Commercials for computer backup services always remind people that sooner or later they will have a hard drive crash. It’s been more than a decade since we went through a computer crash, but a week before Thanksgiving, the signs were unmistakable. The lifespan for our desktop computer was short. We wanted another Windows 7 computer, so we ordered online. Always thorough about backups, we became obsessive as we waited for the new computer to arrive.
If there is a BTD connection to my computer problems it is this - I protect my physical health by consistently maximizing beneficials, avoiding avoids and exercising daily. So when a “crash” comes my body is as well prepared to handle it as possible. A “crash” might be a virus, a physical injury, or a bacterial infection. Always be prepared, and during cold and flu season, it’s ok to be a little obsessive.
The computer arrived the same day our kids arrived for Thanksgiving. So for a few more days we limped along with a computer that took longer and longer to boot. After the holiday we began to move into the new computer - a process that is finally complete. That’s not a good excuse for neglecting my blog, but it’s the only excuse I have!
We had planned to have our big family dinner on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. This was our wedding anniversary. I fixed red snapper almandine - what we ate at our rehearsal dinner 38 years ago. With the fish, we had a relish tray, fresh green beans, sweet potato puffs, and rice. All of the dishes and serving pieces were wedding gifts.
However, we got a call from DD about mid afternoon. They had been in an auto accident as they traveled to our house. All three of them were fine, but their car was not drivable. By the time they had the car towed to a body shop, rented a car and finished the drive, it was 10:00.
We didn’t get to all have dinner together, but I’m thankful to God that everyone was safe.
Thanksgiving morning our neighborhood had a 5K Turkey Trot. SS, DD, and I ran. My two kids were first and second place. I finished respectably in the middle of the pack. HH bought Baby Cakes to the finish line in his stroller, so we were greeted with precious smiles as we completed the race.
I’m thankful that my children are all living healthy, active lives.
Because SIL does not like celery, and there would only be 5 of us eating dinner on Thanksgiving Day, DD and I decided to cook a turkey breast with millet. We had two big pans of roasted vegetables on the side. While it wasn’t a traditional meal, it suited us just fine. BC had his vegetables pureed!
The Pilgrims thanked God for His protection over their little colony at the First Thanksgiving. We thanked God for His protection over our country this year. Ebola has been contained; protests did not become widespread riots; terrorism has been thwarted. I take none of that for granted.
It was DD’s turn for a recipe in the Picky Eater Challenge. It was almost too easy!
She cooked a Butterball turkey roast in the crock pot for 8 hours on low.
The turkey was tender, juicy, and delicious.
I have a recipe for turkey leftovers that I prepared the day after Thanksgiving. I’ll post it next time. It will be equally good for Christmas Turkey leftovers.
It was DD's turn to pick a recipe in the Picky Eater Challenge. She sent this link for Quinoa Stuffing
I was out of quinoa, so I went to the Health Food Store on Friday. They had three brands of quinoa - all three were more than $7 a pound.
$7 a Pound!!!!
I've bought quinoa for years, and it's never been that expensive. What has happened? Was there a quinoa crop failure? Is inflation heating up? I walked out of the store without quinoa.
When I got home I went online. Amazon's quinoa was $10 - $13 a pound. Good grief! Several other companies where I shop appeared to have less expensive quinoa, until I noticed the packages were 12 ounces - clever marketing tactic, but I wasn't fooled.
Eventually I found quinoa for $5.66 on Vitacost. I ordered four bags.
I was excited about trying DD's recipe, and I didn't want to wait for the quinoa to arrive. I had millet in the pantry, so I substituted that.
I did not add any salt, and I didn't put in pine nuts. Other than that, I made it just like the recipe.
I didn't want to stuff a chicken or turkey just for my Honorable Husband and myself. So I cooked ground turkey and put it on top of the stuffing. Sort of like a layered casserole.
I'm from Texas, and in the South, when we say "stuffing" it is mostly bread, with a few vegetables for flavor. This was mostly vegetables and fruit with enough grain to give it substance.
The combination of onions, celery and apple gave it a sweet and tangy taste. Sort of like a sweet and sour sauce - but the cumin kept it from being remotely Asian. It was a unique flavor.
HH was watching a football game, so I was in another room reading. He came to find me, holding his empty bowl, and said "That was really good."
DD you picked a winner!
There are two things you need to know before you read this recipe.
First, while pumpkin is a beneficial food for my Type A Honorable Husband, he does not like it. He has never liked pumpkin pie, and he certainly does not like pumpkin as a vegetable.
Second, back in the 1960s, someone had the bright idea to treat acne with x-rays. HH was one of the teenagers given this treatment. The good news was it cleared up the acne. The bad news was that too much x-ray was found to cause cancer. For years HH has felt like his face was a ticking time bomb.
He had his first basal cell cancer removed about six years ago. This year’s visit to the dermatologist, discovered a second basal cell cancer. This time it was on his lip, so he was sent to a Mohs specialist in the city. If you are not familiar with the Mohs technique, I’ll explain in in non-scientific terms.
Instead of gouging out a cancer and hoping they get it all, the doctor has a pathology lab in his office. He removes a layer of cells and sends them immediately to the lab, while you read a book in the waiting room. If there are no cancer cells in the boundaries, they stitch you up and send you home. If they find cancer cells near the edges of the removed tissue, they take off another layer of cells and send it to the lab. In this way they take out the least amount of tissue necessary, yet are confident that they got all of the cancer cells associated with that spot.
