Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Red Tomato Harvest.

September 22, 2020; the first day of autumn, the beginning of Mabon and celebration of the fall season.  Mabon is the Second Harvest; a reflection of the past, gratitude for the present, blessings for the future.  A week-long celebration in which the bounties of fruits, vegetables and grains are harvested for the final time.  Pickling, jamming, jellies, bread making, dehydrating, roasting, and food preservation are the major goals.  Winter, depending upon where one lives, can be knocking at the door at any moment.

In my previous article, we visited the taste treat of Fried Green Tomatoes.  I bet many of the home cooks tried it, but I bet many others pickled those green tomatoes for future use.  Since this is time for Second Harvest, consider this a second article to figure out what to do with all those extra red tomatoes.  While they can be canned or frozen whole, homemade pasta sauce and salsa are very much delicious options.   However, two other options are dehydrating and roasting. 

Dehydration is extracting all moisture from a thinly sliced food item, then sealing it in air tight packaging.  It can be seasoned before processing, but be careful as anything added will be greatly intensified in flavor.  Jerky?  Yes, this is made through the dehydration process, as is “fruit leather”.  Owning a dehydrator makes the process easier, less messy, more hygienic, but still time consuming.  Cutting the ripe, red tomatoes into one quarter inch slices, space them out on the dehydrator disks.  Cover, turn on the device and my three trays still took eight hours to completion.  If all five trays had been used, the time would have been ten to twelve hours.  Once completely dried, carefully lift the slices which have shrunk to 1/8th of an inch thin.  I placed mine in a resealable plastic bag, making sure to, carefully, squeeze out the air, before sealing.  Yes, a container can be used, but it is air that will destroy all your hard work by creating mold on the tomato slices.  Keep them in a cool, dry, dark environment; heat and light are not friends to dried foods.  In a cabinet, they will keep for six months; stored in a freezer is a one year bounty!

Freshly sliced tomatoes in dehydrator.

Dried tomato slices.

Dehydrated Tomatoes

The other method for drying out tomatoes is to Sun Dry.  The tomatoes are sliced, placed on parchment lined trays and exposed to the sun until completely dried out.  This method takes days, leaves the tomatoes open to the air, and anything air borne.  While, in Utah, the red dust of our magnificent sandstone formations is nicknamed “seasoning”, do we really want it on our drying tomatoes?  Then there are insects, falling leaves, pet hair, and who knows what other non-tasty and unhealthy yuck that might get added in.  So, as you can guess, I am partial to a dehydrator.

What can dehydrated tomatoes be used for?  First, they can easily be rehydrated by soaking in hot water for thirty minutes.  Chop them up to add to salads, slices onto sandwiches, or anything else tomatoes are called for.  They can, also, simply be crushed or ground up to be added to soups, stews, dressings, and basically any dish calling for seasoning.  Dried tomatoes have intensified tomato flavor, so add a sweet/tart/tangy balance to a recipe.

Roasted tomatoes will not keep as long as dried.  Up to five days in the refrigerator, only six months if frozen.  Reason being is the cooked olive oil which can eventually turn rancid, even if frozen.  However, these little tidbits are so exquisitely delicious, they will not last long anyway!

Preheating the oven to 450F, slice the tomatoes, again, to one quarter inch thickness.  If using cherry tomatoes, simply cut in half.  In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes with a half cup of olive oil  (this is for 6-8 large Roma tomatoes), one quarter cup of Italian herbal mix, one tablespoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, one half teaspoon of fine sea salt. 

 

Place the tomato slices, or halves, in rows, onto jelly roll pans (the sides will keep the oil from leaking onto the oven floor).  Roast for 20-25 minutes in the oven; any longer and they will begin to turn too mushy.  Let cool for 15 minutes before placing in air tight containers or bags.


Roasted Tomatoes

You will be tasting them, I know you cannot resist!  Have any frozen pizza in the freezer?  Unwrap, place a few slices of the roasted tomatoes on it, and then rewrap.  Wait until you finally bake that pizza, the taste will make your eyes pop out!


