Oven Roasted Autumn Vegetables

I like oven roasted veggies!  The roasting sweetens them and gives them depth of flavor steaming or boiling cannot.  I grew up with roasted vegetables, before they became stylish. Whether savory or sweet (sweet potatoes, apples, acorn squash, honey, spices…oh my!) we ate them on a regular basis.  Hot out of the oven, room temperature, or even cold, roasted veggies are a delicious and easy way to get your veggies.

The recipe is forgiving and you can use whatever you have on hand.  Just keep in mind some veggies, such as onions, peppers asparagus – are more delicate and break down quicker.  Add them the last 20 minutes of cooking.  If you find the temperature is too high, then lower.  I often loosely cover them with foil for about 20 minutes, remove the foil, and add in the delicate veggies.  You can add a good sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese at the end and use whatever herbal flavorings you prefer.  I also like to line my pan with parchment paper to help with clean up.

I do not use olive oil as do some people.  Olive oil has a lower smoking point and when oil smokes, carcinogens and toxins are released.  I use a good neutral vegetable oil instead.

どうぞめしあがれ  Douzo meshiagare y’all!

INGREDIENTS 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed 2 red bell peppers seeded and diced 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed 3 Yukon gold potatoes, cubed (or other potato) 1 large red onion, quartered 2 parsnips, cut into 1 inch slices 1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, cut in half 3 tbs. balsamic vinegar 1/4 cup. vegetable oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 3 tbs. minced fresh herbs: parsey, thyme, rosemary, basil, whatever

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the (heavier” veggies. Put delicate veggies in a separate bowl. In a small bowl, stir together seasonings, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Divide between the two bowls and toss until well coated. Spread heavier veggies evenly on a large roasting pan. Loosely cover with foil and cook for 30 – 40 minutes. Add delicate veggies and stir in well. Do not replace foil and continue to cook for about 15 minutes more, or until cooked through and browned. If you do not like your veggies as soft, then of course, don’t cook as long.

stock-photo-11060871-roasted-vegetables-in-the-oven[1]

Overnight Oats

English: Bowl of fresh muesli, made from rolle...

English: Bowl of fresh muesli, made from rolled oats, orange juice, blended apple and banana, redcurrants, raisins, cottage cheese, topped with raspberries. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In keeping with the weekend, no elaborate recipes. This recipe is so easy, my cat could fix it. The difference between Overnight Oats and regular oatmeal or slow cooker oats is this:  No Cooking.   It takes me awhile to wake up. I am a morning zombie: moving, going about the routine but brainless until being jolted with caffeine. Idiot proof is the word for breakfasts for me. Overnight Oats is an imminently portable food as well. Fix in a container that has a secure top for taking with you.

When visiting in Switzerland years ago, I fell in love with müesli. Raw oats, other grains, fruits, nuts, liquids – I’ve not been a fan of cold cereal but this stuff made me happy. One night, I was getting ready to have a bowl for my supper when an emergency occurred. I had to leave suddenly to see to a friend and I put the bowl of müesli into the fridge for safe keeping. Next morning, I remembered it and pulled it out. Hello gorgeous! All the grains had softened and the flavors blended. I was not the creator of Overnight Oats, but rather, a discoverer of something easy and good. Others have also discovered this wonderful food.

Overnight Oats do not have to be eaten cold. I’ve taken my container with me to work and nuked for a bit to get warm. Equally good, especially if the morning was cold or rainy and cold. The aroma of cinnamon, apples, maple, bananas, peaches wafting into others’ work areas has caused them to wander in and obtain a printed note from me with the recipe for Overnight Oats.

So enjoy. This is food truly your way and it is good for you. I use whole grains, almond milk, nuts, organic fruits. You don’t have to. It is your way!  Oh, it is good gamer food as well.

I posted a recipe for Slow Cooker Oats in November 2012 and have updated it. I hope you do a search for it and try it. It is truly comfort food.

Overnight Oats

1 part liquid (apple juice, soy mild, almond milk, milk)
1 part rolled oats (non-instant or quick cooking. I like Irish oats)
fruit: apples, peaches, bananas, mangos, strawberries, blueberries, raisins, prunes, etc.
sweetening: sugar, raw sugar, brown sugar, stevia, honey, maple syrup,none.
Seasoning: cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, orange zest
Extra: nuts, crumbled muffins, fruit preserves

Method: Mix together and place into a container and cover. Put in fridge. Eat the next morning.

