Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hey Y'all, It's Okra Time

As I have told many of you before, I am a big fan of Paula Deen. Listening to her is like listening to a piece of my past. My Nanny sounded just like that. So for me it is a soothing voice. To others it is over the top. Be that as it may, the woman knows how to cook, and moreso Southern Comfort foods. She could have entire show filled with meat dishes and I would still watch her, just to hear her voice and watch her antics. I mean come on, the woman went toe to toe with Elmo, how cool is that.

Well I am a big fan of okra...many are not, again, it just may be a living in the South thing, but I could eat it rolled in mud if I had to, but Paula Deen has come to our rescue once again. I watched an episode with her and her brother on it the other day and they were reminiscing about their comfort foods and who made them and they made an okra and tomatoes dish. Youch did it look delicious. I went to purchase all the veggies needed and the produce market was dare they and knowing good ad well I needed to make my Paula Deen special dish.

Pffft. I went to the grocery store, got them frozen and alas, the dish was made. And boy was it as good as it looked. So hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did. I say that a lot too, don't I? Enjoy!

Okra and Tomatoes

1T peanut oil, for frying (We used whatever was in the pantry)
1/4 pound bacon (I think Savanah used about 6-8 slices of Morningstar Farms Veggie styled Bacon)
1T butter (I think the substitute for vegans is Earth Balance)(If Earth Balance is used, it is a dairy free dish)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium green pepper, diced
1t minced garlic (1-2 fresh cloves pressed through a garlic press)
1/2-3/4 t House Seasoning (I'm telling you this is gold in powder form)
4 cups diced tomatoes (We used fresh, you can use canned, but drain as much liquid off as possible. Save the liquid for a Bloody Mary or soup broth...ah never mind, use it in the Bloody Mary)
1cup water
1T vegetable base (I use the vegetable base. And I have purchased this right in my grocery store soup aisle) (and I believe their or MSG Free)
4 cups sliced fresh or frozen okra
Serving suggestion: Over rice
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add fake bacon, butter, onion, green pepper, and garlic. Saute until the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent. Add House Seasoning, tomatoes, water, vegetable base and okra. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season, to taste and serve with rice along side.

Book of Goodness

I love to cook. What a shocker there, eh? And between Savanah and myself, we are constantly printing recipes off the Internet. Some I remember their origin, others I do not. I try to give credit where credit is due, I know I would like to be acknowledged, but if I cannot remember the person I got a certain recipe from, I at least try to remember the website.

There are also times that recipes get changed so much that it in no way resembles thee original. With that said, I would like to show you what Savanah and I have concocted. For those of you who may not be able to read the print on the cover of our very own 3 Ring Binder catch all cookbook of sorts. It reads Danette and Savanah's Book of Goodness:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Free Cookbook Offer

We shop mostly at our local produce stand, and purchase little if any veggies from the grocery store. So we get this bunch of Swiss Chard that is going in a stir fry tonight and on the twist tie that come on the chard there is an offer for a free recipe booklet. Free is good.

To get your free copy send your name, and mailing address plus $2.00 cash or check for postage to:

Salad Savory
18931 Portola Drive, Suite D
Salinas, CA 93908

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What a Steal

I am always looking for a bargain. And as many of you may or may not know I love second hand shops, more commonly referred to as thrift shops. Goodwill comes to mind to many as does Salvation Army. But there are many smaller thrift shops, second hand shop (Darn I am wanting to break out in Streisand's Second Hand Rose real bad), and consignment shops as well.

Some of those shops are backed by churches, ASPCA, and many many more. So find a spot that you are willing to dump your money into and stop the buying of new items that need more energy and find a new home for a sad slowcooker, a desk lamp, a set of beer mugs, book, and anything else you can think of.

I am gone so long, my husband contemplates having a change of address card for my mail when I am out thrifting. Now back to my story.