How about some Bruschetta?  While the tomatoes are roasting, brush thick slices of Italian or French bread (even sub rolls will work) lightly with olive oil.  Once the tomatoes are done, space them out on the bread, top with shredded mozzarella and pop back into that 450F oven for 15-18 minutes.  One bite, and you will be totally in love!





Bruschetta and Roasted Tomatoes

Joyous Mabon, Welcome Autumn, Second Harvest is here, Celebrate and eat some tomatoes!

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Journey of Fried Green Tomatoes.

Like a lot of women, I happen to enjoy the occasional “chick flick”, and one such movie is Fried Green Tomatoes.    It came out in 1991, based on a novel by Fannie Flagg, about the women at the Whistle Stop CafĂ©.   Starring Mary Louise Parker, Mary Stuart Masterson, Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy, this is feel-good story of female friendship and empowerment in Alabama.  This is also the first time many Americans heard of “fried green tomatoes”, and it was assumed the recipe originated in the Southern United States.

Actually, fried green tomatoes was not a dish served, in the South, before 1991, but were well known in the Northeast and Midwest.  According to Robert F. Moss, a food historian and writer in South Carolina, "they entered the American culinary scene in the Northeast and Midwest, perhaps with a link to Jewish immigrants, and from there moved onto the menu of the home-economics school of cooking teachers who flourished in the United States in the early-to-mid 20th century."  (https://alforno.blogspot.com/2007/08/fried-green-tomato-swindle.html)

While Moss found recipes in several Jewish and Midwestern cookbooks of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were none in Southern cookbooks or newspapers.  Due to the movie, the origin of fried green tomatoes became lost, and re-designated to a whole new region of the United States.  See, a good example why history should not be messed with!

A recipe for "Fried Green Tomatoes" appears in the International Jewish Cookbook (1919), recommended as "an excellent breakfast dish," (Of course I have a copy, did you really have to ask?)   The recipe also appears in Aunt Babette's Cookbook (1889), another kosher Jewish recipe book. Recipes for "fried tomatoes" (though not necessarily green ones) appear in several Midwestern cookbooks from the late 19th Century, including the Buckeye Cookbook (1877) and The Presbyterian Cookbook (1873) from the First Presbyterian Church of Dayton, OH.  (Ok, no, I do not have any of these others named.)

Basically, we have fried green tomatoes beginning the journey in the Northeast, primarily New York.  It then begins traveling towards the Midwest, but only ends up in the Southern states due to a movie.   Which now ties into Good Things to Eat – From Old Nauvoo -, and a copy of this little cookbook can be obtained at the Restoration Bookstore (https://restorationbookstore.org/collections/cookbooks/products/90209000).   What does this recipe journey tie into, you wonder?  For those not entirely familiar with the Mormon religion, Mormonism originated in the 1820s, in western New York, during a reform period known as the Second Great Awakening.

Most of the population were none too happy with this new religion (so much for reform), so the members moved towards the Midwest. Settling in Kirtland, Ohio, there was hope to establish a permanent New Jerusalem, or City of Zion, in Jackson County, Missouri. However, they were pushed out of Jackson County in 1833 and forced to settle in other parts of Missouri in 1838.

What has this all to do with the Temple at Nauvoo, and a cookbook?  The Church's first temple was in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1836, and the only one completed in the lifetime of Joseph Smith. Another Temple was built in Nauvoo, Illinois, but in the winter of 1846, the Mormons were forced out once again.  This Temple received a double insult, in 1848, by being damaged by fire, and a tornado, before finally being demolished.

Now what I really want you all to see, is the correlation of the traveling of Jewish immigrants, from New York, to the Midwest; and the Mormon journey.  Was there perhaps interaction going on, a sharing between two separately distinct religions?  Maybe not in religious doctrines, but when it comes to cooking and recipes, you know all the ladies were sharing and comparing!  So, there is no wonder that a Jewish culinary recipe would find its way into a cookbook, related to Nauvoo.

