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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Menu Plan: June 27 - July 3

We will be eating gluten free for part of this week, because my in laws are coming and my mother in law has recently been diagnosed with a gluten allergy. So, if you have any other good ideas for complete meals that are tasty and don't rely on processed foods, please let me know.

We also had our annual neighborhood picnic, which was lots of fun last year.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Weekly Recipes: June 26

I started with a recipe I got from Fine Cooking, but didn't have some of the things it called for, and I knew that some recipes had okra in them, which I preferred, so I added that to the mix. It's a little different from their recipe, but the skeleton came from them. I also use leftover turkey meat in this, and just cook the stew without the turkey, adding the turkey later since it is already cooked.


4 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup oil (I use cold pressed sunflower seed or safflower oil)
3 pounds skinless chicken thighs, preferably bone-in
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium bunch celery, thinly sliced (leaves, too)
4 large onions, diced
2 green bell peppers, sliced
2 red bell peppers, sliced
2 yellow/orange peppers, sliced
1 pound sliced okra (fresh or frozen)
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cayenne or 5 fresh cayenne peppers, diced - if using fresh peppers, add with other vegetables (we will be experimenting with using fish peppers this summer)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 bay leaves
8 cups chicken broth
3 pounds andouille sausage or other spicy smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
6 cups cooked rice
Chopped scallions to garnish
Hot pepper vinegar

In a heavy soup pot, heat 4 tablespoons of the oil over medium high heat until almost smoking. While the oil is heating, season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Sear the chicken in the hot oil until golden brown, turning once to brown both sides, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Add 3/4 cup oil to the pot and let it heat up for a minute over medium heat. Slowly add flour to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is the color of milk chocolate, 15 to 30 minutes. Stir carefully, being sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pot to prevent scorching. Pay attention not to burn the roux; if you do burn it, you’ll have to start over.

When the roux has reached a good color, add the celery, onions, peppers, okra and garlic and cook until soft, 10 to 12 minutes, stirring to prevent scorching. Stir in the cayenne, oregano, basil, thyme and bay leaves. Stir to scrape the bottom of the pot and cook until well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Slowly add the broth while stirring until smoothly blended. Add the chicken and the sausage. Bring to a simmer and skim off excess fat. Simmer uncovered, skimming any foam or fat that rises to the surface, until the chicken meat is so tender that it falls easily from the bones, about 2 hours (begin checking earlier). Remove the bones from the pot and discard.

Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as necessary. Serve the gumbo in bowls over the cooked rice with chopped scallions. Pass the hot pepper vinegar at table.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Menu Plan: June 20 - June 26

This week certainly started with a bang! We had Father's Day and a potluck at church, we came home to nap and work in the yard (what Rich wanted to do), and ended the evening with Elijah and Jerome both falling off the play structure, Jerome mostly just scared, but Elijah separating his lower lip from his gums tearing his upper lip and scraping up his wrist pretty badly. He is doing much better today, thank God, but would appreciate your prayers I know. Father's Day went well. We visited a church we hadn't been to yet last week and it seemed to be the best compromise for us out here, but we wanted to visit again and talk more to people there. It does seem to be as good a fit as we will find here, the people are wonderful, the priest is great, there are lots of people in a great range of ages, with many young families, growing families and lots of converts as well. All good signs of a healthy, growing church. We are very thankful for it. Now, we need to schedule a meeting with the priest to talk about some of the things that may be issues for our family, as this church does not commune young children, and all our children have been communing since they were baptized, says the creed a little differently and such.

We are still plodding away on the garden here. The spring and summer were a little late, which is our saving grace, because we are a lot late with our garden work. Locals tell us that the summer sun catches things up quite a bit, which we are seeing, but the weeds are also growing well. Our late frosts killed all the apricots on our tree, so we will have to rely on fruit from folks who live just a little to the south of us this year. We have some frozen apricots from last summer still and a couple jars of apricot syrup from the year or so before that, to get us through.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Menu Plan: June 13 - June 19

We have two birthdays this week. 10 years ago Dominic was born on the same day as his father. It was Father's Day that week. So we have a lot to celebrate this week. Dominic chose the dinner meal and cake for the evening.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Sunday, June 06, 2010

Menu Plan: June 6 - 12

We had a whirlwind weekend. Our godson graduated from high school. At first, we didn't realize that we were invited to go to the festivities, because we remembered the limited tickets available for our own graduations, but evidently there were no such limits here. So, we all got to go and cheer him on. Not much was done around the farm this weekend, but we had a great time. Our turkey dinner got moved because of it, too, so we had it tonight instead of last night.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Weekly Recipes: June 5

Creamed Spinach with Pepper Jack Cheese

This is a take off from Laurie Colwin's Creamed Spinach with Jalapeno Peppers

2 pounds leaf spinach, fresh or frozen and thawed, stems removed and chopped
1 small onion, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 pound of pepper jack cheese, shredded
1 cup bread crumbs or panko
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Wash spinach and drain well or squeeze out water from thawed spinach. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and cook the garlic and onion until they are translucent. Whisk in the flour and cook about a minute to take the raw taste out, then slowly add the cream, whisking to make a smooth mixture, until all is incorporated. Add the cheese. Whisk until it is melted and the sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the drained spinach to the cheese sauce, mix well and pour into a buttered baking dish. Mix bread crumbs with melted butter and sprinkle over the top of the spinach mixture. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until bread crumbs are browned.

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Friday, June 04, 2010

Seven Quick Takes: June 4

1. APB for Bob:

Bob is Jerome's baby. Bob has been loved so much that his arm came off. Several times. Jerome first found Bob at a KayBee toy store outlet in Woodburn in 2008. He fell in love right away and wouldn't put Bob down. By last spring, Bob already had his arm in a sling (various glues having been tried and failed). We were in Woodburn again, then, so we thought we'd pick up a replacement Bob. However, the store had closed up a week or two before we got there. We've since tried many other ways of fixing Bob. The last fix didn't last a day.

