Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Amish Frienship Bread...Don't blame me if you become a slave to it!



One Christmas gift from my husband was a book by one of my favorite authors, Celia Rivenbark. Bless Your Heart, Tramp and Other Southern Endearments has had me laughing out loud and nodding my head in agreement. One essay from this book that I particularly enjoy is, Revenge of the Amish Friendship Bread.

Celia writes about all of the love and care that one must devote to their starter for Amish Friendship Bread. It made me recall the day that I recieved my bag of starter from a co-worker. Anyone who has ever maintained starter for Amish Friendship Bread or sourdough bread knows where I'm coming from.

I faithfully tended to my starter and baked my lovely loaves for months. The result was moist, beautfiul, sweet, fragrant loaves that I used to enjoy with my mornng coffee. Then, I was put on bedrest with my pregnancy. Some sacrifices had to be made, and my Amish Friendship Bread starter became one of the casualties.

Someday, I will again take up the practice of tending to a bag of starter. If you think you're ready to take it on, here's a link that has the recipe for starter and instructions for doing your own bread.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Delicious Austerity

I got this from the WorldWide Recipes newsletter. The poster (who identified herself as Valerie) said it was from her grandmother's WWII cookbook. I make it a lot and absolutely LOVE it!

Chicken Croquettes

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.

MA

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Austerity Cooking

Christmas is over. Back to work.

One of the difficulties of writing a series is that while you're promoting your latest release, you're also working on the next book.  My January 2009 book hasn't even been officially launched, and I'm already half-way through with the next one.  The fifth book in this series is set right at the beginning of World War I in the U.S.  When America got into the war, the government issued a whole set of austerity rules, including ways to save certain food items such as flour, sugar, dairy, and meat.

So I'm researching the ways that women in that period changed and altered recipes in order to comply.  Some of them were amazingly inventive, and judging by the ones I've experimented with thus far, they were very tasty, as well.

One interesting recipe that my grandmother used even when I was a little girl (quite a bit after WWI, in case you're wondering) was for Vinegar pie.  I am convinced that you can make a delicious pie out of anything.  This is not the recipe I'm going to use in the book, but it is a very simple variation, if you're feeling brave and experimental.

Vinegar Pie:
1 egg
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 cup water

Beat together the egg, flour, and sugar, then add vinegar and water, stir in the cinnamon, pour into unbaked pie shell and bake at 350 for about an hour or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Joys of Christmas Past

Yesterday I did an Examiner post about the surprising paths to Christmas Spirit. I spoke about a once-abused-now-rescued-and-affectionate horse and a skittish stray cat. Today I'm concentrating on the joys of Christmas past . . . as in the joys of having Christmas behind us. In no particular order, they are:

* 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

A Broken Freezer was a Christmas Blessing

I tend to go extremely crazy in the weeks that preceed Christmas. In years past, I have begun baking and making candies right after Thanksgiving, and putting them in the freezer. The result has usually been a huge surplus of treats, and me scurrying around trying to distribute my arsonal of cookies and fudge.
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

Sumpin FASS

As a service to people rushed off their feet and invited to more parties than they can deal with, here is a really really quick and easy recipe that is also really really good.

Corn Salsa
  • 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

Drain corn, beans, and salsa of excess liquid. Put them all together and serve with chips. Good cold, room temperature, or heated.

You have to drain this puppy, or it ends up swimming in liquid. If you have more time, you can layer corn tortillas, the mixture, shredded cheese and repeat, then bake it for a casserole.



Another tried and true one:

Bean and Cheese Dip
  • 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!
MA

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cat Food

If you have or ever have had companion animals, you probably have experienced their intense attention at meal time. You know...you're happily eating your breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack and suddenly you have the overwhelming feeling you're being stared at. Intensely. You -- and your food -- are the subject of a single minded focus rarely seen outside of Superbowl fans or strip club patrons. More than, say, two animals and you feel like Tippi Hedren in the last scene from THE BIRDS.

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

Tamale Time


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

http://gourmetsleuth.com/meexicantamalerecipe  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

We have a . . . winners!

No, that isn't a typo. It isn't grammatically correct; but I had so many entries for The Writer's Planner that I decided to have Random.org help me choose two winners. Congratulations to Margo Dill and Virginia Williams. I'll send you The Writer's Planner later today. If you're just tuning in to Fatal Foodies and would like to find out more about The Writer's Planner, check it out at http://gayletrent.com/writersplanner.aspx.

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.

Happy baking!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Cookies!

It's been Christmas for weeks in retail-land and everyone has been trying to get people to part with their money earlier. Pushing Santa in before the Halloween merchandise was gone didn't work, however. One week to go and the economy has a lot of people saying, Bah, humbug.

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:

* http://www.christmas-cookies.com/

* Chocolate Kisses

* Cookies Kids can make - Gingerbread garland

* Candy Cane cookies

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pajamas and a Bedtime Story

My little girl always gets a new pair of pajamas to wear on Christmas Eve night. That way, when she bounds down the steps on Christmas morning, she is camera ready! Besides that, it's a little easier to get an anxious child to bed when you offer new pj's.
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.

