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Monday, August 21, 2017

Grilling The Harvest

During harvest time I love to find great ways to use the fresh produce from my garden as well as farmer markets that I visit One method is to grill them. Here is a great guide to grilling veggies and since peaches are in season they are included as well

Grilled Veggies & Peaches

Squash, Peaches, Onions, and Pork on Grill
Fill up the Grill
Mixed summer squash
Eggplant, Italian or Japanese
Maui, Vidalia or other sweet onion
Hungarian wax and/or bell peppers
Padron peppers
Wooden or metal skewers
Olive oil
Wood chips (if using gas grill)

Grilling the Rainbow
I. Cut up Veggies:

Soak the wooden skewers (if using for onions, padrons, and/or peaches) for 20 or more minutes so they won’t burn. Meanwhile, prepare veggies.

Squash: Slice about ½ inch thick lengthwise.

Eggplant: Slice Italian (chubby) eggplant about ½ inch thick crosswise. Slice Japanese (long thin) eggplant ½ inch thick lengthwise.

Onions: Slice across the grain (like for onion rings) about ½ inch thick. Carefully thread skewers into onions to hold rings together. Gently push the skewer while twisting it back and forth. Metal skewers are easier to use than wooden for onions.

Peppers: Cut bell peppers in half. Leave flat or small peppers whole. You could choose to thread small peppers onto wooden skewers to flip them more easily on the grill.

Peaches: Slice peaches in half and remove pit. If large, make 1/2 inch slices. You can choose to skewer these together to handle more easily as they’ll become soft on the grill, especially if peaches are small. You could also cook them in a grill basket.

Corn: Pull back corn husks and remove silk. We like to keep the husks on because it looks cool and gives guests a “handle” to pick the corn up. Since we also like the corn to brown and caramelize on the grill, we tie back the husks with cotton string.

If you’re grilling with husks, SOAK the corn and string in water for 20 minutes before starting to grill. Otherwise they’ll catch fire surprisingly fast for something that looks green. Of course, no one is going to complain if you choose to discard the husks instead.

Zucchini Piled high on Plate
Another Grilling Night: Lotta Zucchini
II. Oil and Season Veggies

Squash, Eggplant, and Onion: Pour about ¼ cup olive oil into small bowl and brush oil over both sides of each veggie slice. An inexpensive silicone brush makes brush cleanup a breeze. Salt and pepper both sides and pile on a platter. Refill bowl with a little more oil as needed.

Peppers: Brush with olive oil on all sides, or (if not on skewers) put them into a bowl with some oil and toss with hands until coated. Salt and pepper if desired, and add to platter with other sliced veggies.

Peaches: Brush with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. The salt, according to culinary wizard India Joze, brings out the sweetness of the peach. And a little pepper adds spice.

Corn: Remove from soaking bath if using husks, and tie back husks with (soaked) cotton string so they won’t stick into flames. Brush lightly with olive oil and salt and pepper lightly if desired. Bruce sometimes spreads the corn with melted butter instead.

III. Grill Veggies

Preheat grill. Use either charcoal or gas. You may need to finesse the techniques below to accommodate your grill’s idiosyncrasies.

On charcoal grills, it’s recommended to let coals burn down a bit so they’re not super-hot. Use this time to grill fish or a small steak! If your grill is large (with more air space.) you might be able to cook the veggies when coals are hotter.

On gas grills, cooking veggies over indirect heat is sometimes recommended. We’ve had better luck grilling them directly over the burners. It depends on how “cool” your grill is. Do use wood chips to give your veggies a smoky kick.

Put veggies on hot grill. Turn periodically to cook all sides (corn and whole peppers), or flip to opposite side when partly done (sliced veggies, peppers, and peaches). Inexpensive non-locking grill turner - tongs are the best tool for this. For the best-looking grill marks, avoid cooking more than twice on each side.

Estimated cooking times:

Squash and Eggplant: Grill on medium for 8 – 20 minutes, depending on how soft you like them and how you plan to use leftovers. Firmer is better for salads, but softer can be good in sandwiches. Flip once or twice (for best grill marks) on each side to grill both sides and assess doneness.

