Natural Sausage with Zucchini and Eggplant

natural sausage with zucchini and eggplant

At this time of year, we are wondering what to do with all the zucchini.  Using natural sausage and Chinese eggplant, I transformed this ordinary vegetable, which is actually a fruit, into a memorable dish.  Garlic and Aidells’ Spicy Mango with Jalapeno Chicken Sausages give this common garden plant a dramatic bite, with a sweet aftertaste.  Eggplant is a perfect accompaniment to zucchini, and carmelized onions compliment all.  This is a simple, mouth-watering treat indeed.

My pastors are bringing their prolific zucchini to our services now, and I am thrilled. Our church body experiences this benefit every growing season.

Throughout the year, we experience the results of what this couple’s hands accomplish in the realm of the Spirit, but during harvest time we reap what these same faithful hands produce in natural soil.  Their charitable action is steadfast, and it can be concretely seen in the vegetables and fruits, with which they fed our physical bodies.

This particular squash reproduces rapidly; it can quickly grow beyond what is satisfactory.  When it gets over-sized, it contains too much water; its seeds are large and tough; there aren’t enough recipes to utilize this inundation.  (Learn more about its biology and history at Zucchini Bread, 2017/07/31.)

Our pastors watch this fruit/vegetable prudently; thus, readily picking it before it grows beyond its prime, whenever possible.  Our church is like a prototype of their healthy garden.  Pastors Monte and Dawn care for us like prized plants: watering with the word, observing diligently, pruning with exceptional wisdom and love…We are indeed well-tended.

I can’t express gratitude enough that our Lord saw fit to place me under their protection; it is here that I became equipped to fulfill my purpose as a food historian.  I invite you to access the bread of life at our website alfc.net

Meanwhile eat heartily, by cooking this delicious recipe.

Aidells’ Spicy Mango with Jalapeno Chicken Sausages

Natural Sausage with Zucchini and Eggplant  Yields: 4-5 servings.  Total active prep time: 45 min.

2 1/3 tbsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

1 medium yellow onion, cut evenly in 1/8 inch slices

12 ounces natural sausage, cut diagonally  (Aidells’ Spicy Mango with Jalapeno Chicken Sausages are the best here; available at most local supermarkets.)

1 lb Chinese eggplant, cut in 1/2 inch cubes  (See photo below.)

4 cloves of garlic, minced  (For convenience, use 2 frozen cubes of garlic from Trader Joe’s.)

1 tsp salt, or to taste  (Real Salt is important for health reasons; available in nutrition center at local grocery store.)

3/4 tsp freshly ground pepper, or to taste

chopping eggplant

2 carrots, thinly sliced at a diagonal

1 1/2 lbs of zucchini, cut in 1/2 inch cubes

  1. Clean vegetables, using an inexpensive, effective spray of 93% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide; let sit 3 minutes.  Meanwhile go to next step.
  2. In a sauté pan, heat 1/2-1 tsp of oil; when a small piece of onion sizzles, add all onions and carmelize over medium/low heat, stirring every 2 minutes until color starts to form; then, stir every minute, until dark brown; when finished, deglaze pan with 2 tbsp or more of water (scrape the fond, or cooked-on juices, off the bottom of pan with a spatula); set aside when finished, adding to the bowl of meat described below.  Watch onions carefully, while performing the next steps.
  3. Rinse vegetables; cut them and meat, as described in the above list of ingredients; set all aside in separate bowls.  Mince garlic, if using fresh.
  4. finished product

    Heat 2 tsp of oil in another frying pan over medium heat.  When a piece of sausage sizzles in pan, add the other sausage slices and brown quickly, watching carefully as not to burn; place in a large bowl, carefully saving juices in the pan.

  5. When meat is removed, heat 2 tsp more of oil with the left-over juices, add eggplant, mix oil in well, and deglaze pan (scrape off fond left over by meat) with 2 tbsp or more of water.  Cook covered until soft, stirring every couple of minutes; deglaze pan again; transfer eggplant to the bowl of meat.
  6. Heat 2 tsp of oil in same pan; add carrots; cook for 3 minutes, or just until tender, stirring occasionally.  Mix zucchini into carrots; cook covered until limp, stirring several times.
  7. When vegetable is done, blend in garlic, salt and pepper; cook until you can smell the garlic.  (If using frozen, make sure it is melted and distributed well.)  Mix in meat, onions, and eggplant; adjust seasonings; heat thoroughly.  Serve with delight.

