Lentil Loaf: Then & Now

Many years ago, when we were just startin’ out, I worked in a natural foods store.  And during that time, I picked up a recipe for Lentil Loaf.  I remember it had lentils and oatmeal and it was heavy and brick-like.  Maybe even a tad dry.  I kept the recipe for a number of years, but during a purging spree, got rid of it. IMG_0946 (1)

Recently, in preparation for this year’s Six Weeks Meat-free, I found a bunch of dried beans and legumes for 79 cents per one-pound bag. I got two baby white limas, one red kidney, and some lentils.  With the lentils, I would again attempt a lentil loaf.

 

Well, I visited the Genius Kitchen site and found this recipe.  Wow!  We loved it!  Which brings me to this question:  Have lentil recipes greatly improved in 25 years or has the  value we place on lentils increased in that time?  Maybe it is a bit of both.  Which reminded me of that great Mark Twain quote:

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.

Lentils have learned a lot in 25 years, as have we.

 

Note: With the remaining tomato sauce from the recipe, I mixed in some vinegar, molasses and mustard and spread on top.

 

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Keeping it Simple: Baked Eggs

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Dear Readers,

I again greet you with a subpar photo and a superior recipe.  I have made this Baked Eggs recipe countless times.  It is quick and inexpensive, and I usually have all ingredients on hand.  It is very light and good for a simple supper if you have had a big lunch earlier in the day.  This comes from a book, Scandinavian Cooking by Beryl Frank, one of those tall skinny books but with nice color photos.  Skol!

Baked Eggs

6 eggs (I use 5, it’s just the two of us)

1 1/4 cups milk (I decrease to 1 cup)

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

1/2 cups cooked ham, optional (you’re damn right it is!)

Beat the eggs until light. Measure the milk into a 2-cup measure. Add the salt, sugar, and the flour to the milk.  Mix this with the beaten eggs.  Last, add the ham (or not) finely diced.  Pour the mixture into a buttered baking dish.  Bake the eggs at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until the center is firm.  Makes 4 servings.

 

Sometimes things just work out: Chickpea Burgers

Winter is a creative time for me, especially in the kitchen.  One year I learned to roll sushi.  One year I collected recipes and became adept at cooking soups from scratch. This year I have tried lots of fruit and nut bread recipes, but I was supposed to be learning how to make hummus.

At Christmas I got a small food chopper, which was the first step towards homemade hummus.  I even had some dried garbanzo beans.  However, being the stingy gut I am, I have been unable to part with my hard-earned cash for a thing of tahini, an absolute necessary, I hear, when making hummus.

Anyhow, the serendipitous outcome is that I used my garbanzo beans and food chopper to make homemade veggie burgers.  And they were delicious!  Credit goes to Genius Kitchen!!

Check out the recipe and their cool site!!

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Cabbage & White Bean Stew

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When I share recipes, I always try to give them to you as they were originally written, and then fill in with any modifications I make as we go along.

This recipe is a tried and trusted favorite for many years.  It comes from the Loaves and Fishes Cookbook from St. Andrew’s-by-the-Sea in Nags Head, North Carolina, and was submitted by the late Gene O’Bleness, former newspaperman, who for many years was director of the Dare County Tourist Bureau. Thank you Gene.  This is a keeper!

Cabbage & White Bean Stew

1 large onion, finely chopped (1 cup)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoon butter

2 carrots, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise

1 large stalk celery, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise

1 teaspoon caraway seeds (substituted dill seed in last batch)

2 cups chopped green cabbage (I use more and cut in long slices)

2 cups water (use 4 cups if you increase the cabbage)

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 16-ounce can tomatoes, in juice

1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed (substituted 1 cup soaked dry lima beans in last batch)

1 tablespoon cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Saute onion in oil and butter in large saucepan 3 minutes. Add carrot and celery; saute 3 minutes. Add caraway seeds; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in cabbage, water and sugar. Simmer, covered 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with juice, breaking up tomatoes. Simmer, covered, 20 minutes.  Add beans and vinegar.  Simmer uncovered 5 minutes until heated through.  Stir in parsley if you wish.  Serve hot.

 

 

 

Poor Man’s Pizza

Last fall, I purchased two cookbooks at my church’s annual fundraiser.  Not only are they vintage, they were produced by the Favorite Recipes Press, which, you need to know, is my absolute favorite cookbook publisher.

Here is why.  They started publishing in 1961, so many of their books contain recipes with modern marvels of the day like Cheez Whiz, and oleo. But why I really like them is that the vintage recipes are printed small print in two columns.  This way, the books are PACKED with recipes.  The two I picked up, well, more like scooped up at the same time hollering “These are mine!” are Favorite Recipes of Episcopal Church Women: Casseroles and Favorite Recipes of Episcopal Church Women: Desserts.  

In the casseroles book, in a section at the end called Foreign Favorites, is a most simple and delicious dish.  It has become a favorite!!  I have not been able to decipher the Italian title.

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Poor Man’s Pizza: Supa’D Pan E Coi

2 cups cabbage

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons drippings (I omit, I don’t come across drippings often)

1 cup canned tomatoes

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup celery, chopped

6 slices (or equivalent) stale bread, broken in pieces (use good white bread like a ciabatta roll or French bread)

1/2 cup (or more) grated Parmesan cheese (definately go for more!!)

Boil cabbage in salted water; drain, reserving water. Chop cabbage.  Saute onion in butter and drippings until golden. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and celery; cook until sauce is thick.  Place layer of bread in greased 2-quart casserole; dampen bread well with cabbage water (I skip this step or go lightly with water). Sprinkle a little (or more!) cheese over bread. Cover with layer of cabbage; sprinkle some cheese on over cabbage. Spread layer of sauce over cabbage, sprinkle on cheese Repeat until bread, cabbage and sauce are used.  Top with remaining cheese.  Bake at 300 – 350    until browned.  If a richer dish is desired use more butter and cheese.

