Tuesday, June 28, 2016

About Me

I've noticed that a lot of bloggers have a spot on their blog that says 'About Me'.  I have a Google+ about me, but just in case you don't feel like wading through all that.

Here's a few facts.
A long time ago I remember reading in the newspaper as I was avidly cutting out recipes, that some people actually liked the whole process of cutting and peeling and making elaborate meals on weekends.  I was shocked and horrified.

I mean, who in their right mind liked to julienne, or dice finely or mince up multiple items to make a meal?  I was all about getting it on the table, and making sure that all the hot food was hot and the cold food was cold.

Well, times change, and luckily we all grow up.

Some of us do that is, and some of us, well, we discover just how much fun it is to make 'mud pies' with real food.

I like to make 'mud pies' using edible stuff.   And I love to serve it to people.  And they seem to like eating it as well.

A few years ago I decided to have fun, and make a blog.  I was sharing pictures that I had taken that I found interesting, and then I decided to start documenting a lot of the recipes I made, some my own, some I found and cooked from, and others I just plain made up and of course some recipes my friends shared with me as well.

Honestly, I thought I was beyond presumptuous.
I mean, gee, who was I to think I could tell people how to cook?

I got over that one. 

I draw on my Danish side and made, and still make a lot of the meals from my childhood.  Some recipes I'll never be able to recreate, but others, well, let me just say that when I take a bite of Biksemad, I can close my eyes and get transported back to the farmhouse and my childhood.  That recipe was one of the first ones I actually published back in 2011 on my other blog.  I need to transfer it to this one.   And I will, soon. 

I have a whole section on here with Danish Dishes

I also now live in an area where there isn't a Mexican restaurant on almost every corner, so I had to learn to make the food I grew to love when I lived in another state.    I make a mean Chile Verde, and we probably eat a lot more Mexican themed meals than we used to. Actually, I know we do, cause we never ate out that often before, and we do love our spicy food.
In fact as I type this, I'm thinking of the Chicken Fajitas's we had for dinner last night, and the Taco's I'll probably be making for dinner tonight.  

We probably eat Mexican themed food at least three to four times a week.
But that's OK.

I've entered and won both formal and informal cooking contests.  There was a local restaurant here a few years back that had an informal dessert contest every Sunday.  I won a few times there.  And got some great recipes from the other winners on Sundays.
 If I get the chance to enter any contests, I will.  It's just plain fun, win or lose, the creative process is a hoot. 

 We've also hosted a "Tapas Night" once a month for several years now.  And I love coming up with original dishes for it.  And of course tasting and enjoying the food that everyone brings.  We have some incredible cooks around these parts, who luckily for me and others, like to share their creativity and their food.

In the winter months friends of ours host a potluck at the 'Boat Club', and everyone is encouraged to bring and share dishes.  And I have fun with that as well.

I have to say, I'm not all about food.
I do have other interests as well.
I love to paint, do a little gardening, walk on the beach, do some crafting, take lots and lots of pictures, of anything and everything that looks interesting, and I write, and not just this blog either.

I'm currently working on a mystery novel as well as a cookbook.

So that's me, all summed up, sorta.

I'm still a work in progress, and hope to continue that for the rest of my life.

In the meantime, I'm open to creating new recipes, and blogging about them if you happen to have any interesting spice blends or foods that you would like to have me play with and write about.

And since I'm not all about the food, let me share some pictures of places that hold a special place in my heart.

When I see this from the ferry, I know I'm almost home, at least visiting the island I grew up on.   It makes my heart sing.
Bright Angel Park, I spent many hours here, communing with the trees.   And playing in the river and trying to make the suspension bridge swing back and forth. 
Bright Angel Park
I got to attend the 100 year anniversary of my Elementary School a couple of years ago, and it was special.  I saw and talked to my third grade teacher and my fourth grade teacher as well as the former principal.  I have to say that was interesting, the child in me came out for a second and then the adult took over and I realized that those teachers weren't that much older than me, now.  They seemed a lot older back then.  
 The school is no longer a school, but instead has become a community hub.  Which I think is wonderful.  

