Pepper Board

Pepper Board

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Deviled Eggs

Easter brings out the egg in us!

According to Apicius, a collection of Roman recipes believed to have been compiled sometime between the fourth and fifth century A.D., boiled eggs were traditionally seasoned with oil, wine or broth and served with pepper and laser (which was also known as silphium, a plant driven to extinction by the first century A.D.). Another recipe called for poached eggs to be dressed with soaked pine nuts, lovage (an herb of the parsley family with an anise, celery flavor), pepper, honey, vinegar and broth.

 Sometime in the 13th century, stuffed eggs began to appear in Andalusia, in what is now Spain. An anonymous cookbook from this time period instructs the reader to pound boiled egg yolks with cilantro, onion juice, pepper and coriander and then beat them with murri (a sauce made of fermented barley or fish), oil and salt. After stuffing the mixture into the hollowed egg whites, the two halves were then fastened together with a small stick and peppered.

By the 15th century, stuffed eggs had made their way across much of Europe. Medieval cookbooks contain recipes for boiled eggs that were often filled with raisins, cheese and herbs such as marjoram, parsley and mint and then fried in oil and either topped with a sauce of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and raisins with verjuice (a tart juice made from unripe fruits) or powdered with sugar and served hot. In the United States, stuffed eggs began making an appearance in cookbooks by the mid-19th century.

The first known printed mention of ‘devil’ as a culinary term appeared in Great Britain in 1786, in reference to dishes including hot ingredients or those that were highly seasoned and broiled or fried. By 1800, deviling became a verb to describe the process of making food spicy. But in some parts of the world, the popular egg hors d’oeuvres are referred to as “mimosa eggs,” “stuffed eggs,” “dressed eggs” or “salad eggs”—especially when served at church functions—in order to avoid an association with Satan.

Eggs even find there way into soups - Lenten  Zurek for Easter.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Easter Egg

Easter is a religious holiday, but some of its customs, such as Easter eggs, are likely linked to pagan traditions. The egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection. Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century, according to some sources. One explanation for this custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, then eat them on Easter as a celebration.

*source ~

Friday, March 27, 2015

WonderBag Cooking!

It's clean, smart and fun. The best thing that you can do with a WonderBag is to let it do some of the cooking for you. As you can or have already read about it, just start on the stove a pot of stew or chili, then remove from heat and insert the whole pot in the WonderBag. Now, you can go outside for a walk, and later invite friends over to play a board game, and by the time the game is over, you can share a delicious meal.

While this product is a cleaner means of cooking as in having low environment impact, the WonderBag should not be used as a substitute for stove or range top cooking. It needs to be understood that food must be thoroughly pre-cooked before using the WonderBag; and therefore, always make sure that your food especially meat is cooked properly. The WonderBag is in my opinion more of a warmer and certainly good for traveling food from your house to someone else's; i.e. attending a pot luck supper.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Chef Cut Lean Pork in Creamy Mustard Sauce

I can always count on a nice lean cut of pork from the local butcher. This dish requires very little time and money. You will need besides the pork loin some heavy cream and your favorite Dijon mustard.  Tonight's side, roasted potatoes and mushrooms if you like.

Take your covered skillet out and melt in 3 tbs of olive oil and the same of coconut oil.  As you have already noticed, I always start every dish of meat with those basic. Why reinvent the wheel. However, if you want a new and exciting taste, you can always reduce your savory to simple salt and pepper with a fresh squeeze of citrus or fresh herbs; i.e. mint or thyme. The loin can be 'chef' cut into thick wedges. They take no time at all to sear up. Simmer then for 8 min. At the end, add 1/4 cup of heavy cream and a large dollop of Dijon.

As for a side ~  potatoes, simple... cut halves into a glass dish, coat with olive oil and parmesan along with dried herbs and bake for 30 min and or until tender. You can do them quicker in the microwave for 10 min. and then in the broiler for 3 on high.

Chef cut lean pork with creamy mustard sauce.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Kitchen Art ~ Splash Out and Treat Yourself

Personally, I am not into kitchen gadgets but some people are. And, that's ok. Just know that all you need to prepare and cook any good meal is a knife, a board and a pot.

