It’s Hearty Soup Weather

2014-09-16 15.36.53 During most of history, people ate what they had put away for the winter in their cellars and barns. In Colonial New England, unless someone had a greenhouse a midwinter salad was unheard of. In the Middle Ages in Europe and Russia, fasting during Lent was a necessity because what little food was available to most by late winter had to be hoarded and used carefully. People ate with the seasons. Forty years ago on a late spring trip to Russia with my mother I recall cabbage being served to us daily. It keeps well if properly stored.

Root vegetables can stay fresh for months. Turnips, Carrots, Rutabagas and winter squashes keep when in a cold place. I recall the root cellar in my Great Aunt Alice’s large garden—a deep hole with a wooden cover where vegetables could be safely stored for the winter months. I prefer to eat with the seasons. I feel healthier eating root vegetables often in fall and winter.

One thing special thing about fall is that my appetite returns and I can eat more without gaining weight. Those extra calories burn to keep me warm. However I do not eat more empty calories: i.e. desserts, snacks, sweets. Instead I eat more vegetables and healthy carbohydrates. Soup calories are always good fuel for the body. Hearty fall and winter soups are made with root vegetables, winter squash, beans, and other appropriate ingredients.

Sturdy herbs like thyme, oregano, rosemary and tarragon add flavor and food value to these soups as well. I begin most of my soup recipes by sautéing chopped onion, finely chopped celery, and ground garlic (not garlic powder, that has less flavor) in butter and olive oil. The mung beans in this recipe can be found at any health food store if your market does not carry them, and are a nice change from the more commonly used lentils or other kinds of beans.

My mung bean soup is a little different from the average bean soup. For this hearty recipe sauté ½ cup onion and 1 cup celery chopped small in 2 Tbs olive oil and 2 Tbs butter until transparent. Add 1 tsp each of thyme, rosemary, curry powder, and ground garlic . Stir in 2 cups peeled, chopped firm potatoes and 1 cup or more sliced carrots. Add 2 cups beef broth, and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour or so, until vegetables are tender and soup is tasty.

Cauliflower has become popular lately. I have seen versions of it prepared in many ways. This is my cauliflower soup: Thinly slice ½ to ¾ of a large cauliflower and 1 or 2 large carrots. Simmer in 2 cups water until soft. Meanwhile, Sauté 1 medium onion and 6 cloves garlic chopped, black pepper and your choice of seasonings in olive oil. Mash simmered vegetables and add sautéed ones. Add 2 cups chicken broth. If desired, thicken with leftover mashed potato or a roux made from 2 Tbs butter and 2 Tbs flour stirred over medium heat, with 1 cup added liquid of your choice stirred until smooth and thick.

Cool Food for Hot Days

A Salad 1

One image I have in my memory of the summer days of my childhood is that of my mother leaning over a hot stove, lifting glass canning jars in and later out of a large pot steaming with boiling water. Regardless of the heat, she never wanted anything to go to waste. When her beans were ready to pick, she would be sure to can whatever we didn’t eat at the time she picked them. She canned corn scraped from the cob, and peaches too.

There were probably lots of other things she prepared that I can no longer remember. We did not have a big freezer. We had a food storage closet in the basement that every summer filled with rows of jars as well as paraffin sealed jellies. There were potatoes stored there too and it was my job to go down there periodically to pick off the sprouts so the potatoes would stay edible.

I am glad I don’t have to do what she did. When the temperature soars, I lose my enthusiasm for cooking. My appetite suffers too, which is one of the reasons I am so fond of fall. As I get older, this condition gets worse, and these hot days I have to work hard to keep Stephen and myself adequately nourished. I’ve never been one for pre-prepared meals. Heat and serve is not normally my friend. Outdoor cooking is not an option where we live, nor a preference for either of us. That leaves salads.

A salad that provides sufficient protein is vital for us both. Again as I get older I need to beware of consuming too many carbohydrates. My small but useful electric indoor grill can provide easily cooked hot dogs and hamburgers, however, I like variety and wouldn’t wish to serve those more than once a week at the most. That’s two out of the fourteen lunches and dinners in a week. The cooked chickens from the supermarket can provide several more meals.

Our favorite protein salads are chicken, egg, and seafood, with occasional tuna. Aside from the  protein source, the basic ingredients for my salads consists of finely chopped scallions or sweet onion, celery, herbs as appropriate, mayonnaise, horseradish sauce and sweet mustard or honey mustard dressing. The herbs nearly always include parsley, sniped with scissors, and either dried or  fresh tarragon, thyme, ground garlic, and lemon pepper. Sometimes I use curry powder instead of herbs. One or the other is good, not both.

