Sunday, August 21, 2011


I just love this plant. It's a blackberry. It lives in my side yard  A friend gave me a start a few years ago.   

One of the great things about this plant is that it is thornless.  If you've picked many blackberries, you know the benefits of that. 
 Another benefit is that its berries are really big and plump and blackberry flavored.  And, well, Big.

Breakfast for Papa.  Summer is so short around here.  Find pleasure where you can.   

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rosemary Lemon Grilled Chicken

Cooking healthy food every day is not hard, but it does take some organization.  Not saying I do it well every day, but I'm getting pretty motivated to get us eating a healthier diet without deprivation.  (Neither of us do deprived, well.)

My mother made the best dry rub grilled chicken.  A ton of flavor without being too spicy.  Fragrant.  Oh, it makes me happy to think about those warm summer days in the back yard.  Dad at the grille.  Mom making potato salad by the bucket.  Homemade ice cream.  

This is my favorite herb chicken on the grill right now.  Especially since I have fresh rosemary.  No matter how much I grow, it's never enough.  My herb garden looks pretty ragged from my daily snips. 

Rosemary Lemon Grilled Chicken
1/2 c canola oil
1/2 c. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 lemon, zested
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
6 boneless chicken breast halves or the equivalent of other pieces. 
Salt and pepper to taste.

And here is where the organization comes in.  Marinades can add tons of flavor, but it needs to be done ahead of time.  I've marinaded meat 2 or even 3 days ahead, but at least one day.  Place the chicken pieces in a shallow dish.  I dry chicken with a paper towel.  (Chicken blood does not add to this dish.)  Pour the marinade over the chicken pieces.  Cover with plastic and set it in the back of your frig.  

Bring it out as the grill comes to temp.  Cook it on a hot grill, turning with tongs until done.  When is it done?  I recommend using a meat thermometer.  Chicken is done when it's 170 degrees internal temp.  Or, cut into it to see if there is any pink, if you must.  

Tomatoes from the garden, fresh beans from Bizi Farms.  Life's Good.  We are trying to learn to fill half the plate with vegetables, 1 quarter with meat and the last quarter with a carb.

There is no quadrant for ice cream.  Sorry. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mini Key Lime Pies in Canning Jars

I'm working on making some changes in our diet for the better.  But, gosh, I'm getting a sweet tooth.  This is adapted from, August 5.  I've been looking forward to it all week.  Can't wait

I'm interested in the increased number of puddin' recipes I'm seeing.  Oh, they call them tarts and flans and pot d'cremes, but they are really puddin' and custard.  I think we are living in a world that strongly desires to go back to simpler times, but just doesn't know how. 

Mini Key Lime Pies in Canning Jars

The Crust
6 low fat graham crackers, crushed
1 T. sugar
2 T. butter, melted.

Combine and spoon into the bottom of 6 - 1/2 pint canning jars.  Yes, you can, and should, bake in canning jars.  Bake at 350 for 7 - 9 minutes.  It doesn't get a firm crust, just dries up and makes a crumb.  Cool it to room temp.

The Puddin' 
1/2 c. Half and Half (What can I say?  We used the last of the milk in our breakfast.)

1 package of plain dry gelatin

Combine and whisk until smooth.  It will be a little lumpy at first, but take your time. 

Reserve 1 T. of this and gently heat the rest on the stovetop until it starts to thicken.  Try to incorporate any lumps. Set it aside to cool a bit.

In the reserved 1 T. Milk and gelatin, add 2 egg yolks, and 3 T. Sugar. 

To the cooked mixture on the stove, gradually add in 1/2 c. good quality organic plain yogurt.  Add also the egg yolk mixture.

and 1/2 c. key lime juice (Just to be clear, Key Limes don't grow where I live).

and 1 t. Triple Sec.  Yeah,  I'll be good tomorrow, really, I will.

And into the frig she goes to get good and cold. 

Divide the lime puddin' between the prepared jars.

Looks like there's enough room for the remaining 2 eggs whites whipped with 2 T. sugar and another capful of the triple sec.  (You could whip cream if the uncooked egg whites turn you off.)

Divide the topping between the jars.  

Savour Fare suggests adding canning lids and packing it in a picnic.  Okay, if your taking a good cold ice box.  I wouldn't want this at room temp for long.  Just saying.

