Friday, April 27, 2007

They fatten hogs with corn, right?

High Fructose Corn Syrup, as the linked Washington Post article says, "… acts more like a fat than a sugar in your body."--is in almost everything. Lil bird made us aware of it when she tried to give HFCS up for Lent and had trouble finding simple everyday items, such as ketchup or soda, without it.

There are lots of thought on this subject and you can make up your own mind but it's good to be aware of what is going into our bodies. The article also states there are lots of contributing factors to the rise in Type 2 Diabetes but the USDA figures show the type of sweeteners consumed may help to undermine appetite control and possibly play a role in weight gain.

I did find some soda, albeit too late for the Lenten fast, and good old Trader Joe's has a HFCS free ketchup and BBQ sauce. The Jones Soda isn't bad but the colors and flavors are a bit odd. This shocking green is Green Apple and quite flavorful. The Blueberry Lemonade is an attractive pale blue but that color has always been hard to get past my lips. The Archer Farms soda came by way of a guest for dinner last week. This is carried by Target, of all places, and we enjoyed the flavors.

Of course if you just can't find a soda you like there's always this bottle in the last pix, my all time favorite, lots of fizz, no sugar--it's all turned to alcohol.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A call for PASTA !!!

Now what could be better than that. Musice to my ears, I know I agree, I salivate at the various ways of preparing pasta. And believe it or not my friends there are Heart Healthy ways of preparing this wonderful food item. Trust me after visiting Italy many, many years ago I came home with a whole new found interest in eating Italian food of any kind.

Now pop on over to HoTM site and come up with a healthy tasty pasta dish of your very own.

And while you are thinking about it check out these sites too. The Mayo Clinic has some wonderful ideas and recipes as well as the nutrtional information. Which by the way I am really appreciating these days. Also the AMH, American Heart Association has some valuable links on their site as well. Or do what I do and Google hearthealthypastarecipes and see what you come up with. Just pay attention
to the nutritional information for it to qualify as heart healthy.

So I'm headed over to the Mayo Clinic, the site, to see what I can come up with ... hope to see you there...stay tuna'd

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Sunday afternoon soup

After picking up some andouille sausage ***at the market the other day, and have no idea why I did that, but I did. I thought "weeeeeell I'll think about something I want to do with it, it'll come to me."

Well it did in the way of a TV show on Didn't see it from the beginning but the chef made my adapted version of Split Pea Soup with Andouille Sausage. And boy did that get my attention.


1 lb green split peas
10 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 lb andouille sausage
1 cup diced mild onion
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 1/2 cup small diced carrot (I had shredded carrots on hand)

1 cup diced celery
1 small can chopped green chiles (optional)
1 whole bay leaf

Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 tsp smoked paprika

You could put all of this in a crock pot and cook for 5 - 6 hours.
However I did not do that.

My Method

saute onions, celery, carrots till soft, add the garlic, but do not allow to burn. Chop the sausage and add to the mixture, saute sausage till slightly brown. Add the stock and split peas. Cook on med/low heat for 3 - 4 hours. The kitchen will be enveloped in this wonderful aroma. I added the chopped green chiles and smoked paprika near the end and chopped cilantro before serving.

I see this revisited one nite this week. So wonderfully rich, full of flavors and serve with some tasty sourdough rolls and my adult beverage of choice happened to be a Corona. Please let me know if you prepare this. Feedback folks, we need feedback.

***thanks to Ellie for pointing out that not everyone knows what andouille sausage is, I included a link.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The gauntlet has been tossed

Food events are shameless attempts to enhance a blogs following and Freya and Paul at Writing at the Kitchen Table are, pardon the pun, cooking up a fine one. This Big Burger Ballyhoo 2007 comes just it time to limber up the BBQ muscle and cook up a mess o'burgers.

This is a challenge to all you burger-loving mommas and papas and especially the other women here at PBE, to get your boyga on. Plenty of time, May 15, is the deadline for entries. Check out their post for more info.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Reading about food

A friend brings me the Food Section from her copy of the NY Times. I was real excited (I know, such a shallow life) about a ham salad they featured. Our book club was meeting at my house and I wanted to serve a light, no fuss supper and this would fit that bill. My plan was a few sandwich fillings, a trusty, no-fail salad that could be prepared ahead of time and a light, easy dessert. Here is what I came up with.

Spicy Ham Salad (Paula Deen via the NY Times)
8 ounces cooked cured ham, fat trimmed
1 cup minced celery
1/4 cup minced sweet onion
1 tsp yellow mustard
2 hard cooked eggs, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped hot pickles*
1/2 mayonnaise
salt and pepper

In food processor, pulse ham just until finely chopped but not pasty. Transfer to a bowl and stir in remaining ingredients. Add enough mayo to hold together. Refrigerate up to three days.

