Monday, June 30, 2008

French style Potato Salad

Everyone had a great time. The menu was eclectic, tasty and came together well.

June 29, 2008 Sunday Cafe menu:

Roasted turkey (2 days in brine with rosemary and garlic)

Asian noodle salad (from Pioneer Woman website)

French potato salad (from Pressure cooking for dummies book), on a platter surrounded by sliced tomatoes and deviled eggs

Smoked paprika buttermilk sauce, a savory sauce for the turkey

Cranberry sauce

Cheddar with garlic & parsley biscuits (thanks to the All Purpose baking mix, easy last minute and delicious!)

Rhubarb strawberry crumble pie

Ice cream cake

and last but not least Papa's ice cream sandwiches with brownie waffles.

The day was extra special because it was also Son and Daughter in law's 6 wedding anniversary.

The weather has been hot, and I had been cooking in the oven most of the day. After dinner we all went out to sit in the breeze. There was a breeze, some thunder and lightening strikes and rain. Granddaughter played on the slide, chased bubbles and everyone had a nice visit. After a while the "great divide" happened and the menfolk stayed outside to talk and the womenfolk went inside to relax. Granddaughter went between the two groups playing with each until boredom set in! Back and forth, back and forth.

Eventually it was time to call it a night. Leftover were shared, goodbyes and hugs and then quiet. The cat came out from hiding, we took a short walk. Then showers and bedtime. All in all a wonderful day.

Sunday Cafe warm French style potato salad
Pressure cooker

2 pounds small red potatoes
1 1/2 c dry white wine (I used Holland house white)
1/4 c vinegar (I used white balsamic)
1/2 t salt

4-6 green onions, sliced thin
1/4 c flat leaf parsley minced (if you cannot find at your market, the regular parsley is fine)
1/2 t garlic salt
4 T olive oil

Scrub potatoes, prick with the tip of a knife or fork tines. place in the bottom of the cooker, add wine, vinegar and salt. Secure the lid. Bring to boiling an full pressure. Lower the heat to keep full pressure but not have a high pitched hiss of steam escaping. Cook 10 minutes. Release pressure with rapid release method.

Remove potatoes from the cooker, set aside to cool. There will be about 1 cup of liquid left in the cooker, simmer to reduce the volume by half. Remove from the heat and let cool. Cut potatoes bite side pieces. Add the onions, parsley garlic salt and oil to the liquid in the cooker, whisk to combine. Pour over potatoes and toss gently to mix.

Serves 4 - 6



Monday, June 16, 2008

Patio Chicken or you can make it in the oven

Book of the week? That is my thought, select a cookbook off the shelf and use it for a week. Post any recipe that is good (that I have spiced with a little "freestyle") here. Because I want to master using the pressure cooker and crockpot, I think I will start with a book on either of those subjects.

Let's see pressure cooker-crockpot-pressure cooker-crockpot. OK Pressure cooker it is.

Years ago I was fortunate to be able to attend a cooking demonstration at our local organic market. The gentleman presenting the demonstration was Tom Lacalamita. He has written many cookbooks. He is a great cook and seems to have fun doing what he does. A couple of years later I purchased Pressure Cookers for Dummies. That will be the book I use this week. I will probably get some things cooked for the freezer as well, because my Honey is going out of town on a job assignment.

I had a Mother that was frightened to death over pressure cookers. She instilled a healthy fear, but I am breaking free of that. I have a Fagor pressure cooker. It does not hiss, it does not sputter and it has a quick release valve. I like it and I have used it, just not enough. That might change after this week!

Goals for the week:
1 vegetable
1 entree
1 dessert

That should not cause too much stress. I have already spotted a warm potato salad recipe that looks good. The budget trick is finding a recipe that completes the goal list and calls for food already in the pantry. I am fairly well stocked, so I should not have too many excuses!

I also have rhubarb, cantaloupe and strawberries to deal with today. The melon is begging to be cut and eaten and the berries must be clean, quartered and sugared. If they don't get eaten this week while my Honey is gone, they can be frozen. The rhubarb will probably be cleaned and frozen, my plants are young and they do not produce much yet.

Since the sun has come out to play once or twice in the last couple of days, here is a recipe for your grill. This would go great with that warm potato salad from the pressure cooker.

Patio Chicken
Outdoor grill (or oven and broiler for colder times)

1/4 c water
1/4 c white wine (Holland house white is fine)
1/4 c rice vinegar
3 T soy sauce
1 clove garlic minced
1 t leaf oregano
1 T lemon juice
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper

3 - 4 pounds of chicken parts

Combine all marinade ingredients, pour over chicken in a large ziploc type bag. Squeeze out all air and seal bag. Chicken should be surrounded by the marinade, knead bag gently to make sure all chicken parts are exposed to the marinade. Refrigerate 24-48 hours, knead bag twice daily.

