Lunch

Sometimes good food is not about recipes and cooking but about eating.

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Hubby found a store that stocks Daisy Cottage Cheese. Yay! Real ingredients: cultured skim milk, cream, and salt. No guar gum, carageenan, sodium dioxide, etc. Happy us!

My neighbor gave us some little heirloom tomatoes that he is growing. The string beans are also of his crop. A friend of mine gave me some cucumbers from a friend’s garden. Fresh vegetables and I did not have to grow them. Yay!

A simple lunch for a weekday at work: slice the cucumber; quarter the tomatoes; trim the green beans; pile onto a dish of cottage cheese; sprinkle with black pepper; eat.

Absolutely delicious!

Supper

There’s some pork loin chops languishing in our freezer down in the basement. I recently bought a bag of plums that were a tad over ripe. My basil plant is growing by leaps and bounds!

So what’s for supper? Grilled pork with plum sauce served with peas with garlic, lemon, and basil. The latter was inspired by a recipe I read or saw but can’t remember where. The flavors sounded interesting.

To make plum sauce the plums must be cooked down until thick and saucy. Hubby says to leave the skins on for the color to be rich and dark and plummy.

I took 8-10 overripe plums and quartered them and removed the pit. I put these in my sauce pan (copper bottomed with the properly curved handle) and put this over medium heat. I added a splash of cranberry juice, about 3-4 tablespoons. This came to a boil and then I let it simmer until thick. I forgot to time it. To the thickened sauce I added zest from 1/2 lime (about 1/2 teaspoon) and the juice from that same half lime. And then a 6 inch sprig of rosemary. Continue to simmer, stirring until you smell the rosemary. This does not take very long.

Oh yeah, I forgot the messy part. When the plums are thick, I removed them from the pan and put them through a sieve to remove the skins. Very messy! I was thinking at the time that an old-fashioned ricer would be the perfect gadget for this job and that it was a shame I had given mine away in efforts to simplify my kitchen. So I am pounding on these plums with a wooden spoon and look up and what do I see? My ricer adorning the kitchen wall for a nostalgic decoration. Too late now, I think, and continue with the messy task. It gets done. I was surprised at how little of the skins were actually left to remove before finishing the sauce!

Leave the finished sauce in the pot to stay warmish until ready to serve.

Now for the peas. I used 1 1/2 cups frozen green peas. I cooked these in a small pot with a small amount of water to which I added one minced clove of garlic and the zest of 1/2 lemon. Cook for brief period of time, maybe 5 minutes on medium heat, and then add the juice of 1/4 lemon and a handful of basil, sliced into strips. I put a lid on the pot and let that simmer for about one minute.

This last minute may be eliminated in the future. The basil strips turned dark and I feared for the taste of the side dish. Turned out just fine!

Hubby grilled the pork and I plated our suppers. Take a look.

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Basically cook down the fruit. Add herbs and zest. Cook the peas. Add herbs and zest.

The plum sauce was very good. The leftovers can be served over a wedge of brie cheese with crackers. Good eating!

One year later…

I have been writing this blog for a year now. I am continually surprised at you all reading it. I am thrilled. I always thought I would be a writer of poetry (poems full of teen-aged angst filled my high school journals) but that did not come to pass.

What have I learned? Quite a bit and not yet enough!

  • I only recently learned how to insert links to other web pages and my previous blog pages.
  • I have too many meaningless categories. This is because I had no idea what categories and tags were when I started, so I made a new category for each blog as I went along. I don’t know if I can re-categorize or un-categorize past posts without them getting published again and that would just look stupid!
  • I have figured out a bit of blog etiquette on how to do commenting and liking of other bloggers’ posts. And replying or liking comments on mine. It was a few months into the experience before I knew how to see if there even were comments and I may have deleted early comments by blindly emptying the spam folder! Sorry!
  • I am inundated with email notifications of new blog postings and I don’t want to unfollow you wonderful readers so … what to do?
  • I have no idea how to print out my own blog pages. I don’t even know if my words are still mine or if they belong to WordPress or the ether, who knows?
  • I did eventually figure out pictures but don’t know if I can delete them from the media file without deleting them from the previously posted blogs. And then what happens when there’s no more room?
  • I am afraid of trying to change the theme/background/layout of the blog for fear of deleting the whole thing and having to start over!
  • Writing the blog has interfered with writing my memoirs. The thoughts shared on my blog even in the context of food and recipes are my experiences over the past year. And so much would seem repetitive if i tried to rewrite them in my memoir document.
  • I have very much enjoyed “meeting” all of you by reading your blogs. Some of you I can relate to on an emotional level, some on an interest level, some for shared experiences, and some to share different experiences, and probably in other ways as well.

