Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Enjoying Garlic Goodness.

 Garlic was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, chewed by Greek Olympian athletes, and thought to be essential for keeping vampires at bay. It is also good for zapping bacteria, keeping your heart healthy by lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure, regulating blood sugar in diabetics, and warding off coughs and colds. For example, if you have a cold, put lots of chopped garlic into chicken soup, or even just the broth (if you cannot down the noodles and veggies in a soup).

Being spring, or third winter, here in Monticello, the health aisles at the stores are running short on cold and allergy medications.  Once again, not feeling up to downing a bowl of soup, then let your nose do the work for you.  Create a steaming broth of garlic and hot peppers, place a towel over your head and the bowl, and breathe in deeply.  Only do this for a minute, or the vapors will irritate your eyes.  It is your sinus passages you are trying to clear out, not your eyeballs.

I have grown garlic; it is very easy, and takes little space in a garden; each small clove will give you a whole new head!  Purchasing garlic braids not only adorns your kitchen, but garlic is just in your reach.  Make sure the garlic on the braids have not been treated with a wax, or painted with an acrylic coating.  This is done to keep them from rotting, as this means the braid is meant for decoration only, but it is unhealthy, perhaps deadly, to ingest.  Often sold in farmers’ markets, the intent is definitely for ingesting, not d├ęcor.

Rather have the garlic already minced, chopped or sliced for use, then that can be purchased at any local or super market.  The garlic is usually immersed in water or olive oil, and can be kept in the refrigerator after opening the jar. Of course, the olive oil will coagulate once it becomes cold, but it does not affect the consistency nor taste of the garlic.

When garlic is roasted in the oven, the cloves become very soft and sweet; it can be used as a spread, in dips, salads, etc.

Roasted Garlic Bulb


1 head garlic

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil


Preheat the oven to 425F.

Remove the outer papery covering of the garlic. Slice off the top of the head so most of the cloves are exposed. Place on a square of aluminum foil for easy cleanup, or select the smallest baking dish you have. Drizzle the oil over the cloves.

Fold the foil over the head to completely enclose it, or cover the baking dish with foil. Roast for about 45 minutes, until the garlic is completely soft and lightly browned.

To serve, separate the head into individual cloves, or squeeze out the cloves into a small serving dish. If you have leftovers, squeeze out the pulp into a small dish, cover with olive oil, and store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Now here's a recipe for a very easy to make meal which is garlicky and spicy.

What are soba noodles?  This is a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour and water. Sometimes a small amount of whole-wheat flour is added to keep the noodles from deteriorating.  If allergic to gluten, or simply not eating it, this is one product you will be avoiding. 

Cannot find soba in the store?  It can be purchased, in a dried form, online, or substitute spaghetti.  Looking for something vegetarian?  Use one of those new kitchen devices that can create noodles out of vegetables, and with my recipe, just omit the chicken.


Garlic Chicken with Soba Noodles 


2 Tbsp sesame oil (if not available, use canola oil)

1 tsp hot red pepper flakes

3 Tbsp minced garlic

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into ¼” slices

½ cup soy sauce, divided in half

½ cup sliced mushrooms

½ cup diced red bell pepper

1 cup snow or sugar snap pea pods

1 cup chopped Bok Choy, Chinese cabbage (Napa) or white cabbage

12 oz Soba noodles, cooked and drained


In a Wok or large skillet, medium-high heat, heat the oil and pepper flakes for one minute. Add the garlic and let cook for an additional 30 seconds before adding the chicken and half the soy sauce. Stir fry until the chicken is thoroughly cooked; remove, set aside and keep warm.

Add into the Wok, or skillet, the mushrooms, bell pepper and pea pods; stir fry until bell pepper begins to soften. Mix in cabbage; as soon as it begins to wilt add in the remaining soy sauce, chicken and noodles. Mix thoroughly; stir fry for 2 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Mary Cokenour 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Eat Cod, Your Heart Will Thank You.

 Welcome to Utah, a landlocked state.  For folks who enjoy eating seafood, this fact can be quite frustrating.  Unless you are lucky to live in an area, with lakes, stocked with bass, trout, maybe even catfish, and happen to enjoy fishing; the supermarket is your only source.  Even then, much of the seafood available is frozen and shipped in from other countries, many with dubious quality control standards.

However, you just might be lucky enough to have a butcher at your local market; one that brings in fresh seafood, and when the prices are reasonable.  At Blue Mountain Foods, in Monticello, UT, Josh is the head butcher, and he is making the effort to introduce fish to the community.  Fish, depending on the species, happens to be packed in nutritional value, and good for overall health.

