October already? Plus, the County Fair

It’s cool and fresh this morning, though the daytimes are still inexplicably in the 80s and even the 90s. My car thermometer read 100 one day this week. It had been sitting in a hot parking lot all day though. Still hot. The steering wheel was too hot to touch!

Anyway it feels good to feel the fresh breeze. I got up and baked this morning.

As is my routine, on Sunday mornings I cook and bake stuff for the week so that when I arrive home from work, I don’t have to spend a lot of time preparing meals, but sit sit down and write and study. I love that our church begins at 3:00! I have the entire morning to awaken slowly, sip coffee, and cook and do these things that make my week go better.

This morning I made 3-ingredient oatmeal ‘cookies’-

Also, roasted chick peas, baked potatoes,  three pieces of fish, and gluten free strawberry muffins.

I have to go gluten free now. I knew it was coming, and I didn’t want it to, but it came anyway. My mother has celiac disease and she’s extremely, highly sensitive to gluten. Those who are in the inner circle of relationship of those with celiac, have a 1 in 22 chance of being gluten sensitive also. I had been feeling pretty terrible for months, but the symptoms were so disparate that I could not put my finger on what was the matter. Having avoided the obvious, a couple of weeks ago I had a low point of high pain, limited mobility, constant headaches. I decided the pain was not worth the bread. I sat down and dug in and found that all my symptoms, varied as they are, coincided with celiac.

I cut out all gluten for two weeks and I immediately felt better. Sigh.

So now I am re-orienting myself to a new mindset of cooking, shopping and living. Gluten free items are expensive, and I do miss making sandwiches. I’ll figure it out eventually.

The gluten free flour was on sale so I picked it up and made the muffins. LOL, I didn’t have blueberries so I substituted canned strawberries I had in the back of the cupboard, and I didn’t have buttermilk so I substituted regular milk soured with vinegar. The substitutions didn’t seem to harm the baking any. Next time I’ll cut down on the amount of sugar. I don’t like sweet muffins and there’s always to much sugar in recipes for my taste. I’d already made enough swaps to interfere with the recipe so I didn’t dare cut back on sugar this first time, but next time I will.

The county fair was in town and I haven’t been since 2009. It’s only two miles down the road so Saturday evening I went. They close at 4pm and re-open at 6, and I was there at the re-opening. The light was low and golden, the famed “Golden Hour” photographers love each morning and evening. Since I was there right at the beginning, there were not too many people and I got a lot of clear shots of the fairway.

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Maine Maple Sunday

The 4th Sunday in March is always Maine Maple Sunday. The sap’s a-runnin’!

Below is an article explaining Maine Maple Sunday.When you think of sugar houses and fresh maple syrup you might think, “Vermont” or New Hampshire” but Maine is right up there with production.  Since 2010, the article states, “Syrup production has more than doubled and the industry brings $48.7 million to Maine’s economy.” Plus, fresh maple syrup is yummy!

Sugar houses statewide celebrate Maine Maple Sunday all weekend

Here are a couple of pics I took some years ago when I lived in Maine. I took them with my Lomo camera.

maple sapmaple sunday

Now go eat a pancake! Or maybe a “Dutch Baby

Saturday cooking

I love my Tea Time magazine. There are beautiful place settings and china to look at, brief and interesting articles about the history of tea or tea accouterments, and recipes. I had tried a recipe of English Pea salad in mini-phyllo cups a year ago and liked it, and I decided to make it again, along with a recent recipe from the latest issue- egg chicks. Here is the result.

Continue reading “Saturday cooking”

Recipe review: Best Avocado Cauliflower Mash

My friend posted a recipe on Facebook. It looked really good so I thought I’d try it! It is a cauliflower patty with mashed avocado on top, with a fried egg on top of that. I like it for each of the three elements in the dish. However, the intent of the dish is that the cauliflower is supposed to be some kind of substitute for toast.

I’ve seen this trend elsewhere, for example, that the cauliflower is made into some kind of pizza crust. Blaring headlines on Facebook and Twitter proclaim, “You can’t tell the difference!” Or, “Tastes super!” I’ve never believed these kind of headlines. It’s illogical. Cauliflower is cauliflower, and toast is toast. Cauliflower is cauliflower, and pizza crust is pizza crust.

But I really like cauliflower. I usually roast it. I’m always looking for new ways to eat stuff so I thought I’d give the patty mash a try. Here are the results. The top three pics are mine and the bottom one is the recipe’s For once, mine came out pretty close to the recipe! Bonus!

 

The recipe says to use a cheese grater to crumble the cauliflower. I have a mini food chopper so I used that. One or two pulses and the cauliflower was made very small. It all came together very quickly which is always a good thing. 🙂

The tagline for this recipe says,

You’re going to want to replace all toast with this delicious, carb-free cauliflower version.

No. No you’re not. But if you want a healthy and filling breakfast that comes together pretty quick, Best Avocado Cauliflower Mash is for you!

Pad Thai

I just discovered the Kroger shrimp skewers! There are five fresh large shrimp on a wooden skewer, sold for $1. Woo-hoo!

I had a hankering for Pad Thai. Now that I know they sell shrimp this way I will buy the skewer more often and make Pad Thai more often. That’s Thai rice noodles, scallions, tofu, chicken (or shrimp), bean sprouts, an egg, lime, and crushed peanuts. It is a dish that goes together pretty fast because none of he ingredients take a long time to cook. The shrimp cook in minutes and so does the tofu. I don’t use chicken.

