Saturday, October 31, 2009


I love garlic. I don't mean that powdered stuff you buy in the spice aisle, I don't even mean the stuff in the jar that comes pre-minced. Garlic grows in the ground. In my climate, it is planted about now. It sends up a weak little shoot something like the green part of a green onion and only starts to develop when it's warm in the spring. If dug early, there is not much below ground but the original seed clove. It and the stock has a mild onion flavor and can certainly be used as such. They only plump out into something that looks like garlic in the first warm days of early summer. In my climate, they are dug in late June, but I'm sure that is different in other areas.

If you've never dug garlic, potatoes, onions etc., it is quite exciting to stick the shovel in alongside the plant and lift it out. The dirt falls away as you see the treasure for the first time. Garlic is very wet when first dug. It will rot quickly if not dried thoroughly. I suppose there are various ways to do this, but I've had good luck tying a string around bunches of it and hanging the string from my fence. You need air to be able to circulate around it. The warm days of summer turn the leaves around the cloves dry and hardens it a bit. I clip of a bit of it as needed and leave it there the whole summer. At the end of the summer, I cut it down and store it in my garage frig until I need it. This photo is a a part of this year's crop.
I haven't got any planted this year. We'll see, but if I don't get it done, there will be plenty in farmer's market come next summer

Friday, October 30, 2009


Various children, young and old, will be coming through tomorrow. I've been instructed by a little friend that I am not to make the big pot of chili. She doesn't like chili because it is too spicy. I've told her that she might like mine because it isn't spicy. She is adament. I suspect some deep dark chili trama.

Knowing some about food trama, I've decided to go with the turkey spaghetti, which is approved of by all, young and old. I'll do baked brie for any who come before dinner time, get a garlic bread from the Safeway bakery because it is good and easy, and make a salad. I'm hoping that someone wants to make rice crispy treats with me. If they don't, I'll do it myself. Rice crispy treats remind me of happy things. Can't really say why, but I'm sure there is a reason. I remember making them with my Grandmother, but she was where most of my own food trama comes from.

It so cracks me up when I see Rice Crispy Treats packaged and for sale in the grocery. There is 3 ingredients! No baking! Kids can do it with help! A great thing to pour melted chocolate over, but what isn't improved with a little melted chocolate? Why are people so busy that they can't do these little things?

Spaghetti with Homemade Turkey Sausage
Don't skip the step of the turkey sausage setting in the frig overnight
1 lb ground turkey
1 1/2 t. fennel seed
1 t. water
1 t. freshly minced garlic
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
1 jar (27 oz.) spaghetti sauce, your favorite brand
1 t. Italian seasoning, Optional if cooking for kids
pinch of cayenne pepper, optional if cooking for kids.
12 oz. spaghetti, cooked and drained (drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and toss)
In a large bowl, mix turkey, fennel, garlic, water, salt and pepper.
Cover and refrigerate overnight or longer. Cook in a large skillet, breaking it apart as it cooks. Once it is no longer pink, stir in spaghetti sauce, add the Italian seasoning and cayenne and simmer for a few minutes. Taste and add 1/2 to 1 t of italian seasoning and a pinch of cayenne pepper depending upon brand of sauce used and your taste. Add hot spaghetti and serve. Serves six

Update: Everything happened so fast. The brie never came out. The rice crispiy treats never got made. I had an extra guest I wasn't expecting. The spaghetti was all eaten immediately and I was wishing I had made more. And on to trick or treating.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My husband is a Carnivore

My husband eats meat. Period. I try to keep his need for meat satisfied while slipping other things he needs. Tonight we are having what I call Savory Sausage and Potato Skillet. I think this is an original recipe. Most of the things I make started off with me seeing a recipe I wanted to try, then modifying it over time until I got to something original, but there was a starting point.

I had one of those smoke beef sausages and no real plan how to cook it. My husband likes this product, but I wanted to do something a bit more like a meal. Here is what I came up with.

Savory Sausage and Potato Skillet

2 T. Olive Oil
1/4 t minced garlic
5 cups chopped or finely sliced small red potatoes
14 oz smoked beef sausage ring, sliced
8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
2 t. Italian seasoning

Add olive oil, garlic, and potatoes to a large skillet. Stir and toss to coat potatoes. Cover and cook on medium low for 15 - 20 minutes or unitl potatoes are nearly cooked. Stir a few times to make sure they don't stick. Add remaining ingredients. Cook on medium for additional 5 minutes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Big Pot of Chile

I make a pretty good big pot of chile. My mom did too. I remember she used to put bacon in hers. She'd say "bacon is expensive, but it sure gives a lot a taste." We'd eat a meal or two from it, but she would freeze the rest in Mason jars. We'd be happy to come home from school and find a frozen mason jar in the sink because it meant chile, or split pea soup, or one of the other things she did that with. We ate chili with shredded cheese on it and pieces of corn bread. Mom split open the corn bread and put butter and Karo syrup or molasses on it and thought it was a big treat.

