Sunday, March 22, 2015

Favorite Quote #1

In Ireland the inevitable never happens and the unexpected constantly occurs.

Quote by:  John Pentland Mahaffy

     This is the quote that greeted us as we were about the enter The Auld Shebeen, Irish Pub and Tavern in Fairfax, VA.  It seemed as if the light hearted energy of this pub begins before you even enter.  On Saturday evening my husband and I took my son and his college roommate out for dinner to this very busy happy little pub.  We had a grand time.  Over the last four years, we had many lovely lunches and dinners with these fine young men.  Now that they are seniors and going on their separate ways to the next phases of their lives, these moments are even more precious to me.  How lucky we are to have family, friends, and music to celebrate life with!

Carrot Salad (Russian/Korean Style) - Recipe

Russian/Korean Carrot Salad

This is one of my favorite ways to eat carrots.  This is originally a Korean dish, yet is very popular in Russia.  Upon more research I also discovered that there are many variations to this simple salad.  Here is my take on this delicious Russian/Korean salad.  I use a food processor attachment with large grating holes to save time instead of using  a mandoline.  Also, it is crucial to use whole coriander seeds and crush them yourself with a mortar and pestle.  Don't crush them completely to dust, leave some texture and larger pieces.  If I don't have whole coriander on hand I don't bother to make the salad.  It is that important.  I also use kosher salt.  If you choose a finer grained salt, you will have to reduce the amount or it may be too salty to your liking.

Russian/Korean Carrot Salad

12 Carrots grated with a food processor (about 6 cups grated)
1 T. Kosher Salt
2 T.  Coriander Seeds crushed with a mortar and pestle
1/2 c. Currents or Raisins
2 T. Red Wine Vinegar
1 T. Balsamic Vinegar
1 T. Honey (Raw)
1/4 c. Olive Oil
Black Pepper to taste

In a mixing bowl combine the carrots and salt.  Let it sit for 10 minutes.  Scoop a handful of carrots at a time and gently squeeze out the water into the sink.  Place the carrots back into the bowl and continue until all the carrots are squeezed.  This is where the art comes into play.  Be careful not to squeeze too hard or the carrots will be too dry.  On the other hand, you want to squeeze enough to avoid making the salad too soupy.  After you make this once, you will know how to adjust your squeezing strength.  Now add the coriander and currents to the carrots.  In a measuring cup or small bowl whisk together the red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, honey, and olive oil.  Pour over the carrots and mix.  Taste and adjust salt, then add pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate overnight for best results.  I confess I have eaten it right away, but try to refrigerate at least a few hours.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Pumpkin Ginger Oatmeal - Recipe

Pumpkin Ginger Oatmeal

Serves 4

1 c. Steel Cut Oats
4 c. Water
1 heaping T. Plain Goat Yogurt
1/2 c. Cooked Pumpkin
1/2 inch Fresh Ginger peeled and sliced with a vegetable peeler
2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/4 c. Maple Syrup

The night before, combine the oats, 2 cups water, and yogurt in a sauce pan.  Cover and sit overnight.  In the morning add the remaining two cups water to the oatmeal and bring to a simmer, stirring until thick and the oatmeal is soft and chewy.  Divide the pumpkin, ginger, and cinnamon between four bowls.  Stir slightly and add the maple syrup.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Pizza Sauce - Recipe

     Here is my Pizza Sauce recipe for a 12-inch pizza or the top of a stuffed pizza.  It is fast, easy, and packed with flavor.  This sauce is a smooth sauce with the deep flavor of organic tomatoes, garlic, onion, oregano, and a hint of cayenne.

Pizza Sauce

(Makes 2/3 Cup)

1/4 c. Organic Tomato Paste
2 T. Olive Oil
1/4 c. Water
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Onion Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/16 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp.  dried Oregano

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Spread the sauce over the dough for a 10-12 inch pizza.  If using it for a stuffed pizza, spoon and spread over the top layer of dough after partially cooking the dough for 10 minutes, then place back in the oven.  Cover a stuffed pizza with foil half way through the cooking time to prevent burning.

Stuffed Pizza out of the oven.

Stuffed Pizza on the cutting board.

