Friday, July 29, 2005

Okra Anyone?

I love okra but the rest of my family does not so I sadly exist okra-less. However, my good friend, Marcia, sent me this recipe that looks so different from any I have seen that I am going to try it and see if the much longed for "okra conversion" could happen.
I've been shopping at the farmer's stands at the farmer's market and buying only little okra...the larger ones are too tough....little new 'taters...and noonday, vidalia, or 10/15 small onions.


Equal parts of all of the above.

Microwave the washed potatoes until 3/4 cooked, about 7 minutes, cool enough to be able to slice.

Wash and chop the okra, removing only the stem end.

Slice onions thinly.

Put enough olive oil in iron skillet to cover the bottom. Medium heat.

Fry all of the veggies starting first with the okra, add the potatoes after you have turned the okra once, add the onions after the first two veggies have been turned and stirred together.

Salt and pepper after all ingredients are in pan. It may be necessary to add a little more oil as the dish is cooking. Serve as soon as all veggies are cooked and a little crusty.

Marcia notes:

I like to add a couple of pieces of uncooked, chopped bacon with the potatoes as it is cooking for a great flavor! We also like a little garlic salt. Enjoy!

This is NOT a slimy okra dish. My kids loved it even when they were little and they all serve it to their families as a favorite Mom dish now!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Now Serving Hot Links

Erik suggests a summer menu that looks mighty good ... if only the pesto was being made in a food processor I could duplicate it exactly. Alas, my family will have to wait for that halcyon day when we visit Erik and he is in a pesto mood before getting any that is made the right way. Go see what he's having besides pesto.

Renee at Culture Shock and the Blonde Librarian talks about the problem getting peanut butter in Germany. I have to say that as delicious as Nutella is, it just wouldn't be an adequate substitute. Here's a bit to get you started but there is much more go drop by her place.
You might even find some in the aisle with the jams and jellies in a jar that has an American flag on it and is labeled something like Echte Amerikanische Erdnuss Butter! (translation: real (ha!) American peanut butter) However, as a true American peanut butter connoisseur, I must impress upon you that it is not real American peanut butter no matter what they try and tell you and I highly discourage you from trying it… unless you really liked that government-issued peanut butter that they served you in elementary school.

... as Jules finds out when she admits she is a failure in the baked bean game. Good story and she puts the recipe in the comments.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Michael or Ralph?

Ok, we finally finished watching the tape from Monday's Hell's Kitchen. Did anyone but Jessica not know that she was so outclassed in trying to do anything in the kitchen? I loved seeing Ralph and Michael really turn on the energy and zoom around the kitchen getting everything together.

It was fun to see the families show up. The girls were astounded at Ralph's fiancee's beauty ... until she spoke. Then it was clear that they were well matched. Michael's adorable little wife (tatoos and all) seemed perfect for him. And, then we had Jessica's girlfriend. Ahem, well, I'll skip over the "ick" factor in the full-face kissing upon reunion.

The way they propose to end the show with each guy essentially having his own restaurant is really great. Although I can't say that we were surprised to see the kitchen rejects straggle back in to be the crew. It isn't as if any other reality show has ever done that. Oh nooooooooooo, of course not!

So next week should be good. You'll know when we're watching it because you'll hear the chanting from our house ... "Michael, Michael, Michael..."

Monday, July 25, 2005

This is a LIttle Too Fresh for Me

I was experiencing some technical tentacle difficulties.

You see, one doesn’t grab live tentacles. They grab you. And they grab the plate and the sauce dish and the slices of garlic. In fact, the suckers suction on to anything they contact. If you are able to dip the tentacle into any of the three escorting sauces (a chili paste with raw thinly sliced garlic and jalapeno peppers or the pink, sweet and spicy sauce or a salt and pepper vinegar), then, congratulations, you cleared the first hurdle. Now try getting the thing to come off your chopsticks and into your mouth. This is not a passive piece of toro sashimi we’re talking about. This is an entity that does not want to be eaten alive, dead or otherwise. This is, perhaps, even a thing that would happily take you down with it if it was big enough. This food hates you and what you did to it!
Fabulous storytelling going on at Deep End Dining. Be sure to read the whole thing. The intro is just as funny as reading about trying to eat the live tentacles.