HH was fortunate. The lab results after the first cut showed no cancer cells near the edges. However, since they had cut into his lip and stitched it up, he had to eat soft food for several days. I put his food through the blender, just like DD does when she makes baby food.
He really liked drinking his breakfast (granola, almond milk, and fruit) through a straw. Lunch and supper weren’t quite as appetizing, but certainly better than pain.
So, when I started looking for a recipe for the Picky Eater Challenge, it had to be something that I could put through the blender, but also be something with a texture that SIL, DD, and I would enjoy. I had some chicken already cooked, so I began reading through recipes in the BTD Recipe Database.
I stopped when I got to a recipe called Curried Chicken, when I saw pumpkin as an ingredient. The recipe says that the pumpkin is used to thicken the sauce. I hadn’t intended to be sneaky, but I knew that HH would never know he was eating beneficial pumpkin.
I made the recipe almost like it was written, except that I cut it in half. I used real garlic. I didn’t use salt, but I doubled the curry powder.
The pumpkin did indeed give a nice thick sauce without wheat or cornstarch! The orange color wasn’t particularly noticeable, because the curry powder would have made it orange anyway.
He ate Curried Chicken for one meal liquefied in the blender. He ate it for another meal over quinoa the day he got to take the bulky part of the bandage off. On a scale of 1-10, the highest score HH has ever given an entrée is an 8. He gave Curried Chicken a 7. I can’t wait to hear how SIL likes this recipe!
It was DD’s turn in the Picky Eater Challenge, and she chose a recipe on an interesting website called GNOWFGLINS — “God’s natural, organic, whole foods, grown locally, in season”
I’m going to post the two original links, then I’ll tell you how this recipe worked at my house.
My husband loves soup, but generally I do not. Because of that, I often choose the line of least resistance, and buy the healthiest canned soup I can find. Even the healthiest is high sodium, especially for someone on blood pressure medication.
I had read on the BTD website about bone broth, but had never tried it. I thought it might be a way to make low sodium soup, but I wasn’t sure how to start. I was intrigued that this recipe relied on bone broth to supplement the broth from the chicken.
My crockpot is an old 4 quart, and I bought one large 8 pound chicken. It was a tight fit. When I lifted the chicken out, the whole thing fell apart. The meat fell off the bones, the bones separated from each other. It was the tenderest chicken imaginable. The only problem was that when I debone a chicken, I anticipate where the small bones (like from the drumsticks) will be. I had to be extra careful since everything came apart so quickly.
I put the meat of the chicken in a bowl in the refrigerator. I threw away the skin - perhaps it would have helped the broth, but I didn’t want extra fat. I put the bones back in the crockpot and followed the directions for bone broth.
The recipe called for traditional vegetables. Onion, garlic, celery and carrots were good. But HH does not like English peas, and corn is an avoid food. I left those two out, and added fresh green beans instead. I decided to use brown rice instead of noodles.
We had the soup for dinner on Friday night. HH’s first impression was that it was too bland. He said he would eat it, but not to make it again. I suspected that he didn’t like this soup because it was not as salty as he was used to. On Saturday I bought Mrs. Dash No Salt Chicken Seasoning, and added more than two teaspoons to the remaining soup.
We had it again for lunch after church on Sunday. HH knew I had changed it, but he was surprised at his first taste. “On a scale of 1-10, it’s up to a 4,” he said. “I can make it a 5.” He got the tamari and added some to his soup. He smiled and said, “You can make this again.”
DD and I are looking for quick recipes. This is certainly not an impulse meal - - the crockpot ran for more than a day and a half and the pot on the stove for another hour. But my time preparing was minimal - putting the chicken in the crockpot, deboning the chicken, chopping vegetables.
I am happy to have tried bone broth and found it so easy to do in the crockpot. Straining the broth was much easier than I had imagined. I want to experiment more this winter with low sodium soups. I might even learn to enjoy them myself.
Pesto and Venetian Seafood are this week's recipes in the Picky eater challenge.
Our Strong Son came home for a day of football with his Dad. As I was fixing lunch, I asked if he had ever had pesto. He said, "I love pesto." How is it that my son already loves something I had never tasted until Wednesday?
I went to my book club on Wednesday. Among the snacks that our hostess served were deviled eggs. I bit into one expecting the traditional hot mustard flavor, but this was entirely different. I could taste garlic and lemon. I asked, and she said she had made the deviled eggs with pesto. All of the other women were enjoying the eggs as much as I was, so we convinced her to share the recipe - and I'll now share it with you.
Pesto for deviled eggs
1 large clove garlic minced
1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 1/2 cups fresh basil
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
How to make Pesto:
In a food processor pulse the garlic, spinach, basil, nuts, and 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Add Parmesan, lemon juice and pulse until well combined.
With the motor running, pour the remaining olive oil and process until you get a smooth pesto.
The pesto recipe makes a lot and you only need a little for
Pesto deviled eggs
6 hard boiled eggs
2-3 tsp Pesto
3 Tbsp Mayonnaise
½ tsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp lemon zest
How to make Pesto Deviled Eggs:
Cut the eggs in half and remove the yolks. In a small bowl combine the yolks with all of the other ingredients. Mash until smooth. Put the yolk mixture back into the egg whites.