I was at Goodwill looking for drinking glasses, because...well I will blog about my reason why...anyhow, we found three glasses, which is all we needed, and what did Savanah find without even looking for was a SPRINGFORM PAN! Did I shout? Pardon me, I got a bit excited.

I have been looking for a pan and a cheesecake recipe. Well I borrowed from my girlfriend her spring-form pan and the recipe I got from Tyler Florence on the Food Network. My oh my, the cheesecake was a hit. Now, we did have the wrong pan size and should have used a 9 inch, but my girlfriends was an 8 inch. Our recipe came out a bit more jiggly than we had anticipated, and now we think we know why. If the recipe called for a 9 inch pan, then it would have less surface space to cook...duh, and that may have been the culprit.

So needless to say, we are looking forward to our next encounter with graham crackers and cream cheese. *chills run down Cooking Lady's spine*

Saturday, October 25, 2008

House Seasoning

This house would be lost without this spice mixture. We use it in everything. I love Paula Deen, it is like hearing my grandmother who was born in Georgia. I have heard so many people say they can only take so much of her...most of those people are from the north.

I heard her talk about her House Seasoning, but never heard the measurements, or even what was in the darned tootin' thing. Then I got one of her cookbooks for Christmas and found the recipe:

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months

Six months!!! You have got to be out of yer cotton pickin' mind. I put that stuff on my Cheerios. Just kidding. We put it on home fries, which we make at least twice a week, use it as a rub for my husbands meats, seasoning our veggies. Our list goes on, but suffice it to say, this stuff rocks, and if you ain't a usin' it, well you should be.

I will end with Paula's saying she says at the end of each show.

"With love and best wishes, from my kitchen to yours."

This Little Piggy Went to the Market

I am not a piggy, and just what kind of market was that little piggy going to anyhow? We live in a small town about 1 hour north of West Palm Beach. And yes, I can count. Anyhow, I have known of our local Farmers Market for some time now, but I knew I did not want to go all alone.

Low and behold (I use that I lot, don't I?), my husband had a Saturday off. Unusual for retail, but he was home all the same. We were up at 6 AM, pretty normal for us and I asked him a little after we rose, if he had been serious about trying out the Farmers Market in the town barely north of us. And he said yes. So off we went to the market.

It is set on the Intercoastal of the Atlantic Ocean and boy is it worth viewing. Many of you are already wearing fall attire. Not here, we are still in our short and our AC went back on. The humidity was killer. In October already, I am so over Florida. Now back to my story.

We arrived at 8AM, for their hours are 8-12 every Saturday, rain or shine. So there we were. Arts and crafts on one side and veggies on the other. We made our way past a smattering of folks who have no life, for if you rise that early, you are either old or without a life. My husband and I fall somewhere in between both groups.

There was 2 breads vendors. Always ask prices. Big mistake. I saw a loaf I liked and it ended up being $7. Heeelllooo. There was a bit of organic produce, but the majority was locally grown vegetables. You should have seen some of this stuff. Why am I not seeing this size produce in my stores. Dollar signs. It costs more to ship them, and our lovely retailers believe that we, the uneducated public will not purchase vegetables the size of this:

Yes, and that thing all the way in the back and all the way to the right is a zucchini. I could feed the state of Montana with that thing. We will be using that tonight with a Sandra Lee, Semi Homemade recipe. There will be nothing packaged, so relax, all is well. Some of thee other items in the photo are baby bok choy (Great in stir fries) eggplant, green beans, red creamer potatoes, tomatoes, nectarines, plums, and my oh my, I got taken on that bread in the back, there is a big hunk eaten out of that bread. Darn it, I should have gotten their number for a refund *As Cooking Lady washes down a chunk bread with some iced tea*.

This place was joyful, people looked you in thee eye and they even attempted to hold on a pleasant conversation. Folks brought their dogs and there was no need for Caesar Milan. I told my daughter that she would definitely enjoy Farmer's Market Downtown. We also surmised that we should arrive a little later than 8AM, for more than a few vendors were still in the process of setting up, so 9AM would be better.

