Category Archives: Food

Flyin’ solo

So Jill went out of town this week with the girls, so it was just me.  So I will shoulder the heavy burden (not really) of writing this week’s post.  So here goes…

I decided that since it was just me, I could try to accomplish some tasks around the house; some of those things that are easier to do when you don’t have to worry about needing to go another direction as much.  So here is my (overly ambitious) list:

  • Finish the second garden box (done!)
  • Dig the bed for the squash (done and planted!)
  • Paint the basement stairs landing wall with blackboard paint (done!)
  • Tidy up my workshop (not done. 😦 )
  • Start re-finishing an end table (not even started)

You may have noticed that the top two items are “plant” items.  So I have completed building the second garden box (it has yet to be painted).  Disappointingly, our HOA introduced a wrinkle in the whole garden process.  Evidently, they don’t like vegetable gardens near the front of the house.  I think it’s just because they haven’t seen a pretty vegetable garden before.  Either way, we might have to move them somewhere else (down the hill maybe).  Poo.

I also dug the squash bed (about 6″ deep), and filled it with Dirt(tm).  It’s on a slope, so I put rocks on the uphill side to try to divert water around so it doesn’t flood the bed.  That worked.  Mostly.
The next day we got some torrential downpour; not what I had counted on.  It washed a bit of the dirt out of my nice new hole, but not all of it.  So I still count that as success.  Today (Sunday) I soaked and planted the zucchini and summer squash seeds, so we’ll see how they do (crosses fingers).

On the “plate” side, Jill (bless her heart) gave me a couple of menu items to cook.  One was a cottage pie (like shepherd’s pie, but with beef instead of lamb).  The other was a Thai chicken curry.  Nothing horribly complicated.  Here are the basic recipes:

Cottage Pie
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1 Swede, peeled and cubed (sue me for using the British term)
Some carrots, chopped
Some celery, chopped
An onion (maybe two if you like), also chopped (see the pattern here?)
Some ground beef (I used a pound)
Some potatoes to make some mash

Brown the beef.  Set aside.  Sweat the vegetables.  Add the beef back into the pan, and stir in about 3 Tbsp of flour.  Add a little red wine real quick to deglaze.  When the wine has cooked down a bit, add about 750 ml of stock (beef, chicken, meat, etc).  Cook about 45 minutes to thicken the gravy.

While the gravy is cooking, peel and boil some ‘taters (precious).  Mash them down with a bit of milk, butter, and some cheddar cheese (Gromit!).

Put the beef mixture in a casserole, scoop the mash on top, and stick it in the oven for about 10-20 minutes-ish to brown the taters.  The broiler may help with this, but watch it like a hawk.  Serve and enjoy!

 

Now onto the chicken curry.

Curry paste (I used Thai Red that I got in Bangkok)
Some bell peppers (I used three)
Some onion (I used one)
Bamboo shoots (optional; I used two cans)
Chicken (I used two breast halves, cubed into small-ish pieces)
Coconut milk (full fat)
Rice (Jasmine is a good choice)

Put the curry paste in a big pan and fry for just a moment.  Add the chicken and frizzle (technical term: fry) that up.  Add the peppers and onion, and continue frizzling.  When the veg are translucent/are cooked down a little, toss in the coconut milk and bamboo shoots.  Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes (ish).  The goal is not to cook out/thicken the liquid.  Thai curries tend to be pretty liquidy.

Uncover and spoon off some of the excess coconut fat.  It tastes good, but if you don’t the mouthfeel will be kinda greasy (not as good eats).  Simmer a little more if you like (I did about five/ten minutes, I think)

Serve over the jasmine rice.  If you don’t like Thai hot stuff, have a glass of milk handy.  If you do like Thai hot stuff, go to town.  It’s tasty.