Sometimes, though, there is nothing like a new kitchen gadget to inspire the cook in you.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Heritage Pork ~ Cubed Steak with Savory Roots

Just ask yourself, how does a chef approach his/her cooking. He/she takes a skillet and melts in cooking oils and then seasoning and then the food item they want to cook. I personally like to get the seasoning a little hot before I add any meat or veggies. Once the oils are just disappearing in the pan, shake in all desired seasoning, of course having them handy to do that.
For this dish, I used red pepper flakes, garlic powder, sea salt and dried herb seasonings* rosemary, oregano, basil and thyme. Once the seasonings start to pop and spit in the oils, I lay in the meat - cube steaks searing them quickly on both sides. Reducing the heat, I cover and let them finish taking about 5-6 min. In this time, French sliced the root veggies.

Remove the steaks from the heat, put them onto a serving platter and cover with foil to retain the heat. Add your root veggies to the skillet that the steaks were cooked in. Since there is nearly no fat in the skillet, only wonderful juices, I take advantage. Cover and let cook for 8 min. When they are just getting tender, I uncover, turn up the heat and brown the edges to pull the sweet savory taste from the veggies.

Add them to the platter and serve.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Swiss Steak ~ its green cause its lean

And, I mean 'green' as in low environment impact. If you are lucky to get good grass fed beef, then you know the taste isn't comparable to anything super market store bought.

Now, what to do with a lean top round steak - Swiss Steak. The key is good beef, lots of onions in olive oil, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and dried herb seasoning. Cut your steak into small pieces, but not chunks. Brown with onions, olive oil and seasonings on med heat, and cover for 10 min on low to get the juices flowing. Then you add your tomato paste or even left over homemade tomato soup jarred in the fridge will do with a little thicker to get the necessary gravy. 
You can peel and boil potatoes to mash or use potato filled pierogi like I did for this meal. That's it and don't be surprised if everyone calls you the best cook ever!

and its also 'green' as in low impact when you don't spend all your time in the kitchen suing up energy; thus... this kind of cooking lets you spend most of your time eating with family and friends who are amazed and so happy you care!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fettuccine with Poached Tuna and Scalloped Roots Veggies... Or,

Creamy pasta alfredo with poached tuna or tilapia, garnished with a side of scalloped carrots and parsnips to help ring in the Spring. So so simple and fun to do with friends gathered round. Someone can boil the water for the pasta, another poach the tuna and one person can scallop and saute the veggies. It will for sure come out just right when two or more get involved. All you need is fettuccine pasta, heavy cream, fresh butter, parmesan, tuna steak (s) and some carrots and parsnips, maybe a little onion too which when scalloped (shaved) cook up pretty quick in a little olive oil.

or, maybe veal meatballs with Au-gratin potatoes

Slice as many golden potatoes as you will need to serve (per person) layer in a glass casserole dish with butter, heavy cream and shredded cheddar. Bake til tender. Take ground veal and follow your favorite meatball recipe; form and brown in melted butter and olive oil in a skillet; then simmer in beef stock til cooked ... add 1/4 cup cream. Serve.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Chicken Romano in a Creamy Red Pepper Sauce with Brown Rice and Groats

You will need to buy a package of chicken breasts, one red pepper, buckwheat groats/brown rice if you don't have in the pantry and heavy cream if you don't have in the fridge. This is a simple and yet such impressive dinner.

Take a covered skillet, put in 3 tbs of olive oil, 3 tbs of coconut oil. Then chop 3-4 cloves of garlic, add to that red pepper flakes, sea salt, dried herb seasonings* mint, rosemary, oregano and basil. Lay in your chicken and let them sizzle (on med. flame/heat) a bit on each side. Now, slice your fresh red pepper ( use half) and lay those slices on top, cover and simmer for 12 min. Then add 1/4 cup heavy cream and grated Romano cheese, cover again turning the flame to low; simmer 5 min.  

All the while the chicken is cooking, you should have water boiling with a pinch of salt for the side dish.
Add either one package of brown rice 'boil in the bag' and one package of buckwheat groats 'boil in bag' together to the boiling water. You can of course do the same with organic packaged/boxed brown rice and groats.