As much as I loved these eggs, I did not think this could count as my recipe for the Picky Eater Recipe Challenge. My Honorable Husband does not eat deviled eggs, and the challenge is to find new foods for HH and SIL. I was curious to know more about pesto, so when I got home I looked it up on the computer, where I learned that it's not just for eggs, it's for pasta and toast and chicken and fish. I decided to make Pesto Cod.
However, in the process of looking up Pesto, another Mediterranean recipe caught my eye. It was called Venetian Scallops. I decided to do a few Venetian Shrimp to go along with the Pesto Cod.
10 - 20 Scallops and/or shrimp,
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. garlic minced
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
How to make Venetian Seafood
Heat oil in a pan. Add seafood and cook 1 1/2 minutes per side. (Do not move them in the pan until it's time to flip them)
Once scallops or shrimp are cooked, remove from pan and turn off heat.
In the same pan with the heat turned off, add garlic, parsley, and lemon juice. Scrape up any left over bits from cooking the fish. Turn the heat back on and bring to a simmer for a few seconds.
Arrange scallops or shrimp on a plate and spoon a little pan sauce over each one.
Our lunch menu was Pesto Cod, Venetian Shrimp, Saag Mushroom, rice, and roasted vegetables (carrots, zucchini and onion)
I got rave reviews from both SS and HH. SS said that normally he preferred red fish to white fish, buying salmon, trout, or tuna over cod or tilapia. He said the pesto made a huge difference in the cod, and moved it officially into his like list. The shrimp were second place.
The shrimp really were very good. It's just that the Pesto Cod was incredibly outstanding.
When DD met SIL, he was in training for bicycle racing. After two years of marriage, what she has learned is that when he is training he eats healthy, but when he is not training, he prefers fried chicken and pizza. She has also learned that because he grew up in a family with five children, there were no leftovers. He is of the opinion that eating leftovers is somehow bad.
In many ways DD's husband is very much like her Daddy. HH talks about eating healthy, but when left to his own, he eats bread and chips. While he cheerfully eats leftovers, I've learned that after I use a recipe a few times, he is tired of it, and wants something new.
A friend of mine shared a recipe for gluten free pizza. The crust was made of eggs and mozzarella cheese, no grain at all. I sent it to DD as a joke, saying that she should try it for SIL. One thing led to another, and we have challenged each other to find healthy recipes for our picky eaters. Here are the rules. One week I find a recipe and we both make it. The next week she finds the recipe.
The recipes cannot be time consuming to prepare. She has a baby, and I have a company to run. Neither of us can spend hours in the kitchen.
The recipes need to be relatively good for both Type As and Type Os. SIL needs to eat less wheat and cheddar cheese. HH needs to watch his carbs to keep his blood sugar down. He also needs flavor or he adds lots of black pepper, which is not good for him.
We are going to try to avoid avoids, making substitutions where it's possible. But we are not going to reject a recipe that nudges our husbands toward healthy eating if an avoid is present in small amounts.
We have to be able to prepare small quantities so leftovers are limited.
The pizza was a huge hit. I was surprised at how much like deep dish pizza this grain free recipe tasted. It was fast and easy. All of us loved it.
Gluten Free Pizza
3 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
Boars Head turkey pepperoni
Pizza sauce, tomato sauce or Marinara sauce
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray 8x8 pan with cooking spray.
Mix eggs, cheese, and spices. Pour in pan and bake 15 minutes.
Take the pizza out of the oven. Top with sauce, pepperoni, and any other toppings
Bake 10 minutes more.
Then it was DD's turn. She found
Quinoa Enchilada Casserole (this is how I adjusted the recipe to be more in line with the BTD)
1 cup quinoa
1 jar mild enchilada or taco sauce
1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chiles, drained
2 cups chopped chicken
1 cup canned black beans, drained
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro or 1 tsp dry cilantro
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese,
Cook quinoa according to package instructions; set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Spray baking dish with cooking spray.
Combine quinoa, chicken, enchilada sauce, Rotel, black beans, cilantro, and cumin.
Spread quinoa mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with cheese
Bake until bubbly and cheese has melted, about 15 minutes.
Serve immediately, garnished with avocado and tomato, if desired.
HH and I both loved this recipe. I used to make traditional chicken enchilada casserole before the BTD. The old recipe had so many avoids, and I couldn't think of enough substitutes. This has a similar texture and a similar taste, but the ingredients are much healthier and the result is definitely lighter and less greasy.
Next week it's my turn again. I'm going to see what I can find in the BTD Recipe Center.
I am at DD’s house today. SIL is going on an overnight Men’s Retreat with their church, and I am going to keep DD and BC company while he is gone.
DD has always liked soy nuts. She likes the taste and she likes the crunch. But soy nuts are expensive. And it is hard to find soy nuts without salt. I have been known to put a package of unsalted soy nuts in her Christmas stocking. They are that much of a treat for her.
She was at the store recently and found a bag of soy beans. She mistook them for soy nuts until she got home and looked at the bag more closely. Rather than being irritated, she went online and found out that she could make soy nuts at home out of the soy beans.
That is what we have been doing this morning - besides watching an adorable 5 month old creep and roll and kick all over the living room floor.
Here is how she made them:
Soak the soybeans overnight.
Rinse them and let them drain in a colander.
Spray olive oil cooking spray on a pan, add the soy beans, then spray a little more olive oil on top of the beans.
Cook for 15 mins at 400 degrees – then stir them around
Cook another 25-30 mins, then remove them from the oven.
