Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Oven Temp: 450F
1/2 C mayonnaise
1/2 tsp salt & 1/8 tsp pepper
1 T diced onion
1 tsp Worcestershire
1 T minced parsley
2 T cold water
2 C cooked cubed chicken
1 C soft bread crumbs or cooked rice
1 C finely sifted dried bread crumbs
Mix mayonnaise and seasonings in a bowl. Gradually stir in water.
Add chicken and soft bread crumbs (or rice). Mix with fork. Let
stand 5 minutes. Shape into 6 - 7 croquettes. Roll each in the
dried bread crumbs. Place on foil on a baking sheet. Bake 15 - 20
minutes or until browned.Hoorah for the women (heck, for the cooks of any gender) who could take what my family calls scrips and scraps and make food that's not only nourishing but enticing and satisfying.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
* Christmas has passed, but New Year's Day isn't here yet. Still time to enjoy a few goodies without that awful eat-less-exercise-more resolution hanging over my head. And there's still time to enjoy the Christmas tree without dreading taking it down. When will they make a tree like those in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas that you can simply pull down like an umbrella, ornaments intact?
* Playing with the children and their new Christmas presents!
* Snuggling with my husband.
* Giggling with the children.
* Enjoying my new Christmas presents. I was up until one this morning reading The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer. He's such a good writer. I love everything I've read by him so far.
* Imagining someone saying what I just said about Brad Meltzer about me. Or, how about this? Brad Meltzer saying, "That Gayle Trent is such a good writer." :-D
* Year in review shows where you see everything you've forgotten or paid no attention to earlier in the year.
* New Year's Eve marathons! I Love Lucy and Looney Toons. . . . Does it get any better than that?
* Christmas vacation!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
This year, the freezer on our garage fridge went out right around Thanksgiving. At first, I was convinced that this calmaity would put a huge damper on my holidays. Without the extra space, I would not be able to try each and every recipe that I had planned to make.
I am now convinced that the freezer malfunction was a result of divine intervention. My baking and candy-making began last week. I made about half as much as usual, and still had all kinds of stuff for family and friends.
Little did I know that it would take a broken freezer to teach me that I need to chill out a little over the holidays! Fatal Foodies, if you tend to be like me, please know that the holidays will not be ruined if you don't do everything you THINK you're supposed to. Perhaps this realization is the best gift I have gotten this Christmas.
Merry Christmas! Hope you get some time to "chill out" with loved ones!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
can of corn or frozen equivalent defrosted
can of black or red beans
salsa of whatever strength and quantity you like
tortilla chips for scooping
Another tried and true one:
can of chili beans in sauce
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese -- or Velveeta (processed cheese spread), if you prefer
heavy-duty dipping chips or sliced French bread
Heat chili and cheese until cheese is melted. Dip chips into it or spoon it over bread.
Hmmm.... Why is it always vegetarian? Why is it always Tex-Mex? I am not vegetarian, nor Texan nor Mexican....
Oh, well. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Monday, December 22, 2008
In our household, there are 10 cats. Leaving food unattended is a sure fire way to lose it; one of my cats, Foster, ran off with an entire sausage. He stole it from the cast iron pan on the stove when I left the room for, oh, maybe a minute. Watching him run through the house, one end of the sausage in his mouth, the other trailing between his front legs like an antelope felled by a lion, the other cats on his tail, I was half tempted to let him keep it - I couldn't stop laughing. We ended up chopping it into little pieces and distributing it amongst the feline populace. Trust me, you wouldn't have wanted to eat it either.
Any meal involving seafood starts a clarion call. Foster (the sausage thief) has a meow like a
donkey mixed with a party horn - HEEEEEowwwww.... He jumps up on the arm of the couch (we don't have a dining room table, so most of our meals are eaten at the coffee table), fixes me and/or my plate with his slightly crossed blue gaze and stares with kitty hypno-vision, giving his pathetic HEEEEowwwww every few minutes. The other cats, with the exception of Bug Bear, are slightly more polite. They'll just stare with varying degrees of 'give me now' intensity and/or huge pathetic eyes straight out of a black velvet painting. Bug Bear believes in the direct approach - front paws on my lap, nose and mouth at the edge of my plate. This is not allowed and he is immediately scolded and displaced, but he has the persistance of the Terminator.
What amuses and amazes me about felines is the variety of weird things they eat; things you wouldn't think they'd like. Foster has a passion for corn on the cob, with or without butter. This was discovered after he stole a partially devoured corn cob off my plate during an indoor picnic (we were eating on the floor), vanished from the room and happily consumed the rest of it. Little bits of corn were found all over the house.