On page 62, appears "Fried Tomatoes", and the batter for this recipe is versatile.  It is thin enough to make crepes (take out the black pepper if not desired), or add more flour for deliciously, fluffy pancakes.  Oh, and there is also a recipe for "Summer Squash Pancakes" on the same page; and here is a great lead in to harvesting. 

So many tomatoes, so little time to get them red enough to create sauce or salsa.  There they sit, all those green tomatoes, on the window sill.  Hoping daily that the sun will ripen them up quickly.  I have the patience, I can wait, but...but...what do those green tomatoes taste like.  They are firm (almost hard), moist, but not juicy, and sour (pucker up!).  No one wants to eat that, well, except those who love sour.  Now is the time to make yourself, your family, even friends, a real taste treat, Fried Green Tomatoes.  In the Nauvoo recipe, sugar is added to combat the sour of the green tomato.  However, we enjoy dipping our slices into a mildly spiced Ranch dressing which enhances, not only the tomato, but the fried batter around it.   For added crunch, after putting the batter on the tomato slices, press Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) on, before frying up.

Now this recipe seems to be for firm red tomatoes, but I have personally found them to still be too juicy for a good fry-up.  …and the way I am constantly making sauce, there are hardly ever enough around to be fried up anyway.


 Fried Tomatoes

(Good Things to Eat – From Old Nauvoo – page 62)

 

Ingredients:

6-8 tomatoes  

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

¼ tsp. pepper

2 eggs, beaten

1 Tbsp. butter

 

Preparation:

Wash tomatoes and cut them into ½ inch slices.  Melt butter slowly in a skillet. 



Mix other ingredients together.
  Dip the tomatoes in the batter, covering both sides.  SautĂ©’ 2 or 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. 




You may also use green tomatoes (Yes, do this!!!).  Add extra sugar (No, you don’t have to!)

Even food has its own historical background, and I do hope you enjoyed this culinary journey.

Mary Cokenour

 

 

 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Honey Bees and Water

With Fall being just around the corner, animals and insects are attempting to get their homes, nests and hives ready for Winter’s cold, and darker, days. Back on June 21st, our home was blessed with the arrival of a swarm of honey bees. Cindy Smith, and her husband, came to their rescue; taking them home and providing a new hive. Seems an old tree had fallen within our Monticello neighborhood, and these bees were looking for sanctuary. 

Within the past week, about three dozen honey bees have been visiting our backyard once again. With the recent rains, our bird bath was full to capacity; its rim providing just the correct distance for bees to drink. That is correct, drink water; bees will travel up to five miles, from the hive, to find water. Like we humans, bees are mainly live sacks of water that need to keep hydrated. “…it has been estimated that the bees may be bringing back nearly a gallon of water a day." (Bug Squad: https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=14566)

Of course there are a variety of uses for water, including hive maintenance, honey production and the nurse bees must insure the health and well-being of the queen. Bees cannot swim, so they can drown if they fall into a water source. While the bird bath has a rim, we added flat rocks for them to perch on as well. They lower their proboscis into the water and suck it up. The proboscis is a straw-like tongue used for slurping up liquids and also for tasting. When not being used for either chore, the proboscis is folded up and stored in a groove-like structure in the bee's head. 

We checked on the bees daily, making sure the water was reachable for them, and that none had fallen into the water. One night I found two floating in the water, not moving, and I feared they had passed on. Placing them into the palm of my hand, I spoke to them, telling them how sorry I was for getting there too late. I was going to recite a blessing over them, when suddenly, there was movement. Little legs began to twitch; they were alive, but needed warmth.


Bringing them into my home, I continued to cup them inside my palm, and talked to them the entire time. Slowing rising up, they both began to clean themselves thoroughly. Drooping antennae lifted upward; legs swept against bodies and wings; they began to walk and it tickled. As they became more active, their little butts began to wiggle, and I knew it was time.
 