Spicy Cold Noodles

spicy cold noodles

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes, which I have been making every summer for 35 years.  It first blessed me, when I taught it to my students in Billings, Montana, at one of my plentiful cooking classes.  I don’t exactly remember where I got it, but believe it came in a newspaper clipping sent by my mother, for she was good at supplying me with quaint receipts from the media, during my early catering/teaching career.  Many choice dishes were thus provided, which still grace my table today.  This specific one highly pleases the palate, though it deviates slightly from its authentic roots.

There are both Korean and Chinese spicy cold noodles; both nationalities use sesame and chili oils, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and sugar in their mixes.  The Korean variation includes gochujang, a spicy pepper paste.  The Chinese sauce divers in that it calls for sesame paste and peanut butter, giving it an emulsified effect; it is fiery, tart, and slightly sweet.

My particular 1980’s account is from China, though it is Americanized with red wine vinegar instead of rice vinegar, which wasn’t readily available here in the 80’s; this version doesn’t have the ever-present peanut butter and chili oil, but is still spicy hot with an abundance of garlic.  It is a memorable burst of flavors.

China is a vast land of varying cuisines.  Just before I left Billings, one of my students, a travel agent, was engaging me to teach these regional culinary truths on her tour of a number of China’s leading provinces.  My sudden move to Portland, Oregon, in February of 1986, interrupted those plans to go abroad; nevertheless that early research still rests with me.  One of the provinces which I was studying was Szechuan, or Sichuan, which is the home of this post’s recipe.

Noodles are common throughout this vast country; among the many variations are Chongquing hot noodles, Wuhan hot and dry noodles, Henan stewed noodles, and Beijing style Zhajiang noodles.  The latter dish reaches far beyond the Hebei Province; it is made with pork gravy, which varies greatly from southern to northern China.

The cuisine of Szechuan, alternately known as Chuan, not only produces these spicy cold noodles, but also the famous dandanmian, or dandan noodles; they too have a spicy sauce, but contain preserved vegetables.  Both these dishes are street foods in Sichuan, for they are served ubiquitously, even in small food stands on the street.

I used poetic license, in that I chose pasta that is a complete protein and a natural, low glycemic food; thus, these delicious noodles are diabetic friendly.  Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Pasta contains the six grains and legumes, which are mentioned in this Old Testament scripture.  As published on their box, these half-dozen organic foods are germinated in pure filtered water; therefore, beneficial enzymes are activated, causing sprouting and releasing powerful nutrients, which otherwise would lay dormant.  Diabetics that can’t tolerate carbohydrates are reporting good luck with this pasta in my rich repast.

Join me on a trip to China with this select, health-promoting receipt!

ingredients for spicy cold noodles

Spicy Cold Noodles  Yields: 4-5 servings.  Total prep time: 30 minutes, plus several hours for chilling.  Note: may omit the chicken for a vegan recipe.

1 pound chicken, or 5 tenderloins, thawed  (All natural is best; available reasonably at Trader Joe’s.)

10 ounces dry pasta  (Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Fettuccine is a complete protein pasta, which is low glycemic, diabetic friendly, and high in fiber; may also use a spaghetti pasta.)

1 1/3 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp garlic, chopped

1/4 cup sesame paste, or tahini  (Trader’s brand makes a good organic one.)

3 tbsp hot brewed tea

3 tbsp soy sauce  (Organic tamari is best for your body.)

3 tbsp rice vinegar  (May also use red wine vinegar.)

2 tsp sugar

Salt to taste  (Real Salt is premium for your health; available in the nutrition center at local supermarket.)

