Tag Archives: Cooking

Spaghetti Squash

 

I’m trying to keep calories and carbs low, but I get starved for a good Italian marinara. One of the best solutions I know is to use spaghetti squash. You might have seen it in the store, but you weren’t quite sure what to do with it. If you’ve never tried it, you’re in for a treat.

I get two to four meals out of a squash, depending on the size. Cut it in half first, then if it’s a large squash, into quarters. Scoop out the seeds first, or you’ll be sorry! Trying to pick them out of the squash when it’s cooked is not something you would want to do twice! Yeah, I did it once by mistake!

Once the seeds are out, place the cut side down in a glass dish with a little water (about ½ inch) in the dish. Some might bake it in the oven, but I find the easiest way to prepare it is to cover it with plastic wrap (punch a couple holes in it) and nuke it for 8-10 minutes. You might want to check it because time depends on the size of the piece.

In the meantime, open a jar of the best marinara you can buy and heat it, or make your own if you have time and prefer your own. I’m usually in too much of a hurry!

When the squash is done, hold it carefully with a good potholder, because it’s HOT. With a fork, scrape out the insides. If you’ve never done this before, you’ll be amazed at the spaghetti-like strands coming out. Keep scraping until you get all you can out of it.

Cut up the rind and put in your compost or feed to your chickens!

Pour the hot marinara over it, mix slightly, and eat! Sometimes I skip the marinara and use a lot of freshly shredded Romano Pecarino. It’s absolutely delicious – and light on calories! Experiment with spaghetti squash and let me know what you create.

A hui hou!

My Cookbook Addiction

 

I confess! I’m addicted to books! But I have read all the books I own and continue to use them all as reference and/or for teaching.

My addiction carries over into cookbooks, and I doubt if there is even one of these books that hasn’t been used for at least one recipe. Like many cooks, I use recipes for mostly for guidance to come up with my own variation. My cooking has never been an exact science.

The shelves of cookbooks shown above are in my kitchen/dining area, and I have another shelf of cookbooks in another bookcase, because there wasn’t room for them all here. I even borrow cookbooks from the library to read!

When I moved onto my boat from a large house in the late 70s, I gave a book box of cookbooks to each of my four children. This is what I have left!

I know I could probably find the same recipes online, but there is something deeply soul-satisfying about sitting down and reading through an old book of recipes that my mother, or grandmother used. Tucked into each book are other recipes given to me by friends, or that I have cut out of a magazine.

Yes, I think you can say I’m addicted!

Now, you may think that with all these recipes at my disposal, I’d be cooking delicious dishes every day. The fact is, I usually have only myself to cook for and if I ate the way I’d like to cook, I’d be as wide as the channel between here and Maui!

So this week, instead of sharing a recipe with you, I thought I’d tell you about my favorite books on these shelves, and even tell you about some of the recipes in them that I love.

Probably the oldest book I have is a little booklet from the Metropolitan Insurance Company. Several of my books date back to the 30s, but most of what I have date to the 50s, when I was a young woman. My first Christmas as a married woman, I received the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, a three-ring binder that is barely holding together.

I also love my specialty books, like Mme. Bégué’s Recipes of Old New Orleans Creole Cookery, from 1953. I can’t tell you how many pages are spattered with oil and tomato paste! Someday I’ll post the Shrimp Creole from that book that I make often.

I have quite a few Mexican cookbooks, but my favorite is Elena’s Secrets of Mexican Cooking by Elena Zelayeta, blind, but she kept on cooking. Her “Caserola De Pollo Y Elote” (Chicken and Corn Casserole) is full of green chiles and wonderful!

Farm Journal’s Complete Pie Cookbook is another tattered book on my shelves, also full of messy pages! And Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook probably has most of the comfort foods I make.

The Rodale Cookbook published by the Rodale Press is where I go for breads and other wholesome foods. I have several other of the Rodale books and they are all great.

As I peruse the books, it’s fun to see how many phases and stages of eating I’ve gone through. You will find low-fat books, low-carb books, vegetarian/vegan books, and all sorts of specialized diet books, all of which I still use. Then there are the regional books that show where I’ve lived – Guam, Alaska, Arizona, California, Down East, Deep South, the Orient.

