Verdure al Forno (Baked Vegetables)

Verdure al Forno

Here is detailed information on onions, including their health benefits; this is accompanied by an Italian baked vegetable dish, to go along with my last entry-Italian Braised Pork Chops w/ Tomato and Garlic Sauce-in which we explored much about garlic.

Etymology of Onion

Onions, garlic, and leeks make up what is known as the onion family, which is in the genus Allium, a group of plants in the lily family, with its near 500 species-only about 20 of these are important human foods; onions are the species Allium cepa.  The name onion is derived from the Latin for “one”, “oneness”, “unity”.  Roman farmers gave this name to a variety of onion (cepa), which  grew singly, rather than forming multiple bulbs, as seen in garlic and shallots.  1

On the other hand, the word for green onions, scallion, is derived from Latin Ascalonia (caepa), or English “Ascalonian (onion)”, which is taken from Ascalo-Ascalon; this is the Hebrew name for a city in classical times in southwest Palestine, which is a port to this day in the Southern District of Israel.  Scallion refers to a young onion before the enlargement, or in some instances, to any of several similar onion plants, such as shallots or leeks.  2

Two Major Categories of Market Onions in U.S.

Having originated in central Asia, the biennial plant onion has spread across the globe in hundreds of different varieties.  In the United States, there are two major categories of market onions, for here they are defined by season and harvesting practices, rather than by varieties.  Spring or short-day onions are planted as seedlings in the late fall, being harvested before full maturity in the spring and early summer.  These onions are relatively mild, moist, and perishable; thus, it is best to keep them in the refrigerator.  (This explains why it can be hard to buy onions right now that are firm, for often at this time of year they have soft, moist, and wrinkled skins; this requires throwing away several layers of the onion, when peeling them.)  3

The “sweet” onion is a special category of spring onion.  This is usually a standard yellow spring onion, which is grown in sulfur-poor soils, and therefore it has picked up half or less of the usual sulfur-containing defensive chemicals; the lack of these chemicals is what allows for a sweet or mild-rather than a strong-flavor.  For more on defensive chemicals in Alliums, see Italian Braised Pork Chops w/ Tomato and Garlic Sauce.  4

The storage onion is the second major category of onions on the market in America, which is grown in the summer and harvested when mature in the fall.  It is rich in sulfur compounds and drier; it can be easily stored in cool conditions for several months.  During fall and early winter seasons, onions on the market have a firm flesh, under tight skins.  5

Common Varieties Found in U.S. Grocery Stores

White, yellow, red, and green onions are available in any store.  White onion varieties are somewhat moister; thus, they do not keep quite as well as yellow onions-phenolic flavonoid compounds give the color to yellow onions.  On the other hand, red onions receive their color from water-soluble anthocyanins, but these only on the surface layers of each leaf scale; cooking dilutes and dulls this color.  6  It is believed that these anthocyanins in red onions may protect against heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.  7

Finally, scallions-green onions-can be either bulb-forming varieties that are harvested quite young, or special varieties that never form bulbs.  8  Boiler and Hawaiian onions (a sweet onion grown in Hawaii) are among other common varieties on the market.

Cipollini onions are a variety of flat, mild, sweet, pale onions, which are the size of a golf ball.  9  These are sometimes available, at high prices, in the organic section at our local Fred Meyers.

Onions Present from Ancient Times

Here are a few highlights of the presence of onions throughout world history: scribes in the early Sumerian civilization-the first people in history to have a coherent system of writing-recorded that they were growing onions in 2400 B.C.  Peasants in ancient Egypt had onions as part of their standard fare, which probably also included ale and a common flatbread, ta, which was purchased from a stall in the village streets.  10

Onions were a common root crop, during the dark ages of the first millennium A.D., while a typical pre-medieval curry in India might have consisted of brinjal (aubergine) and a couple of onions or a handful of dal (lentils).  11

More glimpses of the use of onions in global history are the following: by Song times in early China, spring onions were a common extra to their bean curd soup and bowls of rice, throughout this country.  While during Classical times, the Scythians of Central Asia supplemented the products of their herds with onions, garlic, beans, and fish (tuna and sturgeon).  Also, Scandinavians were drying onions for use during their extreme winters, from the early medieval period throughout most of the second millennium.  12

Finally, an 18th century English governess commented on the ailments of Russian serfs: “…they need not lay by much to provide for Food; for they can make an hearty Meal on a Piece of black sour Bread, some Salt, an Onion, or Garlick.”  13

Health Benefits of Onions

Onions have long been a fundamental staple throughout the world; all this time they have been contributing to the health of the consumer.  healthline.com/nutrition/onion-benefits states that onions have been used to treat headaches, heart disease, and mouth sores since ancient times.  This low-calorie vegetable is rich in nutrients, such as vitamin C, which among other things acts as an antioxidant.  These antioxidants and compounds found in onions may reduce cholesterol levels, decrease triglycerides and fight inflammation; all of which may benefit our hearts.  (Their rich supply of antioxidants may also benefit those with diabetes and cancer.)  14

Onions are also rich in B vitamins, including folate (B9) and pyridoxine (B6)-important for regulating metabolism, producing red blood cells, and helping nerve function.  Also, among other things, onions boast of being a good source of much needed potassium; thus, they may aid in cellular function, fluid balance, nerve transmission, kidney function, and muscle-contraction.  15

The sulfur compounds and flavonoid antioxidants in onions are thought to provide cancer-fighting properties.  Multiple animal studies show that specific compounds found in onions, such as quercetin and sulfur compounds, may help to control diabetes.  There is some evidence that consumption of onions may boost bone density and digestive health, and they may have many antibacterial properties as well.  16

Applied Lesson

When facing a problem, we may feel a need to peel away its layers, like that of an onion-as the old proverb goes.  At initial contact, such situations can appear overwhelming, beyond our ability to resolve-too many layers!

Of ourselves, it is hard to make our wills and actions be of one accord, in dealing with troubles, while under pressure.  Thus, we may react rather than respond, and this only makes matters worse.

Jesus promises, however, to succor us from falling prey to temptations-to do things in our own strength-thus creating havoc.  His word tells us that he was 100% God, who became 100% man as well, and this was in order, to save men:

“Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.  For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor (help, aid) them that are tempted.”  17

It is beneficial to approach this process of resolving problems and overcoming temptations, with a sense of confidence in Jesus, by not allowing our disrupting ‘feelings’ to settle in our minds.  When we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of hope, Christ sees us through every time.

Enjoy below this simple recipe for Italian baked vegetables, replete with onions!

References:

  1. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 310, 311.
  2. The American Heritage Dictionary
  3. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 312.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/onion-benefits
  8. Harold McGee, Food in History (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1988, 1973), p. 312.
  9. https://www.drgourmet.com/ingredients/cipolini.shtml
  10. Reay Tannahill, Food in History (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1988, 1973), pp. 46, 54.
  11. Ibid., pp. 93, 117.
  12. Ibid., pp. 118, 119, 135, 247.
  13. Ibid., p. 251.
  14. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/onion-benefits
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.
  17. The Holy Bible, KJV, Hebrews 2: 17,18.

Verdure al Forno

Verdure al Forno  (Baked Assorted Vegetables)  Yields: 8-10 servings.  Active prep time: 30 min/ baking time: 30 min.  This receipt-adapted from the Denver Art Museum Cook Book-originally came to me in the early 1980’s.  Note: this may be made ahead and reheated, or it may be served cool.

1 lg yellow pepper  (Organic is important with bell peppers, as they readily absorb pesticides.)

1 lg red pepper

3 med zucchini (about 1 lb)

1 med eggplant

3 med yellow onions

2/3 c plus 2 tbsp oil  (Avocado oil is preferable, as olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures, though the latter is more authentic.)

Salt and pepper, to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt are important for optimum health; an inexpensive fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95 for five lbs.)