Real Southern Cooking – Some Recipes

retro

Down South, we have a tremendous love for congealed salads.   Now for one thing, y’all need to know that in most cases, salad and dessert can be one and the same.  If you go to a typical southern church dinner or family potluck, you will find a great variety of congealed salads.  Some will be set in the salad area and some will be set in the dessert area – and usually you’ll have two or three of the same thing – one in the salad area, one in the dessert area.

In the 1960’s, congealed salads were wildly popular.  Actually, farther back than that.  I have a recipe from N’awlins, circa 1835 for beouf en gelee.  Also for jellied duck – Charleston, 1875.  We southerners apparently have always had a love for these things.  They run the gamut from Cherry Coke Congealed Salad to Congealed Coleslaw to Lemon/Strawberry/Lime Fluff to Golden Glow to Perfection.  Actually, Perfection Salad is a yankee invention but we ignore that.  We put our fingers in our ears and lalalalala when someone suggests such a thing.

My grandmother Ninny – a true soft voiced southern lady with a spine of pure titanium – made several congealed salads a week, especially in the summer when it was so hot and humid, it was like walking outside into a bowl of oatmeal.  Congealed salad was cool, comforting, and easy to take.  My cousin Billy from New Jersey was visiting one summer and he asks Ninny, “Aunt Josie Lee, how come you don’t just call them Jello salads?”  Ninny replied, “Because William, they are congealed salads.”  End of story. In other words, as we say, “Who’s fryin’ this chicken, you or me?”

Perfection Salad was invented in 1904 by Mrs. John Cook of Newcastle, Pennsylvania (lalalalala) who entered a Knox gelatin recipe contest.  She won third prize – $100 and a sewing machine.  Mrs. Cook said she sliced this salad (sliced salad????) and passed it with a dish of mayonnaise for folks to dab on it.  She liked to serve it with fried oysters.  Perfection Salad is perfect with any kind of seafood, roast meat, fried or barbecued chicken, or fried chicken.  It will liven a dull meal.  Lime Fluff Salad is like Christmas in July – the green and red thing going on with it.  Buttermilk Salad is just good to eat out of the bowl – especially if you can’t sleep and are watching some late night movie from the 30’s or 40’s.  My movie of choice for this one is Bringing Up Baby with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, but y’all make your own choice.  A good friend of mine likes his while watching Seven Samurai.

So I hope y’all enjoy these.  Bless your hearts, eat and be blessed.

  

Buttermilk Salad

1 can crushed pineapple (20 ounces)

2 Cups buttermilk  (regular or fat free)

8 ounces whipped topping, thawed

2 small boxes gelatin (your flavor choice, can also use sugar free)

I am using strawberry jello for this.  Orange is also very good.  Heat pineapple in juice, bring to a boil. Add jello and mix well. Remove from heat and add buttermilk, stir. Allow to cool for twenty to thirty minutes. Stir in whipped topping. Refrigerate until set.

Lime Fluff  Salad

2 (3 oz.) boxes Lime Jello

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese

1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained

1/2 Cup pecan pieces (more is wonderful)

1 ½ c. cold water

¼ – ½ c. sliced maraschino cherries

Dissolve Jello in 1 Cup hot water. Break up the cream cheese in hot Jello and blend using blender (or hand mixer) until smooth. (I usually cube it first!) Add and blend until smooth, then add the undrained pineapple, the pecan pieces and the cherries. Pour into an 8″ X 8″ dish. Chill and serve!

 Perfection Salad

2 envelopes (2 tbs.) unflavored gelatin.

½ c. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 ½ c. boiling water

1 ½ c. cold water

½ c. vinegar (cider or white)

2 tbs. lemon juice

2 c. finely shredded cabbage (shreds better when refrigerator cold)

1 c. chopped celery

¼ c. chopped red/green bell pepper

¼ c. diced pimiento (small jar, drained)

1/3 c. stuffed green olive slices

Thoroughly mix gelatin, sugar, salt. Add 1 1/2 cups boiling water and stir to dissolve gelatin. Then add 1 1/2 cups cold water, vinegar, and lemon juice. Chill till partially set (like egg white consistency).

Now cabbage, chopped celery, green pepper, pimiento, and green-olive slices.

Pour into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan (spray with cooking spray. May also use any comparable sized mold). Chill the salad mold until firm. Just before mealtime, unmold and garnish your salad. Cut salad in 8 to 10 slices.