Even though I still buy new cookbooks, like those by Martha Stewart and Mark Bittman, I still go back to my old “tried-and-true” standards when I want to make something special for friends. Maybe someday I’ll stop reading them like novels (which is what I do!) and actually use them for cooking.

Now I’m anxious to go find a new one to try for you!

A hui hou!

Cran-Apple Crumb Pie

Before baking
Before baking

 

It has become a joke among some of my friends that they can always find a huge bag of cranberries in my freezer. It’s true! I find all sorts of uses for them throughout the year. Because it’s such a beautiful red, I’m making one this week for my significant friend for Valentine’s Day. I posted this over a year ago for Christmas, but I have new readers who might be interested, too. The picture above is just before it goes into the oven.

My crust recipe is one I found in a magazine back in the 50s (early marriage) and I have not rolled out a pie crust since then. Everyone wants to know how it’s made because it is so tender and flaky. I’ve shared it before online, and I hate for it to get lost.

No-roll Pie Crust

Place 1 ½ cup flour, 1 ½ teaspoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt directly into an ungreased 9” pie pan. Pour out ½ cup canola oil, then add 2 tablespoons cold milk and mix with a fork until milky. Pour into flour mix in the pan and stir it all together. Press the mix into the pan until it resembles a regular pie crust. Leave enough up on the sides to squeeze into a rim.

It’s light and flaky – doesn’t leave a mess and never requires rolling out!

Lucy’s Cran-Apple Crumb Pie

 

1 cup sugar
¼ cup flour
4 cups peeled, sliced and chopped apples ( I use Fuji, but any apple will do)
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
Preheat oven to 425 F. Gently mix berries, apples, sugar, and flour until fruit is coated. Dump into pie crust and top with crumb topping.

Crumb Topping

 

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter (I use half butter and half yogurt spread).
Mix together until crumbly, and put over top of pie.
Bake about 40 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it starts to bubble and brown.

Here it is right out of the oven. Needless to say, wherever I take this, I have only an empty dish to bring back home! Imagine this with a scoop of vanilla-caramel swirl ice cream on top. Oh my!

Fresh from the oven
Fresh from the oven

Makes me hungry just to write about it!
A hui hou!

Peasant Potato Soup

 

Like many “foodies,” I learned a lot of my cooking from my parents at home as a child. Because I came along at the end of the Great Depression, there was one staple that always found its way to the table in our home – Potato Soup. And I hated it!

Then, by the time I got to my 7th grade home economics class, I started learning how to cook the “right way,” or at least the way the teacher thought we should cook. What was one of the first things we had to learn to make? Potato Soup! And I still hated it! My folks had a good laugh over me having to learn how to make something I detested.

In the early 70s, I found Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé (or Frankie, as she was known), and it changed the way I ate forever. After that, I found Recipes for a Small Planet by Ellen Buchman Ewald. In that was a recipe for – you guessed it – Potato Soup.

This recipe looked interesting, and with great fear and trepidation, on October 31, 1974 I tried it. (I know the date because I always date a recipe the first time I use it, and make comments on it.) To my total surprise, it was delicious! I continued to make it according to that recipe and since then I have altered or adjusted it a bit here and there. Here is the latest version that I made just this past week.

 

 

POTATO SOUP

 

In 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, ssauté 1 large chopped onion, about 4 or 5 baby carrots (or 1 large carrot), and several potatoes cut into large chunks. I used one large Idaho potato and 2 medium-sized red potatoes. Because I like the color variation in the soup, I leave on the peel, which I love anyway, and which is quite nutritious.

Once the onions were transparent, I poured in a can of fat-free chicken broth.

I added freshly ground sea salt, ½ teaspoon chili powder (or you can use paprika), fresh marjoram, and about 1 teaspoon dill weed. I didn’t have any this time, but usually I like to add caraway seed, as well.

Let that simmer until potatoes are tender, but not falling apart. This takes about an hour.

Just before serving, I added about 4 cups of non-fat milk. I think I should have added a little less because the soup ended up too thin. Bring this to a simmer for about a minute, but don’t boil.

Ladle into bowls and eat with grilled cheese or freshly baked bread. Need I tell you that my attitude toward Potato Soup has changed dramatically? Try it, you’ll like it!

 

A hui hou!