Sidetrack here, while chatting with Josh, I happened to see his second in command, John, grinding fresh beef.  The rich, red color of the meat, mixed with the whiteness of just the correct amount of fat, enticed me to stock up that day.  Oh, yes, you are so welcome for my last recipe on copycat White Castle burgers.

Alright, back to fish.  Josh’s suppliers are on the west coast, mainly California and Oregon.  The fish he purchases can either be wild caught, or farm raised; but they are brought in fresh.  The fish, which is iced, not frozen, could be flown to Salt Lake City and trucked down the same day.  Or, overnighted in even less time, insuring the fish arrives fresh, and is sold the same way…fresh!  Are we seeing the pattern here?

My latest purchase was a beautiful 1 and ¾ lbs. slab of cod; one inch at the thickest part, firm and fresh smelling.  That’s right, if fish has a really harsh fishy smell, chances are it is not in its best condition.  Also note, if fish has been frozen, thawed and refrozen, the texture will change from firm to rubbery.  Chances are, no matter how it is cooked, that rubbery texture will remain.

4 ounces (112 grams) of cod contains:

    Calories: 90

    Fat: 0.5g

    Sodium: 79.5mg

    Carbohydrates: 0g

    Fiber: 0g

    Sugar: 0g

    Protein: 20g

Half of the fat content is Omega-3 fatty acids and DHA.  Vitamins in cod are B12, C, D and Iron.  While all this is good for the heart, and the diet, it is also good to know that cod is low in mercury, as opposed to a more popular fish…tuna.

Of course depending on how you cook the fish, and what ingredients are added, the carb and fat contain might go up.  I baked the cod with a seasoned panko topping and olive oil, so, yes, the carb and fat count went up, but not too drastically.


Panko Baked Cod


Olive oil

1 and ¾ lbs. cod (cut into 5 portions=3 and ½ oz./portion)

1 and ½ cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

½ tsp. fine sea salt

½ tsp. ground black pepper

½ tsp. dry dill

½ tsp. dried, crushed parsley

½ tsp. paprika


Preheat oven to 400F.

Drizzle olive oil into baking dish, or metal nonstick pan, and place fish, bottom side down, onto oil.  Drizzle oil, about teaspoon, over each portion of fish.

In a bowl, mix together panko, seasonings and herbs.  Press on top of, and along sides, each fish portion. 

Bake for 20 minutes.

Makes 5 servings.

As a side dish, I baked asparagus in foil, topped with butter and garlic, in the same oven. However, previous to placing the fish and asparagus into the oven, I had prepped some potatoes for roasting, and started those a half hour before.  So, all three items were ready to eat at the same time.  As to the overall carb and fat content, out the window those flew, but it sure did taste great!

Here are a few bonus recipes of mine, and, of course, no decent list of recipes would not include English Style Fish and Chips.  Eat your fish, not just for health reasons, but because it tastes so good!


Baked Cod and Squash


1 small zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 small yellow squash, cut into 1/4 inch slices

1/2 cup olive oil, divided in half

2 Tbsp. Italian herbal mix, divided in half

2 tsp coarse sea salt, divided in half

1 tsp garlic powder

2 (6 oz) cod fillets, one inch thick, bones and skin removed

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice


Preheat oven to 400F.  In a 1 and 1/2 quart glass baking dish, spread the squash slices over the bottom.  Drizzle 1/4 cup of olive oil over the slices; sprinkle one tablespoon of the herbal mix, one teaspoon of sea salt and the one teaspoon of garlic powder over them.

Lay the cod fillets (skin side up) on top of the squash; drizzle with remaining olive oil; sprinkle remaining herbal mix and sea salt; drizzle lemon juice over all.  Bake for 25 - 30 minutes; until cod is opaque and flakes easily.  Remove one fillet and portion of squash to plate; spoon liquid from baking dish over all.

Makes 2 servings.



Baked Cod in Foil


2 tsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp minced garlic

1/4 tsp dried parsley

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp paprika

1 (6 oz) cod fillet, 1 inch thick, skin removed


Preheat oven to 350F.

In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients except the fish.  Brush skin side of fish liberally with the mixture; place skin side down in center of large square of aluminum foil.  Pour remaining mixture over fish; fold long sides of foil together several times before folding up ends to make a packet.  Make sure foil is not folded too tightly around fish or steam from baking may cause it to burst open.

Place foil packet onto small aluminum baking tray; bake for 15 to 20 minutes; fish will be opaque.  Remove to plate; spoon liquid over fish and over a portion of steamed vegetables or small baked potato.

Serves one.