We could also have breakfast there. Between the breakfast rolls and the coffee station I would be set for the day. But darned if I forgot to buy me some Spearmint. I grew that wild until this last year and it all died. I had gotten that mint form my husbands aunt in Cleveland Ohio. There is always next time. I use mint in my Arab dinner salad. I do need to post that recipe. Oh so worth it, trust me on this. And it is thee only salad my son will eat and eat it he does.
So go out, if weather permits and visit your local farmer's market and support your local farmers.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Is It Soup Yet?

Don't ask me why I am so fueled up, but enjoy my spurt of energy(For those of you who really know me you are wondering...she slowed down?). I got this idea from reading Cook Study and be Crafty. She made her soup a bit differently then I did, but hey, we all improvise.

To say I am frugal is an understatement. I will scrimp and save anywhere I can. I run three to four errands a day so I can sit home the next. I turn off lights whenever possible, conserve water all the time and am discovering more ways to reduce my water intake.

And the grocery department is what I have complete control over. From the budget(not much of it) to what the meals are to trying to stretch the food dollar. So I got this wild idea to save our produce scraps and freeze them. Once I had enough to cook up for broth I would do so. Well that day has come. I had four freezer style gallon bags sitting in my freezer.

Today it cooled down(For Florida that is) enough to open the house, and what a nice cool breeze. I told my son kindly go and get my big cooking pot. He did and I washed off the dust it had collected and I then began to dump filtered water into this enormous pot along with all the veggie scraps I had been saving.

The smell is unbelievable. Once it is done simmering, I will let it cool down and back into the freezer it goes. Wish you all could smell what I am smelling, but I took pictures, well my son did actually, mom is too short to get an aerial view. Thank you Robert!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Attack of the Killer Tomato

How did "B" grade movies make it? Has anyone even seen that movie? I have not, but I am guessing there is someone out there who swears it is the best B movie they have ever seen.

I am on a roll tonight. Banana bread from Plain Banana and now a Kick-A salad from Post Punk Kitchen. This salad was to die for. We did not have any meatballs, so we just used a basic salad recipe and added the dressing, which we cut in half and whamo, dinner was marvelous. And so much so that I over ate.....ahhhh, what a shame.

In my world, my motto is:

I like what I cook, because I cook what I like.

Get over to Post Punk and try this dressing out and trust me, you will not be disappointed. I might even have to make my eggplant meatless meatballs and serve this over it. Enjoy!

Just Plain 'Ol Banana

Edit in: We made this again (Imagine that), but this time we added a 1/2 stick of melted butter and we liked it tons. So for those who are not vegan or not watching their calories...go for it!

I was not technically looking for a banana bread recipe, but you have to understand my old recipe first. It called for a pound of butter...yeah, you heard right and I had tweaked that down form the one my mother originally gave me. I don't stutter and your ears don't flap.

I am not a low-fat, reduced calorie, lite type of cook. I prefer to walk off my indulgences, but with this new-found recipe you don't have to do a darned tootin' thing. This is a KEEPER! You folks have just got to go over and Visit Plain Banana and check out this banana bread recipe. I did and I am not looking back and I am not sharing a bite with any of you. I have a baton and I am not afraid to use it.

This is one of those recipes that if a burglar came in and they said, give me the banana bread or your kid comes with me...."Bye baby girl, don't fight with the burglar." Just kidding. But this is a wonderful cake/bread/dunker. And you ladies know what I am talking about. Have your cup of coffee, tea, or cocoa and curl up with a good book, or old movie and have at it, because you will want to make this in bulk, freeze it and hide it behind something that no one will ever find...hence the not having to share.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

One Man's Junk

Well I seem to be admitting tons of things today. One of my loves is finding a bargain. I love Garage Sales, but since my back surgery I have limited my driving, and we all know the driving entailed with garage sales, not to mention the getting in and out of said car. So I prefer to do a 'One stop shopping' experience, hence the thrift shops.

