Eat Your Vegetables!

In my endeavor to eat healthy and lose weight I am trying to put more vegetables in our meals. I find it difficult to eat the daily recommendations of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables. That is unless I eat a salad which is 2-3 in one. In winter I find it harder to find salads appealing. I don’t hold to the idea of restricting vegetables in my quest. I will eat peas, potatoes, and carrots and not consider them too starchy, even though they might be. Beans are a vegetable and I am talking the canned variety of kidney, pinto, garbanzo, and the like. Even corn.

To this end I have been renting books from the library searching for interesting and easy ways to add fresh and frozen vegetables to our meals. We usually add frozen mixed vegetable to noodles, leftovers, chili, and casseroles. We dry roast them in a skillet with onion and seasoning too. But now I am looking for variety.

Jacques Pepin and Julia Child are two of my favorite chefs for reading about them and their recipes. My neighbor gave me her extra produce from one of those produce delivery services that touts themselves as reducing food waste. I hope it is true. There were two misshapen but perfectly good butternut squash. And there was a recipe for Butternut Squash Sauté in More Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pepin (page 136). So I made that. Hubby had the task of peeling and cutting the squash and almost cut his finger off doing so! The dish was tasty. I did not take a picture of it; we ate it. And then I put the leftovers in a recipe for Lentils and Sweet Potatoes using the squash as substitute for the sweet potatoes. I did not take a photo of that one either.

Here is a photo of a vegetable dish: French Style Peas

This recipe is from One Pot Vegetarian by Sabrina Faude-Role. I modified the recipe a bit using baby broccoli instead of spring onions and used homemade vegetable broth instead of a vegetable stock cube. And it was tasty! Who knew one could cook lettuce!

  • Frozen peas, I had half a bag so about 1 ½ cups
  • One bunch baby broccoli, stems and all, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 8 ounces vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • A grind or two of pepper
  • 6 lettuce leaves

Put everything in a sauce pot, bring to boil, and simmer for 15 minutes. Voila!

Now I have many many cookbooks and many have vegetable recipes. The glory of renting books from the library is trying them out to determine if any are worth getting for one’s own kitchen library. That one pot book is for me. It is not Vegan but all vegetables; and grains and pasta and a few more things like plant based proteins. There are even some desserts.

2019 plans: also Coleslaw, Pumpkin Pie, and Hoppin’ John

Happy New Year to all. I hope to write more, play Solitaire less, Facebook even less, and maintain Faith, Hope, and Love for all.

My sister had an idea a few years ago to cook through a cookbook in a year. I never could choose which of my 50+ books to use, but this year I will use Betty Crocker as my go-to book. This does not mean I will cook each and every recipe, nor each recipe exactly, but will use this standard American Cookbook as the first source of inspiration. For example, if I want to make to make pork chops I will peruse this book’s recipes to determine how to fix them. So I did make a breaded pork chop and Betty instructed to bake them on a rack in the baking pan in the oven.  I did and they turned out nicely. I failed to take a picture so you must take my word for it.

Hubby was grilling ribs. Cole slaw is a nice side dish. I bought a package of broccoli slaw to use. I made a combination of Betty’s Coleslaw and her Old-Fashioned Cabbage Salad from page 138, plus ingredients from a variation.

  • 1/2 package broccoli slaw
  • 1 apple cored and diced
  • 1/4 shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • pinch of celery salt
  • a few grinds of black peppercorns

My go-to pumpkin pie is Betty’s. I have made it before The problem I had this time is that the crust did not seem to bake through on the bottom. The edges were beautiful. What did I do wrong? I have never pre-baked the crust for pumpkin pie.

Hoppin’ John is on page 226. I did not use this recipe because this traditional New Year’s Day meal is made of rice, black-eyed peas, and pork in many different proportions and variations. I used bacon and added onion and spinach. The sprinkling of red pepper flakes was the only real thing I took from Betty.

Steak and Cake

Somehow over the past 10 or so years our Thanksgiving meal became the pre-Thanksgiving feast for family to gather around. This is the result of blending families and the kids growing up and becoming adults. And when the son-in-law entered the family his birthday needed to be celebrated and then the grandchild was born all around the Thanksgiving holiday. So we don’t cook a turkey until Christmas because everyone will go to families with turkey feasts the next day.

So it is steak and cake…and pumpkin pie!

This year we bought a top butt uncut for $4.59 a pound. Hubby cuts it into the steaks for the Family Feast with plenty of meat to spare. This was a family time so I forgot to take a picture of the cooked steaks. And there were no leftovers!

The cake will be a rainbow sprinkle cake made from scratch. I do not yet have a “go to” plain cake recipe. The first year I bought the cake mix and pre-made frosting. My step daughters and hubby came home and caught me making a cake from a box!!! Horror of horrors! They thought they were in the wrong kitchen or possibly aliens had taken over my body! I did this for a couple of years so they got used to it and son-in-law got the birthday cake he requested. So this year it is made from scratch. I found a nice yellow cake recipe that I had made for our Easter meal this past spring. I figure I can just add rainbow sprinkles. Homemade cakes tend to be denser than cake-mix cakes, at least the way I make them. This particular cake is dense and moist. I am pleased that it came out so well because I had my granddaughter helping measure and add the ingredients. She is almost two so the exact amount of baking soda and salt are questionable.

What to do to frost the cake? The son-in-law announced that he too is lactose intolerant or sensitive. So no cream cheese or dairy, except butter, will be required. I do not like to make marshmallow frosting because I do not do it well. So I get out a standard Buttercream frosting recipe from my 1950 Rumford Cookbook. This is a book that my grandmother used. There are notations in her handwriting and a draft of Grandpa King’s obituary on lined writing paper as well. I substitute soymilk in the ingredient list.

Butter Cream Frosting: Cream 6 Tab butter until very soft; gradually add 3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar; mix in 2 teas vanilla extract;  add 5 Tab cream or evaporated milk; beat until very light and fluffy and of good spreading consistency.

Thanksgiving2015 018Buttercream is very sweet but seems to mellow some after being placed on the cake and left to sit for a few hours. Decorations are courtesy of the granddaughter.

Thanksgiving2015 020

And there is pie! A few years ago my son and I made two pies to determine if the Cook’s Illustrated magazine “improved” pumpkin pie was truly an improved pie. The crusts were store bought refrigerated crusts that you unroll. We used the Pillsbury brand crust for the “improved” pie and the store brand one for the other. The standard pie recipe that I had used was from my Betty Crockers’ Cookbook (1978). This is a basic cookbook found in ordinary kitchens all over America, nothing fancy or special about it. For Cook’s we ground fresh spices and it has sour cream added. It came out looking smoother and the aroma was better than Betty’s .

We had blind taste testing after the meal. Betty Crocker won hands down for best tasting! The lesson here is that those basic standard recipes can often be the best. I suppose that is why they become the standards and the basics.

family feast blog 001

I had posted the Steak and Cake feast menu and recipes in sleeve protectors and hung it on the kitchen cabinet. I figured folks could take a look and help out with things.

Son cooked the Brussels sprouts. These were wonderful! And to think the recipe came from the local grocery store coupon flyer. Basically skillet roast the sprouts with bacon, onion, garlic, and whole cranberries.

I made the sour dough rolls and these were nice and light and buttery.Thank you KAF!

Daughter made the green salad. Stepdaughters worked on the mashed potatoes and the baked sweet potatoes. And the sauteed mushrooms.

Hubby and son-in-law supervised the grilling of the steaks.

All in all it was hectic and fun and crowded and I would not have it any other way.