Recipe- Savory Pecan Loaf (The Abascal Way)

I’ve been trying to make more meatless meals, so when a friend loaned me her copy of The Abascal Way Cookbook, I was pleasantly surprised at how good many of the recipes sounded.  Or maybe my pallette is changing.  Could it be that I’m getting past my cravings for fries and ice cream?!?  Naaa.

Tonight I prepared the Savory Pecan Loaf.  Being a southern girl who LOVES pecans in any way, shape and form I can ingest them, trying this recipe was a given from the getgo.

Here are the ingredients (I have posted the no-pictures, traditional version on the Recipes page above.)

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I found the quinoa flakes at Sprouts.

This recipe takes quite a bit of chopping. If you have a small electric chopper, it will really come in handy here.  Measure 8 ounces of pecan – not 1 cup- measure by weight.

IMG_1019 And then process them until fine.

IMG_1020Add 2 cups quinoa flakes to the pecans and pulse to mix.

IMG_1022Chop 1 cup each onion and celery and grate 1 cup carrots.

IMG_1023Saute in 2 tablespoons oil until soft and golden.

At this point you’re supposed to add the saute’d vegetables, 1 cup nut butter, 3 beaten eggs, 1/2 cup parsley, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp.pepper to the food processor that holds the nut mixture and pulse it all to mix.  My food processor bowl isn’t big enough to hold it all, so I mixed the veges, nut butter and eggs in the processor with a small portion of the pecans/quinoa to mix all the wet ingredients, dumped it all into a BA mixing bowl and dug in with my hands until is was all mixed.

IMG_1024

Ta-da!!

Put it in your grandmother’s vintage Pyrex loaf pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.  It smells heavenly, by the way, while its in the oven.  Roasted pecans- yum!

IMG_1026No, it’s not your imagination, it’s blurry

I baked it for the full 40 minutes which was a little too long in my oven.  It was a little dry on top, but was moist in the middle.  It has a chewy, nutty texture, just a hint of veges and is very filling.  It makes a lot for the two of us, so I’ll be eating it for a few days.  I think I’ll brown a slice in the toaster oven, slather it with butter and have a nice, protein-rich breakfast in the morning.

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Now, who’s coming over to do the dishes?

De-Plasticize Your Home: Know The Codes

More reading on my part regarding the abundance of chemicals in our lives.  This time the culprit is plastics.  When it was considered the newest miracle product of  the 1950s, our grandmothers still largely bought and cooked fresh food: fresh produce, meat from the butcher, and stored left overs in those cute little glass refrigerator dishes that go for a premium at antique stores these days.  Today, most of our food comes pre-packaged in plastic.  And what we don’t consume at one meal, we store in plastic in our plastic refrigerators.

Plastic has changed.  Different plastics serve different purposes and are made from different chemical resins.  Some are stable, some are not and leach into our food.  It’s also in our shampoo bottles, our flooring and our kids’ toys.  Plastic is pervasive, but you can educate yourself and learn which ones to avoid.

We’re all familiar with the recycling code on plastic containers.  That cute little green triangle with a number in the middle.  That number indicates the kind of resin used to create the plastic. 

PET OR PETE (POLYETHYLENE TEREPHTHALATE), ALSO KNOWN AS POLYESTER

Typical uses: water and soft drink bottles, prepared salad and spinach containers

Health and environmental impact: intended for single use; plastic can break down and host bacteria; potential to interfere with reproductive hormones

HDPE (HIGH DENSITY POLYETHYLENE)

Typical uses: opaque milk jugs; cereal box liners; liquid detergent bottles; most shampoo bottles

Health & Environmental Impacts: low risk of leaching

PVC (POLYVINYL CHLORIDE)

Typical uses: plastic wrap, cooking oil bottles, toys, plumbing pipes, window and door frames, insulation

Health & Environmental Impact: known as the “toxic plastic”; can cause endocrine disruption, reduced sperm count, testicular atrophy and liver cancer

(Run Forrest, run!!!)