  1. washing vegies

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

  2. Spray the vegetables with vegetable spray (for an inexpensive, effective spray, may mix 97% distilled white vinegar with 3% hydrogen peroxide). Let sit for 3 minutes and rinse well; see photo above.
  3. slicing bell peppers

    Distribute 2 tbsp of oil in the bottom of a 9 1/2” x 13” baking dish.

  4. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and then cut into thin slices crosswise, after first deseeding them; see above photo. Separate them by color and place them in pan; see photo below at #7.
  5. slicing eggplant thinly

    Cut the zucchini into thin circles; place them in a row next to the peppers in the pan.

  6. Chop the onion in even 1/8” slices. Arrange these next to the zucchini.
  7. prepping vegetables for baking

    Thinly slice the eggplant and cut these thin circles into quarters; see photo above.

  8. Place in baking dish.  Carefully pour rest of oil evenly over all the vegetables, salting and peppering them well; see photo above.
  9. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, or until desired tenderness; see photo of finished product below.
  10. finished product

    Transfer the vegetables to an ovenproof serving platter, arranging them in the same order they were baked; see photo at top of recipe. (If preparing ahead of time, may complete this step and set aside, until dinnertime; then, 3/4 hour before serving, place ovenproof platter of vegetables in preheated oven at 250 degrees.) Note: may serve cool also, for a summer meal.

Braised Cabbage

braised cabbage

Here we examine the method of braising and details concerning the various kinds of cabbage; this is accompanied with an exceptional recipe for braised cabbage, which is inspired by the writings of Julia Child.

 

Child’s Various Methods of Braising Cabbage

In her roti de porc aux choux, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Child braises the cabbage in with the pork in a covered casserole, for about an hour, after first parboiling it.  In my last entry for cote de porc sauce nenette-adapted from Child’s recipeit is not possible to cook the cabbage in with the pork, as in this case the loin chops are only braised for 25 minutes.  Child also has a receipt for chou rouge a la limousine, in which the cabbage is braised in four cups of liquid in the oven, until all the moisture is incorporated (five hours).   Here I provide my own recipe, inspired by various instructions of Child’s, which takes one hour for braising by itself in a casserole.  1

Braising Defined

What exactly is involved in the process of braising?  Child defines it: “to brown foods in fat, then cook them in a covered casserole with a small amount of liquid”.  Such is seen in the braising of the pork chops in my last entry; there the meat was browned first; then, it is baked covered, or braised sitting in a small amount of butter, in the oven.  2

Child further explains that Americans use this same term for vegetables cooked in butter in a covered casserole, such as in today’s recipe.  This process is rather defined by the French verb etuver, for which we have no English equivalent.  Therefore, today’s braised cabbage is actually chou etuves au beurre-in other words: cabbage etuves in butter.  3

Varieties of Cabbage

The original wild cabbage is native to the salty, sunny Mediterranean seaboard; this habitat gives cabbage its thick, succulent, waxy leaves and stalks, which make it such a hardy plant.  Around two and a half millennium ago, this wild cabbage was domesticated, and because of its tolerance to cold climates, it became an important staple vegetable in Eastern Europe.  China probably was first to begin the practice of pickling it.  4

Brassica olerancea-a plant genus in the complicated cabbage family- is Mediterranean in origin.  It includes these species: cabbage (var. capitata), Portuguese cabbage (var. tronchuda), kale, collards (var. acephala), broccoli (var. italica), cauliflower (var. botrytis), Brussel sprouts (var. gemmifera), and kohlrabi (var. gonglylodes).  5

Brassica Rapa, another genus in the cabbage family, has Central Asian origins with the following species: turnip (var. rapifera), broccolirabe, broccoletti di rape (var. rapifera), Chinese cabbage, bok choy (var. pekinensis), tatsoi (var. narinosa), Mizuana, mibuna (var. nipposinica).  6

There are also accidental hybrids: rutabaga, canola (Brassica napus), brown mustard, mustard greens (Brassica juncea), and Ethiopian mustard (Brassica carinata).  Finally, broccolini (Brassica oleracea x alboglabra) is an intentional hybrid.  7

Chemical Weapons in Cabbage Generate Its Strong Flavors

The cabbage family is a group of formidable chemical warriors, producing strong flavors.  (For more on defensive chemicals, as seen in herbs, see Sage Turkey Delight.)  Cabbages stockpile two kinds of defensive chemicals in their tissues: flavor precursors-glucosinolates-and enzymes that act on the precursors to liberate the reactive flavors.  When the plant’s cells are damaged, such as in chopping, the two stockpiles are mixed, and the enzymes start a chain of reactions that bring about bitter, pungent, strong-smelling compounds.  8

Each cabbage-family-vegetable will contain a number of different precursor glucosinolates, and the combinations are characteristic; this is why cabbages, broccoli, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts have similar but distinctively different flavors.  9

Flavors Strongest at Core

The chemical defensive system is most active in young, actively growing tissues; for instance, the portions near the cabbage core are twice as active as the outer leaves, and thus have the strongest flavor.  We see this same principal in Brussels sprouts, with their strongest flavor being at their center also.  10

Cabbage Flavors Change with Seasons

Growing conditions have a great influence on the amount of flavor precursors stockpiled in the plant.  It is important to know that hot weather and drought stress increase them.  Cold, rain, and dim sunlight, however, reduce the flavor precursors; thus, cabbage grown in the autumn and winter will be much milder.  11

As mentioned above in chou rouge a la limousine, Child braises the cabbage in four cups of broth and water, until all the liquid is cooked out (five hours).  This process of soaking cabbage in liquid leaches out the strong flavor compounds that are present in it; this is helpful if it is a summer crop. Keeping this in mind, my cabbage recipe, braised rather in a small amount of butter, is made ideally during the cooler fall, winter, early spring seasons, with its milder tasting cabbage.

Various Preparation Methods Effect Flavor Balances

Different cooking and preparation methods give different flavor balances in cabbage relatives. For instance, the process of cutting cabbage increases the liberation of these flavor compounds from precursors, but not only this, it also increases the production of the precursors!  Add an acidic sauce to chopped cabbage for coleslaw, and some pungent products increase six-fold.  (Soaking chopped cabbage in water will remove most of the flavor compounds formed by chopping, as can be seen in Child’s recipe above.)  On the other hand, fermenting cabbage and its relatives, such as in making kimchi, sauerkraut, and other pickles, transforms nearly all the flavor precursors and their products into less bitter, less pungent substances.  12

Lesson Applied

Don’t discard this recipe quickly, thinking why take one and a half hours, to prepare a vegetable that can be cooked normally in 20 minutes.  Rather be alerted: braising is a slow but simple process, with knock-your-socks-off-end-results.

The tortoise/hare analogy represents important principles for us to follow in these present days.  The hare is hurried, impetuous, thoughtless, and often foolish.  On the other hand, the tortoise is slow, steady, purposeful, calm, and therefore invincible.

This latter always wins the race, while the former often gets side-tracked along the way, which may mean missing the final goal entirely; thus, we heed this lesson, so we don’t miss out on any rewards for our endeavors.

Achieving this goal requires that we pay close attention to the immediate battle at hand, but not at the expense of losing sight of the whole war.  Always we are in tune with our inner guide, going only when and where directed, in these perilous days.

Most important, we allow the needed time for the simmering process to take place, as with the cabbage.  As a wise tortoise, we are slow and steady, strong and faithful, in everything we do.

These are glorious times; we miss nothing as we move forward, especially in our ministering to those around us.  Flavors beyond our imagination will arise, if we give room to the “braising process”, in both the cabbage and our ordained works.

The result of taking the time to braise cabbage is quite dramatic!  I encourage you to try this simple method, which transforms an ordinary food.  See recipe below.

