Friday, November 21, 2014

Silver Linings

When we are struggling with terrible events like the loss of someone dear to us it is pretty hard to see any redeeming value to it. I guess there might be someone here and there who can, but when I've had those times things have seemed pretty bleak.

Years, often decades, later we can sometimes see the silver lining. When Sweetie lost a good friend to the sea, despite heroic efforts to save him, he says he thought that it should have been him. Now he can look back on his life and can see that he would have missed so much love and laughter if it had been him. Others, especially yours truly, would have never know him, and that is too awful to even contemplate.

I feel the same way about my first marriage. It was far from a good marriage, but I was blessed because a wonderful woman, my daughter, came out of it. She has brought a lot of joy to a lot of people over the years. What if she had never been? Unthinkable.

Even a great loss like losing a child has its side of light. Although I would rather have him back over anything else, the loss did teach me to appreciate the help of others, to appreciate each moment as a blessing, and to be more sympathetic in general to others. He wasn't perfect, but he was a mighty good person and changed a lot of lives for the better during his short time here.

So why these somber thoughts? I guess it's because the winter holidays draw near and that seems to be a time when those lost to us are missed more than usual. It's a reminder to me to appreciate even more, and more actively, those who shine in my life right now. Their light and love will keep the winter darkness at bay.

Something else that warms up a chilly late fall evening is a bowl of hearty soup. Last night I cooked up a seafood chowder that was a hit. I served some crusty bread with it and that filled us right up.

The method I used for this chowder was to cook the potatoes in one pot and cook the onion, carrot, mushrooms and bell pepper in a skillet. Once the potatoes cook and are drained, the milk and broth go into that same pot to heat, along with the peas, corn, and seasonings. It takes a few minutes to heat up the peas and corn, but once the liquid is back to boiling it only takes a short while for the seafood to cook. Before it is done the cooked onion mixture is added and stirred in to distribute the flavor.

This is not a thick chowder. If you prefer your chowder thicker, at the end stir in a slurry of flour and water and stir until mixture thickens.

Either way this is a great soup for cold weather.

Seafood Chowder
Elle original recipe - Serves 4-6

1 large yellow or white onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped or sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
4-6 oz. sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
2 cups red potatoes, washed and cubed
1 1/2 cups milk
14 oz. chicken broth
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt (or garlic salt) and pepper to taste
1 bag Trader Joe's frozen mixed seafood (bay scallops, shrimp and calamari)

In a large skillet heat the olive oil and then saute the onion and carrots, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add the mushrooms and bell pepper, stir, and continue to cook, covered and on medium heat, until pepper is soft about 5 minutes.

While onion mixture is cooking, put the potatoes into a large pot and add water to cover. Boil until potatoes are tender; insert the tip of a sharp knife to test for tenderness. Drain and set aside.

Once potatoes are drained, use the same pot to heat the milk and broth to boiling. Add the frozen peas and corn and cover. Return to a boil. Remove the cover and add the chopped parsley, dried thyme, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Add the frozen mixed seafood and stir. Put cover on the pot and cook for 2 minutes. Uncover, add the onion vegetable mixture and stir. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, until shrimp are pink and curled slightly, stirring often.

Serve at once. Garnish with more chopped parsley if desired.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pound Cake with the Cake Slice Bakers

A few years ago I baked cakes with a wonderful group of bakers called the Cake Slice Bakers. Life got busy, so I dropped out after a while, but was invited recently to bake with them again. Life is still busy, but since the chosen book is the Southern Cake Book by the Southern Living magazine, how could I resist? Pecans, bourbon, lots of butter, as well as cream cheese, sweet potatoes and red velvet cake are well represented in the book. I'm going to attempt to do a linky link so that you can also visit the other Cake Slice Bakers and see which recipe they chose and how it went. Will be back about the same time next month with another delicious cake.

