Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Reflecting on Thanksgiving

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving. We were invited again to Doug and Sheelah Smith's in Carpinteria, California. They are wonderful hosts. Each year we have grilled lobster (caught by Doug, the deep sea diver), grilled tri-tip, turkey and stuffing (baked by Sheelah's folks), black beans, green salad, and a good number of fancy side dishes and desserts brought by the guests. I chose just 2 pictures for this post: One of Sheelah stirring the black beans, and one of Doug serving up a succulent lobster tail.

Favorite Chocolate Bars

These are my top 3 favorite Chocolate bars! All available at Target stores.

Oh, My Darling Clementines

I bought a box of clementines from Stater Brother's grocery store the other day. Clementines are easily peeled like tangerines, but lack the sourness and the seeds so they are much more pleasurable to eat. I paid 4.99 for this box of clementines which ended up having 22 clementines. I used 5 clementines to make a cup of juice for my husband and 5 clementines to make a cup of juice for me. MMMmmm. I spoon out and eat the pulp from the little plastic hand juicer I use. The peels I dry out and add to my Christmas Potpourri mix.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Yesterday I went to an all you can eat buffet with a girlfriend. There were lots of raw fish, sushi, seaweeds, Asian type foods, lots of hot steamy meaty entres, exotic appetizers.
The first thing I put on my plate was a pile of thickly sliced cucumbers and a dollop of ranch dressing for dipping. Alongside that, I placed a big spoonful of the biggest roasted Virginia Peanuts (out of the shell) I have ever seen. I thoroughly enjoyed this first course. Today, while at the grocery store for last minute holiday purchases I will look for good cucumbers. Sometimes you get one that is bitter tasting...a twice bitter disappointment since the prices of these are 79-99 cents each now, or more.

I remember once while teaching at Lewis Elementary we had a potluck and I was to bring a salad. Well, I picked up a bagged salad and a cucumber. I peeled and sliced the cucumber down the middle and then in thin crosswise slices so they would really get dispersed well in the salad. Everyone raved that the cucumber addition raised this salad to a higher level of enjoyment. Lucky for me it was a good sweet, juicy, crispy one.

This Thanksgiving Season I am grateful for the incredible variety of foods that we have available to us. Today I celebrate the cucumber.

When the Israelites were
in the desert they would say
..."We remember the fish,
which we did eat in Egypt freely,
the cucumbers, the melons..."
Numbers 11:5

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Final Product

Well, I took my stuffed and trussed turkey to George's house. I could not find the rack that is supposed to go into the pan so I place the turkey on four long stalks of celery. I put it in the pan breast side down, a trick Grandma Patty ( my mother-in-law Patty Hulihan) taught me. It makes for juicier, moister breast meat. I also zapped it in the oven at 475 degrees for 15-20 minutes minutes to flash cook it and seal in the juices, another trick she taught me. After 15 or 20 min. minutes, we put the temperature dial down to 325 degrees. The rule of thumb is 20 minutes per pound which would make it a little over 6 hours for this turkey. But we did flash cook it, so that reduced the total cooking time. We put it in the oven at 1pm, with foil over it so it wouldn't brown too fast.

George took the foil off at 4:30 and we took the turkey out of the oven at 5:45pm. That wasn't the 6 hours, but it was done.
It was done! You have to let a cooked turkey stand for 15-20 minutes (cover it again with foil to keep it hot)so the juices get reabsorbed into the flesh. Otherwise if you start cutting it immediately out of the oven, the juices will spill out and your meat won't be as tasty. After we took it out of the oven and let it rest, I flipped it over so it would be breast side up. I used foil for "mitts" since I did not want to get the potholders soiled. George then got out his big cleaver and literally cut the turkey in half down the middle.