Chop some fresh green parsley for garnish. Once the rice and groats are tender, drain and ladle into a low lipped serving dish, garnish. Take a large serving platter and place your chicken breasts then cover with the savory red pepper creamy Romano sauce.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Chicken Tacos in Soft Corn Flour Tortilla

Saute a few chicken breasts cut into strips, chop your favorite green leaves as in 'lettuce or romaine or even fresh leaf  basil', dice fresh tomato and either buy or make a smooth guacamole (*see brainy guy food for an excellent guacamole recipe). The best wrap is a soft corn flour tortilla, the small hand sized. Get a plate, pass the tortilla, and fill up. Top with jalapenos (if you like it Hot) and yogurt or sour cream; either are a great pro-biotic.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Socially Recognized Well Being ~ Graham Crackers

Socially speaking, the idea of eating healthy as the way to well being belongs to Christians who more than any other group in this country had/have consciously considered and practiced controlled diet as a means for a longer and a more virtuous healthy life.

As recorded... It began with Sylvester Graham a Presbyterian minister who lived from the early to mid 1800s. He spent his adult life trying to convince Americans that white bread was weakening the nation. Reverend Graham's solution, instead of white bread, was to eat a coarse brown bread and or whole-wheat crackers -Graham Crackers!

This whole grain diet he proposed was picked up by the Seventh Day Adventists around 1850 and became part of their church doctrine; whole-grain foods, no meat, limited fats (fats are necessary); no alcohol, no tobacco, no coffee.

At about this same time, those Seventh Day Adventists selected Battle Creek, Michigan, as their national headquarters and started a small hospital which by 1866 had grown into a nationally renown health institution called the Battle Creek Sanitarium.

By the 1870s this spa was taken over by Dr. Kellogg adopting the Adventists doctrine. Kellogg, over the next thirty years, made it one of the leading health spas in the nation. At the Battle Creek Spa, Dr. Kellogg invented his first health food called Granola and he also invented Kellogg corn flakes.

C.W. Post, a Texas real estate developer had severe digestive problems and went to the Battle Creek Sanitarium in 1891. To his delight, within a day he was able to eat his first full meal. He was convinced that the secret to good health as simply to think you are healthy and to eat in moderation.  He shared in Dr. Kellogg's belief in pre-digested, non stimulant food so he had the BC kitchen invent a substitute coffee - Postum. And, C.W. felt it necessary to create a complimentary cereal to his coffee - Grape Nuts.

Source ~ Advertising in America: The First 200 Years. Harry N. Abrams. Inc. publishers NY

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Greek Fish with Grated Carrots and Onions

If you love fish but are tired of sauteing, grilling, baking or pan frying, then try Greek Fish. It is simple and delicious; just take your favorite fish, cut the raw flesh into chunks, chop raw onion, grate raw carrots, add some olive oil and your preferred herbs/seasonings; simmer it all on the stove til the fish is white and firm and the carrot gratings tender, the onion translucent.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Our Well Being ~ Eating is Social!

Eating is social and food is what we eat to keep going 'socially'. It is unfortunate that we eat less and less socially and I mean with other people and even less with our own family as the fast paced popular culture takes over our lives. We need to eat with other people especially family because it is the social engagement that also is food for us.

Yes, food as in nutritional life giving substance is central to our health, but what we eat, how we eat, and with whom and when is very important and why it is constantly being discussed, debated and politicized. We’re eating the wrong things or too much, or not enough, and our attempts to become healthier are often misguided as we too readily place our trust - and our money - in diet books, celebrities, and proponents of pseudoscience.

The question to ask these days is ... what would happen if we started ignoring the food and diet debates and started trusting ourselves? The answer to that means- listening to our bodies instead of listening to gurus of low-calorie diets or paleo diets or gluten free diets or casein free diets or sugar free diets or fat free diets or carb free diets... amidst the diet clamor and chaos, some people are turning to a dietary approach known as ‘intuitive eating'.

It’s a way of eating based on three simple principles - eating when hungry; stopping when full; and eating with other people at a table (unless medical reasons forbid it). Individuals are encouraged to abandon dieting behaviors such as restraint and conscious control of food intake, and instead are encouraged to listen to internal cues for hunger, fullness and the types of food the body needs to feel nourished.