I love browsing through what other people did not need. What I am ready to chuck out the door, others are willing to sit and catch with a catchers mitt. Who knew. I had purchased a few years back a salad spinner(something no home should be without) and spent probably 3-5 dollars on the thing. It did me good and made it through a few years. So it definitely paid for itself times over.

We, however, were recently in need to get some shirts for my husband and he needed them quickly and in quantity. You cannot got to Macy's and buy bulk without going broke, so off to Goodwill we went. While there, I am always scouring the book section so I can bring them home to weigh down my already sagging bookshelf.

As I was waiting for my daughter to finish window shop, my husband taps me on the shoulder, I turn around and what do I see? A real salad spinner(has flashes of Pinocchio). This puppy was solid as a rock, it wasn't going anywhere, and I swear by the style and color scheme, it came right out of the 70's. I don't care if it came from Little House on the Prairie, it was going home with me, and it did.

I have used it at least 3 times since arriving in my safe cupboards. I will not donate you like that last person did. So keep safe my dear salad spinner.

Meatless Meatballs

I am the first to admit that there are things I miss in the meat world. "Hi, my name is Danette and I miss the taste of some meats." Meetings will be held the 4th Tuesday of every month.

As always, my daughter and myself are looking for the least processed road in the vegetarian world. Granted, we know there will be some things we will forever purchase, but I think the trade off of not having meat in our diet is a decent balance. With that said. We were looking for a meatless meatball. So searching off I went. And low and behold I came across two recipes, both with eggplant as their meat substitute. Can anybody say sweeeet? I love eggplant, and luckily for us so does the rest our my family. Life was looking a whole lot better.

So we happen upon this recipe which we had to tweak a bit. Remember in an earlier post I made, there were keepers, tweakers and those you ditch. This one was a tweaker, and here its the tweaked recipe. Enjoy...for we did.

Eggplant Meatballs

3T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cups unpeeled diced eggplant(1 med-lg eggplant)
2 cups bread crumbs
2 large eggs, beaten(vegans, do your thing)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese(Vegans, you know what to do)
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese(OK Vegans, blah blah blah)
3 cloves of grated garlic
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper
Heat a large skillet and coat with olive oil. When skillet is hot, add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Saute until it's soft, about 8-10 minutes. If the eggplant dries out to quickly and sticks, add a bit more olive oil. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Place all softened eggplant in the food processor and process into a smooth puree. Return to mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix well. If the ingredients seems too dry, add a teaspoon of oil.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.Coat a baking sheet with a small mount of olive oil. Wet your hand(A very important step) with a little water and shape the eggplant mixture into balls, using 2 large tablespoons per ball. Place meatballs on baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes until deep golden brown and slightly crusty. Do not over-bake or they will be too dry. Remove sheet from oven and cover lightly with foil to let the meatballs steam until ready.

Can I tell you super yummo. We also realized that they did not have to be in the shape of balls. We could cook them in the shape of a patty and Viola, we have Meatless hamburgers. Man being a vegetarian is fun.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thank You Oprah

I usually do not double post from my other blog. But I felt this a necessary. As I said in my other blog, I usually do not watch Oprah, but Tuesday October 14ths episode was one to be viewed.

It was all about factory farming and Proposition 2 that is being voted on in California. There were members from both sides(none form PETA), one being The Humane Society(and he was well spoken) and others from the chicken and pork industry. Those in the business defended how they treated the animals and others came to the animals defense, even if you are not a vegetarian, I think it is important for us to consider how animals are treated that are used for our dinner table.

I am unsure if you can watch episodes from past airdates, but if you can then by all means go to Oprah's website and watch thee episode, it is worth the watch.

I blogged more intensely here about the Oprah episode.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Memory-All Alone in the Moonlight

Crossing over to the vegetarian world for a second time has been a breeze. I cook more, I cook better and I am more comfortable and confident with my decision and why I chose to let go of meat this time around. However...