Spicy Peanut Chicken

Rose chose this from The Good Housekeeping All New Cookbook. Boy, oh boy, was it delicious. As she said, who cared about the chicken? Just eat the sauce.

The recipe says it serves 4 using 4 chicken leg quarters but I think that next time I probably will make it with 8 chicken thighs because there is enough sauce for 8 servings ... so I can freeze half for an easy meal later. We had this with egg noodles but rice would be nice too.

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 chicken-leg quarters (about 2-1/4 pounds), skin removed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced (next time I would chop this as we do not really enjoy long strings of onion in a sauce)
1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes, drained and chopped, juice reserved (I used a can of diced tomatoes that I had on hand)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

In a cup, mix cumin and cinnamon; use to rub over chicken.

In nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; add chicken and cook until browned. Add onion; cook 5 minutes.

In a blender at high speed, puree reserved tomato juice and remaining ingredients; pour over chicken. Stir in tomatoes; heat to boiling over high heat. reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 40 minutes, or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with tip of knife. (Each serving about 385 calories.)

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Thought for Food

When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste.
Laiko Bahrs

Carnival of Recipes

Found this week at The Glittering Eye. Stop by and see what everyone's been cooking lately.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Diet That Works

We all know which one that is, right? Eat less, move more. But how much less to eat? How much more to exercise? As little as possible is usually the answer to both these questions.

Courtesy of Sigmund, Carl and Alfred comes an actual formula for the diet that the Royal Navy has been using. I am quoting it all here so I have it for future reference as well.
As a public service, SC&A will provide you with the last diet you'll ever use. We're serious. It is commonly used by members of the Royal Navy. The diet is comprised of two parts- diet and exercise, each dictated by certain factors.

Let's say you are a male, weighing 220 lbs, who wants to weigh 180 lbs.

Take the desired weight (in this case, 180), multiply by 10. That is the number of calories you can consume in a day. In this example, the caloric intake cannot exceed 1,800 calories.

That is the first part. Next comes the exercise part.

To calculate the required amount of exercise follows: Take your current weight and again, multiply by a factor of 10 -- in this case, 220 multiplied by 10 equals 2,200.

Each factor of 1000 means 1 hour of exercise. In this case, 2200 means 2.2 hours of moderate exercise, such as walking.

The preferred method would divide the exercise into 2 or more equal sessions.

Let's say you are woman, who weighs 175 lbs, and your desired weight it 130 lbs.

Multiply your desired weight (130) by 10 to yield the number of calories allowed per day -- 1,300.

Multiply your current weight (175) by 10, to yield the amount and time of exercise that must be expended -- in this case, 1,750, meaning 1.75 hours per day.

Remember, it is best if the exercise is divided into at least 2 times per day. For example, in the example, that means about 50 minutes of walking, twice a day.

We have seen the diet work and we have used it ourselves. We have seen in two instances, the loss of up to 60 lbs and 90 lbs respectively, in 90 days or less. Naturally, lesser amounts of weight have been lost in that time.

To be most effective, the amount of exercise should remain constant if you want to lose weight quickly. In other words, if you lose most of the weight, it is still best to do the same amount of exercise as you did when you started.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Oh Pschitt!

We always wanted to order this in Europe just to say it out loud, but we always chickened out.

Sugar & Spice Drops

The name of this King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion recipe is very misleading. It makes me think of a snickerdoodle type cookie. Instead it is a wonderfully chewy, deep molassy, spicy flavored cookie. A plateful of these disappeared in short time when the book club came over.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1-2/3 cups flour
Granulated sugar, for coating the dough

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the oil, brown sugar, molasses, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Mix in flour.

Shape or scoop the dough into 1-1/2 inch balls. A tablespoon cookie scoop can be used to portion the dough. Roll the balls in granulated sugar and place them on the prepared baking sheets. Use a fork to press a crisscross pattern into the top of each.

Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, or until they're set. Remove them from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Now Serving Hot Links

A Day in Paris discovers, upon visiting her sister in Montpellier, that they will deliver bread to your door (actually doorknob) every morning.

Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down has breaking news about a teapot worshiping cult in Malaysia.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Eggs Benedict

At long last I have time to get the recipe up. It was pretty good and very easy, with timing being the only iffy thing, but it all worked out ok. My only comment is that the Hollandaise Sauce was too lemony and when I checked other recipes I didn't find a single one that had two tablespoons of lemon juice as this one did (just my luck to pick this one, right?). So I have amended the recipe below, which is from The All New Good Housekeeping Cookbook.

To serve eight people.

Hollandaise Sauce (recipe is below)
8 slices Canadian bacon
4 large English muffins, split and toasted
8 large eggs

1. Prepare Hollandaise Sauce; keep warm.

2. In jelly-roll pan, arrange toasted English muffins and top each with slice of Canadian bacon; keep warm.

3. Poach eggs: In 12-inch skillet, heat 1-1/2 inches water to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low. Break 1 egg into small cup; holding cup close to surface of water, slip into simmering water. Repeat with remaining eggs. Cook until egg whites have set and egg yolks begin to thicken but are not hard, 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Place jelly-roll pan with bacon-topped English muffins next to poaching eggs. With slotted spoon, carefully remove eggs, one at a time, from water and very briefly drain (still held in spoon) on paper towels; set 1 egg on top of each slice of Canadian bacon. Spoon hollandaise sauce over. Serve hot.

Hollandaise Sauce

3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) cut into 8 pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. In heavy nonreactive 1-quart saucepan, with wire whisk, mix egg yolks, water, and lemon juice until well blended. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon or heat-safe rubber spatula, until egg-yolk mixture just begins to bubble at edge, 6 to 8 minutes.

2. Reduce heat to low. With wire whisk, whisk in butter one piece at a time until each addition is incorporated and sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in salt. Strain through sieve, if you like. Makes scant 1 cup.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Quest for Energy: Siberian Ginseng

Because just one kind of ginseng isn't enough ... this is never going to replace chocolate for me.
Better known as Siberian ginseng, this herb is the botanical cousin to Panax Ginseng.

How It Works
Eleuthero boosts energy indirectly by stimulating the immune system and working as an adaptogen -- it helps to reinforce the body's ability to handle environmental stress and resist disease. Ashwagandha and Schisandra are also adaptogens.

Suggested Dose
Take 100 to 300 mg two or three times a day to maximize energy, but give your body a rest with a one- to two-week holiday every three months. Avoid restlessness by taking the herb at least one hour before bedtime.

The Quest for Energy: Panax Ginseng

I've heard people pushing ginseng but never really knew why. Looking at this list of benefits I see something that our society is obsessed with so it all makes sense (and, yes, I'm talking about sex). Somehow looking at the dose info I am pretty sure I'm going with coffee or chocolate for my kicks.
With a stellar 2,000-year-old reputation for safety and effectiveness, the famed plant is a feel-good tonic and energy-boosting herb of the highest order. It revitalizes, combats stress, bolsters the immune system, improves concentration and is even known to stimulate sexual desire. Indigenous to China and cultivated worldwide, the herb is sometimes called Chinese, Korean, Asian or American ginseng.

How It Works
Ginseng contains ginsenosides, compounds that target and energize different parts of the body.

Suggested Dose
Take 100 to 250 mg a day, standardized to contain at least 7 percent ginsenosides. Or consume two to three slices of the dried white root daily (chew until soft, then swallow). Avoid long term use (more than three months) because of rare side effects such as diarrhea. And don't combine it with large amounts of caffeine because of its stimulant effects.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Eggs Benedict

"I sing the praise of Hollandaise,
A sauce supreme in many ways.
Not only is it a treat to us
When ladled on asparagus,
But I would shudder to depict
A world without Eggs Benedict."

—Ogden Nash

In honor of St. Benedict's feast day and also of Pope Benedict XVI (since he took Benedict as a name), we'll be having the only logical celebration dish ... Eggs Benedict.

My father used to make this fairly frequently for weekend breakfasts and until I left home I never realized how good he was at it. I rarely have had its equal anywhere else. It is easy to toast the English muffin and heat the Canadian bacon to put atop it. Poaching an egg ... not too hard. But the Hollandaise Sauce. That is the key to the entire dish. I have never made it before and will be using a basic recipe from those I perused. I'll let y'all know tomorrow how it turned out ... and provide the recipe.

Until then, you can check out possible sources of the dish, as well as get the scoop on that fabulous sauce.