And last and certainly not least, the driveway from the farm I grew up on.   This picture symbolizes so many possibilities to me.  The times I walked this road, dreaming, day dreaming, collecting interesting flowers, rocks, etc.

There you have it, a little more about me.
As I said, I'm still a work in progress, or a recipe that still needs some work, refining all the best bits. 

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Suncoast Tea Bread and Crisps (Raincoast lookalikes)

 If you've ever had a Raincoast Crisp, you'll know what I mean when I say they are kind of addictive, and expensive. I used to indulge myself in a box or two from time to time, and every time I plunked down the money, I would cringe.

Suncoast Tea Bread and Crisps

Once I started eating them, I had to keep eating until the box was gone, and then, sigh I would have to search for them again, from store to store to store.

And if you think it's easy to find them when you live on the opposite coast from where they're made, you have another think coming.   

I got tired of that and decided to google the recipe.

You wouldn't believe how many recipes are out there.  And I want to acknowledge the blogs I read for inspiration. Most of the following blogs also cited Dinner with Julie
So I looked at Oh So Very Pretty's recipe.  And then I looked at Berry Nourished's recipe  and then there was the Wandering Fig's recipe. 


Guess what, these crisps are almost WOOHOO!!! exactly like I remember them.  
But I did tweak the recipe a teensy little bit.
And along the way I discovered that you can eat these two ways.

Suncoast Crisps (like Raincoast Crisps)

Don't feel like doing the twice bake thing?  You don't have to.  Just slice the little teeny loaves after you've baked them, just like you were making the crisps, and then serve them with a touch of butter or cream cheese and call them a tea cake.
Suncoast Tea Bread
And trust me on this, really, trust me, these are sooo good.

Recipe:  Suncoast Tea Bread and Crisps  Bake at 350 deg.  30-35 minutes
Makes 5 mini loaves and each mini loaf can be cut into about 18 very thin slices.

2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 cups Buttermilk
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Honey
1 cup Dried Cranberries or Golden Raisins
1 cup Walnuts or Pecans (original recipe called for 1/2 cup, but nuts are good for you anyway)
1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
1/4 cup Ground Flax Seeds
1 tablespoon chopped Fresh Rosemary (opt.)

Mix the flour, ground flax seed, sesame seeds, sugar, salt and baking soda together, add the dried fruit, mix, then add the nuts.   Add the honey and buttermilk and mix together lightly, just until moistened.  Kinda like muffins.
Pour or spoon batter into 5 mini loaf pans, liberally sprayed with non stick spray.    I use my ice cream scoop, as that can portion out the batter easily.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cakes start pulling away from the sides a little.
Let cool for 5 minutes, then remove from pans and continue to cool.  
Serve thinly sliced with a piece of nice cheese or cream cheese or butter.  These make a lovely addition to the 'Tea Table'.
If making crisps from them, then slice the loaves as thinly as you can.  About 1/4 inch thick or less.  I found that freezing them, then slicing with one of my sharpest serrated knives was the only way to go on this.
Heat oven to 300 degrees.  Spread the thinly sliced pieces of tea bread out on an un-greased or parchment papered baking sheet, bake for 15 minutes, then turn over and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.  You're aiming for a nice crispy cracker.
Cool and eat, if you can wait that long.  Personally, I can't and have been known to burn my tongue.
These are super with some lovely cheese on top.  I've had it with some smoked gouda, and cream cheese, and just eaten them plain.
Never mind how many I ate, I'm not telling.
Suncoast Crisps aka Raincoast Crisps

**This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using any links to Amazon.  If you are uneasy purchasing an item through the links, you can go directly to Amazon to purchase the item. **

Shared on Miz Helens's Country Cottage Full Plate Thursday

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Shrimp Tempura for Fish Friday Foodies.

Life kept getting in my way and tripping me this month.

Sometimes it just ain't pretty. 

I do persevere sometimes, and my offering for the Fish Friday Foodies is my version of Shrimp Tempura with the addition of something different.