LDPE (LOW DENSITY POLYETHYLENE)

Typical uses: plastic wrap, grocery, garbage and sandwich bags.

Health & Environmental Impacts: not known to leach chemicals

PP (POLYPROPYLENE)

Typical uses: yogurt and margarine tubs, microwavable meal trays,  fiber for carpets, wall coverings, vehicle upholstery

Health & Environmental Impacts: hazardous during manufacture but not known to leach chemicals

PS (POLYSTYRENE)

Typical uses: styrofoam cups, clamshell containers, foam meat trays, plastic cutlery, electronics packaging and insulation

Health & Environmental Impacts: eye, nose and throat irritation; stored in body fat (ooohhhh), can cause cancer to production workers, harmful to marine life (this type of plastic makes up the majority of the huge garbage islands floating in global oceans)

PC (POLYCARBONATE), PLA (POLYACTIDE) AND OTHER PLASTIC NOT INCLUDED IN THE CATEGORIES ABOVE

Typical uses: baby bottles, some reusable water bottles, stain resistant food storage containers

Health & Environmental Impacts: BPA-containing polycarbonate causes endocrine and reproduction system disruption; impaired neurological functions; cancer; cardiovascular system damage; early puberty (OMG), obesity (crap!); chemotherapy resistance

Well, Forrest, I’m about to catch up with you.  Good grief.  In my disgust, I am looking for ways to relieve my household of the abundance of plastic.  I quit drinking out of plastic cups a long time ago, but still have them around and my husband uses them all the time.  Just about all the food I buy, even the organic potatoes and apples I bought today, came in plastic bags.  The trays our treat-ourselves-once-a-week rib eye steaks come packaged in are absorbing plastics that are then stored in our body fat.  And I’m really going to start checking for #7.  Scary stuff. 

So, in the spirit of less plastic, I splurged and ordered some reuseable produce bags to use at the grocery store instead of wrapping my fresh produce in plastic and then bringing it home.  Here they are, from Amazon.

I bought 2 sets of 5 at $11 each.  Perhaps a little pricey, but washable and should last a very long time.  They were transparent enough so that the checker had no problem identifying the contents.   Now I just need to find some alternative storage solutions for leftovers.

Comments anyone? 

Keep it simple, ya’ll.

The Dirty Dozen – Top Foods to Buy Organic

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about all the chemicals in our lives.  In our food, in our environment.  While there may not be a lot we can do about the air we breathe, we can make food choices that will put less stress on our livers and lymph systems as they work to detox our bodies.  Buying fruits and vegetables  that have not been sprayed with pesticides will not only keep those chemicals from harming us, but those foods have been tested and proved to be more nutritious, according to Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman, the detox diet expert.

There are 12 foods that are most easily contaminated with pesticides and 12 that she lists as okay to not worry about buying organic.  Here are the ones you should buy organic whenever possible. They are listed in the order of their toxicity.

1. Peaches

2. Apples

3. Sweet bell peppers

4. Celery

5. Nectarines

6.  Strawberries

7. Cherries

8. Pears

9. Grapes, imported

10. Spinach

11. Lettuce

12. Potatos

Wow!  I buy ALL this stuff. 

Here are the foods not to worry about:

1.  Onions  (just bought a bag of organic ones today.  Oh, well..)

2. Avocados

3. Sweet corn

4.  Pineapples (ooh, I love pineapple, good idea…)

5. Mangoes (yuck)

6. Asparagus (double yuck)

7. Sweet peas

8. Kiwi (good!)

9. Bananas

10. Cabbage (something else I just bought organic)

11. Broccoli (second verse same as the first)

12. Papaya (triple yuck)

The good Dr. Gittleman also shares a recipe for a Clorox wash that is supposed to “help remove pesticides, bacteria, parasites and other contaminants.”  She credits Dr. Hazel Parcells for proving that a very dilute mixture of 1 teaspoon of Clorox bleach to 1 gallon of water will not only clean your fruits and vegetables, but make them last longer. 