Eating intuitively is essential for our health; and, as a sociologist, I have to emphasize that eating with friends and family is also food for us socially ~ for our well being. We engage with others as in share our lives and our problems; thus, eating social offers less stress and thus better digestion. So what we eat is always good.

Source ~

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sweet Acorn Squash

There is nothing so delicious as sweet acorn squash. I never add anything but some olive oil when I cook it. And, that is easy too. Just wash, halve, remove the seeks, and drizzle with olive oil then microwave for 12 min. Now, I have an old microwave and mine does take a good twelve minutes. But newer models probably less time. When the time up, I like to slice the squash thickly and scoop out some to put in the center of the sliced sections, you can also drizzle a mix of olive oil along with balsamic vinegar and dried herbs on the plate as this makes for a grand presentation.

That's it. All is good!

Eating with a Fork

You can read online and maybe surprised to learn that the fork is a latecomer to the dining table. Though the fork didn’t have a place at the Greek table, where people used spoons, knives and their hands, it was a recognized utility. In ancient Greece, Poseidon brandished a trident while mortals had large forked tools to pull food out of boiling pots. Thank goodness, the fork eventually made it to the table. Looking to the eighth or ninth century, some Persian nobility may have used a fork-like tool. In the 11th century, forks were in use in the Byzantine Empire. An illustrated manuscript from that period shows two men using two-pronged fork--like instruments at a table. Then there was St. Peter Damian, a hermit and ascetic, who criticized a Byzantine-born Venetian princess for her excessive delicacy. This princess refused to touch her own food and had a golden instrument with two prongs to carry it to her mouth.  This behavior came under Damian’s condemnation and led to the fork as being viewed with skepticism or even outright hostility.What do you think about that?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Raw Veggies ~ Not As Good As You Think

Eating raw veggies in juice cocktail mixes and smoothies are all the rage. However, for me, most of the rage in my digestive system is often the result of eating raw veggies in either salads, juices or smoothies. The cruciferous vegetable such as: arugula, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, turnip, collard greens, bok choy, brussels sprouts, radish, rutabaga, and watercress should be cooked before eating.

So, I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news,... cruciferous vegetables should be cooked  as they contain chemicals that block the production of thyroid hormone in your body! Considering that 2 out of every 3 Westerners are either overweight or obese and this is projected to jump to 75% by 2020, this is of particular importance as folks struggling with weight usually suffer from borderline to full blown hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone, so someone suffering from this condition surely does not want to be eating foods that will block what little thyroid hormone is being produced in the first place!

For me personally, such raw veggies bother my stomach and intestinal system causing bloating and gas.  I also have a problem with eating raw spinach and radishes and onion. What can I say? My mother always told me, you are not a rabbit. As an adult, I now understand her wisdom.

Friday, March 6, 2015

What's so Brainy About Avocados

What you may not know is that the Avocado is a fruit. What you probably have read is that avocados are a cool, creamy fruit grown in warm regions of the world. They are nutrient dense; and thus should be a desirable part of a healthy diet. They are full of  vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that energize and protect the body. Avocados provide a combination of 20 vitamins, minerals and photo-nutrients = phytonutrients. Though phytonutrients aren't essential for keeping you alive, they may help prevent disease and keep your body working properly. This delicious green fruit has shown to be effective as an anti-inflammatory, good for your heart, your hair and skin. 

I love to eat them like an apple; peeled of course. The taste and texture are incredible... Also, great stuff to use in wraps!

and saw this sandwich, which I am definitely going to make for my St. Patty's Day!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

brainy portions

Love to eat, then know how much; start with small portions. When you sit down to a meal of really good food prepared for you or by you, give thanks and eat up. Don't restrict yourself to tid bits. Give your body all the protein, carbs and vitamins it needs. Stay away from added sugar and excessive salt. Enjoy the bounty put before you so that you won't indulge in a snack later because you are still hungry; eat your fill at dinner not planning to eat a little so that you can eat a sweet desert afterwards.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Grocery Shopping~ What's in the Bag?

