not sure it's there, but it's literally the first right you can take off the county road".

The Drummond Ranch is huge and we enjoyed the view. The 120,000 acre ranch is home to wild horses and grass-fed cows with calves.

When we arrived at the Lodge, the hostesses answered our questions along the self guided toured.

At the entree-way is the kitchen where the demos are filmed. In the back is a prep kitchen and a large room with props. The hostess told us "Ms. Rhee" has just cleaned out her props and set a table of ones she was giving away. "One item per family". That's how I got this pan.


The cookbook I bought at the Mercantile is "A Year of Holidays'. There are many selections of recipes for 12 holidays in the year. While the recipes are seasonal, many can be made at other times of the year.

I chose recipes from summer celebrations. Since the quantities are large, I decided to use it as an opportunity to do some canning for later. 

Here's my version of the Baked Bean recipe:

Baked Beans 

12 Servings (1/2 cup each)

Soak beans overnight in double the amount of water. Drain. Cook for 20 minutes in a countertop pressure cooker in double the amount of water. Release pressure and drain.
1 pound dry beans
Saute peppers and onions in saucepan over medium low heat for 10 minutes.
4 multicolored sweet peppers, seeded and diced
1 sweet onion, diced
Mix ketchup, vinegar and spices together. Combine with peppers and onions.
2/3 cup ketchup (without high fructose corn syrup)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup brown sugar  
Stir into cooked beans.
Fill sanitized canning jars. Process at 10 pounds pressure for 10 minutes. After pressure reduces to 0, remove lid. Cool 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool.
The Mercantile in downtown is a destination in itself.
The entire second floor is a bakery where we shared a pastry and coffee. I was thrilled to view the kitchen through the glass windows. There the busy bakers, wearing jeans and gingham shirts, performed their magic with dough. 

Rhee Drummond's businesses are customer centered. The Mercantile was predominately merchandise from other companies. She employees folks from the community. What I loved the most was that she shares her success with others and certainly makes you feel at home.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Constitutional Cooking Cuisine


I didn't have to harvest the corn. I wasn't milking the cow and churning butter. Nor was I fermenting apples. The tasks I'm good at-planning the menu, cooking and serving it were a success.  Seems the 1790s menu was very compatible to those served today.

Beef was a staple in both lower and middle class households. In the early 1700s, Irish and Scottish immigrants imported cattle. During the French and Indian War, farmers increased their number of cattle. When wool was required to make soldiers uniforms for the Revolutionary War, mutton slaughter was prohibited. 

Though the soldiers food intake was inadequate, farm families could enjoy beef, milk and butter on the dinner table. Crops included corn, root vegetables and legumes. Fresh bread was served at every meal.  There was plenty of alcohol. Compared to modern times, Americans consumed three times the amount. Imports were prohibited and hops for beer were scarce, yet hard cider, wine and whisky were plentiful.

The meal pattern was unique with most of the calories consumed at the mid-afternoon dinner. Breakfast was served early-usually at 7, with porridge and pancakes the norm. The large dinner was the middle meal. Supper was small-often one consisting of apples, raisins and port wine. 

Not unlike the many farm tasks, preparing and serving the food kept the staff working many long hours.

That's my Washington style meal above, with slow roasted beef, potatoes, carrots and Lima beans. While I had no hard cider and I forgot to add the jar of pickles, I'm particularly fond of my sourdough cornbread which contains both corn flour and whole corn. 

This skillet cornbread has sweet peppers, more corn, fresh ground whole wheat berries and whole corn flour, making a perfect flavor combination.  This recipe is made in a 7-inch iron skillet.

Sourdough Whole Grain Cornbread

(Serves 8)

Saute peppers in buttery spread in 7-inch iron skillet. Set aside.
2 mini sweet peppers, diced
1 tablespoon melted buttery spread

In a separate bowl, mix ground corn, flour, baking powder, salt and soda.
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoon ground corn
6 tablespoon whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

In a larger bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, honey, buttery spread and sourdough starter discard.
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoon buttery spread, melted
1/2 cup sourdough starter discard

Add corn and sauteed peppers to liquid ingredients, then stir in dry ingredients. Stir only until mixed.
1/2 cup corn off the cob, chopped in food processor
Sauteed peppers

Grease skillet with buttery spread. Pour batter into skillet. 
1 tablespoon melted buttery spread

Bake at 425 F for 25 minutes.  Cool in pan on wire rack.