Add salt if you must.
I tried some of the first batch. They are delicious - just as crunchy as packaged soy nuts, but - honestly - much more flavorful.
DD began to wonder if she could do the same with other vegetables. I said that I had eaten crunchy green beans and peas out of packages from the health food store. I thought they were delicious, but they were so expensive that I rarely bought them.
DD had some English peas in her refrigerator, so we tried cooking them in the same way she had cooked the soybeans. They didn’t need to cook quite as long, but again they were delicious.
She and I are both very excited about this. Crunchy vegetables are such an easy snack. You can eat them in the car, or grab a handful when you are busy. When you make them yourself, they are no more expensive than cooking fresh vegetables.
While these might appear to be rather diverse topics, they have something in common - our Darling Daughter. Two weeks ago DD and our sweet grandbaby BC came to our house. Our Son in Love was going to youth camp with the kids in his church. He didn’t want DD to be at home alone with the baby, so we enjoyed four nights and five days with our grandson who was almost four months old.
DD said she had a request to make, if we had the emotional stamina to take it. That got our curiosity up. It turns out that BC, precious as he is, refused to sleep in his bed. When he was a newborn, they planned to have him sleep in a bassinet in their room. But he didn’t like sleeping on his back, the way they recommend newborns sleep these days. To keep him from crying they let him sleep in their arms or on their chests. While that might have been sweet and practical with a newborn, at four months it was getting tiring. DD would nurse him and he would fall asleep in her arms. She would transfer him to the bed and he would instantly wake, and if she didn’t pick him up he would cry inconsolably.
When my own children were little, it had become popular to “just let them cry it out.” “Put them in bed,” my friends said. “They will fuss for about 20 minutes and fall asleep. The next night they will fuss for 15, and in a couple of nights you will put them to bed and they will just fall asleep.” I tried this method with our Strong Son. He cried for five hours. My sleep deprived husband said, “I’m not going to be able to work tomorrow if I don’t get some sleep.” I nursed him, rocked him and said I would never do that again.
When DD was a baby again friends told me to “just let them cry it out.” Against my better judgment, I decided to try again. She cried hysterically for more than an hour, then suddenly the pitch of her cry changed. I was afraid she had hurt herself or caught her leg on her crib. I opened the door to a horrific smell. She had a dirty diaper and it had leaked all over the bed. It was on her pajamas, and in her hair. We bathed her, put on fresh clothes, changed the sheets and said never, never will we do this again.
I don’t know what has happened in the intervening years, but today parents are being given the same advice. One of DD’s friends has two boys, and the “cry it out” technique didn’t work with them either. But she did her own variation. She sat in a chair beside the bed the first night and sang to them until they fell asleep. She did the same in subsequent nights until her boys could put themselves to sleep. DD wanted to try this variation, but SIL couldn’t stand to hear his son cry. She hoped to try it at our house.
The first night she sat by his bed stroking his head and singing while he fussed, whimpered, and clutched a blanket. After 45 minutes he was asleep. He woke once to nurse in the night and went right back to sleep in his bed. The second night he fussed for 20 minutes with her sitting beside the bed assuring him he had not been abandoned. The fussy period was shorter the third night. The last night she put him in bed, he sighed, grabbed the blanket and went to sleep. When they got home, SIL was delighted at the change.
None of that has anything to do with the BTD, it’s just the best advice for getting a baby to put himself or herself to sleep that I know. I’ve wanted to share it in my blog, but wanted to make some kind of BTD connection. This week we are at DD’s house, babysitting while DD and SIL work on a service project with the youth in their church. BC still goes right to sleep in his bed, the way he did at our house.
One day for lunch, DD said, “Mom, would you like to try millet pancakes?” It turns out that a few weeks ago she had been craving millet cornbread, but didn’t have time to bake bread. She mixed up the batter, poured it out on a griddle like pancakes, and it cooked quickly. She told me it was delicious.
I made eggs, she made pancakes, I cut up fruit and we had a delicious brunch. You can get the millet corn bread recipe here. The only change DD makes is that instead of 1/3 cup honey she uses a little less than 1/3 cup agave.
It is a delicious breakfast or brunch for a mother who has enjoyed 8 hours of sleep because her 100% breastfed four month old can sleep through the night.
I recently went to a banquet. The food was unusually good for a large sit down dinner - there were at least 250 plates served. I was the event photographer, so I got to wander all over the ballroom taking pictures. I recognized a friend who had volunteered to serve tables at the event. I complimented her on the food, and said that the green beans in particular were some of the best I had ever eaten.
She went back to the kitchen, and brought out one of the cooks, another volunteer who was also a friend. I said, “I don’t want you to give away any family secrets, but would you share your green bean recipe.” She said, “They are so easy. It’s not really a recipe. I cook green beans with soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic.”
Yesterday I decided to try to copy them for our lunch. I didn’t want to use soy sauce, because of the wheat. So I substituted Braggs Liquid Aminos. You could use Tamari. I didn’t want to use sugar, because if I’m going to break my no refined food policy, I want it to be for a memorable desert, not a vegetable. So I substituted agave.
Here’s how I made them.
Because roasted or stir fry vegetables retain more of their natural vitamins and phyto-nutrients, I started with a skillet and enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom. I added a substantial splash of Braggs, and a squirt of agave. I sprinkled garlic powder on top, stirred it all together, and turned on the stove. When the skillet was warm, but not piping hot, I added a pound of green beans. I sautéed them until they were tender.