References:

  1. Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1961, reprinted eighteen times, twentieth printing, May 1971), pp. 384, 385, 387, 496, 497.
  2. Ibid., p. 11.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 323.
  5. Ibid., p. 320, The American Heritage Dictionary, and Wikipedia
  6. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 320
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid., p. 321.
  9. Ibid., p. 322.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.

finished product

Braised Cabbage  Yields: 6-8 servings.  Active prep time: 20 min/  Inactive baking time: 1 hr.  May be made ahead and reheated.

1 1/4 lb green cabbage, cut into 1/2” slices  (Organic is best.)

4 tbsp butter

1 med onion, cut in even 1/8” slices

2 minced cloves of garlic  (For easy prep, may substitute 1 cube of frozen garlic; available at Trader Joe’s.)

1 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive, fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95/5 lbs.)

  1. slicing attachment for food processor

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  2. May cut cabbage in 1/2” slices, with a sharp knife, or better yet use a food processor and its slicing attachment (see photo).  Set sliced cabbage aside.
  3. Cut onions in even 1/8” slices and mince garlic; set aside
  4. onions when finished sweating

    Melt the butter over medium heat in a casserole, or a 3-quart pan with a lid that is stove top/oven proof.

  5. Add onions and garlic and sweat-cook until translucent-stirring occasionally.  See photo.
  6. first half of cabbage in pan, with butter incorporated

    Place half the cabbage in with onions, stirring until fat is well distributed throughout vegetable; then, incorporate other half of cabbage; see photo below.

  7. Blend in salt well.  Add 1/8 cup of water to casserole, cover, and place in oven.  Bake for 1 hour, being sure to stir several times during this period (see photo of finished product at top of recipe).
  8. Serve immediately, or this may be made ahead and reheated. These flavors are incredible!

African Nkyemire (Yams with Mushrooms)

nkyemire

Here we will unfold the mystery behind true yams, American “yams” and sweet potatoes, while partaking in the delightful African yam dish nkyemire.

Background of My Using This African Recipe

This recipe came to me in the early 1980’s, while catering and teaching cooking classes in Billings, MT.  I employed it in a African repast that included bobotie (a lamb dish baked in a curry-custard) and chin-chin (Nigerian wedding pastries), which will be my next two posts.  These outstanding dishes from Africa were among other native delicacies in this colorful dinner, which was one of my most popular classes.

What Are True Yams?

Today’s nkyemire receipt calls for African yams, which differ from what Americans call yams.  Yams, Dioscorea, are a tuber that originated in Africa and Asia, but now  also are commonly found in the Caribbean and Latin America, with 95% being grown in Africa.  Sweet potatoes, Ipomoea batatas, on the other hand, are a starchy root vegetable or tuber, which originated in Central or South America.   1

Columbus introduced the sweet potato to Europe; subsequently it was established in China and the Philippines by the end of the 15th century.  It has now become the second most important vegetable worldwide.  2

True yams differ from sweet potatoes primarily in size and color, for they can grow very large-up to 5 feet and 132 lbs.  These are cylindrical in shape with brown, rough, scaly-textured skin, and their flesh can be white, yellow, purple, or pink.  Their taste is less sweet and much more starchy and dry than sweet potatoes.  3

Sweet Potatoes and “Yams” in America

Sweet potatoes are related to the morning glory family, with an orange flesh, and a white, yellow, purple or orange skin.  This vegetable is sometimes shaped like a potato, though it may be longer and tapered at both ends.  Yams in America differ from true yams, like those found in Africa.  What we call yams here are actually orange-colored sweet potatoes-except those found in certain international food markets.  4

The orange-fleshed variety of sweet potato was introduced to the U.S. in 1930s marketing campaigns.  5  At that time, Americans were only used to the white variety of sweet potato; thus, to distinguish the orange-fleshed potato from this white variety, producers and shippers chose to use an English form of the African name nyami , meaning “to eat”; thus, our word “yam” was adopted.  These yams, however, are vastly different from the true yam, as originated in Africa and Asia.  Yams, as Americans call them, are sweet potatoes in actuality.  6

Importance of Tending to our Memories

One of my catered, African-themed events was a law firm’s employee-appreciation-gathering in Billings, during the summer of 1984; they had imbibed in South African wines and started throwing people in the swimming pool, at which point I gracefully exited the party-my check in hand.

Exposures to food become etched in our minds, as do certain life experiences, such as the one above.  We must be careful as to what we allow our minds to dwell on, as memories surface.  We can override poorer impressions left on our hearts, through purposeful practice, much like we can train ourselves to banish certain distastes, for ailments that were initially displeasing.  All must be properly tended to with diligence.

In this way, we can habituate our beings to let go of unpleasant, reoccurring thoughts, about either ailments or activities.  Indeed, we are responsible to hush these tendencies to recall negative, experiential occurrences created by either food or life.  Note: perhaps this can only done with the mighty help of God; thus, we ask for his gracious, omnipotent assistance.

Enjoy this simple receipt made with American “yams”-sweet potatoes.  If desired, go to an international market to get true yams and thus experience the accurate taste of this native dish.  For other sweet potato recipes, go to Sweet Potato Pie and Sprouted Quinoa and Yam Salad.

 

 

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sweet-potatoes-vs-yams
  2. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 304.
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sweet-potatoes-vs-yams#section3
  4. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/ask-a-health-expert/yam-vs-sweet-potato-which-ones-healthier-and-whats-the-difference/article4102306/
  5. Harold McGee, On Food and History  (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 304
  6. https://ncsweetpotatoes.com/sweet-potatoes-101/difference-between-yam-and-sweet-potato/

yam slices cooked to a golden brown

African Nykemire (Yams with Mushrooms)  Yields: 6 servings.  Total prep time: 1 hr,  plus 1 1/4 hr ahead of time for baking yams.  Note: if refrigerating yams baked ahead, bring to room temperature several hours before preparing recipe.

3 med/lg yams, or sweet potatoes, about 2 1/2 lbs  (A 5-lb-bag of organic yams is available for $4.95 at Trader Joe’s, or 3 lbs/$3.95.)

2 tbsp lemon juice  (Organic lemons are only $1.69 for 4-6 lemons-1 lb-at Trader’s.)

1 bunch green onions, finely chopped, including green part  (Organic is only slightly more expensive.)

1 small green bell pepper, seeded and diced fine  (Organic is important, as peppers absorb pesticides readily.)

10 oz mushrooms  (A 10-oz-package of small, white mushrooms is available at Trader Joe’s for $1.79.)

6 tbsp ghee or butter  (Ghee will give the best health benefits and flavor; for easy recipe, see Ukrainian Spinach with Noodles.)

Salt and pepper to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95 for 5 lbs.

  1. wrapping yams so juices don’t spill out

    This step may be done ahead of time.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare yams as follows.

  2. Spray yams with a vegetable spray (for an inexpensive, effective spray, combine 97% white distilled vinegar with 3% hydrogen peroxide); let sit three minutes and rinse well.  Wrap in tin foil, carefully gathering the foil at the top, so all the ends point upward; this insures that the juices don’t spill on your oven (see photo above).
  3. Bake yams for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours; watch carefully so yams are rather soft, but not mushy!  Remove from oven and cool.
  4. Peel and cut cooled yams in 1″-thick slices.
  5. Squeeze lemon juice, set aside.
  6. Chop bell pepper and onions-including green part-into small pieces.  Set aside together in a bowl.
  7. cleaning mushrooms with mushroom brush

    Clean mushrooms, by brushing with a mushroom brush (see photo).