 

The final recipe (served to the girls when they got home today) was chicken, ham & leek pie:
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Some chicken (2 breast halves again, small cubes)
Some ham (small bits)
2 leeks (cleaned & chopped)
Puff pastry (I made a rough puff, but store puff would be better)
One egg, beaten for eggwash

Brown the chicken & ham; set aside.  Sweat the leeks down (don’t brown them).  At this point, you can put the whole mess in the fridge if you made these ahead of time

For the sauce:
Roux (2 Tbsp butter melted, stir in 2Tbsp flour)
1 cup milk
Spoonful of chicken goo (Better than Bullion)

Add chicken goo to milk, then add to hot roux.  Whisk while the milk comes up to a boil.  Make sure that the milk doesn’t stick on the pot (it will try), as it will burn.  Not good eats.  Let it boil gently for about 30 seconds (keep stirring), take it off the heat.

Preheat oven to 400.  Put the chicken&ham&leek mixture in a casserole (or enamelware rectangular pie tin 🙂 ).  Pour the sauce over the mixture, and cover with the puff.  Brush on the eggwash, and toss in the oven.  Cook about 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown & delicious.  Remove from oven, and let stand about 10-15 minutes to cool & set (It will be pretty toasty right out of the oven.  Once again, serve & enjoy!

What’s For Dinner? Mar 12 – 19

This is an exciting week.  Two of my favorite not-quite-holidays fall in this week!  Pi Day March 14 and St. Patrick’s Day on March 17.  And some how, with out really trying we managed to plan out a very international menu for the week.  I only realized this as I was walking through Kroger to get all my ingredients.  As usual spending quite a bit of time in the produce section!

You may also notice the extra and overlapping day – today.  Normally I shoot for a Monday – Sunday schedule, but this chili verde with chicken or white chicken chili or chicken tortilla soup that’s been on my mind for two weeks now just did not want to be made on the day I had planned.  For two weeks!  I guess because I didn’t really have a good recipe and slacked off cooking by the weekends when the meal was planned.  Well I rallied today.  In a big way!  I even did the grocery shopping a day early because I needed ingredients.  And in all my searching I came across a (hopefully) wonderful recipe for Green Chili with Chicken. Continue reading What’s For Dinner? Mar 12 – 19

What’s For Dinner? Mar 6 – 12

This weekend was a blast, and exhausting at the same time.  We made it through the Pokemon Party.  And we did build a veg bed only to later have second thoughts because of our termite-riddled Southern location.  Of course with everything going on menu planning was the last thing on my  mind Sunday Night.  We managed to scrape together a leftover meal from items in the fridge and freezer.  Lovely fishcakes and ranch coleslaw.  It went over well with three of the four eating.  Lucy opted for leftover beef hash and potatoes although she did enjoy the ranch coleslaw.  Lolly on the other hand would have eaten every available fishcake.  She wolfed down two before I told her to stop so Daddy would have one for his leftover lunch!  And our Little Miss Chatterbox was even the first one done with dinner!  Her cries of “I’m still hungry” were met with an arched eyebrow and pursed lips.  I told her to let her dinner settle for a few minutes and even then she went back for a piece of fruit.  I’m sensing a growth spurt coming on! Continue reading What’s For Dinner? Mar 6 – 12

What’s for Dinner: Feb 27 – Mar 5

This is a big week for us here at Overhill.  This week E will be turning 8!  And to celebrate we have gone all out Pokemon Style.  We have Pokemon food, Pokemon games, Pokemon crafts, Pokemon cakes, Pokemon gift bags filled with all sorts of Pokemon goodies, Pokemon cards…prepare yourself for a Pokemon Party Post sometime later this week!

But in the mean time we still need to eat!  And while Friday is a big day for the smallest Hobbit in our Home, and of course it’s Pizza and a Movie Night, this is also the beginning of Lent.  Which means no meat on Friday.  Boy am I glad we had that Thai chicken pizza last week!  Now since our little Lolly adores Fish, you would think this would be a no brainer, but fish on pizza was shot right down.  In flames.  Behind enemy lines.  So there won’t be a fishy pizza entry on Friday.  But then again, there may be anchovies.  Fair Warning!

