Rachel Sear, a great friend of mine, finished a project last Friday for a class she took at MSU while earning her Masters in Experiential Education. Experiential education focuses on experiences to connect learners to content.
For example, if students were to learn about bridges, they might visit many bridges to study them. It’s not necessarily hands on, where the students would actually build the bridges.
Here, Rachel took a group of junior high students from River Bend Academy in Mankato and taught them about cooking. She called this project “Top Chef Mankato.” This is “project based learning” and a form of experiential education. This was no ordinary cooking class.
Rachel wanted these children to learn all aspects of what ends up on the table. She taught them where the food comes from and about sustainable agriculture, the nutritional value of the food and how this affects the body, and how to budget and feed a family with little money.
Therefore, math, science, environmentalism and health were related to real life experiences and the students learned how to take these skills and put them to use in the real world. Rachel showed the students documentaries on sustainable agriculture. They visited a local food coop. They cooked together some low-fat nutritious meals.
On the last week, the students who had divided into three groups were to present the entire school with a dish which could feed a family of four. It had to include a protein, two vegetables, and at least one Minnesota-grown ingredient. Furthermore, each dish had to be moderately low in fat and cost less than $15 to prepare. Each group met and even beat these requirements and presented the school with three delicious meals.
I was there, last Friday, when these three groups cooked their dishes and served them to the students and teachers at River Bend Academy. I was immediately impressed with the enthusiasm and even passion each group exhibited while cooking and telling me about their dish.
Each dish was something they were already familiar with; but, with Rachel’s help, more vegetables were added and substitutions like lower fat proteins were instituted. Jeremiah Hartman cooked an amazing country goulash which his mother makes at home and this was the most nutritious and lowest calorie dish of the bunch.
Each student knew the answers to the questions Rachel would throw at them like why they used organically grown vegetables or why locally grown produce is important. Madison Taber even brought some asparagus from her own garden and added it to her American lasagna.
I loved the creativity from the group who made Mexican lasagna using corn tortillas rather than lasagna noodles. In the end, all of the dishes were incredible and tasted delicious.
They were judged by the students in the school; but, the results were so close that it was almost a three-way tie. The two lasagnas were a tie with the goulash only trailing by a couple of votes. I would have had a difficult time choosing only one of these.
Congratulations to each of the amazing students I had the pleasure to meet. I had the best time getting to know all of you and eating the amazing food you presented. If this is an example of how Rachel Sear plans to educate students, they are in for a real treat. I wonder if these students realized how much they learned while having such a good time.
The student’s recipes: †
American Lasagna by Madison Taber and Michael Weimern
4 C. cottage cheese
1 1/2 lb. ground beef or ground turkey
-26-30 oz. spaghetti sauce
4 oz. pepperoni
10 strips lasagna noodles
1-2 C. mozzarella cheese
9×13″ greased pan
First, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Second, brown meat. Mix mozzarella cheese and cottage cheese in separate container. Drain the met. Put pepper, Italian seasoning, and the can of spaghetti sauce in the pan with the meat and heat it up. Lay five lasagna noodles on bottom of pan. Put half meat on top of noodles. Put half cheese mix on that. Lay five more lasagna noodles on top. Put second half of meat mix. Put second half of cheese mix on this. Put tin foil over this and place in oven to bake for one hour.
Country Goulash by Jeremiah Hartman and Alex Simmons
1 lb. ground beef
1 can (28 oz) stewed tomatoes
1 can (10-3/4 oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
2 C. fresh or frozen corn
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 C. cooked elbow macaroni
In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomatoes, soup, corn, green pepper, onion and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat’ cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in macaroni and heat through. Yield: 6-8 servings.