  8. Heat 4 tbsp butter, or better yet ghee, in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Quickly cook mushrooms, after distributing oils evenly throughout; stir frequently and cook just until they are becoming tender.  Remove to a bowl, with a slotted spoon.
  9. Add onions and green pepper to hot liquid, cook for 2-3 minutes, or until limp.  Remove pan from heat.
  10. In another skillet, heat 2 tbsp butter or ghee.  Place yam slices in hot fat, salt and pepper to taste, and cook on both sides, until golden brown (see photo at top of recipe).
  11. Meanwhile, return mushrooms to pan of onions and peppers and add 2 tbsp lemon juice.  Place over medium heat, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, and heat thoroughly.
  12. Put browned yams on a plate and cover with hot mushroom mixture, see photo at top of entry. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Vichy Carrots

Vichy carrots

Learn the intriguing facts surrounding the benefits of distilled water, over all other waters, with this famous recipe for Vichy carrots; its history takes us back to Vichy, France (for more on Vichy, see last week’s entry Vichysoisse).

This town, which was in collaboration with the Nazis during WWII, is highly regarded for its healing waters, rich in minerals and bi-carbonate, which are employed in this famous receipt.  Here, however, I make these carrots with health-promoting distilled water; to learn more about its powerful properties, read on.

Some say that up to four centuries ago, patrons of this spa town, were partaking in the then popular vegetable carrots, for they were considered part of the over-all cure.  Therefore this recipe evolved, incorporating the slightly carbonated Vichy waters, for it was held that the carbonation, as well as the carrots, helped with digestion; much like today, we remedy an upset stomach with soda crackers-saltines made with baking soda (bi-carbonate).  1

I discovered Vichy carrots in my copy of Joy of Cooking, printed in 1964; this cook book played a part in the beginning of my journey with food, which started in my junior year of college in the early 1970’s.  2

This recipe’s vitality is enhanced, by the optional incorporating of Monkfruit sweetener in place of sugar (for details see Date/Apricot Bars, 2019/06/12) and powerful ghee instead of butter (see Balsamic Eggs, 2019/05/07).  A pinch of baking soda is added to my choice of distilled water, to replace the Vichy mineral water.

Recently I got a H20 Lab water distiller, for I am convinced that distilled water is the answer to many health problems.  Dr. Allen E. Bank, in The Choice is Clear, illuminates how this one vital element can bring us vibrant health or rob us of it.  There are nine types of water: hard water, soft water, raw water, boiled water, rain water, snow water, filtered water, de-ionized water, and distilled water.  I am convinced that only distilled water is good for our bodies.  3

Bank describes how the possible cause of nearly all our aging diseases lies in inorganic minerals, which are in the air and ground; all water, except for distilled, contains these inorganic minerals (including Vichy water).  There are 106 different chemicals and minerals found in water; the process of purifying does not remove these, just distilling does.  4

Our bodies can only utilize organic minerals, which must come from plants, for plants convert the inorganic minerals carried to them by water, into their organic counterparts.  But through our water, we take in these inorganic minerals (such as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, silicon), and we are not able to assimilate these nutrients efficiently-only through food can we receive these.  Thus, nature stores them in our joints as arthritis, our intestinal walls as constipation, our kidneys and livers as stones, and they harden the arteries of our hearts.  5

Distilled water not only prevents disease from coming to us, but it reverses the damage we have accumulated from the past; it literally heals us!  Water naturally attracts inorganic minerals: rain collects them from the air, well water is heavy in minerals found in the ground, and so on.  Water, however, does not attract the organic minerals we take in with our food.

The miracle of distilling is that it eliminates all minerals and chemicals, leaving pure water; in turn, when this enters our bodies, it now draws-picks up-mineral deposits accumulated in the arteries, joints, etc. and begins to carry them out.  Distilled water literally reverses the previous damage done to us; therefore, I am much convinced about the importance of distilled water for our over-all health.  6

Enjoy this extremely easy recipe, in which you may use distilled water, with a pinch of baking soda, to mimic Vichy water.

References:

  1. https://www.cooksinfo.com/vichy-carrots and https://urbnspice.com/my-recipes/urbnspice-series/inspiration-of-urbnspice-series/vichy-carrots/
  2. Irma S Rombauer & Marion Rombauer Becker, The Joy of Cooking (New York: A Signet Special, New American Library, 1931, 1936, 1941, 1942, 1946, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1962, 1963, 1964), p, 270.
  3. Dr. Allen E. Banks, The Choice is Clear (Austin, Texas: Acres USA, 1971, 1975, 1989), p. 12.
  4. Ibid., pp. 13, 31.
  5. Ibid., pp. 13, 14.
  6. Ibid., pp. 14, 15.

finished product

Vichy Carrots  Yields: 8 servings.  Prep time: 30 min (or 45 min if making optional ghee).  This is adapted from a recipe in my copy of Joy of Cooking, by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, which was printed in 1964.

2 lb carrots, scraped, and thinly sliced diagonally  (Trader Joe’s has a 2 lb bag of organic, multi-colored carrots for $1.99.)

4 tbsp ghee, or butter  (For the simple ghee recipe see steps 1-5.)

2 tsp Monkfruit, cane sugar, or coconut sugar  (Lakanto  Monkfruit Sweetener is available at Costco.)

1 tsp salt, or to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95/lb.)

1/2 c water, with 2 pinches of baking soda (bicarbonate)

Chopped curly parsley for optional garnish

  1. first foam

    Proceed to step 6, if using butter instead of ghee.  To prepare health-giving ghee, which takes about 15 minutes, use only a heavy-bottomed saucepan.  In it, melt 8 oz unsalted butter-preferably Irish, grass-fed, Kerry butter from Costco-over medium heat, shaking pan to speed up melting.  Note: there is less wastage using only half a pound of butter, compared to doubling recipe with a pound.

  2. When melted, cook until an even layer of white whey proteins forms on top (see photo above).
  3. first foam breaking

    Continue cooking until milk solids break apart, and foam subsides, temperature will be about 190 degrees (a thermometer isn’t required).  At this stage you have clarified butter.  Note: if foam is starting to brown deeply and quickly, your pan is not heavy enough to make ghee; thus, remove from heat and immediately strain this clarified butter in a coffee-filter-lined strainer.  See photo.

  4. second foam risen, ghee finished

    To proceed with ghee, however, cook butterfat until a second foam rises, and it is golden in color.  This will take 2-3 more minutes, and temperature will reach 250 degrees.  Watch carefully as dry casein particles, settled on bottom of pan, will brown quickly.  See photo.

  5. Immediately, gently strain butterfat through a coffee filter, into a heat-proof dish.  Cool and transfer into an airtight container to keep out moisture.  This lasts for many weeks, at room temperature, and for up to six months, when stored in the refrigerator.
  6. scraping carrots in bag hung over nozzle of sink

    Wash and scrape carrots with a sharp knife; this preserves the vitamins just below the skin.  For cleanliness, scrape into a plastic garbage bag, which is hung over nozzle in kitchen sink; change bag as needed.  Place scraped carrots in another plastic bag.  See photo.

  7. Cut carrots in thin slices, at a diagonal; set aside.
  8. In a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan, place 4 tbsp of ghee, or butter, Monkfruit, or sugar, salt, and water, to which you’ve added two pinches of baking soda (bicarbonate).  Melt over medium heat; add carrots, coating them well; then, cover closely and cook until barely tender, stirring occasionally.  Check for water periodically, adding a small amount more, if your pan isn’t heavy-bottom, and it starts to become dry.
  9. When carrots are desired tenderness, uncover pan and glaze carrots in remaining butter sauce, until all the water is evaporated, stirring frequently (see photo at top of recipe).
  10. Garnish with optional chopped curly parsley; serve hot.

Asparagus (with leftover milk solids from ghee)

sautéed asparagus with ghee

Not knowing any better, I loved canned asparagus in my youth, as canned vegetables dominated America in the mid-twentieth century.  At that time in my life, I was also enamored with Campbell’s tomato soup, when made with milk instead of water.  These foods spelled enchantment to my young, untutored palette.  Time provided exposure to more excellent options; I no longer like canned asparagus or Campbell’s soup.  Over the years, my taste buds have been disciplined to know the best; thus, I have acquired wisdom, which I humbly share with you.