Chicken, Cranberries, Yams, Etc

 

When my brother and I were growing up in a preacher’s home, many of our meals were made out of what was on hand and leftovers. Our parents had a knack for creating some interesting and tasty meals out of little bits of this and that.

A few weeks ago, my brother posted a delicious looking dish he created out of what he had on hand and it looked scrumptious. It looked so good that I wanted to make it myself, and promised him I’d let him know if it was as good as it looked.

So in honor of his birthday coming up this week, I give you my version of his dish.

I had a couple pieces of chicken breast I needed to cook up, and I always have cranberries on hand. I didn’t have barley and today, I didn’t have greens, either. What I did have was a yam and a package of wild rice mixed with Jasmine brown rice. I didn’t have his vegetable broth, but I did have fat-free chicken broth.

 

I sautéed the chicken in a little olive oil and added thinly sliced fresh ginger, the yam cut into pieces, cranberries, and about half a can of the chicken broth.

After it had been simmering a while, I cut up a cooking banana that I had on hand, too. As I sliced it up, I thought “Now, what in the world is this going to taste like?” One just never knows, does one?

 

When everything seemed “done” the way it should be, I dished it up. I thought about sprinkling a little fresh cilantro over the top for more color, but that would have made it more Mexican. As it was, the red cranberries and orange yam made for a lively color combination without the green.

 

I have to say, it wasn’t bad – not even half-bad! In fact, it was so good I went back for seconds! The fresh ginger gave it quite a kick, as well as the soy sauce and sriracha sauce I doused over it. The end result had something like a Caribbean flavor. Next time I happen to have these ingredients on hand, I might add a bit of coconut milk.

I’m not a trained chef; I’m just a mother who retired years ago from fixing three meals a day plus snacks for four children. I don’t like to see things go to waste and I’ve never been afraid to experiment. So try it yourself – just start putting things together in a pan and see what happens.

A hui hou!

Feta, Buckwheat Noodles, and Red Chard

 

I’m often inspired by recipes that I find on other foodie blogs. When the other cooks say their recipe uses what any pantry would contain, I laugh. Not my pantry! I don’t think my pantry items are weird, but they certainly aren’t what a lot of other people have.

I saw a recipe recently that sounded delicious and easy, but I didn’t have gorgonzola on hand, even though I love gorgonzola. It called for fresh spinach, but I didn’t have fresh spinach. It called for non-fat evaporated milk and I didn’t have that, either, nor did I have linguine.

What I did have was a bundle of buckwheat or soba noodles, crumbled feta cheese, and a big batch of freshly picked red chard out of my garden.

Here’s my version of what sounded like a terrific dish. Remember, this was just for one person – me. So if you are going to make it for a family, adjust the amounts accordingly. Also, use whatever is in your pantry.

Feta, Buckwheat Noodles, and Freshly Picked Red Chard

 

 

I put about ¼ bundle of buckwheat noodles on to boil.

While that was underway, I heated 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil in a small pan.

Into this I sprinkled about 1 tablespoon of whole wheat flour and whisked it together until it was thick. I added a little liquid coffee creamer (not flavored) to make everything a little saucier.

To this I added about ½ cup of crumbled feta cheese and gently mixed it together.

As everything was about finished, I quickly sautéed the deveined and chopped red chard in another teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil.

I mixed everything together and ate! Some might want a tad more salt, but the feta is salty enough for me.

This was a quick and easy meal that was ‘ono loa, very delicious.

A hui hou!

Cranberry Bread

 

A few Christmases ago, my brother gave me a gift certificate from Ace Hardware. I bought an old-fashioned grinder like the one I remember using to grind up cranberries for the bread our mother often made. It is still one of my favorite fruity breads.

There is a funny incident that goes along with this recipe. All I could find here was a snippet of paper with my mother’s handwriting that said “4 cranberry bread.” It had these massive amounts of flour and sugar and eggs, but with absolutely no mention of cranberries or how much. It had probably been her way of making sure she had the right amounts when she made up four loaves of the bread.

So I called my daughter, Debbie, to see if I had given her the recipe at some point. She pulled out a cookbook I’d made up for her as a wedding present many years ago. Sure enough, there it was. She read it off to me and I offer it to you here.