“You think I don’t have culture just because I’m from down South. Believe me, we’ve got culture there. We’ve always had sushi. We just called it bait.”  Ben “Cooter” Jones

Perfection Salad

Ethereal Hummus – recipe

Hummus

Hummus (Photo credit: diettogo1)

Ethereal hummus?  Really?  I make my own and it is excellent.  However, a couple of weeks ago, I went to a new restaurant in town and had their hummus.  Oh my oh my.  It tasted great but what blew me away was the texture.  It was so silky smooth and not as grainy as most hummuses (hummi?) I have had or made.  It was….ethereal.  I asked the waitress how it was made.  She was clueless.  She asked the chef in the back.  He said no way was he giving it up.  So, me being me and me being an excellent food sleuth, I determined to reverse engineer his hummus.  Chick peas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, good virgin olive oil….basic.  But the method was what lifted this hummus from ho-hummus to Yum-Yummus.

I used canned chickpeas which is perfectly acceptable and in my various experiments, there was no difference in the long way of cooking your own as opposed to dumping out of the can.  I did however discover there is an expensive organic brand that is bland and tends toward mush.  Regular store brand did just fine.

I mashed the chickpeas and sieved them and mixed with ingredients.  Still grainy and dense.  I put in a blender and then strained the pureed beans and mixed.  Nope.  Not that either.

I put the beans and some extra liquid in my food processor and then mixed.  Smoother, but my tongue said, Girlfriend, you still have work to do.  I continued.  I ate enough hummus in a couple of weeks to mortar a brick wall around our property.  Made my family crazy as well.

Reliving the texture in my mind, I had an epiphany – Eureka!  Emulsion!  Like mayonnaise – mixing together elements that normally do not mix such as an oil and a liquid to make a creamy smooth something else:  Emulsion.  I learned it as a pharmacy tech and I learned it in culinary school.  I was about to make hummus history.

So—-below are the instructions for method.  Add more or less seasonings to your taste, but do the emulsion thing.  After a couple of tries, I hit on the right method.  I dug in with a spoon to test the texture and taste.  Oh be still my heart!  Ethereal Hummus was now available at my house.

RECIPE 

3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

¼ c. water

6 tsp. tahini, well stirred

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, good quality

1 14 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed.

1 garlic clove, finely minced

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground cumin

Pinch cayenne

1 Tbs minced fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish

Additional olive oil for garnish.

  1. Combine lemon juice and water in a small bowl.  Whisk together tahini and olive oil in another small bowl.
  2. Process chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne in food processor until almost fully ground.  Scrape down bowl.  Then with machine running, add lemon juice/water in a steady stream through feed tube.  Scrape down bowl again and continue to process for a minute.  With machine running, add oil/tahini mixture in a slow steady stream through feed tube; continue to process tun hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds.
  3. Transfer hummus to serving bowl.  Sprinkle minced herbs over surface and cover with plastic wrap.  Let stand for flavors to meld at least 30 minutes.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and serve.

Peaches and Cream Pie

peaches and cream pie

 

This may seem like peach cream brûlée in a crust, but it is not.  Instead, it is a rich, sweet, and creamy dessert, just like a true Southern Belle.  The sides caramelize a bit, making it a luxurious experience.  

Of course, this recipe is much better with fresh summer peaches, but all of this hot weather has ‘most folks I know already dreaming of summer:  cold lemonade, days at the beach, home grown ‘mater sammiches, and peaches.  Sweet juicy peaches dribblin’ down your chin as you bite into one.  And no eggs so you don’t have to worry about taking it with you on a picnic or to a covered dish dinner. 

We aren’t there yet with summer, but go ahead and make this pie – and dream. 

Peaches and Cream Pie 

¾ c. granulated white sugar

½ c. all purpose flour

1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell

2 c. peeled and sliced fresh peaches or, frozen peaches, defrosted and room temperature

1 c. heavy cream

Good splash of vanilla added to the cream

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix sugar and flour together in bowl.  Sprinkle about one-third into the bottom of the pie shell.  Add peaches and sprinkle with remaining sugar and flour.  Slowly pour heavy cream over fillings.  Gently stir peaches to cover them completely with cream.  Bake until peaches are tender and crust is golden – about 45 minutes.  Let cool on rack until a bit warmer than room temperature.  It will slice better.

 

Quick Pickles – Quickles

I have been promising (and I know you all have just been waiting in deep anticipation) a treatise on quick pickles – quickles I call them. Some factoids: Cucumbers have been around forever and go back as far as Mesopotamia 2030 BC. Quickles are not marinated vegetables. They are brined or salted the same as long process (slowckles) are. The word pickle comes from the Dutch pekel which means salt or brine.

Quickles are a great way to use up some excess summer veggies, brighten up winter veggies, add a quick bit of zing to a dull meal, be a unique appetizer, or in some cases, add an authentic bit to an ethnic meal. Seasonings and vegetables themselves can give a local or ethnic flair. Add daikon to cucumbers and onion. Or add some curry to cucumber, onion, celery, red radish. Crushed mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and sugar make the ubiquitous onion and cucumber mixture quick bread and butter pickles (recipe in a previous Keep It Simple Saturday) post.