The recipe is attributed t Mrs. Sumner K. Burrows, Christ Church, Croswell, Michgan, and comes with this personal note:  This is mother’s old family recipe from the Piedmont in Northern Italy.  It is over 100 years old. 

We really enjoy this dish.  I bet we don’t get but about two layers each per bread, cabbage and sauce.

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

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Last year when I began blogging and looking for  meat-free recipes, I came across a little booklet that had been digitized and put online called something akin to Recipes for Fridays and Lent.  I was eager to get some good ideas, and I noticed that some of the recipes in the booklet contained fish, usually canned tuna fish.  If you are interested in learning about the traditions of consuming fish on Fridays, NPR has a good read called Lust, Lies And Empire: The Fishy Tale Behind Eating Fish On Friday.

So, as Lent approaches and our six weeks meat-free, I would like to share a recipe that is almost meat-free, except that it contains anchovies.  Don’t be afraid of anchovies.  They are small and blend in nicely with the other flavors of the sauce. I promise.

This recipe comes from a circa 1990s Camp Lejeune cookbook and is attributed to Randy Watts.  Thanks Randy, it is a favorite! Oh, and if you are curious, I encourage you to look up the story behind “puttanesca.”

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

3 T. Olive oil (You can use the oil from the anchovy can)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 28-ounce can Italian-style peeled tomatoes, undrained. (I used diced, whatever is on hand)

1/4 cup chopped pitted black olives

2 teaspoons small capers, rinsed (Who rinsed capers?)

1 teaspoon crushed, dried red pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch of coarse black pepper

1 2-ounce can flat anchovies, drained, blotted dry and cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Salt

1 pound spaghetti (We use whole wheat)

Heat oil in a large skillet; add garlic and saute about a minute, but don’t brown. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, olives, capers, red pepper, oregano and black pepper.  Cook over medium heat, stirring to break up the tomatoes until the sauce thickens (about 15 minutes.) Stir in anchovies and parsley.  Simmer 2 more minutes.  Add salt to taste.

While sauce is simmering, cook spaghetti in lots of boiling, salted water about 5 to 10 minutes until al dente. Drain well and toss with the pasta in a large bowl or dish.  Prep time 10 minutes, cook time 20 minutes. Serves 4 – 6.

 

May the Farro be with You

Salutations and best wishes for a blessed new year!  Just a quick entry to let you know that Six Weeks Meat-Free will be back with more regular posts beginning February 14, which, in addition to Valentine’s Day, is also Ash Wednesday.  Again this year, spouse and I will abstain from meat during the Lenten season.  It will be much easier this go-round, as we learned much in 2017 and have incorporated many plant-based meals into our diet.  IMG_0143

I can remember, let’s say 5-10 years ago, living on an isolated and somewhat desolate barrier island, we did not have access to a large vegetarian community and provisions for a successful plant-based diet.  Oh, how gross, shopping at the Food Lion and loading up with 2 or 3 packages of ground turkey and a couple packs of chicken for the week.  Five meat meals and two meatless, where now, we are the opposite, going meatless the greater part of the time.

None of the poultry was organic and most likely not the most humanely raised.  Now when I buy poultry, I drive to a nearby farm and purchase 10 frozen chickens in the fall, which last through the winter and into the spring.  One bird can make three meals, and we only consume one or two a month.

Okay, I’m getting a little bit too nuts and bolts, so let me end with this: I plan to share some delicious and not-too-difficult-to-prepare recipes with you in about six weeks.

Happy New Year!

 

ZUCCHINI PIE

I just love summertime!  Walks after dinner, swimming on the weekends (and sometimes after work if I play my cards right), but one of my favorite things about the season is the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables.  We’re blessed to live in a region that appreciates food and there are several farms and tailgate markets where we can shop.

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Zucchini makes an excellent base for a main dish.  My brother makes an awesome zucchini parmesan, a recipe he concocted when the squash were coming in fast and thick. Continue reading

Firecracker Salmon

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Since resuming eating meat after Easter, we’ve not wholeheartedly jumped back into our former dietary practices, but have, indeed, enjoyed eating salmon again.  We prefer wild-caught Alaska salmon over farm-raised, because it is free of artificial colors and hormones.  Salmon is rich in Omega-3 oils, high in protein and low in fat.  It is our preferred meal the evening before a race combined with a fresh green vegetable and whole grain.   Continue reading

Six Weeks Meat-Free: The Denouement

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As I start to write, the sun is just dipping below the mountain to the west.  It is not quite sunset, but it is very close to the end of the day.  And that, mon chere, brings us to our mot du jour.

I had the very best English teacher in high school, and while we were reading and discussing and learning about great American novels, we were introduced to the idea of denouement.  The word comes from a French word meaning untie. In a novel, it is the time after the climax and before the end.  Instead of untie, think of it as the tying up of story lines or a working out or understanding of outcome of characters or events.

With Easter Sunday 5 days away, I am in the denouement of my blog, or what I had intended the blog to be.

We have learned some things during our six weeks meat-free.  We don’t eat that much meat, but missed it for the variety.  We were a little surprised at how good we feel.  I did not gain weight, which I was afraid of with all the pasta and beans.  Blogging is consuming and takes time and attention.  Sort of like that mistress you acquired and are ready to part with, but need to keep around for reasons that you continue to ponder.

I am keeping the Six Weeks Meat-Free blog, and with the coming of spring can write about farm markets and road trips.  I have more recipes to share. If you are reading this, thank you.  Celebrate living.  Celebrate life!