Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Jazz Up Whole Grains in Favorite Recipes

September's month-long celebration of whole grains is just the excuse to substitute these for refined grains in favorite recipes.  Whole grains contain disease-fighting phytochemicals and valuable antioxidants as well as B vitamins, Vitamin E, magnesium, iron and fiber.

In this recipe for Italian wedding soup, I substituted whole grain cornmeal for the bread crumbs in the meatballs and whole grain sorghum for the tiny pasta.  The taste and appearance is equal.  The nutrient density is increased.

Italian Wedding Soup

(Makes 4 cups) 

Mix ingredients in bowl of electric mixer.  Drop by 1 tablespoon scoops onto parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 375F. for approximately 15 minutes or until interior temperature reaches 165F.
(Makes 40)
8 ounce ground beef
1 egg
2 tablespoon whole grain cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme

In a saucepan on stove top, saute vegetables in olive oil until soft, 3-5 minutes.
1/3 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced carrots
1/3 cup diced celery
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil

Add chicken broth and bay leaf.  Simmer for 30 minutes.
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 bay leaf 

Stir in spinach, cooked sorghum and meatballs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Heat to 165F.
1 cup spinach, stems removed
1/2 cup cooked sorghum

To cook sorghum, mix 4 parts water to 1 part dry grain.  Cook in saucepan 25-40 minutes until soft.  1 cup dry sorghum = 3 cups cooked.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Change of Seasons & Menu Setting

With only a few days of summer left, the weather outside is a perfect time for a picnic.  I added soup to the menu, along with one of my favorite fall local fruits-pears.

The menu included Pizza Rolls, (made with my homemade 1/2 whole wheat dough and filled with a saute of shiitake mushrooms, peppers and onions with marinara sauce, cheese and Kalamata olives), a Texas style chili (with sirloin tip steak, black beans, cumin and chili powder), and my favorite Poached Pears.  The Pizza Rolls and pears were served cold.  The soup was kept hot in a thermos preheated with boiling water.

I purchased the Asian Pears (grown in West Virginia) yesterday at our local farmers market. 

Poached Pears

(Serves 6)

4 pears, peeled, cored and halved

Bring juice, sugar and seasonings to a simmer in a saucepan.  Add pears.  Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes.
16-18 ounce apple juice or cider (I've even substituted homemade apple jack)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 anise seeds
1-2 inch orange peel
Serve with juice.

Our picnic today was at Audra (West Virginia) State Park near Buckhannon.  We find a favorite secluded spot behind a large rock to set our table. The acorns were dropping all around.

There were some campers at the park, but no swimmers today and only Bob and I enjoying a meal. I'm hoping picnicking hasn't become a lost art.


Friday, September 14, 2018

To Prepare, Serve, Nourish

After visiting the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, we found a Lion's Club Park with a covered bridge in Stoytown, Pa. to eat our picnic.  Visiting the site of the 2001 crash where the crew and passengers stormed the terrorists and gave their lives to avert killing many other people is moving and powerful.  We all recall where we were at that time:  I was at the Health Sciences Center where I managed the Healthy Cafe.  Many staff members congregated in the lobby of the Cancer Center across the hall to watch the television newscasts.  My staff and I did what we were meant to do-prepare meals, serve and nourish our customers.  

Our visit today was emotional.  We cried and left with a deep appreciation for the 40 passengers who gave their lives.  After exiting the park and driving about 10 miles, we found another beautiful and quiet park in Stoytown, Pennsylvania.

There was a pavilion with tables where we enjoyed our meal, consisting of Peruvian Chicken and Roasted Vegetables with Astronaut Fruitcake and Strawberries.

The Peruvian Chicken Seasoning was based on a recipe in The Local Palate Magazine. I added some olive oil and local vegetables (red potatoes, patty pan squash, carrots, fennel and mushrooms) to the roasting pan.