Grill (or broil) chicken until done.

Serves 4 - 6



Saturday, June 14, 2008

Raw Apple Cake, and learn as you go

I have been working on a computer for many years now, and like a lot of folks; never took a class. Simply learned what I needed to know, as I needed to know it. So far that has worked OK.

The program for this blog is fairly simple (or maybe it is me!), however I usually need to work with something for a while to understand it well enough to venture onward. This morning I did venture onward, I put labels on all previous posts. A list of the following: bread, soup, salad, vegetables, meat, cake, cookies, pie and misc fun. Oh and the all purpose mix, my hope is to come up with more recipes using the mix.

I am learning so much about myself and how I approach life, as I write this blog.

I have some traits that I am proud of and some (yeah, not so much) that I need to improve. It is rather comical that we learn about ourselves as we write about ourselves. Often there is not time to observe and learn as we go about our daily chores and rituals. But as we write it down, to show to the world, we are able to see ourselves in another light.

Of course all is lost, if you do not write what is real and learn as you go!

Tomorrow is Father's Day. I will wish my Son a happy day. I will wish my Honey a happy day. I will have thoughts of my Dad, gone for many years now. I will make a nice dinner and have a little gift for my honey to honor him on this day. I might even make this cake.

Sunday Cafe raw apple cake

4 c peeled diced apple pieces (3 or 4 large apples)

1/2 c oil
1 c sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla

2 c flour
2 t soda
1 t salt
2 t cinnamon

3 T sugar
1 t cinnamon

In large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in apple pieces. In a medium size bowl, stir together flour, soda, salt and the cinnamon. Stir flour mixture into apple mixture, making sure all ingredients are moist and no dry pockets of flour remain.

Press batter into a prepared 9X13 pan. Combine remaining sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over cake batter. Bake 50 - 60 minutes or until done.

Serves 16-20



Friday, June 13, 2008

Brownie Marshmallow Cake, in the slow lane

We are in the slow lane! Rather like a hurry up and wait mode.

Lots of things to do, with other things to do, in the way.

The sun did shine yesterday and it did warm up. I could see it from my office window. I sat in my car during my lunch break, to soak up the heat. Finally warm, I shed my sweater.

In our newspaper last night was an article about cold temperatures. There has been only one recorded year colder than 2008, that was back in 1917.

Considering all of the cold, I think the backyard is doing OK. Full of singing birds and romping squirrels. The grass does need mowing again and weeds need pulling. The roddies need to be dead headed. I like that job actually. It is an opportunity to work standing up, and the bushes always look nice when you are done.

Being an amateur in landscaping, the Potager is a new journey. I feel secure in the knowledge that if a plant does not do well in the location planted, try another spot. Most plants take a replanting fairly well. Which is a good thing, I am definitely an amateur.

I have 4 books coming. Two books are on tomatoes, these are cookbooks as well as reference books on different kinds of tomatoes, especially heirloom varieties. I enjoy tomatoes, so these should be fun and informational. Another book on berries, this also is a cookbook/information book about different kinds of berries. Just like tomatoes, I cannot get enough berries. And finally the book for the Potager.

With the weekend coming, it is time for cake.

Sunday Cafe brownie marshmallow cake

1/2 c butter
1 c sugar
4 eggs
1 16oz can chocolate syrup (hersheys)
1 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla

2 1/2 c marshmallows

1 c sugar
1/4 c milk
1/4 c butter
1/2 c chocolate chips
1 t vanilla

In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar, add eggs beat well. Blend in the syrup. Combine dry ingredients throughly, add to syrup mixture and mix well. Add vanilla. Pour into prepared 9X13 pan. Bake 35-40 minutes.

Remove from oven and immediately cover with the marshmallows.

In medium size saucepan combine sugar, milk and butter. Cook over medium heat until butter melts, reduce to low and cook stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Stir in chocolate chip stirring until smooth, stir in vanilla. Drizzle over marshmallows *.

Let cake cool completely.

Serves 16-20



* you may add chopped walnuts immediately after drizzling glaze for a "Rocky Road" cake.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Three Flour Buttermilk Bread

On Monday I worked a bit in the future Potager. I hand picked red rock and shoveled sand.

I picked out about a million little red rocks, but it only was half of a large bucket. Then I shoveled half of the sandy base (under the pavers) to another part of the garden so the sand will be mixed evenly when we rototill. Again I use the term we loosely, I am fairly certain I actually will not be using the rototiller.