 

Cranberry Bread

 

2 cups coarsely chopped cranberries (I used my hand-grinder above)
½ cup chopped nuts
2 cups sifted flour
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Juice and grated rind of 1 orange
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
Water as needed, but leave the batter rather stiff.

Combine everything except the cranberries and nuts. Fold cranberries and nuts into batter. Line bread pan with greased waxed paper.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 50-60 minutes.

A hui hou!

Tomato Catsup

 

The name I gave my great-grandmother Laura Margrave was “Gran Mutt,” a peculiar title for anyone, but she took great pride in being called by that name. As the wife of a Methodist preacher, and mother of many children, she gathered loads of recipes from church folks. I could write an entire book on the days I spent visiting Gran Mutt. I’ll come back to some of those stories in future posts.

Gran Mutt would end up with bushels of tomatoes out of her luxurious garden of fruits and vegetables. So far, I only get enough little tomatoes to add to my own salad. Like many cooks from the early 20th century, most of her food was homemade, rather than buying from the store like we do today.

Here is Gran Mutt’s version of tomato catsup, which has absolutely no resemblance to the stuff we buy in a bottle at the store. I can remember how wonderful the house smelled when she made it – and probably everyone down the street could smell it, too!

Tomato Catsup

 

Boil together for 1 ½ hours one-half bushel of ripe tomatoes, 3 pints vinegar, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 2 tablespoons ground cloves, 4 tablespoons allspice, 1 teacup salt, 2 pounds brown sugar, 2 tablespoons celery seed.

Seal in bottles.

From the drug store, buy salicylic acid, and put about a pin-head sized drop in the top of each bottle or jar of catsup so it won’t spoil. She said it was an old German custom.

Lucy’s Note: Her recipe doesn’t say whether she peeled the tomatoes, but I’m quite sure she did. Also, she doesn’t specify the kind of vinegar, but I don’t remember seeing anything but apple cider vinegar in all the kitchens of my family. I love her use of “teacup” rather than another measure, and wonder if people even remember what a “teacup” is. In Gran Mutt’s day, the “teacup” was about as accurate a measure as anything else!

Some of you may have more tomatoes than you can give away, so you might try making this for yourself. If I ever pick that many tomatoes from my vines, I may try her recipe.

A hui hou!

Split Pea Soup With Smoky Pork

 

When I lived on my sailboat, this soup was a tradition on all homeward bound trips after a week or more at sea. It’s a good thing stoves on a sailboat are gimbaled so that they remain steady and the soup doesn’t slop out when we are heeled over on a good run.

I like to use bacon ends and scraps, or you can use ham hock. It takes longer with a ham hock because you need to boil it for a long time first. If you are using the ends and scraps, brown them in a pan, then add chopped onion and slivers of carrot and cook slightly. Amounts will depend on the energy you have and how fast you want to eat.

Add a package of split peas and enough water to cover, and a little more. Add your seasonings. I put in pepper, oregano, marjoram, bay leaf, or whatever I have on hand. Simmer until peas and veggies are cooked, but I like to leave the peas slightly lumpy for a hearty soup. It thickens as it stands, but it rarely has time to stand.

Serve a big mug of hot pea soup with freshly baked bread (or biscuits, or garlic bread, or corn bread). This makes a wonderful meal for just one or two, or for having friends over – or even for sailing with your crew on a cold night!

A hui hou!

Orange Bread

 

When I was in high school, I worked as a receptionist for one of the local optometrists who was also a member of my father’s church. His wife was known to be a great cook, so this is the recipe from Bea Henderson of Litchfield, Illinois – one I’ve made for many years.

This recipe became a staple when I was living on my boat. It was not only a delicious and fast bread to whip up in my tiny galley, but it used up the orange peels instead of tossing them somewhere. Jokingly, I called it my “garbage bread,” but it was anything but garbage!

Decades later, I’m still making this bread and it continues to be one of my favorites. The picture above shows it fresh out of the oven. Again, this recipe shows my mother’s comments and words.

Orange Bread

¾ cup orange rind, cut into fine strips
1 ½ cup sugar
1 cup water

Boil the above until tender.

Add 2 tablespoons butter and ½ teaspoon salt. Cool.

Beat 1 egg and add cooled orange mixture.

Mix together:
3 cups flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder

Stir – put in loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.

