Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I hope to open the windows and let out the stagnant summer air from the house. It's time for warm baked pies, hot tea and Fall decor.
I actually found a small farm located not far from home that has a pumpkin patch, corn maze, arts, crafts, games and plenty of organic produce. I'll be taking the children there this month so they can take off, run free and explore the farm. Finally, a pumpkin patch that's not located on a busy intersection in the middle of the city (also known as a pumpkin stand). I seem smitten like a child just thinking about selecting a pumpkin in a field. Reminds me of my childhood when I truly believed Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Dough resting before I top with goodies.
Basic Pizza Dough
Using Kitchenaid mixer with dough hook attachment. You can mix and knead by hand of course.
- 6 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups warm water
In a bowl warm up water and put in yeast and let sit for a minute then add the sugar and olive oil and stir until incorporated. In your mixing bowl add the flour and salt and mix until incorporated. Add the water mixture and process until dough is soft and springy. On floured surface knead dough until smooth and form into a ball. Place ball in a large bowl rubbed with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at least two hours.
The dough should rise almost double in size. Punch down dough and tear off amount you need per each pizza. With your dough (on floured surface) press with your fingers to spread in a circular fashion and lift gently to stretch out the dough. Do this until it forms the size you are looking for or to fit on your pizza peel or pizza pan. While the dough rests (about 15 min), preheat oven to 450 degrees. Top pizza and bake directly on stone or in the pizza pan approx 14 minutes or until done.
This pizza was topped with caramelized onions, sliced and sauteed portabello mushrooms, goat cheese and a little red sauce. I sometimes use home made sauce or just pop open a jar and spoon as needed. A jar of red sauce I can use for all sorts of dishes. There's usually always an opened jar in the frig for one thing or another.
Next time I want to try out my friend's technique. She forms the dough but then browns it on both sides in a large pan with a little oil before topping a baking to make a lighter, crispier crust.
Kris was in a mood; crying and clingy, wanted to eat, yet didn't. Just wanted to fight that urge to afternoon slumber. Put him in the high chair for a snack and suddenly, things got quiet.
Here we have final submission to the afternoon nap.
Friday, September 25, 2009
One small head of cabbage coarsely chopped.
1 medium onion, 1 green bell pepper, 2 carrots, 1 celery stalk and 5 cloves of garlic. All vegetables chopped coarsely with the garlic being sliced.
I'm working on my menu for next week. I still have some vegetables in my frig and pantry to use. I know I'll be getting some more cauliflower to roast again. I'm hooked. I've been craving mashed rutabaga madly and plan on making that very soon. Just need to come up with great accompaniments to it. I'm also craving some fresh seafood! I think I'll invest in some tuna if I can find some. Grilled tuna steaks with loads of garlic and parsley or with pesto. I know! Served with mashed rutabaga!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
4 large beets
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
Bake your beets (pricked with fork a few times) for about an hour and a half or until they are easily punctured with knife in a 475 degree oven. You want them to have some stiffness, but not mushy. Remove and let cool on rack. Peel and dice beets and place in bowl with the remaining ingredients. Stir well and serve at room temperature. They are great added to a salad or just by themselves.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
This graph shows the consumption of calories in the US of dairy and animal foods, refined and processed foods and fruits and vegetables. Not looking good for the produce.
Over fifty years ago the USDA started their promotion of the four basic food groups with meat and dairy products being the two most prominent spots on the list. This of course was financed by the meat and dairy industry and backed by nutritional scientists on the payroll of the meat and dairy industry. This program was taught in every classroom in America, advocating a diet loaded with animal protein, fat and cholesterol.
The results were evident as people began consuming more and more animal foods. This program sparked the beginning of the fastest growing cancer epidemic in history. The rates of heart attacks also soared. Political pressure and lobbyists have blocked any change even though the evidence is clear and documented that this diet is a killer.
This is why we see false adds that milk should be your primary calcium source and meat your protein source. Both of these elements are found in most plant foods. Where do you think the cow got their calcium? From the grass. Except now, thanks to factory farms and their inability to eat grass, calcium is fortified into the milk because they are no longer getting enough in their diet of corn, antibiotics, hormones and chicken by-products alone.
Here's something you'll never see advertised on television. Did you know that steak only has 5.4 grams of protein per 100 calories and broccoli has 11.2 grams, almost TWICE as much.
Nutrient chart showing broccoli, steak, romaine lettuce and kale. I think that famous beef add should change to"Kale, that's what's for dinner".
This chart made me stop and shake my head. Look at the correlation between whole plant food consumption and disease.
