Wednesday, May 29, 2019

A Meal for Momma

At 93, my Mom's mobile days are few. I took advantage of a good day-the day I took her to the Veterans cemetery to see Dad-and stopped at the adjourning park. The day was warm with a little breeze and I positioned her to view the lake while I set the table with some foods I thought she'd enjoy. Mom has a good appetite and went to work on some foods she hadn't had for a while.  First the Two Bean Salad, then the watermelon and then a crab salad. I stopped on the trip over at a lake bakery to buy the jumbo muffins.  Moms' was blueberry and mine carrot. We ate 1/2 and she took the rest home to hopefully enjoy later. I was so pleased to watch her clean the plate.  Here are the salad recipes I assembled and kept cold between ice packs during my 1 1/2 hour trip.

Two Bean Salad 

(Serves 2)

Mix beans, onion, pepper and tomatoes.  Cover with parsley, sugar, vinegar, oil and celery seed.  Toss, refrigerate and allow tastes to develop.  
1 cup cooked green beans
1/4 cup cooked kidney beans
1 green onion, diced
1 mini sweet yellow pepper, seeded and diced
4 yellow cherry tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, snipped
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon celery seed 

Crab Salad

(Serves 2)

Mix crab, celery, onion, pimiento and mayonnaise.  Keep cold.
4 ounce wild jumbo crab
2 tablespoon celery, diced
1 teaspoon green onion
1 tablespoon pimiento
2 tablespoon mayonnaise with olive oil

We often say the view from the Veterans Cemetery reminds us of the view from Mom and Dads' backyard.  I told her that was Dad fishing on the lake in front of us.

I enjoyed hearing a couple of her stories on the trip to and from the park.  One of driving from her sister's home in a snow storm (she thought my Grandma actually enjoyed the excitement when they pulled off the road and waited for a snow plow).  My favorite story was when she took me to an area pool by a factory (both long gone) as a very young girl and describing the lifeguard's panic when I jumped in the deep water.  I was a fish and he soon learned I could swim.
Today was one of those memories I hope to remember.   


Monday, May 20, 2019

Setting the Meal Backdrop

It's part of the master meal plan-providing a clean and inviting scene for eating. Plate arrangement, food safety and sanitation, orderliness of surroundings all contribute to the enjoyment of a meal. Whether eating at home or in a food service establishment, the environment is as important as the menu and the service. Take a seat and enjoy the meal with me:
  • Start with a pretty plate, basket, tray or lunchbox to place the food. Add cutlery as necessary with napkin and cup.
  • Trust that the food was prepared in a clean kitchen where food was stored and prepared at proper temperatures. Was hand washing frequent? 

  • Find a spot free of clutter, with a view that avoids piles of papers, boxes, dishes and garbage. 
  • Enjoy a meal without a screen or even a "to do" list in front of you.
  • Try to allow at least 20 minutes of actual eating time.
The plate or lunchbox can help in planning the meal components and portions. Think vegetables and fruit in half the compartments, whole grains in a quarter and lean protein in the rest. A 7 inch plate can make the portions appear larger. Adding a beverage of milk or plant based dairy contributes calcium, Vitamin D and B vitamins to the diet. 

The picture above was a picnic meal, served cold in a park setting. The plate base is covered with two whole grain tortillas, then topped with colorful vegetables and fruit. The roasted flank steak, seasoned with cumin, coriander and chili powder, was sliced thin and kept cold between ice bricks in transport. Shredded cheese provides some calcium to the meal in lieu of a calcium rich beverage. 

Eating outside, whether on the meal break or a picnic may be the perfect setting. Fresh air and sunshine is good for the soul.  Hiking is exercise and an appetite builder.


Monday, May 13, 2019

Second Time Around Chicken Tagine

While the weather on Mothers Day was cold and rainy, my spirits lifted when my husband said we could take a picnic to a park with a shelter. There were plenty of leftovers from the scrumptious Moroccan stew I'd made the night before.  I cut up and heated the vegetables with the infused spices-put those in a thermos and served the chicken cold. This was a meal where seconds are a must!

Chicken Tagine

(Serves 4-6)

Grease pot with olive oil spray.  Place assorted vegetables in bottom of pot.  Add water.