Thin skinned fruit such as apricots, berries, plums, peaches should be left in the bath for 15 minutes, same for leafy vegetables; poultry, fish, meat, eggs for 20 minutes; thick skinned fruit such as apples, bananas and citrus for 30 minute as well as thin skinned root or fibrous vegetables like carrots and radishes.  After the alloted time in the bath, place in clear water for 10 minutes.  Then remove, rinse and dry thoroughly. 

So, her point is, if organic is too expensive or not available, the above bath is a good alternative.  Think I might give it a try with the strawberries I bought today. 

So, let me know what you think.  Is this sort of information helpful?  Has anyone tried the Clorox bath?  Comments, comments, comments!

Keep it simple, ya’ll.

Ugh (its so hard to come up with titles for these stupid things)

I’m so tired.  Maybe its daylight savings time.  I did really well the first few days and then BOOM! this morning I’m really dragging.  I had to work until 7 last night on my feet in bad shoes.  May not sound like a big deal, but for someone who has chronic feet and leg problems, its huge.  I tossed and turned all night with the pain even after taking 800mg of ibuprofen – which always works with other types of pain but for some reason doesn’t phase my foot and leg pain. 

Or maybe its the sugar overload I’ve been on lately.  I was doing great.  Down 3 pounds which is a big deal for post-menapausal life.  Then my neighbor brought me a King Cake from Mardi Gras.  Ate my fill and put the rest in the freezer.  Yea, me.  Then my husband felt sorry for a co-worker and bought 2 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.  One box of thin mints eaten for dinner all at one sitting.  Dessert overload at my son’s going away party – although he may not be going to Japan now – still in limbo on that decision – another story for another time, but could be contributing to my blahness.  Birthday cake for a coworker. Cupcake from the gourmet bakery after gourging on Mexican food for lunch yesterday.  I usually pass when co-workers go out for Tex-Mex at lunch because it is SO much food, but it was that same birthday and not wanting to be a stick in the mud, went along.  Then a couple of cookies at the exhibit opening last night.  This morning I feel like crap.  Vision even slightly blurred.  Diabetes runs in the family.  I’m in denial.  Never check my blood sugar.  Whine……………….

On the up side, the weather is warming nicely.  Hopefully the frost we had on the windshield Tuesday morning was the last of the season.  Pretty soon I’ll be griping about the heat!  But while I’m griping I’ll be eating home grown okra!  Woohoo! 

Be praying for the people of Japan.

A Slow Food Kind Of Day

My favorite day of the month is the third Thursday.  That’s the day Oklahoma slow food,  locally grown food from all over the state magically and miraculously makes its way from farm to table all in one day.  Of course, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make this one day happen, sterilizing coolers, freezing bottles, buying lots and lots and lots of dry ice, renting trucks – all to make the third Thursday happen.

I’ve sung the praises of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, the brainchild of slow food and permaculture guru Bob Waldrop, lots of times here.  Today was such a beautiful day weather-wise, a real blessing after hail and tornados, that it made this particular delivery/pickup day special.  So, I wanted to share some pics of what goes on at our pickup site.  Enjoy!

This small garden greets the volunteers.

The truck is here! All these coolers and bins hold the locally grown food for two pickup sites in Edmond and we need a third!

 

Tables are set up and numbered to match our members' ID numbers. Bins are full of bags of dry goods that go on the tables.

Coolers, coolers and more coolers! Frozen food on one side of the room, refrigerated produce and cheeses on the other and eggs along the back wall. Can't beat a good farm fresh egg from free range chickens!

Our members start arriving to pick up their food. Each member is given an invoice listing the food they ordered and cooler numbers. Just go around the room and gather your food, pay on the way out and see you next month!

 I’m exhausted by the end of my shift, but its a good tired.  My three hours of volunteer work will earn me $21 off my next month’s order.  I worked enough last month to pay for half of my order this month.  Can’t beat that with a stick!  

To fill in the weeks I run out of something I can always hit my local farmers market on Saturday mornings.  