My chile is not mom's recipe, but I think it is good and people like it. It doesn't usually last long enough to freeze, but I'd really like to do that. I make corn meal muffins out of corn meal, bisquik, an egg and someother stuff. We like that with home made soup or casserole and eat it happily. No one else seems to have these child hood food associations, so it is all about me. But I fantasize that I may be making future comfort food for someone else.


Last night was bliss. Hailey colored at the table and talked to me while I cooked. Darrell sat in the family room with Caleb. When I called to the table, Darrell still had to hold Caleb and couldn't eat. I forgot to withhold the bread until Hailey had eaten so she ate bread first and ask for more before eating anything else. I had to deny her a second piece, but she was a trouper and ate her salad and casserole. I've been telling her that I am the queen of casseroles.

When I finished, I took Caleb and Darrell ate. Caleb fell back to sleep on me. Such as pleasure to feel his little body rise and fall. He is so warm. Mom came to get them and stayed for a while. Hailey and I danced to Kink (radio station) until I was exhausted. I forget I'm an old woman sometimes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The plan for tonight

Spanish Rice Dinner, flat bread, salad

Spanish Rice Dinner
1 lb ground beef
1 14 1/2 oz can stewed chopped tomatoes
1 14 1/2 oz can cut green beans drained
3/4 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 T sugar
1/2 finely diced bell pepper
1 t. salt
1 t. worchestershire sauce
1/2 t. ground mustard
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/8 t. pepper.

In a large skillet, cook beef until no longer pink, drain. Stir in remaining ingredients. Add 1/2 a can of water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until rice is tender.

Two steps forward, one step back

Although I like to cook, the sooner I finish, the sooner I get to knit. I work on ways to streamline our eating well. Sunday, I made a pork roast in the crock pot. We finished most of it last night. It is as simple as putting it in there and turning on the thing, but I have several ways to give extra flavor. This time I put some of Josh's barbecue sauce on top of it. The result was sort of like pulled pork. Cooks all day so it can be left alone. Roast in the crock pot usually ends up with some extra liquid of unknown origin settling around it. I recommend draining it off a couple times while it cooks or lift it out of the goo onto a platter for serving.

Left over was just great with a big baked potatoe and some broccoli. Darrell likes a little Jack Cheese melted over broccoli. What could be better.

We're baby sitting during dinner tonight. What do kids eat? Mom and Dad are doing a great job making sure she has a vegetable. She's not keen on broccoli, but she'll eat beans. I've got a stove top dish with a can of beans in it. That will due. Recipe later.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Rainy Day

A bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich is comfort food for me on a rainy day. I'm sure that is because my mom made that for us on such days. Most of my comfort food is very basic and inexpensive because they didn't have much until well into my teens. I'm not in favor of feeding children fast food frequently. I would be a different person if I thought of McDonalds as comfort food.

My husband is very tolerant of my food peculiarities, but will not eat tomato soup. So day it is clam chowder. I don't have the means to cook at our work, so the grilled cheese will have to wait. Wouldn't it be nice to have a paninni maker at work? Nice hot grilled sandwiches would be a breeze! I may have to work on that.

Instead, he's got clam chowder, sliced cheese and vension sausage. I've got clam chowder, crackers and hummus. We split a piece of fruit. That's something I love that mom never had, hummus. Can't get enough of it. I've given up the idea that I should be making it (just chick peas, garlic, tahini, and olive oil mushed up in the food processor). It's much easier to buy little tubs of it in the deli. I'll happily eat it on anything or everything

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cocoa Crinkles

We babysat the little kids so that the big kids could have a night out last night. Hailey and I made Cocoa Crinkles, one of the first little cookies we made with our Mom. I still have the recipe written in child like cursive which I assume is my own. My mom made us write out recipes, a habit I've kept to today. I'd like to give Hailey some of the good things my mom gave me without the OCD.

Cocoa Crinkles
1/2 softened Butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. unsweetend cocoa
1/4 t salt
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until light & fluffy. Add flour. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. The dough will be stiff. Make 1" balls. Roll balls in powered sugar just before baking. Spray cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 at 35 degrees.

Where I stand.

I'm not exactly June Cleaver, but I believe in a few things. First, a stable, safe place to come home to makes it easier to venture out in the world. No matter what else happens, you can retreat and regroup somewhere good. Second, food is very important to civilization. Food doesn't just keep us from starving. It creates traditions, affects our moods and attitudes, provides emotional support for us and those we choose to feed. I'm so sad to know kids whose comfort foods include McDonalds. And Third, simplest food is the best. Enough said. And Finally, a world where one person (Mom) stays home and does everything to create a home is fast becoming history.

So how do you keep the crew feed, give everyone in your immediate family the security of a warm kitchen and a set table? Some days it is just impossible. Other days it is close to impossible. I've got a few things that work for me. They aren't fancy and they aren't hard. The hard part is consistency.