I will straight up say I miss some things, and not to say I would eat them if given thee oppurtunity, but boy is it tempting. For instance, the smell of bacon frying in a cast iron skillet, That just reeks of a lazy Sunday morning.

Fried chicken. I grew up in a Southern home, and that was a staple on our dinner table, along with the collards with some bacon thrown in and lest we forget the black-eyed peas that had a ham hock floating in it, and last but certainly not least, the green beans with some bacon drippings from Sunday morning breakfast that laid out all day. Do I miss the food? Not really, for we have vegetized our foods, but boy do I miss the smell of some crackling chicken in the deep fryer.

A backyard BBQ(and I'm still looking for a homemade BBQ sauce. If anyone has one, point me in the right direction). Sorry, nothing can compare. My mouth still waters when I smell them.

And the creme de la creme of best smelling meats is the Thanksgiving Turkey. I am trying to convince hubby that we can let it go this year and only have a ham(which my father-in-law purchases because he hates turkey) along with a slew of vegetarian dishes.

This post was not made to tell you all that I miss meat or to even suggest that any of you all out there do, but we are so connected to memories through smell, and that is a proven scientific fact. We are transported back to our childhood(good or bad) in a nanosecond through the sense of smell. I have good memories when I think of food, save fried eggs. But I look forward to the day that I do not crave meat just because of a smell.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Mr. Potato Head

My catchy titles are impressing even my(I can see my daughter rolling her as at that last sentence...Right Nana? Anyhow. to say I love hashbrowns is a gross understatement. I could eat home-fries and hash browns until the cows come home. But try as I might, I have never been able to perfect the hashbrown recipe.

5-6 russet potatoes(shredded and salted)
Vegetable oil

It took me a while to figure out that I needed to get rid of, squeeze out as much excess water as I possibly could. Well Eureka! We nailed it last night. I washed and shredded about 5 russet potatoes in the food processor. Then I put them on a cookie sheet, salted them and let them set while Savanah and I prepped the rest of the meal.

In all, they sat for about 15 minutes-ish. Man at the water they leave behind. I took them and placed them in a large strainer, about the size of a dinner plate, and physically squeezed the water out of the potatoes myself. I got musk-els now.

Then I heated up my electric skillet. You should have a large cooking surface when you cook these. Got it screaming hot, add a thin layer of vegetable oil(not olive in this case) and added the potatoes. Get ready for they will splatter the grease.

In the world of diner cooking, you do not even flip these. When you go to turn them over, you do it directly to the plate...I Think Not! I love the whole idea of them being crispy. So I flipped them only once and oh my stars we had the best breakfast for dinner this side of the Mississippi! Make them and enjoy them!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Lemon Poppy Seed Scones

Well, my daughter was at it the kitchen I mean. And she came up with this wicked lemon poppy seed scone. Keep in mind that we borrowed the Base Recipe from Wing it Vegan.

Not that we have made them to death, Savanah wanted to step it up a bit and here is what she came up with. Yummo, I swear!

1&3/4 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar(Savanah bumped this up a wee bit, maybe 1/3, but not 100% sure)
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
6 T butter(we do not veganize this dish)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 t poppy seeds
1T lemon juice
1t lemon zest
In a large bowl, combine, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and poppy seed. Break up the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly.

Add the juice, lemon zest and lemon juice and blend everything with a spoon just until a dough forms. Make a ball with the dough. Pat the dough down to make a 1/2 thick circle and cut the dough into triangles(we are still working on this shape)

Brush a cookie sheet with some olive oil. Transfer the scones to cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven on 350 degrees for 15 minutes. NO PEEKING! (That is an order from Savanah)

I am in love. OK, what food am I not in love with. These are bar none, some of the best sweets she has turned out. I am someone who does not like my dessert/sweet to be sickening sweet. I should not run for a glass of something to wash the sugar taste out of my mouth. Well these scone are brilliant I say. Thanks to Wing it Vegan for he lovely base recipe to work from.