Quickles give much satisfaction with little effort.  They are great with sandwiches, sides for meat, rice….on their own.

Equipment is as simple or exotic as you choose: a colander, plate, weight or a specialized pickle press. I bought a dandy one at a local Japanese food store for $4.99. Ingredients are the same way: salt (uniodized or sea salt), spices, herbs, veggies. The process may take a few hours but you don’t have to babysit and can do other things. Once made, they will last for several weeks in the refrigerator. I do hope you all will experiment with quickles. They’ve been a part of my life since I was born. On a hot summer day, cucumber quickles from the fridge cooled and refreshed a hot little girl. Other kids could have a Koolaid freezer pop – I wanted quickles!! They are a regular feature now in my bento.

QUICKLE BASICS

Cucumbers (English, Kirby, Persian, Japanese) Peeled (if waxed) and very thinly sliced
Onion red or white, thinly sliced
Carrot thinly sliced
Radish red or daikon, thinly sliced
Cabbage – thinly shredded

Seasoning: bay leaf, mustard seed, turmeric, srirachi pepper, split Thai pepper, cilantro, garlic, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, fresh cayenne, fresh jalapeno pepper, sesame seeds, toasted seaweed bits, ginger
Vinegar: cider, white, rice
Extra vegetables: turnip, celery, napa cabbage, zucchini, cauliflower

One Method: The above is my go to veggies for quickles. Add or subtract. It’s up to you to determine how many you want to make. I usually use a standard size cuke, a small or medium onion, a rib of celery, a carrot, several red radishes, about ½ c. sliced daikon, about ½ cup shredded cabbage. In a colander, toss well with several tablespoons of uniodized salt. Place sauce or plate, depending on size of colander and add weight to the plate. A half gallon empty clean milk jug or gallon jug of water works well. Place in sink or on another plate to catch liquid from vegetables. Vegetables will end up being limp but still crispy due to this process. Use a mandolin or sharp knife to thinly slice vegetables. Add seasonings of choice. ALWAYS use non-reactive pots, pans, bowls for vinegar/acid based foods.

Obviously, the vinegar and seasonings will determine the “flavor” of the pickle. I like a Japanese quickle to use with everything.

Recipe – Japanese Sunomono (sweet)

english cucumber

½ small onion

1 cup water

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tbsp kosher salt

2 tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp minced ginger

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except the cucumber. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Wash the cucumber and slice it very thin using a mandoline. Add it to the bowl of liquid, give it a good stir, and then take care to submerge all the cucumber slices. Refrigerate for at least half an hour (but no more than a couple hours) before eating. Drain before serving. Garnish with toasted seaweed and sesame seeds. To add another layer of flavor to this simple pickle, add about ¼ – ½ tsp. dashi soup granules and/or seeded and slivered chili pepper (not much for this amount of cucumber).
Japanese Sour Pickles
1/2 cucumber
1/6 carrots
7 oz. water
1 1/3 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 oz. (dried bonito)
5 oz. daikon radish
2 2/3 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
Sliced ginger
Combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar and soy sauce. Add bonito and sliced ginger and stir slowly until sugar is dissolved. Cut cucumber, daikon and carrot into strips. Put vegetables in a jar and pour the mixture over them. Let sit in refrigerator for a couple of days for flavors to blend. Keeps about 10 days.

Thai Quickles a friend gave me this recipe and she uses pounds for measurement
2 ¼ rice vinegar
½ pound onion sliced
1 pound carrots, sliced
1 pound cucumbers, sliced
4 green chilies sliced
2 tsp. salt
3 tbs. sugar
Put the vinegar in a non-reactive pan and heat. Add sugar and salt and stir to dissolve. Let cool. Put vegetables in a bowl and cover with vinegar mixture. Let sit for one half hour. Keeps in fridge for several days.

Quick Indian Carrot Pickle
5 medium carrots
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground mustard seeds
1 teaspoon chili powder (adjust to taste)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon mustard oil or olive oil
sliced green chili, sliced the long way

Peel the carrots and thinly slice them about 2 inches long (should be about two cups). Wrap the sliced carrots in a dry towel, ensuring the carrots don’t have any excess water. Mix all the ingredients together with the carrots and put in a glass jar. Keep the jar in the sun for a day. Pickle is ready the next day. Pickle can be refrigerated for about two weeks.