Seems to me that I have learned a great deal of what I do not know yet!

Let the adventure continue!

My Simple Tuna Noodle Salad

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Here is a picture of my dill plant. Looks a bit scrawny to me but I don’t really know how dill is supposed to look. (I have not googled it yet.)

In hot humid hazy summer weather I do not like to cook. I do not have air conditioning in my kitchen so using the stove, particularly the oven, can make the place unbearable. I still cook but not long elaborate concoctions that heat up the entire room. This tuna noodle is a simple minimal cooking meal. The only cooking is the pasta.

The simplest version of this is to cook the elbow macaroni, chop a stalk or two of celery, throw in a drained can of tuna, mix with mayonnaise, and you are good to go. Well, I added a few extra ingredients because that is what I do!

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In the beginning:

  • a few stalks of fresh dill; when chopped it was about one tablespoon
  • a bit less than a cup of shredded and chopped carrots
  • 2 cans of solid white tuna in water, drained, and the cans given to the cats to lick clean for a treat; oh and drain the cans into the cat’s dishes so they can have tuna gravy to entice them to eat their dry food which we all know is better for them than the wet stuff…right Felix!!!
  • 3/4 box of elbow pasta; a half box will do; cook according to the instructions which is essentially bring your pot of water to a rolling boil, add the pasta, let water come back to a boil (I never have good luck with that so mine just simmers along until I remember to test it for al dente before it gets overcooked!)
  • one cup of mayonnaise; I’m pretty sure my Mom would have used Miracle Whip.
  • 3-4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • zest of lemon equalling 1 teaspoon
  • 1/4 large Vidalia onion, chopped fine; put the chopped onion in a bowl of cold water for about five minutes to mellow out the sharpness of the raw onion; this actually worked! I had read it somewhere and thought I would give it a try…and it worked! of course if you really like the bite of raw onion in your salads don’t bother with this step.

Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water. Mix the chopped vegetables and drained tuna in a large bowl. The bowl needs to be large enough to hold all that pasta. Put the mayonnaise in a glass one cup measuring cup. So I drizzled on a tablespoon or so of olive oil to loosen it up. Add the lemon zest and chopped dill to this and make the dressing. Mix the pasta and the dressing in the large bowl with the rest. Salt and pepper to taste. At first taste I found this to be a bit bland so I added the juice of 1/4 of a small lemon and sprinkled on a bunch of dried dill. I was tempted to dump on a bunch of red pepper flakes but I restrained myself.

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And here is the final product. Well not quite final. For serving I put leftover lettuce salad in bowls and piled this on top. For the second meal I put a handful of baby spinach in the bowls and then piled this on top. Then add a handful of shredded cheddar cheese. Now say Grace and dig in. Hubby and stepdaughter loved it. This made enough for two meals with extra large servings for three people.

In the future:

  • use more fresh dill, maybe 1/4 cup
  • use more lemon zest and juice; half of a large lemon
  • could add chopped red and green peppers for more color, and crunch
  • try green onions in place of the Vidalia
  • try it with Miracle Whip!

I am enjoying the summer warmth but would like a little relief at night to get the humidity out of the house. So we put the itty bitty AC unit in the window of the bedroom. Now it’s nice and cool to sleep!

 

Lo Mein

At a shopping trip a few weeks back I picked up a package of lo mein noodles and a package of soba noodles because they were on the clearance shelf. Yes, I occasionally buy foodstuffs from clearance. Hubby and I like “Clarence”! That’s often where we look first when shopping but not usually for food. But this was at one of those lot clearance warehouse type stores: Ocean State, Odd Lots, and when and where I was growing up it was Grandpa Pigeons!

I figured I would use some leftover cooked chicken that I had in the freezer. I read the recipe on the back of the package and it was BORING! It was a few vegetables and broth. So I substituted my own ingredients.

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  • one package lo mein noodles (upper right corner)
  •  4 cooked chicken thighs, bone removed
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • about a cup full of sliced carrots
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 green onions, sliced, green and white parts
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 2-4 tablespoons mushroom soy sauce

Chop all the vegetables. I started off sauteing these in a bit of olive oil in a skillet but had to move them into the wok. I forgot about having a wok. We may have used it no more than two or three times. I cooked the noodles in water in a separate pot. Everything else went in the wok after the vegetables were cooked for about 5 minutes.

