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Archive for February, 2007

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When I was a child my parents would occasionally treat me to a special dinner at a nearby restaurant with carhop service.  In the days with a high hump (at least to a three- year-old) on the floor in the back, it was great fun to sit on the hump and use the backseat for a table.  The restaurant was the Goody-Goody, well known for several specialties, one of which was french fried shoestring potatoes, homemade, not frozen, not battered, and probably fried in lard.  They also served a butterscotch pie and a cream of onion soup that were wonderful.  I have not been able to come close to duplicating that soup, although I have a few great butterscotch pie recipes that are at least as good as Goody’s.

Their piece de resistance, however, was not even on the menu per se.  It was the special condiment served on their hamburgers.  Forget McDonald’s special sauce.  Forget catsup and mustard.  Goody-Goody’s hamburgers were served one way, with dill pickle slices, and their own tomato-based sauce, not really like catsup, not really like chutney, just it’s own category altogether.  When “The Goody” closed in the 70’s, many people had their gustatory hearts bent, if not broken. 

The Goody was a favorite spot for highschool sweethearts to grab a bite after a game or a movie.  The ambience was casually elegant, a Tudor building not at all what one imagines nowadays for a restaurant with carhop service.  It was truly unique.

Several years ago, our local newspaper had  articles about local cooks and one of the articles featured a gentleman who also had fond memories of The Goody-Goody.  He had experimented with various ingredients and finally arrived at his best recreation of the famous hamburger sauce.  Naturally, I tried it and found it very close. I played with it some, subtracted this and addedthat, and now it is as close as I can get it to a 30-year-old memory. 

If you want to try Goody-Goody sauce, prepare your favorite hamburger, fried, broiled, or grilled, butter and toast a good hamburger bun, add Goody sauce and a few dill pickle slices. (I sometimes use dill relish).  You must plan ahead.  The sauce needs at least 3 hours, mostly unattended, on the stove.

GOODY-GOODY HAMBURGER SAUCE

3 T. butter

15 oz. can tomatoes, whole or cut

1 t. celery seed

1/2 clove garlic, minced

1 t. pepper

1/4 t. salt

1 small onion, minced (about 1/4 c.)

1 T. lemon juice

Combine all in a small but heavy saucepan.  Cook low for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally. The tomatoes will break up as they cook and will form a thick sauce.  Makes enough for about 8 hamburgers.

Happy dining.

Morgana

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 This morning we enjoyed leftover french toast and sausage.  All I needed to do was warm them up on the griddle.  Also, I bought some more juice oranges yesterday so we had more fresh OJ.  I like Tropicana juice from the grocery.  I usually buy the Orange/Tangerine mix with added calcium and vitamin D.  But fresh squeezed is a very special treat. With one blood orange and the rest valencia, the color is absolutely beautiful and the taste is a tad different than straight orange juice.

After my first trip to Florida, over 20 years ago, I tasted fresh squeezed juice, probably not for the first time, but for the first time in many years.  I fell in love with it and asked for a juicer for Christmas the next year.  I use it occasionally when I need a lot of lemon or lime juice, but we have always had trouble finding a ready supply of valencia oranges for juicing.  Regular navel oranges don’t work.  The last two years, we have been able to find a greater variety of oranges in our markets, even the little one in my home town is carrying blood oranges and minneola tangelos (similar to honey bells) along with the usual oranges.  I know this is a seasonal treat, so I plan to take advantage of it as long as I can.  

The photo above shows a blood orange in the foreground and Mineola tangerine behind. The flesh of blood oranges is a dark red color with a distinctive taste.

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You can see how pretty the color is and how it would tint orange juice to a lovely coral.

A few weeks ago, I juiced one blood orange and made vinaigrette with it.  I prepared a salad with another blood orange’s sections on salad greens. It was a delicious change from vinaigrette made from lemon juice or vinegar. 

Look for blood oranges in your grocery and squeeze one or two into your regular Tropicana or Minute Maid juice.  You’ll enjoy it.

Happy dining.

Morgana

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A Pauper’s Repast

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All our pauper needs now is a jug of wine and thou. Maybe a bit of broth in which to soak his bread.  That should tide him over until the cock crows in the morn’.

We didn’t hear the cock crowing this morn’, but the alarm clock did more than enough.  We awoke with fond memories of our not-so-pauperish dinner last evening.   As I said earlier, I planned to make lasagne with the sauce leftover from Thursday night.  The lasagne was delicious.  God bless whoever passed on the hint about not boiling the lasagne noodles beforehand.   It saves time in both preparation and cleanup and makes lasagne a much more user-friendly dish to prepare.  Since I already had the sauce ready, I didn’t have to do much besides mix the eggs and cheeses, fix some veggies (carrots and spinach) to add, and do the actual layering.  (I use the basic recipe on the Barilla lasagne noodle box.) An hour in the oven, fifteen minutes to firm up, and we dug in and enjoyed it immensely.  A tossed salad with dressing I made the day before (recipe follows), a little garlic bread, wine and that was that.

