Sunday, July 21, 2019

Take Along Mason Jar Salad

Individual salads packed in mason jars are great for summer picnics or a packed lunch.  Start with the dressing in the bottom, then add toppings, vegetables, protein, whole grain, greens and herbs.  The toppings marinate in the dressing, then cover the salad when inverted onto a plate.  No need to toss! 

Our picnic menu today includes a teriyaki noodle salad with a rye crisp berry dessert. 

Teriyaki Noodle Salad

(2 servings-each portioned in a 2 pint jar)

Portion 1 tablespoon each soy sauce and vinegar in each jar.  Add 1 teaspoon each sugar and ginger, then 1/2 teaspoon garlic each and 1/2 onion.
2 tablespoon soy sauce, reduced sodium
2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 green onion, diced

Put 1/4 cup each blanched green beans, carrots and squash in each jar.  Add 1/4 cup each tomatoes and 1/2 sweet pepper.
1/2 cup each assorted blanched vegetables (cut green beans, carrot coins and diced yellow squash)
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1 mini red sweet pepper, seeded and sliced

In a cast iron skillet, cook steak to medium rare.  Allow to rest 5 minutes on a cutting board.  Slice in bite size pieces and marinate in sesame oil.  Divide among the 2 jars.
1-6 ounce tenderloin fillet, grilled and cut in bite size pieces
2 teaspoon sesame oil

Add 1 teaspoon each ground sesame seeds.  Cook rice noodles according to package directions, separating noodles to keep from sticking. Run cool water over noodles.  Drain and mix with sesame oil.  Divide among the 2 jars.
2 teaspoon ground sesame seeds
2 ounce cooked and cooled brown rice noodles
2 teaspoon sesame oil 

Finish each jar with fresh greens and herbs.  Tighten lid for transport.
1/2 cup fresh spinach, cut in bite size pieces
1/4 cup fresh snipped herbs (basil, oregano, tarragon and parsley) 

To serve, invert jar onto plates.  

We have been picking the black raspberries on our hillside for a month.  They are seedy and a little sour, yet delightful! Much of the fun is in the picking. This one had a whole grain topping with rye flour and oats. The addition of ground toasted sesame seeds is another delightful touch. I made ours in individual au gratin dishes, ready to transport or warm and serve with ice cream.

Black Raspberry Rye Crisp

(10 servings)

In a deep bowl, combine oats, ground seeds, flour, sugar and salt.
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup ground and toasted sesame seeds
1 cup fresh ground rye berries
3 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Grate buttery spread into bowl Mix into topping with hands.
1/2 cup cold buttery spread, grated

In food processor mix berries, sugar, juice and spices.
1 quart black raspberries
3 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch salt

Divide filling among au gratin dishes, greased with olive oil spray. (about 3 tablespoon each) Top each with oat mixture (about 3 tablespoon each). Bake in 375 F oven for 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Our picnic today was at Valley Falls, a West Virginia State Park near Fairmont.


Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Perfect Picnic

We picked the perfect spot on a knob in a national forest. Though a 3 hour drive, we were rewarded with the tall spruce and mossy forest floor in what could accurately be described as "God's Country". I always wanted to come back here and asked my husband if he'd want to make the drive. No problem-and he'd fix the foods! The place, the day and the meal was perfect!

From an ice packed insulated bag we filled our plates with:

  • Fruits and vegetables. Cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, grapes and strawberries.
  • Protein and calcium rich aged cheddar cheese slices.
  • Lean protein turkey breast.
  • Whole grain rye crisp crackers.
For a beverage, I had a low sodium V-8, he a cranberry grape juice.  We also had our after meal coffee from a preheated thermos. In the car was plenty of water.

Our picnic today was at Gaudineer Knob on the Randolph-Pocohantas County lines of West Virginia.  Almost Heaven is an accurate description.