You put the rice noodles in warm water and soak them until they are soft. I speed this up by turning the stove on low. Use a wok if you have it, I don’t so I use a large saute pan. Heat oil and toss the tofu you’ve cubed into it, and the scallions and shrimp or chicken. I forgot to buy scallions so I threw in some roasted greenbeans I’d made the day before, just to have some green in it. Kroger doesn’t sell alfalfa or mung bean sprouts. 😦 You can make a sauce which uses a lot of ingredients, or you can buy pad Thai sauce pre-made, which is what I like to do. Add the sauce to taste. A little goes a long way.

Put pad Thai mixture in a bowl, sprinkle lime juice over it, a lot of juice! I think the lime juice makes it. Sprinkle crushed peanuts over it. Eat immediately. Enjoy!

Week’s worth of lunches

The woman blogger at Good, Cheap Eats is a homeschooling mom who loves Jesus and writes cookbooks. She had a recent blog post which caught my attention, titled

How to Make a Week of Lunches & Save Money

Well, I’m all for that. Aren’t you? Her week of lunches is actually 4 work days, because extending prepared lunches to a fifth day violates her 4-day leftover rule. Her husband eats lunch with his son on that day anyway. As for me, I also do not stress about Friday By then I’m so tired of thinking about what to make or pack or tore or prepare…that I just toss in whatever I can grab first. I’m just grateful I’ve made it to Friday, to be hones. Sometimes, lol, I wind up with lunches on Friday like raw zucchini (I forgot the knife) a handful of homemade granola, and a brown banana.

Today I made granola, a broccoli and cheese quiche, roasted broccoli (the remainder that didn’t fit in the quiche, baked teriyaki tofu, and baked potato. I wash the potatoes, and then rub a teaspoon of olive oil on the damp skin, then wrap in tin foil. They come out pillow soft. As for the tofu, it’s half a brick that I haven’t used from the recipe from last weekend, pad thai. I simply cut them into one inch thin slabs, spread teriyaki sauce on the bottom of a baking pan, laid the slabs on top and poured more sauce over them. Then bake.

I will make humus tomorrow and also a fruit salad. Here are the photos of the goodies from today.

You want the veggie to get that golden crust. This is accomplished by thoroughly dredging in oil. I toss mine around in a ziploc. Then dump into the baking dish.

 

I add a slight amount of bread crumbs on top of the quiche to make a crunchy crust. Parmesan also works.

Tofu. What can you do with tofu. Not much except cover it in something that tastes better.

It’s still hot here, in the 90s. I couldn’t wait for fall so I jump started the season by making chamomile tea with honey to sip this afternoon. I can pretend it’s leaves and pumpkin season, can’t I?

Do check out Jessica’s tips. Have a good Sunday everyone.

What can you do with hard pears?

When I moved to the south and go to the apartment I’m in now, I was excited to see there were many fruit-bearing trees and vines in the yard. Fig, apple, pecan, scuppernong, and pear trees abounded. The first time I picked a pear and bit into it, I just about broke my teeth. I waited and waited for the pears to get ripe, but they never softened.

That is because they are windfall pears. I do not know why they are called windfall pears, other than the fact that “they are so hard to eat that they stay on the tree until the wind makes them fall, and even then, the squirrels won’t eat them.” That’s my definition.

But us frugal people hate to see a lovely looking fruit go to waste. There must be something one can do with them? Isn’t there?

After my first year here trying to freeze them, cook them, poach them … I gave up. I do not enjoy making jam or jelly or dealing with sterilizing jars, so that seemed to be that.

But the other day a friend gave me a bag of hard pears, and so here I go again. This time, I decided, I won’t give up.

The thing is, I don’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. That’s why I do all my cooking on Sunday for the week ahead. When you live alone, every single thing that has to be done in my life, has to be done by me. So the more things I can collapse into a convenient bundle, the better.

I also don’t like coring or seeding fruit. I don’t like being sticky. I know, I know, I’m persnickety about a lot of things.

I decided to boil the 12 pears I had been given with skins on and pare them when they cooled. That way, I wouldn’t have to deal with seeds and cores. Ha, HA, take that, cores! I washed them, took the stems off, and simply popped them into a large pot with water. What I didn’t do is add something to the water for flavor, such as cinnamon or lemon or other spices. I forgot. That would have been good to do.

I brought the water to a boil then turned it to simmer until the pears were soft. I don’t know how long it took, because I was happy not to have to babysit the pears and I went off to do other things. It was a good while though, about 45 minutes.

Bring to a boil,

Then simmer

They were done when a knife went through them easily. I cooled them on a clean towel.

When they were cool enough to handle, I cut them up with skins on. There is a lot of flavor in the skins. Plus, easier. The dozen pears even after having been boiled, yielded a lot of meat.

On the left in the small pot, a simple sugar. Also, I finally dragged out the lemon juice from the fridge. I added both to the chopped pears  and simmered again. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the pears further along, but I knew I wanted them soft, really soft. For this stage, I used 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water. I used two caps full of lemon juice. I also added ginger.

 

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. Actually, no trouble. It’s a mainly hands free process. The only time I really had to handle them was cutting up the softened pears. The rest of the time, it did its thing on its own!

I simmered until the liquid was gone. I cooled it and popped it in the fridge. I now have a mound of soft, tasty pears. Today for lunch I put a few spoons of the pear compote into my fruit salad. I will also use it in oatmeal, on cottage cheese, and in yogurt. You can also add raisins, craisins, almonds, or walnuts. Add to ice cream, top pound cake, or just plop some whipped cream on a mound of pear compote for a yummy dessert. What other ways can you think of to use a pear compote like this?

Anyway, that is my easy-peasy method of using up windfall pears!