Friday, December 21, 2007

Broth !!!!

When I was in college and I would get stressed sometimes (because maybe I would have a paper due or maybe a test was coming up), I would make cookies: Wholesome whole wheat cookies, of course, but cookies nonetheless. But somehow, making them and eating them and sharing them with my roommates helped to ease the stress. The diversion of working withmy hands instead of wokring with words on paper plus the extra energy received from consuming the delicious morsels seemed the perfect antidote for stress.

Fastforward 38 years and what do I do now when I subconsioulsy feel stress and need relief and comfort? I make broth: chicken broth but with lots of vegetables used in it too. I have perfected the art! I now use a crockpot to make my broth.

Here is how I do it.
1. Buy a broasted (rotisseried)chicken from Costco. The skin is dark golden brown, and the chicken is done to perfection. You don't have to go home and bake a raw chicken from scratch when this need for comfort strikes you!

2. Put chicken on a big plated and take off the skin, and take the meat off the bones. Place this meat into a 1.5 quart tupperware or other similar item.

3. Put the bones, skin, and drippings from the tray you bought it in, into your crockpot. (or a large cooking pot) Add more water, one veggie boullion cube (or chicken boullion cube-I use Knorr)and 4 large carrots, scrubbed and cut up, 4 stalks celery, washed well and cut up, one onion or 2, chopped up, a half bunch of parsley if you have it, some twists of fresh ground pepper. Set the dial to high. (Or if in a cooking pot on stove, put it over a low flame) Put the lid on. There should be enough water in the crock pot to cover most of the ingredients. It is OK if some veggies poke out of the water.

4. As you go about your business, or even leave the house for a while, this concoction will begin to simmer and emit the most heavenly aromas!!!

5. After 4 hours, you can turn it to low and just let it sit there until you are ready to strain it. I put a colander (stainless steel one) over a stainless steel bowl and dump the contents (cooked veggies, and bones and skin and broth)of the crockpot into it. Then I lift the colander up and shake it until all the broth is drained out.

6. I will pour some into a bowl and drink it right away or cool it a bit and store in fridge and use for soup in the next few days. Also, you can drink some right away and still have some left for other meals. I, of course, share this rich broth with John.

7. For soup, I add cooked rice and cooked chopped cabbage, and some finely chopped carrots, too...maybe a bit of finely chopped onion. Yummy!!

8. I end up with 4-5 cups of good tender chicken meat that I use in sandwiches or chicken curry or burritoes. You can be creative. Or I freeze it in 1 cup packets like I do the chicken breasts I talked about in a previous post.

SO....if you see me making broth, you know I am in need of extra comfort. Be nice to me. And I will be nice back and share some broth with you!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The New Burger

Here it is. Yummy! Buy Stock in Boca Foods Company! All their products are vegetarian. Hey, I just read the box. It is distributed from Madison, Wisconsin. Naturally!
They make other products...including a mean breaded "chicken " patty.

My Last Fast Food Burger....

My last fast food burger was in September. I was driving a carless friend around and she wanted to stop at Carl's Jr, and I happened to have a coupon for buy one get one free Fampus Star burger. So we each got one. That was my last.
Number 1: I am so used to whole wheat buns (I buy them at the grocery store)that the white bun almost gagged me.
Number 2: The mouth feel of hamburger meat is not appealing to me anymore. As Molly would say, I'm "evolving." I used to drool thinking of fast food burgers. One day about 5 years ago, I did a taste test one afternoon and drove to 3 places: Burger King, Carl's, McDonald's..and ate all 3 burgers that afternoon and loved it. Of course, I felt a bit sick afterwards.
Number 3: I decided to take my doctor's instructions seriously: No beef.(She gave me this admonition because I have a tendency towards high cholesterol.)

Here is a picture of what I fried in the frying pan last night (while my lentil soup was cooking):Sliced onion, green pepper, and some Boca Burgers. We can get 4 in a box at Target for $2.37! (The same thing is $3.99 at the grocery stores).
I serve them on big whole wheat buns with mayo, and hot sauce. I microwave it for just a few seconds to soften and warm the bun. We eat these twice a week. WE usually had a side of salad and something else ( a vegetable).