Yeah, I think I know where the other half jar of key lime juice will be going.  'Cause this puddin' is good stuff. 

And I'll be visiting Savour Fare to see what else she's doing.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Herb and Feta Topped Cod

I've been seeing recommendations to eat fish 2 or 3 times per week.  That's a lot of fish.  I'm not sure we are up to it.
But fish is high in omega fatty acids, offers reduced risk of heart disease, blood pressure and cholesterol concerns, and contains vitamins and essential minerals.  Clearly, it is part of a good diet.  

When I see Pacific Cod at my price point, I have them wrap 2 or 3 packages for me and freeze it for week night meals.  Some nights, all I've got in me is to season it on both sides with salt and pepper and cook it in my big flat skillet with a little good oil.  And that's perfectly fine, but I'm looking for more flavor and Husband thought this topping was delicious. 

A big handful of fresh oregano, cleaned and finely chopped. It grows easily at my house, but use whatever fresh herbs you have.  Drizzle with olive oil.  A big spoonful of capers, chopped.  Another big spoonful of feta.  Mix it into almost a paste.  Top the cooked fish with it before serving.  It's really good.     

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Brown Rice Mediterranean Salad

This started out as a Taste of Home Recipe.  I've changed it some.  It fits into our new lifestyle because
1.  Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate. Some people believe that brown rice helps control blood pressure and also reduces wide fluctuations in blood sugar and contains B vitamins, manganese, selenium and iron
2.  Tomatoes may be among the world's healthiest foods.  Lycopene, Vitamins C and E and many others. 
5.  A simple vinaigrette, a healthy fat
5.  Oh, and it tastes good

Brown Rice Mediterranean Salad
2. cup cooked brown rice
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered.  
2 T.  Italian Parsley, chopped
1 cup black olives, halved

I actually grew the tomatoes and the parsley.

The dressing is -
3 T. rice wine vinegar
2 T. Canola Oil
1/2 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt.

Mix together and refrigerate for at least an hour.  This is one of those salads that lasts well and really tastes better the next day. The brown rice has a little more texture to it.  It travels well if you need to take it somewhere.  I've packed it in lunches. What else can I say?

Just one more thing.  We've had a rough year for gardening.  Lots of stuff is late or just not going to happen.  But look at this.  The tomato on the right is one of those hothouse tomatoes purchased at Safeway.  Not that it's a bad thing.  I've bought plenty of them.  But the one on the left came out of my garden.  Need another reason to be a gardener?  Just saying. 

A printable copy.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Weeknight Chicken Chili

It turns out that Man CAN live on bread alone, but it's not a good idea. 

We are working on a healthier diet for medical reasons.  Brings up memories of my father being put on a bland diet late in life, broiled chicken breast with non-salt seasoning. Ick.  I'm not ready for bland and looking for options.  

I think it's important to realize that food isn't very complicated.  The food shows that we all watch these days try to make it look complicated and fancy and chefy, but real food isn't that.  

Weeknight Chicken Chili

Leftover cooked chicken from another meal (about 1 1/2 c.) chopped
2 cans (14.5 oz) tomatoes and 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz) corn, drained

Now, 1 T. canola oil in the pot with 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 a red pepper diced.  The ingredients listed above - dump them in.  1 t. chili powder and 1/2 t. cumin. I'm a light-weight with spicy food so more if you wish. 

And 1 jalapeno seeded and finely chopped.  Using a lot of fresh hot pepper is new to me, but it isn't rocket science, its cheap, and adds tons of flavor.  I'm finding that jalapenos give a great flavor without that much spiciness.  And that's what I'm looking for.  Put it all on a very low simmer.  Add a little water if you want it looser.

Now, feed the dog, water the patio plants, do a few chores until we are ready to eat.


And take a moment to enjoy myself. 10 - 15 minutes. Not too much to ask for out of life.

An enormous black bee is enjoying this flower.  Really cool.

I like to top chili with cheese. 

You can top yours with whatever you want, 'cause it's your chili. 