Peruvian Seasoning

(Serves 2)

Mix seasonings and place in zipper bag with lemon juice and oil.  Toss and coat vegetables.  Pour over spatchcocked chicken in a baking dish greased with olive oil spray. 
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

I had a very small roasting chicken, from which I cut out the backbone, flattened and roasted at 325 F. with all of the vegetables except the mushrooms for 2 hours.  After 1 1/2 hours, I added the mushrooms.

The Astronaut Fruit Cake is based on a recipe in National Geographic Kids Food Fight book. This one has a ricotta cheese and Greek yogurt topping with fresh strawberries.

Astronaut Fruit Cake

(Serves 12)

Mix dry ingredients.
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix nuts and fruit.
1 cup ground walnuts
1 cup minced dates
2/3 cup chopped wild black raspberries
Combine dry ingredients with nuts and fruit.

Beat eggs in bowl of electric mixer.  Add vanilla.
6 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla

Fold eggs into flour, fruit and nuts mix.

Pour in greased 8 inch loaf pan.

Bake at 325 F. for 1 hour.  Cool and slice.

My topping for 2 is 2 tablespoon ricotta cheese, 2 tablespoon Greek yogurt and 1 teaspoon sugar, blended in a mini food processor.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Book Review: Food Fight!

This National Geographic Kids book is much more about the history of food than it is a cookbook. The book takes the reader through 15 eras of times, from The Prehistoric Era to the Future World.  Each chapter has 10 pages beginning first with a description of the time, the place and what was going on in the world.  There is a "day in the life" of a child living in a specific country at the time.  There's a chart with common foods eaten at the time, a paragraph on table manners, a page on kitchen tools, 2 recipes and a quiz.  The graphics are colorful, the style is both informative and entertaining.  

Here are some of the facts or quotes I found most memorable from each era:

  • The Prehistoric Era (10,000 B.C.)  People ate depending on where they wandered-some were vegetarians, some meat eating.
  • Egypt (1300 B.C.)  Most houses had an inner courtyard with a garden of fruits, vegetables and flowers.
  • Greece (482 B.C.) The term "Dietetics" was coined noting the connection between what one ate and health.  Even the poor ate healthy with diets consisting of seafood, produce, olive oil, yogurt and barley bread.
  • Rome (30 B.C.)  The great empire was built on vegetables.  The Romans preserved food by pickling, drying, curing and smoking.  Fresh fish was all around in streams, rivers and the sea.  The Romans used knives, with pasta machines, braziers and tongs created in that era.
  • Medieval England (1450)  People ate dependating on how much money or land they had and what grew on or around them.  Barley was very easy to grow.  The first cookbook Le Viandier was written by the master cook for the King of France in 1300.
  • Mongols and the Silk Road (1210) The Mongols rarely ate grains, fruits or vegetables.  They ate "ultimate" mobile kitchens, with cast iron cookware and the animals they would eat traveled with them.
  • Renaissance (1522)  Girls took forever to dress up, with underdress, stockings, corset, bodice, petticoats and heavier dress on top.  Typical foods eaten were barley and rye bread and hard cheese.  They did not eat vegetables.  
  • American Revolts (1781) Thomas Jefferson ate a diet consisting primarily of vegetables.  (He died at 83).  Wood paddles and beehive ovens were common cookware.  The "American Cookery" was the first US cookbook.
  • French Revolution (1780s)  Poor kids worked 12 hours a day.  Much of the country ate basic foods, produce and grains.  Fruit was usually cooked before eating.
  • Industrial Revolution (1822) Kids were fed in factories 3 meals a day.  The were given meager bites with few breaks.  Gruel, mutton bread and soup were common foods.  The potato crop in Europe contracted a disease.  About one million Irishman died during the Great Famine. 
  • World War I (1917) There was wide spread food shortages and volunteer conservation.  Meatless Mondays and Wheatless Wednesdays were observed.  Ranges and refrigerators made cooking easier. The grocery store Piggly Wiggly opened.  
  • Great Depression (1932) Social Security, Food Stamps, Minimum Wage, Soup Lines and Penny restaurants brought some relief to the poor and unemployed after the stock market crash.The middle class preferred faster processed foods and sliced breads.  Pot Pies and casseroles were common.  
  • World War II (1942)  Women worked.  Students received free school lunches.  Victory Gardens at the schools gave the kids fresh produce.  Canned fish, Cheerios, white bread and highly processed foods were preferred at home.
  • Sixties  Julia Child encouraged people to discover the joys of cooking at home.  The 1964 Worlds Fair introduced international recipes to America.  Vegetarianism was growing.
The recipes I tried were all tasty and inclusive of a variety of vegetables or fruit.