I do not miss fast food hamburgers one iota. Even when those big colorful glossy ads come in the mail. Mine are better!

If You Could Pick One Food

Our daughter Kelsy is a "foodie"..I think all my daughters are "foodies", except perhaps Megan, who is too busy to be a "foodie". Anyway, Kelsy asked me the other day over the phone..if you could only pick one food to have (meaning over an extended period of time...that and nothing else...) I told her: LENTILS.
I love the peppery spicy smell you get when you cook them (without adding anything to the pot besides water and lentils, you get a very appealing aroma- at least I think so.)
Last night I made a big batch of lentil soup, but did add some sauteed onions and a can of stewed tomatoes with Italian herbs. Here is a picture of it simmering on the stove. I now have a ready lucnh for the rest of the week. Just scoop some out of the tupperware in the fridge and heat it up. So satisfying and nutritious...I feel my halo glowing brighter. Ha Ha.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Chicken Ready

Did you know that there are about 23 grams of protein in one serving (1/2 cup) of diced cooked chicken? Did you know that 20 - 25 grams of protein is really all your body should have at any one meal?

The other day I spent $5.11 on a package of chicken breasts with ribs attached. They were 99 cents/pound. There were 6 breasts in the package. I cooked them in my slow cooker on high for 3 1/2 hours. I had some onion, carrot and celery in the pot also. I sprinkled fresh ground pepper and some Mrs. Dash Herb Onion blend on the chicken before I put the lid on.
After they were cooked to yummy tenderness, I removed them from the pot and cooled them a bit and then chopped them up inot 1/2 inch cubes (removing the meat from the skinny rib bones.) and put them in a big bowl.

Here is what I did to get my chicken ready for future meals:

I got out my measuring cup and measured out one packed cup of chopped meat at a time and placed this one cup of meat into a ziploc freezer bag. That 1 cup will give John and me each our 1/2 cup serving.
I ended up with 8 bags. A cup of meat in each bag I smoothed out all the air and sealed them (labeling each one with a white sticker that said "12-4-07")and then I put all of them in a bigger freezer bag. And into the freezer they went, ready and waiting for me to pull them out and use them, one at a time. Unless we have company.
I just get a kick out of the fact that for $5.11 I got 16 servings of delicious white breast meat. This is about 32 cents a serving. Here is how I plan to use my chicken:

1. chicken curry meals
2. chicken fried rice meals
3. Chicken, cranberry, mayo sandwiches on whole grain bread
4. Hot BBQ chicken in buns
5. Chicken burritos (with beans, rice, cheese, etc.)
6. Chicken soup with rice, onion, and turnip greens. MMMmmm.

Comfort Food

I will only eat one kind of potato chips. I do not touch Pringles, Lays, even Poore Brothers. I have also abandoned the Sweet Maui Onion crunchy potato chips. The only chip to pass my lips is the Kettle Brand Krinkle Cut chips from Oregon. I buy them at Costco..a 2 lb bag (32 ounces!) cost me 3.99. Here is my recipe for dip.

Joan's Dill Dip
1/2 - 3/4 cup finely chopped sweet Mayan onion
1 envelope (.50 oz.) Green Chives Dip Mix (Powdered)
(usually in chip section of store with other flavors of dip mix displayed)
1 16 ounce container light sour cream
1/2 tablespoon dried dill weed (not shown in photo)
(available in herbs and spices section of grocery store)
Combine ingredients. Store in covered container in fridge.

This is my ultimate comfort food...well, besides my own homemade rich chicken or turkey broth.

The Best of the Best

A few blogs ago, I had a picture of my 3 favorite chocolate products. I failed to mention, however, that there was another one I loved even more than the rest: Dark Chocolate Sea Salt caramels from Trader Joe's. It is $4.99 a box, with 12 chocolates. Larissa introduced me to them. They are all I want for Christmas this year.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Yesterday, I tried this recipe. It was a hit with both John and me! I could eat this every day, in fact, in cold weather.