This is the first post using that book and we had a number of choices. I chose to bake the  Orange Pecan Spice Pound Cake recipe. I have lots of pecans on hand for Thanksgiving pies, had a few oranges in a bowl and my cupboard has lots of spices in it. I decided to only make half the recipe and to bake it in a loaf pan instead of a tube pan, but otherwise I followed the recipe as written for ingredients...strange for me, but part of the deal. I did change the method just a bit. I rubbed the orange zest into the sugar a la Dorie Greenspan, mixed the orange and lemon extracts into the milk and the spices into the flour. That way I was less likely to forget to add an important ingredient at the end.

This has been an absurdly busy week due to a lot of baking for my scholarship group and also due to helping a friend who is struggling with an illness. With the overload I can just imagine leaving out the sugar or something unfortunate like that!

This is a delicious cake with the typical density of pound cake. It smelled heavenly while baking, both from the nuts and spices and from the heady scent of orange. I love the texture that the chopped pecans give to the crust and was happy that the spices are more hints than hits. This is not a terribly sweet cake if you skip the Orange Syrup like I did, which is great. It is nice and moist and folks went back for seconds last night. We had it with a little good bourbon on the side to keep in the Southern spirit of things.

Orange-Pecan-Spice Pound Cake
adapted from the Southern Cake Book by the Southern Living magazine

1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans, divided
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup butter, softened
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Take about 1/2 cup of the chopped pecans and sprinkle them over the sides and bottom of a loaf pan that has been generously buttered. Evenly coat the bottom and sides by shaking the pan.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and the orange zest. Use fingers of your clean hands to rub the zest into the sugar.

Beat 1 cup butter until creamy. Gradually add the orange sugar. Beat well to add air. Add the three eggs, one at a time. Scrape bowl sides and beaters often to keep the mixture from clumping. Blend well.

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg (freshly ground is wonderful!), and ground cloves. Set aside.

In a small bowl combine the milk with the vanilla, orange and lemon extracts.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until well blended after each addition, keeping speed at low.

Stir in remaining pecans, mix well and spoon the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.

Bake at 300 degrees F for 1 hour. Long wooden pick inserted in center should come out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes slide a knife around the sides of the pan and turn the cake out onto a wire rack, bottom side up. Let cake cool completely before serving - about an hour.

The original recipe called for an Orange Syrup to be brushed over the cake, but I skipped that part...too sweet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Golden Braid

Still on the subject of cooler weather and what that means in the kitchen, it is also fun now to bake bread. It did get cool enough in the house that I used a heated pitcher of water to help the dough rise by putting both in the microwave and closing the door because it just wasn't rising in the chill of the house. The good news is that the oven warms everything up once it gets going and the fragrance of fresh yeast bread has a soul satisfying warmth for the spirit all its own.

This particular bread was made for today's auction at P.E.O., the women's scholarship group I belong to. Every year we have a silent auction to raise funds for the scholarships and freshly baked bread gets lots of bidders. I made a golden braid of dried fruit laced deliciousness. Orange zest complements the dried cranberries, golden raisins and chopped citron. Since the bread has very little sugar, it can be used with soup or sliced thin and buttered for a breakfast or afternoon nibble.

The recipe is from a book that has festive holiday bread recipes. I added dried cranberries and chopped citron, increased the amount of orange zest and added a bit more water. The recipe said to put the dried fruits in with the flour, but next time I think I'll knead them into the dough once it it mixed and kneaded.

Fruited Braid
Makes 1 loaf
Adapted from a recipe in The Festive Bread Book, by Kathy Cutler

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water (105 – 115 degrees F)
2 ¼ - 3 cups unbleached bread flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grated orange zest (colored part only)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons golden raisins
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup chopped citron
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup warm milk (105 – 115 degrees F)
1 egg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Combine 1 ½ cups flour, salt, orange zest, raisins, dried cranberries, citron and sugar in mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Mix together the warm milk and egg. Add the milk mixture, yeast mixture and butter to the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth, about 10 minutes.

Place in greased bowl, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in warm place until double in bulk – about 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Divide the dough into thirds. Make three ropes. Braid on a greased, parchment covered, or silicon mat covered baking sheet.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until double – about 30 -45 minutes.

