“Friday” Food. June. Summer Salad

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Summer Salad, photo taken by my daughter. (c)2020

I’ve put Friday in quotation marks since today is Wednesday and this Friday Food is a few weeks late. It didn’t seem appropriate to continue with business as usual last week. I’m slowly returning to writing and publishing.

I mentioned in my recent quarantine and baking piece that my daughter had some assignments from her FACS (Family and Consumer Sciences) class during the remote learning part of the school year. In my day, I say in my best Grandpa Walton voice, we had Home Economics and we cooked and sewed aprons. Same, she replied.

The recipe she wrote, shopped for and prepared was this delicious Summer Salad. She may have called it Strawberry Chicken Salad, but I can’t remember. It was easy and overall not too expensive. I let her get whatever she wanted for it since it was a school project and didn’t complain about the price. Besides, once she took her photos, she would be serving it to the rest of the family for lunch, much better than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or frozen waffles that we usually scrounge up during the week.

Ingredients and Directions:

1 pkg. boneless, skinless chicken tenders. Cook in a skillet with olive or peanut oil, seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, no more than 1 tsp. of each.

1 head of lettuce or 1 bag of mixed greens

1 container of grape tomatoes

(You can add one cucumber, but I honestly can’t remember if we did. I happen to love cucumbers!)

1 lb. strawberries

1 pint blueberries

Freshly shaved parmesan cheese

Croutons

Dressing – I chose honey mustard. (My daughter actually doesn’t use any dressing.)

Mix the salad together, add your favorite dressing and enjoy a light and satisfying lunch!

Enjoy!

Is It Really Quarantine If You’re Not Baking Bread?

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About a week into quarantine, I told my kids that we’d make bread. They groaned. We had all the ingredients – at our first grocery run before isolation I got a bag each of flour and sugar. I don’t know why; it just felt like a staple I needed like milk, bread, and eggs. I just thought I should have it in the house as if I were Ma Ingalls and baked fresh bread every morning (which I do not).

The next week, I said it again. Hey kids, do either of you have any FACS (Family and Consumer Sciences) class assignments? Let’s bake bread. They groaned. We did not bake bread.

Another week went by and my daughter asked to go to the supermarket; she had an assignment that she needed to prepare and photograph and submit for FACS. I cheered. We’ll bake bread! No, she said after she groaned; I’m making a grilled chicken salad. Fine, I said, but you need to make enough for all of us to eat lunch. She groaned again.

I watched people all over Twitter and Facebook baking bread. Some used regular rising yeast, some used self-rising flour, some used starters, mostly sourdough starter, a lot made banana bread. A lot. Why were my kids immune to the call of the fresh smell of baking bread. Sure, I could have made it on my own, but we can buy bread. I didn’t need fresh bread. I hated the kneading, and my dough was never smooth like in the photos or on the Food Network, and I wanted it to be a family project. Me and the kids, measuring and watching the dough rising, kneading like we used to do with playdoh, and then baking it at three hundred fifty degrees for thirty to forty minutes. Why wouldn’t they cooperate?

Five years ago, I would have had them. They’d put on the too-big aprons and they’d get flour on their faces, and they’d burn their fingers trying to pull bits of bread right when it came out of the oven. Five years is a long time in kid ages. My two youngest are fourteen and fifteen, and they had no interest in baking bread with Mommy.

We have to, I said more than once. Everyone is baking bread. Everyone, I whispered. Is it really quarantine if we’re not baking bread? They looked at me in that way that teenagers look at their parents – the face that is partly pity and partly embarrassment; and not of you, but for you. I let them walk away.

We were cooking at least I thought with a shrug. We made pasta, Chef Jose Andres‘ Angel hair with tomato sauce (he called it pomodoro), chicken Alfredo, meatloaf, homemade meatballs, lasagna, roast chicken, pork in orange sauce, even my own leek and potato soup.

And still no bread.

Until….

I have a friend in Oklahoma who made a starter and offered it to her friends, like a chain letter. You get the starter, you grow it, and then, after ten days, you bake your bread, and you share the rest with your friends leaving one cup for you to continue the starter or freeze it for when you’re ready. for more Hmm, I thought, sure why not.