I also made two chicken salads, one with a southwest dressing suggested by Doodles.

1/2 cup chipotle mayo
3 tablespoons honey
juice of one lime

Mix this together and pour over your favorite chicken salad. Mine was,
chopped chicken
green onions
chopped green apple

I served these with a selection of breads and rolls. Quite easy.

*Editors note: The hot and sweet pickles are from Del Monte. They are not as good as the Sechler Pickles that Doodles and I found in Indiana but will do.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Is there such a thing???

So when Ilva and Joanna mention in their blogs about this months event for Heart Healthy Eating is going to be desserts I was a bit puzzled. But it seems I do my best thinking, so to speak, while sleeping. I woke up several days ago thinking about Raspberry Coulis In that post I mentioned the method and how easy it was albeit time consuming just to seive the blasted little seeds out. Nothing ruins a good coulis like seeds.

Being a fan of Cooking Light and the fact that my sweet sister Moon sent me a subscription for my birthday, I went over and poked around. Low and behold here is what I came up with. Angel Food Cake with Raspberry Coulis, topped off with mascarpone cheese sweetened with a bit of lavender honey.

The last day to send Joanna (joannacary AT ukonline DOT co DOT uk) your entry is Sunday 22nd April.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

japanese inspired rice omelette

when we were in japan last year, i tried a funky japanese dish called "omelette rice." basically, it's a thin, crepe-style omelette wrapped around japanese rice (sticky, medium grained, cal-rose style) and topped with a savory sauce. it's served as a lunch dish. i liked it quite a lot. for some reason, i was dying for some omelette rice tonite. here's what i came up with:

rice omlette

the filling is brown rice mixed with cooked spinach, topped with a little mozarella cheese. the topping is a lime-dill hollandaise sauce. it took much longer than i thought and i wrecked the kitchen, but this was amazingly yummy, if i don't say so myself. unfortunately, what with the omelette and the hollandaise sauce, i've used up about a week's allowance of cholesterol and fat! but it was worth it.

a quick note on the hollandaise, i totally broke the first sauce. i got a little overzealous with adding the butter (my arm was tired from whisking) at the end and it was a grainy, oily mess. interwebs to the rescue. googling "fix break hollandaise sauce" got me to this page on making a great hollandaise. to fix it, all i had to do was whisk up a new egg yolk with some more lime juice then slowly whisk in the broken sauce. yes, i learned my lesson and went slowly this time and, as you can see from above, this technique totally worked!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A new instrument to guide us

American Heart Associatin has something new on their web site that just may be worth while for some folks. This article is called face the fats and even comes with a fat translator. Who knew ya needed a translator?!? Haven't gone thru this site just read about it in the paper, however education is the tool we need to apply not the banning of a product IMHO.

Fellow foodie blogger Chris from MelCotte posted her round up about cooking to combat cancer, terrific idea Chris. Then Ilva and Joanna has another Heart of the Matter event coming up, this month DESSERTS.
Check out the site to see what you can contribute or maybe get an idea or two for a yummy, scrumptious, heavenly dessert. Man in my mind that is an oxymoron, but I know they exist.

I'm headed back over to check out the fat translator yikes...maybe I should go have another cup a tea first. But please let us know what you think!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Half cake; half success

She fried everything in site, smoked and lived to be in her 80s. Widowed in her mid twenties with five children, the youngest being six-weeks-old I'm sure was a hard life but it that she found the strength raise a family alone. She could be anywhere from cantankerous to darn right mean but never took any lip from anyone, I mean anyone. She had a grip like iron until she passed away. She was a fantastic cook.

Emily Prucilla, our afore mentioned grandmother/great-grandmother, was one of those cooks that rarely followed a recipe. This makes recreating some of her jewels difficult. We were lucky to have the one for the butterscotch cookies but I'd love to have the Banana Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting recipe, it was one I'd not thought of in a long while.

I can see here standing at the stove cooking the frosting, one hand on her hip, and whistling some odd tune. She'd just start putting things together without measuring, just tasting, and 99% of the time she has success.

Here is my effort for the cake but the frosting I made was way too sweet and overpowered the cake. It was cooked brown sugar and cream, beat until fluffy, which didn't happen without an addition of butter, a few drops of water and eventually, powdered sugar. By this time I was working up a sweat. Sheesh! I would make this with a much lighter frosting next time because the cake is quite tasty.

Fresh Banana Layer Cake

2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sift before measuring)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Banana mixture
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about two)
1/4 cup cream, buttermilk, or plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-inch pans.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl whisk together banana mixture. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy and beat in eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Stir in flour and banana mixture alternately beginning and ending with flour, stirring well after each addition.

