Sunday, March 29, 2009

The gathering instinct from my hunter gatherer ancestory is starting to emerge. I'm starting to see salmon berry flowers bloom, and I'm hoping I can get to the fruit this year before the county comes through and mows them down.

This is a section of the road full of stinging nettles. I'm trying to get brave enough to harvest a bunch of this and make soup, lasagna, and other things with it, as I've read that the nettles are very high in calcium and iron. I may even try making nettle wine, if I can get my act together.
If anyone out there has recipes for stinging nettles I'd love for you to share them with me, and any tips on how to safely gather the mean little plant. I've had my fair share of burns from this stuff while picking black berries and hope to avoid that pain.

Dish Pan Hands

Life with a broken dishwasher kind of sucks. My poor hands have aged 10 years in the last week!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Reindeer Pate?

Would you eat Rudolph's relative? I'm afraid I might find a red nose in the can.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Extreme Frugality

In my search for ideas for St. Patrick's Day meal (not doing corned beef this year, since I couldn't find a brisket anywhere to corn myself) I ran onto this article on I thought I'd share. It's called, Extreme Frugality: Teach Your Children Well by W. Hodding Carter.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I had a food epiphany!

This is all that is left of my "epiphany". I fully intended to have a picture of the dish straight out of the oven, but we were so hungry and it was SO good, that it was gone before I knew it. In fact, my husband ate the last bit of chicken that was originally in this, for breakfast!
This is all I get for lunch.

So what was this "epiphany"? As I was walking out the door from work, it hit! Usually the "what's for dinner tonight" question leaves me stumped at this time of day, but not yesterday. It hit me like a bolt of lightening. Chicken breasts! Cheese! Sauce! It all rumbled around in my head and wavered between salsa and marinara, but definitely provolone. I tried to work it all around what I had at home, but then I thought of at least three things I needed to buy at the store, so next thing I know I find myself walking around the grocery store in some kind of possessed daze. First I stopped by the gourmet cheese section. I see sliced smoked fontina. Not something I recommend you buy if you're on a budget (which I am), but I went for it. I was not in control at this moment. I know I originally planned provolone, and I waffled for several seconds. The fontina was a dollar more then the provolone, but both were expensive. I usually consider buying presliced cheese a waste of money, but I'm a working mom and I needed to cut corners somewhere. (I was slightly panicked when I found sliced provolone in the "low end" cheese section for half the price. I let the dizzy spell pass and kept the fontina.

Then I headed for the veggie section. I needed tomatoes to go in the salad I planned to make. I needed to use up my head of lettuce and I had just bought marinated artichokes at a discount grocery place that I was itching to use. Then I saw the mushrooms. I tried to stop myself. "You don't need mushrooms! You have canned ones at home" But I did it. My hand reached out uncontrollably and grabbed the button mushrooms, and then a English cucumber.

Then the sauce. I finally settled on marinara. I perused the almost endless varieties of spaghetti sauce and settled on a cheep can of hunts and decided to soup it up. Next I grabbed a can of "rolled anchovie's" a jar of capers and a jar of pitted calamat olives. There goes the budget! And home I went.

I started the sauce first. I poured the whole can of Hunts spaghetti sauce into a sauce pan and prceeded to create my witches brew. I added a little over half a can of the anchovies. My husband ate the rest of the can. About a third cup of the pitted calamatas and several tablespoons of capers. A can of button mushrooms, then I chopped up a big handfull of fresh basil and grabbed fresh oregano, thyme and rosemary and chopped up several teaspoons of each and tossed them in. I didn't put in ANY salt. There was plenty already in the ingredients. I let this sauce simmer for about an hour. Man did the house smell good!

Next I pulled out the frozen chicken breasts and thawed them. I thought I had 4 but only had 2. Fortunately, this was rich and filling enough that that was enough. Once thawed I sliced them in half, but leaving them "hinged". I placed a slice of fontina in each. Then I took th fresh mushrooms and sauted them in butter, garlic and a pinch of kosher salt. I spooned that on top of the cheese. Then I wrapped the chicken breasts in prosciuto that I had bought at the discount grocery place and put them in a baking dish. I spooned my "souped up sauce" over the top and placed it in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

While that cooked I proceeded to nag my husband to make the salad. He just makes a better one then me, and he made a salad that was yummy enough for me to eat some for breakfast this morning. Especially with those marinated artichokes!

Besides the nagging I cooked up some corkscrew pasta. While that boiled I sauted some chopped garlic in olive oil. when the pasta was done I tossed that with the pasta and mixed in some freshly shredded parmesan. I dished the parmesan noodles on the dishes and topped with the chicken (which I sliced each stuffed breast into 3 pieces) and sauce. My husband and I had salad on the side and the girls ate raw sugar snap peas. It was delicious!