 "King Tut's Not Fishy Cakes" was made with fish and potatoes.  People ate so much fish in Egypt in 1300 BC.  This recipes can also be made with leftover fish.

The "Apple of Shakespeare's Eye" was very tasty with only a little honey with raisins and orange zest.

The "Buuz Off Dumplings with Silk Road Sauce" had pork and green vegetables.  These were delicious, though my picture did not due them justice.

The  "Astronaut Fruitcake" was closely adapted from one the US Army created for astronauts in the mid-1960s.  Mine has 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 all purpose flour and 1/3 cup sugar in stead of 1/2 cup.  This was moist and full of walnuts, dates and frozen berries.  (I used wild black raspberries I'd picked over the summer).

The recipes weren't easy and required adult supervision.

Thank you Media Masters Publicity for the complimentary review copy.  The above post and pictures are my own.  I received no other compensation for this review, other than the pleasure of learning the history (with sampling) of the foods over time!

Award-Winning Food Journalist and Originator of Obama White House’s Annual Kids’ State Dinner Takes a Bite Out of History with New Book for Kids

“Food Fight!:
A Mouthwatering History of Who Ate What and Why Through the Ages”
By Tanya Steel
WASHINGTON (June 15, 2018)—This fall, bestselling author and global food industry leader Tanya Steel takes readers on a culinary tour of history in “Food Fight!: A Mouthwatering History of Who Ate What and Why Through the Ages” (National Geographic Kids; ISBN 978-1426331626; on sale Sept. 11, 2018; $19.99; ages 10 and up). From the discovery of fire a million years ago, to the domestication of animals in the Neolithic era (15,000 to 2,000 B.C.), to the potential future of Martian agriculture, Steel looks at history through the lens of food to answer questions not usually addressed in the classroom. The book also invites readers to experience the culinary history first-hand with 30 kid-tested, historically inspired recipes.

Steel is a former editor at Bon Appétit and Food & Wine, former editorial director of Epicurious, Clean Plates and Gourmet.com, and an originator of “The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ State Dinner” hosted by former First Lady Michelle Obama at The White House (a national recipe contest for kids aged 8 to 12 from 2012-2016). Steel was excited to bring her extensive experience and passion for food to this delicious romp through the ages.

“I’m so proud of this book,” said Steel. “National Geographic Kids was the perfect partner for this project. We wanted to show some of the fascinating meals people used to eat, some of the interesting ways they gathered ingredients and cooked, and what kids’ lives were like at important moments in history. We will hopefully inspire younger readers to learn a bit about history along the way and reach their own goals. There is a subtle message about eating healthfully, eating real food and being the best they can be. I can’t wait to see what our brilliant readers might cook up in the future!”

Each chapter of “Food Fight!” focuses on a major period of world history – from Prehistoric cave-kids and Ancient Greece, to the present day and beyond – and examines politics, culture, class differences and economics as they are reflected in the cuisine du jour. This highly visual collection is full of colorful sidebars, historical photos, “Yucky Habits of Yore,” funny quizzes (to get kids to retain their newfound knowledge) and even wholesome period-inspired recipes – like Cavekid Trail Mix, Let Them Eat Quiche, and Lentil Stew for Junior Olympiads, among others – that will take readers’ taste buds back in time. Pairing National Geographic Kids’ unique blend of humor and history with Steel’s exceptional experience in the culinary industry, “Food Fight!” is an educational and entertaining guide that is perfect for foodies, future chefs and history buffs of all ages.