Monday is actually my Sunday. I always get things done, but I was ready for a bit of a lazy day as well. As the day progressed, it was gray and cool. Then the evening turned to wind and rain. The sunscreen canopy over the BBQ cooking area took a bit of a shaking in the wind. As did the tomato plants, but all was well this morning.

Part of my chores yesterday was some shopping. I decided to replace my yeast. It is far cheaper to buy a 32 ounce bag of yeast at Costco for $3.39 replacing it every 4-5 years, than the 3 pack envelopes. So that is what I do. I can also share with the kids. My yeast was about 5 years old and although it still works, sometimes not as reliable as I would like. Especially if I am baking something for a shared meal. I would like to be able to count on the rise time and bake time, so I can serve it. I also needed to pick up some gluten. I do not use a lot of additives when I bake, but I do like to add some gluten when making whole grain breads.

I also gave some thought to the June Sunday Cafe. I think I will serve a summer turkey. Roast turkey with an assortment of salads. I make a fairly good potato salad, in addition I will make a pasta salad (I noticed one on the Pioneer Woman cooks site, this would be a good time) and a fruit salad. Turkey is delicious and a lighter meal with salads will be refreshing. And of course fresh baked bread.

This is delicious, and makes 2 loaves.

3 flour buttermilk bread
375 degrees

3 c white flour
2 c whole wheat flour
1 c rye flour
3 T brown sugar
2 1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking soda
1 T yeast (1 package)
1 c buttermilk
1 c water
1/3 c butter

In a large bowl, combine flours.
In mixer bowl, combine 2 c flour mixture, brown sugar,salt, soda and yeast.

In medium size pan, warm the water and butter until butter is almost melted. Remove from heat, add buttermilk. Let cool if too hot, add warm liquids to the flour in mixer bowl. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed.

Add another 1 c of the flour mixture and beat additional 2 minutes at medium speed.

Reserve 1/2 flour mixture for kneading and stir the rest into the mixer bowl, blend in until moistened.

Dump dough out onto clean dry surface, using reserved flour mixture knead until smooth and elastic. Return to the mixer bowl, cover with a towel, let rise until doubled.

Punch down dough, shape into 2 loaves and place in prepared loaf pans. Let rise until doubled.

Bake 35-45 minute. Turn loaves out to cool

Makes 2 loaves.



Monday, June 9, 2008

Potager Gardener's Soup

We (and I use that term loosely, since it is mostly my Honey doing the hard stuff) worked yesterday taking out the rest of the deck and the lower level of concrete pavers. In addition red rock had to be raked and shoveled into buckets and moved to another area. The red rock was deep in some areas, making it clear that the previous owners had replaced it once before. I actually like red rock, my Honey; yeah not so much! He was glad to get rid of the deck if only to get rid of the red rocks! I have been researching Potager gardens on the internet and my book on the subject will arrive within "10 to 14 business days". I am looking forward to a new backyard. Where good things grow, and a sense of accomplishment exists.

I have always thought that gardens should not be ruled by category. Such as: Here is my vegetable garden and over here folks you will find flower gardens. In my own thoughts a garden should be composed of what is worthy of growing (sustains your table) and what is beautiful (florals for beauty and health), and they would share the same space. As the seasons passed, the garden would also change. Going from growth to rest and repeated. A place to putter, enjoy and work.

I also realize there will be another spot where the weeds will win!

In addition there will be a spot where the grandkids can visit and learn and share experiences. There will be a spot where perfectly ripe strawberries can be picked. There will be a spot that is meant for the family, and is a part of the kitchen meals. A spot to simply sit and enjoy.

I invited us over for dinner at the kids house. You can get away with that, when you are the Grammy!

We took salmon to grill, a bottle of chardonnay and roses from the side yard. My son grilled and they added baked potatoes and a salad. There was also sliced watermelon for dessert. Everyone had a nice visit. After dinner, I gave Granddaughter her bath and bed time stories, by request. We all had a nice time. School is ending, summer beginning (soon I hope, still gray today), camping trips to plan, lots of gatherings and Sunday Cafe.