I gotta be me, I tell ya.

And you'd think the only fish/seafood I know how to cook is Shrimp, but honestly it lends itself to so many different recipes and methods of cooking and you can season it in so many different ways.

This month's theme for Fish Friday Foodies is Deep or Pan Fried Fish. #FishFridayFoodies
April of Angels Home Sweet Homestead is our hostess this month.  And April suggested it be a Southern Style Fish Fry.

Does southern Japan count?

Shrimp Tempura with Vegetables
Sorry, had to ask.

I used some seasoning I received from Legions of Spice last month.  This Black n' Bluesy Cajun Seasoning is so good.
Come to think of it, I used it last month as well for Fish Friday Foodies.
That's OK, it deserves another chance to shine.

First off, I thawed some shrimp out, it was already shelled and deveined.   I then sprinkled some of the seasoning mix on top, and set it aside while I prepared the Tempura batter.  You can make your own batter or make a mix.
I've been on an Asian inspired food kick this last little while.  I've now made the Mee Goreng a few times, and then decided that Tempura sounded good as well.

Recipe:  Shrimp Tempura

1/2 lb Shrimp, shelled and deveined
1-2 tsp. Legions of Spice Black n' Bluesy Cajun Rub and Seasoning mix
2 tablespoons flour (for dredging the shrimp in)
1/2- 1 sweet potato cut into thin slices
1/2 onion cut into slices
2-4 green onions, cut into halves

Tempura Batter
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups Cornstarch
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
2 ice cubes

1-2 cups oil for frying

Mix dry ingredients together and then add the ice water, mixing until it is just combined, there will be lumps, and that's ok.  Add the ice cubes to the batter. (little trick to keep it ICY COLD).
Prepare the veggies, slicing the sweet potato into very thin slices.   Sprinkle the seasoning mix onto the shrimp and let them sit while you make the veggies.

Heat the oil to 375 deg. 
Dip the veggies in the batter and fry in the oil, until they are cooked, takes a couple of minutes.  I usually taste test the first fry to make sure they've cooked long enough.
Cook the veggies a few at a time, place on a paper towel or coffee filter to drain.  Then fry the shrimp.
Dip the seasoned shrimp in some flour first
and then into the batter, frying them for just a couple of minutes, they don't take long.
If your oil is shallow, flip them over after a minute and cook the other side.   Fry just a few at a time, don't crowd the pan, and let the oil come back up to temp after each fry.
Serve with some dipping sauce.  I used some Sweet Hot Chile Sauce mixed with some Sweet Soy Sauce and Sesame Oil.

*I was given a sample of this spice mix to use and develop recipes from.  All opinions are my own and reflect my experience with this spice mixture.
Please check out Legion of Spice as well.  They donate a portion of their sales to help out the hungry.
And... they don't use salt either.

**This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using any links to Amazon.  If you are uneasy purchasing an item through the links, you can go directly to Amazon to purchase the item. **


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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Eatmore Bars, take one...

Sometimes you just have to break down and make your own treats.

Eatmore Bars, take one
I know this because I just ate my last Eatmore bar, and I'm already craving another one.

You can't buy Eatmore bars in the US.
I have no idea.

I have to wait until I either make my way to Canada to visit family or have a friend bring me some.
Which a friend did, not too long ago.
And I appreciated it/them very much.
Then I ate them.
The last one today.

But I'm gonna try my hand at making my own.  Awhile back I googled and goggled at all the Eatmore lookalike recipes online.
Then I bookmarked some, and thought I would wait until Christmas to make some, but it ain't gonna happen.

I want one now!
Or maybe tomorrow.

So I went online and looked at all kinds of Eatmore Bar recipes and decided to try this one.  I got from here.
I did play with it a little, not much though.  I used Chunky Peanut Butter.   And while the taste is pretty good, it's no Eatmore Bar, so I will continue to try new recipes.  The honey overpowered the taste a little, and they're not chewy either.