With its 1795 beginnings, canning drastically reformed the world of nutrition, which started with a French confectioner’s inspiration.  This radical change in the culinary world came at a time that government saw upheaval as well, for the French revolutionaries were revolting against monarchies in Europe (for the history of canning refer to Bean, Corn, and Avocado Salad.

Originally, this manufacturing process provided armies with needed preservation of foods, but later its prevailing use distracted the American public, taking them away from healthier, tastier, fresh ailments; this occurred likewise in other cultures.  Canned goods monopolized the cooking of the common man; thus, the preparation of fresh fruits and vegetables was lost for a period.  Even canned meats were favored: Spam was popular in the U.S., while bully beef-minced corned beef in small amounts of gelatin-dominated the United Kingdom and mainland Europe.

Campbell’s is the best known name in the global soup-making industry.  In 1869, Philadelphia, fruit-wholesaler Joseph Campbell partnered with tinsmith-icebox-maker Abram Anderson to open Campbell Soup Company in Camden, N.J.; initially they packed fancy asparagus, small peas, tomatoes, minced meat, condiments, jellies, etc.

The year following its new 1896 partnership, the president of Joseph Campbell Preserve Company hired his 24-year old nephew John T. Dorrance, a brilliant research chemist.  This master of organic chemistry had received a doctorate from the University of Gootingen, having turned down faculty positions at this illustrious school, as well as at Columbia, Cornell, and Bryn Mawr.  Young Dorrance applied his ingenuity to his passionate vision for canned soups, for which he had learned the proper seasoning while working at famous Parisian restaurants.  With his vision of a double-strength “condensed” product, this youthful genius gave America its famous Campbell’s tomato soup.

My vivid, introduction to cooked, fresh spinach is sealed in my brain; it took place at my friend Dulcy’s home in Cut Bank, Montana in 1974.  This steamed dish, which her mother had adorned with hot butter and fresh-squeezed lemon, ignited a holy fire in me.  Exuberantly I tried to convince my mom to repeat this, but she refused, professing her hatred for spinach.  I now understand that her reaction came from an impression left by the nasty canned version, which so colored her sensory perception that she totally blocked out the heaven-sent fresh variety.

Both our palates and souls are thus influenced, absorbing either good or bad information, until we exercise our God-given authority over these perceptions.  Throughout our lifetime, events leave subtle marks on us in either adverse or positive ways, hence imbuing our imaginations with emotion, and consequently dictating our choices often.  We, however, can overcome our inhibitions by purposing to resist these impulses, repeatedly speaking words of life over our circumstances.  In this way, we mold new pathways in our brains.  This is true with all soulish imprints, both those brought by unpalatable foods as well as emotional wounds.  May we stand boldly, mastering all such patterns that limit us.

Here fresh asparagus is the piece de resistance, with which I employ the leftover remains of browned casein residue from simple ghee preparation (see Laban Bil Bayd, 2018/03/26, for easy instructions).  The flavor in butter is most highly concentrated in those milk proteins; therefore, when these are separated in the clarifying process, the very strength of its taste is isolated; browning intensifies this even further.  If you have never experienced a food enhanced with these nutty milk solids, be prepared for copious, mouth-watering sensations.

References:

James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995), pp. 283, 345, 354.

http://www.qdg.org.uk/pages/1793-to-1802-103.php

http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/history/Ca-Ch/Campbell-Soup-Company.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bully_beef

https://www.taste.com.au/articles/bully-beef-part-of-australian-history/KYnke1FI

http://jamaicans.com/bullyb/

leftover milk solids from ghee preparation

Asparagus (with leftover milk solids from ghee)  Yields: 2-3 servings.  Total prep time: 15 min, when ghee is prepared ahead, which takes an additional 15 min.

1 lb fresh asparagus, or vegetable of your choice

1 1/2 tbsp of ghee  (See simple instructions at Laban Bil Bayd, 2018/03/26.)

Browned milk solids  (See these, leftover from ghee preparation, in saucepan in above photo.)

Salt, to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for health; an inexpensive fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco.)

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. cutting asparagus

    Spray asparagus with a safe, effective, inexpensive vegetable spray (combine 97% distilled white vinegar with 3% hydrogen peroxide); let sit for 3 minutes; rinse well.

  2. Dry spears with a towel.  Cut in bite-size pieces, first removing tough ends (see photo).
  3. preparing ghee for sauteing

    Melt ghee in frying pan, saving separated milk solids for finishing touch (see photo); test for readiness by placing a piece of asparagus in pan; when it sizzles, it is time to proceed.

  4. Add vegetable and sauté until desired doneness; do not overcook.
  5. Stir in browned milk solids; salt generously (see photo at top of recipe).  Be enraptured by this heavenly treat!

Braised Celery

braised celery

Celery, along with only a few other vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts, is a relative newcomer to the world’s diet, where most common vegetables have been eaten since before recorded history.  This Apium graveolens is the mild, enlarged version of a thin-stalked, bitter Eurasian herb called smallage.

Wild celery is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean area.  Its woven garlands have been found in Egyptian tombs.  An archeological finding in Kastanas, Greece provides evidence that Apium graveolens was present there in the 9th century before Christ.  There is also great literary evidence establishing this, for selinon, which is believed to be the same as celery, is mentioned by Homer in both the Illiad and Odyssey (circa 850 B.C.).

Moving forward five centuries after Christ, this wild edible herb appears in Chinese writings; then following this, it is cited again in a 9th century A.D. poem, from either France or Italy.

Italians first bred this small, primitive plant in their gardens apparently in the 1500’s, using it for medicinal purposes only; other northern European countries also began growing it.  By 1623, a record of celeri in France, established it as being utilized as a food.  For the next 100 years, it was generally employed only to flavor dishes, though in France and Italy, its leaves and stalks were sometimes eaten accompanied with oil dressing.  By the end of this century, this vegetable had arrived in England.

The first evidences of improvement of this wild Apium were seen in late 17th and early 18th centuries in these northern European countries, resulting in selections with solid stems; this stalk celery, as it has been known, originally had a tendency to produce hallow stalks that were bitter and strong.  Years of domestication corrected this hallow characteristic; likewise, breeding countered the disagreeable flavors.  This latter development was achieved by choosing the cooler growing periods of late summer and fall-the plants were then kept into winter-as well as by employing blanching, a practice that pushes dirt up around the stalks’ bases, keeping the sunlight from turning the celery green.

We have two types of stalk celery varieties: the green or Pascal is popular in North America, while the yellow, also known as self-blanching, is preferred in Europe and the rest of the world.  Celeriac, celery root or knob celery, is also widely used in European countries, with a growing audience for it among trendy U.S. gourmets.  Chinese or leaf celery, which is also called smallage-of all the Apiums, this is the closest in form and flavor to the original Eurasian herb-is grown in Asia and the Mediterranean regions for its leaves and seeds; these are used for cooking and sometimes medicine.

In America, the presence of this vegetable was minor during colonial days, leaving no evidence as to which European group brought it here.  Nonetheless by 1806, four cultivated varieties were growing in the U.S., as is listed in the American Gardeners’ Calendar, printed that year.  After the mid-19th century, with further domestication having refined its taste and texture, Americans were eating it raw with salt, serving it in celery vases at the dinner table.

Organic celery tends to be on sale at our local Fred Meyer-Kroger-stores during any holiday.  Thus, having it on hand from a Christmas special, I created this exceptionally easy, delightful braised celery dish, for my annual, day-after-Christmas celebration with my long-time friend Janet.  We loved it; hope you will to.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celery

https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/publications/vegetabletravelers/celery.html

http://www.foodreference.com/html/celery-history.html

Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), pp. 249, 315, 406.

finished product

Braised Celery  Yields: 4 servings.  Total prep time: 20 min/  active prep time: 10 min/  cooking time: 10 min.