He was so thrilled. He thought he was going to have a turkey-less Thanksgiving this year because he was out of money and the family he lives with went out of state for 2 months. I brought over some real mashed potatoes that I had quickly made up while the turkey was resting..and some cranberry sauce. I also brought over some celery, carrots, onion and a few Knorr chicken bullion cubes so he could make broth with them and with the bones and skin. I took the meat off the bones of my half of the turkey. I had 12 cups of chopped cooked turkey! This was after John and I had our supper of a plateful each of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy and dressing. We had a side tossed salad, too. I simmered my vegetables and turkey bones and skin for 2 hours..what a heavenly smell. MMMMmmmm.After it cooks for several hours like that, strain it and discard the veggies and bones, etc..there is no food value left in them. I double bag it, tie it in a knot, and just put it in the garbage. Refrigerate the broth. I usually use a plastic pitcher or a glass bowl. Next morning, you will see a thin surface of fat on top of the broth. I usually scrape that off with a big spoon and discard it...again, in a plastic bag, tie the not.
Now you can make soup or gravy with this broth. Be creative. I like to just sip hot broth in a mug. I also like to add fresh ground black pepper to the broth along thin sliced green onions and tiny bits of meat.

Turkey Time

Since we are going to Carpinteria for Thanksgiving and having grilled lobster and tri-tip with our relatives and friends, I decided I wanted some turkey. Lots of turkey . For sandwiches and turkey curry, etc. So I went and got a 20 pound turkey for 5 bucks at Food4Less, a special deal for buying 25 dollars worth of groceries. Since our oven is broke, I called our neighbor George on the phone and asked if I could please use his oven and in return, he would get half of the turkey. Here is the turkey (just a plain young california turkey, unwrapped of its plastic cover and after having thawed out in the refirigeartor for 4 days. In the past, I have successfully thawed out a turkey in half a day by putting it in a plastic bag completely submerging it in a sink of water.
The hardest thing about doing a turkey is getting that metal clamp out !!!!! Get your sink super clean and put that turkey in there and wrestle with it in there! I took out the giblet bag and opened it and cooked them for the dogs. The bony neck and fatty tail piece I threw away.

Then I rinsed the inside of the turkey really good, and the outside, too. I blotted the inside with paper towel. I decided to stuff the turkey and went the easy route: Stove Top brand! To make it more delicious, I sauted 2 medium onions, chopped, in a tablespoon of buuter. After 15 minutes, I added a cup and a half of diced celery and sauteed that for just a minute. Then I added the Stove Top stuffing (I used 2 boxes) as prepared by package directions. One exception was that I did not put butter in the cooking water because I knew the stuffing would absorb lots of fat and juices from the turkey itself.
Stuffing the turkey and trussing it was a bit difficult. After stuffing and trussing (sticking those pins in and wrapping the string---er, dental floss ...around them, I had to flip it over to stuff truss the neck opening. I also spread some softened butter under the skin of the breast portion of the turkey. Oh, and I salted and peppered and "Mrs. Dash"ed the outside and the cavity before I put the stuffing in.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Frittata

Last Thursday morning (my busiest day of the week!) I got a call reminding me of the Relief Society potluck tonight. "Bring a dish and bring the recipe", I was told. Yikes! I forgot. I didn't plan this. And every minute was scheduled today: Family History shift..tutoring at 2 different locations..etc. There was no time to shop.
While driving I thought of a plan: I have all the ingredients for frittata! And while I was home for 20 minutes in mid afternoon, gathering my tutoring materials, I put some rice on to cook. After it was simmering for 12 minutes, I turned off the heat, knowing the residual heat will continue to cook the rice to perfect while i am gone. The event was at 6:30pm. I had to leave extra early to pick up a friend. I was due to be home from tutoring by quarter to 6.

I am happy to report we arrived in time (I left the lid on the frittata and wrapped it all in a thick bath towel for transporting to church, where I served it straight out of the skilliet) and the frittata was delicious.
There are many many different ways to make frittata. This is my way. You can add anything you want to it. I like how it cooks itself while you go about other business at hand. I do not do the traditional "flipping' that the authentic Italian recipes call for.

Here is the recipe:

Joan's Frittata

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 cup sweet vidalia onion, diced fine.
8 eggs
2 cups cooked rice
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
(reserving 1 cup of this for sprinkling on top)
1 small can diced green chilis.

Pico de Gallo brand chili powder blend.

In large bowl, beat the eggs unitl frothy. Add the rice,
green chilis, and 1 cup of the grated cheese.
Mix well.
Heat the oil and butter in 10" skillet (I use cast iron.)
Saute diced onion unitl cooked. Remove onion with slotted
spoon and mix into the eggs mixture.