About two weeks later, a small postal box arrived at my doorstop. My starter was here! This was day one, and the directions couldn’t have been easier: do nothing.

I can do nothing.

For ten days, I mix the starter in the bag and I feed it twice. At the second feeding it’s ready to divide and use.

I put on my red apron, I got covered with flour because really what choice did I have – that stuff gets everywhere! One of the best parts of this type of bread is that apart from the starter, I already had every ingredient in my house.

I mixed it smooth. There is no kneading; it has a batter consistency and it poured into the loaf pan easily. I covered it with cinnamon sugar, although I feel as though in the end I should have mixed the sugar with butter to give it a streusel-style topping. I will try that when I make this the next time, and I will definitely add my results in here with an update (but not for awhile). I baked the bread on Wednesday, and I still have a full half of a loaf left. I think my family hasn’t figured out where the bread is or it would be gone already.

Apart from the community of what seems like the entire world baking bread simultaneously, the act of baking the bread is its own therapy. It brings out the homesteading, the nurturing, the nesting that just naturally happens in days of trauma, especially this shared trauma we’ve been facing. This feels different, though, maybe not as natural as other moments, and there is a level of stress and an undercurrent of fear sitting on the surface; the unknown that awaits. Like a rising tide lifts all boats, bread rising is an act of faith. You can follow the directions, mix all the ingredients, knead and rise, and it works or it doesn’t. Sweet breads are a little different, but there is still the wonder of making something from your hands and then sharing that with the people around you, whether that is physically with your family or here online with the people who make up our community.

I got the starter and I followed the directions. I added the ingredients. I mixed. I poured. I spread. I baked.

It hadn’t taken much for the house to smell like a bakery. A little cinnamon and vanilla goes a long way. The smells combined with each other – the cinnamon mixed in with the vanilla – and then it spread throughout the entire house until it was just there; it was consoling, comforting. It calmed. It’s quiet work reassured that things are okay and if they’re not okay right now, they will be. They will be.

Twenty-twenty’s been a year, hasn’t it? We’ll get through it in our own ways and yet still together.

It will take time, but we’ll be okay.

And there will always be bread.

For anyone who wants to make this bread, this is the link for the ingredients and directions as well as a few photos from my baking venture.

Friday Food. Inspire. May.

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​Being home in isolation has given many of us the opportunities to cook more, enjoying old favorites, trying out some new recipes, maybe experimenting a little. Before pork became less available, we had a delicious pork loin. For some reason, I like chutney with my pork. It works as a chunky sauce or spread on a sandwich, like that. We had some oranges that needed eating, so I  made an orange chutney. It was lovely even if I was the only one who ate it.

A week or so later, we had some extra ground chuck, a blessing that is not happening this week, so I made some homemade meatballs for the next time we had pasta, an old standby for our family. After following the recipe below, I froze the meatballs, and will cook them as described at the end of the ingredient list after thawing them.

A friend of mine in Oklahoma is sending me (in about ten days time) a culinary chain letter. She’s making a starter, sending it to me, and I will be feeding it and then sharing it as well as making my own Friendship Bread. I’ve never worked with starter before, so I expect that I’ll be sharing the process with you once it arrives here.

Lastly, if you go on Twitter and follow the hashtag #RecipesForThePeople, Chef Jose Andres and his family cook very good, very simple recipes. Our family made the Angel Hair Pasta with Sauce that you can find in my COVID-19 Food post. On the Twitter hashtag, you will also see regular people like you and me (not internationally known, popular chefs) offering their own Recipes for the People.

One note: Cooking is not Baking. Baking is a science. The measurements of baking soda, powder, salt are specific for a reason. You really need to be a professional level of baker to experiment with baking in my humble opinion. I am not a baker. Cooking however can be very experimental. You’ll notice in the two recipes that follow that there aren’t any measurements. For something like these two recipes (and my meatloaf that I can share with any request at a later time) is generally a pinch, equivalent to a tablespoon. How much garlic do you like? Use a tiny bit less. If mistakes are made, it’s still good. You’ll learn what you like.

Enjoy!