Brush with melted butter. Bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 20 minutes, then turn down temperature to 325 degrees F and bake another 20-30 minutes until loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the back.

Cool on a wire rack.

OPTIONAL: If you want to decorate the loaf: Make the Confectioners’ Icing, then drizzle it over the cool loaf. Sprinkle with the almonds and candied cherries to decorate. Let the icing dry before serving.

Confectioners Sugar icing: Mix together 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest and 1-2 tablespoons milk. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pasta Sauce With Italian Sausage and Mushrooms

With chilly weather finally here, the time has come for slow cooked dishes and stir fry dishes and casseroles. We still have meals from the grill, but not as often.

One of my favorite pasta sauces is based on zucchini squash blended with tomatoes or tomato sauce, then mixed with cooked onions, herbs, garlic and maybe a dash of wine or some mushrooms. It really doesn't need meat, but now and then I'll add browned ground turkey or, as I did this week, browned bulk Italian sausage.

On the the great things about this sauce is that the squash soaks up the flavorings and so even after a short time on the stove it tastes like Mama had it on the stove simmering all day. Give it a try when you are in a hurry to get dinner on the table.

Squash Based Pasta Sauce with Mushrooms

1/2 lb ground meat (beef or turkey or Italian sausage - I used Italian sausage this time)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced or chopped
2 medium squash, cut into chunks (any summer squash, but zucchini works best)
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon dry basil
1/4 teaspoon dry rosemary
note - fresh oregano, basil and rosemary can be used - use twice as much, or more, to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In large skillet heat oil over medium high heat. Brown ground meat. Set aside.

Using same pan, cook onion and garlic until translucent and barely brown, about 5 minutes, stirring now and then. Add the mushrooms, stir, cover pan and cook another 3 minutes, stirring once half way through.

While meat and then onions/garlic cook, put half of squash in a blender. Add 1/2 of the can of tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon of water. Pulse blender, removing top and stirring every couple of pulses, until mixture is broken down but still chunky. Once onion mixture has finished, pour this squash mixture into the pan. Lower heat to simmer and deglaze the pan with the tomato mixture, scraping up the browned bits.

Return browned meat to the pan and stir. Put the rest of the squash into the blender, add rest of tomato sauce, pulse the same way the first batch was done. Add this batch to the pan of meat mixture and stir.

Add diced tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper to pan, stir.

Return to boil, cover, turn down heat and simmer at least 2 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes to avoid scorching. (The longer the sauce simmers, the better it will taste.)

While sauce is simmering, bring large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to directions on package, until al dente. Drain pasta well.

Put generous serving of pasta on plate. Top with pasta sauce and garnish with fresh basil and/or good Parmesan cheese shards.

note - this sauce tastes even better if allowed to cool and left in the refrigerator overnight to blend the flavors. Reheat over low heat until simmering.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Peace Town

Took a walk today with Pi dog in Sebastopol near the Laguna. They have a nice park with baseball diamonds and kids play equipment and a teen memorial garden. They also have a section of the park dedicated to peace. Here is the entrance to that section:

The photo at the top shows the section for plants. I guess it is just getting started because right now there is a section next to that with s "Community kale garden" with about a dozen kale plants, but not much else at the moment. Still it is fun to see bright and colorful public art dedicated to peace.

Down the road from there I purchased some tubers that look like garnet yams. They turn out to be something else. Tomorrow I'll share the recipe for some rolls I made with them.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Layered Flat Bread From Dhaka, Bangladesh

Our gracious kitchen of the month for the Bread Baking Babes is Aparna from My Diverse Kitchen. This month she asked us to make "bakharkhani, a layered and very rich bread, made in the manner somewhat like puff pastry...(it) is popular in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. In India, it is typically found in states where history, food and culture are influenced by the Mughal rule like Lucknow, Hyderabad and Kashmir.