They were at least as good, if not better, than the ones at the banquet. We are having the leftovers today for lunch with grilled chicken breasts.
When I go out for Asian food, my first choice is Beef and Broccoli. Both the beef and the broccoli are beneficial for me. I occasionally try Pepper Steak on a buffet line, but I have found that the peppers are usually almost raw. I just don’t care for raw peppers, so I eat the steak and leave most of the peppers behind.
I was reading something the other day about how packed with nutrients bell peppers, particularly red bell peppers are. It made me look at my food lists. Bell peppers are neutral and red bell peppers are beneficial.
That got me to thinking about pepper steak, so I bought one green and one red pepper at the grocery. My ideal pepper steak would have onions along with the peppers. The vegetables would be soft cooked, but not mushy.
Today I decided to see whether the pepper steak I had in my mind would taste as good in my kitchen. I had super lean ground beef left over from earlier in the week. I used that instead of steak. While the peppers and onions were cooking I remembered that I had Braggs Liquid Aminos in the pantry. I decided to use that as flavoring instead of soy sauce (avoid for me because of wheat) or tamari.
I mixed it all together in a bowl, and took a taste. Delicious. Even better than my imagination. It would be excellent served over brown rice or quinoa.
While this would probably not qualify as bonafide Asian fare, it is a tasty food combination and (with the exception of the neutral bell peppers) it is totally beneficial.
We had dinner at Bangkok 54, a Thai restaurant in San Antonio. It is near the home of some wonderful friends, and is one of their favorite places to eat. We’ve been there several times. The food is very good and everything is prepared fresh. It’s worth it just to read the seasoning guide in the menu which begins with, “0: No hot pepper added during preparation” and ends with “911 Hot: No explanation necessary.” I am cautious, and I always choose 1.
I have always eaten their beef and broccoli, but yesterday I had beef for lunch, so I decided to try something new. I chose Chicken with Ginger, and it was outstanding.
At the end of the meal one of our friends said, “Would anyone like to share a dessert?” Both of the men declined, so she looked at me. She knows I am gluten free and rarely eat desserts. “She said, “You should try this Suzanne. You will be surprised. It is made with brown rice and fresh fruit.” I was curious, so I said yes.
Our server brought an oblong plate. On one end was a scoop of rice. On the other end was a freshly sliced mango. My friend, who had obviously shared this dessert before, cut down the middle of both pushing both the rice and the mango towards the two sides of the plate. I watched as she speared a piece of mango with her fork, then scooped up a bit of brown rice. I followed her example it was an incredibly delicious combination.
I think the rice was prepared with coconut milk (which would be avoid for me), but it would be easy to substitute almond milk or some other neutral. I don’t know what kind of sweetener they used, but again, I could use agave or stevia.
It was such a treat to have a dessert. I’ll admit, I have almost completely stopped making desserts, even BTD compliant desserts. The children are grown. Plus I don’t want to sabotage HH’s success at lowering his blood sugar and keeping it low.
I’m thinking this kind of “good for you” dessert might be something to look forward to at the end of a meal once in a while.
The book club came to my house last week for our January meeting. I knew that after Christmas, none of the ladies were going to want to eat desserts or party food. Some people put on a few pounds at Christmas and are eager to take them off. Some people resolve to shed unwanted pounds in the New Year. No one wants to overindulge in January.
I went on Pinterest looking for cute, healthy, winter snack ideas. I made little snowmen out of mozzarella cheese. There was a cute picture of little winter characters made by cutting strawberries in half and filling them with white stuff. I used whipped cream, which tasted good, but collapsed too quickly. One of my friends suggested cream cheese - that would hold up better, but would still be avoid for me. Perhaps a stiff meringue would work. I know I will make both of these fun winter snacks when BC is a toddler.
I baked gluten free ginger bread with black strap molasses. It was very spicy, which some of the ladies liked, but others did not.
The biggest hit of all was roasted vegetables. I made three pans, and there was hardly enough left for my husband to have some for lunch. I roasted carrots, green beans, and zucchini. I also roasted acorn squash in ghee and maple syrup. I peeled the squash and cut it into strips. I put enough ghee and maple syrup in a baking dish to coat the bottom, added the squash strips, and rolled them so they were coated. I baked them at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Most of the ladies like coffee, so I made a pot of coffee. But what to fix on a cold day for ladies, like me, who don’t drink coffee?
Every year at Christmas the town of New Braunfels has Wassailfest. It is within driving distance from our Hill Country home, so we have gone several years. Local shops compete to see who has the best Wassail. I have found that I am very opinionated about the flavor of wassail. I do not like it when it is made with orange juice. Another popular ingredient is Tang. That tastes terrible to me, and if the first sip has a hint of Tang, into the trash it goes. I like my wassail spicy, but I don’t like finding ground cinnamon at the bottom of my cup.
I didn’t set out to make Wassail for the book club. I bought frozen 100% cranberry apple juice and was going to serve it warm. When I mixed up the juice and looked at how much was in the pan, I worried that I didn’t have enough. On impulse, I put in a can of frozen pineapple juice plus the recommended amount of water. Also on impulse I tossed in 6 cloves.
As the ladies served themselves, I heard comments like “Oh, wassail!” “This is really good.” “Best wassail I’ve ever tasted." I tasted some for myself. It really was good. I wish I could enter my accidental recipe in next year’s Wassailfest.