There are 4 picnic sites and a 1/2 mile loop with a view from this 4400 feet knob.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Bread Can Be the Highlight of the Menu

Our summer picnics all are fun, meeting the meal criteria for environment, menu and service. The environment-a beautiful state park on a shady table and a summer day is hard to beat. The service-between a loving couple is a bright and cheer setting. The platter, with cold salsas, roasted vegetables and chicken, garnished with aged cheddar cheese was good. The bread was the highlight.

Tomato Baguette with Olives, Pepper & Onions

(2 large baquettes-16 servings)

Saute onions and peppers in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes.
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup yellow onions, diced
1/4 cup sweet red pepper, diced

Add tomato paste, cayenne, olives and tomatoes.  Set aside to cool.
2 tablespoon tomato paste
Dash Cayenne
1/3 cup Kalamata Olives, diced
1/2 cup tomatoes, diced

In bowl of electric mixer with dough hook in place, mix flours, yeast, salt and pepper.
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoon 3/4 teaspoon rapid rise yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Slowly add warm water to bowl.  Beat at medium speed 2 minutes, stirring bowl down.
1 3/4 cup water (125 F)

Add flour and oil.  Beat 2 minutes at medium speed, stirring bowl down mid-way.
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoon olive oil

Add tomato-olive mixture with semolina flour and knead at low speed.  Then slowly add remaining whole wheat flour, kneading at low speed for about 6 minutes until dough leaves sides of the bowl.
Tomato olive mixture
3/4 cup semolina flour
1 cup whole wheat flour 

Turn dough into a bowl greased with olive oil spray.  Turn and cover.  Let rise for about 45 minutes.

Divide dough into half and place each piece in large baguette pan greased with olive oil spread.  Smooth and round edges of dough to within 2 inches from edges.  Bake at 450 F for 25-30 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

The roasted vegetables on the platter were assorted squashes, coated in olive oil and this seasoning:
Za'atar Seasoning
3 Tbsp. Dry Thyme
1 Tbsp. Toasted Sesame Seed
1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
2 Tbsp. Lemon Peel

The small roasted chicken was first spatchcocked (I removed the backbone) and soaked refrigerated in apple juice, peppercorns and thyme before roasting. We made several meals out of the vegetables and chicken. I threw in some cooked black beans, fresh sliced cucumbers and homemade salsa. (tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, green onion and garlic).

Our picnic today was at Cedar Creek, a West Virginia State Park near Glenville.  This was a  2 hour drive, some of it on country roads.

When leaving the park, Bob spotted a blue heron.

It was a great adventure!


Sunday, July 7, 2019

Star Spangled Picnic

The star of our picnic platter was the Crab Potato and Corn Salad. Farmers market red potatoes, jumbo white crab meat and corn formed the base of the salad with celery, red pepper, chives and my homemade bay spice mix providing the seasoning. It was so good and affordable (this recipe has 4 ounces of crab meat for 3 servings).

Crab Potato and Corn Salad

(Serves 3)

Scrub potatoes.  Cut in 1/2 inch cubes.  Cook in boiling water, covered, for 10-12 minutes until tender.
4 medium size red potatoes

Mix drained and cooled potatoes with crab, vegetables and seasoning.  Keep cold for transport.
4 ounces jumbo white crabmeat
1/2 cup corn
1/4 cup celery, diced
1 mini red pepper, diced
2 tablespoon snipped chives
3 tablespoon mayonnaise, made with olive oil
1 teaspoon bay seasoning

Seafood Seasoning 

(Makes 2/3 cup)

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

We stopped at the Bridgeport Farmers Market on our way to Deegan Hinkle Lake where purchased one white cupcake decorated with creamy white icing and a few red, white and blue sprinkles.  We shared this at the end of the meal. That's fresh pineapple tidbits and farmers market golden cherry tomatoes on the side with a whole grain roll.