Onions: Grill about 10 – 20 minutes on medium, depending upon how soft you like them and how you’ll use them. Skewers will keep them from falling into the grill even if they’re soft. Flip periodically to grill both sides evenly and assess doneness.

Peppers: If not using skewers, arrange small peppers crosswise on the grill so they won’t fall through; they will shrink and get soft while cooking. Grill peppers on medium for 8 - 15 minutes, depending upon size and desired doneness. Halved bell peppers will take 8 - 12 minutes, and flat peppers like Hungarian wax will require closer to 10 - 15. Small peppers like Padrons take about 10 minutes, but can be cooked longer for more charring.

Turn peppers frequently during the cooking process to assess doneness and prevent burning. Some charring is desirable, but  don’t overdo it.

Peaches: Grill on medium heat 6 – 8 minutes. Flip once or twice to cook evenly and assess doneness.

Corn: Grill for about 12 minutes on medium heat. Turn in small increments till kernels are roasted on all sides. If husks start to burn, arrange corn so most of husks hang off the grill.

Snicker Apple Salad

Snicker Apple Salad

3-4 apples (cored) we really like to use Gala or Honeycrisp and maybe one Granny Smith
3-4 Snicker candy bars
1 sm. box instant vanilla pudding
1 12oz carton Cool Whip

Cut apples and Snicker bars into bite-sized pieces.
Stir pudding mix into the Cool Whip.
Fold the apples and Snickers into the Cool Whip mixture.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

candy corn chex mix

4 cups Corn Chex
4 cups Honey Grahams
2 cups coconut
1 small package slivered almonds

In a saucepan, combine:

1 cup sugar
1 cup Karo syrup
3/4 cup butter

Boil for 2 minutes, pour over Chex mixture. Mix together and enjoy.

Chocolate Pecan Torte

Pecans have been a very important and useful item in August. From chocolate pecan pie to today's recipe a pecan torte if you love pecans you are in luck. Texas, another place to love pecans, adopted the pecan tree as its state tree in 1919. There are more than 600,000 pecan trees in Albany Georgia which makes it the pecan capital of the United States.

7 oz bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate, chopped
10 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup ground pecans
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
24 toasted pecan halves, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and line an 8″ springform pan with parchment.
Melt the bittersweet chocolate with the butter, either on the stovetop over low heat or in the microwave in 30-second increments, mixing until 100% smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
With the whisk attachment, beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt, until foamy. Stir in the melted chocolate, add the ground pecans, and cinnamon.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. The edge of the cake should be set.
Let the cake cool completely in the pan.
When the cake is cool, remove it from the pan. Heat the heavy cream until almost boiling, then remove from heat and add chocolate chips. Let the mixture sit for one minute before stirring until completely smooth. Pour over the top of the cake, smooth the top, and decorate with the toasted pecan halves.
Let the ganache set for at least two hours before serving.

source here

Spumoni Day

Spumoni is a molded Italian ice cream made with layers of different colors and flavors. There are normally candied fruits and nuts in the combination. The dessert normally is made with three flavors with fruit and nut layer between them. The icecream layers are normally mixed with whipped cream.

August 21 is National Spumoni Day in the United States. In Canada Spumoni day is November 13th.

Spumone (from spuma or "foam"), plural spumoni, is a molded Italian ice cream made with layers of different colors and flavors, usually containing candied fruits and nuts. One popular variation of spumoni is Neapolitan ice cream Neapolitan consist of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate.

we often enjoy our ice cream along side some cookiees so I thought why not. Spumoni cookies are a twist on the Italian ice cream Like the ice cream the cookies are very pretty and festive. So whether you try them now or save them for a later time they are delicious and so much fun.

Spumoni Icebox Cookies

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
2 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup shelled pistachios, chopped
Green paste food coloring
1/3 cup red candied cherries, chopped
Red paste food coloring

Line 9×5 loaf pan with plastic wrap.  Let plastic wrap overhang edges of pan. Cream butter; add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Mix in egg and almond extract.  Add dry ingredients and beat well.

