Monday, June 24, 2013

Simple...

I love food; cooking it, reading about it, playing with it and of course eating it.  I watch true cooking shows on Food Network (when they show real cooking shows),  Cooking Channel ( again when they show real cooking shows), Public Television which does show all kinds of real cooking shows. I read cookbooks, I love to get a book out that I may not have looked at for a while, it's like striking up a conversation with an old friend.  I pull recipes from these books and give them a try...then write about it in my cooking journal.  More about my cooking journal later.

Taco Night!
This meal is simplicity itself, yet using the best ingredients I can get, it comes out tasting complicated and time consuming.  Love that!




Clare made this ....fresh ripe avocados, quartered cherry tomatoes, finely diced spicy jalapenos, fresh limes and kosher salt.  We leave chunks in our guacamole and wells as some mushed parts.  From this point you may add anything to your taste; cilantro, red onion, garlic, sour cream (?) and enjoy.


The star of the show?  Great meat...it's what sets the tone for the entire taco.  Since we are making a simple dish each ingredient matters, the better the items are in the recipe the better the overall dish will be  Use lean, flavorful ground chuck.  You can use ground round but you will need to add some olive oil to get a bit more fat.  You need the fat to help ingnient the spices that you add to make taco meat well tacos.  Ground chuck has fat, and that adds flavor to the meat.  Once you have cooked your onions and meat, spoon off most of the fat, than add your spices, let them heat up and caramelize a bit.  Then add the water that the package usually asks for.  Also I only add about half the package of seasoning: the entire envelope adds to much salt.

I fried up our flour and corn tortillas and built wonderful tacos,  Again this is just a blue print for your tacos, but the beauty of it all is the simplicity of a great family meal.

Simple Tacos

1 lb of ground chuck hamburger
1/2 c finely diced onion
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 packet of taco seasoning
1/2 c water

In a cast iron skillet (because I like cast iron the best) brown your meat and onions.  When no longer pink, spoon off most of the fat, leave a bit behind for flavoring.
Add the taco seasoning and water, let this simmer for about 10 minutes.

Re-fried Black Beans

2 (14 oz)  cans of black beans
1 skillet

Heat beans with the liquid in a skillet, mash with the back of a spoon till they are creamy and hot.  I like to add cheese and heat it with the beans.

Tortillas

8 flour, 4 corn
I fry these in a bit of oil till crispy and lightly brown.

Serve with the usual; shredded lettuce and cheese, lime wedges, sour cream and what ever you like.






Saturday, June 15, 2013

Fermentation...

How many of us even know what fermentation is?  Do we turn our nose up at this word?  Do we see it as something smelly and sour?  Well you would be right about that....it can be very aromatic and it can be sour, in a good way.  But there is a new rage on the horizon that is about to sweep all in it's path, making pro-biotics at home in your own kitchen.  Who needs to purchase pills and liquids that may a only have half their original number still alive?  and it has been found over and over that getting our nutrition through food serves our bodies far better than getting it through pills or other man made forms.  So be prepared, fermentation is here.

Fermentation is an old and time honored way to preserve food.  Long before any form of refrigeration existed, salt and drying was the way to keep food for long, long periods of time.  Then through the making of mead and ale other forms were discovered, kind of.  Sauerkraut is simply salt and chopped up cabbage; but put together and left alone well a sour, savory, sweet and salty glob is created that taste great with brats and Ruben sandwiches. While that cabbage and salt are making friends, others come and join the party.  Those others make up what we call today pro-biotics.....and guess what they keep us healthy...very healthy.  They give our immune system a huge boost....better than anything else we can take.
But the trick is to get it through food and not a plastic bottle that said's it has five hundred million live bugs, but in reality most of them die on their way to you.

So, fermentation...the new/old health benefit that we left and are now returning to in our search for longevity. Almost anything can be fermented...some are more tasty than others, that is a matter of personal choice.  Some may take time to develop a taste for others you may never like.  But the options are many in the forms of fermented food that you will find a couple that you do like.