Mexican Lasagna by Jaren Allen & Dalton Nelson
1 lb. ground turkey
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp red pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 (16 oz) can tomatoes, chopped
12 corn tortillas
2 C. non-fat shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 C. non-fat egg substitute
2 C. shredded lettuce
1/2 C. chopped tomatoes
3 green onions, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown turkey’ rinse in colander under hot water and drain. Add cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, red pepper, salt, pepper and tomatoes. Heat through. Spray 9×13 inch pan with non stick spray. Cover bottom and sides of pan with half tortillas. Pour meat mixture over tortillas. Place another layer of tortillas over meat mixture and set aside. Combine cottage cheese, 1 C. cheddar cheese and egg. Pour over tortillas. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle rows of cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and green onions diagonally across center of casserole.
Makes 8 servings.
Today is day 19 of my challenge to be in the best shape ever by the 4th of July and I have 141 days to go. So far, I am feeling really great. I am still sore every day. I wonder if that goes away? It feels good though because it reminds me that I am working really hard. Here is my article for the New Ulm Journal and a recipe for a really easy and delicious†salmon salad. There is a video at the end of the post where I show you how to make this salad.
ďEternal spring in your heartĒ
You are probably tired of hearing how much I appreciate the cold or even how I keep writing about the weather. But, I write these articles about what is happening in my life and right now, it is winter. Winter is happening.† I have only lived through a few Minnesota winters and this one seems to be the coldest, the whitest, and the longest. The snow pushed up alongside my driveway is higher than I ever remember seeing. My front steps are missing completely. Oh, logic tells me they are down there somewhere nestled in their snowy blanket; but, I canít see them. I was so excited for the first, the second, even the third snow day. Now, they are getting a bit commonplace.
Victor Hugo (French poet, 1802-1885) wrote, ďWinter is on my head but eternal spring is in my heart.Ē I still look out at the frozen branches glistening in the sunlight and smile. The stark contrast of the bright red cardinals against the white backdrop takes my breath away. The powdery untouched snow covering the fields where no farmer has been in months looks smooth and peaceful. The most impressive winter sight I have been blessed with is the sunrise as I take my children to the bus. Some days we wait in the dark but on other magical days, the sun is beginning to rise and the sky is a cascade of blues, pinks and oranges. Last week, my car broke down at the bus stop and I had to walk home. It was this gorgeous sunrise which made me feel happy with each step.
Donít get me wrong, I long for spring. I love the sunlight and the warmth from the sun. Iím dying to work in the garden. Our heating bill is killing us this winter. My kids little faces look red and chapped from the harsh winter wind. My entry way is never clean due to the snowy muddy boots traipsing in and out.† I donít enjoy driving in the night with icy roads beneath my tires. I donít look forward to having to push up on my icy garage door because it has frozen closed overnight. Iíd like to stop having to take vitamin D pills daily due to my lack of sun.
But, even in the winter, itís important to keep spring in your heart. Itís necessary to appreciate the good that is around you no matter what season you are living in. I laughed out loud the other day when I locked myself out of the house and had to walk around to the back door to make my way in. I tucked my jeans into my boots and began trekking through the snow. Before I knew it, the snow was past my knees. I looked ridiculous. There was no need to have tucked in my jeans as the snow was caked inside my boots by then. All I can say is that this is what winter is supposed to be. This is what you read about when you read about winter. I just have to love it. Think about ice skating, hot cocoa, warm fires, hot coffee in the late afternoon just to warm your bones, happy squirrels and rabbits when you leave some food out for them, snow ball fights, hot tasty soup, stews, and chili, hot bubble baths at the end of a long cold day, snow days when you donít have to leave the house, sledding, tubing, and icicles. I have never seen such huge icicles before this winter.† Decide that the snow and ice doesnít affect your mood in a negative way and you will feel the difference. And remember, there are only thirty two days until spring. We are in the home stretch. It is almost over. I know Punxsautawney Phil says there will be six more weeks of winter; but, we canít believe everything that groundhog says. He doesnít even really speak.
In the meantime, we can eat like itís spring just to get us ready. Go out and find yourself some delicious wild caught salmon filets and make a hearty and appetizing salad.
