Jambalaya With Black-Eyed Peas

 

Yesterday was Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday, more commonly known as Mardi Gras. I’m not from New Orleans, but I spent enough years in the Deep South to have this celebration in my soul.

Being able to toss beads or join in the festivities on Bourbon Street this year, I knew I had to do something to feel like I’d truly honored the day. I dug around in my kitchen and came up with the basic ingredients of a traditional Jambalaya.

Usually, this dish contains ham and/or shrimp, and/or chicken, and/or sausage. The only thing I could come up with this time was one lone sausage, so that’s what I used. Fortunately, when I added about a cup of black-eyed peas leftover from New Year’s Day, I found pieces of ham.

You can add the seasoning for your own taste, but I like spicy!

 

My Version of Jambalaya

Into a slow cooker, I put:
1 can non-fat chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes
1 large sliced spicy sausage
1 cup Jasmine Brown Rice blended with Wild Rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 diced garlic cloves
2 diced baby bell peppers (from my garden)
½ large onion, diced
A handful of chopped parsley (from my garden)
2 broken bay leaves
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin

All of this cooked for 4-5 hours on high. The last 30 minutes, I put in the pre-cooked black-eyed peas. I think you could put it on low for 8-9 hours if you wanted to leave it all day. Any bean can be added, but somehow the black-eyed peas seemed more in keeping with New Orleans.

“Laissez les bon temps rouler” (let the good times roll), as any good New Orleanian would say, until the beginning of Lent.

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!

Red Quinoa Tabouleh

 

If you’ve never tried quinoa or would like to know more about it, check here. Tabouleh is traditionally made with bulgur, which is made from wheat. Quinoa gives a great nutty flavor and is great for those who can’t eat wheat.

The first time I tasted quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) was in the early 90s when I lived in Tucson. A friend was a caterer and made a quinoa salad. I was hooked, but I never tried to make anything with it myself. Recently, I bought a bag of red quinoa from the bulk bin at a health food store, determined to try cooking it myself.

A friend here in Kona invited me over for lunch a couple weeks ago. She made a Quinoa Tabouleh from a recipe found on a prepackaged bag of quinoa. Here is my own version, using the red quinoa sitting in my cupboard.

 

RED QUINOA TABOULEH

1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa (See “Notes” on how to cook quinoa)
½ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 clove minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
Juice of one large lime
1/8 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Toss all the ingredients together. Chill to allow flavors to blend before you eat.

This amount makes enough for one large serving, or two or three smaller servings. The Bearss lime was picked from my tree, and the herbs were all freshly picked from my garden. I’ll definitely make this again.

Notes: For this recipe, bring 1 cup water to a boil in a sauce pan. Add ½ cup quinoa and brought it back to a boil. Then cover, lower heat to medium and cook until water is fully absorbed by the quinoa, about 12+ minutes. Take it off the heat, fluff it up, cover again, and let it stand. I should have added a smidge more water to this and let it cook a little longer. You need to test it to make sure you can chew it. My dish was a little nuttier than I remembered, but it was still tasty.

The top photo was taken with flash; this one was made with no flash. Which do you think makes the tabouleh look better?

A hui hou!

This post was entered into the “Grow Your Own” roundup, created by Andrea’s Recipes and hosted this month by House of Annie.

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!

French Toast – Another Comfort Food

 

When do you head for the “comfort foods?”

People go to their comfort food for a variety of reasons. Maybe they’ve been on a diet to get into that special dress for the holidays. Or maybe the weather has been colder than usual (like in Florida last week)! You might go because you’re depressed, or you’re sick, or you can’t think of anything exciting to fix.

Whatever the reason for you, French toast is one of my comfort foods. It’s basic, it’s simple, it’s tasty, and reminds me of my childhood. There are as many ways to prepare French toast as there are people who eat it, I suppose.

French bread cut into thick slices makes wonderful French toast. Here in Hawaii, we often make French toast out of that luscious Hawaiian/Portuguese Sweet Bread. This time, I had some leftover corn bread from my New Year’s black-eyed peas that I wanted to use up.

Making French toast is so simple that I’m almost hesitant to share this, but it might be something you haven’t thought of in a long time.

First step (after deciding which bread you want to use up) is to put an egg in a flat-ish bowl with a little milk. This egg was fresh gathered; see the way the yolk stands up nice and perky? Instead of milk, I used a splash of Almond Breeze (unsweetened vanilla), maybe less than ¼ cup.

 

Sprinkle a little cinnamon over it and whip it up quickly with a fork. I cut that piece of cornbread in half, then split it to make four pieces.

 

Let your bread soak up the egg/milk mixture for a couple minutes.

 

I start it over medium heat in a pan coated with spray, then for the last bit, I turn up the heat to high to get a nice color. When the egg is cooked and the bread is the right toasty brown for you, put it on a plate, add a little butter (I use the yogurt spread), douse with whatever kind of syrup you like to use (I used a Canadian Maple Syrup), and dig in!

 

I hope I’ve made your mouth water! Go find some of that stale bread you don’t want to throw away (but there’s not enough for a bread pudding), and make yourself a little breakfast or lunch – or even a light supper.

A hui hou!