Walking outdoors, one took off immediately; the second was hesitant. Simply sitting in a chair, watching the sun set, my honey bee companion and I; and then it left. 

This is, for me, one of those moments that confirms why life is worth living.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Spiff Up Those Harvested Garden Crops.


August, a time to begin harvesting the bounty of the gardens, and having in mind to store and/or share.  For some gardeners, this may be a second coming for crops such as tomatoes, squashes, peppers, and other hardy vegetables.  Potatoes, onions and garlic are dug up and placed in root cellars; or heavy duty containers layered with straw.  Herbs have been clipped, tied, labeled and hung upside down for drying; their aromatic scents soothing the mind, body and soul.

However, that does not mean that the enticement to eat is thinking about hibernation.  The colors of vegetables tickle the mind with recipe ideas.  The tomato fruit ripened sweet, begging to be sliced and eaten.  Perhaps layered upon toasted rustic bread, smeared with garlic and paired with Buffalo mozzarella and savory leaves of basil.

So comes an introduction to another Italian dish, Pizzaiola.  “Pizza” is within the name, but the inclusion of tomatoes, garlic and onions is as far as it goes.  Hailing from Campania, Naples, Pizzaiola features a Neapolitan style of cooking, focusing on cheaper cuts of meat.  The meat is sliced, or cut into pieces or strips, and cooked slowly in a sauce of tomatoes, olive oil and oregano; some versions include garlic, capers, peppers and basil. It is a way of making a hardy meal with what little you have to work with. So on to my story...



I have made this dish during my first marriage, but my ex-husband always hated it.  Funny thing about him was, his ancestry was Italian and he disliked Italian foods.  Should have known right then there was something not quite right about him; never trust an Italian that does not enjoy food of his own heritage.  However, that is water under the bridge, and my second husband, Roy has enjoyed all I have made.  Well, except for Eggplant Parmigiana which we both dislike.  Oh, I will make it for those who ask for it, I do not discriminate when it comes to culinary cultures.   

Anyway, back to the Pizzaiola which I typically make with thinly sliced chuck steak which is cheaper, but also fattier in texture.  To tenderize, lightly sprinkle salt, ground black pepper and red wine vinegar (two tablespoons) over the sliced meat (two pounds).  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.







Defrosted was a one quart container of vegetarian pasta sauce containing a pureed mixture of tomatoes, eggplant (see, it has its uses), zucchini, red bell peppers, garlic, onions and Italian herbs.  However, the garden has been harvested; hitting the vegetable bin: tomatoes, onions, zucchini, mushrooms (store bought) and green bell peppers. The colors would be amazing in the skillet, simmering in my rich sauce with slices of steak!


Now let’s put this masterpiece together, shall we?

Carefully unwrap the meat on a large plate, or juices will be running all over your counter.  Using a large, deep skillet, add two tablespoons of olive oil, high heat, and sear the meat on both sides.   If you happen to use a leaner cut of beef, it is not very fatty, so leave it in just long enough to get the sear, but not cook it completely. Fattier meats will take a bit longer and you want to discard the melted fat, or you'll end up with an oil slick on your sauce. Yuck!






Give the skillet a wipe down with a paper towel; now spread two cups of sauce in the pan and lay the beef on top of the sauce.  










Typically I would just use sliced onions, but this time I was going for the whole color palette. Two tomatoes cut into wedges, 1/4 lb. of sliced white mushrooms, two sliced zucchini, one julienned green bell pepper, and one sliced large onion. There was no need for extra minced garlic or Italian herbs as it was already in my sauce. Yes, yes, some of these vegetables were already in the vegetarian pasta sauce, but they had been cooked down and pureed. We were going for texture here. Spread the vegetables over the steak.  





Spread remaining sauce over all and work it between the vegetables with a spoon.  










Cover the skillet with a lid, set the heat on medium-low and let it cook for two hours. Occasionally stir the sauce throughout the vegetables and meat; if the sauce is bubbling hard and splattering, reduce the heat to low. Since it will be cooking for two hours, you do not have to rush to make your pasta, but have it ready once the Pizzaiola is done. 