Several of my cats love chips. Potato chips, corn chips, popcorn...not gluten free chips, though. They will not touch my beloved Identity Crisis chips from TJs. They also love pizza, little pieces of cheesy crust. Buttered toast...not so weird, I guess.
But avocado? Yup, avocado. And cooked broccoli too. Who would have thunk it?
So what's the weirdest thing YOU'VE seen your cat or dog eat? Enquiring minds want to know...
"AH...dat was good!"
Foster after his meal...
Saturday, December 20, 2008
It’s not Christmas in the Southwest without tamales. Tamales are such a labor intensive dish to make that it has become tradition to make them for very special occasions, like Easter, or Christmas. In Hispanic families, women often spend days making tamales before the holiday, and then give them as gifts. Tamales were here before the Europeans. There are records of the Aztecs serving tamales to the Spanish in the 1500s.
Every region has its own native style of tamales - all the Southwestern states (New Mexican tamales can rip roof of your mouth right off), all the Mexican states, all the Central American countries. The basic idea is to wrap a filling in masa (a type of corn flour), then a corn husk or banana leaf, and steam it - usually end-up - for half an hour or so. Now, the fun part is the filling. Usually, tamale filling is shredded pork, which can be flavored with a plethora of imaginative spices and ingredients. Chiles, of course, and cumin, garlic, and bitter chocolate.
But never think that a good cook will stop there. Out here in Arizona, as Christmas approaches, you can find tamales of every ilk imaginable - pumpkin, chocolate, pineapple and pork, bean with beef and rice, chicken, “green corn” tamales, stuffed with mild green chiles and cheese. Usually, tamales are served hot out of the steamer (don’t forget to remove the husk), so soft and juicy that adding a sauce is just gilding the lily.
I was not raised in the Latino tradition, so I was never an expert tamale-maker. I am simply lucky enough to live in a place where I can buy mine from those who are. There are many fabulous web sites where you can learn all about making tamales the old-fashioned way, but two that I particularly like are:
http://whatscookingamerica.net (once you get there, type 'Cynthia Pineda tamales' in the 'Search This Site' bar) and
So if cooking is your thing, start a whole new holiday tradition in your family. And if tamales are your holiday tradition, let us know your favorite kind.
P.S. I can't get the What's Cooking America link to work on this page, but you can copy and paste. I also found a fun recipe for duck tamales at http://nmmagazine.com/jollytamale_dec08/php
Friday, December 19, 2008
Building on Chris' post about Christmas cookies, I wanted to share a link to an article I wrote for SheKnows.com on cookies for those who have diabetes or food allergies. You can find the article via Examiner or SheKnows.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
There is one way to make the season bright, however. Make Christmas cookies! Okay, so none of us really need the calories. But with so much doom and gloom broadcast on the news each night, who couldn't use a smile?
So, gather up the kids and grandkids, get the spouse off the couch. Get out the cutters and ingredients. Sprinkle on sugar. Laugh at the goofy-looking reindeer cookie. Chuckle about Santa's lopsided beard. Make some Christmas cookies and have fun.
Eat without guilt. Enjoy!
Here are some Christmas cookie recipes to try:
* Chocolate Kisses
* Cookies Kids can make - Gingerbread garland
* Candy Cane cookies
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
This year, I have decided to begin a new tradition. I love to give her books for Christmas, but this year, I plan to give her one special book on Christmas Eve night. It will be a bedtime story that will have her dreaming of Santa and pondering the true meaning of Christmas.
The Santa Train Tradition is a beautiful book that describes the special journey of a train that winds through the Appalachian
Mountains every Saturday before Thanksgiving. The story is true, and has special meaning to people in our region. You can read more about the Santa Train and this book: http://www.thesantatraintradition.com/
So, if you have little ones in your life, a gift of pj's and a book is a super-fun idea. Actually, it can be a really cute gift for anyone. An adult might enjoy a little herbal tea or scented candles thrown into the mix.
Shopping tip: Target has some really cute Christmas/Winter themed pajamas that won't break the bank.
Another gift you can send right from home is a micro-loan. Back when I had extra money, I loaned one person $25 and another person $50 through Kiva. That's been paid back into my Kiva account. I could take it out, but it doesn't cost me a thing to lend it out again. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
I am entirely impressed by Gayle’s Writers Planner.
It's not officially due to launch until January, but The Sky Took Him, the fourth installment in my "Alalfair Tucker Mystery" series, has been shipped from the printer already, and is available for purchase right now from Poisoned Pen Press, or on the B&N or Amazon sites. I've posted an excerpt from the first chapter of the book over on my web site (http://doniscasey.com), if you'd like to read a bit of it. Once you get to the site, just click on “About This Book” for the excerpt, or on “Reviews” to read the STARRED REVIEW Sky received in the December 8, 2008, edition of Publishers Weekly. (you can’t see me but I’m doing the Dance of Joy) As usual, there is a collection of old family recipes in the back of the book.