In the spirit of a Potager garden,

Sunday Cafe 1 vegetable soup

1 pound meat of choice
4 qts stock of choice

8-10 of the following:

1 small onion
1 russet potato
1 handful of peas
1 tomato
1 clove garlic
1 ear of corn
1 carrot
1 bunch spinach
1 zucchini
1 stalk celery
1 pepper
1 handful green beans
1 parsnip
1 sweet potato
1 turnip
1 bunch kale
1 yellow crookneck
1 of any other item you have and I forgot

1 large handful of green lentils
1 large handful of barley
1 large handful of brown rice

1 t salt
1 bay leaf
1 t thyme crushed in pestle
fresh pepper

In bottom of large soup kettle, brown meat of choice in small amount of fat. Add stock and choice of vegetables. Add lentils, barley and rice. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, add seasoning and let simmer covered for 1 hour.

Remove 1 cup of the stock, pour into a flat soup bowl to cool. Add 2 T flour to the cooled stock and mix well to remove all lumps, return flour mixture to soup pot. Bring to a boil and let soup thicken slightly.

Serves 6 - 8 with leftovers


Recipe rating: Oh Yes! (will make again)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The red apron

I have always been a "get in and get it done" sort of person. If my clothes get dirty along the way, so be it. I will simply put on another (cleaner) pair of jeans and another shirt. Run a comb through my hair and away we go.

Aprons always seemed like a nice thing, but I never remembered to put one on. After a few years (like 30 or so) I no longer had aprons, having given them away. Until Christmas. My Daughter made me a red apron for Christmas. It is beautiful, and is red and a gift from her. It has a permanent home, folded neatly next to the kitchen Aid mixer. A couple of weeks ago, my daughter asked me if I used the apron. I had to confess, no. She remarked that no one, she had made aprons for at Christmas; used their gift.

At the time, I did not feel bad, simply a bit sad. Sad that I had not even tried the apron, simply folded it and placed it neatly in the kitchen, much like a decoration.

As a child I had been taught that something "too pretty to use everyday" was saved. And the red apron, is certainly that. Too pretty to use everyday.

Saved for what I do not know, and "it" was never ever explained.

Certainly not saved for a rainy day, we have hundreds of them here in Vancouver. Certainly not for a dinner party, I really don't have parties. I have "company" and when company comes, it is my responsibility (and pleasure) to make them comfortable. An apron is not required for that.

This morning I threw a pan of apple rolls into the oven, and before I began; I reached for the apron. I slipped it over my head and began working. It felt comfortable, much like my daughter herself. I completed the pan of dough and placed it into the oven to bake, and knew instantly what I would blog about this morning. My daughters apron.

She is a fighter. A quiet, strong fighter. She is tall and beautiful and dedicated. She is fearless. She is accomplished, always willing to try. She makes me proud.

She will be 30 on her next birthday. I had a long labor with her, 30 hours actually. Our running joke had been she "owed" me a year for each hour. She knows it is a joke, but I have gotten many a cup of coffee delivered to me, using that as a ploy! But really I owe her, and my Son for the love they taught me how to grow.

No recipe tops this!

Enjoy your day,

key words:  daughters, aprons, homemade gifts, family

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Pork Chops with Zucchini.

I have a happy home, nothing beats that.

When I got home dinner was almost done, we only had to cook pasta for him and broccoli for me, We had spaghetti and peas. For dessert strawberry funcakes, and by the way. The funcakes are much better with thawed frozen sliced sweetened berries. What a wonderful discovery, because that means a winter time treat awaits, we all know that twinkies are not seasonal! I could eat fresh strawberries everyday of the week, but the funcakes should not be made with fresh berries.

My plans (loose though they were!) to spend an hour weeding a couple of nights this week; were replaced with a walk to the library, to return a book. The book was originally borrowed from the library by one of the Kids, and she thought it would be a good read. Since it had been a good read, and needed to be returned to the library which is just a few blocks away, we had a nice stroll after dinner to return the book. On the way back we came across a pine cone in the street; not an unusual sight in our neighborhood, since we live under a canopy of evergreen trees. My honey kicked the pine cone, and stated "your turn". I kicked the pine cone, and then He did and again remarked "your turn". We kicked the pine cone back to our home (about 1 mile, since we took a wrong turn on the back roads coming home). Sometimes my aim to kick was good and it rambled down the road, sometimes not so much! But it was fun, and I have come to enjoy the little games, and the fun that we create together.

Because I am just now, learning to play.

Life had always been about work, and I am OK with that. We work hard for our families, to provide a warm stable home with meals on the table and warm clothes to wear. But somewhere along the way during my childhood, I never learned the concept of play. I played. But that is different. I had a lot of chores as a kid, and when I had a chance to go out and play, I took it! But I am talking about a concept, an ideal. Understanding play, keeps the heart young. It does not mean you don't mature and behave responsibly, it simply means that you are still smiling on the inside, while the outside is working hard. I do believe that my Granddaughter is why I am learning to play. Such joy lives in that child.