Divide dough into thirds.  Add chopped nuts and green food coloring to one third of dough.

Press into prepared loaf pan; cover and freeze for 10 mins.

Press second portion of plain dough on top of green layer and freeze for another 10 mins.

Add chopped cherries and red food color to last third of dough.

Press over plain layer in pan.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 4 hours or overnight in refrigerator until firm enough to slice.

Heat oven to 350o F.  Remove dough from refrigerator; unwrap.  Using a serrated knife, cut across three layers from short end of rectangle.  Then cut that slice into thirds.

Place 2″ apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Source:   A recipe from the December 2003 issue of Good Housekeeping

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Seasons Are Set To Change Soon

My two favorite seasons of the year are spring and fall. They are both cool weather months or can be and yet they are both very different. Spring is where all is starting to awake, grow and come to life and fall seems to have its own gift of going to sleep, hibernating and yes seeing parts die off.

I live in an area that currently is over-populated with all the eclipse fans. Soon though, our guest will go home and the beauty of the forest will still be here for us to enjoy. As a family we will enjoy fall scenery on car rides, hikes and simply getting out there to enjoy the beauty that fall has to offer. Fall offers a great harvest of fresh produce as well.

This fall season I challeng you to try at least one new vegetable, more than once. Fall offers a grand buffet of fruits and veggies in season. They not only are great tasting but have been blessed with an abundance eof vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Veggies available include:

Broccoli is a green cruciferous vegetable that is packed with folic acid, vitamin K, A, and C. You can eat broccoli raw or cooked, It is great in cold salads, pasta, or try it sauteed in oil and garlic. Many kids like to eat "broccoli" raw and refer to the small pieces as "trees". Broccoli was a popular food of ancient Romans and once grew wild on the shores of the Mediterranean sea. In the 1920s broccoli became a popular food in the United States.

Broccoli Cheese Sauce

1 large bunch of fresh broccoli
2 to 4 cloves crushed garlic
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. crushed coriander seeds
1/4 cup chopped onion
A pinch of black pepper
3 tsp. lemon or lime juice
1 cup water

Place half an inch or less of water into a large saucepan to a boil. Chop the broccoli into large chunks and place into the boiling water, stirring until each chunk is wet, until just tender and still vibrant green. Transfer broccoli to the bowl of a food processor and add remaining ingredients, processing until pureed. Return mixture into saucepan and warm over medium heat for about 3 minutes for a thick sauce that can be thinned with water if preferred. Adjust seasonings accordingly. Makes 6 servings.

Brussel sprouts were named for city in Belgium where the vegetable was introduced. A member of the cabbage family brussel sprouts have been cultivated in Italy during the Roman Empire. In the 1800's Brussel sprouts were brought to the U.S. by European farmers. 
The best flavor of brussel sprouts comes about when they are placed into a very small amount of water and steamed, drained and quickly served with only a little salt. Steamd brussel sprouts go well with honey mustard or cheese sauce. You can also roast in oven and serve with parmesan cheese. A good source of fiber, folate and iron. 

Pumpkins are famous around Halloween and Thanksgiving by many but there are many benefits of pumpkins that are present year round. Pumpkins are a powerhouse of nutrition. A natural immune booster with vitamin a and c as well as beta carotene. Pumpkin seeds have become a loved snack by many. Did you know that these seeds are high in manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, zinc, iron, kryptophan and protein. They are also good source of vitamin E, K, C and B. Pumpkins however are not vegetables but fruits. Pumpkins have been cultivated in America for 5,000 years. 

Spinach was originally known in England as "the Spanish vegetable" Spinach is a leafy green veggie that may have came from ancient Persia traveled to Nepal and then to China. In China spinach is known as "Persian Greens" Spinach is consumed in a greater amount now than it was years ago. This may because it comes in a greater variety of ways than the original seaweed in a can. 