A reader reminded me recently of the importance in buying wild caught salmon versus farmed. Doing so will benefit your health as well as the environment. Furthermore, it has been said that the nutrients in salmon my boost your mood and decrease feelings of depression. Salmon may assist in creating eternal spring in your heart. I already knew that salmon was a low fat food. However, looking into the nutrients found in salmon and other fish with high levels of Omega 3 fatty acid, I realize itís crazy not to eat more of it. Not only may it lower your risk of heart disease, salmon can reduce blood clotting which may lead to strokes and it could lower your chance of getting cognitive problems such as Alzheimerís disease. Itís like a miracle food. A food which may make me happier, healthier, smarter and slimmer? Yes please!
Salmon salad with balsamic glaze dressing:
Time: 30 minutes
4 salmon filets
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp honey
1 head of Romaine lettuce
2 lemons, quartered
Pour olive oil into a skillet and heat on medium high. Sautť onion and garlic in pan until onion is clear. Set the onion and garlic aside. Place the salmon in the skillet and sear for four minutes on each side (until opaque in the center and brown on outside). Set salmon aside. Pour vinegar and honey in skillet and heat on high until reduced to glaze. Tear up the lettuce and place on plates. Set the salmon on the bed of lettuce. Put the sautťed onion and garlic on the salmon. Drizzle the glaze over everything. Add lemon wedges to squeeze.
It is day 18 of my challenge to be in the best possible shape by the 4th of July. I have 142 days to go. So far so good. I found a new dvd which I love. It is called Red Hot Salsa II. At first, it was way to fast and I was very uncoordinated. But, I discovered a portion of the dvd which slows down the steps and teaches you what they are doing. This was so helpful. Now, I have completed the dvd about five times and I am getting really good. I don’t think I have rhythm quite like the ladies in the movie, but I am getting better every day. It’s really fun and it really makes you sweat.
Also, I found an amazing app for the iphone which is called lose it. It’s a free app. It allows you to input your goals and then it sets up a plan for you to reach the goal based on calories. You punch in what exercises you are doing and what you eat and it keeps you on track on a daily basis. I really love it and believe it is helping me. It also motivates me to complete all three of my exercises daily so I can eat more food and drink more wine.
I taught another cooking class this week. My students learned how to make salmon in foil.
Click here for the recipe. It was a lot of fun. I also made† a couple of low fat appetizers: bean dip and cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes. Here are those recipes:
Time: 15 minutes
2 C. cherry tomatoes, cut in half and remove pulp
1 C. fat free cream cheese
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
ľ C. parmesan cheese, grated
2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Set cherry tomato halves aside. Combine all other ingredients in a food processor and mix well. Spoon into the tomatoes. Chill until ready to serve.
Pinto Bean Dip:
4 C. pinto beans
Ĺ C. jalapeŮo peppers
ľ tsp. salt
ľ tsp sugar
1/4 C. onion, finely chopped
ľ tsp. cayenne pepper
ľ tsp paprika
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Combine all ingredients into the food processor and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with tortilla chips.
I had my first cooking class on Thursday. I had the best time. This one was held at my house. I served cocktails and wine with bruschetta and quacamole with chips as people arrived.
I think there were about ten people who attended and we made beef bourguignon. CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE
I let them choose ahead of time which recipe they would like to make.
It was surprisingly easy and fun. At the end we all sat together and enjoyed the meal which I prepared ahead of time. Next week, I will be teaching how to cook salmon in foil at the high school Home Ec room. So, no wine will be consumed in that class. I wonder if it will be as much fun?
Also, today is day 13 and I have 147 days until the 4th of July to be in the very best shape I have ever before been in. I can’t say that I have noticed a physical change in my appearance, however, there is a definite change in my energy. I feel fantastic. My mood may also be attributed to adding vitiman D to my diet. I think the lack of sunshine here in Minnesota may have been draining my energy and this vitiman has really helped. I have not missed a day of working out in 13 days and that in itself is a miracle.