So no weeding last night, only pine cone golf! By the way I won because when we got close to home, Honey asked me how many more kicks to reach the driveway. I replied six. He declared that 8 and below I would win, 9 and above would make him the winner. Six took the pine cone to the street edge of the driveway.

I really enjoy pork chops, they can be prepared many different ways. The recipe I am sharing with you today is tasty, not fussy in any way and is a skillet meal.

Sunday Cafe Pork Chops with Zucchini

4 - 6 pork chops 1 inch thick
3 zucchini cut 1 inch thick
1 mild onion sliced 1/2 inch thick and "ringed"

1/4 c flour
2 T Parmesan cheese
1 t garlic salt
2 grinds of fresh pepper
1/4 t thyme leaves crushed in a pestle

Combine all ingredients in a large plastic bag.

1/4 c water
1 T Marsala

3 T Parmesan cheese

Shake the pork chops in the flour mixture. Brown chops on medium heat on 1 side, turn over and sprinkle with the onions, add the water and Marsala wine. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add the additional Parmesan cheese to the flour mixture in the bag, add zucchini and shake to coat. Add zucchini to the skillet sprinkling with any remaining flour mixture. Cover and simmer an addition 20 to 30 minutes or until done.

Serves 4-6



Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tex Mex Rice

Yesterday I worked hard all day. I completely rearranged the kitchen. I found a used small (narrow) entertainment center on Craigslist and bought it for a microwave stand. It also holds a small convection oven and assorted supplies. Now there are counters to use to prepare food. The best part, is that there is now room for both of us to be in the kitchen at the same time and not be in each others way. To rearrange a kitchen is a big task, it includes washing everything and cleaning up the organization in each cupboard.

Mondays are my cleaning, laundry, yard work day, so my day was a bit extra busy. I also change the sheets and the laundry gets folded, put away etc. I was not able to try to keep up on the weeds, but I did keep the date to have the granddaughter for a little fun.

This morning is hard rain, I have been listening to it since 2:00 a.m. The yard will get a good watering, so weeding will be quick and easy. Maybe a couple of nights this week, I can get in an hour in the front, and then next night an hour in the back.

I need to pick the rhubarb, simmer it with orange juice and cinnamon, then sweeten it with honey. That over a slice of yellow cake and a bit of vanilla ice cream is wonderful. I have not planned tonights dinner, but in hearing the rain, it would be a good time to use up that carton of white chili in the freezer, along with some biscuits and salad should keep us happy till bedtime.

With the return to a "green" or simplified lifestyle, along with reuse and recycle, I would like to add rethink. Rethink, what you have and use it in another way. Rethink what you need and what would work, maybe something out of the ordinary. Like a small entertainment center as a appliance shelf. Rethink what is important, and then set in place a plan to complete the project.

My "new" desires are chickens in the back yard, a clothes line, and remove the deck. The deck is where the sun shines and I would rather have a kitchen garden there. The wood from the deck can be reused in the storage shed that needs to be built.

We have a small house, but a happy home. I like comfort and efficiency. I probably won't give up the dishwasher, but probably will return to canning and jam making. I probably won't make my own bar soap, but will make cleaning supplies. I already use vinegar and soda. There is a clean jar waiting to have holes punched in the lid to be a "shaker" for soda, it will be under the sink in th kitchen. There are some great recipes for cleaning supplies on down to earth, a blog that I read. She is an interesting woman, and it is fun to see their home and garden pictures, and learn from her. Speaking of bar soap, if you unwrap the soap and place it in a basket, it will freshen the air, and dry out. Dry soap lasts a long time. It might shrink and crack a bit in the drying process, but the bars once taken to the shower or bathtub will last a long time. You will not see a bar of soap melting in a couple of weeks. If you do not have room for a basket of soap in your bathroom, scatter the bars in your drawers and your clothes will always smell fresh (think sock drawer!).

This is quick and easy, it uses leftover rice* and you could use ground meat of your choosing.

Tex Mex Rice

1 pound ground beef
1 c chopped onion
1 c chopped pepper, any color will be nice
1 T oil
1 t salt
1 t garlic salt
2 t chili powder
1 beef bullion cube
1 16oz can tomatoes, you can use Mexican stewed if you like - do not drain
3 c cooked rice

Crumble beef in large skillet and brown, drain fat and set aside. Add oil, onion and pepper to skillet and saute. Add seasonings and tomatoes with their liquid, breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil, add the beef and cooked rice, simmer 5 minutes.

Serves 6



*freeze leftover rice until you have 3 cups.