Slice of Turkey Stuffed Pizza.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Labeling Serving Dishes - Party Time Saver

     During the holiday season, I figured out a neat trick to save time preparing for a party, especially if you are serving a lot of different things or have a lot of condiments.  I set the table a day ahead like I usually do, but this time I also cut out little sheets of paper with the food items written down.   Then I placed them in the serving dish to remember and keep track of what is for what.  That way I knew I had everything covered and was not scrambling at the last minute.  More importantly, it allowed my family to help plate everything the day of very easily.  They knew what and where something needed to be done without me telling them.  They just replaced each label with food.  It was like magic!  I could concentrate on getting the last minute items taken care of (like the heat smoked salmon) while they did their thing.
     This was a lefse party, one of my favorite things.  Lefse is a Norwegian wrapping bread that is often made with boiled potatoes and flour.  It has an appealing taste and texture suitable for both savory and sweet fillings - a beloved dish of Scandinavians.  It is mandatory at Christmastime, but we like lefse so much I do it more than once a year.  Sometimes I roll and fry the lefse with the guests joining in, and sometimes I do it a day ahead.  The lefse recipe is in Exceptional Comfort: The Recipes Volume I.


      This year I did a lefse brunch party with smoked salmon on the big green egg.

Lefse Brunch Menu

Lefse and Toppings

Heat Smoked Salmon
Chopped Red Onion
Spicy Mustard
Maple Turkey Sausage
Hard Boiled Eggs
Pickled Cucumbers
  Geitost (Brown Goat Cheese)
  Hushallsost (Swedish Farmer's Cheese)
Cinnamon Sugar
Ice Water


Butterscotch Pot De Creme with Candied Bacon
Berliner Kranser (Wreath Cookies)
Fruit Cake
Peppermint Bark Candy
Tea and Coffee

Monday, January 19, 2015

Chili - Recipe

     This recipe makes a boat load of chili.  It will feed your football crowd, and then some.  One of my favorite discoveries was found making this dish -using oatmeal to thicken the chili.  It is fast, works perfectly, and can even be considered healthy!  It disappears into the chili as it thickens!  Ha! Who knew!

Bowl of Chili


(Makes 20 1-cup servings (about 5 quarts))
2 lbs. Ground Beef
2 Yellow Onions chopped
1 head Garlic (Peeled and Chopped)
2 (29-oz.) can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
1 1/2 c. Ketchup
2 T. Molasses
4 c. Chicken Broth
1 tsp. Ground Cardamom
2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

1 T. Salt
1 tsp. Whole Cumin Seed
2 tsp. Crushed Cumin Seed
2 T. Paprika
1 Cinnamon Stick
3 T. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
2 tsp. Ground Coriander
1/4 tsp. Ground Cloves
2 (24-oz.) can Pinto Beans (drained and rinsed)

2 c. Oatmeal (uncooked rolled oats)

Place ground beef and onions in a large Dutch oven. Sauté until the meat is brown. Add the garlic and tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon. Stir in the ketchup, molasses, and chicken broth. Add the spices (start with less red pepper flakes for less spice if desired), and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from burning. Degrease by skimming any fat off the top with a spoon. Add the beans, cover, and simmer 15 more minutes stirring occasionally. Uncover, add the oatmeal, and cook for 15 more minutes until thick, stirring almost continuously. The oatmeal disappears as it cooks and thickens the chili. Take out the cinnamon stick and discard it. Adjust seasonings and serve.

Note: This dish freezes well. Freeze in 2-cup disposable containers for an easy meal. You may also cut the recipe in half for 10 servings.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Onesies for the Soul

     Happy New Year!  I for one am glad for the new year and happy to meet the changes and challenges this new year will bring.  At my house Number One Son will graduate college this year and has applied to 10 graduate schools.  Yes, ten.  More swings at the bat bring more hits.  Any how, these changes looming ahead have inspired deep philosophic conversations between the two of us which I will cherish.  When he moves into his own apartment somewhere in the USA, he will be even farther away, and we won't have these opportunities in person very often.  I have permission to share a bit of his enlightened wisdom which I found both extremely humorous, light hearted, and profound at the same time.
     After discussing some of the big stuff such as the state of the world, why we are not in control of our own food in this country anymore (i.e.. the amount of dangerous pesticides allowed etc.), and the definition of destiny, we came to the definition of the soul.  I described how when I was small we were taught that the soul's location was inside you near the heart area.  Then as an adult I read how ancient Celtic people believed that the soul was much larger.  That the body resided in the soul.  Number One Son asked "What if it just fits?  What if the body is a onesie for the soul?"  I smiled, -a onesie for the soul.  What a neat way of thinking about it.  Then he went on to ponder that maybe for some people the soul is not in exact alignment with the body and is a bit off; the head might be off to an angle for instance.  What if it was so off that it was 180 degrees rotated, and the soul's head was up its, you know?  That would explain a lot of things.  I burst out laughing.
     As funny as this sounds, I can't help thinking that he is right.  Maybe when our actions are not in line with what is best for us or hurting others, we are off kilter and out of balance.  My prayer for this new year and time of transition for my family and the world is that our choices are in alignment with our higher selves.
Lefse and Heat Smoked Salmon Dinner