For egg salad for the two of us, I hard cook (never boil) four eggs and use parsley, thyme, ground garlic and lemon pepper, mayonnaise and horseradish sauce. Dill is good too. For a chicken salad I cut up around two cups or so of the cooked white meat that Stephen prefers. I use tarragon, parsley, ground garlic, and lemon pepper, mayonnaise, horseradish sauce and sometimes some mustard. A smidgen of salt is good. Thyme instead of tarragon is also good with chicken. My recipe for canned tuna or seafood salad is the same. I use the packaged imitation Crab and find it economical and tasty, as well as nourishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eggs are Delicious, Nutritious and Versatile

Cooking with heart Though I’ve never had it or made it myself, I remember Goldenrod Eggs–a dish made with hard boiled eggs that my mother served at luncheon parties. The eggs were carefully hard cooked—never boiled as this turns the yolks green. The whites were chopped up and stirred into a white cream sauce. This was spread over toast with the crusts cut off and made into triangles. The yolks were then pressed through a sieve and sprinkled over the top of the creamed whites.

This was a pretty dish yet far too labor intensive for me. Besides, I prefer hard boiled eggs cut up and made into egg salad or stuffed—but not by me. I can’t get the whites out of the shells easily. However in the days when I was little there was more time for cooking because life was simpler and less hectic. In addition, women like my mom had luncheons in their homes because her friends were home with their kids too and did not have to go out to work.

Easter brings thoughts of eggs, coloring them, cooking them, eating them. As a child I disliked eggs intensely. They were always served me in an egg cup with the top off the shell. I didn’t care for the taste much. Still, whether I wanted to or not I had to eat them because I couldn’t leave the table until I did. For some reason our egg spoons were silver which quickly tarnished from the yolks of the eggs, and this somehow made the experience even worse. It was many years before I was able to eat eggs with pleasure.

To prepare dishes with eggs requires careful timing. For garlic fried eggs with parsley—our breakfast favorite, slice garlic into butter, break eggs over it, cut parsley over them, wait until they are just set, then turn off the stove and turn the eggs over to finish cooking lightly. This insures that the whites are firm and the yolks cooked yet a little runny. Separating raw yolks from whites, is now simple since I learned the trick of holding the yolk in my hand as the white slips through my fingers. My Lemon Cloud Pudding is easy to make doing this.

I have fond memories of sharing a simple lunch of warm hard boiled eggs peeled and mashed with a little mayonnaise, some salt and maybe some chopped parsley with my best friend as our little ones played together. How tasty the eggs were with some saltine crackers and a cup of tea. In those days I dyed my eggs with pellets of color from the supermarket. Some years ago I tried dying them with onion skins. They turned lovely purple and red colors.

This is an ancient way to do them: Save up your papery onion skins. Tie them around your eggs with string and simmer the eggs for 20 minutes. Very beautiful and fun. To make a tasty egg salad, mash yolks and whites together, add mayonnaise to taste and some of your favorite mustard. Add ground dried garlic, chopped parsley and curry powder if desired. Serve with crackers, toast, bread or just lettuce and a fork.  This is good for any meal, especially for one of after Easter leftover eggs.

Want an autographed copy of my new book Up To My Neck In Lemons? Send me a check for $15 Postage included, to P.O. Box 171, North Grafton, MA 01536,  and learn about lemons–actual, poetical and metaphorical. Make your life’s lemons into lemonade and enjoy my book a sip or so at a time.

Garlic, a Miraculous Medicinal Food

 

Pictures downloaded from my camera 2. 128

Being at home with five children to be cared for, I began looking around for something to fill whatever time I wasn’t actually busy with them yet had to be home. I also needed something to put my mind to besides housewifery. Herbs and herbal healing became my go-to occupational therapy. As I studied and learned, I discovered recipes as well. Cooking has always been one of my favorite pastimes. I even like to read cookbooks and peruse the aisles of unfamiliar grocery stores just for fun.

It wasn’t until I began doing research on herbs I realized there was all kinds of medicine in my kitchen. As I did more reading, I discovered many foods could be used to address various physical complaints, as well as prevent my family and me from getting sick. Of all the various foods I studied, garlic seemed the most effective and easily available medicinal substance of all.

Regular consumption of garlic is a great help in keeping us healthy. Sadly, the odor garlic produces in those who consume it has often kept people from making use of it. This is too bad. Garlic is a remarkable healer and raw garlic, while pungent, has amazing healing properties. Antibiotic as well as antiviral in its raw form, it can kill a virus or bacteria on contact. If you want to keep your breath fresh, chew up a few sprigs of parsley and you won’t have to worry about offending anyone. Also, if you have a pimple, anoint it with a piece of cut garlic several times a day. In a couple of days it will be gone. Also, if your young child or grandchild has a cold, try rubbing their feet with a piece of cut garlic.