English Style Fish and Chips


2 cups flour, divided in half (1 cup for batter, 1 cup for dredging)

2 eggs

¾ cup beer or ale

¾ cup milk

¾ cup white wine

½ tsp. cream of tartar

½ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. each salt and pepper

Peanut oil

6 large potatoes (red skinned or golden yellow), cut roughly into 1” pieces

2 lbs. cod, or any other white meat fish (pollock, flounder), cut into 4” pieces


In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, eggs, beer, milk, wine, cream of tartar, baking powder, salt and pepper. Mix well, cover and chill for 1 hour.

Fill deep fryer to maximum line, or large skillet ½ way up, with canola oil; heat to 375-400F. Cook potatoes until just lightly browned; drain on paper towels; season with salt; transfer to cookie sheet. When done frying, place potatoes in oven (set at 200F) to keep warm.

Remix batter; dredge fish pieces into remaining 1 cup of flour; dip into batter and place in hot oil (3-4 pieces at a time). When batter turns golden brown and begins to puff, drain on paper towels.

Serve fish and chips with tartar sauce, malt vinegar or any other desired condiment.

Makes 4 servings.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Belly Bombers and Suicide Fries.

 Come with me, on a stroll, down a White Castle memory lane. Back in the 1960's, my family lived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York off the Fort Hamilton Parkway.  Typical homes in the neighborhood were brick townhouses and the major ancestry was Italian, with a mixture of Croatian and Norwegian here and there.  I wish I could say that I had an absolutely wonderful childhood in Brooklyn, but I did not; most of my fond memories are of my maternal grandmother, museums and, most especially, of food. 


White Castle is one of those wonderful food memories; three mini-hamburgers for one whole whopping dollar.  The "meat patty" was a little square (2 and 1/2 “by 2 and 1/2 "), just about 1/8 inch thick with 5 holes punched into each; this allowed the steam to cook the patty thoroughly and quickly.  A soft square bun (three of those meat patties stacked would equal the height of half the bun) and tiny, diced onions; all prepared on a special steaming table.  The smell was awesome, but the taste sent you to heaven; four perfect little bites for each little hamburger or cheeseburger.  Sliders?  White Castle invented the original sliders!  Enjoyers of White Castle had nicknames for the food; the burgers were "belly bombers" and the thin cut fries were "suicide fries".  Why?   You have to eat them to understand, that is the only way; sorry, cannot explain it to a novice, you just have to experience it all.

I have eaten White Castle in Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania; New York always tasted the best, but what do you expect a New Yorker to say, right?  Now down South, they have a similar fast food item called Krystal's; tried them in Florida and Georgia and in my personal opinion, they can stay down South.  They are not the same as White Castle!

White Castle introduced a frozen version of the hamburgers and cheeseburgers to supermarkets when the microwave became a popular home appliance.  Two burgers in a cellophane package steam when "nuked" for one minute; and yes, the onions are included.  I eat them when I crave that particular childhood memory, but they are not as good as the fresh made.  As soon as the heated cellophane is opened, you can see the bun begin to wrinkle up; eat it quickly or it becomes chewy.  The meat does not cook evenly; a section here overcooked, a section there undercooked.  The onions are, well they just do not look, smell or taste right.  So why buy them?  It is all about the memories; it is all about the memories!




While I do not have the machinery to make frozen square log of ground beef, punch holes through it, and then create 1/8 inch slices; I can do some kind of copycat version.


Belly Bombers and Suicide Fries


1 bag (1 lb.) frozen crinkle cut fries

4 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable)

½ cup diced onions

½ cup water

Salt and ground black pepper

1 lb. ground beef (80/20)

4 slices American cheese

4 hamburger buns



To make the suicide fries; heat oven to 400 F, and spray a large jelly roll pan with nonstick spray.  In a bowl, mix the frozen crinkle cut fries with oil.  Spread the fries onto the pan, in a single layer, place inside oven and do not touch for 20 minutes.  Now start those onions and burgers!


On medium-low heat, in a 12-inch skillet, spread out onions, sprinkle slightly with salt and pepper and pour water over all.   Cover, let onions steam for 5 minutes.


With the beef, make 4 balls, place each on a square of wax paper; place 2nd piece of wax paper on top and then press meat down until it reaches ¼-inch in thickness.  If the meat breaks up, or frays on the edges, pat it back together, but keep that ¼-inch thickness and round shape.


Remove from wax paper and place on top of onions in skillet.  Raise heat to medium, add ¼ cup water, cover and steam 5 minutes.  Flip burgers, cover, steam additional 5 minutes.  Place slice of cheese on top of each burger, cover, steam additional 5 minutes.


After 20 minutes, the belly bombers are ready to be placed on buns, add ketchup, and a good supply of those suicide fries on the side.

Makes 4 servings.






These burgers are juicy and packed with onion flavor; do not be surprised to be reaching for a second one.


This was a pleasant trip down memory lane for me, and thank you for the company.

White Castle Locations: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin.


Mary Cokenour