A Couple More Christmas Gifts

If your weather lets you get out, here's a gift that won't cost much, won't have to be mailed, and will mean a lot: Next time you're at the grocery buying for those parties and family feasts, fill the top rack of your cart with canned goods, small bottles of dressing, toilet paper or diapers of #3 or up sizes. Then take them to a food pantry or Community Services location. Our local Community Services workers tell me that they've had a 66% increase in need over this time last year. They also tell me that, even though they're low on food and goods, they're MUCH better off than many larger cities. They think it's because most people around here are just making it themselves, and can imagine going--and some HAVE gone or know those who have gone--from giving to needing. Because of being so close to the need, a lot of people pick up a few extra things every time they go to the grocery and drop it by. Just one can of corn can make a difference. Let's do it!

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

The Sky Took Him


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

The Writer's Planner

Last year I fell in love with the American Girl planner. It was filled with articles, tips and all the little things girls might like. I wished there was a planner like that for writers, but a Web search assured me there was not. So I made one. The Writer's Planner is filled with articles, pictures, quotes, a submission tracker, a TBR list and a page for websites and passwords. The planner is designed so that you fill in the dates yourself so you can start anytime you'd like. There are also URLs for writing and promotion sites. I could have chosen simply to work within the e-book format, but I find I do better when I have a hard copy in front of me. So I printed The Writer's Planner out, put it into a three-prong folder, and I'm ready to go. You can be, too. You can a) order The Writer's Planner here (http://the-writers-plan.amazonwebstore.com/) or you can win a copy by e-mailing me (gd830@hotmail.com) with THE WRITER'S PLANNER in the subject line. The contest will go from now until next Friday. Next Friday, I will draw a name from all the contestants who have entered. Good luck!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hard Candy Christmas


Okay, I have used Dolly Parton as inspiration for yet another post. The title of her song sounds sweet and sentimental. When I looked at the lyrics online, I realized that it is actually about getting through the holidays when things are not going so well in our lives.
If you want a truly sweet "Hard Candy Christmas", look at this lovely website for a local candy company:
They make many unique treats, including peppermint candy baskets, like the one pictured above. Their peanut butter candy is sooooo good! If you want to send a special candy gift, they have lots of great choices.
Here is a recipe to make your own hard candy:
2/3 cups white corn syrup
2 cups sagar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon flavoring
several drops of food coloring
Directions: Combine sugar, syrup, and water. Cook to hard ball stage or 300 degrees. Add flavoring and food color. Pour into iron skillet that has been in freezer. Cool at room temperature. Take knife and crack.
After cracking, I roll the pieces in powdered sugar. Cinnamon flavoring and red color make a really nice candy.
Warning! Be careful when making hard candy. Hot sugar lava sticking to your finger creates a nasty burn!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Soup To Die For

I went to Magdalena's for lunch and I got this killer soup in a bread bowl. I posed it and snapped it just for you:


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

Writing Block Blah

Okay, I have writer's block and no appetite. This past weekend was an exercise in frustration - my derrier was in my rocking chair (my favorite place to write) for hours at a time, my iBook perched on top of a flat pillow, which is my writing desk. Yet barely anything of worth was produced. Probably the WORST writing weekend I've had in ages.

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

Posole

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.


Donis’ Posole


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

Foodie Funeral Musings

Forgive me for being a bit melancholy today. My husband's cousin Susan died yesterday from pancreatic cancer. She was in her thirties and leaves behind a boy not much older than Nicholas and Lianna. After the initial jolt (not a shock, as it wasn't unexpected), one of my first thoughts was what dish to fix to take the family. I don't know if it's a universal thing or not; but here in the South when someone dies, you take food to the family. I believe it's mainly so the family doesn't have to worry about preparing meals during their time of grief. But I also think it's to comfort.

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

Country Ham...No Thank You Ma'am!

The holiday season is bringing up an issue that is awkward for me to admit. It is just another weird characteristic added to my collection of quirks. It is particularly embarrassing because I’m a southern girl. After I make my confession online, I fear I’ll be banished to a location north of the Mason Dixon Line. It is with a great deal of shame that I share my shortcoming. I CANNOT EAT COUNTRY HAM!
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

For Whom Some Foods Are Invariably Fatal

Around Thanksgiving/Christmas--turkeys and pigs.

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
  • pepper
  • 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
Grease a 2-quart shallow baking dish. Mix all ingredients. Cover and bake at 375 for about 50 minutes. If desired, top with shredded cheese. Let stand for 10 minutes. Stir and serve.

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.
MA

Monday, December 1, 2008

Broccoli Popcorn

Broccoli as a fun food? She's got to be kidding, you say. While some of us do like our greens, very few people think of broccoli or brussel sprouts as a yummy snack. I certainly didn't until my sister made what I've come to call broccoli popcorn for us when we were visiting and I started craving the dish on a regular basis ever since.

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!
Lemon juice
salt
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!