Sunday, September 14, 2014

It feels like fall---can we bake now ?

 Woo Hoo !!  Autumn is in the air. Temps are hovering between the 40's at night and the 60's in the daytime.  I've been threatening to bake my husband some pumpkin bread because it's his favorite and now it's finally cooled down enough to turn on the oven.

  This is a simple recipe that tastes good...and makes 2 loaves. So many recipes for quick breads are for one loaf, you have to wonder who's making them.  lol  I have a man here who is a big bread eater..his idea of dessert can be a slice of whole grain bread with butter and honey on it. lol The good thing is that it makes him really easy to please, and quick breads (banana, pumpkin, persimmon) are simple to make, relatively healthy and make your house smell so good you can barely stand it. 

Let's get on with it--someone (Alana*) is waiting for this recipe!  lol  (* this is your 5 minutes of fame).  lol

    Pumpkin Bread---here's what you'll need:

15 ounces of pumpkin (store bought or home canned)
4 eggs
1 cup oil
2/3 cup of water
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
2 Tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 Tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1+  cup chopped nuts (I use pecans)
*optional--add raisins or dried cranberries to the batter if you like 'em

  In your mixer bowl, put the pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, sugar  and vanilla. Mix well.

  In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, and spice.  After the mixer has done it's job, STIR the dry ingredients in.  Add the nuts. 

  Spray or oil 2 glass bread pans.  Divide the batter equally.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 60-70 minutes.   Check for doneness with a toothpick or skewer.  Cool on baking racks. I usually cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then gently loosen the bread from the pan if needed. an then turn it over and cool on the rack. 

 Like most of these kinds of dessert breads, this is a moist and dense bread. When I make it, I generally keep it in the fridge. It's good heated up or cold.  With butter or cream cheese. Or even just by itself.

Bon Apetit !

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dishes from Far, Far Away...Part 1

I love to cook. I love to experiment. I love to eat.  All this brings me much delight in trying new recipes and foods from faraway places.  If you are like me,  the exotic spices and aromas of things I'm not used to cooking sends me into an ecstatic reverie. The more I cook like this, the more I want to cook like this. And I am so blessed to have a husband who has an adventurous palate like mine.  I hear people all the time say --my family won't eat that. Or my family won't try new things. So sad.

  So...I garden and can and freeze and dry a lot of food, as you know.  I also stock my pantry with groceries that I can't produce, as you know.  One of the most versatile and nutritious foods I stockpile are canned chickpeas. Garbanzo beans.  Aldi's now carries them and I can get them there for about 69 cents a can (compared to anywhere from 99 cents to 1.59 a can in other places). So, I buy them by the case.  The easiest and most nutrient dense delicious dip in the world is hummus. Made from a few simple ingredients that are always somewhere in my kitchen--garbanzo beans, garlic, lemon juice, spices. Boom !

  Here's what you might NOT know about  chickpeas (garbanzos):

Health Benefits of Chickpeas

  • Fiber Advantage and Weight Loss: Like other beans, Chickpeas, are rich in both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that snares bile (which contains cholesterol) and ferries it out of the body. Research studies have shown that insoluble fiber not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders.
  • Protein for Vegetarians: Chickpeas are a good source of protein. Combined with a whole grain such as whole-wheat protein, they provide amount of protein comparable to that of meat or dairy foods without the high calories or saturated fats.
  • Manganese for Energy Production: Garbanzos are an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese, which is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. Just one cup of garbanzo beans supplies 84.5% of the daily value for this mineral.
  • Iron Boost: Garbanzos can boost your energy because of their high iron content. This is particularly important for menstruating women, pregnant or lactating women and growing children. Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism.
  • Stabilizing Blood Sugar and Low Glycemic Index (GI): Soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels. If you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, beans like garbanzos can help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. They have low GI value of 28 – 32 means the carbohydrate in them is broken down and digested slowly. This is helpful for weight loss as it controls appetite.
  • Heart Healthy: Regular intake of Chickpeas can lower LDL (bad) and total cholesterol. Garbanzos contain the significant amounts of folate and magnesium. Folate lowers the levels of the amino acid, homocysteine and strengthens the blood vessels. Studies have found chickpeas lower the risk of heart attack
  • For Women: Garbanzo contain phytochemicals called saponins, which can act as antioxidants. It could lower the risk of breast cancer, protect against osteoporosis and minimizes hot flushes in post-menopausal women.
  • Weight Loss: Due to high fiber content and low GI, chickpeas are excellent for weight loss diets. Salad with chickpeas are tasty and can keep you full longer, controlling the appetite.
  BOOMITY BOOM !!!!!!  Can you beat that for a nutritious food ?  

So...the yummy supper I made a few nights ago was a finger food extravaganza of  lettuce wrapped falafel  with a big platter of fresh cut veggies from the garden and a dish of hummus to dip them in.


These veggies came from my garden. So not only fresh they were, but FREE. Relatively.  lol
 Usually you get falafel served as little balls or patties in pita bread, with a yogurt sauce of some kind (or even hummus sometimes), with some veggies stuck in there too. This was a Saturday night supper and a movie at the Kelley House, and we opted for no bread, and wrapped them instead in leaves of crispy romaine (from the garden too).  It was delicious, we ate until we nearly died and the food was a satisfying mix of protein and carbs and yummy. Best of all, the approximate total price for this meal was about  5 dollars.