Usually the Pizzaiola is served over Rigatoni; this tubular pasta with ridges catches onto, and holds the sauce so well.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat and as much of the veggies as you can to a serving platter. Take your cooked pasta and immerse it into the sauce remaining in the skillet and let it cook together for about five minutes. This will allow the pasta to pick up the flavors from the sauce.



There should be eight servings to this meal, however, Roy overindulged and doubled up on his plate.  I just love that man, and he so loves my cooking.  Watching him eat, and the pleasure on his face, it just fills my heart with love and joy. 

Anyway, if you want to impress your family and/or guests, consider making this Italian dish.   
Thinking to yourself, how do I make this a more romantic meal for two?  Embark on a new adventure into Pizzaiola, making it a luxurious cruise using London broil. The evening before,   cut the London broil into one inch pieces, seasoned with salt, ground black pepper and a sprinkling (two tablespoons) of red wine, instead of red wine vinegar.  Encased in plastic wrap, the meat marinates overnight, the red wine infusing a heady flavor, and tenderizing as well.   Spoon the Pizzaiola over long, flat strands of Tagliatelle, and perhaps have a Lady and the Tramp moment. Do not forget the candlelight!

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Hmmm of Fried Dough.

Fried foods, in general, give the kind of mouth-feel that says, "All is right with the world."  Why, is the question, but we all know the answer, it is the fat.  It does something to our taste buds, and our brains, which make us feel happy all over.  Fats are able to dissolve quickly, concentrate flavor, and release odor chemicals into the air.  The molecules from these chemicals enter the nose and mouth, so you are experiencing the “taste” even before the food is eaten.  For example, sizzling bacon in the pan, the smell wafting throughout the kitchen, the salivary glands begin working and you can “taste” that bacon before it is fully cooked. 

But, is eating fat good for the human body?  Good question, and the answers are surely confusing when considering Unsaturated Fat vs. Saturated Fat vs. Trans Fat.  Unsaturated Fat has two categories, and these are the best fats, nutrition wise: Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated.  Contrary to the name, the “saturation” deals primarily with not how the food, being fried, absorbs the fats, but the human body.  The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has a short, but informative, and easily understandable, article on the different fats available, and their benefits, or lack thereof.  (https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/)

Using “bad fats” for cooking is often justified by thinking the basic nutrition of a food will outweigh the “bad”.  For instance, deep fried vegetables, even the light Tempura style, are packed with veggie nutrition, right?   Sure, whatever you say; but we all know it is the crunch of the deep fried batter that we crave, and no one is thinking about nutritional value.

Now when it comes to deep frying, dough is a favorite in many cultures.   Native Americans have Fry Bread, which is nicknamed the “scone” of Utah.  Zeppole; singular term is Zeppola, and in the Southern dialects it is Zeppoli, are light, deep-fried dough balls about 2 inches in diameter.  They originated in Italy to celebrate the Feast of Saint Joseph.  Since it is typically in the season of Lent, these can be compared to the German, Fastnachts; a type of deep fried donut made with flour, sugar and a fat.  If in New Orleans, the Beignet is the equivalent; all can be covered in powdered sugar, cinnamon, and, sometimes, filled with fruit or jam.

The all American favorite is the donut, supposedly invented by Hanson Gregory, an American. He created the ring-shaped dough-nut in 1847, aboard a lime-trading ship, when he was 16 years old; then taught the technique to his mother.  He punched a hole in the center of dough, with the ship's tin pepper box.  This enabled the dough to cook thoroughly throughout, and easy to flip over.  Now this story has been deemed an old sea tale, considering fried dough has been around for centuries, within many global cultures.  The hole in the dough-nut is attributed to a Jewish refugee, from czarist Russia, named Adolph Levitt; responsible for inventing the first automated doughnut machine in 1920. His machine-produced doughnuts were labeled the “Hit Food of the Century of Progress” at the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair.