  1. Thaw chicken in a bowl of warm water.  Fill a stock pot with 4 quarts of water; bring to a boil over medium/high heat.
  2. Meanwhile peel enough garlic cloves to generously fill a coffee measure-which is 2 tablespoons-with pieces; see this measure in the above photo.  (This amount gives a lot of

    emulsifying tahini and tea

    bite, may use more or less to taste.)  Place garlic in a food processor and press the pulse button repeatedly, to form a medium/coarse grind; stop and scrape down sides once; set aside.  (May also chop with a sharp knife, if you don’t have a processor.)

  3. Place tenderloins in boiling water; turn down heat to medium; do not add salt.  Cook for about 4 minutes, or until just faintly pink in center; do not overcook.  Remove from water when done and place on a plate in refrigerator.  SAVE BROTH.
  4. Brew tea.  Place sesame butter in a large bowl; add hot tea; stir until emulsified, or smooth and creamy (see photo).  Blend in garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar; set aside.  (If chicken is finished while you are preparing sauce, proceed to step 6, and then come back to sauce.)
  5. Bring broth and 1 tsp of sesame oil to a boil in the stock pot; add pasta; turn down heat to medium; do not add salt, as this toughens the noodles.  Stirring occasionally, cook for approximately 6-7 minutes, or until slightly chewy.  Drain pasta and immediately submerge in cold water to stop cooking process, set aside.
  6. Cut chicken in bite-size pieces, add to sauce, and season with salt.  Toss together with pasta.
  7. Serve chilled.  Yum!

 

1960’s Portuguese Pork

Portuguese pork roast

My gift of hospitality was birthed during my youth in the mid-twentieth century, for then I watched my mother host elaborate dinner parties.  As an excellent cook, she prepared glorious feasts, often with international themes; this 1960’s recipe for Portuguese pork blessed guests repeatedly.  While in college, I meticulously copied her treasured receipts and began my own journey, fostering nourishment of body and soul.

In 1982 God converted this inherent gift into my lifetime work; then, I began catering meals and teaching a profusion of cooking classes, utilizing researched historical recipes.  One of these classes was on my mother’s Portuguese foods, on which I expanded, incorporating the salad Ensalada Iberica and dessert Figos Recheados, my next weeks’ posts.

Slowing down, smelling the roses, feeding ourselves and others are important traits. In doing such, let us choose pleasure in even the simplest of foods, especially when someone else prepares them; thus, their charity reaches our hearts regardless of what is served.  Macaroni and cheese can thrill us, when made with love by a friend.

There is an element of courage, which results in unexpected joy, when we graciously receive ailments we aren’t sure of.  While living in Billings, Montana, a friend invited me to celebrate Easter with her.  Upon arrival I discovered we were partaking of rabbit; I was challenged in eating this, especially on this holiday!  Expressing gratitude, I bravely proceeded and found it palatable, as long as I didn’t concentrate on it being Easter.  Though I have never again experienced this meat, fond memories flood my mind whenever it is mentioned.

Let us be strong in both giving and receiving benevolent fellowship; use my series of proven receipts to host this cultural affair for your loved ones, or better yet invite someone newly acquainted.

In Culinary Artistry, Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page note strong compliments to pork; among the most vibrant are vinegar, garlic, black pepper, oranges and onions-all of which are present in this detailed dinner.1   Enjoy my creative repast!

  1. Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, Culinary Artistry (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996), p. 159.

chopping jalapeno peppers

Portuguese Pork  Yields: 8-10 servings.  Total prep time: 1 day plus 4 hours/  inactive prep time-for marinating: 1 day/  active prep time: 30 min/  cooking time: 3 1/2 hr.

4 lb pork loin roast

1 1/3 cups water

1 cup cider vinegar  (Trader Joe’s carries an inexpensive raw version, which has great health benefits.)

5 medium/large cloves of garlic, minced

3 tepino peppers  (If desired use jalapeno peppers, which are milder.)

Salt and pepper  (Real Salt is important for optimum health; available in the health section of local supermarket.)

1 cup sliced green olives  (May serve additional in a bowl at table.)

Baked yams  (Yams and sweet potatoes are different varieties of the same vegetable, they are interchangeable.)