It is now day 6 and I have 154 days to complete my getting in the best shape ever by the 4th of July. I am well on my way. I have uncovered a lot of great workout dvds to get me going. My next post will have links to the dvds I am using. I wanted to get a bunch so I wouldn’t get bored. I can’t wait until it is warm enough to go on a walk. Today, it is seriously snowing. I am aslo really amazed at how easily I have stuck with my drinking less wine. I admit I had more than one glass last night while watching the Grammys. Here is my article for the Journal which comes out tomorrow:
“Be fit by the 4th of July, starting with quiche”
I blame these articles for my new unwanted pounds. My jeans are not fitting right. Iím bulging out in all the wrong places. I got on a scale the other day and couldnít believe the weight. I do know why this is happening. I have been cooking and eating everything in sight. Then, I spend most of my day writing and researching on the computer. What did I expect?
Then, yesterday, Claud told me his entire family will be flying here from England to spend the summer with us. I was really excited about having everyone visit. Until I thought, I could be huge by then if I donít do something drastic.† I found a calendar and decided that I will be in the shape I am comfortable with by the Fourth of July. Thatís 153 days away.
My plan is detailed on my blog (www.yovia.com/blogs/simplyfood). I even posted a before picture. I thought if I told everyone I was doing this, I would have to stick with it. The plan is to eat a light breakfast and a salad for lunch. However, dinner is going to be my treat. Iím no expert on keeping fit, but, common sense tells me that if I cut my calories and move my body more than I have been, I should expect some results. I am adding three small workouts into my day. Iím going to cut the calories before dinner but keep dinner as my special treat for me and my family. I love our big dinners together at the dining room table. I canít give that up. That would be like giving up love or happiness or joy. Besides, my dinners arenít ALWAYS fattening. If you are interested, you can follow my progress on my blog and join me if you are feeling like a change is needed. I believe we can still enjoy delicious food and get in shape.
I have never made a quiche before. My mom makes them. She makes them with bacon and goat cheese, with sun dried tomatoes and feta or with mushrooms and spinach. I wished I could make quiches myself. I was afraid. They look too difficult and French. Why is it that I always think anything French will be difficult to cook? I am learning that French cuisine is actually very simple. Furthermore, quiche is not even French. Quiche originated in medieval Germany in Lothringen which the French later named Lorraine. The word quiche comes from the German word kuchen meaning cake. Who knew?
I called my mom and we discussed quiche making. She assured me I could do it. I was extremely brave and made my first quiche to bring to my friends Dan and Kathyís house. That first quiche was the Lorraine. I made that crust with a low fat recipe I found online which didnít taste exactly right. However, the creamy eggs mixed with the smoky bacon made up for it. It was still pretty tasty. I talked to my mom again and asked her to send me detailed information on how to make the crust the way she always makes it. She obliged and this is the recipe I am presenting you with today. I made a mushroom and onion quiche with this delicious buttery crust and it was so much better than the low fat version.
Sure, you can buy a store bought crust. If you do, this recipe becomes almost as easy as scrambled eggs; although, if you do have time, making the crust yourself will create a far superior dish. Have a look at my blog to see a movie of me making the crust and the filling. †If you arenít a fan of mushrooms or onions, be creative. You can use any vegetable and cheese combination you prefer. Enjoy!
Quiche crust (pate brisee):
1 ľ C. flour
8 Tbsp . (1 stick butter), cut into small cubes and very cold
Ĺ tsp. salt
Ĺ tsp. sugar
5 Tbsp ice cold water
Place the small Ĺ inch cubes of butter into the freezer for at least fifteen minutes. Mix the flour, salt and sugar together. Add the butter and pulse a few times in the food processor. Add in water one Tbsp. at a time and pulse. It should look like bread crumbs.
If it clumps together, pour it out on a counter and form it into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for an hour.
