An “Italian” Evening–Two


My daughter and grandson arrived shortly after six.  First course included nuts, cheeses, crackers, blue corn chips and salsa–I know, not Italian.  For the adults, Stella Rosa Black from Italy.  For the non-adults organic apple juice.

While we snacked on the first course, we created two versions of Pasta alla Carbonara, one for my vegetarian grandson and one without much parmesan cheese for everyone else.  Traditionally, this dish requires parmesan cheese; however, my daughter is lactose intolerant so we created the other one for her.  The rest of us just topped off our dish with grated parmesan at the dinner table.

We used conchiglie from Monastero di Montebello in Italy for the pasta and for version two, pancetta cut into cubes.  For the vegetarian version we used Morning Star bacon.  Here is the basic recipe for pasta alla carbonara:

cooked pasta

bacon or ham, cut in cubes or small pieces

whipped eggs, approximately one egg for every two people

finely chopped onions sautéed in olive oil–we used one large onion for four

grated parmesan cheese–1/8 to 1/4 cup per person (you can use half parmesan and half pecorino)

Saute onions until translucent.  If you are using any bacon except pancetta, cook it first but not until too crispy.  Add the bacon and heat through.  Add the cooked pasta and the whipped egg/cheese to the onion/bacon mixture.  Continually stir until thoroughly combined and the eggs are cooked.

When to start cooking the pasta so it is cooked and ready to combine with the other ingredients depends on the type of pasta you use.

We served this with a large salad:  leaf lettuce, shredded purple cabbage, chopped red bell peppers, onions, chopped carrots,  balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  We concluded the evening with three different ice cream choices for dessert.

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In case you are wondering why the Christmas tree is still there, well, Martina and I like the lights so we keep procrastinating taking it down.  I keep telling myself today it will be dismantled and then it is not.  Tonight it will come down–maybe.

 

 

 

 

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You’re Gonna Eat That?!


This is the title of my newest book which currently resides at the designers for formatting, placing the photos in the correct place and position, making sure everything is just right.  The subtitle is:  Adventures with Food, Family, and Friends.  It includes family and travel stories, adventures, poems, and recipes. Here are a couple of food photos which will be in the book with recipes.

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Every Sunday until publication, I will post an update as to progress.  My goal is to have it available for purchase for Christmas presents for those who love food adventures.

 

September 1, on the Rim of Wonder


Sunrise

Dappled clouds

Owl hooting

Wren climbing

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Later, I graded papers and watched part of John McCain’s funeral, some of which almost brought me to tears.  I often disagreed with him but never did I question his passionate love of country, his courage, his willingness to buck the norm, to defy convention when he thought it was the right thing to do.  I think he and I shared certain values on which this country is based even if the country as a whole rarely lives up to them.  These include the conviction that all people are equal, that everyone deserves justice, and each person carries the right to find his or her own share of happiness without judgment and condemnation from others who may think differently.

Later, while working on the latest book I am writing, I found handwritten recipes written by my grandmother, my mother’s mother, Nellie Narcissus Duke (Kaiser),whose father came here from Switzerland as a child.  One, for dumplings, remains readable.  The other written in pencil on the front and back of thin paper is fragile.  It is for Strawberry Shortcake.  If Grandmother Duke ever made dumplings, I do not remember it.  Mother did–chicken and dumplings.  I wonder if she used this recipe.  I do remember conversations about the shortcake because Dad did not like strawberry shortcake even though he liked strawberries.  I took photos of these two recipes written decades ago in my grandmother’s handwriting.

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Colorful Cabbage Salad


This bright salad not only looks lovely, it also packs a lot of nutrition, is easy, and can be made in advance.

1 medium head purple cabbage, finely chopped

1 cup thinly sliced baby carrots

1 cup chopped broccoli

handful of rings from leek stalk (optional)

equal amounts of olive oil, sweet chili sauce, and mirin (Japanese sweet cooking rice wine) to fill 1/2 cup measure

Mix all the above ingredients.  Chill.

This is an easy salad to make in smaller or large quantities.  It also keeps well in the refrigerator.

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Today I will serve this with the following:  black beans with caramelized onions, Persian rice, and salmon topped with garlic, olive oil, and bebere.  There will be plenty for vegan and vegetarian guests without the salmon.

 

My Mom’s Pumpkin Bread


A couple of days ago, after writing what I think will be my next to last Ethiopian Adventure blog post, I decided to get in the holiday spirit and bake.  For years, each year about this time, I make the pumpkin bread recipe written in my mom’s (Barbara Lewis Duke Lightle) hand writing, a recipe she gave me decades ago.  The recipe card looks a bit worn, but the results are as yummy as ever. Sift together 3 cups flour, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. cloves, and 1/2 tsp allspice.  In  a large electric mixer bowl combine 1 cup cooking oil, 3 cups sugar (this is the original she used; however, I only use 2 1/3 cups sugar), and 3 eggs.  Beat well.  Add one small can pumpkin, 1 tsp. baking soda,  and 1 tsp. vanilla.  Mix well.  Finally, slowly add the flour mixture.  Pour into three well greased and floured coffee cans–each 1/2 full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min. to one hour.  Her original recipe calls for adding 2/3 cup walnuts or pecans.  I want to have three kinds of bread so I pour 1/3 into the first can with nothing added, then I add nuts to the rest and pour 1/2 of that into the second can.  Finally, I add 1/2 cup golden raisins and pour the remainder into the last can.  Cool thoroughly before removing from the cans.  It helps to loosen the sides with a knife. Enjoy, share.