Whether it is fry bread, beignets, Zeppole, or any other type of fried dough, deep down inside, we all have a little Homer Simpson in us.  "Hmmm...Donuts".  Nuff' said, and here are two recipes to try when you have got that fried, sweet food craving.


Apple Fritters

Ingredients:

Oil for frying
2 cups flour
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
2 and ½ tsp. cinnamon
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 and ½ cups diced apple (peeled)

Glaze:

3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 and ½ tsp. vanilla
½ cup warm water

Preparation:

Fill deep fryer to fill line, or deep skillet halfway up, with oil; bring temperature up to 375F.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.  Add in milk and eggs; beat, on medium speed, till smooth; fold in diced apple.

Use 1/3 measuring cup to spoon up batter, and a rubber spatula to ease the batter into the oil.  Depending on size of deep fryer, or deep skillet, 2-3 fritters can be made at a time.

While first batch is frying, in a small bowl, combine the sugar, vanilla and water to make the glaze; whisk until smooth and creamy.

When fritters are golden brown, drain on paper towels and let cool slightly; dip fritters into glaze and place on jelly roll pan lined with waxed or parchment paper.

Makes 6-8 fritters.

...but not to be outdone...

Zeppoli

Ingredients:

Vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs
3 Tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. baking powder
Powdered (confectioner’s) sugar

Preparation:

Pour oil to fill line in a deep fryer, or deep skillet; bring temperature to 400F.

In medium bowl, mix together flour, eggs, sugar and baking powder until smooth.  Using a teaspoon, drop batter into the hot oil; depending on size of fryer, about 3-4 at a time.

To turn the Zeppoli in the hot oil, use a wooden chopstick or kebob skewer.  When the Zeppoli floats to the top, and is golden brown all around, remove to paper towels to drain. While hot, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Makes about 2 dozen.

Mary Cokenour


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Sharing the Wealth of Hunted Meat.


 Since moving to Monticello, in 2009, I have to say that some of the kindest folks we have encountered, were local hunters.  Each year, after deer and elk seasons were done; after meat was butchered and processed, the sharing came.  Whether it was to a place of employment, or a packed plastic grocery bag left at the front door; processed packages of deer and elk meat were given freely to our family.  No compensation asked for, just a simple “thank you” made the giver happy.  Of course, my baked goods always made a showing, at the hunter’s home, eventually.

Unfortunately, the hunters we knew have moved, or passed, on; we have not seen any of this sharing of the hunted wealth for two years now.  While we miss the kindness of the giving act, and the meat, we also understand that the last two years have been challenging to so many.  Especially 2020, when each month is a new scenario of ill health, financial woes, and violence under the guise of “social reform”.  Yes, there are many examples of sharing and caring, but privately, the wagons have been circling for the “just in case” scenario.

Personally, each year I purchase a desk calendar to record appointments, attach greeting cards, mementoes, ticket stubs to enjoyable events, etc.  At the end of each year, I pack it away in a box where the other years reside.  I want my memories.  However, I have not purchased one for 2020; I just did not get around to it, and then Covid-19 hit.  No events to attend, appointments cancelled, heck, not even the occasional greeting card in the mail.  Last week we went to the Walmart in Cortez, CO as I needed printer ink and paper, and could not wait for a delivery.  Then I saw it, a 2020 desk calendar; a bluish-purple color, just my style, and I kept walking.  No way, no how, was I purchasing that item; there was no intention, of tempting fate, happening that day!

How strange that the idea, of purchasing a desk calendar, could bring on an unnatural feeling of dread.  Let me tell you that going to Sonic, to gorge on burgers and (the most awesome) onion rings, made it all feel so much better.

Anyway, to all the hunters out there that are successfully making a kill, to feed their families, we salute you.  We salute the dedication of your sitting in camouflage, in an uncomfortable blind, for hours; possibly covered in the pee of your prey. 