I once had a dreadful sinus infection and for several weeks couldn’t breathe through my nose. In desperation, I tried these Garlic Nose Drops. Squeeze 1 or 2 garlic cloves into a small cup. Cover with about three teaspoons of warm water. Stir and let it settle. Fill a dropper using only the clear liquid on top. Put your head back and drop about 10 drops in each nostril. Sniff. Pinch your nose closed. You might feel as though the top of your head was going to explode. It is not so much painful but intense. If you do this twice a day for three days your sinuses will most likely clear and you will be able to breathe again. Though I haven’t had to use it for some time it worked for me every time.

Here is a healthy, tasty recipe that is also good for preventing colds.

Ingredients:

1 medium sized cauliflower

6 or more cloves garlic, minced

½ cup celery chopped very small or minced

2 Tbs. good olive oil

2 cups rich chicken or vegetable broth

2 cups water

½ teaspoon salt

Pepper to taste

1/3 or more cup freshly chopped parsley

 

Method: Cut up cauliflower center stalk and break flowerets into pieces. Cook cauliflower in a small amount of water until tender. In large saucepan, put olive oil, celery and garlic, sauté briefly. Add chicken broth, parsley and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for ten minutes or so. Add cooked cauliflower and the water it cooked in. Put several ladlefuls of soup into blender and puree. Add back into soup and cook on low for another 10 or 15 minutes or store for later use. If you prefer your soup chunkier, simply mash the cauliflower with a potato masher.

Lose Weight Gently the Three Bite Way

Orange squash 2When my children were small I used to insist they eat at least three bites of anything they thought they didn’t want to eat at all. My theory was that by my having them do that, they would grow up to eat a broad variety of foods. I was even bold enough to insist that any visiting friends do the same. No one ever seemed to make too much of a fuss over this, nor did I get any bad feedback from my children for doing that either. They did grow up to be adventurous eaters and to enjoy trying new foods.

Some children use food as a kind of bargaining chip or power play. Mine didn’t thank goodness. Nor did I tell them what my mother used to say to me: Eat your (beans, eggs, etc.) there are little children starving in China who would love to have what you have on your plate. I wasn’t allowed to get up from the table until I had finished whatever it was I was supposed to eat. No three bite rule for me! When it was liver, which I hated with a passion, I cut it up in small pieces and swallowed them whole with my milk.

Working with a limited budget, my well-intentioned mother tried her best to make nourishing meals. I did grow up to be healthy, so it must have worked. However when I was eight I became chubby and stayed that way. Like many I have tried a number of different ways to slim down, slenderize, or otherwise lose weight. Some methods were more successful than others. However in my opinion calories in, calories out is the key. Less consumed equals more taken from what is stored in the body:portion control works.

In my search for dietary strategy I came across another very good suggestion. It’s called the Three Bite Rule. You can have three bites of anything highly caloric you want to eat, and you can eat anything highly caloric you wish to as long as those three bites are all you eat. It’s also true that after three bites you really do not get the same taste experience as you do from your first three. This is especially true of anything cold like ice cream, but also of sweet things. The real test though is to be able to put down your fork or spoon after the third bite and count yourself satisfied. When you do this, you’re creating a habit that allow for both pleasure and discipline, an excellent combination.

To be successful with this strategy it is important to allow yourself to really taste whatever you are eating. You can roll it around in your mouth and take your time chewing it slowly and thoroughly. Even liquids can be “chewed.” It is also true that when you eat anything slowly and chew it thoroughly you are satisfied sooner, and that applies to meat, vegetables and grains as well as anything on your three bite list. Taste buds get “tired.” The appetite, however keeps us munching away even when we are not getting the most out of what we are eating. Portion control, as well as the three bite strategy is much more successful if you eat what you put on you plate slowly and with attention.

Simple Salads for More Fun in the Sun

Salad and casserole 2In chilly weather, especially when snow or rain is falling, we welcome soups simmering fragrantly on the stove. However when summer is warming us up we don’t need more warmth to overheat us and salads get center stage. Heartier ones like pasta or potato salad are nice when the desire is for more carbohydrates, however protein is vital and is needed to balance them. One of my favorite go-to warm weather salads is made with chicken breasts, shredded.

First try this easy way to cook them. It requires almost no heat from the stove. For two to three servings, use two medium boneless breasts. Pour some olive oil in a frying pan and warm it on medium high. Sear breasts for a minute each side. Quickly slap on a tight cover, turn the heat to medium low, and cook for 12 minutes. Then turn off the stove and leave for another 12 minutes. DO NOT LIFT THE COVER DURING THIS TIME. Once the chicken is cooked, let it cool, then shred the breasts with your fingers. Save the bit of rich broth for another use.