This flat bread seems to be different in different parts of the world where it exists. It can be a savoury or slightly sweet, leavened or unleavened, soft or crisp, eaten for breakfast or served with tea, and even like a paratha (Sylheti Bakharkhani from Bangladesh). The softer leavened versions of Bakharkhani are usually served with kebabs and meat curries."

This recipe makes a great, flaky baked good that is a cross between puff pastry and a biscuit. I love the nice crust that developed on the bottom and how it contrasted with the rich, flaky, moist interior. I had mine with a cup of hot tea and a little cherry jam and it was delicious! I only made a half recipe to avoid being tempted to eat too many. Sweetie likes them, too.

One of the ingredients that took me three tries to secure is the mawa, which is a milk curd like ingredient. Elizabeth figured out how to make a faux mawa with dried powdered milk, melted butter and milk. After trying to make it in the slow cooker and failing (a skin formed, so the water in the milk didn't evaporate and that evaporation is a crucial part of making mawa), a half-hearted attempt to make it in a pan on the stove (I ran out of energy and it takes a lot of stirring for a long time), it was great to see how easily Elizabeth's version went together. I used the microwave instead of the toaster oven and put the mixture back in the microwave for a few more minutes once the powdered milk had be mixed into the liquid mix because it was too plastic and I wanted it to be more crumbly. Worked like a charm. Thanks Elizabeth! I owe you.

I've made ghee in the past but actually went with melted and partially browned butter instead. With the milk solids already part of the bread due to the mawa, it didn't make sense to me to eliminate them for the brushed on butter part. I used a fine screen sieve to sprinkle the flour as evenly as possible over the rolled out dough.

Give this a try and become a Buddy. It is always fun to try something different and the flavor and textures of this should encourage you, too. Be sure to go to Aparna's blog HERE to see how she wants you to let her know you are a buddy and to see the original recipe and how to make the real mawa and to make ghee. Thank you Aparna for such a lovely recipe. I think these would be great accompaniments the next time I make the spiced butternut squash that Sweetie loves.

Dhakai Bakharkhani
(half recipe - makes about 5-6)

1 cup flour, plus more for rolling out the dough and sprinkling over the ghee
2 tablespoons mawa (Elizabeth's recipe below)
2 tablespoons ghee or melted unsalted butter, plus more for spreading on the dough while rolling out and folding
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup water (a little less or more if needed)
sesame seeds, to sprinkle - optional

Elizabeth's faux mawa:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon milk

4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) skim milk powder
In a heatproof bowl, heat the cold butter and milk until butter is melted and mixture starts to can use the microwave like I did, or the toaster oven like Elizabeth did. Remove from heat and stir in the milk powder and stir vigorously until well combined. Heat and additional minute or two if needed. The mixture should be moist but crumbly.

For the Bakharkhani:
In a large bowl, put the flour, salt and sugar into a large bowl. Crumble the mawa (see recipe above for faux version or HERE for actual recipe) into it and mix in. Than add the ghee and use your fingers to rub it into the flour. Add the water, a little at a time, and knead well until you have a smooth and elastic dough that can be rolled out very thin.

Cover the bowl with cling wrap or a damp kitchen towel to prevent it from drying. Let it rest for about 30 minutes to an hour. Then lightly coat the dough with a little ghee and then let it rest for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Lightly coat your rolling pin and board or working surface with some ghee or oil.

Roll out the dough as thin as possible into a rectangle, without adding any flour. It should be thin enough for you to see your work surface through the rolled out dough.

Brush some ghee (not too much) all over the surface of the rolled out dough with your fingers (I used a pastry brush). Sprinkle some flour evenly over this, enough so that the ghee is absorbed when spread out. The flour layer should be thin. Brush some more ghee, again, over this and then sprinkle some flour this like previously. 

Fold the dough into half and once again repeat the process of brushing the ghee and sprinkling the flour over this twice, as before. Fold the dough for a second time and repeat the brushing with ghee and flouring, twice. (I did one layer, folded, one layer, folded, one layer, folded, then rolled it all out, did one more layer, folded and rolled it up.)