 So--wanna try it ?  Here goes:


 1/4 cup lemon juice
 1/4 cup water
 2- 15 ounce cans of garbanzo beans (One drained, one not)
 1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
 1 Tbsp. olive oil
 2 cloves garlic, peeled
 1 Tsp. ground cumin
 1/2 Tsp. salt

**Put these ingredients into your blender/food processor and process until smooth.  Refrigerate. **

  Easy Peasey, no ??   Serve with an assortment of fresh vegetables and/or crackers.


2 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3 green onions, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 cup chopped parsley
1 egg
1/3 cup lemon juice
Sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup flour (plus another 1/4 cup to roll balls in)
vegetable oil for frying

  In your food processor, combine the garbanzos, onions, garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne, parsley, egg, and lemon juice.  Pulse to combine and season with salt. This mixture will be a little coarse, but no really big chunks of anything.  You don't want to over process it because it will not have the correct texture or holding ability.

 Stir in the flour and baking powder,  mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

 Add the oil to a cast iron frying pan, about half an inch deep. Heat it over medium high heat until it reaches 360 degrees (or until a drop of water or falafel sizzles when you drop it in). 

 In the meantime, put your remaining 1/4 cup of flour on a plate and drop spoonfuls of the falafel mix onto the pate, rolling into balls.  Press gently into small thick patties and carefully lower into the hot oil.  Fry about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from the oil and drain on brown paper  or paper towels. 

 Take your clean crisp beautiful romaine leaves and  lay the falafel patties on and fold over like a sandwich. Eat. Enjoy.

 And there you have it. Including the refrigeration time, this takes about an hour and 15 minutes to prepare. 
 This makes about 4 servings, unless you're us. Then maybe only 2. lol  My big hulking husband loved this meal and was completely satiated when finished. Meatless Monday meal--perfect. Picnic food--perfect.  Yummy finger food--perfect !

Bon Apetit !

Thursday, September 4, 2014

La La La La La....

Annie Kelley picked a peck of pickled peppers....

 Beautiful sweet banana peppers, all ready for pickling.  Have I told you how much I love pickled stuff ?  Peppers, beets, green beans, okra, tomatoes,  jalapenos, cucumbers, mixed veggie pickles, garlic.  Yum.  I love it and I make it and I eat it. And I share it.  I'm always surprised by how much other people like it too.

 This was a beautiful harvest of peppers and okra.

I dehydrated some of it, to use all winter in soups and stews. And I pickled the majority of it, because that's what I love. lol

  I have been dehydrating lots of tomatoes and even some cucumbers. In fact there's a dehydrator in there right now, screaming to be unloaded and bagged.  lol  Sitting on top of jars of stuff that are crying out to be labeled and put away. There was a small bowl of carrots and onions sitting on the counter, but I pretty much got that taken care of.   lol

  The garden is winding down.  There is edamame out there drying on the vine. The butternuts are almost ready to be picked.  We harvested about a hundred and thirty pounds of potatoes  this week. They are all laid out in the garage on  big tables curing a bit. (AND--waiting for me to get that spare room cleared up. Arrgghhh...that's the room that turns into a big throw-and-go..a repository for everything that has no where else to go. And food storage. All the butternuts get laid out on cardboard and slid under the bed. The year's sweet potatoes go into wooden boxes and are stored in there, as well as the regular potatoes).  Good thing we rarely have company that needs to use that room.  lol There's another pantry in there that is mostly full of cleaning stuff and small appliances...the makings for laundry soap, dish soap, extra bottles of vinegar, and any other cleaning supplies I have extras of. Oh, and water storage. At any given time we have upwards of 40 gallons of spring water in there in gallon vinegar jugs in milk crates that we drink and rotate regularly.  There might be some fruit butters and pickled jalapenos in there...During the course of the year, everything in there gets tossed in, rummaged around,  and  generally made a big mess. So,  today I have someone coming over who is going to help me with a few projects over the next few weeks, and hopefully get some stuff straightened up and cleaned out.  That room is number one on the list.  I warned her. LOL  And she is still willing.  We'll see if she runs screaming from the building once she actually sees it.

  We live in the country in a 1400 sq ft doublewide.  It doesn't really look like a mobile home, but it is. It does have a big attached garage, and a 200 sq ft apartment on the back on the garage, both of which are on a concrete foundation.  I don't have a basement, or a root cellar (yet).  But it is 3 bedrooms, one of which is this office, which all have gigantic walk-in closets. The closets in this room and the spare bedroom  have both been turned into pantries.

 Both closets have metal food grade racks on one wall that I bought. This pantry has one full wall of shelves that my son built in for me, as well as a short wall of floor to ceiling wooden built in deep shelves.  

So really, lots of storage here, even without a basement. (Which is, of course, one of my dreams).

I also store a lot of dry goods, staples, like beans and flour and sugar and pasta and rice--as well as all the fruits and veggies that I grow and dry,  or buy at ridiculous sale prices and dry (pineapples at 59 cents apiece !)...

 And then a there are some canned goods, like tuna and evaporated milk and other stuff that I buy when they're on sale (never frivolous stuff...always food and ingredients with a mind to what I can use it for. Always nutritional foods, like canned fish and pumpkin and oats and stuff)  and there's a metal rack for that. 

  So...enough bragging on my stores for now.  Just know that if you really want to find places to store things, you can. There are all kinds of nooks and crannies in every home that are under-utilized or completely unused. My home will never make it into the pages of Better Homes and Gardens, lol,  but we LIVE here.  And we LOVE here.  And we can live out our days here.  And we are prepared for just about any type of emergency that comes along.

  At my age...that's more than good enough.  That's a wonderful life.

Bon Apetit !!