  1. Place water and vinegar in a 7 1/2 x 9 1/2 x 3 pan (3 quart baking dish).
  2. Mince garlic, add to vinegar mixture.
  3. Cut peppers in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds with a spoon, chop fine, and add to vinegar mixture (see photo).  Note: be sure to wash hands thoroughly, as burning will result from touching eyes if you don’t.
  4. Place pork in marinade and marinate in refrigerator for at least 24 hours, turning roast halfway through, at about 12 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Before placing in oven, turn roast again, salting and peppering the top well.  Bake for 1 3/4 hours; then, turn roast for the last time; once more, salt and pepper the top well.  Bake for another 1 3/4 hours.  Proceed immediately to next step.
  6. Wash yams and pierce several times with a fork.  Cover with foil; place top of foil on potato, where sealed, face-up in the oven while baking; this keeps juices from leaking.  Start baking these at the same time you begin roasting the meat; bake for about 3 hours, as the oven is only set at 300 degrees.
  7. When cooking is complete, remove roast from oven, cool for 15 minutes.  Toward the end of this time, take yams out of oven and place on plates; next, cut pork in thick slices and arrange on dishes; top with sliced olives.  (It is good to serve additional olives in a small bowl at table.)
  8. This pork is superb with the Portuguese salad Ensalada Iberica and dessert Figos Recheados, my next weeks’ posts.

1880’s Escalloped Salmon

ingredients for escalloped salmon

Miss Parloa blessed us with escalloped fish in Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, which Washburn-Crosby Company published in 1880.  This company’s successor General Mills brought these proven receipts back to America by printing an edition in the mid-twentieth century.  Both these companies are known for their production of Gold Medal flour, which they successively produced; thus, this product has been on the market for nearly two and a half centuries.

This 1880’s cook book was one of many written by Miss Parloa, who was an important figure in the gastronomical world of her day.  As director of the Boston cooking school, she became famous for her Boston Cooking School Cook Book, which was forerunner to the renowned Fanny Farmer Cook Book.

In this first above account, she taught “modern” techniques and included 93 “essential” utensils for the kitchen, which boasted of such items as an apple corer, melon mold, and squash strainer.  Her writings catered to the affluent, for she recommended that a dinner for twelve need cost no more than $25, this at a time when an unskilled worker made about $1 per day.1

In her preface to this book, she set forth her desire to give clear, complete, and concise directions, but these were vague compared to our present standards.  Her instructions, however, had far greater detail than those found in the contemporary cook books of her day.

This recipe required five pounds of fish to sustain a family of six at a meal, in contrast to providing for twelve guests at a dinner party, as these hospitable affairs were always profuse in delectable dishes.  My directive only calls for one pound of salmon for four people, because this is a rich food for our relatively sedentary bodies; in these former days people were highly active, requiring many more calories than we do today.

As with this outmoded receipt, things call for adaptation; we must learn to adjust to the required needs of any given time.  Our living God perpetually covers us in all instances of unforeseen change, bringing healthy modification, if we ask believing.

There are truths in his word.  When overwhelmed with trouble, our heartfelt cries go out to our Father: “Do I have what it takes to counter this storm?  How do I do this?”  As we quiet our souls, clear answers come; next, we proceed to follow our heart’s unction with our determined movement.  Victory always follows when we heed this inner voice carefully!

At times the process is slow; thus, patience is critical to success.  It is necessary to listen for “the winds in the mulberry trees”.2   Like these air currents in trees, which are constantly varying, our circumstances also rapidly change; therefore, we need to be very flexible when we receive guidance as such.

This is a joyful race we are running!  Nothing is too difficult for us.  We simply align our hearts to the “recipe” our Father is dictating at each turn, purposing to not be alarmed when our five pounds of fish becomes one pound, or with equal intention, staying calm when it reverses back to five pounds.

Recently I enjoyed escalloped salmon with friends I hadn’t seen for a long time; our reunion was marked with excellence in both fellowship and food.  This dish is a winner for special occasions, especially when served with next week’s entry 1880’s minced cabbage.