1 1/4 lb celery  (Organic celery is relatively inexpensive.)

2 tbsp chilled butter, cut in small pieces

Salt and freshly ground pepper  (Himalayan or pink salt, such as Real Salt, is so important for optimum health; a Himalayan salt is available very cheaply in bulk, at our local Winco.)

1 tsp Herbes de Provence  (Trader Joe’s has a great deal on this dried herb.)

1/2 c broth  (May use chicken, vegetable, or a good beef broth.)

  1. preparation of celery

    Peel strings off celery with a potato peeler; spray with a safe, inexpensive, effective vegetable spray (combine 97% distilled white vinegar with 3% hydrogen peroxide); let sit 3 minutes; rinse really well.  Save leaves for garnish.

  2. Cut celery in 4-inch pieces; place in a single layer-the indented side up-in the bottom of a large sauté pan; dot with pieces of butter; salt and pepper generously; sprinkle top with Herbes de Provence.  (See photo above.)
  3. Pour broth over celery; bring to a boil over med/high heat; reduce heat to med/low; cook covered for 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile chop the leaves, to be used as an optional garnish.
  5. Remove cover, stir well, raise heat to medium, and cook for 4 minutes more (see photo below).
  6. Raise heat to med/high and cook liquids down, stirring constantly, until juices form a glaze, about 1 minute (see photo at top of recipe).
  7. celery while cooking

    Arrange in a serving dish, garnish with chopped leaves, and serve with pride!

Kale, Leeks, and Chicken

kale, leeks, and chicken

A friend from my church has a very large garden; sharing its bounty is her joy.  Last summer’s series on simplified kale receipts was inspired by her gracious contributions (for recipes, see Cooking with Kale    and  Cooking with Kale Made Extra Easy).

My mind creates recipes according to what is in my larder, which usually boasts of provision supplied by church members.  Lately Goldie has been bringing her organic kale again, as well as leeks and celery; this mouth-watering chicken dish resulted.

For a wedding present last year, I gave a marriage supper, complete with a cooking class, to newlyweds in our congregation (see Thai Coconut Lime Flounder,)  My desire was to release the gift of excellent nutrition in them.  Several weeks ago, we celebrated their holy matrimony again, with a new set of instructions and dinner following, rejoicing over God’s goodness in our lives.

The first time I coached Dina, she exhibited such courage in overcoming her unfamiliarity with food preparation.  Hope, however, grew this recent session, for she has grown exponentially in her eager steadfastness in the kitchen.

This teaching includes my chicken dish, using my recent acquisition of kale, shallots, and leeks.  These steps are straightforward, though they are time-consuming, with the preparation of leeks and kale, but oh the benefits of health and taste!

Leeks are one of the world’s oldest vegetables, which are more delicate in flavor than either onions or shallots; they are considered highly nutritious, with cancer fighting attributes, as well as antiseptic, laxative, and diuretic properties, among many other health-promoting values.  This vegetable is particularly strong in vitamins K and A (when eaten raw, one 3.5-ounce serving contains 52 % daily requirement of vitamin K and more than 29% that of vitamin A).  Though research on this particular Allium is hitherto limited, it can well be assumed that its health benefits are comparable to those proven in its closely related onion and garlic cousins.  Its notable amount of flavonol kaempferol, in its substantial polyphenol content, thereby combats many health problems related to oxidative stress and chronic low-level inflammation; among these are rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, and type 2 diabetes; thus, this recipe is beneficial to Dina, whose husband is presently overcoming diabetes.  For an additional recipe and more on its history, go to Zucchini Chicken with Leeks and Shallots .

Enjoy making today’s clear, detailed chicken recipe for leeks, shallots, and kale; my next entry will expound on the colorful history of leeks, with a delectable soup.

References:

www.foodfacts.mercola.com/leeks.html

www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=26

www.historic-uk.com/HistoryofWales/TheLeek-National-emblem-of-the-Welsh/

finished product

Kale, Leeks, and Chicken  Yields: 5-6 servings.  Total prep time: 1 1/2 hr (lengthy, but well worth it with these simple, detailed directions).

1 1/2 lbs chicken tenderloins, about 8-10 lg pieces  (Natural is best; available reasonably in Trader Joe’s freezer.)

2 lg carrots, optional

3 lg stalks of celery

1-1 1/2 lbs of kale

chopping leeks

4 leeks, white and light green part, 3/4 lb trimmed  (The best leeks are fresh-not more than a week old-and 1 1/2 “in diameter.)

5 lg cloves of garlic, minced  (3 cubes of frozen garlic from Trader Joe’s is much easier.)

4 tbsp butter

8 tsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best, as olive oil is carcinogenic, when heated to high temperatures.)

1-2 tbsp fresh thyme, removed from stems, and coarsely chopped

Salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.99 for 5 lbs.)

Fresh ground pepper

  1. Place chicken in a large bowl of warm water to thaw, set aside.
  2. Spray all vegetables with an inexpensive effective spray, by combining 97% white distilled vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide; let sit 3 minutes.  While waiting, if using fresh garlic, mince it now.  Rinse sprayed vegetables in a sink full of water three times.
  3. Cut celery diagonally in 1″ pieces.  Scrape optional carrots with a sharp knife (this preserves vitamins just under the skin); slice thinly at a diagonal.  Set both aside together in a bowl.
  4. Prepare leeks by first discarding outer leaves; cut off the dark green at the top and root hairs on bottom, leaving the white and light green part.  Cut each leek in half lengthwise; rinse well; then, cut each half in 2″ pieces, by placing leek cut-side up on board.  Finally, slice these 2″ lengths, cut-side up on board,

    cutting ribs out of kale

    into thin strips (see photo above).  Place pieces in a large container.  For final cleaning, rinse strips well with water, stirring with hand; then, drain in a colander.  This is known as the chiffonade-cut.

  5. Melt butter over medium heat in a sauté pan; as soon as a small piece sizzles in pan, add half the leeks, coating strips well with the hot butter. Reduce heat to low; cook down in pan, to make room for the rest of leeks, distributing oils well with each addition.  When all leeks are in pan, add garlic and slowly cook, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  6. straight-edge blade of food processor for chopping

    Cut ribs out of kale with a sharp knife (see above photo). May chop by hand, or quickly chop greens mechanically, by using the straight-edge blade of a food processor (see photo).  Turn processor on and place kale pieces in feeder tube (see photo below); set aside.

  7. Place thawed chicken on paper towel, salt and pepper GENEROUSLY.  Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat; when a small piece of chicken sizzles in oil, add the rest of the tenderloins; cook until light pink inside (do not overcook, as these will cook more later); cut tenderloins in bite-size pieces, removing them to a large bowl.  CAREFULLY SAVE JUICES IN PAN.
  8. Add 1 tbsp of oil to these juices; mix in half the kale, distributing oils evenly.  Over medium heat, cook this vegetable down until there is room to add more; mix in oils with each addition, until all is in the pan; cook covered, until limp, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  As needed, deglaze pan (scrape fond, cooked-on juices, off bottom with a spatula, after adding 2 or more tbsp of water).  Remove to bowl of meat when done.
  9. placing kale in feeder tube of processor

    Meanwhile gently peel thyme off stems, chop coarsely with a sharp knife, set aside.

  10. Put last 2 tsp of oil in hot pan after kale is removed; add carrots and celery; mix well; cook until tender, stirring every couple of minutes.  Meantime go to next step.
  11. Blend 1-2 tbsp chopped thyme, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper into leeks; stir in chicken/kale; continue cooking over low heat, until all is hot.  Add this mixture to pan of celery, when tender.  Adjust seasonings.  One final time, scrape bottom to deglaze pan, using the juices from the added leek mixture.  Serve with confidence!