So what are we eating for dinner this week?  For all that we have two meatless days, Ash Wednesday, and Friday we seem to be making up for it the rest of the week.  Starting with one classic non-Paleo sandwich favorite tonight:  Cuban Sandwiches.

Monday Night – We had lovely roast pork over the weekend.  It turned out crispy and spicy glazed on the outside and succulent just this side of pink on the inside.  And now the leftovers will be turned into one of my favorite sandwiches of all time – The Cubano!  Crusty Oval Sandwich bread, mustard, pickles, ham and pork.  Yum!  I’m also going to try a Paleo yeast bread found at Paleomom.com. I don’t need bread everyday – but the idea of a Cuban sandwich with out bread (using cabbage or mushrooms or just meat and mustard and pickles) makes me sad.  Cross your fingers that the Paleomom’s recipe turns out well for me!

Correction – I WAS going to try and make the Paleo yeast bread found on paleomom.com, but Lolly came home with a massive project due the on Tuesday and so I spent my evening guiding a research paper on Arctic Wolves.  Fun fact: Arctic Wolves have furry paws so their feet don’t get cold on the tundra.  So I know more than I ever wanted to about wolves, but I have no idea how Paleo Yeast Bread tastes.  But tomorrow is another day.  And since I get the night off from dinner cookery, I’m hoping to get the baking done!

Tuesday – Mardi Gras here in the states!  or Pancake Day in the UK.  And it’s pancake day for us too!  We’re going to a pancake dinner at our church for dinner tonight!  Lolly wants thin British Style pancakes with lemon and sugar.  We’ll be bringing our own since I don’t think that’s going to be on offer 😉  Lucy loves to drown her American Style Flapjacks in not-quite-Maple Syrup.  Kevin wants to flip pancakes in the air like Daddy Pig (I DO NOT want pancakes stuck to my ceiling Daddy Pig!) and then drown them in real-maple-syrup.  I want Pancakes, but they are most definitely not Paleo.  So, I’m gonna make some shrimp and chicken jambalaya over cauliflower rice at lunch time to feel that Big Easy spirit, and then stick to sausage and maple syrup at the Pancake Dinner (and probably a second helping of Jambalaya when I get home!)

Wednesday – Carrot, Swede (Rutabaga) and Coriander Soup with Crusty Bread.  If the bread works out I’ll have bread with lashings of apple butter along with.  If the bread doesn’t work out I’ll just skip it.  And I’m going to add Crispy bacon crumbles on the soup to provide much needed protein.

Thursday – Kevin’s in the Kitchen and he’s taking on the Jamie’s 30 minute meals Beef Hash with Jacket Potatoes and Salad with Green Goddess Dressing minus the Butter Beans.  IF I wasn’t trying to be all Paleo, those beans are absolutely divine.  I wonder if I can make something similar with diced white sweet potatoes instead…hmmmm.  But that’s a recipe for another day.

Friday – Happy Birthday Lolly!  We’ll be making Pizza of course!  But since its now Lent we’ll go meatless.  Since it’s Lolly’s birthday we’ll go Pokemon!  Red peppers, tomatoes and cauliflower, black olives and cheese to make Pokeball pizzas and of course we’re watching a Pokemon movie!

Saturday – Happy Birthday Lolly Part 2 – Since I expect I’ll be run ragged at the Pokemon Party I’m planning a crock pot dinner for tonight.  Crock Pot White Chicken Chili in fact.  I’m still trying to find a good recipe that doesn’t involve coconut.  I don’t want this to taste like a Thai soup, I want chili!  It may end up being more like chicken tortilla soup (minus the tortillas).

Sunday – Roast Turkey (no its not Thanksgiving) and a tray bake of sweet potato rounds, brussel sprouts, red onions and parsnips and a homemade cranberry orange compote.