Local food is so much fun and you’re supporting your local community that will come in handy when the oil stops flowing one of these days – but don’t get me started on that!

 

 

Time to Start Planning that Garden!

Just when I’m about to cave in under the gloomy gray skies, the leafless brown dryness of the landscape and the cold air, a small promise of spring opens its sleepy eyes.  It’s that time of year – time to start planning for the vege patch! 

Last year my husband and I spent several weekends in back breaking work building three raised garden beds.  He hammered and sawed while I hauled load after load of garden soil from the local supplier.  (Sidenote from the Voice of Experience: when approaching a downhill 4-way stop with a new pickup fully loaded with soil, apply pressure to the brake pedal well in advance of the normal time.  A fully loaded brand new pickup will roll well into the intersection before coming to a complete stop if extra time is not allowed for the function.  You may not be as fortunate as I was in this situation in that there were no other cars around!) Okay, back to the subject.  🙂   After building the beds, I spent several more hours sifting the compost pile I had been lovingly adding to all winter.  It was actually very therapeutic and I’m looking forward to it this year.    Mix it all together and viola!  Lots of lettuce – lots and lots and lots of lettuce, way too much swiss chard, but then not enough okra or purple hull peas. 

I will take the lessons learned from last year and redirect my efforts for another season.  I will plant not near as much lettuce; swiss chard is completely out; add some spinach; move the onions to a different bed; try cilantro this year; only 3 tomato plants instead of 6; try growing the squash on supports where it will hopefully climb instead of taking over every inch of space in its path; an entire 8′ foot bed for okra and a split bed of cowpeas and black beans; peppers in two whiskey barrel planters; no sweet potatoes this year. 

So, I have just ordered my seeds from Baker Creek  Heirloom Seeds in Missouri.  As much as I believe in buying from local sources, there is only one heirloom seed source here I have found and the selection is very small.  You’d think in a city this size…..how many times have I said that about a whole host of things?  I will try them for my black bean seeds.  I started to order them online but the shipping was literally 3 times as much as the seed itself and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  So, my black bean seeds may not be organic – oh, well.

I ordered a garden planner from the Food Co-op this month.  Its supposed to have a lot of good information and space to record information year to year.  I really need to start doing this if I am going to be successful in this venture. 

This is also the time of year that the old yearning returns – the yearning for a more spacious living environment (in the outdoor sense).  The yearning to be out in nature.  I guess it comes from being cooped up for going on 3 months now.  I want a buffer of some land between me and the neighbors, I want to raise some chickens (or do I?  they’re awfully messy), I want to work only part-time and actually have the time to decide about raising chickens – in other words, I want a simpler life.  I want to get away from the city and the traffic and the noise.  So, I guess that’s what planning my garden represents to me.  The chance to get outdoors more, even if it is only the backyard. 

Which brings to mind another project: this year we MUST MUST MUST build a cover over the patio.  Our backyard is on the west side of the house.  We cut down two hugely overgrown intrusive trees last year to make way for the garden, but the price we paid was extreme heat beating down on our patio and into our kitchen.  My husband has a plan for the covering, but it is just a matter of getting up the energy to do it.  Hopefully, the first warm weekend come April will be the inspiration we need! 

In the meantime, I’ll keep dreaming of getting my hands into that compost pile and the fresh food to come!

Keep it simple.

Easy Tomato Sauce and Salsa Recipes

A couple of weeks ago I was bemoaning the fact that my tomatoes weren’t ripening.  Guess I should be careful what I wish for because now I have more beautiful Romas, cherry tomatoes and Best Boys than I know what to do with!  A good problem to have.  We have made two huge batches of salsa and as much as I love it, I know that if I make a third batch it will get old and will probably be wasted before we eat it.  Even making another round of the hot stuff won’t use up all the tomatoes we’re getting on a daily basis.  So today I went online in search of a frozen tomato sauce recipe.  I went to a great canning class last fall and came home with some recipes, but I don’t want to do the glass jar canning routine.  First of all, I don’t have the jars and lids and don’t want to spend the money.  And to be truthful, it really sounds like an awful lot of hard, hot work.  So, this is what I found today online that I think I’m going to try.  It’s  from Kalyn’s Kitchen on Blogspot. 