1880’s Minced Cabbage

cooked minced cabbage

Gold Medal Flour, Betty Crocker and Miss Parloa all had their beginnings in Washburn-Crosby Co.  Along with last week’s post on escalloped salmon, I discovered this elegant minced cabbage in Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, which was originally published in 1880 by Washburn-Crosby Co.

Its successor General Mills reprinted this same worthy account in the twentieth century.  This latter company, however, is better known for publishing recipe books under the pseudonym Betty Crocker, who never existed, unlike our illustrious 19th century writer Maria Parloa.

In 1921, before the above transfer of title, Washburn-Crosby was first to use the name “Betty Crocker”.  This came as a result of their being inundated with 30,000 entries, in a contest promoting their Gold Medal flour.

Many of these participants asked questions concerning baking.  Washburn-Crosby discerned that the replies would hold more influence if signed by a woman; thus, the inspiration for this sham Betty Crocker, which was derived from the surname of a retired company director.

General Mills continued in this tradition, after it was created in 1928, when it began merging Washburn-Crosby with 26 other U.S. flour-milling companies.  This, then the world’s largest flour mill, initially portrayed this fictitious authority photographically, in 1936, as a gray-haired home-maker.  Her image was frequently revised throughout the last century, as Betty Crocker was used as a major brand name for their various products.  (See more history at my 1880’s Clam Chowder-2017/01/30-1880’s Escalloped Salmon-2017/04/17-and 1880’s Ozark Honey-Oatmeal Cookies-2017/10/30.)

It is jarring when we learn the falsehood of long accepted traditions, like the authenticity of this established person, for truth is fundamental to our stability.  We implicitly search for verity in all things, cooking included.

Rejoicing occurs when a good source for teaching the basics is found, such as those required for food preparation, as well as the execution of life; I hope you will discover these fundamentals present in my writings.

May you come to rely on my receipts, preparing them with the ease with which they are intended.  They may look lengthy at times; this is because I spell out shortcuts with care, for in a sense my blog is like going to cooking school.  Quickly you learn my simple, creative techniques, thus gaining the ability to follow my recipes adeptly.

This effortless minced cabbage comes with the height of freedom.  Enjoy!

References:

  1. Silver Dollar City Edition of Maria Parloa’s Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book (Boston: Estes and Laurait, 1880); this facsimile was published at an unknown date during the 20th century.
  2. James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995), pp. 434, 456, 488.
  3. http://www.pbs.org/food/the-history-kitchen/who-was-betty-crocker/
  4. https://foodimentary.com/2012/03/24/a-history-of-betty-crocker-the-woman-who-never-was/
  5. http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/general-mills-inc-history/

chopping cabbage in a food processor

1880’s Minced Cabbage  Yields: 4 servings.  Total prep time: 25 min.  This is adapted from a recipe in General Mills’ Special Silver Dollar City Edition (copyright date unknown) of Maria Parloa’s Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, (Boston: Estes and Laurait, 1880).

Note: this can be made ahead and reheated just before serving.

1 1/2 lb green cabbage

2 tbsp oil  (Coconut oil is ideal for quality and flavor here; avocado oil is also good; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

1 tsp salt, or to taste  (I prefer a coarse salt here, such as a kosher salt or Trader Joe’s coarse sea salt. )

  1. Chop cabbage either by hand, or more quickly, by using the slicing attachment to a food processor.  If using a food processor, cut cabbage in pieces that will fit in its feeder tube (see above photo).  Set aside.
  2. Heat oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan, in which you have placed a small piece of cabbage.  When it sizzles, add rest of cabbage, and stir well to evenly distribute oil; cook until vegetable is limp, stirring frequently.  Meanwhile go to next step.
  3. cooking roux

    Make roux in a small sauté pan: melt butter over medium heat, add flour, and stir with a wire whisk.  Cook  until mixture is a light brown, about 2 minutes; remove from heat and set aside (see photo).

  4. When cabbage is soft, add salt, and stir well.
  5. Blend roux into vegetable, cook until consistency of cabbage is somewhat thickened, stir continually.
  6. When done, remove from heat.  May serve immediately, or better yet, make ahead, and reheat just before serving.  When it sits, cabbage juices form in pan; as you reheat it, stir in juices and loosened fond, which is obtained by scraping these caramelized pan drippings and browned bits off bottom of pan, using a wooden or plastic cooking spatula.  This adds great flavor!  (See top photo for finished product.)

Gingered Bok Choy with Ground Turkey

gingered bok choy with ground turkey

gingered bok choy with ground turkey

Today’s recipe, with its Chinese flair, is easy to follow, though it takes some patient chopping of vegetables. (The process of this preparation flows, especially after the first time you make it.)  My dish is low in carbohydrates, vitamin-proficient, and has an inexpensive, high-quality protein. Abundant health and pleasure result!

The inspiration for it grew in me.  Recently I was influenced by Chef Susanna Foo. She Americanized her Chinese cuisine by substituting our everyday ingredients, for their Oriental counterparts, which were challenging to get in the 1990’s.  Foo discovered that these simple adjustments actually enhanced her cooking; thus I chose apple cider instead of rice vinegar and, for heat, jalapeno instead of Szechuan peppers.  1

My palette was also crying for orange juice in the mix.  I added to these surprises typical Chinese ingredients: ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, coriander, and bok choy, which is a Chinese cabbage from Brassica rapa-the same species that gave us the turnip.  Note: the spice coriander is common to Chinese, Indian and Mexican cooking; its fresh leaves are known as cilantro-see Munazalla, 2018/03/12.  The glorious blending of these foods thrilled me!

My whole family acquired the cooking gene, a rich inheritance received from our parents. However the grander bequest was that of their love: Mom and Dad cherished one another in a steadfast, unspeakable way.  This security has always belonged to our entire family.  It has never weakened, no matter what, for even death has not separated my parents.

My father went to heaven on November 16, 2006, but I contend that my mother enjoys his presence even more now.  At 93, she sits in Buzzy-baby’s chair and eats ice cream with him.  She joyfully informs me, when I call, that he is letting her finish his share too, as he always did while he was alive.

My parents each possessed individual attributes that allowed for their earnest commitment: my father had a beautiful heart and my mother unshakable faith. Over the years, I have declared that my greatest heritage of all comprises of these two qualities.  These endowments, along with the cooking gene, set the stage for all I get to do in this world.  They have formed me, for I am a food historian in love with my God.

This legacy of devotion and faith is more precious than gold.  My inherited strong heart, powerful faith, and ability to cook, all three, propel me into this marvelous, God-given destiny.  Give me pots, pans, and ingredients and heaven-sent food results.  My meals excite all your senses.

Now I encourage you: look to your life; discover your unique inheritance (your intrinsic gifts); go forward with them.  Indeed your birthright was ordained before time began.  In the meantime try my recipe!

  1. Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, Culinary Artistry (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996), p. 211.
assembly of gingered bok choy

assembly of gingered bok choy with sauce

Gingered Bok Choy with Ground Turkey  Yields: 5-6 servings.  Total active prep time: 1 1/4 hour.

7 tsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best for sauteing; olive oil produces carcinogens at high temperatures.)

1 med/lg yellow onion, halved at the root and cut in even 1/8″ slices

2 carrots  (Organic carrots are very inexpensive; find them in 1 lb packages at Trader Joe’s.)

2 stalks of celery

l lg red bell pepper  (It is important to use organic bell peppers, as this vegetable really absorbs pesticides.)

1 lb bok choy  (Organic bok choy comes in smaller heads; weigh before purchasing.)

1 lb ground turkey  (Natural is important; Foster Farms is reasonably priced and good.)

4 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine

1 lg jalapeno pepper, minced small  (May use more for a hotter dish.)

5 large cloves fresh garlic, or 3 cubes frozen garlic  (Frozen garlic is available at Trader Joe’s, it provides ease in cooking, especially excellent for this recipe.)