For desserts we’re having Eton Mess since that is one of Lolly’s Favorites and strawberries are still cheap in the stores down here.  I’m not sure where the name came from but there is a wikipedia article about it.  However as I tell my kids, Wikipedia is facts about facts…not the facts themselves, so I’m not sure how accurate this information actually is.  But history aside, Eton Mess – a delicious combination of strawberries, whipped cream and broken meringues is a real treat.   I tried to make this last weekend for our picnic outing, but ended up substituting lady fingers for meringues and making a sort of Strawberry-Mi-Sue instead.  This time I’m making my own meringues since I can’t seem to find those in stores.  Oh Trader Joe – why have you forsaken me?  And I suppose we’ll have to play a little cricket to go along with our dessert.  Ready Bowler?

What We Ate Last Week…Feb 20 – 26

Apologies for the really late update :-/  I’ve been really run down and under the weather.  Even though the weather has turned lovely.  I’m bracing myself for the return of the cold biting winds and frost.

These dinner posts are very popular.  And missing one is really made my blog stats go down – which leads to sad kitty faces.  So I thought today I’d post a double whammy, what we ate last week, and what we’re having for dinner for the coming week!

Last week started off okay but the week ended with me feeling icky.  Dinner was the last thing on my mind and I’m also sad to report that the 80/20 Paleo goal wasn’t met either.  Well, I should say, it was 80/20.  Just 80% not paleo and 20% paleo.  Cue the SAD kitty faces.  I have also noticed that switching back to the SAD (btw that’s Standard American Diet for those who like me are newbies to the Paleo world) has made me feel even more icky.  So, while I still have my cough and I’m not feeling up to walkies or strength training, or yoga or moving around in general, I’m hopping back on the wagon!  I’d love to get some words of encouragement…hint hint hint.

So what did we eat last week?  It all started off a bit weird…cue the wiggly fade and silly time warp music “bup-a-la-doo bup-a-la-doo bup-a-la-doo” Continue reading What We Ate Last Week…Feb 20 – 26

Wishful Thinking = Garden Plans!

I don’t know any one who is a complete realist when it comes to garden planning.  Most Gardeners are prone to Wishful Thinking and an epic amount of Optimism.  Myself included!  Especially when faced with seed catalogs or a large (or small) display of seed packets.  I have been known to lay out a square foot garden of seed packets on the floor while standing in the front of just such a display at Lowes.  My husband might think I’m nuts, but the staff at Lowes are very understanding!

However, this year Kevin went on a preemptive strike against my seed packet hording tendencies.  I thought he was hiding out, puttering, doing much needed and vastly important work in the office for a a few hours one Saturday.  I later found that he had been in the garage organizing my all my gardening supplies.  Dear Man!  Of course he seemed to locate every seed packet that I had bought last year with the intention of gardening.  So I suppose that means my yearly binge shop of seed packets is out.  I should use up the ones we already have.  Poo!

So with my stash of seeds in hand (and not scattered to the four winds throughout the garage) here’s what my planning sheet looks like so far:

Square Foot Gardening:
Possibility Vegetable Name # Per Square Weekly Need: Planting Schedule (64 week): Start Date:
Def Arugula 16 8 8 per 1 week March
Def Carrots 16 8 8 per 1 week March
Def Chard 4 1 1 per 1 week March
Def Cucumbers 2 2 1 per month May
Def Leaf Lettuce 9 3 3 per 1 week March
Def Patty Pan Squash 1 1 1 per summer March
Def Radishes 16 8 8 per 1 week March
Def Romaine 4 2 2 per 1 week March
Def Spinach 9 3 3 per 1 week March
Def Tomatoes 1 1 1 per month April
Def Zucchini 1 1 1 per summer April
Def Strawberries 4 1 1 per spring, summer, fall March
Def Garlic 4 1 1 per 1 week March
Def Green Beans 4 2 2 per month March
Def Parsnips 16 4 4 per 1 week March
Def Peppers – Green 1 2 1 per month April
Def Peppers – Red 1 2 1 per month April
Def Jalapeno 1 1 1 per summer April
Def Melon 1 1 1 per summer April
Def Watermelon 1 1 1 per summer April
Fall Winter Squash 1 1 1 per spring, summer, fall April
Herb Basil 1 1 1 per month March
Herb Chives 1 1 1 per summer March
Herb Cilantro 4 1 1 per month March
Herb Dill 9 1 1 per summer March
Herb Parsley 2 1 1 per month Already
Herb Rosemary 1 1 1 per summer March
Herb Sage 1 1 1 per summer Already
Herb Thyme 4 1 1 per summer Already
Low Rutabaga 4 2 2 per 1 week April
Low Turnips 9 3 3 per 2 weeks April
Low Eggplant 1 1 1 per month April
Low Cabbage 1 0.5 1 per 2 weeks March
Low Summer Squash 1 1 1 per summer April
Med Cauliflower 1 1 1 per 1 week March
Med Celery 2 1 1 per 1 week March
Med Leeks 9 2 2 per 2 week March
sfg-plan-2017-2
Spring SFG 2017
sfg-plan-2017
Spring SFG 2017