Pour egg mixture into hot skillet.
Sprinkle the other 1 cup cheese on top. Reduce heat to low.
Sprinkle with chili powder blend. Put lid on. Cook this way, undisturbed,
for 20 minutes...or until set.
Serve at the table in the skillet. Cut in pie shaped wedges.
Good with a side salad.

Favorite Sandwich!

OK...still reporting on last Sunday's meals...after church, we had sandwiches. Since it is dark now at supper time (5:00pm), I like to put a lit candle on the table.
These sandwiches are made with whole wheat bread that has 5 grams of fiber per slice.
I used light Miracle Whip, Clausen Dills, extra sharp cheddar cheese (sliced thin on my grater)and of course, fresh ground pepper. A few small tomatoes fresh from the garden add bright color& taste to this meal.

Soup for Lunch

For lunch we each had a huge bowl of homemade chicken soup. I love making my own savory broth for the soup. I get or make a cooked chicken at least twice a month, to take the meat off and slice for sandwiches or cube for my chicken curry dish.)To make up the broth,I cook up the bones, skin (and whatever meat is still clinging to them) from that fully cooked chicken (that I have baked myself or that is from the deli.) Into the cooking water, I put several cut up carrots, celery stalks, 1-2 onions, black pepper and one chicken bullion cube for added salt and flavor. I simmer this for a few hours and I get over a quart of the best broth! I refrigerate the broth to use the next day. After it chills, the fat goes to the surface and I skim most of it off. You want to have some fat in the broth; that is what gives it such good flavor. To make this soup pictured here, I put the broth in a pot and add 1/2 cup each of finely chopped carrot, celery, cabbage (if I have it), and 1/4 cup finely chopped onion and 1 and 1/2 cups chopped chicken and 1 and 1/2 cups raw rice. Simmer 20 minutes. Freshly ground black pepper on top completes this dish. Serve in huge bowls!

Second Breakfast

Continuing on with my report on our day's food, here is what we had for our "second breakfast"....we each had a big steaming mug of hot cocoa. We have big mugs that hold almost 2 cups. Here is the recipe:

Simple Hot Cocoa

Per serving:
1 1/2 cups soy milk
2 level tablespoons Hershey's cocoa
1 dash cinnamon

Combine all ingredients into pot on stove over medium heat
and whisk until hot and frothy. The whisking gives it more than a half cup
of foam. Notice there is no added sugar. We have acquired a taste for this unsweetened is very chocolaty and there is some sweetness in the soy milk itself (as there is in regular cow's milk.) You may want to add a touch of honey to this drink. This drink gives one energy, warmth and good cheer! With this drink you get much chocolate satisfaction along with 37 percent of the calcium you need for the day. And as Montezuma said: Drink chocolate and you can walk all day without getting tired or hungry

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mid Morning Tonic

Carrot juice! When you drink a glass of carrot juice, you must remember to hold each "swig" in your mouth a while, swishing it around to enjoy the rich taste and to get it started in the digestion process. This drink is so satisfying! Believe it or not, you feel quite full after you drink this. And it is full...full of the vitamins and minerals of the raw carrot! The bright color so appealing to the eye, gladdens the heart! MMMMmmm...I am thankful for carrots, always!


My second post on this blog will be my introduction. I tried to do one at the very first but messed up and it did not here goes:
Hello! Since I have been getting such a kick out of other people's food blogs, I decided to do one on my own. This one will be mostly sugar free, though. I hope to include photos, recipes, excerpts from great articles I discover...and personal musings about FOOD! What an appropriate time to start a food blog: the month of Thanksgiving.
My goal is to have a blog that is educational as well as inspirational. Enjoy! Now..onward...


Today, for our "first breakfast', I made a gorgeous fruit salad for John (my husband) and me. Since he has CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, cancer of the bone marrow), I am trying to serve super nutritious foods. I read that kiwi repairs damaged DNA. So this fruit bowl (I made 2) has 3 sliced kiwis in it as well as chopped pear, apple, orange sections, and raw pecans. Pecans have the highest level of anti-oxidants of all nuts!