A printable copy


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mediterranean Diet

I'm researching the so called Mediterranean Diet.  I remember Dr. Oz did a series about it on Oprah and I thought then, this is food we like.  Tons of health benefits.  Good for cholesterol and hypertension.  Good for weight loss and maintenance.  All things we are working on.  And, um, very little meat, which is of course a problem at the Osbornes.

Features of the Mediterranean Diet: It is basically the shared food habits of Italy, Greece and Turkey.  Add Spain and Morocco depending on who you listen to.  Olive oil, fruits and vegetables (7 servings per day!), legumes, whole grains, fish and seafood, very little meat.  But you get a glass of wine per day.  It's encouraged.  Just saying. 

There is a lifestyle change that goes a long with it.  Eating with people, slowly, and enjoying food.  We already know how to do that.  Reduction of stress overall in life.  That's something we need to work on. 

And my favorite sandwich right now? 
2 pieces whole wheat bread.  I'm using Franz because it is locally owned and locally baked.  Toasted.

Spread with basil pesto. 

I'm buying pesto 'cause this is my basil plant.  I started out the season with 3 of them.  It's been wet.  Anything that doesn't want to be wet and cold has had some troubles. 

Back to the sandwich. Slices of soft mozzarella cheese.

Sun dried tomato.  The type that comes dry in a package, not the kind in oil.  Steep them in a bit of boiling water to make them pliable.  You have to dry them well with paper towel so they don't add wetness to the sandwich.

And my homegrown lettuce.  I have several types, but this is a nice peppery one.  It was a variety seed pack from the store, nothing fancy, but good.

Husband's eating a version of the same sandwich with some smoked turkey added.  'Cause, well you know why.

Keep on trucking.  


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More Changes

Actually, going to the doctor was not the beginning of the story.  We've known for awhile that changes were needed.  We'd been working too hard and not living enough.  When we were in the middle of it, we did what we had to do.  But now, we are looking for a better quality of life.

We had gotten way too sedentary.  All that time working at our desks, working hard.  We needed some exercise.  We had both been very active in the past.  It's not like we are or have ever been couch potatoes, but we needed exercise.  We live in a rainy area.  Weather to walk or run couldn't be trusted. 

We went to the store to buy a Wii, but came home with an Xbox 360 Kinect.  Really cool.  We start with a warm up.  Tai Chi.  It looks like this.  The character on the left is the instructor.  My image is projected onto the screen as the image to the right.  There are verbal and auditory cues and instructions.  Feedback with percentage of correctness. The sensor just below the TV reads our movements.  We laugh at it and cuss it.  She's a very zen lady, never taking offense.

We also like boxing. Don't know if you can see.  The red boxing gloves are a projection of my hands being held up in front of me. 

My opponent blocking against a swing from me.

We get winded and hot swinging at the air trying to KO the computer character.  We are both pretty competitive and this really brings it out in me. 

It's fun.  We want to come home and do it. 

We got this and it is tons of fun and just wears you out.

We also have this.  Guess who likes it.

Never been a video game person, but we are getting more fit.  It can see improvements in both of us already. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Low glycemic diet

I wasn't present for Dr. Hoffman's first conversation with Husband about diet.  He says she advised that he eat significantly less meat, more fish and more vegetables.  He says she told him that early history people did not eat meat regularly and advised that he would be well nourished on a vegetarian or near vegetarian diet.  He told her that eating meat was extremely important to him.  Well, he said it differently, but that's what he meant.

Since Dr. Hoffman is my doctor also, I was able to have a subsequent conversation with her about this.  She recommended that I look into a low glycemic diet and suggested a book on the subject.  

Low glycemic diet has the following benefits - may reduce the risk of heart disease, may allow for reduction of weight. may help with reduction of cholesterol and pre-diabetes. You get to eat meat.  You shouldn't eat bread, rice, potatoes, sugar, processed food and certain sweet fruit, like ripe bananas and grapes.

Husband isn't happy with the plan and I can't say I blame him.  Food has always been my friend.  When did it become my enemy?      

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Changes at the Osbornes

This is a hard subject for me right now.  We recently found out that my beloved husband has high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  There will need to be some changes around here.  They've already started.

One of the reasons that I was so frightened initially was that I thought he wouldn't tolerate the changes that he needs to make well.  To understand why, you need to know a little more.  Sometimes big, strong, and physically powerful men have a hard time dealing with their own human frailties.  There, was that polite enough?  OK, well try this.  He is a big, old baby about some things.  Sorry Dear.  

