Monday, October 21, 2019

Soup Accents Fall Picnics

When out on a Sunday drive to see the autumn colors, I come prepared with a colorful soup to enjoy along the way. To preheat the thermos, fill it with boiling water and close the lid until the soup is heated. Empty the boiling water, fill it with soup and tighten the lids to stay hot for up to 2 hours. Today's menu features crab and vegetable soup, sourdough apple pie, cucumbers and tomatoes.


Crab and Vegetable Soup

(Serves 5)

Bring water and shells to a boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes. Discard shells.
1 1/2 cup boiling water
Shrimp shells

Saute onions, celery, mushrooms, carrots, peppers and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes.
2 tablespoon diced onion
2 tablespoon celery
1/4 cup diced mushrooms
2 tablespoon carrots, diced
2 tablespoon sweet pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoon olive oil
Add seafood broth.

Add remaining ingredients.
1 cup diced tomatoes in juice
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning (see below)
1/3 cup cooked acorn squash
1/3 cup zucchini, diced
1 ear of corn, cut off the cob
1 large tomato, diced
8 ounce jumbo crab
1/4 teaspoon salt
Bring to a boil.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

Substitute any vegetables of choice for the above.  This is a great way to use those on hand. Our farmers market vendors still offer a nice assortment of fresh produce. My garden still has peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers!

Seafood Seasoning 

(Makes 2/3 cup:  One serving is 1/4 teaspoon)

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

Our picnic today was at Teter Creek Wildlife Management Area in Barbour County, West Virginia.



Friday, October 18, 2019

Elevate Simple Meals with Cheddar Biscuits

Make the dough for these biscuits the day before, refrigerate, cut and bake the next day. Leaving the messier prep work and dishes behind means more time for enjoying the day. These biscuits were just the touch I needed for our fall picnic-enjoyed with a vegetable soup.

Cheddar Biscuits


In food processor, pulse together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add cheese.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole grain cornmeal
1 1/4 cups aged cheddar cheese, shredded

Add butter, cut into small pieces.  Pulse into flour mix until pieces are very small and mixed thorough.  Mix in yogurt.
1 stick butter (I use Earth Balance Buttery Spread)
3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt

At this point, I formed the dough into a ball, placed in a greased zipper bag and refrigerated overnight.

Remove dough from refrigerator.  On a floured surface, roll dough into a rectangle 1 inch thick.  Cut with 2 inch biscuit cutter. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Bake at 450 F for 12-15 minutes. 

Here's our picnic plate, with a bean and vegetable soup, kielbasa slices and baked apples. Later we enjoyed a biscuit in a BBQ pork and and slaw sandwich. The biscuits stayed fresh for several days.


Saturday, October 12, 2019

Inspiring Life Long Learners with Holiday Fare

These folks learn simply for the joy of it and always seem inspired to gain new ideas in my health and wellness classes. In this Festive Holiday Fare class, we made shrimp-vegetable kabobs, basil mozzarella tomato salad and wassail-then learned how to spatchcock a bird. Here are recipes we prepared:

Mexicana Shrimp & Vegetable Kabobs

(Serves 2)

Peel shrimp, leaving tail intact.  Clean and cut vegetables.P
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.

Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Salad

No recipe required here-the name says it all! Since this was designed for a buffet, I chose the tiny mozzarella "pearls"and grape tomatoes (cut in half). The fresh basil is snipped into the salad and guests added their own olive oil.

Warm Cranberry Wassail

(Serves 12)

Combine all ingredients, except garnishes, in a large saucepan.  Heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.  Garnish with orange slices and cloves.  Serve warm.
1 64 ounce bottle Cranberry Juice Cocktail
2 1/2 cups apple juice
3 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Orange slices, garnish
Whole cloves, garnish

Spatchcock Chicken

I was unable to find a fresh turkey to feed my expected 20 person class, so I purchased 3 chickens instead. I prepared 2 of the chickens the day before, cooled, pulled the meat from the bones and gave each attendee a 2 ounce portion of meat to take home. then I demonstrated how to remove the backbone, butterfly, flattened and roast the chicken. 
This method can cut the baking time in half.  This beautiful roast l chicken cooked to an internal temperature of 165 F. in only 45 minutes.  

  While a turkey takes longer to prepare and roast, here is the basic technique::
  • Cut along each side of the backbone and remove.
  • Open the chicken or turkey like a book.
  • Flip over.
  • Press down to flatten.
  • Tuck wings under.
Make sure you have a large roasting to pan to hold a turkey!
For class, I seasoned the chicken with a favorite recipe prior to roasting.

Tagine Chicken Seasoning

Mix spices in a zipper bag.  Place chicken in bag and shake to coat with spices.  
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Since I am a whole grains advocate, I prepared whole grain cornbread muffins in advance for all. It was the recipe I make in advance to use for my holiday stuffing-Cornbread with apples, onions and thyme. 
I love the history of wassail which I shared in class: "In the 1600s, wassail (a hot spiced ale) was brought in on the 12th nite of Christmas and offered to company in a wassail bowl. Christmas cards describe the tradition of women carrying the wassail bowl from door to door while singing and soliciting donations. The word wassail comes from the English 1000 years ago when you toast someones' health by saying 
Waes Hael! (be healthy)





Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Spelt, Oat and Fig Bars

I was delighted when my farmers market friends brought me a basket of fresh figs from their garden. I'd previously purchased their homemade fig jam and decided I'd make something with the two ingredients.