  1. James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995), p. 310.
  2. The Holy Bible, King James Version, 2 Samuel 5: 22-25.

baked escalloped salmon

1880’s Escalloped Salmon  Yields 4 servings.  Total prep time: 1 hr & 15 min/  active prep time: 45 min/  baking time: 30 min.  This is adapted from a recipe in Miss Parloa’s Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book (Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1880), a facsimile of this was printed sometime in the 20th century by General Mills.

1/4 cup bread crumbs  (May purchase these, or grind 2 slices of stale bread in a dry food processor; make extra, as these freeze well; for stale bread, leave it out for about 8 hours.)

1-1 1/2 lb salmon fillet  (A minimum of 1 lb is needed if fillet is boneless and skinless, more if there are bones and/or skin.)

1 tsp salt, or more to taste  (Real Salt is best for optimum health; available in health section of local supermarket.)

1 cup whipping cream*, or half and half

1/8 cup water

1 tbsp flour

1/8 tsp white pepper, or more to taste

Steamed rice, cooked according to directions on package

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (if preparing ahead, wait and preheat oven 1 hr &10 min before serving).
  2. If salmon fillet is large, cut in pieces that will fit in a 3 quart saucepan.  Place in pan and cover with water, to which you have added 1/2 tsp salt; bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cook until center of thickest part of salmon is opaque, when pierced with a fork.  Remove from liquid and cool.  Meanwhile go to next step.
  3. If preparing your own bread crumbs, grind 2 pieces or more of stale bread in dry food processor, pressing pulse button repeatedly until crumbs are fine.  Set aside, freeze extras.
  4. Heat cream over medium heat in a small saucepan, only until a soft boil is formed, stir frequently, and watch carefully.
  5. While heating, dissolve flour in water.  Watching cream carefully, turn heat down to medium/low, as soon as it barely boils.  Stir is flour mixture with a wire whisk and cook, beating frequently, until sauce is thick.  Season with 1/2 tsp salt and white pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings; set aside.
  6. Start rice, following directions on package (wait if you are preparing salmon ahead).
  7. Butter a small, 1 quart baking dish; place a light layer of sauce in bottom of dish.
  8. Skin and carefully de-bone fish, placing bite-size pieces in baking dish on top of layer of cream.  When all the salmon is thus prepared, press down on fish to make compact; cover the top with the remaining cream sauce.
  9. Just before placing this in oven, spread bread crumbs on top of sauce.  If a skim has formed on top of cream, gently break apart with a spoon, making surface wet again, so crumbs can stick; then, bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven to meld all flavors.  (If you are making this ahead of time, place dish in refrigerator; top with breadcrumbs just before baking, being sure to break up skim on top of cream first; cook for 1 hour in preheated oven; start rice when you place salmon in oven.)
  10. Serve with 1880’s Minced Cabbage, which is next week’s entry.

Red Sauce for Pasta or Spaghetti Squash

simmering red sauce with splash shield

Gifts promote well-being in both the giver and receiver.  A beloved friend gave me a Valentine’s present of heart-shaped pasta; immediately I created this red sauce so I could enjoy my new treasure.  May we indulge in this excellent covering for either pasta or spaghetti squash; follow my easy instructions, if your dietary needs call for a vegetable rather than a starch with this piquant accompaniment.

My mother’s favorite language of love was that of gift giving.  She always blessed her children with bountiful offerings, from Easter to St. Patrick’s Day, and on every holiday in between; thus, I learned at an early age the power of contributions from the heart.  As a result I love to shower favor upon others, as well as graciously receive their inspired kindnesses.

This same act of generous sacrifice plays a lively part in my relationship with my Father in heaven, for I constantly seek to offer myself to him.  In doing so, I must slow down, move forward cautiously, relax, and especially trust the process; in this way, I proffer my life to my Maker moment by moment.  Results are a glorious existence; he has healed all my material matters!

I was specifically made to ardently search for the highest good in everything; this is especially true in my interacting with God.  However this process often brings tension, for resistance arises.

We see an explicit example of this opposition in our practice of eating: here polarity is experienced between a desire to quietly absorb pleasure, allowing gratitude in, and a friction arising out of our need to resolve storms present in our beings.  Taut emotions can result as we struggle to calm overactive minds, so we can enjoy our food.  This dichotomy in our bodies can be countered with prayer.  Great grace is needed, however, if heightened feelings cause us even to miss the opening blessing over our nutriments.