But I've been so pleased and proud of him.  We've already started making some changes.  The last several years starting around 2008 have been hard on us, struggling to keep our business going in an economy that just isn't working for us.  We've had stress and long hours behind our desks. 

But we've started an exercise program.  There is medication involved.  And there will be some changes coming from the kitchen, too.  That's me.  Whether I will continue to blog about this, I don't know.  Like I say, it's a tender subject.  Just saying. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Greek Yogurt

I'm helping provide food for a family event in about a month. So far my duties appear to be hummus and tzatziki sauce, a large vegetable tray and pita wedges for dipping, although I've been thinking about thinly slicing small bagels and toasting the slices.  

Doesn't sound too bad. I make, and love hummus. I love tzatziki sauce (a Greek yogurt sauce), but have never made it.  The Pita Pit makes the yummiest humus veggie pita sandwich with tzatziki sauce.  I could eat it every day.  I may have mentioned that Husband is a carnivore, so I don't eat it every day. 

So my next job is to practice tzatziki sauce until I'm happy with the outcome, but I need Greek yogurt to make tzatziki. Greek yogurt, when purchased at the store, is like twice the price of regular top quality yogurt.  Greek yogurt is also significantly thicker and more concentrated.  It has a stronger, more yogurty flavor.

You can make Greek Yogurt by lining a colander with several layers of cheese cloth.  Add plain, unflavored yogurt and allow the liquid to drain from it until the desired thickness. 

Some instructions on the Internet recommend doing this overnight.  I've done that and I don't recommend draining it that long.  I've found that my homemade yogurt turns nice and thick in 3 to 4 hours.  It should stand a spoon securely.

Next:  Attempt one at Tzatziki sauce.  Remember to play with your food.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Yogurt: Jalapeno Rice Casserole

One of my goals right now is to train or challenge myself to do more with the ingredients that I have at hand.  I don't live in a mild climate, so the ingredients at my produce market changes seasonally.  I'm done chasing the next ingredient in a recipe that I don't happen to have and will need to go to the store for.  I've recently been through some of my favorites:  tomatillos,  rhubarb, ginger.   

I'm starting Yogurt, which I eat a lot of and always have on hand.  I make yogurt myself.  I challenge you to do the same

This dish requires other ingredients which I like and want to learn how to use better - rice, fresh herbs, and jalapenos.  All are on my list for the future. 

Jalapeno Rice Casserole.
2 c. chicken broth
1 c. rice

Pour broth into a sauce pan and bring to boil.  Add rice, stir, cover and reduce to simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.

Mix together
1/2 c. plain non fat yogurt
2 T. Italian Dressing
1 T. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

The picture shows the favorite Italian Dressing at the Osbornes, but use whatever you like best. 

Remove the seeds and white vein from the center of the pepper, then finely chop it.  Remove the stems of the parsley and chop it.
At the risk of sounding weird, I stop and smell and taste every little thing as I cook.  Life is so short and such a roller coaster ride.  Why not draw any pleasure in the moment that you can? 

Combine the yogurt sauce with the rice.  I decided it was just a little dry and drizzled with olive oil. 

There is a roasting chicken in my oven right now.  I reduced the heat to 350, covered the casserole dish, and set it in the oven next to the chicken.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350.  Top with 1/2 cup shredded Tillamook Montery Jack cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes. 
For a printable copy go here.
Anyone know how to rename this link in my text so you don't see the gobbly goop?

Fragrant and creamy.  Not quite as moist as I would like.  Think I'll make more of the sauce next time. 

Goes pretty good with a roast chicken, though.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Moving on to Yogurt: Ginger Yogurt Loaf

Yogurt's next. But first, I'm finishing out ginger with a recipe my co-worker just gave me the other day when I was gushing about candied ginger at work.  It's a family recipe which I was honored to receive. 

She says she thinks a neighbor gave it to her grandmother, who gave it to her mother, who gave it to her.  She's younger than me, but my mom and grandmother never heard of candied ginger, so I'm impressed. 

I haven't made it yet, because we are on a little bit of a diet, but I will just as soon as there are others in the house to help us eat it. 