Jerome loves Bob. Bob is one of the most real toys we have in our house. We have emphasized how God loves people no matter how well or unwell they are and that a parent loves his child no matter what is wrong with him, but it makes it hard for Jerome to play with Bob. He talks to Bob and kisses him and tucks him in and tells him stories, but he can't keep Bob in his room.

So, now we're looking for a Bob that we can use to replace the arm. An organ donor. Sort of. If you have seen a Bob, please let us know and we will buy him, pay for shipping, so we can finally fix Bob so Jerome can have him back.

2. We have had a chance to travel much more frequently since our move. Rich's work has sent him to various meetings and conferences, which means we don't pay much for the travel either, since at least one hotel room, mileage, Rich's meals, etc are paid for already. It's been a nice way to vacation inexpensively. A couple times, Rich and I have been able to go on our own, too, which has been a nice treat for us (and incidentally, is also less expensive, because we only need one room, one extra meal, etc). Most recently, we were able to visit a kitschy vintner's village near us that we've always meant to visit. It is a tourist trap. It is a little collection of winery shops and restaurants. It was a cute place, though, and we had a great dinner and walk. One of the places we looked in had a great restaurant we'd like to try another time that specializes in local foods. Anyway, Rich took a couple pictures of me while we were there that I actually liked. Here is one:

3. Yasmina's has some pretty cute names for her siblings and herself:
Azander, Donick, Elijy, Amiwa, Womy, Mina

4. Our boys are definitely turning country. Aside from the menagerie they are building up by trapping creatures on our property, Jerome announced to us the other day that he wanted a gun rack for his bike. Well, not exactly, but he said he wanted a gun on his bike so he could shoot bad guys and deer. I told him that he could only shoot the deer after he knew how to dress them. Rich said that the pants were particularly difficult.

5. Jerome does not have a firm grasp on how the Eucharist is distributed. We tend to have the children go first, with us accompanying them. Since we've been without a home church, we were limited as to when we could receive until Fr. Michael visited us and left us with a large amount of reserved sacrament, so we could at least distribute it after Morning Prayer or visiting another church on Sunday. A few Sundays ago, we stayed home and did Morning Prayer, and Rich started distributing the Eucharist. He started with Yasmina. Just because he did. Afterward, Jerome was telling her that she received first, because she is the prettiest. To which she responded by grinning and doing a pirhouette and saying "I prettiest!"

6. This is a restaurant we want to visit. They have printed on their menu: The Nanny State of Washington wishes us to remind you that eating food is very dangerous especially if it is raw or undercooked. Please ask your server about any menu items that you may be worried about.

7. Yasmina is also very bossy. One of her first sentences involved her coming into the kitchen holding a book and saying "Read my book!" So, this past week, she has been bossing me around as per usual. One morning, as she was ordering me to come lie down with her, I told her she was a very bossy little girl. She smiled and answered "I know. Daddy told me!"

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Weekly Recipes: May 29

I had a rather busy weekend, and never got these posted. So, here they are five days late. I hope you enjoy them.

Onion Rings

These are crisp, tasty and the thick batter ensures that the onions are cooked thoroughly.

3 onions, sliced into 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick slices
1 3/4 cup corn starch
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon cayenne (depending on how spicy you like them)
12 ounce bottle of beer

Separate onion slices into rings and set aside. Preheat oil in a deep pan on the stove, until a cube of stale bread sizzles when you dip it in or set an electric fryer to 350 degrees F.

Whisk up corn starch, flour, paprika, salt and cayenne in a bowl. Pour in beer and mix to make a thick batter. Dip onion rings in batter and fry until golden brown. Set on racks with a pan underneath to drain. Serve hot.

If you really want to be gross, you can make a kind of savory funnel cake with any remaining batter. Not that we'd ever do that. Or eat it. Not us.

Creamed Salmon and Peas on Toast

This is a simple dinner. It's not fancy, it's probably nothing you'd serve to dinner guests, but it is tasty, easy to prepare and fills a family quite nicely.

4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely diced
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons dried dill
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 cups milk
2 tablespoons sherry
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound peas (frozen is fine)
12 - 16 ounces canned boneless, skinless salmon, flaked

Heat butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add onion, and cook until translucent. Sprinkle flour, dill and nutmeg over onions and butter and cook about a minute. Slowly pour in milk, whisking to make a paste, adding more until all milk is incorporated. Cook, stirring, until desired thickness. Stir in sherry and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in peas and salmon to heat through.

Serve over toast.

Baked Lemon Pasta

I got this recipe from the Pioneer Woman, but changed it a little to suit our tastes.

1 pound whole grain durum spaghetti
4 tablespoons unsalted Butter
6 cloves garlic, Minced
2 whole lemons, juiced and zested
2 cups sour cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Plenty Of Grated Parmesan Cheese
Flat-leaf Parsley, Chopped
Extra Lemon Juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cook spaghetti until al dente.

In a skillet, melt butter over low heat. When butter is melted, add
minced garlic. Pour half of the lemon juice into the pan. Turn off heat.

Add sour cream and stir mixture together. Add lemon zest and salt.
Taste, then add more salt if necessary. Pour mixture over drained
spaghetti in oven safe dish and stir together. Top generously with Parmesan cheese.

Bake, covered with foil, for 15 minutes. Then remove foil and bake for an
additional 7 to 10 minutes.

When you remove it from the oven, pour remaining lemon juice over
the top, then sprinkle with chopped parsley. Give it a final squeeze of
lemon juice at the end.

This is good hot, warm and cold.

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