Roll up the dough into a long cylinder and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Pinch off lemon sized balls and roll each one into a small, round flat bread about 1/8" thick and approximately 4" in diameter. If using sesame seeds, sprinkle them on and lightly press into the dough. Make three cuts centrally and lengthwise on each flat bread using a knife.

Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake in preheated oven for about 20 - 25 minutes or until they're light brown on top. Do not over bake.

Let them cool and serve with coffee or tea. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

And Now For The Coconut Pie...

I used the same crust for the coconut cream pie as I used for the pecan pie (Martha Stewart's food processor recipe), but I baked the shell at 425 degrees F for 12 minutes, well weighed with lentils for pie weights, with the lentils sitting on top of a piece of parchment paper fitted into the pie shell. I also put the shell back in the oven for 5 minutes after I had removed the pie weights and paper and after I took the pecan pie from the oven and turned the oven off. That let it crisp up just a bit more.

This is a pretty classic cream custard, flavored with the coconut, but also with vanilla and just a bit of rum. It is rich and not too sweet.

I brought it to room temperature before serving,

 decorated it with whipped cream and some toasted coconut shavings and it make the perfect birthday pie with four candles. The birthday girl is older than 4, but we'll never tell how old.

Coconut Cream Pie

1 envelope unflavored gelatin (7 gr.)
1/4 cup cold water (60 ml)
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar (130 gr)
½ cup all-purpose flour (70 gr)
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
2 cups whole milk (500ml)
1 tablespoon rum
¼ cup whipping cream (57 gr)
1 3/4 cups lightly toasted fresh coconut, divided
1  9-inch blind baked tart or pie crust, cooled to room temperature

Soak the gelatin in the 1/4 cup of cold water.

Put the sugar, flour, and salt into a saucepan and stir together with a whisk. Add the yolks and enough milk to make a paste. Whisk in the remainder of the milk.

Place over low heat and stirring constantly, cook until thick. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

Stir in the whipping cream (and rum if using). Set the mixing bowl in cold water and stir until the cream is cool. Fold in 1 1/2 cups of the coconut. Pour into tart or pie crust and spread evenly. Chill until set. Garnish with whipped cream rosettes and rest of coconut. Serve at or close to room temperature for the best flavor.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pecan Pie

The first pie is the classic Pecan Pie, made with dark cane sugar syrup, eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla and pecans. It is a translucent custard type of pie and is very sweet. The pecans float to the top of the filling so they get toasted along with the crust. It is Natasha's favorite thing to have for her birthday and a great addition to a Thanksgiving dessert array.

Pecan Pie
recipe originally from the Karo Syrup label
but this one is directly from my cookbook, Classic Comfort Food

3 eggs, beaten lightly
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dark Karo corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1½ cups pecans, shelled
one 9” unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 3500 F. Stir together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, corn syrup, and butter until well blended.

Stir in pecans.

Pour into unbaked pie shell.

Bake on a cookie sheet for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Do NOT overbake. Cool pie before serving.    

Very rich! To “gild the lily,” serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Turkey Day Early

Here in the States the normal day to celebrate Thanksgiving is the last Thursday of the month. We will still be doing that, but for my family turkey day will be coming early since we have the opportunity to celebrate a birthday and an early Thanksgiving with my grand-niece this coming weekend.

Everyone attending has a dish or beverage to bring. I'll be making two kinds of pie, which is great since I now have the excellent food processor pie crust recipe that I posted a few days ago.

I'm going to keep the kinds of pies secret until tomorrow, but I can tell you that the crust discs are in the fridge, ready to be rolled out and fit into the pie pans.

Will one of the pies be pumpkin, sweet potato, or chess? Maybe it will be walnut maple or pecan? Perhaps apple or cherry? Of course it could be a cream pie, couldn't it? Chocolate, banana, coconut, caramel cream...the choices are all so tempting.