Ginger Yogurt Loaf
4 T. unsalted butter at room temp
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. molasess
1/2 c. minced crystalized ginger
2 eggs at room temp
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground allspice
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 c. plain yogurt (or buttermilk)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter 9 x 4 loaf pan and line bottom with parchment paper.  In a bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Stir in molasses and crystalized ginger.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.  In another bowl, sift together the flour, soda, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.  Stir in flour mixture in thirds, alternating with yogurt and beginning and ending with the flour.  Mix until smooth.  Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top.  Bake until cake tests done, about 45 - 50 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Asian Pork Tenderloin

This is almost a repeat and I know you aren't supposed to do that.  But this keeps getting better and changes ever time I do it.  It's getting pretty good.  And it has a ton of ginger, which we almost finished with.  Yogurt is coming next.

I started with a 5 lb Pork Tenderloin.  Big honking thing.  It is the main dish for my Memorial Day meal.  We also had pasta salad, chard, deviled eggs, home canned pickled asparagus and lemon meringue pie. 

Asian Pork Tenderloin
1 c. soy sauce
1 c. white wine
2 T. red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 or 2 T. candied ginger
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Combine the marinade in a 9 x 13 baking dish and add the tenderloin.  Wrap with plastic and refrigerate.  I went back and turned it over several times.  It marinaded just over 24 hours.  I've gone 2 days.  If you go much less, you don't get the flavor. 

When I was ready to start it, I preheated to 350 and placed it in a foil lined roasting pan.  I reserved the marinade in a pot and simmered it for an hour.  The sugar in it thickened slightly making a nice glaze which I spread on the roast several times. 

I believe that marinade that has been boiling for some time is safe to consume.  If you don't, feel free to discard it, but you are throwing away a ton of flavor.  I kept it for a sauce. 

I cook pork to 170 degrees internal temperature.  If you don't have a meat thermometer, it should be your next investment. 

We had almost half of this baby as left overs.  I'm working very hard on improving our diet and planning healthy lunches that travel.  Left overs for dinner also help me get in my exercise and gets my gardening done.  Pita bread, sliced pork, lettuce I bought at the farmers market, and a little extra sauce.  Left over side dishes from the day before and ready to head back to work with lunch.   

Monday, May 30, 2011

Did you know - Ginger

  • Ginger cultivation began in Asia, but spread to East Africa and the Caribbean.  It is the underground stem, or rhizome of the plant Zingiber.
  • It was commonly used medicinally in China as a aid in digestion and to treat stomach upset, diarrhea and nausea for more than 2,000 years. It has been used to help treat arthritis, colic, diarrhea, and heart conditions. 
  • The flesh of the rhizome has culinary uses in many Asian dishes.  In the West, it is often used in sweet dishes, such as cookies and bread, and in beverages, such as ginger ale.
  • Fresh ginger can be substituted for ground ginger at a ratio of 6 to 1, although the flavors of fresh and dried ginger are somewhat different.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Asian Salad Dressing.

This is my favorite Asian Salad Dressing.  I don't think I can claim this as an original recipe.  I'm pretty sure I took a recipe off of the Pioneer Woman and modified it some. 

Asian Salad Dressing.
3 T. Sesame Oil
3 T. Canola Oil

8 T. soy sauce

1/3 c. brown sugar

1 1/2 T. candied ginger, finely chopped
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper.  seeded and finely chopped.  

Yes, I know the picture shows 1/2 a pepper, but that's all I have right now.

Chop that baby up pretty fine.  It doesn't get cooked and you don't want to chock any one.

Stir the dressing well and set it aside to think about itself for a while. 

Now the salad.
1/2 a small head of lettuce.  Napa Cabbage is also good.  Or a combination of the two.

1/2 a small can of water chestnuts and a big handful of bean sprouts.


And just before dressing the salad.  1/2 a bag of ramen noodles, uncooked.  It gives you some crunch that is good.  Smash it up into little bits.  With a rolling pin or a meat mallet.  It's fun.

Oh, and throw away the seasoning packet.  I used to save the seasoning packet, thinking I might use it for something.  There is really nothing that little packet of powder is good for. 

Dress the salad and serve.  Just happened to have a piece of baked salmon to go on top.  Dinner.