Take it out and roll it out. I find that it doesnít roll out into one sheet. †You can place pieces into the quiche dish (9 inch round) and mold it in to where you want it to be.
Once you have the dough in the dish, place back in the refrigerator for a half an hour. Place a piece of wax paper over the dough and fill the dish with beans to weigh the dough down.
Bake in oven at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Take beans and wax paper out. Place a few holes with fork in dough and return to oven for ten more minutes. Remove and let cool while you make the filling.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Cups mushrooms
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 C. heavy cream
2 C. gruyere cheese (or cheese of your choice), shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
Pour olive oil into a skillet and heat on high. Add onions and reduce heat to medium. Saute onions until clear and slightly brown. Add sugar and continue to cook for five minutes more. Add the mushrooms and sautť them for another five minutes. Spread 1 C. cheese into bottom of quiche crust. Add the mushrooms and onions over cheese. Beat together the eggs and cream. Add salt and pepper and beat some more. Pour egg mixture over the mushrooms. Add last cup of cheese. Place in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
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It’s 7 pm on day two and I am really tired. My muscles are sore. I had a lot to do today with my writing and then running my kids around. However, I still stuck to my schedule. Even though I wanted to plop on the couch after walking in the door, I didn’t. I finished my third workout instead. I am really proud of myself but know it’s only day two. 157 more days to go. I can do it. I know I can. Tomorrow, I will post the workout dvds I am using with links to buy them, in case anybody out there wants to join me in my quest. I am also going to write the recipe for my homemade salad dressing I have been using because it is really good. I will have the best night of sleep tonight…that I know for certain.
Okay, I have been talking about changing my lifestyle. Maybe I’d take a daily walk (which hasn’t happened), maybe I would eat lighter meals (a little less cheese and butter), and maybe I would drink less wine. Well, I haven’t changed much since January 1st. Now, I have some really good incentive. Yesterday, I learned that my relatives in England (my in-laws) are coming out here this summer to visit. So, I thought to myself, it would be great to have this new lifestyle I so desperately wish to adopt in full force by the time they arrive. Maybe I can knock off those extra pounds by then?
Well, I am pretty sure they won’t be here until after the fourth of July because school in England doesn’t end until late in July. The 4th sounds like a good goal to be completely emerged into my new lifestyle and looking great. Who knows? Maybe I will be comfortable in a bikini? At this point, I’d settle for feeling great in shorts. The other day, I realized I have gained 25 pounds since I met my husband. I think I can get back close to the shape I was in thirteen years ago with a little effort.
It seems like a long time until the 4th. It is exactly 159 days away. Starting today, I will eat a healthy breakfast and practice one hour of yoga in the morning. Then, I have a 20 minute core workout routine on DVD which I will do in the afternoon (before or after my salad for lunch). Finally, in the evening, I will walk or follow my cardio DVD I have.
The walk has been out of the question with blizzard-like weather. Although, I have seen my neighbor walking. Man, she has stamina. I also saw her cross country skiing the other day. But, she did not look like she†was having any fun at all. †I don’t understand cross country skiing.
I am going to have whatever I want for dinner because I don’t want to skimp on dinner or my food articles. I am going to try to limit myself to one glass of wine per night (on week nights) and two or three (weekends). I have noticed that any more than one glass on the week nights makes that 6:00 am alarm seem way too early.
This†is day one of one hundred fifty nine days to a complete healthy overhaul. I ate scrambled eggs on toast (CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE), practiced yoga, ate a salad for lunch, did the core DVD, and now I am making a quiche (mushroom and onion) for dinner with a salad on the side. I still have to do the walk or cardio DVD before bed. I will do it! Here is a picture of how I look today. I am very embarrassed to do this; but, I want to see the results. I figured if anyone out there is going to follow along with my progress, you’d be interested in the results too. I will update it as we go. Wish me luck and join me if you want to.
I completed half of my yoga dvd today and walked. Okay, so I walked to the mailbox. But, I have a long driveway. It’s a start. I decided there are two requirements to my beginning a half an hour walking regimen. First, I need to get out of these glasses and into contacts because the blinding sunlight is killing me when it bounces off of the snow covered earth. I will need to wear sunglasses. Second, it should be above zero degrees. It looks nice out the window, but once I emerged into the arctic chill, I realize it could be dangerous to my life. So,†I am buying contacts this week and hoping the temperature rises. In the meantime, I will keep up with the yoga. Tomorrow…the whole dvd.
Here is my article for the New Ulm Journal:
“Pot roast and resolutions”
†The end of the holiday season can be a bit anticlimactic. We spend months buying gifts, writing cards, attending and planning parties. Relatives visit, you visit friends, the house is decorated, and the streets are illuminated with snowflakes and red and green lights. You may have spent time compiling a list of resolutions which you may or may not keep. It all leads up to that fateful stroke of the clock and the dropping of the ball andÖbam: a few kisses and hugs, a few, ďhappy new year!Ē shouted out to your loved ones and itís over. The year has ended. A new year has begun. But, then, the next day or the day after that, it all just feels the same. We shuffle back into work or school. We comfortably relax into our routines.
I like the idea of coming up with resolutions but feel it may be a mistake to do it on January 1st. †I think resolutions should be made whenever you feel something lacking in your life. This can be any day of the year. When I plan to make a resolution on the 1st, I announce my resolution, maybe tell friends and write it down. Itís not a terrible idea. Itís just that if I donít do it on the 1st of the year, day one, I feel like a failure. Iím usually tired on the first: I might be hung over. †So, that new yoga or aerobic routine isnít going to happen that very day. It doesnít seem to be as exciting beginning on the fourth or the fifth. Before I know it, itís February. Usually, the whole idea just fades away.
Instead, I try to treat every day as an opportunity to begin anew:† start working on that novel, earn more money, cook more homemade meals,†† exercise more,†† spend more quality time with my spouse and children, or have more fun with my friends. Your list may be different. However, I have found that most lists are pretty similar because people generally want to be healthy, to be in love and to be loved, to be surrounded by friends and family and to be financially wealthy.
When the holidays end, things may get a little quiet. Many people might miss the hustle and bustle, the visitors and the visits, the holiday performances and church services, and the camaraderie which comes with the season. I am here to say that this spirit of togetherness does not have to end with the passing of the holidays. Why not keep it going?
You can continue the spirit of togetherness in your own home. You can create a club: writing, reading, cooking, painting, music, singing, walking, taking picturesÖthe possibilities are endless. You can take a class in something you are interested in. Hereís a shameless plug for myself, but you can sign up for my weekly cooking class through community education which begins on January 14th. If people sign up, we will be cooking a meal and then eating it together. Iíd like to create a sort of weekly dinner party. Itís a great way to meet new people who have similar interests; mine, in this case, is eating good food with good people.
Another idea is to begin a tradition of having a Sunday lunch at your place. You can invite friends and family to come over on Sunday. Making a pot roast for a Sunday lunch is easy, affordable, and delicious. You prepare it a bit in the morning and go about your daily business. Just before you are ready to serve the food, you do a few more magic tricks and itís finished. If lots of people arrive, there will be plenty of food. If few people attend, you will love having the leftovers. Whatever resolution or goal you decide you would like to keep, begin it today, or tomorrow, or the next day. Treat each day as an opportunity to make things happen: give more, smile more, and love more. You can watch a video of me and Claud making this pot roast at the end of this post.
Beef Pot †Roast:
4 lb. sirloin tip
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. pepper
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 yellow onions, sliced
1 C. red wine
3 C. beef stock
1 Tbsp. rosemary
8 medium potatoes, chopped thickly
2 carrots, chopped thickly
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 C. mushrooms, sliced
1/3 C. butter
Ĺ C. flour
Dry the sirloin tip with paper towels. Cover it on all sides with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Heat the remaining olive oil in a stock pot. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the beef. Brown the beef on all sides. This will take about five minutes per side. Remove the meat.
Add the onions and garlic. Cook them until the onions become transparent. Deglaze the pot with the red wine. Scrape all of the browning remnants from the bottom of the pot into the wine, garlic and onions. Add the meat back to the pot. Pour in the stock. You want the liquid to rise half way up the beef. If you need more liquid, add stock, red wine or water. Sprinkle in some rosemary. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer for an hour and a half.
†Add the potatoes and carrots. Cook for thirty minutes. Add the celery and mushrooms and cook ten minutes more. Remove the meat and vegetables from the pot.
†In another pan, melt the butter and mix in the flour to create a roux. Slowly whisk in the remaining liquid from coking the beef and vegetables. Add the remaining salt and pepper. Pour the vegetables into the gravy. Slice the beef and layer it on top of the gravy with veggies. Enjoy!
Okay, I am still giving my resolutions a lot of thought. I think I will cut down on the cheese and wine. Why not? I am so confused. By the first of the year, I will have a carefully drawn out plan.
Yesterday, while I wrote my post, my children were asking me to make cookies with them. I told them they could get started, “just follow the directions on the package.” I went down stairs to see how it was going. I tasted the chocolate chip cookie dough, which I love to eat raw. It was crunchy and didn’t taste right. I took another bite and another. Something was wrong. I asked Daphne, “how much sugar is in here?” She responded matter of factly, “three cups.” I am not an expert baker, but that sounded like a lot. I pulled out the chocolate chip package and read the recipe. It read 3/4 C. sugar, “Daph, it says 3/4 C. not 3 Cups.” I was a little irritated because I thought a ten and eleven year old should be able to follow directions. Oh well. We threw that dough out. It was gross.
This morning, the kids wanted to open one gift. I made the mistake of telling them they might be able to open one gift on Christmas Eve. The key word was “might” but “might” to them means absolutely yes. So, all morning, from the wee hours, they kept creeping into our room waking us up.
Finally, I said, “fine, if you make us some scrambled eggs and toast, we will come out and watch you open one gift each.” Yes, it was bribery; but, they were happy† to oblige. I said, “I like wheat toast and daddy likes white.” They both shouted, “okay!” as they ran to the kitchen. They returned about ten minutes later with one plate carrying scrambled eggs and two pieces of wheat toast. Daph said, “do you want a fork and everything?” I said, “where’s dads?” She said, “oh” and looked confused. I told her I would take that fork. Dad went hungry. Not because I didn’t share. He just didn’t really want any.
I am really getting concerned that my kids can’t follow directions. What’s going on here? Is this normal? Who cares? It was lovely that they even tried to make us breakfast in bed. They are amazingly wonderful children.
Anyway, it’s Christmas Eve and we are snowed in. I love being snowed in. I love not being able to go anywhere.
I am so happy we are going to make a roast tonight with potatoes and vegetables. I love roasts because they remind me of life in England and Claud’s family. It’s just the four of us here this Christmas. All of Claud’s family is at Hopgrass in England and all of mine are in Los Angeles. It seems a little lonely just to have the four of us but it’s also very lucky to have a quiet peaceful Christmas with the people I love so much. Happy Christmas Eve to everyone…if anyone is reading. My next post will be my food column article about Love Stew.
Here is my article for the New Ulm Journal food column:
Mothers are amazing, influential, compassionate and nurturing. At least, this has been my experience with my mother. I think most moms donít even realize which words they speak are making an impact or what action they take that the child is likely to remember. My mom was only seventeen when I was born. So, often, I joke with her and say we will be in a nursing home together when we get old. In spite of our closeness in age, she has always been and will always be my mentor. I look to her for advice and support all of the time. We talk on the phone at least once a day.
This year Claud and I have dealt with a bit of a financial crisis. My mom and her husband, Doug, have been our beacon of hope, helping us all of the time. Have you seen that Hallmark commercial where the grown up daughter walks around on Christmas evening trying to give her mom the card that will somehow reveal her gratitude? Finally, she gets a moment to hand her mother the card and the card reads, ďWe couldnít have survived the year without you.Ē Well, that is me this year. Iím that daughter. They made that commercial based on my life. Not really. However, it could have been written about me and my mom.
She has made me think a lot about being a mother and how it never ends. Iím about to turn thirty nine and she is still helping and worrying about me. Being a mother is a lifelong commitment. I laughed this week when I read an article in Newsweek Magazine where Eleanor Roosevelt cried the day Franklin D. Rooseveltís mom gave them a house as a wedding gift. The kicker was that the house was actually a duplex; and guess who lived next door? Franklinís mother had at least three adjoining doors. She might enter into the living room, the dining room or a bedroom whenever she pleased. I totally get this. I often joke with my own kids telling them that we will be building on to this house so they never have to move out. I tell them there will be plenty of room for their new spouse and my grandchildren right here under this very roof. They roll their eyes. My mom doesnít want to live with us but she is always here in our hearts.
This Christmas, I donít have much to give. I should try to find that Hallmark card. I might be able to afford that. I want to make certain that the people I love know how grateful I am to have them in my life. My friend Jim Wendroth lost his mother to cancer this year and wrote to me reminding me to not let time go by without spending it with the people I love. †I have been so blessed to have had three visits from my parents this year. They have to fly all of the way from California, so this is no small feat. I am tremendously grateful.
Whenever my mom arrives, we spent most of our time in the kitchen: cooking, eating, laughing, and drinking wine. We always have so much fun together. Sometimes we will laugh until tears roll down our cheeks and her husband and mine will just look at us like we are crazy. We are the only ones who get the joke. My mom is an incredible cook. I would never have grown to appreciate food the way I do if it wasnít for all of the remarkable meals she cooked for me over the years. Okay, I could have done without borsht or fish soup as a child, but most of the other food was fantastic. My mom makes some incredible Italian dishes. Thatís why I have to refer to her as Mama Mia when she cooks Italian food. One of her amazing Italian inspired dishes is Chicken Puttanesca.† CLICK HERE FOR SLIDE SHOW
Her recipe combines chicken, tons of garlic, chili flakes, kalamata olives, capers, wine and more. She uses red wine which makes sense because she and I love red wine. The traditional recipe for Puttanesca usually calls for a dry white wine. I have only had it with red and it tastes delicious. It is better to use red so you can finish the rest of the bottle after you cook with most of it. Thatís what I did yesterday when I made Chicken Puttanesca and Mama Mia was it good. Thank you, mom, and Merry Christmas. Happy holidays to everyone. I hope you are filled with love and fantastic food this holiday season.
Serves: 6 with leftovers (itís even better the next day)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
†One whole chicken, deboned
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 medium sweet red peppers, chopped
10-12 cloves of garlic, sliced in half
2 C. dry red wine (or white)
3 C. chicken broth
3 C. stewed tomatoes
1 Tbsp. salt
Ĺ Tbsp. pepper
Ĺ Tbsp. chili flakes
1 C. kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half
Ĺ C. capers, liquid drained
1 lb. angel hair pasta
In a large stock pot, heat olive oil. Once hot, add the chicken. Brown chicken on both sides (about five minutes each side). Remove chicken from pot. Add the onions, peppers and garlic. Brown these until the onions are translucent and everything is getting a little brown (about ten minutes). Add the red wine and scrape all of the brown remnants from the bottom of the pan. Mix this all together. Add the broth and stewed tomatoes. Add the chicken. Allow this to simmer for about thirty five minutes. Add salt and pepper and chili flakes to taste. Cook the angel hair pasta according to directions on package. While the pasta cooks, add the olives and capers. Drain the pasta and add it to the chicken and sauce. Enjoy.