Orange Chutney (see photo)

2 medium oranges, sliced, diced and crushed

Add juice from the plate to the bowl

Dried shallot powder

French peppercorns, ground

Ground cumin

Honey (about 1 TB, maybe a bit more)

1 TB Blackberry preserves

Nutmeg, grated on a microplane

Mix.

Serve over pork or chicken or spread on bread for a tasty sandwich!
Meatballs

Bread crumbs (about 1/2 cup)

Garlic

Pepper

Onion Powder

Penzeys Frozen Pizza seasoning (or use a mix of Italian spices)

In a ziploc bag, thoroughly mix these ingredients. Add fresh ground beef and mix it into the meat.

Saute meatballs in olive oil in a saucepan until brown. Add sauce (or ingredients to make your own sauce) and cook for twenty to thirty minutes.

Add to your pasta, then add a salad and a loaf of fresh bread, and you’re all set for dinner!

Soup

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Soup is one of those comfort foods that cross over all demographics – economically, culturally, all the ways. Every culture has its own soup specialty – Italian Wedding Soup, Chicken Noodle Soup, Gazpacho, New England Clam Chowder…I’m sure you can name ten more.

During Lent, my church renewed its yearly tradition of noon Mass followed by a soup lunch, beginning with Ash Wednesday. When shelter-at-home orders came down, they decided to continue the Wednesday soups through no-contact delivery. This occurred for three weeks, and the delicious selections were: Creamy Vegetable Chowder, Hamburger Barley, and Chicken Noodle. They were amazing!

For Easter, I made matzo ball soup for part of our dinner. I know that matzo ball soup doesn’t quite sound like part of an Easter meal, but it was also Passover, and everyone in the family loves it, so really, I can’t go wrong.

I just noticed in the below picture that all three soups, made by different cooks, all have carrots!

Soup is comfort for the soul, and for the stomach. I’ve found blowing on the hot soup and watching the steam rise like incense in the church is very nearly a prayer for the gift of soup, and the gift of love and friendship. Mmm, mmm, good.

Soups: Matzo Ball, Chicken Noodle, Hamburger Barley. (c)2020

Friday Food – April: Recipes For The People

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Chef Jose Andres, immigrant, restauranteur, activist, and advocate started a hashtag on Twitter during this quarantine: #RecipesForThePeople. He’s been posting recipes along with videos of he and his daughters cooking, showing how easy cooking for your family can be. It can also be fun, and a way to get closer to your family. One of the first recipes that I saw was Angel Hair Pasta with Tomato Sauce. According to Chef Jose, it takes less than four minutes to make, and so I got the ingredients I was missing (we already had most of these basic ingredients in our pantry) when I went to the grocery store for my next scheduled trip, and had my son help me make it, along with help from Chef Jose himself (through Twitter-video!)

It was amazing!

It was fast; it was easy.

The whole family loved it!

You can find the link (along with his and others’ recipes) as part of the Food, Isolation Style post, but I will also include the direct link to his Twitter here with a list of the ingredients.

Chef Jose Andres’ 3 1/2 minute Angel Hair Pasta

Ingredients:

1 box (16oz) angel hair pasta

1 bag fresh spinach

Olive oil

3-4 cloves of garlic

2 large cans crushed tomatoes

Salt, pepper, sugar to taste

A larger pan than I used initially – LOL

My version of Chef Jose Andres’ 3 1/2 minute Angel Hair Pasta with Tomato Sauce. (c)2020

Food, Isolation Style (Updated 4/29/20)

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Some people on Twitter, like Luis Miranda, Jr. and Chef Jose Andres have been sharing recipes online, and I will be sharing the two that I have plus adding to this post with others. I have several of my own recipes on the website; just put “recipe” in the search box and see what comes up.

First some tips that we are using in our house.

Wash fruits and vegetables really well. You should also wash the fruits that have peels that you won’t be eating because it still may have something on the outside that you don’t want on your hands or in your body.

Wash your utensils before food preparation.

Wash your hands, and then wash them again. It is equally important to dry your hands thoroughly. This is also a good year round practice.

Separate your meat, vegetable, and bread cutting boards. This is something you should do year round when there isn’t a global pandemic going on.