 More like a candy bar.  So this batch will go into the freezer and I'll dip into them from time to time.  But I did realize that even if they're not an Eatmore, they're a great energy bar.  I mean Peanuts, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal, Honey, all great sources of energy.  The chocolate is just there for flavoring.
Yeah right...

Recipe:   Makes one 9x13 pan and one 8x8 pan, if spread out thinly. 

1 c. Chunky peanut butter
3/4 c. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. oatmeal, not the quick cooking one
1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. peanuts, dry roasted, lightly chopped. 

Mix the Peanut Butter and Honey in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Peanut Butter and Honey

Peanut Butter and Honey, heated together
Add the vanilla.  
Peanuts and Mezzaluna
Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate, oatmeal and peanuts. 

Spread into a greased 9x13 pan, if you want thin bars, or into a 9x9 pan if you want thicker bars.
Eatmore mixture spread in pan
   Chill at least an hour and then cut into bars and serve. 

*** Next time I make these, I'll place a sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan before I place the bar mixture in there.  These were not easy to get out even though I sprayed the pan with cooking spray first. 

This was only my first try, I'm going to go and have fun making more.   
Just gotta get to the store to resupply.

This recipe was also shared on Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen's Country Cottage

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Gluten Free Something's Seedy Crackers

I know, long title, but these crackers are long on taste as well.

Gluten Free Seeded Crackers
I've started a new venture, I'm baking crackers and taking them to a local farmers market, and trying to sell them.
I know I'm nuts.
I mean making my own crackers, and trying to sell them?  Really?

I've been making my own Something's Seedy Crackers (I just renamed them)  for awhile now, and people really like them.  Last weekend I sold out of them at an outdoor market, but I also got a lot of requests for gluten free crackers.
And the way my mind works, I googled a bunch of gluten free cracker recipes, and looked at how they were made, tried a couple out, and did not like the taste or the texture.
About 3:15 am the other night, my mind went "GOT IT" and I had the recipe.
Then it was just a question of remembering it for the morning.
But I did.

And I made a batch, and tasted them, and they were good.
So I made more.
And now I'm sharing the recipe.   I use my KitchenAid mixer and the dough hook to mix this dough.  It is a little stiff.  But you want it a little stiff, really.  Too loose and you can't roll it out.
Trust me on this, I know whereof I speak. 

1 1/2 Cups Gluten Free Flour (I used Bob's Red Mill Brand)
1/2 cup Gram Flour (aka Besan flour which is ground Chickpea or Garbanzo Bean Flour)
1/2 cup Ground Flax
1/2 cup mixed seeds (I use equal amounts of Chia, Flax, Sesame and Sunflower seeds)
1 egg white
1 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder (I like Rumford Brand, aluminum free)
1 1/2 half to 2 cups water  (you may need to add more)

Soak the seeds in 1cup of the water for about 5-10 minutes.  This allows the Chia Seeds to develop the gel coating.

Mixed Seeds soaking in water
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and ground flax together.   (make sure that the baking powder is mixed in before you add the water).
Then add the soaked seeds, along with the water they've been soaking in to the mixer.   Add the egg white and the other half cup of water to the bowl and mix.  The dough should be really stiff and yet malleable at this point.  You can add another half cup water, 1/4 cup at a time until the dough reaches that point.  (I find that the Gram or Besan flour really soaks up the liquid.)
Take out of bowl, and divide into fourths, wrapping each portion in plastic wrap. 
This dough does dry out rapidly.
Take each portion and roll out to 1/8 inch thickness.  You actually put a piece of plastic wrap under the dough and one on top to roll this out.   I pat it out a little before I start to roll the dough.
Place a ruler beside your dough, and use it to help gauge how thick you are rolling it.    And of course I didn't think to include the pretty bright red ruler in the picture. sigh.
I roll the dough out until the dough is the same thickness as the ruler.   (And since it sticks to the plastic wrap, I use that to transfer the sheet of rolled out cracker dough to the cooking sheet.)  Transfer to a cooking sheet and use a pizza cutter to cut the crackers out into even pieces. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, or until the crackers are browned and crispy.   Turn crackers over, continue to bake for another  5 minutes or so.  Check them, I remove the most browned crackers, and let them cool, whilst the remainder of the crackers continue to bake.  This enables the cracker to crisp up and dry out.   Other wise they get a little flolloppy.