Grace, mercy, and thanksgiving are of the highest order.  When the above happens to me while eating, I immediately search my heart for honest moves of gratitude, which usually include my two favorite gifts from God: I have vibrant health (because I am able to eat sanely) and an immense supply of resources, including the highest quality of food.

These two endowments were not always present with me, for I knew excessive physical and financial poverty in the past.  At one point I had a 226 pound body, that couldn’t stop eating compulsively; now it is clothed better than Solomon in a size small.  All devouring of my economic supply has likewise ended.  An apt example of this is the recent demolition of my computer, at which juncture I stood, looked out my window at the river below, and spoke the word: all things come together for good for those that love God and are called according to his purpose.  Joyful faith rose in me, I was convinced that increase was on its way.

Indeed it was!  For after waiting patiently six weeks, I now publish my blog with the fastest of computers, an I-7 laptop equipped with a new wireless keyboard, mouse, printer, and monitor setup.  In addition to the outstanding quality of these, I have a fiber optic internet connection, instead of DSL, with 90 times more power and a monthly fee that is slightly less!

This unheard of upgrade, a sign of the Father’s immense love for us, was further outdone by the monetary provision for this loss.  First, great deals gave me $700 worth of equipment for $280; next, my Lord moved on the hearts of three separate parties to help with my needs.  He outdid himself, however, for the full amount was exceeded by half again as much, or $140 was left over in gift monies!  This is just one simple example of how my needs are always met today.  Our Father, who owns the cattle on a 1000 hills, indeed showers us with blessings, if we but believe.

He loves each and every one of us!  Right now, his heart is reaching out, to set us free from all wounds that hinder his glory from manifesting in our lives.  He is only about goodness, as my testimony proves.

Back to my friend who gave me the Valentine’s gift of heart-shaped pasta.  Let us learn the beauty of giving and receiving: what goes around comes around, for she is now anxiously awaiting my recipe for red sauce.  This beloved one initially obeyed God by giving me this gourmet food, which in turn equipped me to reach out with my cooking/writing ministry; hence, she is reaping the benefits of her offering with this post.

My prayer is that our gracious Father meet us today with all our particular needs, thus releasing his promised healing in us, who dare to receive it; then, we can go to his world proclaiming his outstanding goodness!

sweating onions

Simple Red Sauce for Pasta or Spaghetti Squash  Yields: about 2 quarts of sauce.  Total prep time: 1 hour/  active prep time: 30 minutes/  cooking time: 30 minutes.   (Spaghetti squash requires approximately 1 1/2 hr to bake.)

4 tbsp oil  (Coconut oil is best for flavor and quality here; avocado oil will also do; olive oil is carcinogenic, when heated to high temperatures.)

1 medium/large yellow onion, chopped

1 lb ground beef

1 lb romanesco or 3/4 lb mushrooms  (I like to use romanesco for variety’s sake; it is a green variant of cauliflower, which is available in the organic section at better supermarkets.)

3 tbsp butter, if using mushrooms

2-15 ounce cans of tomato sauce  (Hunt’s and Simple Truth, at our local Fred Meyer’s, make inexpensive organic tomato sauces.)

1-15 ounce can of water

2 tsp dried oregano  (Trader Joe’s carries a superb, organic dried oregano for $1.99!)

1 tbsp dried basil  (Also available inexpensively at Trader’s.)

1 tsp sugar  (I prefer organic; available at Trader’s and also in a more economical 10 lb bag at Costco.)

2 1/2 tsp salt, more to taste  (Real Salt is important for optimum health, available in nutrition section at local supermarket.)

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper, more to taste

5 extra-large garlic cloves, minced  (3 cubes of Trader’s frozen garlic is better here.)

1/4 cup tomato paste  (Open a 6 ounce can and freeze individual 1/4 cup servings in small plastic bags, to be thawed as needed.)

Pasta or a 4-5 lb spaghetti squash  (This spaghetti squash yields 4-6 servings.)