Sunday, June 20, 2021

Easy Summer Meal Planning


Meal planning for our seasonal cabin getaways can't get any easier.

Planning for three days, we buy three meats, one poultry, one beef and one seafood. This years' picks were a rotisserie chicken (the deli clerk called me when she took it out of the oven), an 8 ounce beef fillet, and a fresh cut of salmon. I froze these and pull just prior to packing into the cooler for a 3-6 hour trip. (It may take only 3 hours to reach the destination, yet sometimes we have to wait till the cabin is cleaned to check in). I add 6 eggs and a piece of Swiss cheese to the cooler under the ice blocks.

We take every vegetable we have (thanks to our local farmers market friends-we have an assortment) and we stop along the way to add a few more.

At our last stop about an hour from the park we get bread. This year we found a delicious multigrain boule and a 6 pack of fresh biscuits. I add a few vegetables I did not already have, a pack of frozen corn and a 1/2 gallon of milk.

Once the fire is lit, I cut and dice the vegetables. I'll pre-cook the longer cooking vegetables like potatoes, peas and carrots inside either on the propane stove or in the microwave. We fill 3/4ths of the paella cooking pan with vegetables and place the beef, salmon or chicken in the center of the pan. Grease the pan with a little olive oil, then add vegetables and meat at the same time. Occasional turning or stirring is all that's needed to cook the meal for a total of only 15 minutes.

Cooking over an open fire gives the food a unique smoky taste.


On the last day of our stay, we purchase take out desserts from the restaurant. Debbie Schoolcraft may just make the best graham cracker pie and blackberry cobbler in the state.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Blended Burger Meatballs

Combining mushrooms with beef creates juicy, flavorful recipes that are more sustainable with added nutrients. Now is the time of year when the local farmers offer mushrooms, onions and garlic in addition to the grass fed beef and cage free eggs. Some markets even have local cheese artisans.

Utilize every bit of the mushroom caps and stems by chopping washed mushrooms in the food processor. Saute these with vegetables in olive oil, then drain thoroughly before combining with raw beef and other vegetables.

The local farmer who grows the mushrooms tells me his are higher in vitamin D because they absorb the ultraviolet light from the sun. Mushrooms are also are good sources of potassium. The ricotta cheese in this recipe is a good source of calcium. The wheat germ adds Vitamin E and folate.

This recipe is adapted from Food Network magazine. For another flavorful twist, substitute Italian Sausage for one half the ground beef.

Mushroom Meatballs

(21 Meatballs-Serves 7)

Wash and grind mushrooms in food processor. 
Saute in olive oil until soft and water reduced. 
8 ounces mushrooms, caps and stems
1 tablespoon olive oil
Add onion and garlic. Saute 2-3 minutes more.
2 tablespoon spring onion, chopped
2 teaspoon spring garlic, chopped
Drain on a clean cloth. Squeeze excess moisture out of vegetables.
In mixing bowl, combine cooked vegetables with meat, egg, cheese, wheat germ and seasonings.
1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup ricotta cheese, part skim
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup parmigiana cheese, grated
2 tablespoon fresh parsley, snipped
1 teaspoon oregano
Portion meatballs with a 2 tablespoon scoop onto parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Bake at 400 F for 12 minutes. Add to sauce and serve when interior of meatballs is 160F.
1 serving of these meatballs has 2 ounces of meat, 1 ounce of mushrooms and 1/2 ounce of cheese. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Put an Egg on it

Eggs are economical, an excellent source of nutrients and easy to prepare. There's no need to wait for National Egg Day (June 3rd) to enjoy them.

At 25 cents an egg, I get essential nutrients for brain and memory development and complete protein to support bones and muscles. The American Heart Association now says eggs can be part of a healthy diet, up to 2 a day for older adults.