Serve and enjoy.  I found these were great with my Green Onion Spread.  But, honestly, they tasted great all by themselves as well.

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Mee Goreng - Malaysian Stir Fried Noodles

It's that time of the month again.
No, not that one, we just had Tapas and there isn't any Boat Club gathering this month. 
It's Secret Recipe Club time.
Yup, it's time to find out who got my blog, made a recipe from it and is going to tell the world, or at least their readers about it.
It's also time for me tell everyone who I got as my Secret Recipe Club assignment.   I got Amanda of Dancing Veggies this time round, which meant I got to go and play with veggies.  Amanda is an ovo-lacto-vegetarian who sometimes cooks with fish as well.  I have a friend who's a pescatarian as well.  So, I'm familiar with it. 
I'm an unabashed omnivore, but I do eat a lot of veggies. Especially Asian type veggies, like Bok Choy.     Amanda is also a mom, so I'm sure her baby gets lots of great natural food as well.  I like that she also stresses that her food is simple and can be made without having to seek specialty markets, that you can find the basics at your local store.
Well, maybe at her local store, mine runs to the southern style basics, but they're getting better.

Well, enough about that.   Let's get to the recipes.  And wouldn't you know it, some of the ones I was most interested in were also Secret Recipe Club picks. sigh.  But nothing says I can't make them for myself anyway.
I liked this one, Wild Rice and Chickpeas, and I think it would be fantastic as a side dish to a nice broiled piece of meat.   (I did say I'm an omnivore).   These Black-eyed Pea Cakes are also on my must make list, but I'm going to wait until it's cooler to make them.  Hey, when it's 90 + degrees outside, I want food that doesn't require a long cook time.

I finally settled on the Mee Goreng.  I'm such a sucker for any kind of pasta, and Bok Choy and well, gee, all the ingredients hit my drool button.
Mee Goreng
I love, love, love ginger, and most of the ingredients in this recipe are ones I keep on hand anyway.
And the recipe instructions said to add the scallions, but there was no mention of them in the ingredient list, so I added a lonely shallot I had sitting, waiting, patiently on the counter.  I did 'tweak' a couple other ingredients as well.   I added some mushrooms and used the shallot and instead of a big Bok Choy, I used some baby Bok Choy. I also used some Sweet Soy Sauce, and am so glad I did.  I'm kinda hooked on it lately. 
BTW, this was sooo good, I think I need to make it again and again and again.
Come to think of it, I've still got some baby Bok Choy left.  

Recipe: Mee Goreng

1 lb Rice Noodles

1 tbsp vegetable oil  ( I used just a teaspoon)

1/4 tsp fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic
2 carrots, chopped
1 lb bok choy, chopped - whites and greens separated  (I used 3 baby Bok Choy's, cut into quarters lengthwise) 
1 shallot, chopped
6 mushrooms
2 tbsp soy sauce ( I used Sweet Soy Sauce by Lee Kum Kee)
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp. Sesame Seeds  

Cook the noodles per their instructions, just until they 'give' a little when you taste them, this is called
al dente.   Drain and set aside.  (Amanda said to rinse them with cold water, but I didn't).
Heat the wok over medium heat, add the vegetable oil, then add the ginger and the shallot, stir for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic, cook until the garlic turns golden.
Veggies for Mee Goreng

Add the carrots and the white part of the Bok Choy (or just the quartered baby Bok Choy) to the mixture, place a lid on top, and let steam for about 5 minutes,
Veggies steaming for Mee Goreng
then add the sauces, cover and cook for another 5 minutes. 
Mee Goreng
Take the lid off, and add the cooked noodles and the rice vinegar, stir together and place the lid back on, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so.
Place on a plate, sprinkle with some Sesame Seeds and enjoy.

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