…and here is a recipe to make that deer or elk meat taste that much deserved.  Hint, sprinkle some red wine vinegar on the venison, cover in plastic and leave overnight.  Kills that gamey smell and taste, unless you like it though, then ignore this hint.

Opening up the paper wrapped package, removing the meat from a plastic bag, I am still amazed at how beautiful elk meat is; so lean, red and looking like something only a rich person could afford to indulge in.  Slicing into thin strips, the meat (use two pounds for this recipe) is mixed with two tablespoons of light soy sauce (to bring out more of the rich elk flavor), plus a half teaspoon each of fine sea salt and ground black pepper; also one teaspoon of garlic powder.   Place the bowl, covered in plastic wrap, into the refrigerator for a half hour to settle.  During that half hour, prep a large green bell pepper by seeding, and slicing, it into 1/4 inch strips; also two large onions cut into 1/4 inch strips.  Green bell peppers are very flavorful, so use only one large; otherwise use two red, yellow or orange which are milder, for more peppers in this dish.

Over medium-high heat, large skillet, heat up two tablespoons of canola oil, add in the peppers and onions. Give them an occasional toss, but do not add the elk, into the skillet, until they just began to soften.  Spread the meat on top to allow the peppers and onions to start browning on their edges. Then begin mixing all three together, making sure to turn the strips of meat as they too browned. This all takes about 20 minutes to accomplish, then comes the cheese - 16 slices of American cheese plus 8 slices of Provolone. That’s correct, 12 slices of cheese for each pound of meat.

Once the cheeses are completely melted and mixed in with the other ingredients, remove the skillet from the heat source and let it rest for 5 minutes.  The cheese will thicken around the meat and vegetables, and be ready to serve up in sub rolls. 

You have just created, Elk, or Venison, Philly Cheesesteaks!  Spectacular! The meat is so tender; all the ingredients marry together well, so that no one item is overwhelmed in taste.  Whether you already have meat in the freezer, or anticipating the next season of hunting, this is a dish worth waiting to try out.


Bonus with any leftovers; get out the pasta pot, fill it half way with water, set on high heat to bring to a rolling boil.   Take out the leftovers, place in a large skillet and set that onto low heat. Once the water is ready, add 3 cups of dry penne pasta to cook, plus a sprinkling of salt; the leftovers are heating up nicely and the cheese is melting.   Add to the skillet a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes (drained); this will help the cheese to become a thinner sauce. Drain the cooked pasta, add to the skillet and toss to coat it all.   Let it remain on the low heat for an additional five minutes.

All in all, it will take about 30 minutes to complete this extremely easy and delicious meal from simple leftovers and the addition of two ingredients; diced tomatoes and cooked pasta. Sorry Hamburger Helper, but you have got nothing on my elk.  Wow, could I go so far as to say I have invented "Elk Helper"?

Mary Cokenour



Monday, July 13, 2020

Guest Food Blogger - Belinda Y. Hughes

There are thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of food bloggers who are posting their own recipes and techniques, making demonstration cooking vlogs, and basically wanting to get appreciated for their culinary skills.  Some are professionals who are coveting a spot on Food Network Channel or the Cooking Channel; maybe even that Top Chef position at a famous restaurant.  The majority are home cooks, like myself, and while many get that great opportunity to have a cookbook published, the rest depend on a following online.

Personally, I think we should all support each other, but then again, I'm naive and still believe in fairness.  So, I don't mind having another be a guest on my food blog.  I don't mind giving credits to a recipe I found on another food blog.  It certainly is wonderful to know that many feel the same as I do, and I've been a guest, or been credited by others.

So, I'm shutting up for now, and let me introduce you to Belinda Y. Hughes and one of her recipes from Cafe Belinda...Crispy Chickpeas.  It is a vegetarian recipe Belinda obtained from Tupperware, so they're credited with that.  Belinda enjoys vegetarian cuisine, and I know many of you will enjoy reading her blog for new recipe ideas.  With all that said...here's Belinda Y Hughes!