Parmesan cheese, grated or shaved

  1. If using spaghetti squash, preheat oven to 375 degrees; pierce squash with a fork multiple times; place on side on foil-covered cookie sheet, and bake for approximately 1 1/2 hour, turning halfway through, at 3/4 hour.  Cool 10 minutes for handling, cut lengthwise, take out seeds, and scrape out “noodles” with a fork, when ready to serve.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat; add a small piece of onion; when it sizzles, add rest of onions and sweat (cook until translucent); see photo.
  3. Fry beef in sauté pan; salt and pepper generously before cooking; drain fat if there is a great deal of excess, when finished.  Proceed to next step, while meat is cooking.
  4. If using romanesco, clean and cut into very small pieces, add to translucent onions, and cook until somewhat soft, about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add the cooked beef to onion mixture, along with tomato sauce, water, herbs, sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, and garlic.  Blend well.  (Set aside sauté pan.)
  6. Cover saucepan with a splash shield, which is available at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (see top photo); bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat to medium/low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Go to next step.
  7. If you are using mushrooms instead of romanesco, clean them by brushing off dirt with a mushroom brush, cut into small chunks.  Heat butter in the sauté pan, cook mushrooms in hot butter for several minutes, until slightly limp, stirring constantly.  Add mushrooms and juices to sauce.
  8. Meanwhile if serving with pasta, boil a large pot of water, to which 2 tbsp oil (any kind will do) and 2 tsp salt are added.
  9. When sauce has simmered for 30 minutes, blend in tomato paste; cook for several minutes, or until thickened, stirring constantly.
  10. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  11. Boil pasta 10 minutes before serving, or if using spaghetti squash, split baked squash in half lengthwise, take out seeds, and scoop out noodle-like membrane with a fork.
  12. Pour hot sauce over noodles and top with Parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.
  13. Note: may freeze small individual containers of leftover sauce, to be conveniently thawed for future use.  This is dynamite!

Gingered Bok Choy with Ground Turkey

gingered bok choy with ground turkey

gingered bok choy with ground turkey

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 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: in love with my God, I am a food historian.

This legacy of devotion and faith is more precious than gold, though my siblings and I received gold as well.

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.

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.1  Thus I chose apple cider instead of rice vinegar and, for heat, jalapeno instead of Szechuan peppers.  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.)  The glorious blending of these foods thrilled me!

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

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

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

1 medium/large yellow onion, halved at the root and sliced thin

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

2 stalks of celery

l large 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 large jalapeno pepper, minced small  (May use more for a hotter dish.)

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

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

1/3 cup 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 cup 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 ½ tbsp of oil in an extra-large frying pan over medium heat.  Add a small piece of onion; when it sizzles, oil is ready; add remaining onions and carmelize (cook until dark brown).
  2. Meanwhile cook turkey in a large sauté pan.  (Turn off heat when finished.) Go to next step in meantime.
  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. Next 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 brown, add to cooked meat, set aside.  (Note: you will reuse this extra-large pan for cooking the vegetables.)
  7. Meantime 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 medium/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-inch wide diagonal pieces.  Place carrots and celery in a bowl, set aside.
  9. Chop pepper in 3/4-inch x 2 1/2-inch wide strips.  Place in another bowl with bok choy, which is chopped in strips the same size as the pepper-include greens.  Set all aside.
  10. Heat remaining oil in the extra-large pan.  Place a small piece of carrot in oil, wait for it to sizzle.  Also turn heat on to medium/low under pan of meat/onions.  Go to the next step.
  11. 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
  12. 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.
  13. Mix together: hot meat, finished vegetables, and sauce.  Serve immediately with steamed rice.  This pleases the palate!

Thai Coconut/Lime Flounder

Salad with leftover Thai flounder

salad with leftover chilled Thai flounder

A long-awaited-for marriage took place in my church in October.  A feast at my bountiful table was part of my wedding present to our venerated couple.