Popeye helped make spinach famous in the cartoons during the 1960s. While it may not make anyone into popeye spinach is rich in iron, fiber, and folic acid. Spinach is often served as side dishes, in soups and raw on sandwiches and in salads. 
Creamed Spinach

¾ cup raw whole milk
¼ cup water
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1½ tablespoons arrowroot
2 pounds spinach, steamed - or 
2 pounds chard, steamed, drained
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan, combine milk, water and garlic. Heat slowly until very hot and steamy. Let stand, covered, for five to 10 minutes. This allows the garlic to soften.
Melt butter in another medium saucepan over medium high heat.
Whisk in arrowroot, then add hot milk mixture, whisking until smooth. Stir in spinach or chard, and cook until sauce is thick and bubbly and the spinach is tender but still green, about six minutes.
Stir in cheese and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
This recipe makes four servings.

Sweet Potatoes often found during the holidays has much more to offer Sweet potatoes are native to Peru and were discovered by Columbus. This vegetable is part of the morning glory plant family and are not the same as yams but are often mistankingly thought. There is over 400 varieties of sweet potato including some that are rare. WIth a variety of skin and flesh color ranging from cream, yellow and orange to pink and purple as well. 
Sweet potatoes can be baked and served with butter, salt and pepper, made into potato chips and fries but boiling them may mean a loss of nutrients. 
Sweet potatoes hold more nutritional value than the white potato. Hosting vitamin A and C as well as potassium, iron and copper. 
This is only a handful of the many fruits and veggies that are popular in the fall months. I hope you take the challenge and try at least one of these that I have listed. Enjoy!!



Gardening in August : Start A Fall Garden

You may be thinking that the gardening season is over. You have had a great gardening year and an abundance of fresh produce. So you may think that it is the end of gardening til next year. Hold up right there !!!!

While you have an abundance right now it will soon start to dwindle. It is time to extend the vegetable growing season by planing a fall garden. A fall garden will help you add more veggies to your supply and offer more growing season. The fall garden will require leess time and labor as the soil was worked previously in the spring. Kale, swiss chard, broccoli and cauliflower all are at higher quality in a fall garden. 
First thing first you need to remove all previous crop residues before seeding fall veggies. So start with tilling and fertilizing. Then you are ready to plant the seeds. Keeping soil moist is needed til seed germinates. It is beest to get crops such as lettuce, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, mustard, turnip, and winter radish in garden starting in mid to late August. 

No interest in fall gardening then work on preparing your garden for next year. Debris clean up, weeds, and anything that does not belong in garden needs removing. If interested in covering your garden during fall plant rye, wheat or ryegrass. These plants will help smother out weeds and increase organic matter content of soil 

Strawberry and Orange Fruit Salad

This is a simple side, and full of antioxidants and vitamins. You can omit the honey if desired.

2 orange(s), seedless
1 pint strawberries, fresh
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon mint leaves, chopped, optional

Cut the skin and the white flesh from the outer edge of the oranges. Cut each orange in half and then cut each into bite sized pieces. Remove the tops from the strawberries, clean and slice them. Place the berries and oranges in a bowl. Pour the honey on top and toss. Garnish with mint leaves if desired.

Protect yourself and those you love from Mosquitos

There is one pesky irritant that will be here til summer is done and be back again next year. The mosquito and its dreaded bitee affects nearly everyone. Those with severe allergies may notice the bug and bite more than others. Male mosquitoes are harmless but females out for blood. She finds her victim via scent, exhaled carbon dioxide and chemicals in the victims sweat. Constantly in search of the perfect victim and exposed skin and is ready to draw the victim's blood. Leaving behind a red bump and itching allowing the victim to know they had been bitten. 

There are a  few things you can do to avoid being attacked by the mosquito. First make sure there is no standing water in or near the area you are in. Light colored clothing with long pants and long sleeve shirts when out in open can help protect you as well. If there are holes in your homes windows or doors be sure to fix them. In addition follow the 5 Ds can help as well. 

Insect repellent can be useful as well.