I notice that things are pretty quiet on all the writers’ chat rooms and in most of the blogs I regularly read. It’s the Holidays, Dear Readers, and I assume you’re all in your kitchens making wonderful goodies for all the family and friends who are visiting.
Next week, I’ll post a recipe - maybe two - for the traditional Mexican and Southwestern Christmas dish, tamales. It says good luck and lots of love to fix tamales on Christmas. So go finish baking, make yourself a cup of hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows (or if you want to stick with the Mexican theme, cinnamon and chocolate), and curl up with a good book.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
This was beef vegetable soup and I ate EVERY BITE! As much as I love soup in a bread bowl, I've never made it--that suddenly seems very odd. I think I'll do it, next time I make soup. I make soup A LOT. Charlie and I love soup. I made--what, children?--Posole yesterday. Mmmmm. As much as Charlie and I love soup and as much as we love bread, you may never hear from me again: the deliciousness may just finish me off!
Monday, December 8, 2008
To make matters worse, the stress caused by the lack of productivity affected my appetite. Not that I didn't eat, but nothing sung to me. I usually get my inspiration from something I read or eat as far as my posts for Fatal Foodies. And I usually have definite ideas about what sounds good to me for any given meal. This weekend, however, I was one of those annoying people who, when asked if I was hungry and if so, what did I want, just whined, "I don't know...maybe. I don't know, nothing really sounds good." Dave would make suggestions, I'd wrinkle my nose and scowl at him. We did manage to make it through a weekend of meals without him killing me and we did, in fact, enjoy splitting an Irish breakfast at The Bashful Bull Diner on Taravel and 46th. An Irish breakfast consists of eggs, country potatoes or hash browns, Irish sausage, Irish bacon and black & white pudding with a side of toast. We are both black and white pudding addicts, not a good thing as it's lousy for one's arteries. But oh, so tasty...
I did have some truly magnificent pumpkin fudge at the Sisters in Crime Board Meeting (I'm the new Events Coordinator for SinC NorCal), but no recipe to offer as it was purchased at a craft store and the fudge maker was not at the meeting. But oh, it was good... It almost had the texture of a really good pumpkin pie and yet...it was fudge. I've never had anything like it before.
At any rate, I am a Fatal Foodies Fuddy Duddy today. Devoid of appetite and inspiration. I ask my fellow Fatal Foodies and readers, what do you do when you have a: writer's block and b: can't figure out what you want to eat?
ADDED AFTER THIS WAS POSTED:
I just got an email from M is for Mystery, a great bookstore in San Mateo, and look at this excerpt:
Do you have a mystery lover and cook on your gift list? We have two cookbooks -- 'A Taste of Murder' and 'A Second Helping of Murder,' both with lots of impressive autographs -- that celebrate the connection between detective fiction and food. They include more than 130 recipes each, many of which pay homage to the authors' characters (Marcia Muller - Sharon McCone's Garlic Bread, and C.J. Box - Pickett's Mad Scramble Breakfast) and they range from the gourmet (Elizabeth George - Rigatoni Puttanesca) to the true beginner (Robert B. Parker - Susan Silverman's Boiled Water). This is a very reasonably priced gift, especially considering the many signatures of authors whose characters are honored by recipes. A list of the more than two dozen signatories, and the illustrated dustjackets, are posted on the Web version of our Dec. Newsletter. Just scroll a bit and stop at the heading "A Taste of Murder for Christmas!" Go to: http://www.mformystery.com/newsletter.html (The usual mantra applies: Supplies are limited.)
I just had to share this...
Saturday, December 6, 2008
A couple of weeks ago I promised to give you the recipe for one of my favorite winter comfort soups, posole.
I’ve eaten hominy and hominy grits all my life. Hominy is a Native American staple, and was always around when I was a kid growing up in Oklahoma. But we always ate our hominy straight. I learned to make posole, which is a yummy, spicy, hominy-based stew, after living for a while in Texas, close to the New Mexico border.
I’ve seen many posole recipes, with many variations on the ingredients, but almost always including pork and hominy. Since Don and I have been cooking vegetarian for thirty years, my posole recipe is of course meatless. It’s also easy and fast, and a wonderful quick and warming meal on a winter day.
one 16 oz. can golden hominy
one 13 oz. can of chopped tomatoes with juice
1 cup vegetable broth
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
1 small chopped onion
one 4 oz. can of whole, roasted, mild green chiles, chopped (you can buy your chiles already chopped, but I like the texture much better when I chop them myself.)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp chili powder, or to taste. How hot do you like it?