We had a very nice view of the lake from our table and a path to walk:


Friday, July 5, 2019

Repurposing the Sourdough Starter: Zucchini Bread

Having made the sourdough starter and feeding it weekly, I'm trying different ways to use it.  This week's finished product was a Zucchini Bread. Since I knew I'd be eating slices with either buttery spread or peanut butter, I decided to substitute the butter in side the loaf with my own home canned applesauce.  The loaf still has plenty of fat inside-with both olive oil and walnuts. My loaf is entirely whole grain-a mix of Ezekiel and Spelt Flours-ones I'd already ground from the berries. This would work with any mix of gluten containing flours.

Sourdough Zucchini Bread

(14 Slices)

Mix flours, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
2 cups whole grain flours
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar

Shred zucchini in a food processor.  Place shredded product on a clean absorbent cloth.  Roll and squeeze out moisture.  Mix with flours. 
2 1/4 cups shredded zucchini 

Add nuts and zest to flour-zucchini mix.
1 cup toasted and ground walnuts
Zest of 1 lemon

Stir sourdough starter into flour-squash-nut mix.
3/4 cup sourdough starter

In a separate bowl or glass, beat eggs with honey, olive oil and vanilla.  Stir in applesauce.
2 eggs
2 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
Slowly add liquid mix to mixing bowl with other ingredients.  Stir only until no flour is visible.

Pour into 9 X 5 inch loaf pan greased with olive oil. Bake at 350 about 1 hour, until skewer inserted into loaf comes out clean. 

Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes.  Then loosed sides with a spatula and finish cooling bread on the rack.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Fiber and Foods Good for the Gut

When asked to speak at my Mom's Senior Center, I chose the topic of fiber as most people don't get enough of it.  People know it's what we need to avoid constipation. Many know  that certain fibers help to lower bad cholesterol. Most don't think of fiber as helping to control blood sugar, yet it does this as well as helping us feel full longer.

Fiber is found only in plant foods. Whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables all contribute important nutrients. 

The recommended amount for seniors is 21 grams for women and 30 grams for men.
It's important to drink plenty of water.

When buying packaged foods, check the label for fiber content. Look for the words "whole grain" as the first ingredient on the label. Whole grains contain amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and cholesterol lowering properties. They're all unique. 

I visited the grocery stores near the senior center and purchased a few whole grains as examples and drew random numbers to give these away.  We reviewed package labels and ingredients and discussed ways to cook Whole Wheat Spaghetti, Whole Wheat Orzo, Brown Rice and Quinoa. From our local farmers market, I purchased buckwheat flour and horticulture beans as examples of fiber rich foods. The lucky winner of the Buckwheat Flour promised to make the young center director buckwheat cakes in the fall!

I made everyone a sample serving of my muesli, made with oats, blackberries, seeds and nuts-all on the fiber rich list of foods. Oats are rich in a prebiotic fiber. Prebiotics are soluble fibers linked to the helpful bacteria in the gut. They improve GI health and enhance calcium absorption.

Fennel Muesli

12 (1/3 cup) servings

Mix pepitas, almonds, pecans and seeds (It is fine to substitute other nuts). Toss on a wide rim baking sheet.  Toast in a 350 F. oven for 7 minutes.  Reduce oven to 275F.
1/3 cup pepitas
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup pecans
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 teaspoon fennel seeds

Mix honey, peanut butter, oil, orange and vanilla until smooth.  
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla

Toss peanut butter sauce with nuts and seeds and oats.  Mix until completely covered.
2 cups old fashioned oats
Spread onto parchment lined rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  Stir.  

Chop apricots and berries in a food processor.  Mix with partially roasted granola.  Bake in oven for another 30 minutes.
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2-2 cups fresh berries, chopped (I used wild black raspberries picked last season and frozen) This works with as little as 1/2 cup to as much as 2 cups of berries. No difference in baking time is needed-using the higher amount will add about 6 more servings.

I suggested eating the muesli (prebiotic containing) with yogurt (probiotic containing).
Probiotics are the good bacteria-live cultures-that boost overall health, immunity and GI health. Prebiotics are meals for Probiotics. Yogurt and Kefir both are probiotic rich foods.

We ended by sampling Kefir.