Mosquito trivia:

Did you know? The itchy red bump left by a mosquito bite isn’t actually caused by the bite itself. The irritation is a result of the skin’s allergic reaction to the mosquito’s saliva

Lemonade Shakeups Recipe

1 quart water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large lemons, halved

Bring the water to a boil, then remove from heat. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature. This mixture can be stored in the fridge for a week or until ready to use.
Gather four 8-12 ounce glasses or jars with lids. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into each one then place the halves in each glass. Top with ice. Pour the sugar water over each one, to the top of the glass. Cover and then shake until thoroughly combined. Enjoy!

Easy Cream Cheese Bacon Roll Ups

8 slices bacon, sliced in half
8 slices of bread, crusts removed and sliced in half
4 ounces cream cheese

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease a jelly roll pan with some non-stick cooking spray. Smear a little cream cheese on one side of each of the de-crusted bread halves.

Take a half piece of bacon and lay it on a clean flat surface (Image 1). Line up the top edge of one of the prepared bread pieces, cream cheese side up & dry side to bacon (Image 2). Starting at the top edge, roll bacon side toward the cream cheese side (Image 3). Continue to roll until "tail" wraps completely around the roll-up (Image 4). Secure with a toothpick and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until remaining roll ups are ready to go.

Bake at 375º F for 25-35 minutes or until bacon is completely cooked and golden brown (No

Chocolate Pecan Pie

1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Spread the pecans and chocolate chips evenly on the bottom of the pie shell.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Pour over the pecans and chocolate chips. Bake for 30 minutes then carefully place a pie shield over the crust. Continue baking until the filling is set, about 20 to 25 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Southern Style Fried Catfish

6 catfish filets, boneless and skinless
Freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
3 cups fine-ground cornmeal
Canola oil

1. Generously season the filets with salt and pepper. Set out two shallow bowls. Mix the beaten eggs with the milk in one bowl and put the cornmeal in the other. Dip the filets first in the eggy milk, then dredge in the cornmeal.

2. Heat 3 inches of canola oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat to 350˚ on a candy thermometer. In batches, gently slide the filets into the oil and fry for 6 minutes. Turn the pieces over with a slotted spoon and cook an additional 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season well.

Serves 6

Excerpted from My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking by John Besh/Andrews McMeel Publishing.

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Wonderful Wednesday

National Aviation Day

August 19th is national Aviation Day in the United States. This day celebrates the development of aviation and was created in 1939 by Franklin Roosevelt. August 19th is also Orville Wright's birthday. Orville was born August 19th , 1871.

This updated version of the candy recipe of yesteryear would be great to make today or anytime you are looking to have a flying good time.

Small Hersey chocolate bars (instead of gum)
Gummy Lifesavers (instead of hard mint Lifesavers)
Small rubber bands  

Place rubber band between two gummy Lifesavers and keep your fingers in the rubber bands during the next steps. It makes it easier to put the plane together.

Step Two:

Fit the Smartie between the two Lifesavers "wheels."

 Step Three:

Then loop one side of the rubber band over the Hersey bar (keep your one finger/thumb in the other side of the rubber band so to hold it in place). Then loop the other side around the chocolate bar.

This is what it looks like from the underneath side of the plane.

Society Is Living Longer and fighting to be Happy

In the past 100 years the average life expectancy has increased by nearly 30 years in the United States. In fact most developed countries of the world are catching up to this ratio very quickly. Individuals born now can expect to live to see up to eight or more decades in their lives. This fact changes society in that adults 60 or older is growing rapidly in our population. So a new question arises: what should we do with those extra 20 to 30 years of life??

The well being and opportunities for seniors should not run out just because society population is getting older. Should the young generation strive to make plans for the future years?? The issue is that society often forgets about the population that finds itself enjoying longer life span. So politics evoke thoughts of the cost of the population getting older, how will this harm the current system.

Many individuals that are getting older are working longer. Some, however, find that there is no longer a role in society for them to play. While they are not useless seniors often feel as if others want to put them in a corner and act as though out of sight out of mind. Don't let this part of society be the next to meet discrimination. The older generation has experience and abilities to offeer. Lets not in case them because of their age as we should never let an individuals talents and achieveements become stagnated. Older adults may move a bit slower but they are so very important and we can learn so much