My nephew, his wife, and their three daughters came to visit for New Years. They live a very busy, high stress, fast paced, urban life. They didn’t want to go anywhere or do any excursions. They just wanted to hang out in our living room. Walking to the mailbox a half mile away was a treat to the littlest great niece. Deer running cross the yard was the only thing that motivated everyone to jump out of their chairs. The baby bunnies, who have stayed completely hidden since I nearly ran over them with the lawn mower in November, made a cameo appearance. It was a wonderfully relaxing three days for us as well as them.
Our niece (Type A) talked about how her favorite fast dinner was roasted vegetables. I’ve eaten roasted vegetables in restaurants and they are delicious. I’ve looked into roasting vegetables at home, but it seemed complicated and time consuming.
Yesterday for lunch I put two big turkey tenders, one cup of millet, a can of MSG free chicken broth (plus enough water to make 1 ¾ cups) and 1 tsp of poultry seasoning in a covered casserole dish and put it in the oven. It was done in about an hour.
Then I asked her to fix roasted veggies her way while I watched. Oh my! It was fast. It was easy. It was delicious.
She sprayed two big cookie sheets with cooking spray. She sliced baby carrots in half, cut an acorn squash into cubes, and chopped up some broccoli. I got whole frozen green beans out of the freezer. She put the carrots and squash on the cookie sheet, sprayed the top of them with more cooking spray, and sprinkled them very lightly with salt. Into the oven they went at 400 degrees.
After 15 minutes we added the green beans and broccoli to the cookie sheet. Again she sprayed the top of the vegetables with cooking spray and sprinkled a little salt. In 15 minutes they were all done.
HH loved them. This will definitely become part of our regular menu.
I have only used cooking spray for baking, so I buy the neutral, less expensive canola. She uses EVOO cooking spray for roasted vegetables. It’s now on my grocery list.
We were going to have Cod and Quinoa for lunch. I opened the Tupperware container where I keep my rice and the measuring cup that goes with the rice cooker. There was a weevil in the cup. Oh no!
I look around in the rice and see two more of the little critters. I put the top back on the Tupperware and put it in the freezer. I washed out the cup, checked the quinoa for weevils (weevil-free thankfully) and started it cooking.
There were two more sealed bags of rice that had been bought about the same time. I pulled them off the shelf. Both were filled with healthy, active, hungry weevils. This was getting gross. Put both of those bags in the freezer - it’s the quickest way that I know of to kill the little pests. I began taking things off the shelf where the rice was stored. I saw several loose weevils, so I wiped down the shelf with an antibiotic wipe. I did not find weevils in any of the grain except the rice. Just to be safe, I put all grain and legumes in the freezer.
This all made me remember a story a missionary told me several years ago. She was working in Western Europe. They had a wonderful modern lifestyle, but their church planting work was hard. Most people were not interested in God or spiritual things. It was an affluent time, and the people were happy to enjoy life. One day some colleagues who served in Africa came to spend a few days on their vacation. My friend and her colleague went to the grocery store together. The colleague began to cry.
She said, “You have no idea how fortunate you are to have a grocery store. I go to an open air market every morning and buy food for the day. Then I spend the next few hours picking the rocks and bugs out of the rice and the beans.”
Later, they were talking about their ministries. My friend and her husband told about how easy it was to become discouraged in Europe. But the colleague and her husband’s eyes lit up when they talked about their church. The people in their African city were eager to know about God. Because of their poverty, they longed for the hope of a better world, and they responded to the message that God cared about them.
Later today I will pick through the rice in the Tupperware and pick out the weevils. I’ll rinse the rice before I cook it. The two unopened packages will be returned to the grocery store for a refund.
I find myself wondering how weevils get into and out of sealed packages? And how in the world do they get inside Tupperware containers?
Our lunch was delicious. The quinoa cooked perfectly in the rice cooker. I seasoned the Cod with one of Mrs. Dash’s salt free blends. I also ate left over black beans with collard greens. HH had Cole Slaw and grapes.
If you think barbacoa is a Spanish word for barbeque you are wrong.
If you told me a year ago, that I would not only eat, but cook for myself the cheek of a cow, I would have thought you crazy.
I confess, it's true. I truly enjoy this tender Mexican dish.
I have been working on a genealogy project for a client. Two books in the three volume set have already been printed, and we finished work on the third yesterday. Now we proof...and proof...and proof again.
My client and I work together 2-3 days a week. We usually start about 10:30, and she serves us lunch. Often it is fresh fruit or vegetables from her garden. Sometimes it is fresh eggs from the chickens who run wild in her yard. One day, she asked if I liked barbacoa and picadillo. I told her that I had eaten picadillo, but I wasn't familiar with barbacoa. She sent out for one taco of each, from a little taco stand near her home.
Picadillo is ground beef and potatoes, cooked with onion and spices. It is good.
I tasted the barbacoa and immediately loved it. It was a very flavorful, tender shredded beef served with raw onions and cilantro. My client waited until I had finished, then she told me that barbacoa is the meat from the cheek of the cow.
If I had known what I was going to eat that first time, I think I would have gagged. Cheek meat? Really? Yuk!
However I had already tried it and was hooked. From that point on, if she didn't have any specific lunch plans, she sent out for barbacoa.