Refrigerate chicken or use at once. For the salad use these ingredients: mayonnaise to taste, 1 tsp dried tarragon or thyme or 2 tsp fresh, 1 Tbs or more parsley, ¼ tsp pepper to taste, ½ tsp salt, to taste, 1 Tbs horseradish sauce to taste, ½ cup celery chopped small, ½ cup sweet onion chopped small or to taste, 1 medium apple peeled and chopped small, if desired, ½ cup walnuts chopped small, if desired, ½ cup dried cranberries or other fresh berries, if desired, plus chicken breasts. Mix all together and refrigerate for at least 6 hours for flavors to blend. The ingredients can be varied; you can also add mustard.

Canned tuna might replace chicken. Dill might substitute for tarragon or thyme. A simple side salad to go with burgers could include lettuce, dried cranberries or other fresh fruit, scallions and a simple lemon juice and olive oil dressing. Egg salad is satisfying and easy: Bring eggs just to a boil, cover and leave on the back of the stove for 20 minutes. Plunge them into cold water, peel and chop. Add mayonnaise to taste, add horseradish sauce the same, ½ cup finely chopped celery, ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion, chopped fresh parsley, fresh or dried tarragon or dill, salt and pepper to taste. Mix and chill. Serve with crackers or on a bed of lettuce with a light dressing.

Curry powder is good with eggs, chicken or tuna, then omit herbs except for parsley. I prefer the mayonnaise made with olive oil. Low fat mayonnaise is less tasty. Fat is also a good appetite suppressant, keeps us from getting hungry as quickly and the right kind has a lot of other virtues as well. There are many other good combinations of fruits and vegetables for salads, and avocado is always a fine addition to any salad. No tomatoes for me though, I’m allergic.

 

If you have any good salad recipes to share please email them to me at tashahal@gmail.com. I love to hear from readers.

Simple, inexpensive nourishing Fish Recipes

Laura's fish 1

Simple, inexpensive and nourishing Fish Recipes

 

Although I was occasionally taken fishing by my Great Aunt Alice’s gardner, I didn’t care much for fish as a child. Nor do I remember how my mother cooked it except that she did, regularly. Stephen’s mother served fish on Fridays because she felt it was fresher then. It well may have been. In those days frozen fish wasn’t very good. Much progress has been made in flash freezing both fish and vegetables. Stephen is very fond of fish so we have it at least weekly.

Increasing amounts of information has come out about how good fish is for you. Many believe they don’t like it because they have not had it cooked properly. White fish takes very little time to cook: one recipe takes about 15 minutes or so and the other a between 25 and thirty. You will surely have all the ingredients on hand as well. I so dislike seeing an intriguing recipe and discover one or more of the ingredients have to be bought from a specialty market.

Our two favorite kinds of fish are flounder and cod. I used to think cod w was good only for chowder until I created this recipe for it. It also makes use of stale corn chips that didn’t get eaten while fresh. Stephen crunches ours up. Children love to do this too. Stephen and I dine well on around a pound or a bit less of fish of either variety. It’s nice to have fresh fish, however the flash frozen is almost as good. I do not fry fish, thus avoiding odors and extra fat.

 

Baked Cod with Corn Chips

Preheat oven to 350 or 325 for a glass dish.

Ingredients: for 2 servings

¼ to 1/3 cups ground corn chips

A pound or so of cod

Around ¼ cup good mayonnaise. Do not use low fat

1 TBS so of horseradish sauce. It adds a bit of “sass” to the fish

Method: Lay fish flat in baking dish. Mix up Mayonnaise and Horseradish sauce, spread evenly over cod. Bake in oven and depending on thickness of fish check after 20 to 30 minutes. Fish should flake away easily and have lost its transparency. Serve with broccoli and a simple salad or coleslaw.

 

Poached Flounder Filets

This cooks quickly, so have the rest of your dinner ready before adding the fish.

Ingredients:

2 cups water

¼ cups diced celery,

2 Tbs diced onion

OR if in a hurry, dried onion and celery seed about 2 Tbs each)

1 pound flounder filets

Method: Use a large frying pan. Bring water to a boil and add vegetables, fresh or dried. Let them simmer for 15 minutes or so for fresh less for dried. Then lay flounder filets in pan and turn over after 3 or 4 minutes. Serve with spinach and a salad or squash. Use rice if you need more cars.

 

PS Do you have any recipes to share? I hope so; I so enjoy hearing from readers. You can email me at tashahal@gmail.com The delightful fish is by my daughter Laura Lorenz