One of my better food epiphanies!
Here are some of the ingredients I used:

You could take this recipe and turn it a million different directions. Next time I think I'll lean towards the Mexican side, and reduce the sodium. How would you do it? I bet my friend Annie Oakie could take this to a whole new level, and it wouldn't surprise me to hear that okra and mayonaise were involved, and it would be DELISH!
Bon Appetite

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Planned Obsolescence

Planned Obsolescence is a manufacturing strategy I have come to despise lately. First, my Black & Decker blender craps out on a batch of mole'. It lasted 2 years at the most. I should have known better then to buy a blender from Black & Decker. I won't even by a drill from them. Then my Panasonic Microwave decides it can't run past 10 seconds. This hunk of junk, pictured below with my heap of other planned to die appliances, lasted 6 years tops!
And then! The topper! My portable Whirlpool dishwasher decides to give out after only 5 years!
This hunk of junk not only leaves my dishes as dirty as they were when I put them in, but bakes on all remnants of food making it twice as hard to hand wash them. I'm starting to understand why I saw so many appliances out in the Nevada desert full of bullet holes. These things aren't worth more then being target practice now, and it costs a pretty penny to dispose of all this crap. We're suppose to be all eco groovy, not fill our landfills with more and more stuff, but the people who manufacture this junk are creating the problem by manufacturing appliances that can't even last 10 years. My paranoid mind tells me they're in on receiving the fees you have to pay to dispose of this stuff.
This is why I will not throw this beautiful toaster away (manufactured by Toastmaster), I absolutely refuse to replace it with some new fancy schmancy toaster with a bunch of bells and whistles I don't need. I just need something to toast my bread. (The Brave Little Toaster movie comes to mind.)
This thing of beauty is 40 years old. A toaster my parents got from some bank when they took out a loan. You know what? It still WORKS! And it works well. Why can't we have appliances like that now? Like the 40 year old Maytag washer and dryer I had. I finally had to replace them. I got the Whirlpool duet washer and dryer, with all the bells and whistles. You know how long it took before I had to have a repair man out to fix the "mother board"? Six frickin months! And what is a mother board anyway? I thought I bought a washer and dryer, not a space ship.
To finish off this little rant of mine, here's a picture of another trusty electronic item of mine.
My 35 year old Realistic amplifier. I know, what's the connection to food? Well, I like to listen to music when I cook. And this amp has NEVER failed me. As you can see we have and listen to a lot of vinyl, but we also have cassettes (what are those?), CD's and MP3. I can listen to it all as loud as I want through my trusty 35 year old amplifier, broken button and all. Apparently 35 years ago, manufacturers took pride in the quality of their products, rather then in maximizing profit by selling consumers a bunch of junk over and over.

My advice to you....if you have an old appliance or electronic item that still works. Keep it! Chances are it will still outlast anything new you buy. (Don't get me started on our vacuum cleaner situation!)

Caveat Emptor!

Big Jimmy Bob's Hobo Soup

I have a good friend, who I'll call Annie Oakie, owin' to her proud Oakie heritage, who is married to a man, who I understand is one of the best BBQers in our county. I haven't had a chance to try any of his grilled treats, but I can't agree that he's better them my man, but that will be a story for another day. We'll call Annie's hubby, Big Jimmy Bob. Now, Big Jimmy Bob gets a wild hair now and agin' and a couple a days ago one of those wild hair's struck him in the kitchen. I heared tell a story about Jimmy Bob's infamous Hobo Soup.

Now this ain't no canned slop, this is some special stuff, of which I am the proud recipient of this special recipe, which I am about to share with you. Enjoy!

Jimmy Bob's Hobo Soup:

Use all leftover vegetables and potatoes from the corned beef your mother in law brought over to share.

Throw in the leftover chicken from your bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken (Colonel Sanders would be so pleased.) Don't bone or skin. Just toss the whole shebang in.

The leftover KFC biscuits that came with your chicken.

Half a box of elbow noodles, or whatever noodles you have laying around

Several chicken boullion cubes and what ever seasoning that floats your boat, to taste

And to top it all off, add that corned beef your mother in law brought over, disregard your wife mentioning how much she's been craving a corned beef sandwich. She won't mind, really "What the Hell".

Put all these ingredients in a giant stock pot and cover with water. The biscuits will most likely float to the top, but don't let this concern you, they'll be just like dumplings when it's all done. The soup will appear alarmingly thick, but don't let this worry you. Your belly will be nice and full after a hardy bowl of this soup. When serving this to guests or family be sure to warn them to watch for chicken bones while eating.

I understand that Annie has not yet had a chance to taste this ambrosia of the hills yet, but Big Jimmy Bob says you just take one bowl, add water, and it's finger lickin' good! I bet it is!

Bon Appetite!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Foie Gras in California

On September 29, 2004 California passed SB 1520 banning the production and sale of foie gras. The law doesn't take affect until 2012, and in my opinion should be repealed. I firmly believe that people voted for this law out of ignorance and I do not believe anyone has the right to tell me what I can and cannot eat. But no one expresses this better then the owners of Incanto Restaurant
Chris Cosentino and Mark Pastore on Chris' blog Offal Goodand in Mark's letter Shock and Foie on their Letters from Incanto I hope they march on and continue to serve foie gras to defy the ignorance of the masses. You guys rock!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Alice Water's Open letter to the President

Back in November, Alice Waters, owner and chef of Chez Panisse restaurant, wrote an open letter to President Obama requesting that he replace the White House Lawn with a garden, a Victory Garden. This is not a new concept. Eleanor Roosevelt established a Victory Garden back in 1943, which the Department of Agriculture objected to fearing that this would hurt the food industry.

I personally think it would set a great example and hope that the Obama's will take her and others with the same request, up on their challenge.

Please Mr. President. Set the example we need.

You can read the letter at the Gourmet website here:

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Well, I've had a great weekend enjoying my husbands urge to cook Vietnamese, Thai and Indian food. I'll be sharing some pictures and recipes in a few days. In the mean time, in the spirit of eating Asian food, enjoy this video on how to use chopsticks: