Tag Archives: fresh food

Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pandowdy

The grandkids and a friend, Delaney, came over this week to help me pick apples.  My tree was loaded this year, and It took all of us with the ladder to get about 50 lbs of apples!  (and a few of Cooper’s favorites – carrots!)  The apples in the top of the tree (which I failed to prune last year) will fall eventually and then the deer will be happy once more!

apple picking time

It was hard for me to keep them from eating them as fast as they picked them…especially the carrots, but after a good hose washing, picking out the worms

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(in the case of the all organic apples) and biting around the bird pecks and the deer bites…everyone got a taste of goodness!

Now the chore of peeling, coring, slicing and packaging these beauties for the freezer, and some fresh apply treats….apple pie, apple crisp, applesauce, apple fritters, etc.

I know!  APPLE PANDOWDY!  The kids had never heard that term, and I was curious too, so I looked it up!

When I was growing up, my mom’s favorite TV show was the Dinah Shore Show…many of you weren’t born yet, so you won’t remember, but she made one song famous that we sang around the house “Shoe Fly Pie and Apple Pandowdy”.  I grew up wondering what those enticing sounding foods were made of besides the obvious – apples…but probably not flies…eouwwwww!  Well now that I’m writing  food blog and humming the song once again…I did a bit of research!

Shoe Fly Pie has it’s roots in the South and can be anything from caramel based pie to a kind of pie that has a soft gooey center like Pecan Pie…just without the pecans!  That sort of makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it.

But Apple Pandowdy has a longer history.  The word “pandowdy” is something of a mystery and its origins are contested among dictionaries and historians.  Some think that pandowdy is an eighteenth century Americanization of the French word pandoulde which means “custard or pudding”.  Other believe that it comes from an English dialectic found in the original colonies of pan + dowl – which means to mix dough in a hurry (Perhaps a variant of dough).  A third meaning derives from our current word dowdy, which means  rather plain or unlovely.  My granny used to say that a pandowdy was basically a one crust apple pie with bits of left over pie crust “dowdied” on top….by that she meant that she covered her apples with strips of left over crust from all the other pies she was baking that morning which she pushed down into the cinnamon juice of the apples to glaze them before baking.  This often made a softer, biscuit-like crust.  But however this humble dish got its name, it is very delicious!  Here’s the one we made:

Crust:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Apple Filling: 

6 or 7 pie apples (Granny Smith, Jonathan, MacIntosh, Roma, etc.) peeled and cut into slices to make 6 cups of fruit.*

1/3-1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar – depending on the tartness of your apples

(I like to substitute 1/4 c Maple Syrup – here’s how:)  http://www.ehow.com/how_7384139_substitute-maple-syrup-brown-sugar.html

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg (fresh ground if you have the nuts on hand)

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon heavy cream

2 teaspoons coarse sugar

*All kinds of optional fruit can be added like:  raisins, rhubarb, raspberries, cranberries, etc. to be included in the 6 cups.

Make crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly, but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add 1 tablespoon more ice water). Do not overmix. Form dough into a 1-inch thick disk, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until firm.

Mix sugar, lemon, flour, salt and spices together and mix liberally with fruit.  Place the fruit mixture in the bottom of a deep dish.  Allow apple mixture to macerate for 15 minutes.  Dot with butter over the surface of the apples.

Roll out dough and cut into uneven strips.  Place dough strips at various angles across the top of the pie leaving a few holes for filling to bubble through and brush with cream. (This is the dowdying part).   Sprinkle coarse sugar over crust and bake at 350 for about 50 minutes or until the top of the crust is browned and apples are bubbly.

Serve with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Hope you enjoy this down-home treat!

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What To Do With All Those Tomatoes!

This year is a bumper crop for tomatoes in the Pacific Northwest…which is unusual.  Tomatoes are among the hardest fruit to grow up here because of the cool summers and short growing season, but this summer, they seem to be thriving and I have a lot of them!  (That is what Global Climate Change does to us!)

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Besides eating them still warm from the sun with a bit of salt and pepper, tossing them into salads (I especially like the yellow pear tomatoes for that!),  I also make them into spaghetti sauce and tomato paste.  But this year, the gkids and I decided to try to make our own catsup, ketchup,…or however you say it or spell it!

To make catsup you can start with tomato paste or make your own by cooking down your chopped tomatoes, adding a bit of onion, salt and pepper (perhaps a bit of oregano for an Italian flair!) and simmer them over medium heat until they have reduced by 1/2 – this takes a couple of hours on lowered heat.  MMMM…very sweet and delicious all by itself!

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This basic recipe is good for making spaghetti sauce or in Nana’s World Famous Chili! or to top off Nana’s Special Meatloaf!  (see recipes page!)

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But today we are making catsup! So after cooking the tomatoes down to half their volume, I put the cooled batch through a blender or food processor.  When I am making catsup, I use tomatoes that have been peeled (Dunk them in boiling water for 2 minutes and the skins will come right off!)  Once the mixture has been blended, return the pureed mixture back to the pot and add in the spices.

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For 2 1/2 cups of Nana’s Spicy Ketchup you will need:

4 lbs. of tomatoes, peeled and diced.  Add salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning if you wish and cook down to 4 cups. (1/2 the original volume).  Puree in food processor and return to pan.

To the pan add:

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 – 4 T dark brown sugar

3 T apple cider vinegar

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 T salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 cup water

Juice of 1/2 lemon.

I like my Ketchup smoky…so I also add 1 tsp. ground cumin – this is optional.

Cook and simmer together for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, to again reduce the mixture by half.  The Ketchup should be thick and creamy.  If they are lumps, cool and puree again.  When mixture is completely cool, add to sterilized jars with tight fitting lids.  Stores in the refrigerator for up 3 months.

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Now wouldn’t that taste good on a Summer Grilled Burger?  Enjoy that taste of summer all year long!

At The Beach

Just back from my beach vacation…boy was it great.  And a great opportunity to enjoy some light, refreshing meals, some new recipes from my “almost family” reunion!

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I have a close friend who invites me to her beach time share every summer in San Clemente.  Having lived for many years in San Diego…it is a great way to connect with some old friends nearby and to enjoy the laid back Southern Cali lifestyle for a few weeks!  Along with all the sun soaked Vitamin D I absorbed, we enjoyed barbeque on the San Clemente Pier’s famous Oyster Bar at Happy Hour, Giant Shrimp Shooters and Beet/Goat Cheese Salad at the Newport Beach Yacht club, salmon  and grilled corn on the cob on our own patio grill, papaya and pineapple smoothies, turkey avocado Panini, watermelon lemonade, peaches to die for from the farmers’ market, strawberry banana frozen yogurt, and a lot of liquid sunshine! Swimming everyday and all that wonderful food was a true taste of luscious summer.

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This year my friend had asked the members of her family living close by to come over for a big family barbeque at the beach!  They came from far and  near…two generations of them…all very healthy happy people.  They were kind enough to adopt me into their fold!  As with many reunions, everyone brought a dish to share, and, frankly, since it wasn’t MY family reunion…I didn’t experience the “same old” recipes.  So this was fun on many levels!

Several of Lucy’s family live on or near the beach, and many are life long surfers.  Healthy, fit, tanned and full of life.  There are several generations of surfers here from ones in their 60s to the youngest in their teens.  And they brought with them  healthy, mostly vegetarian dishes…except for our own BBQ ribs, and Shrimp on the Barbie. But the ubiquitous summer potato salad, hot dogs, and hamburgers was missing.  Instead they brought dishes like cous cous mango salad, black bean and corn salad, Chinese slaw with fresh ginger, lentil and celery salad, and my favorite….banana oatmeal cookies!

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We were treated to this banana delight from one of the 20 something surfing couples who raved about them.  They are simple, delicious, and good for you….yet will fulfill that sweet tooth!  I have affectionately named them “surfer cookies” considering their source.  So simple, and something that I am definitely planning to make with the grandkids!

These cookies could also be made in large batches and frozen.  They’re great for breakfast, pack your own lunches, as energy bars, and definitely after surfing!…or just about any time!  You only need 3 ingredients!  

SURFER COOKIES

2 Ripe (brown speckled) bananas

1 cup quick oats (must be the instant kind)

1/4 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, pistachios, almonds…all good)

Optional Additions:

cinnamon, raisins, craisins, blue berries, chocolate chips (this is particularly good)

Preheat Oven to 350.  Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Mash the bananas with a fork (or a food processor), pour in oats and nuts.  Stir till well blended.  (Add any additions).  Scoop (I use a melon baller for small ones) by teaspoons onto cookie sheet.  Makes 8 cookies or 16 small ones.

Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly browned.

93 calories (for 2 small ones or one regular), fat 3.5 g, carbs 15 g., Protein 2 g, Sodium 0.4 mg.

Kowabunga, dude….surf’s up! Enjoy!

Cooking with Herb and Spicy

Last week my Son-In-Law, Randy, asked me about cooking with herbs and spices. Since he was deployed to Qatar last year and visited the spice baazars, he has been fascinated with cooking with some of the great flavored spices he brought home with him.  We have tried Morrocan cooking, Arabic cooking, and Egyptian cooking with him.  Wonderful grilled rubs and marinades!  We have all benefitted from the wonderful tumeric, cinnamon, fennugreek, paprika, and curry that he has given us as gifts and the fabulous stews, couscous, and spice rubs that he is experimenting with!

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But he was unsure how to use fresh herbs, or how to pair them up with food.

I have a small raised bed outside my home that I use mostly for seasonal veggies and herbs.  A couple of years ago, I  planted one rosemary bush, a small thyme, some chives and a purple sage and garlic.  They have all wintered over nicely and are large enough now to provide all the herbs I could want!  I also grow mint in a pot (it is a notorious spreader), and every year I plant fresh basil, dill, and flat leaf parsley.  I’ve tried cilantro a few times, but with less success.  The gkids always enjoy the garden, clipping, pulling carrots, radishes, onions, garlic, and planting seeds.  It’s a great family activity!

herbsCooking with fresh herbs is also very good for our bodies.  They contain large amounts of anti-oxidants and vitamins.   Herbs strengthen the immune system, lower blood sugar and cholesterol; they have anti-inflammatory properties, and prevent Alzheimer’s diseases and cancers.  And they are easy to grow and cook with.

We talked about keeping an herb garden and he specifically asked me how to use them and what to use them with, so here are some pointers:

1. Never spray pesticide or herbicide near an organic garden.  By planting “companion” plants together, you can avoid damage naturally.  Planting garlic bulbs in your garden will help drive pests away.  Cabbage, lettuce, beets, and onions all love garlic and it will keep away aphids.  Garlic is also said to improve the flavor of neighboring plants and also improve your roses!  However pulses and legumes (beans, potatoes, peas) don’t seem to like to be near garlic (or onions). Cucumbers also don’t like aromatic herbs, but sage protects carrots, parsley protects asparagus and tomatoes, basil protects beans and peas.  So by planting carefully, you can have a pest free garden without sprays! (Please!)

You don’t need a big garden…you can grow things in buckets on the patio if that is the only space you have…just water them regularly.

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2.  Fresh Herbs are somewhat stronger than dried herbs, so you can use less.  I like to use herb bundles in soups and stews instead of trying to pick off all those tiny leaves, just tie a few compatible herbs together and then fish out the stems after cooking.  I will also often add a sprig of whatever I used in the dish to garnish the plate…very pretty!  Always wash the herbs first and store in a zippy bag with a damp paper towel inside.  They should keep for quite awhile this way.  But part of the joy of having a garden is being able to go out a just clip off some fresh herbs whenever you need them!

3.  Here’s my list of what to use in what.  It is by no means exhaustive! There are lots of other variations and everyone to their own taste…but it’s a start!

Garlic:  soups, stews, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, chicken, pork, lamb, beef, everything Italian, infused oils, almost anything tastes better with garlic!

Basil:  Eggs, Tomatoes, ratatouille, fish, pizza, pesto, soft cheeses, anything Italian, especially pasta or rice.  Cocktails (muddled basil to lemonade, bellinis, or gimlets)!  Soups and salads, also good in some desserts with lemon or orange.  Infused oil, vinegars, tea.

Rosemary:  Sausage, eggs, soup, stew, pork, lamb, poultry, fish, potatoes, again, anything Italian, oranges, infused oil, vinegar,  tea, meat marinades, bread (esp. foccacia), honey.

Thyme:  Eggs, soups, stews, gravy, meats, poultry, tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus, beans green and white, oils, vinegars, tea, marinades, broccoli, ratatouille, cucumber, onion, squash, honey, goat cheese.

Sage:  Poultry, flavored butters and oils, eggs, lamb, beans, pasta, rice, soups and stews, apples, pineapple, fish, pork, sausage, honey, asparagus, squash, goat cheese. Freeze in ice cubes for summer drinks.

Parsley:  tea, soups, eggs, gravy, cream sauces, tomato sauces, garden and potato salads, grilled fish, chicken, and  beef dishes, potatoes, stews, pasta, rice,  to top or garnish anything for a fresh grassy flavor.

Dill:  fish, shellfish, potatoes, yogurt, mayo, sour cream, cream sauce or gravies, beets, carrots, soups, stews, cucumbers, tomatoes, pickles.

Oregano:  tomatoes, potatoes, fish, poultry, fish, pasta, soups and stews, eggs, lamb, most vegetables, tea, oils and vinegars.

This may also help….it’s from About.com.

Beans (dried) cumin, cayenne, chili, parsley, pepper, sage, savory, thyme
Beef basil, bay, chili, cilantro, curry, cumin, garlic, marjoram, mustard, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme
Breads anise, basil, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, lemon peel, orange peel, oregano, poppy seeds, rosemary, saffron, sage, thyme
Cheese basil, caraway, celery seed, chervil, chili, chives, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, horseradish, lemon peel, marjoram, mint, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, tarragon, thyme
Chicken allspice, basil, bay, cinnamon, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger lemongrass, mustard, paprika, rosemary, saffron, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme
Corn chili, curry, dill, marjoram, parsley, savory, thyme
Eggs basil, chervil, chili, chives, curry, dill, fennel, ginger, lemon peel, marjoram, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, tarragon, thyme
Fish anise, basil, bay, cayenne, celery seed, chives, curry, dill fennel, garlic, ginger, lemon peel, mustard, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, saffron, sage, savory, tarragon, marjoram
Fruits allspice, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mint
Lamb basil, bay, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, curry, dill, garlic, marjoram, mint, mustard, oregano, parsley, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme
Potatoes basil, caraway, celery seed, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, marjoram, oregano, paprika, parsley, poppy seed, rosemary, tarragon, thyme
Salad Dressings basil, celery seed, chives, dill, fennel, garlic, horseradish, marjoram, mustard, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, saffron, tarragon, thyme
Salads basil, caraway, chives, dill, garlic, lemon peel, lovage, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, thyme
Soups basil, bay, chervil, chili, chives, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, marjoram, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme
Sweets allspice, angelica, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, ginger, lemon peel,  mace, nutmeg, mint, orange peel, rosemary
Tomatoes basil, bay , celery seed, cinnamon, chili, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, gumbo file, lemongrass, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme

Enjoy!

Sunday Fried Chicken – Italian Style – On Thursday

When I was a kid growing up…back in the dark ages….it was pretty much Fried Chicken every Sunday for “dinner”.  In the midwest, dinner was in the middle of the day, and what you had in the evening was called “supper”.  Sunday Dinner was always considered special.  Something to have after church that took less than an hour to cook, and was filling enough, and with enough left overs so that Mom didn’t have to cook again at suppertime.    It wasn’t always fried chicken, but that’s what I seem to remember most.

It was when my “I don’t really like to cook” mama tried harder to put on a bigger spread.  We lived in the same town as my dad’s mom and dad, and my Grandma Ruby, who shamed all her daughters-in-law when it came to cooking….taught me to make it. Being the only granddaughter (my dad only had brothers, and they only had sons!), spending time learning to cook with my Grandma Ruby was a real treat! Now lest I get in big trouble with my 92 year old mother, who still cooks her own meals, and still loves fried chicken, let me stipulate (as my lawyer daughter would say) that Mom is a pretty darn good cook.  But Grandma Ruby was hands down the best meat/poultry/fish cook around! Grandma Ruby’s Fried Chicken has won prizes in the Leavenworth County Kansas Fair!  HerFried-chicken[1] method was to find as fresh a chicken as you could (in those days she just traded for one pecking in our neighbor’s farmyard, wrung it’s neck, plucked it, and washed it and took out it’s “innards”)…now that’s fresh.

Now, my mom has done her fair share of plucking as well, but after seeing it done numerous times….I…uh…well, I’m not sure I have the stomach for it personally.
After the chicken was clean and plucked, Grandma Ruby always gave it a milk bath….in the frig…for about an hour before cooking. Then, she would put flour, salt, pepper, and her secret ingredients…a little chili powder and a whole lotta paprika…in a paper bag.  Dip the chicken in a little beaten egg, throw it in the bag and shake up the chicken pieces in the flour mixture.  Then it got fried in about 1 inch deep Crisco or Lard as hot as she could get it in her black wrought iron skillet.  As soon as it browned and got really crispy, about 20 minutes, she’d pour off the grease,  put it in the oven to finish off, and make the mashed potatoes (a must with fried chicken), the green beans or carrots or both, and when the chicken was cooked through, she’d take it out of the pan and make creamy chicken gravy with the scrapings, a little flour, and whole milk. Mmmmmm!

Painting by William Michael Harnett

Painting by William Michael Harnett

When I lived in Italy, I was reminded of my chicken heritage.  Over the years and now being single, I had succmbed to buying the ubiquitous chicken “parts”, sometimes boneless and skinless, found everywhere in the US markets.  However, if I wanted chicken breast or thigh in Italy, I faced having to buy a whole chicken from the mercato centrale where they only came with the feet and head still attached.  Sort of off-putting for a woman with a squeamish stomach in a one bedroom walk up with no real kitchen equipment…..let alone a sharp knife!  So I often opted for the pre-roasted kind I could get in the local gastronomia. Fresh roasted Tuscan chicken with lemon and rosemary is to die for!  But as time passed, I1325682838Ui0yJe bought one sharp knife, put on my big girl panties, and hacked up the whole chicken once again. I got beyond the trauma of hacking chicken heads and feet off finally, and I was rewarded with FLAVOR! Fresh, organic, bone-in, skin-on chicken parts are getting hard to find in our US supermarkets these days.   But fortunately for me, we have a great market…Chuck’s Produce and Street Market….that can provide me with fresh, organic free range, local, pre-dressed chicken! It’s The Great Food Adventure!  But believe me, it’s worth it! That flavor…that brought me back to the taste I remembered from my youth.  Nothing beats the flavor you get from cooking fresh organic chicken on the bone!.

So when Cooper, the chicken man, came over to cook with me this week…I wanted to recapture that flavor…with a bit of the Sunday Dinner comfort vibe (even if it was only Thursday!)  Olivia was spending the night with a friend, their dad was out of town,  and my daughter Lori had a long day at work, it has been raining for weeks…. so we needed some lifitng of the spirits around here! Some real chickeny goodness.

I call Cooper my chicken man because whenever you ask him what he wants for dinner…he always says “chicken”.  (Plus he does a mean chicken dance!)  Nananana! Clap Clap Clap Clap!

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In Italy my Italian Pan Fried Chicken was made with beautiful local Olive Oil and 20130221_174239_resizedherbs.  I pan fried it in just about 2 T of Extra Virgin Olive Oil  with just a sprinkling of salt and pepper, chopped fresh rosemary, garlic, and sometimes a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.  Once done, a squeeze of fresh lemon and mmmmm delicioso!

But since coming back home, (although I LOVE REAL olive oil!) I have rediscovered coconut oil.  Read here for the wonders of this good stuff! So that is what Cooper and I used for our Pan Fried Chicken.  Kids love sprinkling things…so he had fun sprinkling on the herbs (salt and pepper, paprika, thyme, and hot and spicy Mrs. Dash)  and I even helped him to turn the chicken pieces in the skillet.  He is getting quite adept!

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20130221_173715_resizedOnce the chicken was seasoned and browned in the skillet.  We put it in a 400 oven with the potatoes for about 30 minutes.  Even though Cooper LOVES mashed potatoes we opted for roasted rosemary and garlic potatoes with the promise that he could mash them up on his plate.

To brighten up all the white food…we opted for a jewel toned salad.  Arugula, sliced beets and blood oranges we found during our market trip.  I had originally planned for the addition of jicima, but Cooper vetoed that idea!  We made salad dressing out of orange juice, a little balsamic vinegar, a hint of mustard, and olive oil, salt and pepper…Cooper likes to shake it all together in a jar.

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Now for the COMFORT!  Instead of “gravy” we made a pan sauce that is easy and really great with chicken.  My favorite is Cherry Mustard Sauce (Sugo Mostarda con Ciliegia), or another favorite:  Mushroom Mascarpone Sauce (Besciamella di Funghi). Recipes here.  But, we opted for a simpler more kid friendly version.  Just pan drippings with a bit of mascarpone!  I can happily teach my grandkids to make “gravy” without feeling guilty for upsetting their healthy eating habits because although these sauces are rich and creamy…a tablespoon or two of mascarpone is all you need…not a cup of cream gravy dumped over mashed potatoes!

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Mangiare a sazietà! (eat your fill!)