Realizing I did not have wheat berries to grind for the flour, I reached for spelt berries. Spelt is a variety of wheat widely cultivated until the spread of fertilizers and mechanical harvesting left it by the wayside in favor of wheat more compatible with industrialization. It can be used in place of common wheat in most recipes. 

Here's the delicious whole grain convection I made:

Spelt, Oat and Fig Bars

(Serves 8)

Mix oats, flour, sugar, salt and buttery spread in a bowl. Divide mixture in half into two bowls.
1 1/2 cups oats
1 cup spelt flour
3 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup buttery spread, melted

Mix egg and baking soda in a small glass.  Stir into the halved oat mixture.
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Press mixture into a baking dish (approximately 8 X 8) greased with olive oil spray.

Top with jam, spread across bottom layer.
1/4 cup fig jam

Cut fresh figs in quarters.  Arrange in twos across top of jam.
4 fresh figs, stem removed, quartered.  

Add remaining bowl of oat, flour, sugar, salt and buttery spread.
Press oat mixture into pan.

Bake at 350 20-25 minutes until top is lightly brown.

Cut into 8 bars.



Sunday, September 15, 2019

Strike Gold on National Pancake Day

September 26 is National Pancake Day. While it may be tempting to visit a local pancake restaurant, making these at home is affordable and easy. Simply
  1. Mix the dry ingredients.
  2. Mix the liquid ingredients.
  3. Combine, ladle and grill. 
The ingredients are staples found in most households-flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, egg, milk and oil or butter. 

Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Beat the egg into the milk with melted butter or oil. Add the liquids to the bowl with the dry, stirring just until no flour is visible. Let the batter sit for 5-30 minutes.

Heat a skillet or grill over medium heat. Do not overheat. 

Ladle the batter into the skillet. When bubbles form across the pancake, flip and bake on the other side. 

Pancakes do not require gluten for structure. There are many recipes for these made with gluten free whole grain flours, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, teff, oat and brown rice pancakes. There are also recipes for pancakes made with whole grain wheat flours Kamut and spelt. For the most nutrients avoid the recipes or mixes made with potato starch, tapioca starch, cornstarch and white rice flour.

Amaranth flour, ground from tiny seeds of the amaranth plant, is whole grain with high levels of the complete protein lysine. 

Amaranth Pancakes

4-6 inch pancakes (1/4 cup batter each)

In a bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder and sugar.
3/4 cup amaranth flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon sugar

Beat egg into milk.  Add fat.
1 egg
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoon skim milk
1 Tablespoon melted butter or oil

Pour liquids into dry. Mix only until flour is not visible.

Allow batter to sit for 5-30 minutes.

Heat skillet over medium heat. Ladle 1/4 cup batter onto skillet. Grill until bubbles form across the surface of the pancake. Turn and heat the other side until brown.

Serve with fruit, an egg or local maple syrup.

To make bigger batches, double or triple and freeze leftovers. Serve versatile pancakes for breakfast, lunch or dinner. 


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Mason Jar Pumpkin Bread

Looking for a unique baking dish for your farm to table bread?  Try baking in a mason jar. Fill the mason jar 1/2 full with batter and bake.  I used a 1 cup mason jar, which made 2 servings.  This bread made with pumpkin, applesauce, 100% cacao chocolate and walnuts is rich in antioxidants.

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate & Walnuts

(6 servings) (3-8 ounce mason jars) 

Beat egg and sugar in mixing bowl.
1 egg
5 tablespoon sugar

Mix dry ingredients.  Stir in chocolate and walnuts.
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
6 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, 100% cacao, ground
2 tablespoons walnuts, ground

Alternately add dry ingredients and applesauce-pumpkin mix to egg-sugar mix.  
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup pumpkin

Grease mason jars with an olive oil spray.  Fill 1/2 full with batter (6 tablespoons batter per jar)  Bake at 350 F. for 35 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Kitchen Logistics

"Mise en place" is a French culinary term for putting everything in place. This applies to kitchen equipment and ingredients that the well prepared cook needs to prepare a meal or recipe. Even in a small home kitchen, the layout of equipment eases the flow of the meal. Here are some tips and examples.

Arrange equipment storage in a organized fashion around the stove and preparation area. Use available cabinet, counter and wall space for storage.

A magnetic knife wall rack is sanitary and functional.  Multi-size flexible cutting boards store conveniently between the wall and microwave. 

Pots and pans are arranged in a pull-out shelf adjacent to the stove.

Under counter mixing bowls stored near the countertop mixer.

Oil, vinegar and spray in a pantry pull-out by the stove are easily retrieved.

This countertop mug tree is repurposed to hold measuring spoons. These are arranged by same size measure on each hook.

Hooks for measuring cups under above counter cabinets are arranged same size by volume.

This 3 drawer countertop spice organizer is arranged in alphabetical order. 

This step down bar for seating has under cabinet storage.

The pull out shelves for dishes, like the step down bar for seating provide ergonomic comfort.

Personal touches enhance the mood of the family and creativity of the cook. Enjoy your time even more in a organized kitchen.