3/4 cup red peas, cooked

(red peas are a legume similar to black-eyed peas)

1/3 cup onion, cubed

1 lemon, quartered

6 carrots, peeled and quartered

6 new potatoes, halved

1/4 fennel bulb, sliced

1/2 cup sugar snap peas

1/3 cup green pitted olives

2 mini sweet peppers, cut in 2 inch chunks

1/4 cup cilantro, snipped

1 teaspoon fresh mint, snipped

1 cup water

Mix spices in a ziploc bag.  Cut chicken in pieces to fit the remainder of the casserole dish.  Place chicken pieces in bag and shake to coat with spices.  Place chicken breasts skin side down in casserole dish.  Add lid.

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

1-4 pound roasting chicken, backbone removed

Bake at 325 F. for until internal temperature of chicken breast reaches 165 F. Test the temperature of the chicken beginning  1 hour after placing in the oven. The chicken may reach temperature before the vegetables are of preferred doneness. For this meal, I removed the chicken 30 minutes before removing the vegetables.
Today's picnic was at Mason Dixon Park near Core, West Virginia.  The grass is green and cut.  There are bathrooms with running water and several shelters to take cover. Even the birds nesting in the shelter did not mind our presence!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Spring Rain and a Picnic

A quaint park with a shelter and sixty degree temperature is just fine for dining outside with my husband.  Today's menu highlight was the homemade focaccia bread, made with half spelt flour.  We sliced the individual rolls and filled with tuna salad and locally grown leaf lettuce.  That's diced tomatoes in an oil-vinegar dressing on the side and homemade applesauce for dessert.  

Spelt Focaccia

(10 Servings)

In bowl of electric mixer with dough hook in place, mix 1 cup flour, yeast and sugar.  Slowly add warm water.  Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
1 cup spelt flour
2 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 cup warm (125F) water

Add rest of spelt flour, olive oil and salt.  Beat on low speed for 2 minutes.
3/4 cup spelt flour
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt 

Slowly add all purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time.  Knead at slow speed for 8 minutes, scraping down bowl every 2 minutes until dough leaves the side of the bowl.
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
Turn out dough into bowl greased with olive oil spray.  Turn to coat.  Cover and let rise for 45 minutes.

Punch dough down.  Divide into pieces, allowing a heaping 1/4 cup dough per portion.  Flatten into pans sprayed with olive oil spray.  I used mini pie pans and 7 inch pizza pans.  (2 scoops dough in the pizza pans) 

Brush each dough with olive oil and add toppings.  Allow to rise about 30 minutes.
1/2 cup each assorted shredded cheese (2 varieties)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 finely minced green garlic stem and bulb
2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
Mrs. Dash seasoning 

Bake at 400 F for 12 minutes, rotating pans at 6 minutes.

Our picnic today was at Morris Park in Fairmont, West Virginia.  It was once home to retired horses that pulled fire trucks.  There are no horses there today, but we did watch a family of deer nearby.



Friday, May 3, 2019

Wild Wonderful Whole Grains

For the third year in a row, I recognized Whole Grains Sampling Day (the last Wednesday of National Nutrition Month) by teaching a 2 hour class, complete with samples and lunch.  This year I repeated the class in April.

The March class was at West Virginia University in the Agricultural Sciences Kitchen, where Dietetic Interns helped prepare samples and lunch.  It was attended by 28 interested dietitians, life long learners, farmers and providers.  The farmers brought one pound bags of assorted flours for each of the attendees.  Recognized Dietitian Nutritionists obtained 1.5 hours of continuing education credits.

The April class was held at Valley WIC in Charleston, West Virginia for 28 staff members.  While not all whole grains can be purchased with WIC vouchers, the goal of the class was to encourage attendees to try a new whole grain at home.

What's new this year?  I visited and photographed a local farm, learning what five different whole grains looked like on the plant.  I toured their mill and saw the various stages of cleaning and processing.

Students learned how to use a countertop flour mill when I demonstrated how to make Ezekiel flour.  The university purchased a flour mill for use in their kitchen. 

I devised an availability chart, where students could learn where to purchase the various whole grains and flours in 12 sites (11 stores and 1 farm) up and down the I-79 corridor. 

Over the past year, I've tested many new recipes, gluten free and gluten containing.  In testing gluten free items, I avoided nutrient void starches and binders.  Last summer I taught a class for life long learners on preparing whole grain bread and egg dough with various seasonal fillings.  For the past two years I've practiced making whole grain pasta meals weekly and while still challenged, the task no longer "wears me out".

Since retirement in 2015, this has been one of my professional challenges where I've learned much and appreciate being able to share with the community and state wide.  I think my husbands' colleagues at the "shop" enjoy the extra samples as well!