Our bride Dina was particularly interested in learning how to cook, with ease, for her new groom.  My bright idea was to begin my dinner gift in the kitchen with teaching her how to make the meal.  I prepared all the steps, just like you might see on a cooking show: the ingredients were set out in small individual dishes, along with the corresponding pans and utensils. All was in place for the lesson to flow naturally.

My priceless inheritance from my parents was a gene that “knows” food. Therefore I intuitively conceived this delicious dish, which was specifically geared for her husband’s dietary needs.  An exquisite, ultra simple recipe resulted.

Surprise and hesitancy occurred upon my friends’ arrival, as I informed Dina that she was going to make dinner, under my close direction.  She, being true to form, rolled up her sleeves with courage.  Her nervousness soon dissipated, for the facility of my simple instructions comforted her.  Joy unspeakable resulted: a chef was born!  I have observed, as an aside, that this woman approaches all of life’s challenges with this same spirit.

Are you timid about stepping into the unknown, either in or out of the kitchen? May you receive encouragement to advance in faith; start by trying my recipes. They look lengthy at times, but are effortless!  The cause for this seeming protractedness is my inclusion of practical details, which make food preparation easy and enjoyable.  You’ll sense that you are in  cooking school, when you use my receipts, as I teach at every point.  Rest assured-I will educate you for the joy of cooking.

My favorite way to serve my smooth flounder, with its slight bite, is over a good pasta.  (However I used rice for my newly weds.)  Either will bless the taste buds. Also, cold leftovers of this fish top off a salad superbly.

This feast pleased Dina, Dale, and me as well!

Thai coconut lime flounder dinner

Thai coconut lime flounder dinner

Thai Coconut/Lime Flounder  Yields: 4 servings.  Total prep time: 40 minutes.

Note: flounders close relate to and resemble soles; thus, you may substitute any sole here (also see Parmesan Dover Sole, 2017/02/13).

1 ½ tbsp coconut oil  (Other oils will do, but coconut is best for flavor and quality here.)

1 medium/large yellow onion, halved at the core, and thinly sliced

1 lime, juiced

7 oz Extra Thick Coconut Cream, or half of a 14 oz can (This is available at Trader Joe’s.)

¾ tsp dried, crushed red pepper (Save spice jars and refill yearly with cheap, up-to-date “bulk’ spices.)

¼ tsp salt

4 fillets of flounder, approximately 1 lb  (Wild-caught is best; may substitute sole, which is a close relative to flounder.)

Boiled pasta or steamed rice

  1. Start cooking rice, according to directions on package.  If using pasta, begin boiling water in a big pot; to which you add 2 tsp salt and 2 tbsp of oil-any kind of oil will do.
  2. Place 4 individual dinner plates in oven; set the temperature on warm.
  3. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Place a small piece of onion in oil; it is ready when onion sizzles.  Add the onions and stir well; carmelize, cook until dark brown.  (See Tomato/Feta Chicken, 2016/07/25, and Cooking with Kale, 2016/09/07, for more about sautéing and the 19th century history of this technique.)
  4. Meanwhile roll lime on counter; press down hard with your hand, until the meat of the fruit is broken down and softened.  Juice lime.  Set aside.
  5. Place whole can of coconut oil in a small storage container.  Stir thoroughly until milk and cream are completely blended.
  6. Add half of the coconut cream (7 oz), lime, red pepper, and salt to carmelized onions.  Stir well and slowly bring to a soft boil over medium heat.  If preparing for guests, you may choose at this point, to set aside coconut mixture and heat it 15 minutes before serving.  If you are waiting, be sure to have the plates warm, rice cooked, or water boiling ahead of time.  (Note: you can freeze leftover coconut cream, or use within a week.)
  7. Start cooking pasta in boiling water about 12-15 minutes before dinner time.  Boil until it is al dente, about 10 minutes. Watch, as not to over cook. Drain and place on heated dinner plates when done.
  8. Meanwhile add two fillets of flounder (more if using sole) to hot coconut cream mixture, which has been heated over medium temperature.  Poach briefly on each side, only until color in center is opaque.  Do not overcook. Remove to heated dinner plates-on which you have placed pasta or rice. Repeat this step with the remaining fillets. Cover with sauce.
  9. Serve it forth!