One reason I love the SFG method is that it is very easy to determine how much to actually plant.  I don’t need 16 arugula plants to be ripe and ready for harvest all at once.  I estimate I’ll need about 8 plants per week.  Which means that week 1 I will plant 8 seeds in the 16 plant grid.  Week 2 I will plant 8 more seeds to fill up the grid.  Week 3 I will plant another 8, and so on and on until I start harvesting (for arugula that’s usually about 4 weeks time).  After that point I can carefully dig up my first week’s 8 arugula plants, use them and plant 8 more seeds in the vacant spot!  So I get a rotating crop of arugula that will last for months (or at least until the weather turns too warm here and they start to bolt).

Another method for continuous harvest is to plant several squares all at once and then harvest a few leaves from each plant and allow them to continue growing.  I have used both methods in the past, but I think this year we’re going with the ‘remove the entire plant when ripe then start fresh seeds’ method.

For fruits and veg that are more “ever-bearing” like squash, cucumbers and tomatoes you must harvest to encourage new growth, but you only have to plant 1 for a longer period (such as 1 per month or 1 per summer).

I already have parsley, sage, mint and thyme growing in pots on our front steps.  And I’m planning on adding Rosemary, Chives, Dill, Cilantro and most especially Basil ASAP!  I’ll also be planting more Parsely, Cilantro, and Basil because I usually use SO much of those that sometimes cutting back the plant to make a recipe on monday doesn’t leave me with enough for a recipe later in the week.  Obvious solution…I need more plants!

In my attempt to make the garden look less like a veg plot and more flowerbed like (hopefully to appease the homeowners association) I’ll be throwing in a few zinnias, marigolds, cosmos and daisies.  Folks will be so entranced by the pretty flowers they won’t see the lettuce or tomato vine right?  Wishful Thinking!

Photo Credit: Mel Bartholomew, http://www.melbartholomew.com/the-very-first-sfg/

Mel Bartholomew may be one of the only Garden Realists!  His method certainly helps bring about Garden Achievements rather than just a bunch of Wishful Thinking!  I was given his first book from my Papa several years ago.  And then later bought the new edition of the same book.  I’m actually partial to the older version.  And this groovy picture which can also be found in the original book is basically my idea of garden nirvana!

Valentine’s Day, Shmalentine’s Day

I’m completely and totally not into Valentine’s Day.  My children usually hate it.  The whole forced to bring in something for everyone in the class even the person who makes you feel awful day after day part of the equation can be overwhelmingly upsetting when you’re in elementary school…or high school.  However Lucy (and her Boyfriend!) have plans for Valentine’s Day.  She’s been cooking up some plan for a movie date and making him a box of treats.  She also mentioned making him brownies.  Young love!

The real kicker though is that for some inexplicable reason Ella is actually looking forward to it as well.  Despite her love of all things hearts and pink she’s never been too enthusiastic about this holiday.  She says it always makes her feel left out.  Awwww, my baby!  Well this year, the year of the Fenniken (for those that follow the Pokemon astrological calendar), I found her just the Valentine Poem:

Charmander is Red(ish-orange),

Squirtle is Blue,

If You were a Pokemon,

I would choose You!