Good for “teas,” sliced thin and buttered.

Lucy’s Note: Many of the “heirloom” recipes don’t give specific instructions on what to do if the batter is too thick, what size pan to use, and the like. I think the thickness depends on how long you let the orange peels simmer. I add either water or a little orange juice when I’m mixing, if it’s too thick. But expect this to be a thick dough. I sprayed my loaf pans with a canola oil spray to help it come out easier.

I’m afraid my loaves never last until a “tea.” It’s just too good to eat warm and fresh out of the oven! It’s all I can do to limit myself to one (or two) slices right out of the oven. Also, I usually double the recipe and freeze one loaf for later. It makes great toast or just sliced up and eaten cold. This is absolutely a wonderful and simple bread to make.

A hui hou!

Fresh-From-the-Garden Stir-Fry

OKRA PODS
OKRA PODS

 

Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil into a skillet over medium-high heat.

When the oil is hot, toss in lots of sliced garlic, fresh string beans cut into 2” slices, thickly sliced okra, whole sugar snap peas, maybe a few greens like kale, chard, mustards, or even arugula, plus any other veggie you happen to pick from your garden.

If you have carrots or little beets, add a few of those for color, flavor, and nutrition. Add whatever herbs and spices you enjoy – or none at all.

I like my veggies slightly underdone, but when they are the way you like them, an optional finale is to shake in a tad of balsamic vinegar or some red pepper flakes for a bit of extra flavor.

I literally went out and picked a few string beans as the oil was heating up when I made this dish for lunch last week! Now that’s fresh!

Except for the garlic (plus the olive oil and balsamic vinegar), everything comes out of my own garden. I plan to put out garlic this winter, however. There is an old saying that you plant garlic on the shortest day of the year, then harvest it on the longest day. No one knows exactly where that saying comes from, but it’s a good guide.

Also, I don’t mince garlic – I slice it, or quarter it! Can you tell I like my garlic? It’s good for you, too.

When this is all ready for eating, dump into a bowl and eat with chopsticks so you don’t gobble it down too fast. Take time to enjoy the flavors. This is definitely a heart-healthy meal.

A hui hou!

Cherry Crumb Pie

 

I’ve been trying to grow bush cherries here in my “lava garden,” but the bare root plant I received from a mail-order nursery didn’t survive. I’ll try again because I love cherries so much!

Until I can grow my own, I’ll continue to buy them because they are so good for you – not to mention delicious! Wonderful cherries have been filling up our markets, and although they are not “local,” they are hard to resist.

One of my favorite ways to eat cherries, other than right out of the box, is this crumb pie. I seldom have the patience to work on an elaborate lattice top crust for pies, so I tend to use a crumb topping for most fruit pies. But it allows for more cherries per bite!

 

Pie Crust

This is extremely fast and easy – always delicious and reliable! You’ll never roll out another pie crust the old way again!

Place 1 ½ cup all-purpose unbleached flour + 1 ½ teaspoon sugar + ¼ teaspoon salt directly into ungreased pie pan.

Into ½ cup canola oil, add 2 Tablespoons cold milk. Mix with fork until milky.

Pour over flour mix in 9” pie pan, and mix it all together. Press the mix onto the pan until it resembles a regular pie crust. Be sure to leave enough up on the sides to squeeze into a fluted rim. It’s light and flaky. No one ever leaves the edge of this crust on the plate!

Filling

Combine 1 cup sugar (I use ½ cup Splenda and ½ cup sugar) NOTE: If the cherries are sweet, you can get away with less sweetening, 1/3 cup flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt

Add this combination to 4 heaping cups of pitted cherries that have had 3 drops of almond extract added to them.

Toss the sugar-flour mixture with the cherries until they are thoroughly coated. Place into unbaked pastry-lined pie pan. Cover pie with crumb topping


Crumb Topping

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
½ cup (1 stick) chilled butter

Mix together until crumbly, and spread to cover top of pie.

Bake in hot oven (425 degrees F.) about 40 minutes. If the edges look like they are browning too quickly, cover loosely with a strip of aluminum foil.

I usually dig into this long before it’s actually cool enough to eat! This can be eaten with some kind of whipped topping, ice cream, rich coffee cream, or creamer, or just alone!

A hui hou!