Quick Bread and Butter Pickle
(recipe posted in Keep it Simple Saturday Recipe post)

quick bread and butter pickles

Fried Tofu – For Beni

I really love fried tofu.  Sometimes, I dust with my special fried chicken seasoning and fry.  Mostly, I fix this simply.  I serve it with several dipping sauces, such as a sweet garlic chili sauce or soy flavored with slivers of ginger, sesame oil, and sliced scallion.  I personally just like it plain – hot and crispy on the outside, hot and almost custardy on the inside.  A member of the 11/16 Society shared this with me years ago.  It was one of our favorite appetizers to serve to visitors to our home.  Some may say this isn’t authentic Japanese, but since he is authentic Japanese, I beg to differ.

This is not the Japanese agedashi dofu, which is usually served with a dashi broth or a soya dipping sauce.  I suppose you could use these cubes in agedashi dofu.  My friend enjoys this but like me, he just liked the fried tofu – neat!

Servings: 4 appetizer portions

1 block extra firm or firm tofu

cornstarch for dusting

peanut or other high temperature oil for frying.

Press the tofu down, leaving something heavy (such as a cutting board stacked with your heaviest cookbooks) on top to squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and dust lightly with cornstarch before frying.

Pan-fry the cubes of tofu in a wok or medium, deep, heavy-bottom saucepan: Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the wok or pan or, come halfway up the side of a tofu cube and heat over medium-high heat until hot – about 375 degrees. Test the oil with one cube of tofu, adjusting the heat as necessary so the cube fries quickly but does not burn. Fry the cubes in a single layer, making sure the pieces do not touch, until crisp on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes total. Repeat until all of the tofu pieces are cooked; this may need to be done in 2 batches. I use chopsticks to turn and remove cubes.  Drain the pieces on a paper towel lined plate.

Snow Day Cooking – Recipes

It snowed last night – great gouts of clustered snow flakes rapidly covering the ground and everything else it       would stick to.  A wet snow, in some areas it will be gone by late afternoon and in some protected areas, sometime tomorrow.  The snow covers our lawn in a smooth sheet until it gets to the woods and then it decorates the leaves, bare tree branches, and sides of downed trees.  The line of azaleas in front of our house and the ones that separate the woods from our lawn, blossom with huge clusters of pure white snow.

Still…today is one of those days I am going to pretend the roads are impassable and we are snowed in.  That means – a whole day of cooking!  This morning started off with my husband begging for sausage, eggs, and silver dollar pancakes.  Usually our breakfast is what we grab in passing – yogurt or oatmeal for me and Danish for him.  The pancakes are from a standard recipe of flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, eggs, and milk – standard, fluffy and satisfying.  I’ve been making these since I was five and had to stand on a chair by the stove to reach the pan.  The sausage is homemade – lean bits of pork left over from the killing and butchering and then ground with a bit of suet and spiced with salt, black pepper, some sugar, red pepper flakes, and lots of sage – in the south, in farm co-op stores, you can buy bags of sausage seasoning for batches from 2 – 100 pounds.  Beats bought sausage all to pieces and you know what is in it.

My husband’s uncle has a massive farm – every year they kill hogs and butcher and sell the meat or give away.  His sausage is made from trimmed pieces of tenderloin and hams and seasoned with co-op seasoning – hot or mild.   This same sausage will be used later in the day when I make sausage and cheese balls – some for munching on now and the rest to be pulled out of the freezer and cooked for the rest of the football season and on to March Madness basketball (Go Duke!).

Snow day cooking can be done on a cold rainy day or just a day you want to hide from everything and everyone and be in your own kitchen world.  On the counter great northern beans are soaking.  I am going to make a big pot of white bean (navy or great northern) and ham (leftover from Christmas and portioned out and put in the freezer) with cornbread.  This will be for dinner tonight.  I am also going to make quickles – quick pickles with a bread and butter taste to go with the beans to add a bit of sparkles.  I am in the process of writing a most learned and riveting two part article about quickles…snow day came up though and took precedence.    Sliced cucumbers and onions are on the kitchen table in a colander over a dish with a smaller saucer on top with a large heavy can of tomatoes on top to help press out excess liquid.  Bread and butter style quickles are also on the menu for tonight.

Sticks of unsalted butter are on also  the counter softening.  On the  for dessert are Mexican wedding cookies.  The pecans in them came from Georgia.  Every Thanksgiving, I go to Charlotte Courthouse where Mr. Claxton comes up from his home in Thomasville, GA and brings a huge truck loaded with this season shelled or unshelled pecans.  I buy both – enough to take me through to next Thanksgiving.  For about two miles on either direction of him along 360, you’ll see hand-lettered signs:  Pecans Ahead!  The Pecan Man  – 1 mi. Awa!!!  Your Close!!!  (big arrow) Right there – PECANS!!!!   I’ve done this for a long time but I always eagerly look for the first sign. The excitement builds.   Only in the South, folks.