2 tsp olive oil
Heat the oil in the bottom of a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until transparent. Add chopped peppers, cumin, cinnamon, and chili powder and heat for about a minute until fragrant.
Add hominy, tomatoes, and broth all at once, stir well to mix, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve with hot corn tortillas.
If you have any of this soup left over, it’s even better reheated the next day, after the flavors have been allowed to marry overnight in the fridge.
Friday, December 5, 2008
I remember one time several years ago when someone in my neighborhood died unexpectedly. I found out about it while I was at work and stopped to buy a pie on the way home. My plan was to take the pie over to the family as soon as I got home and before they left for the funeral home. When I got home and started to put the pie in a pie plate (for some reason, you don't want the family to realize you didn't actually make the food item yourself), I saw that it was FROZEN! I had to thaw the pie and bake it before taking it to the family. It was well after dark by the time I got the pie baked and cooled enough to take to the family. Off I went with my pie and flashlight walking to the neighbors' home. Unfortunately, there was no one there. I did finally find someone home to take the pie, but a friend teased me about being like the old man in the myth who went all throughout the world with his little light seeking . . . truth, I believe. The joke was that I went all throughout the neighborhood with my little light seeking a pie-taker. [eyeroll]
I still don't know what to take to Susan's family. I mean, what can you take that will actually bring some comfort to a young boy whose mother has died? All that can really comfort him is the reassurance that he'll see her again.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Don’t freak out just yet! I did not say that I don’t like country ham. I just can’t eat it. I love the taste. Here’s the thing. It makes me sick. Country ham makes me physically ill! I’m talking severe headaches and vomiting. If my reaction were any less violent, I swear I would partake of the ham and suffer the consequences.
The first time I suffered from a country ham induced malady, was on the day after Christmas, in the year 2000. After that, I tested my luck a few more times, eating just a little country ham, and hoping for no ill effects. My hopes were dashed time after time, when my country ham encounters left me vomiting over the toilet and rubbing my aching temples.
Consulting with those in-the-know has led me to believe that the nitrates in country ham trigger a migraine for me, which leads to nausea. While I accept this explanation and the limitations my condition places on me, it is often hard to explain to others.
This Christmas season, and all of the eating opportunities will surely lead to a country ham situation that will require an explanation. I only hope that my host or hostess will be understanding.
If posting this confession leads anyone to revoke my Southern Girl Membership Card, I have relatives in Cincinatti, which we consider "The North". So, if my next post is about Cincinatti's famous Skyline Chili or Graeter's Ice Cream, ya'll know what happened!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Anybody who knows me, knows that my first word was, not mama or dada, but "MEAT". Still, I have many friends and relations who are vegetarian, and my husband and I eat a lot more vegetables and fruit than meat. Here is a casserole we had last night. As it happens, it's a chicken casserole, but it's easily adaptable for vegetarians, and I'm posting the vegetarian version.
Vegetable and Rice Casserole
- 1 can Cream of Celery or Cream of Mushroom soup
- 1 can water
- 3/4 cup uncooked rice
- 1/2 tsp onion powder or chopped sauteed onion to taste
- 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables or 2 cans mixed vegetables (drained) or any durn kind of cooked or semi-cooked vegetables you durn well please
- seasonings to taste
To make it non-vegetarian, you can use, as the original recipe suggested, Cream of Chicken soup and top the rice-vegetable mix with boneless chicken breasts. Or, to please everybody, make the vegetarian version and cook the chicken breasts separately and serve them, cubed, on the side to be added as desired.
Monday, December 1, 2008
You will need:
Oven heated to 500 or on BROIL (depends on your oven. Lisa's heats up quite nicely at 500, ours demands the broil setting).
Glass baking dish (you can use a cookie sheet, but it's hard to clean up afterwards)
Fresh broccoli heads and stems,as much as you feel like eating
Olive oil - the good stuff!
any other herbs or spices you think would be tasty
Heat up the oven, spread the broccoli on the dish, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, sprinkle with salt and herbs, put under the broiler/in the oven until the broccoli is crunchy. You'll want to stir it up and get both sides. I like it cooked to crunchy browned crispness. You can also use frozen broccoli, but it doesn't get as crunchy. It does, however, lend itself to being blended with seafood - I poached scallops in lemon juice, white wine and a hint of butter, drained them, then added it to the broccoli in the oven with grated Mizithra cheese. Can you say yummy?
P.S. I thought I had this scheduled to post automatically, but... it didn't. D'oh!