Here's another fun fact. Our government spends over 20 billion on subsidies that benefit the dairy, beef and veal industries. Fruits and vegetables grown for our consumption are excluded from the USDA subsidies. This includes marketing strategies. We see commercials all day long promoting meat and dairy products....we never see adds promoting the cauliflower.
I'm not advocating the banishment of all meat and dairy. I love a good steak and I'd die without my cheese - every once in a while. I try to consume them moderately. I don't believe that with every single meal I need a slab of meat or a hunk of cheese. I know that I can get plenty of protein, calcium and other minerals from vegetables, nuts, legumes and beans.
This book along with others I have read are instilling in me the importance of whole and fresh foods and how dangerous the standard (SAD) diet really is. Especially for people like me with high cholesterol. I'm starting to wonder, is it really heredity or diet? I plan on finding out.
Dinner was another quick toss but this time I used sweet potato as a base instead of pasta or rice. I chopped up 1/2 a red onion, 1/2 a red bell pepper, 1 large tomato, 1/2 an eggplant and 4 cloves of garlic. I also used 4 sweet potatoes and pulled the rest of the leftover game hen meat I had to add a little meat texture to the dish. I first set the oven to 450 degrees and put the potatoes in (punched some holes in them with a fork) for about 30 minutes before I added the cauliflower.
I removed the sweet potatoes when they were done (toothpick enters in smoothly) and cut them in half lengthwise and plated them, poured the chicken mixture (ragu) over the potatoes and the cauliflower on the side.
It turned out very well! The cauliflower was amazing and the sweetness of the potato with the heat of the semisweet of the sauce (thanks to the crushed red pepper) really came together well. This recipe should work with or without meat. I know it seems a bit odd of a combo, but it's worth a try. I know I'll be making it again.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I first cooked up the pancetta in a tad of oil until slightly crispy. Added the garlic and brussel sprouts and tossed until some were golden and then reduced the heat and added a little vegetable broth and crushed red pepper, black pepper and salt. Cooked about 8 minutes and then added the onions and peppers. Simmered a bit more with the addition of a little broth and served it over brown rice. I like my vegetables to still have some crunch to them.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Then I had Chris in Tennessee visiting family and celebrating Ninnie's birthday so I didn't have the camera. Mom and dad fed me very well while he was away. Friday, Saturday and Sunday as a matter of fact. Very nice of them to do that for me and the kids loved seeing them too. Dad made some more game hens and I have some leftovers to add to a dish this week. I also have a new batch of bones and such for more broth. I made some broth this Saturday from last week's hens and shared it. Mom made some scrumptious Kapunata and we had that with some fresh bread. I have some of that leftover to savour too. I borrowed one of her Maltese cook books and I can't wait to try some recipes.
I didn't make a menu for the week or even plan any recipes. This time I just raided the produce stand and got essentials from the grocery store. The only meat I picked up was some pancetta which I will use to flavor a lot of the vegetable dishes I plan to make. I always browse the seafood section, but as usual there is nothing fresh to be had. I don't want farm raised salmon or previously frozen grouper that is sitting there smelling something awful and costing way too much a pound. Considering we live in a state surrounded by water, it's pitiful we never can find any fresh seafood. I would have to travel closer to the coast to find some.
I'm in need of a cleansing period. This flu thing I had also left me with a sour stomach kind of bloated and just irritated. I think it's time for some nutrient dense vegetables and fruits along with some clean-you-out brown rice and quinoa. I picked up some rutabagas, cabbage, brussel sprouts, summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, rocket, beets, sweet potatoes, garlic, bananas, peaches, plums and pears. Time for some improvising in the kitchen.
Here are a couple of pictures of Bella and her great-great grandmother Mama Ruby who turned 102 this August. There's also a picture with her cousin Emily. They both look like sisters. These photos are a treasure to me. Thank you Ninnie!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I hate to say that we don't always get to eat together as a family for dinner and that irritates the hell out of me. Not just eating together, but being able to do so without having to rush through it because there are 10 more things to accomplish before bedtime. I hope someday to be able to change our schedule so that we can still eat healthy and eat together as a family during the week.
Another secret in the Mediterranean to longevity is the freshness of their food. From the earth, not from a box.
Farfalle with beans, walnuts and arugula
1 package farfalle pasta, cooked al dente
Cook the pasta until al dente and drain, set aside. In the same pot with 1 tablespoon of butter and a little olive oil cook shallots and garlic until fragrant about a minute. Add beans, pasta and wine and cook another 3 minutes tossing to prevent from sticking. Add pasta water and arugula and toss until liquid is mostly absorbed. Toss in remaining butter and walnuts. Serve with Parmesan cheese.