What do people want?


As I looked at my blog statistics a few minutes ago, it dawned on me that apparently few others want what I want in life or care about what I care about.  Either that or most others like me do nor blog or read blogs.  One of my most popular posts over time had been a poem entitled “Hot Pink Toenails”.  My guess is that when individuals search and find this, they are not really looking for a poem about personal identity, the topic of this poem.  Maybe they have a foot fetish or are searching for some new type of nail color or pedicure.  My popular recipe posts I understand.  Who doesn’t want a great recipe for salmon or for tasty vegetarian dishes if you are vegetarian or entertaining vegetarian friends.  But hot pink toenails.  I would not even know what words to put in the search block to pull this up.

Sometimes to see if I can tag better to draw more traffic to my blog, I take a look at what visitors used for search terms.  Lately, “Costa Rica jungle flowers” and “what  did people wear to survive the dust bowl” showed up.  Both these make sense, the latter especially since a mini form of the dust bowl seems to have returned to this area of the country.  Yesterday and today, high winds and blowing dust like brown fog reigned.  It has become rather tiresome and scary, given that we have had no rain in so long I cannot remember when it rained at my house.  Miles of brown grass cover the landscape with the only relief being irrigated wheat fields and lawns.  I do not even want to think about what would happen if someone dropped a cigarette.  With a 45 mile per hour west wind like today, fire fighters would have an exceedingly difficult time.

For those who follow my blog and enjoy my posts about the environment, nature, etc., I won’t stop just because such topics often get fewer viewers.  These are things I passionately care about.  And for all of you who like facts, here are some to add to the fact list:

-80.000 acres of wetlands are lost annually in the US to intensifying coastal storms and sea level rise.

-The forest burn season in the western US has grown 50 per cent longer in the past 40 years.

-The once mighty Colorado River now dries up before it reaches the sea.

-Contrary to popular opinion, carbon emissions from power plants are not regulated.

-Money funneled into efforts to deny global warming and climate change, at least in the US, increasingly follow untraceable avenues.  They use pass through foundations, e.g. Donors Trust.

On a lighter note if you eat salmon and wonder what is safest to eat, here is the latest.  Canned salmon is safe because it is wild caught pink or sockeye salmon from Alaska with high Omega 3s and low mercury.  Most frozen and fresh salmon sold in the US is Atlantic farmed salmon with much higher mercury levels.  Grocery stores and packages indicate the type of salmon and whether wild caught so you can choose.

 

Vegetables with Coriander, Cumin, and Tumeric


SAM_1010Vegetables are my favorite food.  Interspersed with the poems and essays I publish, I try to post unique recipes.  My recipes come from years of interaction and relationships with people from all over the world, husbands, exchange students who enhance my extended family, travels to Asia and Latin America, my international friends near where I live.  Recently, after a dinner party, I had left over vegetables that needed cooking so one evening home from work, I created this recipe.  It is vegan by accident not intention.  One could add fish, chicken, turkey leftovers (see recent post for turkey curry), shrimp…you get the idea.  The options are endless.  I used the vegetables I needed to use up, but take a look in your refrigerator and try what you have on hand.  Experiment.

1 medium sized beet, peeled and cut into half coins

1 poblano pepper seeded and chopped

1/2 purple onion, chopped

Several pieces of Swiss chard, stems removed and chopped, leaves cut into large, bite sized pieces

Garlic cloves, peeled and chopped–amount to your own taste

Olive oil

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, ground

1/2 teaspoon cumin–or extra to taste

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Saute the beets, chopped Swiss chard stems, garlic, and onions in olive oil until beets are cooked through.  Add spices and poblano pepper.  When  the pepper is nearly done, add the Swiss chard leaves and cook only until wilted.

Serve over rice.  I used equal amounts of black, red, and Jasmine rice.

How to cook rice:

1/3 cup black rice

1/3 cup red rice

1/3 cup brown or Jasmine rice–your preference

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon concentrated broth/bouillon–I use Better Than Bouillon brand which is available Vegetarian as well as Chicken, etc.

Pour enough olive oil into a saucepan to cover the bottom.  Add the rice and chopped garlic.  Saute at high heat until rice starts to stick, stirring constantly.  Add two cups water and the bouillon.  Stir rapidly until bouillon dissolves.  Turn down heat to low, cover the top of the saucepan with four paper towels or a tea towel folded to make several layers.  Put sauce pan lid on the top and cook for approximately one hour.  Red, brown, and black rice take twice as long to cook as white rice.  Do  not peek while rice is cooking.  Lifting the lid to check causes the rice to be mushy.