Rosemary is a wonderful herb. If you haven't tried fresh dried rosemary or fresh rosemary in your cooking and baking, then you are really missing out. Not only is it a flavor enhancer like no other, it is a brain booster and memory aid, a disease preventative, and good for hair. Its botanical name means 'dew of the sea' which is likely because of it being a native Mediterranean plant.

Here is a great simple dish using that wonderful herb ~ Tuscan Garlic Rosemary Chicken. Additionally, I like to use a little fresh oregano. Take a whole chicken and massage with olive oil. Lay in a black cast iron skillet, season with sea salt (following your dietary allowance), fresh crushed garlic as much as you like, and then top with fresh or dried rosemary and oregano.

Put to the oven uncovered for 60 mins. on F375. I have an old 1963 Caloric so I have to watch it closely.
As a general rule, calculate a cooking time of 20 minutes per pound of meat plus an additional 10 - 20 minutes at a temperature of 375ºF (190ºC). Therefore, a 5 lb chicken will need to be roasting in the oven for at least 1h 50 mins. A 5 lb bird will serve between 4 - 5 people. Some people prefer to set the oven temperature to 450ºF (230ºC) and roast the bird at this high temperature for the first 10 - 15 minutes or the last 10 - 15 minutes. The rest of the time the chicken should be roasted at 375ºF (190ºC).

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bacon and Eggs ~ Paleo Flag of Approval

Have you heard? Bacon and eggs are all the fade, rage, and or fashion of pop foodies. Some of us oldies just like to say "Hey, bacon is back".  I am not surprised that bacon is now welcomed back in the basic food groups, but if you are of my generation, it was always there. I think it is wonderful that both bacon and eggs have been raised from junk food status to health food extraordinaire - getting the Paleo flag of approval.  So, If you want to do a very special  dinner of bacon and eggs, just buy some bacon and eggs and get cookin. These days, you can choose from a variety of bacon not just pork but buffalo, beef and even venison = deer.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Blackened Caribbean Dump Chicken with Braised Ginger Carrots and Green Cabbage

Thinkin of the Islands...

You will need to buy a package of chicken thighs with or without skin. I like the ALDi  Kirkwood brand which is always fresh, tender and reasonably price. I had left over dark cherries, crushed pineapple, and dried plums along with left over homemade barbeque sauce. First, I simmered the thighs to get a stock from them for the week. I have said it many times before, keep a chicken stock in the pantry or fridge. I also stuck some carrots and green cabbage in the stock. Once the meat was white, I removed the thighs and laid them into a glass baking dish which was drizzled with olive oil. I also removed the carrots and cabbage transferring them to a glass baking dish.

To the chicken thighs, I dumped in the dark cherries, the crushed pineapple and some dried plums. Over the top, I dumped the homemade barbeque sauce (you can also use store bought); and lastly, I sprinkled on some dried herbs. All of this went into a F400 degree oven uncovered for 50 min.

Next, I took fresh ginger and grated some over the carrots and cabbage. To that I drizzled over the top, teriyaki sauce, and organic honey til it blanketed the veggies. You can also lay on some fresh sliced lemon.
Sprinkle on some dried herb seasonings and transfer to the second or lower rack of the oven, covered with foil. Walk away, relax and take in the smells.

In about one hour, you will feast on a delicious meal.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday Supper ~ Comfort Foods Interacting

There are times when using left overs make you feel good about the world.
How? When left overs become comfort foods, you just feel good inside because you know that you wisely used what you had to make something new. By recycling, by reconstituting, by re-creating things including food, you save the environment, you save time and energy and you feel like you have thus contributed to the good of society.

Having some left over au jus from a previous meal, I decided to make Swiss Steak. I first sauteed chopped onion in  3 tbs of olive oil, I then added some fresh lean top round steak sliced length wise.

Once the steak and onions were brown, in went the au jus. To that, I added one small can of tomato paste. This simmered for 30 mins. In the meantime, I boiled potatoes, and microwaved left over farfalle pasta turning it into mac and cheese.

There was bit of left over slaw from yesterday which made a perfect salad side.

~ As with everything in life, its all about compatibility!