About the Author
Tanya Steel is a global award-winning food industry leader. She originated “The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids' State Dinner” hosted and helmed by former First Lady Michelle Obama, an annual event that was held at the White House for five years, and Kid Food Nation in Canada. Steel is the former editorial director of Epicurious, Clean Plates, Gourmet Live and Gourmet.com; she was an editor at Bon Appétit and Food & Wine, and she wrote for The New York Times for four years. She co-wrote the award-winning Real Food for Healthy Kids and penned The Epicurious Cookbook, which debuted on The New York Times bestseller list.

About National Geographic Kids
National Geographic Kids teaches kids about the world and how it works, empowering them to succeed and make it a better place. National Geographic Kids inspires young adventurers through award-winning magazines, books, games, videos, events and a Webby Award-winning website, and is the only kids brand with a world-class scientific organization at its core. Learn more at https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/ and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

About National Geographic Partners LLC
National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 130 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com, or find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTubeLinkedIn and Pinterest.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Labor Day Picnic and a Tribute to Workers

Labor Day signals the end of summer vacations, yet time remains for more outdoor adventures.  I was happy to see the campground full and the beach open for swimming at our nearby county park.  For a few of the past summers, the beach was often closed due to the lack of lifeguards.  Thanks to the contributions of a young working lifeguard, many families were swimming and splashing in the warm September sun.  We found a perfect spot to picnic on a table by the lake where salamanders and sunfish schooled.  

Though I prepare the foods the day before, the entree and salad were surprisingly easy to prepare.  I prepared the taco beef in the crock pot, where the sirloin tip steak cooked on low in the seasoned tomato sauce for 4 hours. I cut the cooked meat in thin strips to refrigerate.  We ate the saucy meat on a pita with sliced green olives, radishes, sweet peppers, tomatoes and grated aged cheddar.

Pita Filled Tacos

(Serves 3)

Place steak in a small crock pot.  Cover with sauce, vegetables and seasonings.  Cook on low 4 hours.
8 ounces thin sliced sirloin tip steak (cut for carne assada)  
8 ounce marinara sauce
1/4 cup sliced onion
1/4 cup sliced sweet pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Slice in thin strips and refrigerate with sauce overnight.

At table side, fill pita or bread of choice with the meat.  Add toppings of green sliced onion, sliced radishes, tomatoes, sweet pepper strips and grated cheese.

I made the pitas with my go to bread dough recipe.   The recipe made 8 pitas.  The dough rounds rolled thin puff nicely when baked on a preheated stone in a hot (450F) oven for 10 minutes.

The corn salad is a very simple mix of fresh cooked corn, cut off the cob, with cucumbers, vinegar, oil and a few herbs. 

Our picnic today was at Chestnut Ridge Park, a Monongalia County Park.


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Fill Your Plate from the Farmers Market

It's the time of year for finding foods from every food group at our local farmers market.  Animal proteins, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy-they're all available locally!  Today's sampling was a combination of 3 recipes:  Pork Meatballs in Orange Sauce with Grilled Mid-East Vegetables.

The ground pork was lean, combined with fresh ginger, onions, whole grain cornmeal and seasonings.  These I baked before the market, covered with a homemade orange sauce and kept hot in a commercial soup crock.  Our sponsor and friends, the meat and poultry farm family, sponsor the space and provide the meat, eggs and some supplies.

The vegetables were donated by other vendors at the market.  I pre-cooked the butternut squash and pumpkin, cut and marinated all the vegetables in lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings.  Today my husband cooked these on the griddle top.  The aroma permeated the market.

We served 230 meatballs with vegetables, seven  times the consumer recipe.  The meatballs were mixed yesterday, portioned and baked this morning.  The sauce was made today.  2 gallons of vegetables were portioned in 6 bags, each with the following marinade:

3 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoon olive oil, 4 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon garam masala.

Many thanks to dietetic interns Madison and Madison for serving and promoting the individual farms.