1/3  c organic tamari  (May substitute soy sauce, but not as healthy or flavorful; tamari is available in the health section at Fred Meyer’s, or at other national chains such as Whole Foods.)

1/3 c apple cider vinegar  (Raw is the best; inexpensive at Trader’s.)

1/3 c orange juice  (May squeeze your own, or use orange juice that is not from concentrate, such as Florida’s Natural or Tropicana’s.)

1/4 c water

1 tbsp sesame oil  (This is found at a good price at Trader’s.)

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 cup corn starch, dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water

Steamed rice  (I personally prefer brown basmati.)

  1. Heat 1/2 tsp of oil in an large saute pan over medium heat.  Add a small piece of onion; when it sizzles, oil is ready.  Add remaining onions and caramelize, by stirring every several minutes, until color starts to form; then, stir every minutes, until dark brown.
  2. Meanwhile cook turkey in a extra large frying pan.  Place in a bowl.
  3. Clean all vegetables, except ginger, with an inexpensive effective spray (a mixture of  97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide); let sit for 3 minutes and rinse extra well.  Set aside.  While waiting for vegetables, start cooking rice.
  4. Peel and mince ginger in very small pieces, set aside.
  5. Chop garlic fine, if using fresh, set aside.  (Frozen garlic from Trader’s works better with this recipe.)
  6. When onions are caramelized, add cooked meat to them, and turn off heat.  Note: you will reuse this extra-large pan for cooking the vegetables.
  7. Dissolve corn starch in 1/4 cup cold water, set aside.  Next slowly heat garlic, tamari, vinegar, orange juice, water, sesame oil, and coriander in a small saucepan over med/low heat.  It will take about 15 minutes for light bubbles to rise in liquid.  Meanwhile go to next step.
  8. Prepare carrots by scraping with a knife and thinly slicing at a diagonal. (Scraping, rather than peeling, preserves vitamins just under the skin.)  Cut celery in 3/4″-wide diagonal pieces.  Place carrots and celery in a bowl, set aside.
  9. Chop pepper in 3/4″ x 2 1/2″-wide strips.  Place in another bowl with bok choy, which is chopped in strips the same size as the pepper, including greens.  Set all aside.
  10. Heat remaining 1 1/2 tbsp oil in the extra-large pan.  Place a small piece of carrot in oil, wait for it to sizzle.  Also turn heat on to med/low under pan of meat/onions.
  11. Add carrots, celery, and ginger to hot oil.  Stir well to coat vegetables with oil.  Cook 3 min, stirring occasionally.  Add bok choy and pepper strips, mix well with carrots.  Cook for about 7 minutes, or until vegetables are done, but still crisp.  Be sure to stir frequently.
  12. The liquid sauce should be forming light bubbles by now; add the cornstarch, which is thoroughly dissolved in water; beat constantly with a wire whisk.  It thickens quickly.  Remove from heat when thick and clear. (This takes only about 15 seconds.)  Set aside
  13. Mix together: hot meat, finished vegetables, and sauce.  Serve immediately with steamed rice.  This pleases the palate!

Sauteed Squash with Curried Yogurt Sauce

sauteed squash with curried yogurt sauce

sautéed squash with curried yogurt sauce

This history-which follows-came to me, when a beloved friend asked me to concoct this recipe for sautéed squash; she fell in love with its original at an excellent restaurant, while traveling.  Goldie longed to enjoy repeats of this masterpiece, without having to leave the Portland area; thus, she trusted my expertise to supply her this powerfully good recipe-thanks to another chef’s inspiration!

This whole process made me aware that we need each other’s expertise; thus, we lend our strengths to one another in order to break through circumstances-both in the kitchen and life. This exceptional combination started in the mind of an adept chef, but I built on it using my own approach.  In turn, I encourage you to take it to your worlds, by innovating yet further.

None of us wants to miss playing out our foreordained part!  I loved acting in community theatre in days past.  Here I learned that there are no small actors, just small parts.   The eye can’t say to the nose I have no part in you, or where would the sense of smell be in the body.  In this manner, we can’t fulfill our destinies without each other’s help, while always remembering that every “body part” is critical.  We don’t want to forfeit, even by default, any of our precious chances to give or receive support.  This way we discover our life-purposes.

James Trager has been all that for me in my writings.  With a mind like mine for detail, he offers a feast of food history information in The Food Chronology.  His work equips me with an abundance of needed facts, to effect my God-given calling.

For instance he has four entries on squash.  The first dates back to 1527, when conquistadors returned to Spain with facts about New World foods.  They reported that the Aztecs consumed squash and beans among numerous other delicacies, such as: white worms, eggs of water bugs, and domesticated guinea pigs.  These tamed animals were eaten with the skin on-the hair being removed as with a suckling pig.  (Note: while studying food in 1985, I was offered guinea pig in Peru, one of the lands the conquistadors conquered in the 16th century.)  1

Next, Trager takes us to Virginia in 1588.  Then English mathematician Thomas Hariot wrote that these Virginia fields were planted Indian-style with squash, maize, beans, and melons.  However he noted they yielded five times more than the same acre in England.  2

I take this chance to build on Trager’s house: this New World area, nearly two centuries before the forming of America, was called Virginia, a word from the Latin virgo (stem virgin).  The land was named after Queen Elizabeth I, who was queen of England and Ireland (1558-1603).  She was known as “the virgin queen”; thus, this virgin land became Virginia.

Finally, our illustrious historian Trager details the early public appearances of spaghetti and calabaza squash in the United States.  The first, resembling spaghetti, was introduced in 1962 by a specialty produce company in Los Angeles.  3  Then, when Miami’s Grand Bay Hotel opened in 1982, Jamaican-born Chef Katsuo Sugiura had a loin of lamb among his specialties.  He smoked this over oolong tea and hickory chips; Sugiura served it with calabaza squash, grilled Portobello mushrooms, and yuca.  4

I love to share the bread of life through my recipes and words.  As you can see, my act of creating is so dependent on the works of others.  Now may you expand this, my fire, in your lives-both inside and outside your kitchens.

  1. James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1995), p. 88.
  2. Ibid., p. 104.
  3. Ibid., p. 569.
  4. Ibid., p. 660.
preparing squash

preparing squash

Sautéed Squash with Curried Yogurt Sauce Yields: 3-4 servings.  Total prep time: 3/4 hr.

3 tbsp butter

2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine  (I have also substituted 1/4 tsp dried ginger, but fresh is better.)

1/2 large apple, peeled and chopped in very small pieces  (I prefer granny smith apples here, but not necessary.)

1/4 tsp curry powder

2 tsp honey

1/2 cup plain yogurt  (Nancy’s Plain with Honey is good; Stoneyfield organic plain Greek yogurt is even better.)

1/4 tsp salt, or to taste  (Real Salt is important; available in health section of local supermarket.)

1 lb butternut squash, peeled and sliced in 1/4″-wide strips

Roasted almond slices for garnish, optional  (May roast nuts ahead of time at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.)

  1. Put a serving platter in a warm oven.
  2. Melt 1/2 tbsp of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add ginger, apple, curry powder, and honey; sauté until fruit is soft; stir frequently. Remove from heat, add yogurt immediately, season to taste with salt.  Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile peel squash with a sharp knife.  Remove any seeds.  Place flat side of halved squash on counter and cut in 1/4″-wide slices; cut these slices into equal sized strips.  (See above photo.)
  4. In large frying pan, heat 1 1/2 tbsp of butter over med/low heat, until a small piece of squash, which is placed in it, sizzles.  Sauté as many strips in hot butter as will fit in pan; cook for about 4 min per side, or until soft and golden brown. Remove cooked pieces to warm platter and keep in oven.  When this batch is finished, add another 1/2 tbsp of butter to pan and repeat this step, until all the squash is done.
  5. Pour yogurt sauce on hot squash, garnish with optional almond slices, and serve.  Be prepared for joy unspeakable!