Divide between pans and bake for about 15-17 minutes. Cool on rack, remove from pans and cool completely before icing the cakes. I added some toasted pecans on top, it looked rather plain without.

Editors note: I don't believe my butter was soft enough because my cakes, from 8-inch square pans, did not rise more than an inch. I cut each cake in half to make a four by eight inch four layer cake. I like height when it comes to desserts. Ya gotta think on your feet when you do this cooking thing, especially when discerning guests are coming.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Easter Bunny made an early visit

During one of our visits to Ft Wayne, IN Doodles and I stumbled upon De Brands, a very local boutique candy shop. They have these outrageous chocolate creations so we bought a taste for both of us. The phrase, "To die for!" doesn't do they delicacies justice. When I returned home today I found this large box on my doorstep and inside, all bundled in insulation and various layers of freezer packs, was my Easter treat from my darling sister and brother-out-law. Love them both.

Here's the conundrum; do I tell my dearly beloved, who wasn't home at the time, I recieved these? Or, eat them all myself. No, I better tell him, he'll know from my chocolate breath.

Thanks, Doodles and Norm!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Chocolate, what's not to like?

Haven't I always said I'd eat anything dipped in chocolate? Well, I saw a post for these Haystacks at Laura Rebecca's Kitchen and had to give them a try.

They are so easy and tasty and how bad could they be for you, you're eating lil twigs o'fiber and CHOCOLATE. It took me longer to clean the chocolate bowl that it did to make them. I hate it when I lie, ok, clean wasn't the right word, scrape and lick the bowl was more like it. Honestly, when you can melt the chocolate in the microwave and don't cut yourself opening the box you should be able to toss out a few dozen of these in about ten minutes.

I'd show the little 'stacks but my camera decided to be fussy, maybe it was the chocolate on my fingers but go see Laura's you'll get the idea.

Oh, Happy Day!

It's Farmer's Market Time! I didn't make the grand opening but I stumbled in on Friday and here is my weekend booty.

Confession time, I left out the coconut macaroons from the photo. There is a lovely stand from a bakery in Ventura and they have the most luscious macaroons and yes, I am addicted. So with all these wonderful veggies I sneaked in some cookies; shameful.

The carrots are so wonderful just scrubbed and eaten out of hand. I'm going to try roasting the asparagus and don't know about the leeks yet, any suggestions?

If you have local Farmer's Markets or crop share in your area please support them. Lil Bird has been participating in her crop share since June of last year. With Doodles being on the road this year I'm sure she'll stop at a few roadside stands to try the local produce. Remember, it's the independent farmer who's keeping the variety in the crops grown in this country.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

tito's tacos

this is a little bit late for kitchen wench's nostalgia event, but i thought i'd get a post up before i get accused of becoming a by-stander to my own blog. due to the harmonic convergence of a relatively strong economy, an immigration system that's about to collapse and a maddeningly indifferent congress, this little parakeet found herself at the office quite a bit during the month of march preparing to file a bunch of cases for delivery to uscis on april 2. now that's over and done, i can come up for air again and maybe even start posting again once in a while. hopefully my new adventure in patio container gardening will provide some good post fodder!

anyway, on to the nostalgia. as we had some tito's tacos yesterday while we were watching the game that shall remain nameless, it reminded me that we here at pbe have never done a write up on this so-cal institution.


in business at (almost) the same location in culver city since the 60s, tito's tacos has a short menu - hard shell tacos, burritos, rice and beans - and long lines. there's also some other stuff, like tamales, on the menu, but don't waste your time. you cannot drive by tito's on a weekend and not see the four lines at the front window stretched all the way to the curb. it's definitely not fancy and some people would say they're not even real tacos (ahem, bandini), but i beg to differ on that last point...and the people keeping the lines long would probably tend to agree with me. these tacos really hit the spot sometimes, especially if you grew up with them. they haven't changed since i've been eating them (and that's basically since i was in utero). i'm sure doodles and mooncrazy would agree with that assertion. in fact, when doodles comes to town, it's the first place we stop on the way home from the airport!

tacos in situ

the best part about tito's, though, is the salsa. it's nothing fancy, but the flavor is great, with tomatoes, onions and jalepenos chopped really fine (probably milled?), and the tacos just aren't complete without them.

salsa and beans

and it really is a so-cal experience. in fact, i'm sure huell howser's done a show on it! you'll see all types of people in line: old people, young people, rich people, poor people, black, white, asian, hispanic, you name it...everyone comes to tito's
and they all want the same two things: to eat a taco and for the person in front of them in line not to have a big order!

I'm going to let the secret out!

Congratulations are in order for one of the three PBE women.
Our own Doodles has had a visit from the STORK!

You can see the photos here. AWWWW!