Check back tomorrow to see what I chose.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Day Off

Life sometimes hands you an unexpected day. Mine was today. I thought that I had a day off...nothing scheduled on the calendar. That happens less frequently than you might think. Then I read my e-mail and made a phone call to an old and very dear girlfriend who was not feeling well on Monday (I took her to her doctor's office at her request) but was feeling even worse today.

Sweetie waved me off with a smile as I went to pick my friend up to take her to the hospital emergency room. He was happy that I was able to help her out since it was a day off. He also was planning on crawling around below the house seeing what he could do for something with straps and knew that he would have lots of time to do so without interruption.

My friend and I headed to the new Sutter hospital in Santa Rosa. She wasn't ill enough to need an ambulance, thank heavens. Neither of us had been to this facility but it is right next door to a place where my daughter used to work, so I knew the way.

Everyone was outstanding in the ER, and the equipment is brand new and does everything but stand on it's head and clap. My friend is doing better and they figured out what was wrong, but we were there from 9:20 am and I left at about 4:15 pm. A long day off, but a satisfying one. I was able to help explain her symptoms, to help with the hospital gown, to keep her company, tuck in the blanket when her feet got cold, keep her from getting bored by telling her Pohnpei stories that Sweetie told me, and get her to laugh later in the day. We have over ten years of friendship so we know each other pretty well.

All in all, it was an interesting day off. I know she would do the same for me, anytime. A good day.

No food today...too tired to cook.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fresh Red Peppers Stuffed with Barley and Mushrooms

Things have been busy in my neck of the woods. On Sunday Sweetie and I decided to take some cars for test drives. We have been looking at cars in parking lots and as we drive around for about a year, knowing that our beloved Toyota 4Runner is getter older and might need to be replaced. Sweetie has also done lots and lots of research on recent car statistics and I even spent time reading about different ones in a magazine and Consumer Reports and online at Edwards (or is it Edmunds?) so that I had a small amount of knowledge for the search. The last time we actually did the test driving dance was about 22 years ago when we bought the Astro van that was put to good use for many years carrying kids to volleyball and soccer games, plus taking us all on trips and some of us on camping trips. That time I was suffering through a head cold and just wanted to buy something and go home.

This time I was excited about trying different cars, but we promised each other that we wouldn't buy anything on Sunday. Silly us, we always buy the same day. Turns out we did this time, too, and are now the happy owners of a Honda Ridgeline, which is a combination of a car and a truck. Sorry no photo yet, but I'll post one tomorrow. It has a car like ride but a truck back window and truck bed for hauling stuff. Will be selling the 4Runner soon, although it seems to be running just fine. I think the idea was to choose a car while we didn't have too so that we could choose what we wanted.

Yesterday was full of doctor's visits, all benign checkups really, and a nice lunch with a friend.

So, finally, today I can tell you about the great stuffed peppers we had for dinner last night. I had the leftover half for lunch today and it may have been even better. The following will serve as a recipe since the amounts can be varied to suit your own taste. The photo up top show the baked pepper and the photo below shows them stuffed, right before I added the cheddar cheese.

Our local farm stand had these lovely peppers for sale this week, plus some small zucchini squash. I cooked barley in veggie broth, adding diced celery, carrot and green onion. While it was cooking I sauteed chopped zucchini and mushrooms in a little olive oil, then added salt, pepper and dried thyme. The cooked barley was mixed with the cooked zucchini mixture, then it was all stuffed in the halved and de-seeded peppers. A sprinkle of chopped parsley and shredded cheddar cheese finished them off. I put them into a baking dish and a small baking dish and added more veggie broth to the bottom. After covering the dishes with heavy duty foil, I put them into a preheated 425 degree F oven and baked them for 20 minutes.

They were outstanding. The pepper was softened, but still kept its shape. The barley mixture was delicious and chewy in a good way. They were amazingly filling and the perfect dinner for a chilly evening.

Monday, November 10, 2014

There Will Be Barley

It's gotten late and I was hoping to post tonight's veggie extravaganza, stuffed red peppers. Looks like it will be tomorrow after all. One thing I can promise you, there will be barley in the recipe...and it was delicious.