The most inspiring thing about my recipe is the flash of brilliance I had when I realized that you don’t have to peel the tomatoes. You can put them in a food processor and puree everything, and then when you cook them the peeling disintegrates into the sauce for brighter tomato color and more flavor. This method will produce a rather rustic tomato sauce which still has the seeds. You can always use a food mill to remove seeds when you defrost the sauce if you’re making something where you want a more pure type of sauce.

It’s important to use tomatoes that are well-ripened and it’s best to pick them the day you make the sauce if that’s an option. I’d estimate that it takes about 6-8 large tomatoes to make a cup of sauce, but make as much as you can because this tastes wonderful in the winter when you’re dying for the flavor of fresh tomatoes.

Put tomatoes in the sink and rinse well with cold water. Cut out stem area and discard. Cut each tomato into pieces about 1 inch square. (Don’t make the pieces too large or the tomatoes won’t puree easily.)

Using the food processor with the steel blade, puree diced tomatoes in batches and add to large heavy stock pot. The puree should be nearly all liquidized when you add it to the pot.

Turn the heat as low as you can get it and cook the mixture until it is reduced by at least one half and as thick as you want it. I usually cook my sauce at least 6-8 hours to condense it down to the thickness I want. Your house will smell delightfully tomatoey while you cook this. I like to use a rubber scraper to scrape off the carmelized tomato that sticks to the side of the pot as the level decreases and do that about once every half hour.

When sauce is condensed and thick, put into individual plastic containers and let cool on the counter for an hour or so. When sauce is cooled, snap on plastic lids and freeze. This will last for at least a year in the freezer.

When you’re using the sauce, if you want a more pure tomato sauce that doesn’t have any seeds you can put it through the food mill after it’s thawed. Freezing the sauce this way with no added seasonings at all creates endless possibilities for using it. Add garlic, oregano, basil, or any other seasonings you want when you use the sauce to create soups, stews, pasta sauces, or other dishes this winter.

I think I’m going to add onions and some garlic while cooking the tomatoes to eliminate that step later on.  This should make a great soup base and should be good in chili, too.  Ooh, maybe I should add those green chilis I have in the freezer that I grew last year.  Sounds like maybe I need to make two batches of the sauce.  One plain and one hot. 

My okra is coming along.  The first planting is yielding enough for a meal about every 3 pickings.  My second and third plantings are getting tall but aren’t producing yet.  They may not have enough time to actually produce if the weather gets cool early this year. 

I finally found the baby spinach seeds I was looking for (Noble Giant) and I need to get out and get them planted when all this rain stops.  Hopefully I learned a lesson from over-planting lettuce and Swiss chard.  A little goes a long way in a family trying to switch from canned to fresh veggies.  

Oh, I almost forgot.  I was going to share my Off the Top of My Head Salsa recipe.  I just throw whatever I have in the way of peppers, hot and mild, in the food processor; red and green bell peppers, banana peppers, pickled jalapenos are good, canned chiles; then throw in some fresh cilantro – not too much or it tastes a little grassy; green onions; garlic.  Process all that until it is just slightly chunky but not enough to liquify it.  Set that mixture aside.  Wash and chop your tomatoes into chunks and process those.  I don’t peel or deseed.  Then in a large bowl mix your pepper mix and tomatoes and if it is too hot add a few more processed tomatoes.  Add just a teaspoon or two of lemon juice.  I don’t add any oils or salt.  Why add fat?  And the chips we eat it with usually have enough salt.   The recipe changes  from time to time just depending on what I have in the way of peppers.  I was given two habeneros but haven’t had the guts to use them yet.  I barely touched my tongue to one and got a very hot surprise.   This salsa is better the next day – if there is any left by the next day.

So, give these recipes a try and let me know what you think. 

Keep it simple.