She cooks her own barbacoa, and one day pulled a package of raw meat out of her freezer and told me it was a cow's cheek. She told me to cook it in my crockpot all day with onion and garlic. After it cooled she said to separate the meat from the fat with my hands. There is a lot of fat around the meat, but if you separate carefully, the meat itself is very lean.
It was so good, and since I was the only Type O in the house at the time, it lasted several days.
I've seen barbacoa recipes on the internet that call for tomatoes, chili powder, peppers and other spices. No, No, No. That's not how barbacoa is made in South Texas.
My client and I have talked a lot about food, including the Blood Type Diet. She is also Type O. I would say she is politely skeptical about this diet. Once in a while she tempts me with something that is avoid. Sometimes by accident, and sometimes she is testing me.
It amuses her to watch me eat the barbacoa and onions out of the tortilla with a fork. That's ok, because I'm smiling as I enjoy this unique cut of beef.
I'm working with a client who wants to publish a three volume book on her family genealogy. She comes from a very interesting and historic family, which has made the project a lot of fun. I'm doing the layout and design, plus helping with the research.
She and her husband have a big garden, and one day while I was working he came in with several gigantic heads of cauliflower. Her eyes got big and she said, "What am I going to do with that much cauliflower?"
One of my facebook friends had posted a recipe for roasted cauliflower. It looked really good so I printed it out and took it to my client, who made it for dinner that very night. The next day she was raving about how good it was. Cauliflower is avoid for me, but I saved the recipe thinking that it would probably be good with other roasted vegetables.
Yesterday I decided to fix okra for lunch. My Honorable Husband said he would eat a little, but he wasn't a big fan of okra. It is beneficial for us both, so I wanted to prepare it in a way that might make him change his mind about okra. I was thumbing through cookbooks, when I remembered the roasted cauliflower recipe. I decided to make roasted okra.
Here is the original recipe.
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1/2 -1 inch florets
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs,
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup olive oil - make sure the florets are well coated
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400º.
Toss florets with olive oil, bread crumbs and cheese. Spread in a single layer on jelly roll sheet lined with nonstick foil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast 30-40 minutes, until nicely browned
I looked for gluten free bread crumbs at the grocery store. The first package I picked up was obscenely expensive. Irks me how food companies will take advantage of people with dietary concerns. Then lower on the shelf, I found gluten free bread crumbs by a company called Four Sisters and a Brother. There are NO avoids, and the price was reasonable - Hallelujah! If your grocer doesn't carry them, you can buy them on line.
Because Parmesan Cheese is already salty, I did not add any additional salt.
As okra cooks, it produces a slimy juice. While it roasted, I stirred it three times. The first two times made the bread crumbs absorb the juice so that the coating stuck to the okra almost like fried okra. The third time I stirred was too much. Some of the coating fell off. I can see there is an element of finesse to perfect this recipe with okra. I'm sure it's easier with other veggies.
The outcome - in a word was delicious. I liked it. HH liked it. The leftovers are not going to last for long.
My Darling Daughter now has her own blog. As a pastor's wife, she usually blogs about spiritual issues in the culture. However this week she posted a pumpkin recipe that is incredibly delicious. Those of you who have read my blog for a long time have watched DD grow up from her middle school years. I'm going to post her whole blog so you can catch a glimpse of the young woman she has become. The Pumpkin Pudding recipe is at the bottom.
I love the reactions people give when they ask what the "orange stuff" that I'm eating is. I reply "pumpkin" - and then wait. The response is always - "Like, pumpkin pie?" "No... just pumpkin." "Oh..." [followed by a really grossed out look].
What can I say... I love pumpkin!
Not only is it a delicious vegetable, but it is also a very nutritious vegetable. Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene, a pro-vitamin that is converted to vitamin A in the body - which is essential for eye health and may be linked to preventing coronary heart disease. It is also a great immune booster. One cup of pumpkin has ten grams of fiber, four grams of protein, and only eighty calories. The pumpkin seeds are also good for you. They have protein, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. They have high levels of phytosterols which can reduce cholesterol and help prevent against some types of cancer.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
To me, one of the best ways to glorify God with your body is by putting good things into it. If I nourish my body - the body that God designed uniquely for me - I am honoring Him. What I put into my body is important. Just as what I watch and hear affect my mind and heart, the food and drink I put into my body also affect me.
When my Heroic Husband prays for our food, he almost always says, "...and let us eat this food in a way that honors You." I love that! I want to live in a way that honors God - so why would I not want to eat in a way that honors God?
I was very blessed and fortunate to grow up in a home where health was important. When I was little, my Marvelous Mother fixed good food for me. As I grew older, she taught me to cook healthy food for myself. Today, we still love getting together and cooking delicious, healthy meals.
The other day, while I was looking at the benefits of chia seeds (and they are really good for you too), I came across a new pumpkin recipe. I decided to modify the ingredients a little and try it out.
As I was quickly mixing it together that night, my Heroic Husband asked, "What is that?" I said, "I don't exactly know, but it will either be really good or really bad." Let me tell you - it is really good!
1/4 Cup Chia Seeds
1/4 Cup Pure Canned Pumpkin
1 Cup Almond Milk
1 Tablespoon Agave Nectar
1/2 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Dash of Nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Make sure to mix them well - the chia seeds and cinnamon like to clump together - as does the pumpkin.
[NOTE: Your mixture will look NOTHING like pudding. It will be a watery substance. Do not worry! As the chia seeds sit, they will absorb the access liquid.]
Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.