And for the last 11 years Kevin and I have had more to celebrate on February 11th rather than the 14th.  February 11 is the day that we got engaged.  He kneeled on a rock out on Olmsted Island in Great Falls MD, sang me a beautiful song and asked me to be his wife.  Of course I said yes!  Greatest Not Valentine’s Day Ever!

So in honor of Valentine’s Day and Not Valentine’s Day we’re having a very pink, red and strawberry day.  Starting with strawberry friands adapted from a similar recipe from one of the most beautiful blogs/cookbooks of all time “What Katie Ate” by Katie Quinn Davis.  So what the heck is a Friand?.  Friands are similar to muffins, but they’re made with almond meal instead of wheat flour (so already heading to a Paleo Place of Happiness!).  They’re originally a French food, known over there as financier, although they are super popular in Australia and known there as friands.  Any which way, they’re very tasty and make an excellent dessert or can stand in as a paleo breakfast muffin.

For dinner we’re still having Tacos…’cause its still Tuesday, but I thought I’d make a special dessert in honor of the day.  And since Ella is still undecided about chocolate, (sometimes I wonder where we went wrong…honestly how can she NOT like chocolate?) I decided to make panna cotta with strawberry elderflower compote instead.

Panna cotta is like grown up creamy jello/pudding.  The first time I can recall having panna cotta was at River Cottage (see, there it is again!).  We harvested the little yellow flower buds from a Scottish Broom Hedge (which incidentally has an almost tropical smell to it) and steeped them in milk before adding gelatin and sugar and letting them set up to a seductively wobbly texture.  Yes, wobbly can be seductive.  But for Valentine’s Day I think I’ll add a wee dram of elderflower cordial (found at Ikea of all places!).  It’s very sugary and not very Paleo but come on…it is Valentine’s Day!  You could skip the cordial and add a bit of vanilla extract and or vanilla seed pod to be more paleo.  I should also mention that while this recipe can be made with almond milk (behold a recipe from nom nom Paleo) I plan on making mine with milk and cream.

Here is my adaptation of the BBC Good Food Recipe for Elderflower Panna Cotta but in approximate US measurements and with out the vanilla, I think it competes too much with the very delicate elderflower flavor.

Elderflower Panna Cotta

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups whole milk

3 oz (by weight) pure cane sugar

4 tbsp elderflower cordial (they call for elderflowers but cordial works fine too)

2 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder (such as Great Lakes or Knox, see my note about gelatin below)

Note about Gelatin: the recipe originally called for 2 leaves of gelatin…see this website for information on how to convert the amount of powdered gelatin to leaf gelatin.  The information on the website is for making a hard set gelatin, and that’s not what we’re going for here, so take this advice with a measure of salt…er gelatin.  We’re making panna cotta…remember we want a seductive wobble not knox blox or jello jigglers that can withstand the abuse of a toddler before being consumed!)

Scald the milk, cream and sugar in a small sauce pan.  Add the cordial and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.  Then add the gelatin (the liquid should still be hot enough to melt the gelatin) and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.  Allow to cool to room temperature before pouring into ramekins (or a heart shaped silicone muffin mold).  Place them in the fridge for at least 4 hours until set.

When ready to serve, dip the ramekin into hot water briefly before turning out onto a plate.  You may need to use a knife to break the suction at the side of the ramekin.  A slightly damp plate will help you position the panna cotta as you wish (freezing plates and allowing the resulting frost to thaw will give you just the right amount of water).  Garnish with a fruit compote and mint leaves if you want to get fancy.

Or just eat them with a spoon straight from the ramekin.  But you won’t get to see the seductive wobble if you leave them in the ramekins 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Or if you’re like me and mine and mostly give this day a miss, at least have a Happy Two-Desserts-in-One-Day Day!

Photo Credit: BBC Good Food Website, http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/elderflower-panna-cotta-strawberries-brown-butter-crumble