The Quest for Energy: Caffeine

There's always some sort of food fad going around about foods that lift your energy, make you less drowsy, and generally cure all your woes. The April issue of Psychology Today looked at the most popular and what they really do (this is kinda behind the issue date because Psychology Today is Hannah's subscription. Until one of the girls tell me about what's in it, I never remember we even get it.) I liked reading what these actually do to achieve their effect so I'll do one of these a day ... that'll keep it short and readable.
Caffeine is the world's most popular drug. In the United States, some 85 percent of Americans use it daily. It can be found in coffee, tea, chocolate and cola. Caffeine provides the kick in many traditional drinks from South and Central America, such as yerba mate and guarana. Extracts of the West African kola nut and leaf have been used in energy drinks throughout the decades.

How It Works
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system to speed up heart rate, raise blood pressure and rev up metaolism. It heightens alertness and aids concentration, as any frazzled college student can attest. Clinical trials in athletes show that it increases aerobic endurance and the ability of muscles to contract.

Suggested Dose
When it comes to caffeine, form is a matter of taste and amount a matter of experience. For some, two cups of coffee a day will do the trick. For others, it's a cup of tea and a chocolate bar. It's good to know the amount that will satisfy your energy needs, because overuse can bring on the jitters, insomnia and other adverse reactions. For athletes, the smallest dose linked to positive results is 250 to 500 milligrams (or three cups of coffee).

Saturday, July 09, 2005

I've Heard About These Dealers

I've become a dealer...

... my clients range in age and in nationality. They live all around Paris, and even as far away as Le Havre.

... they appreciate what I can give them.

I've become a dealer...

... of cheddar.
Katia at An Aussie Lass, a Frenchman, and a Burmese talks about her life as a cheddar dealer. Though I have to say that using cheddar for nachos is all wrong. No self respecting, nacho eating Texan would ever put crumbly good cheddar on nachos. That would call for Cheddar Jack or to be authentic, Monterey Jack.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Farmed Versus Wild Salmon

I've been buying farmed salmon thinking I was being a good, responsible, environmentally aware person who cares about the dear wild salmon ... so I was shocked to read this in Fast Fish by Hugh Carpenter.
Much has been written about environmental concerns with farm-raised salmon. Having reviewed the data, we recommend that you purchase only wild salmon. The many serious environmental issues with farm-raised salmon include: It is bio-engineered (escaped farm-raised salmon might cross with wild salmon and compromise its ability to survive in the wild. The floating feedlots are extremely harmful to surrounding fragile marine environments and communities. It takes at least 3 pounds of ground wild fish, such as herring and anchovy, to yield 1 pound of farm-raise salmon. And it is still common to add red food coloring (synthetic carotenoids) to the feed of farm-raised salmon in order to artificially color the flesh.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Keeping Your Cool in the Summer Kitchen

My latest article and part of the this week's Spero News, along with a gaggle of other topics. Go check it out.

Technology in and for Our Kitchen

I don't enjoy gardening but even a lazy gardener like me can grow practically anything they would like using an Earthbox. These are especially perfect for hot places as the self-watering system gives your plants a fighting chance against the temperatures.

My husband loves ice cream and has some every night. So it only makes sense that we have tried utensil after utensil for easy ice cream scooping. None have ever worked very satisfactorily until I picked up this Oxo Ice Cream Spade last week. No wonder the ice cream places all have them (that was my first clue to try it). Works like a charm no matter how hard the ice cream is.

Focus on Technology: Blogging Around

Check it out at Chow.

Too Many Chefs has the skinny on this which makes them think fondly of the Jetsons, though for me it is more of a Star Trek moment. Interesting, to say the least.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Thought for Food

In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery, eats twice as much as nature requires.
Benjamin Franklin

Weekend Joke

What do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter?
Pumpkin pi.

What do you call a stolen yam?
A hot potato.

Now Serving Hot Links

They just seem to go together don't they? Lori Byrd posts her favorite baked beans recipe. I am constantly searching for one that will please the entire family and will give this a try. Who would think that we'd be so darned fussy about baked beans?

Friday, July 01, 2005

Checking Tomato Quality

There is only one way to know you have the best, freshest, most homegrown tomatoes around. For breakfast, have an open faced sandwich made with good white bread, real mayonnaise, sliced tomato and a pinch of salt. Is there a better breakfast? Well, blueberry pie makes an equally good breakfast but it is debatable which is better. Thanks to my friend, Marlene, who brought me some of these small but exquisite tomatoes from her neighbor's garden. I wonder that she could part with them but it is my good fortune.