Pie: A Story of Mothers and Daughters


My mother usually viewed the world from a black and white perspective.  She had a lot of guidelines for how to live a productive and “good” life.   Neighbors and friends saw her as a “good” woman who cared for and did “good” in the rural community in which we lived.  Above all she was a good cook!!

I rarely think about her “rules” for life.  Suddenly I realize I actually “follow” a substantial number of these rules and have passed many on to my own daughter:

This is how you make butter with an electric mixer.

This is how you make a cake:

-grease and flour the cake pan(s)

-cut our circles of waxed paper to put on top of the greased and floured surface–you

do not want the cake to stick

-sift the flour

-soften the butter

-mix the ingredients in exactly this order.

This is what you wear.  You want to look presentable!!

-clean underwear in case you are in a car wreck

-matched clothes

-polished shoes

-purse and shoes that match

-no white anything before May 1 or after September 1.

This is how you present yourself to the world:

-well groomed

-clean fingernails

-self assured

-nice, but not too nice

-polite

-brushed teeth

-lotioned body

-clean hair.

This is how you wash your clothes:

-separate whites and colored items–you want the whites to stay white.

This is how you ride your pony:

-keep your heels down

-don’t lean too far back.

This is how you neck rein.

This is how you hold the reins.

This is how you get your pony to trot.

This is how you get your pony to canter.

This is how you get your pony to stop.

This is how you clean the house:

-vacuum first, dust second

-if you don’t do it right the first time, you will have to do it over.

This is how you work:

-hard

-persistent–never ever give up

-smart.

This is how you breathe to sing

This is how you practice well.

My mom could barely sew and only could play the piano by ear–two lifelong regrets.  I had to learn these things no matter what.  I do not like to sew much, but still play the piano and I love, love, love to sing!

She could cook, especially pie.  Her crusts were tasty works of art.  At potlucks people would get her pie first to make sure they got some.  At potlucks now, people get my pie first to make sure they get some.  My daughter does not even eat pie, but people love her pie and get a piece to make sure they get some.

Raisin Walnut Pie

This is not my mother’s recipe.  She mostly made black raspberry and other fruit pies and coconut chiffon pies.  This is the pie I make every time there is a potluck.  If I do not make it, people ask me about it so I gave up and just usually bring this pie.

3 eggs

3/4 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup raisins, golden or dark

3/4 cup walnuts, broken

1 unbaked pie shell

Stir corn syrup and brown sugar into melted butter.  Beat eggs slightly and stir into the butter/sugar mixture.  Add vanilla.  Mix raisins and walnuts and sprinkle into the pie shell.  Pour the butter/sugar mixture over the walnuts and raisins.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until pie crust is golden and mixture is set.  Cool.

If you goof and do not have vanilla, stir in 1 tsp. of cinnamon instead.

Enjoy!!

Vegetarian Chorizo Casserole and Roasted Vegetables


Last night 12 people were at my house for dinner, including a friend who is Muslim so no pork.  I created this dish in order to feed both my Muslim and vegetarian friends. You could use regular chorizo, but after trying soyrizo, I quit using anything else and even my Mexican friends love it.  Tastes the same, but not so greasy so probably healthier.

I package soy chorizo, removed from casing

Enough small red potatoes to cover the bottom of a 13 X 9 casserole dish when thinly sliced

3 large poblano peppers, deseeded and sliced

1 medium purple onion, chopped

10 cherry tomatoes

2 cups half and half

4 TBS flour

1 TBS chili mild chili powder

Several TBS olive oil

Cover the bottom of the casserole with olive oil.  Layer the sliced potatoes so that they totally cover the bottom of the dish.  Remove the soy chorizo from its casing and crumble it over the potatoes.  Layer the sliced poblanos over the chorizo.  Sprinkle the chopped onions over the top of the peppers.  Scatter the cherry tomatoes on top of the onions.  In a blender, combine the half and half, the flour, and the chili powder.  Pour evenly over the casserole.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees until the potatoes are tender.  You may uncover the casserole and continue baking for the last ten to fifteen minutes if you would like the top a bit browned.

I served this with roasted vegetables seasoned with cumin and ground coriander and Egyptian basil:

Cover the bottom of a heavy casserole with olive oil. Place thinly sliced potatoes–I used purple ones–to cover the bottom of the pan.  Continue layering your choice of vegetables, spices, and olive oil.  Bake at 400 degrees until the potatoes on done, stirring occasionally.  About ten minutes before the casserole is done, add kale leaves. The potatoes take longer to cook than any other vegetables I have ever used.  Last night I used these vegetables:  purple potatoes, yams, baby carrots, brussel  sprouts,  chopped onions, beets, kale, red jalapeños (seeded and halved), and whole garlic cloves.  This is also good with garbanzo beans added just before the kale.

I was going to take photos but was too busy entertaining to take them.