The noodles were drained and added to the wok. This gets stirred around until all is warmed. Sprinkle on a bit more soy sauce and it is done.

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I was pleasantly surprised that it actually tasted like the lo mein from a Chinese restaurant. Hubby thought it was delicious. And I had leftovers for lunch all that week. Now, what to do with the soba noodles?

Blondies have more fun!

 

Here’s a baby llama. The first picture is 30 minutes after birth and the second is one hour and a half. This little guy learned to walk in that time. Fun to see!

I was home waiting to go for a long camping weekend and had already packed the camper and made a list of other things to buy after we picked up our special camping companion, the granddaughter. We would need things like yogurt, cheerios, milk, etc. that we usually don’t take with us. By the way, I lost two pounds on that weekend mostly running after her and not sitting around eating cheese and crackers and glasses of wine!

More to the point…I suddenly had the urge to bake something to take with for a dessert. And Blondies occurred to me. Why not? Granddaughter might like these.

I have a favorite Blondie recipe from a coffee table size cookbook given to me as a gift by a dear friend that I have not been in touch with for a long time. Heritage of America Cookbook. It is a Better Homes and Gardens collection. This book puts these in The South and as served in South Carolina saying that the South has a partiality to brown sugar.

First, spray or grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350 F.

  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (I used one cup whole wheat and one cup all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • no nuts as I was not sure about a toddler eating nuts

In a sauce pan melt the butter with the brown sugar. Remove from heat. Stir in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients. Spread in prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cut and eat. Super simple.

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Confession time!

  • I mixed up the baking soda and baking powder amounts but went ahead with the recipe.
  • I cut these when warm, as directed by the recipe, and ate one. I found it way too sweet! I’ve made these before and they were fabulous.
  • I froze half the pan and took half camping. The sweetness mellowed out over time.
  • They were not the chewy Blondies that the recipe produced before. They were crispier and would be good broken into chunks and served with ice cream.
  • I merely ate them one at a time for a bit of sweet crunch.
  • Next time I will be more careful about the ingredients and I will use only all-purpose flour.

Live and learn!

 

Fried Chickpea and Fresh Vegetable Salad

I’ve been busy becoming a grandmother of two! Grandson was born July 2nd and everyone is healthy and happy. Hubby and I took Granddaughter camping over the holiday weekend so the expectant parents could go to the hospital to deliver. I will be writing a section in my memoirs about that weekend: Camping with a Toddler or Whatever Happened to Naptime?

So I have been cooking and taking pictures but have not had time to write. Here is a recipe I found in Rachael Ray’s Magazine as I was treading upon the treadmill one lunchtime at work. I have also found the on-line version here: Fried Chickpeas & Fresh Vegetable Salad.

I altered the recipe due to not having the exact ingredients. The magazine was  two or three years old. I did not check the on-line version to see if it was exactly like the magazine but a cursory reading seems like it is. The magazine had this in a two page spread of Mediterranean Cooking. There are many and varied countries situated around the Mediterranean Sea so that Cuisine includes many different dishes and flavor combinations. No doubt much like American Cuisine which is a combination of many ethnic and regional foods across this vast country.

As the name of the recipe indicates this is a salad so first make the dressing. Whisk this all together and set aside. I used the following ingredients:

  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (I did not have sherry vinegar)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced fine
  • a touch of salt and pepper, to taste

This recipe calls for fresh vegetables so I used what I had on hand. I did not have any tomatoes so I left them out.

  • 1 English cucumber, sliced and quartered
  • 5 large radishes, trimmed and sliced
  • 6 mini peppers, red, yellow,and orange, sliced into rings
  • 3 green onions, whites and greens, sliced
  • handful of fresh basil leaves, rolled and sliced

The chickpeas, one 15 ounce can, drained, are now to be “fried” in spice. I used 1 tablespoon Baharat (middle eastern spice mix) because who has cardamom? (Well, I was gifted some but after I had made this recipe!). Toss the drained chickpeas with the spice and “fry” in a skillet with a bit of olive oil until warmed through. Be prepared for a most tantalizing aroma to fill your kitchen!

To assemble, toss the fresh vegetables with the dressing in a large bowl.  I added 1 ounce crumbled feta cheese and 1/2 of a 2.2 ounce can of slice black olives. I figured that was very Mediterranean of me. Pile the chickpeas in the center. Dollop with Greek (or plain)yogurt to serve.

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