New Mexico-Style Posole

(this is the original- a "Hometown recipe" from Wanda Taylor in American Profile ( a Sunday supplement in newspaper)June 24-30, 2007...Joan's version in parentheses)

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
3 pounds boneless pork, cubed (Joan used 3 cups of chopped turkey meat)
2 medium white onions, chopped (Joan used yellow)
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 15 oz. cans white or yellow hominy,drained (Joan got a 29 oz. can white and a 29 oz. can yellow)
4-5 cups water-Joan used 2
2 4 oz. cans diced green chilis
1 10 oz. can red enchilada sauce
1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilis (Joan just used a can of stewed tomatoes, chopped up)
1 4 oz. can taco sauce. Joan poured 4 oz. from a bottle of La Victoria Taco Sauce.
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt (Joan omitted this)
1 teaspon cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano.

These were the original directions:
1. Heat oil in 6 qt. stockpot, add pork, onions, garlic. Cook until pork brown. Drain excess grease.
2. Add hominy and 4 cups water. Add chilis, enchilada sauce, tomatoes, and cook over low to medium heat about 2 hours, stirring occasionally .
After 2 hours, add remaining 1 cup water if needed. Adjust seasonings, if desired and simmer 2 - 3 hours.

Serve hot with corn chips, warm flour tortillas or cornbread. Try a lean cut of pork, like center-cut loin, to reduce the fat.

This is what Joan did: She sauteed the onion in the oil until soft. She added it to all the other ingredients at once into her nice big crockpot (slow cooker). She put the lid on. She cooked it on high for one hour and low for 6 hours. Delicious flavor!!!! Addictive, in fact! Can shorten cooking time..I was just out of the house a long time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Old Fashioned Sponge Candy

This is also known as "angel candy" or "sea foam". It is a dramatic process and the results are unique. It is better to eat this candy freshly made, dipped in the kind of chocolate you really like. This candy is sold in central Wisconsin in all grocery stores and at all the "Fleet Farms". You may see this out West if you go to specialty candy shops. Maybe.

During Christmases past, when a big box of Christmas presents and goodies would arrive from 509 First Street, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, the first thing our kids would want to do is see if Grandma Cera put in some angel candy.

My sweet daughter-in-law Amber helped me make this and I hope she and David carry on the tradition of having it every year for Christmas. I never really made this when our kids were growing up..except once..when I learned it at Relief Society in Green Bay, Wisconsin. That was when Molly and Megan were 3 and Larissa was one and zTommy was not even born yet!I found out shortly after that, that my mom knows how to make it. The recipe here is my mom's detailed recipe.

All I can add is that when your thermometer reaches 280 degrees, go ahead and turn off the heat...take it off your burner if your stove is electric. The temperature will continue to rise in an instant to 300 degrees....!! Just from the heat of the pot. Then add your baking soda. I did not have the 9 x 9 pan that is called for, so my candy spread a bit too far in my 9 x 13 pan . I also could have stirred it less...After your pour it, you still want to see very active foaming action.

So here are photos from last evening and the recipe!

Old Fashioned Sponge Candy
(I think it is better to make it on a clear day, not foggy or overcast.)
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 Tablespoon Baking Soda.

1. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and vinegar in a large 3 quart (or more)
pot (large to hold all the foaming action).
2. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves, then cover pan for one minute
to allow steam to wash down the sugar crystals that cling to the side of the pan.
3. Uncover pan, inset candy thermometer-cook without stirring until it reaches
300 degrees ("hard crack" stage..when syrup dropped into cup of very
cold water separates into hard, brittle threads.)
4. Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda quickly with a
few quick strokes with BIG spoon.
It is OK if some of white powder can be brushed off the
chunked up hardened candy later.
If you over stir, you lose the bubbles! And hence, the texture of the sponge
.Quickly pour this foaming mass out onto a buttered 9 x 9 x 2 pan
or 8 x 10 x 2 pan.
It is not necessary to spread will spread itself as it bubbles
and foams away.
You are pouring this from the bowl while it is still
in the peak of foaming action!!!!
5. Cool in pan on wire rack. DO NOT SHAKE OT TOUCH
OR WIGGLE UNTIL IT IS COOL.6. Break cooled sponge into pieces.
Dip into melted chocolate with tongs..lay on wax paper to cool.

The candy was cooled down and ready to break into chunks in less than an hour.