Yogurt is the most common fermented food that we are familiar with.  Yogurt made from raw milk has even more healthy benefits because nothing has been cooked out and destroyed.  If you want learn more about raw milk head over to your local undercover dairy and take a look at how it is collected, stored, processed and is sold, all under the dark, stern face of big brother.  I am all about safety but really now!

I am reading my fist book on this whole process, I am fairly ignorant and I am trying to learn me some information.  The first book I am starting with is "Real Food Fermentation; Preserving whole fresh food wit live cultures in your home".  I have just started it and am actually understanding it what it is talking about, so far.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Another fabulous salad with high protein, fiber and anti-oxidant health benefits.

Ribbons and Bow Veggie Salad

Farmers Market Veggies- fresh carrots, zucchini, radishes, onions, green beans, and what ever else you might like
2-3 cups of veggies cut into thin ribbons.  A mandolin works great here, you want thin ribbons.
1 lb of cooked bow tie pasta, rinsed and cooled.
1 lemon, zested and juiced
a good drizzle of olive oil-to your taste
kosher salt and fresh black pepper
2 c of fresh basil, torn into bite size pieces
Mix everything together and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes.
1/2 c feta cheese crumbled on top.
Here is a easy salad that will give you fiber, protein and anti-oxidants and still fill you up:


Garden Quinoa Salad
by Patricia Nieh Portola Valley, Ca.

Start to Finish: 30 min.
Makes 4 servings

1 1/2 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
3 c. water
1 lb fresh asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 lb. fresh sugar snap peas
1/2 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed
2 T. olive oil
2 T lemon juice
2 T. minced fresh parsley
1 t grated lemon peel
3/4 t. salt
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
3 T. sunflower seeds

1. In a large sauce pan, cook and stir quinoa over medium-high heat 3-5 minutes or until toasted.  Add water; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 12-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.  Transfer to a large bowl.

2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring 4 c water to a boil.  Add asparagus ad snap peas; cook, uncovered, 2-4 minutes or just until crisp-tender.  Remove vegetables and drop into ice water to shock and stop the cooking.  Repeat with the green beans cooking for 3-4 minutes.  Drain vegetables and pat dry.

3. In a small bowl, whisk oil, lemon juice, parsley, lemon zest and salt.  Add tomatoes ad blanched vegetables to quinoa; drizzle with dressing and toss to combine.  Top with sunflower seeds. 

per serving; 417 cal., 15 g fat, 58 g carb., 9 g. fiber, 16 g pro.


You can use a variety of veggies for this dish.  Quinoa is a great source of protein and fiber as well a micro nutrients.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Welcome to my new cyber home.  I have been looking for a name that would describe not only what I love to do - cooking - but the other half of what I love - journaling.  I have a few goals of what this blog will be about: cooking, of course, but also how keeping a journal about your meals can act as a glue to your family traditions.  For example, how did last Thanksgiving go?  Do you remember what worked and what didn't?  Do you remember what you served or how the cooking plan worked?  What did you use for decorations? Who should bring ice this year and who should bring the killer dessert?   Who helped me out the best and, my favorite, who was worthless? 

Wouldn't it be great to know what you served and the times that you truly enjoyed from year to year?  Who came?  What were the memorable moments?  This is only the beginning of what a cooking journal can do for you.

How many times have you seen a great recipe, then lost it?  I will either print the recipe out, or do the old fashion cut-it-out-and-paste-it right in my journal.  A "Smash" journal will work great for this as, well, kind of a scrapbook for the kitchen.

The final thing I want to accomplish is passing on simple recipes that make sense to the everyday cook who is working all day then pulling a meal together for the family.  Everyone in our family works or goes to school and gets home at different times.  Dinner is usually late and we are all beat.  Yet a meal needs to be cooked, eaten  and cleaned up before we fall asleep.  So, tasty and simple is a must.  More complicated meals are done on the weekend where I can enjoy the process with leisure.