Recipes are below.   As usual, I do not take pictures of ingredients and step-by-steps as most folks seem to do on their cooking blogs.  I’ve said it before:  you all are grownups and know how to cook.  A chopped carrot is a chopped carrot, a pound of great northern beans are great northern beans, confectioners sugar is……you all get my drift.  Enjoy my day with me!  I’ll glady share recipes but you can’t have my happy shoes.  Y’all stay for or come by for supper.  The cornbread is in the oven and the golden crust is liberally smeared with butter.  Sweet tea, the table wine of the South, will be your beverage to complement our meal.  Plenty of napkins are on hand to catch the powdered sugar from the cookies.

 

 WHITE BEAN AND HAM SOUP 

  • 1 lb of white beans -navy or Great Northern, picked over and washed
  • 2 quarts of water HOT water – soak beans in this for about three hours and drain
  • Ham chunks, ham bone, ham hocks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup of diced onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2/3 cup chopped carrots
  • Salt and pepper

Fill a pot or bowl large enough to hold the beans with water, soak and drain. some folks soak the beans in cold water for 8 hours.  others bring the beans in water to a boil and soak the beans for about 2 hours. Your choice.

Meanwhile, put the ham hocks, ham chunks, or ham bone and cover with 2 quarts of water.  For frugality, I am using leftover frozen Christmas ham and the hambone.  I am not using a huge amount of ham, maybe about a 3/4 pound.  I will simmer the ham bone and add the bay and sautéed veggies, bring to a simmer and simmer for about an hour.  When I add the beans, I will add the ham chunks, bits, shreds…whatever. Cook for another couple of hours or so, until the beans are tender.  Cook longer to thicken.  Check and stir mixture in pot to ensure no sticking.   Add more water if necessary.

Serve with hot cornbread and butter or other bread of your choice.  When serving, put  a good sprinkle of chopped onion, parsley, Crystal or Franks hot sauce on top – any or all is good.  Let the individual season their beans or not.  Remove bay leaves before serving.

FOR VEGETARIAN/VEGAN VERSION:  omit ham (duh).  Saute veggies along with several cloves of garlic.  You may want to add more veggies to the sauté mixture to flavor and hearten up the taste and texture.  I use regular vegetable oil to sauté veggies but you can use fancy olive oils if you choose.

ANTI-FART (haha) TIP:  When cooking dried beans, take a nice stringy large rib of celery and cut in half.  Add to the cooking beans at the beginning.  At the end of cooking, remove the two pieces of celery.  The cellulose in the celery absorb the sulfur dioxide from the cooking liquid and help cut down/prevent stomach gas.  Be careful to remove the fart-absorbing celery ribs from the soup.

MEXICAN WEDDING COOKIES (or SNOWBALL COOKIES)

1 cup  (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cup  powdered sugar, divided
2 tsp.  vanilla
2 cups  flour – all purpose
1 cup  finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Beat butter, 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Gradually add flour and pecans, beating on low speed after each addition until well blended.  Shape into 1 inch balls (I use a 1 inch cookie scoop).   Place, 1-1/2 inches apart, on ungreased baking sheets.  I use cooking parchment.

Bake 14 to 16 min. or until bottoms of cookies are lightly browned.  Roll warm cookies in about 1 cup of powdered sugar until evenly coated; place on wire racks to cool.  The sugar will coat the cookies and give a happy white coating guaranteed to “snow” on your black sweater and stick to your fingers.   Cool completely.  Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.  They really don’t last long because they are such a good, short cookie – not too sweet but rich and yummy with cold milk, hot tea or coffee. makes about 28 balls of yumminess.

QUICK BREAD AND BUTTER STYLE PICKLES

1    pound pickling cucumbers , sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch  rounds OR equivalent in standard or English cucumber. Peel, cut cukes in            half  and scoop out seeds if necessary

1     medium onion, halved and sliced thin

1   tablespoon kosher or non-iodized salt

1    cup cider vinegar

1/2  cup sugar

1/2   teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

1/4    teaspoon celery seeds

1/4    teaspoon corriander seeds

1/8    teaspoon ground tumeric

Toss cucumbers, onion, and salt in colander set over bowl.  Let stand 1 hour.  hour.  Discard any liquid collected in the bowl. Rinse and press out excess water and put in large non-reactive bowl.  Bring vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, corriander seeds and turmeric to boil in large saucepan.  Pour over cucumbers and onion onion, and press to submerge in liquid.  Let cool.  Put into smaller glass container or quart jar and allow to chill at least two hours before serving.   Pickles can be refrigerated in a clean jar or covered container for 2 weeks.