Grocery Stores are the Coronavirus Tipping Point

How You Should Get Food During the Pandemic (published by The Atlantic on March 14, 2020)

No, You Don’t Need to Disinfect Your Groceries. But Here’s How to Shop Safely

How to Freeze Vegetables While Preserving their Best Qualities

Hot to Make Substitutions for Spices, Herbs, Dairy, and Meat in Your Everyday Cooking

How Long are those Condiments in Your Fridge and Pantry Supposed to Last?

How Long Your Fresh Produce Will Really Last

Clicking graphic takes you to the source link.

Luis Miranda’s Mother’s Recipe for Pound Cake

Chef Jose Andres’ Recipe and Video for Fried Rice

“A Little Snack” from Chef Jose Andres using seaweed, rice, and Spanish anchovies

Chef Jose Andres #Recipesforallofus: 3 1/2 minute angel hair pasta in tomato sauce (I’m making this later in the week!)

Chef Jose Andres #Recipesforallofus: Sugar Omelettes

Chef Jose Andres Chicken and Cauliflower

Chef Jose Andres Brisket & Eggs (leftovers in the Andres’ house)

Chef Jose Andres Canned Green Pea FrittersChef Jose Andres Pasta, Eggplant, and Chickpeas

Chef Jose Andres Vegetable Lasagna (onions, eggplant, zucchini)

Chef Jose Andres’ Sausage and Cabbage

Chef Jose Andres’ Leftover Chicken with Vegetables

Chef Jose Andres’ Tuna Melt (of Sen. Mark Warner)

Chef Jose Andres Classic Spanish dish – “Migas” that uses old bread. Chef has added chorizo and grapes

Navajo Fry Bread

Crock Pot Lemon Italian Chicken with Capers

Hot Crash Potatoes

Chicken, Potatoes, and Green Beans Dinner (one pan. I made this and it was delicious!)

Disney’s Churros

Disney’s Dole Whip

Disney’s Cookie Fries

How to Cook a Ronto Wrap (Galaxy Edge at Home. YouTube Video)

Ikea’s Swedish Meatball Recipe

Apple Fritters

Three Ingredient Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies (perfect for lockdown)

Scone Recipe

Homemade Pizza Dough

Armadillo Cheesy Garlic Bread from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings Cookbook [posted with permission]

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Found this on Facebook when my sister shared it. It’s meant for camping and to do over a campfire, but I’m planning on doing this with my kids in the oven next week! I’ll show you how it turns out after! (c)2020

If you don’t have yeast, this seems like a good substitute. I got this from a Gish group on Facebook. If you know who to credit, please let me know. (c)2020

Friday Food: Super, Simple Super Bowl Snacks

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With New Year’s just past and the Super Bowl coming up in a few short weeks (Feb. 2), I thought I’d share some of my family’s easy to prepare foods. For New Year’s this past week, we actually cooked very little. Most of our food was simple, store-bought, easy to prepare, easy to clean up, and best of all, yummy.

1. Dip. We love the dill dip from Marzetti. It can be found in the refrigerated area of your grocery’s produce section. We like to pair it up with a variety of items to dip, including: pretzels, crackers, bread chunks, raw snow peas, raw green beans, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, potato chips. If you want to dress up your table, scoop out the insides of a round bread loaf and put the dip inside. Looks great, no clean up!

2. Hot dogs wrapped in crescent roll dough. You can buy these premade (we like the Hebrew National ones) or you can make them yourself. I’d recommend cutting the hot dogs in three, and cutting each crescent roll triangle in two. You get twice as many little dogs and it’s not over doughy.

3. Mini quiches or mini potato puffs. Again, you can buy these premade or make them yourself. For either of these, use a mini muffin tin. Put in a puff pastry square and add your ingredients. For quiches: eggs, cheese, onion, bacon. For potato puffs: mashed potatoes, bacon, cheese. Delicious.

4. Cheese and crackers. In addition to cheese cut in chunks, there are also cheese spreads that are very good on crackers. Add pepperoni to the platter for a little extra.

5. Dessert. Break and bake chocolate chip cookies. Brownie bites. Ice cream. Mini cheesecakes are also an excellent option. Use those mini muffin tins again. Put some crushed graham crackers in the bottom, use your favorite cheesecake recipe, add whipped cream when serving.