Belinda Y. Hughes proudly represents Avon and Tupperware and food blogs at Cafe Belinda. She is also the author of Confessions of a Red Hot Veggie Lover 2, a veggie cookbook, available on Amazon. When her nose isn’t buried in a gripping mystery or sizzling romance, you can find her hiking, watering her organic, companion-planted container garden or deep in a bubble bath with the dial set on public radio or classic rock.
Confessions of a Red Hot Veggie Lover 2: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00H4L35NM

Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are like a really good yoga teacher - unbelievably flexible. No, these limber legumes won’t do your planks, but you can blend them into hummus (see Mary's yummy recipe here) sprinkle them into salads, soups and stews, or nosh on them as healthy low-carb keto snacks.


The quick and easy, keto vegan recipe I’m sharing today, Crispy Chickpeas, can spice up all of the above. Keep them on hand and you’ll always be ready for snacking, gifting and camping.
Important Note: Keep chickpeas away from non-human family members. For some, their bellies and reproductive systems are not chickpea-friendly. Resist “the look”.
Did You Know?
The great Italian orator Cicero’s family got their name because they raised chickpeas (cicer). No chickens were used in the naming of chickpeas. It’s a long crazy story across eons, lands and languages. As for garbanzo, that comes from the Basque word garbantzu, which means “dry seed”.
Health Benefits of Chickpeas
Chickpeas are powerhouse superfoods! Just a few things they do for you:
       Balance blood sugar
       Ease bowel movements & improve regularity
     ●       Reduce cholesterol & inflammation
       Dial back cancer risk (fight cancer & help eliminate sick & dying cells)
If you’re not already scarfing down chickpeas, you need to be. These guys are your new bffs.
Per cup, chickpeas contain:
       ~269 calories
       ~4 g fat
       34 (canned) to 45 (dried cooked) g carbohydrates
       9 (canned) to 12 (dried cooked) g fiber
       6-7 g sugar
       10 (canned) to 15 (dried cooked) g protein
Of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamins and minerals, they contain, per cup:
       6-8% of calcium
       40% of fiber (incl. pre-biotic fiber)
       8 (canned) to 22 (dried cooked)% of iron
       15 (canned) to 70 (dried cooked)% of folate/folic acid
       17 (canned) to 39 (dried cooked)% of phosphorus
While this recipe calls for canned chickpeas, I recommend either getting cans marked BPA-Free or going for the dried beans. They’re more budget-friendly and far more beneficial nutrition-wise, as you can see. Plus, this addictive, versatile recipe gives you a reason to buy in bulk.
You may notice some links in the Crispy Chickpeas recipe. That’s because Mary graciously agreed to do a guest post swap with me, to help me introduce you to my Tupperware store. In exchange, she shared her recipe for Vegetable Lasagna Rustico (two words: Alfredo sauce!) on my veggie food blog, Cafe Belinda. Merci beaucoups, Mary!
Now, grab your favorite beverage and let’s whip up some superfood snacks!
Sources:
Did You Know:
Photo courtesy of Tupperware


Recipe: Crispy Chickpeas (courtesy of Tupperware)


Serves 4
Serving size ¾ cup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

Two 15 oz./425 g cans chickpeas, drained
(reserve the liquid, aka aquafaba, to sub for egg white in other vegan recipes)
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt

  1. Place chickpeas in a medium bowl and add olive oil. Add remaining spices, seal and shake to evenly coat.
  2. Place chickpea mixture into the base of the MicroPro® Grill and place the cover in grill position. Make sure the cover is touching the chickpeas.
  3. Microwave on high power 10 minutes.
  4. At the end of cooking time, uncover and stir chickpeas. Replace cover in grill position and return to microwave to cook on high power for an additional 5 minutes. Serve.

Thank you Belinda for sharing your information, about chickpeas, and this recipe from Tupperware.  Need more information on Vegetarian Cuisine, Tupperware or one of Belinda's other interest, contact her at one of the links listed above.

Mary Cokenour