snowball cookies            quick bread and butter pickles         white bean and ham soup with cornbread

Aside

Slow Cooker Food: Part I Irish Oatmeal

NOTE:  I posted this last November.  I am posting again along with another post of Overnight Oats.  I have made some changes to this.  For those of you who want to eat healthier and don’t have the time, and trust me, I understand, this is a great recipe.  So is the Overnight Oats but I’ll get into that in that post.  Below is the original post for this:

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It is starting to be crazy time…..in the states we have the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years insanity.  I like to fix food that is brainless, yummy, and soothing. I also like foods for crappy rainy/snowy weather that puts its arms around you and soothes and warms you.

NOTE:  Some of you may have noticed I do not add pictures of food being prepped, packages of ingredients, etc.  My thing is:  you all cook.  You know how to chop things, what food ingredients look like, etc.  Unless it is something downright weird or incredibly hard, you are on your own.  I trust you.  If you every have any questions, please do contact me.

Slow Cooker recipes Part I:  Slow Cooker Irish Oatmeal

  • 1 cup steel cut oats (or Irish oats)  Not: quick, instant, etc.
  • 4 cups liquids (I used 2 cups water, 1 c. natural apple juice & 1 cup regular flavor almond milk)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (I use a good cinnamon, usually Saigon)
  • 1 apple, skinned & chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins, or craisins, or dried plums (chopped into raisin size pieces)
  • Stevia, honey, raw sugar or other sweetener of your choice to taste, or not
  • Optional: ¼ c. chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds….I love nuts. You don’t have to.

Add apples, dried fruit, and cinnamon to crock-pot.  Plus 1 cup steel cut oats.  Then 4 cups liquids.  Stir everything well and set slow cooker to low setting for 7 hours. The cinnamon on top was crusty, and the apples  fell apart in my mouth.  My whole house smelled like apple pie.  Even my cat was trolling for breakfast.  This reheats well.  You can also add the chopped nuts afterwards in case someone has nut allergies.

Steel Cut Oatmeal

Steel Cut Oatmeal (Photo credit: missYcola)

Easy Corn Soup – Hakone, Japan

I like Japanese recipes.  I LOVE easy Japanese recipes.  A young engineering intern from Hakone, sent me this recipe as a “thank you” for helping him.  His mentor, a most venerable engineer here temporarily in the US from Japan, told him not only would it be polite, but friendly as well and that I eventually would ask him anyway! 

Hikaru said it was an amazingly easy dish, very comforting and frugal as well.  “We all of us, love corn soup!  It can be purchased from dispensers along side of coffee and soft drinks at internet cafes.  When I want taste of my home, I make this.  You can make in 15 minutes or less.  A recipe makes enough for me or, for four normal people.” 

1 can of corn (15.25 oz)

1/2 yellow onion (sliced)

1 1/2 cup milk

1 tbsp butter

1 sprig of parsley – chopped

1 scallion

2 cubes of vegetable boullion 

Partially melt butter in a saucepan, then saute onion for 5 minutes until soft.  Add corn and stir for a minute or so.  Add milk and heat on medium-low until hot but not boiling.  Crumble vegetable bullion cubes into the soup and stir.  Remove from heat and transfer to blender.  Blend until smooth.  Return to saucepan, heat, then garnish with parsley thinly sliced scallion.

 

Eat Your Heart Out – Local Produce and Mammies’ Veggie Stew

Surrounding Richmond is beautiful farm and horse country.  The city is home to eclectic and experienced foodies.  Restaurants run the gamut from homey diners serving fried donuts topped with ice cream to pure Southern meat and three joints to elegant establishments presenting the most recent and stylish food fad.  Locavores are the power brokers when it comes to supply and demand.

The farmland has given birth to organic farms, old home farms, specialty farms, dairies, and free range poultry and meat producers.  Herbs, flowers, fruits, vegetables, salad stuffs, heirloom vegetables.  And there are as many different types of farmers markets and produce stands. 

My favorite produce stand is in the middle of Hanover farm country.  From April 1 until the day before Thanksgiving, you can buy the freshest, best variety, and cheapest local produce.  There are also things such as handcrafted (what a stylish word!) jams, jellies, pickles, cheese, butter, salt and sugar, smoked hams, baked goods.