3 John 1:2
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
Last weekend we had an early Easter with our family. DD and SIL came on Friday. They spent Saturday morning and afternoon doing income taxes with HH's help. Certainly a stressful start to the weekend! But after that it was all relaxed and fun. SS drove down in time for dinner.
I cooked a roast for the three Type Os, and had salmon patties for the two Type As. We also had rice, green beans, spinach, and butternut squash.
I wanted to tell you about the butternut squash. When I cook it for myself, I scoop it out of the peel one serving at a time. I sprinkle a little cinnamon on top and eat it. But I thought it should look nicer for a family dinner. I cooked the whole squash in the oven that morning. Just before dinner I separated the good part from the seeds and peeling. I mashed it with cinnamon, ginger, and olive oil. I put it in a casserole dish and sprinkled it with chopped almonds. Just before dinner, I warmed it in the oven. It was delicious.
Last Sunday morning we all got to go to church together. When the children were growing up, going to church together was such a normal, every week event. Now with SIL pastoring a church far away and SS active in a church less than an hour away, we rarely get to worship together. So this was a special time for us as a family.
Today is Palm Sunday. This morning we sang joyful praise songs. The service was exciting. Tonight we had a candlelight Lord's Supper. The service was serious and thoughtful. HH and I got home in time to watch "The Bible" on the History Channel.
A friend asked me what I thought about "The Bible." At first I laughed and said, "Oh you know me; I always think the book is always better than the movie." But seeing she was serious, I gave a serious answer. You can't possibly cover the entire Bible in five two-hour shows. Some things have to be combined or left out. There is some interpretation of detail where the Bible is silent.
However, I think they have done a remarkable job of accurately portraying the major themes of the Bible. It's certainly worth watching. Next week, on Easter Sunday, they will show the Resurrection, the growth of the church, and the Book of Revelation. I think we will have eggs for dinner while we watch!
This blog is not about what a great cook I am! I'm writing it to encourage you to be bold and innovative in your own kitchen as you live life on the BTD.
I am embarrassed to admit that I didn't buy just one package of the inexpensive cod that turned out to be half gristle and bone. There were two packages still in my freezer and I decided to get rid of one of them. HH loves New England Clam Chowder. Clams are avoid for him as a Type A and potatoes are avoid for him because of his history of high blood sugar.
I wondered if I could make a healthy chowder with cod. I found a couple of recipes in the BTD recipe database. Some of them substituted sweet potatoes for white, but that wouldn't help things for him as a Type A. However it made me think that if I found an otherwise good recipe I could leave out potatoes altogether and serve it over rice.
I liked the sound of one recipe on the BTD site and I found two other recipes on the Internet. Unfortunately I was out of a couple of key ingredients and I had already thawed the cod.
While the onions and garlic were cooking, I started separating the edible fish from the garbage. I'm not sure whether I am an incurable optimist or really naive, but I was confident that somehow the meal would come together. I used almond milk instead of cream. I added parsley, a traditional chowder ingredient but it was still too bland. There was none of the heartiness I associate with chowder.
I have a friend who served me split pea soup the other day. It was exceptionally good. When I asked her about the recipe, she said she had added cumin.
I added cumin and fresh cilantro to the pot. Suddenly we had very tasty fish chowder with a Southwestern flavor. Sometime I will have to plan ahead and make a BTD version of New England Chowder, but in the meantime this version turned out to be a very good meal.
What I want you to take away from this blog, is this: if your pantry is filled with beneficial and neutral ingredients, be bold in substituting ingredients in a recipe. Unless you are trying to copy a gourmet sauce or pastry with a very distinct texture, you will find that most recipes are very flexible. If a recipe calls for an avoid ingredient think of a beneficial or neutral substitute. If a recipe calls for a spice that you are out of, substitute something else. You have the potential to be an award winning chef when it comes to the happiness and health of your own family.
I am slightly out of breath as I type this blog, but I am smiling, because I rode my bike for almost an hour this afternoon and I didn't have to walk up any hills. I blogged a few weeks ago about my disappointment that I had run out of energy and had to walk my bicycle up the last big hill before I got home.
I had lots of excuses. We were out of town a lot last fall and I hadn't had time to ride. Early winter was unusually cold, and I wimped out about riding in the chilly wind. Of course, it's always easy to blame my age. Women nearing 60 lose muscle every year because of hormones, and it's a struggle to exercise enough to maintain the muscle I have, much less to build more. Whatever the reason, I had obviously neglected certain muscles in my legs.
I've ridden several times since that blog. Every time I have ridden farther and faster and up more hills. But today was the first time since last summer that I have ridden straight up the last hill.
I am smiling because I achieved a goal. I am smiling because I feel physically good after that kind of strenuous exercise. Most of all I am smiling because I have proved to myself that I can still build muscle. Now - I need to concentrate on building more of it!
On an entirely different subject, I made Kasha last night. I asked myself as I ate it with chicken and steamed vegetables, why I don't make it more often. Buckwheat is a good neutral grain for Type Os. Despite its name, it isn't wheat at all, and it is gluten free.
If you just cook buckwheat, it turns out with a texture sort of like oatmeal. But if you follow the Kasha recipe on the package and brown it first with an egg, then add boiling water, it turns out fluffy like rice. It takes less time to buckwheat on the stove than to cook rice in the rice cooker.
This afternoon I had Kasha with black currant preserves. It was as good as dessert.