Tonight I'll meet our area farmer to buy cage free eggs from free range chickens. The yolks are a deep yellow. I store them in the carton in the refrigerator as the shells can absorb odors from other foods.

Eggs are fine alone, with a little pepper.  Many eat eggs with sausage or bacon. Eggs also pair well with asparagus, mushrooms, potatoes and onions.

I say "put an egg on it" to many foods. My picture above is an egg with bean salsa over a corn waffle. Here are meals with eggs

  • Over noodles

  • On a grain bowl

  • With baked beans and Canadian Bacon

  • Over a salad

  • In potatoes

  • Baked with Ratatouille

  • Baked in a Bread Roll 

    I'll conclude with a couple tips for recipe development, the first I used for many years as  Retail Manager for a large cafeteria. 
    10 eggs per pint per pound
    1 whole egg = 2 egg whites



Friday, May 28, 2021

Brain Boosting Bites


It's a list of foods I won't forget as I'm making a habit of including these in my menu. Salmon, dark green leafy vegetables, berries and walnuts make the list. Trout, cabbage, broccoli fit the bill.

A combination of foods in the Mediterranean and DASH diets may improve mind function as well as protect the heart. These include:

  • Seafood (twice per week)
  • Olive Oil
  • Lots of vegetables
  • Whole grains (three daily)
  • Beans and lentils
  • Nuts
  • Poultry

Foods to limit include:

  • Processed pastries and sweets
  • Red meat
  • Butter and margarine
  • Fried foods

Above is my meal with many of the foods that met the cut. There's salmon, spinach, whole grain bread and strawberries. The salmon and par-cooked potatoes are seasoned with the spice turmeric. Benefits of the spice are encouraging in that a compound in turmeric may help fight brain degeneration.

To bake the salmon, I first greased a pan with olive oil. I seasoned the salmon fillet with salt and black pepper, then with turmeric. Placing the fillet skin side up in the baking dish, I baked in a 400 F. degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 145 F. The potato quarters are par cooked, seasoned with turmeric and baked in a separate pan greased with olive oil. 

June is Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month. Learn why good nutrition plays a role in brain health at  

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Naked & Unimpaired Grains (Loose the Packaging)


I'm not here to teach how to read labels on packaged cereals, breads and snack foods. I am not a connoisseur. While I've nothing against a packaged tortilla, a sandwich on grainy bread or a crispy cracker-I'm not one to eat them every day. I have concerns and questions:

After 50 years of eating processed and convenience foods, are we healthier than we might have been without?

Have we shaped a habit in our school kids to choose a packaged grain product (i.e., crustless peanut butter sandwich, pop tart, cereal bar or pancake) versus making it from scratch?

Does enriching breads and cereals with some nutrients (but not all) in proportions unlike the original grain create an imbalance? 

Are synthetic vitamins and nutrients creating allergies?

Has the lack of diversity in grains increased food intolerance and sensitivities? 

Just as I choose a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables daily, I choose a variety of whole grains daily. My grain choices this week included rye, spelt, purple barley, brown and red rice, fonio (a millet), farro, oats, corn, red and white wheat. I so enjoy the variety of whole grains and testing these whole in main dishes and sides and ground berries (flours) in breads and baked goods.

I challenge you to try a new whole grain in a recipe.

That's purple barley snack cake pictured above. Here's the same barley in a delicious main dish:

Purple Barley Bouillabaisse

(5 Servings)

Heat olive oil in pan on stove-top.  Add onion, garlic, peppers, saffron and sausage.  Break up sausage and stir periodically until sausage is brown.  Drain and press out visible fat.
2 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch saffron
1/3 cup colorful sweet peppers, seeded and diced
6 ounce sausage

Return sausage mix to pan with hot chicken stock.  Stir in sherry and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and add barley, tomatoes and paste.  Simmer covered for about 45 minutes, until barley is tender.
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
1/2 cups sherry
5 ounce purple or black barley
10 ounce petite diced tomatoes in juice, no added salt
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Just before serving, add peas and shrimp.  Cook for about 3 minutes,  until shrimp is pink and heated throughout. 

4 ounce raw peeled shrimp
3/4 cup peas, frozen