Even as late as this past weekend, the stand was overflowing with vegetables and other products.  Mountain apples are starting to make their appearance as well.  And while the produce isn’t as cheap as it was in mid-July (super sweet corn 6 ears $1, green beans 99 cents a pound, tomatoes 2 pounds for $1, etc.), it is still cheap enough to make people in other areas green (smile) with envy.  A 25 pound box of tomatoes is $8 for example.  Because of this bounty, I have been able to can 32 quarts of tomatoes and 32 quarts of green beans, freeze 16 quarts of corn (double cut and scraped of all its milky goodness), 12 quarts of assorted field peas, and 16 quarts of butter beans – not limas – butterbeans.  Butterbeans have a silkier texture and sweeter taste when cooked.

With all this bounty, I just have to cook up a huge batch of Mammies’ Veggie Stew.  You can call it soup, thick soup, or stew.  Just as long as it is full of veggies, it doesn’t matter.  I don’t use meat in mine but you can if you want to.  The recipe comes from my great-grandmother.  I fix enough to freeze 30 quart bags and several one-half gallon bags.  One a cold rainy night or day, the smell wafting from your stove will make you smile.  Add a chunk of hot cornbread or homemade roll slathered with butter, open a jar of homemade pickles or pickled beets, and you have a bit of heaven on earth.  Some of the ingredients may seem a bit odd, but Mammie worked this out years ago.  She never let me down.  Trust me.

I double this recipe and cook it three times.  It comes in handy for unexpected company or comfort for sickness or, in some cases, to take a couple of weeks after a bereavement as a good excuse to say hello and just been thinking about you.

Mammie’s Veggie Stew

2# stew beef (optional – see notes)

3 qts. Water

1 cup chopped  onion

4 c. potatoes chopped

1 tsp. pepper

5 tsp. salt (or to taste)

2 qt. corn (double cut and scraped)

2 qt. butterbeans

3 qt. tomatoes

½ c. ketchup

¼ – 1/2 c. sugar

1 tsp. hot sauce or to taste

Few good shakes of Worcestershire sauce

¾ stick butter

You can use plain water or vegetable broth.  Cook butterbeans until al dente.  Add the other ingredients.  If using whole tomatoes, break apart with hands as you add to the broth and butterbeans.   Simmer until veggies are tender.  Stir occasionally to keep from sticking and burning. You can cook down until thicker or have it thinner.  Your choice.  If you use meat, cook it first until tender and when cool, shred and add to broth.  If you use frozen veggies, use baby limas and try to find frozen sweet white corn.

Sweet Southern Peaches

Assorted Peppers and Fall Squash

Fresh Shelled Butterbeans and Assorted Peas: Dixie Lee, White Acre, Pink Eye Purple Hull, Brown Crowder, Black Eye

Matant Livia’s Baked Eggplant

Creole and Cajun foods are sooooo good.  Different, but kinda sorta similar.  I spent a year in Nawlins..New Orleans to those who don’t know what Nawlins is.  I visited various parishes as well.  I collected many wonderful recipes and how-to’s while there.  All of them are “Take this, do that, add this….”  Most of them begin with “First you make a roux.”   If you are an inexperienced cook and not sure about amounts or methods, you’d best leave Cajun and Creole food alone.  I would suggest though, you learn how to cook without a recipe.   Make it individual, make it with joy, and like all good Southern food, make it with lots of love!

Eggplant – depends on size and how many you want to feed
The Holy Trinity – onion, bell pepper, celery, chopped finely
Fresh parsley, chopped
Grated parmesan cheese
Chopped tomato (fresh summer tomatoes are alway best for everything!)
Worcestershire sauce (Lee and Perron’s as they say)
Cooking spray 
OPTIONAL:  Seasoned or unseasoned bread crumbs are good tossed with a bit of butter/margarine and the parmesan cheese, sprinkled on top for last 15 minutes to get all toasty

Take an eggplant, wash well and pierce skin with fork all over.  Cut the eggplant in half and spray with cooking spray.  Place both halves, cut side down on a cooking sheet sprayed with cooking spray and bake at 350 until tender.  Amount of time varies with size of the eggplant.

Remove from oven and carefully scoop out cooked eggplant and coarsely mash.  Add to this the Holy Trinity, parsley, peeled and chopped tomato(s), parmesan cheese, some shakes of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.  Let sit a few minutes and taste.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Pile back into eggplant shells (or into a sprayed baking dish) and bake until warm and steamy.  Add some good shakes of parmesan cheese over top.

This is not one of those highly seasoned, luxurious recipes.  It is earthy, basic and excellent with a good French bread slathered with butter, a glass of Southern style sweet tea, and a slice of buttermilk pie (recipe coming soon!).

(HINT) I add foil to the baking dish so I can remove the casserole, allow to cool, and then wrapping well and freezing.  While eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers are cheap; this is a good use of end of summer bounty.

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