Many a pauper would have enjoyed that meal. Not a bit heavy on the tummy, nah.  Perhaps we should have switched our lunch and supper yesterday, but after our unusually  large breakfast, we weren’t ready for much of a lunch.

 I find the instructions on the Barilla box very hard to read.  The print is too tiny for my presbyopia to handle and the instructions are somewhat confusing.  This morning, I retyped the instructions along with my modifications and options, and, if I can configure it properly, will print it and  add it to my recipes already taped on the inside of my kitchen cupboard doors. I save this space for recipes that I have fixed for years, nearly automatically.  Consequently, I’m afraid that I’ll omit some ingredient while cooking on autopilot. So I jot the recipe down and tape it where I can easily check it.  I have quite a few there:  recipes for sloppy joes, mojitos, Goody-Goody sauce (to be explained another day), meatloaf, Pimm’s cup, and a chart showing ingredients for a variety of sauces for sauteed chicken breast (maybe this too will be explained later).  

Tonight, we are having chicken breasts, on the bone, served and roasted with sweet potatoes,  some kind of veggie, to be determined later.  Fruit tonight, instead of tossed salad.  Maybe a quick Waldorf-type salad, with lemon juice, little mayo, apple, celery, walnuts, and dried cranberries on a bed of red lettuce.  Sounds delicious.

Here is the salad dressing recipe from Saturday and Sunday nights.

Garlicky – Mustardy  Dressing

2 T.  dijonnaise

1 T. light mayonnaise

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 t. Kosher salt

1/2 t. black pepper, freshly ground

1 T. lemon or lime juice

2 T. red wine vinegar, more if needed

1/2 c. canola oil

2 drops Worcestershire sauce, or to taste

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In a medium bowl, mix the dijonnaise, mayo, garlic, salt and pepper.  Add the lime or  lemon juice and vinegar.  Whisk in oil slowly to emulsify (it should emulsify easily because of the mayo and dijonnaise) and add a few drops of Worcestershire sauce.  I always taste it at this point and may add more vinegar or lemon/lime juice if it tastes too oily.  I rarely measure my ingredients for salad dressing, and sometimes add herbs,  or even soy sauce instead of salt.  Play with this recipe until you find it just the way you like it. You can leave out the mayo if you want, or just use dijon mustard, instead of dijonnaise.

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Happy dining.

Morgana

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Sunday Morning Breakfast

french-toast.jpg     I didn’t provide my posting about a pauper’s supper yesterday as I thought I would. We spent the day running errands,and playing with grandchildren. Mac spent a good bit of the day with laptop open and running, charts spread all over, Blueberry busy. The company he works for is getting ready for a big move to a new building which is being renovated, and he is in charge of getting all the telecommunication/computer/techie stuff installed (and installed correctly). The move is scheduled to begin next weekend and will be accomplished in stages, one group per week for the next month or so. I suspect life for him will be stressful and hectic. Anyway, I didn’t spend much time at the computer(s)yesterday and won’t spend a lot today, either. Monday I’ll try to give my pauper posting.

This morning I fixed french toast. I made enough to reheat for a few mornings this week. I used nearly a whole loaf of french bread, 8 eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, a little sugar, salt, and orange peel. I put the slices in a 9 X 13 pan, poured the egg mixture over them, and let them sit a while to absorb it. In the meantime, I started cooking sausage links, and squeezed six Mineola tangerines (like Honey Bells), and 2 blood oranges which made a very cheerful reddish orange drink. After a while, the sausages went into the oven to keep warm, and I browned the toast slices on a hot griddle, brushed with melted butter. When all the slices were browned, they all went into a hot oven (450 degrees) to puff up like souffles. We feasted like kings with warm maple syrup, which my sister brings me from upstate New York, and butter on the toast, our delicious juice, sausage and hot coffee. I topped it all off with a glass of V8 spiced up with Louisiana brand hot sauce. Great! We won’t need much for lunch, especially since I plan to make lasagne for dinner.

Happy dining,
Morgana

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Lunch for a Prince

bbclunch.jpgAs you can see the young royal is having his English beef and roasted carrots  enhanced with gravy.  The meal appears to be served in a bread bowl.  Saves some washing up, I guess, and probably tastes good as well, sort of a royal sandwich without having to use one’s royal pinkies to eat it.

Our normal lunches are less like the prince’s  royal sandwich and more like the following:

big-ol-sandwich.jpg   mmmmm….. or maybe chicken-salad-sandwich.jpg  mmmmm, or even

 sandwiches-platter.jpg this smorgasbord.  Something for everyone.

Now, that’s more like it.  Gimme a selection and I can graze through sandwiches all day.

But what is better than a nice, hot Reuben, with way too much corned beef, slightly melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, on rye bread with a huge Kosher dill pickle or two or three on the side? Some people, who shall remain nameless, want Russian dressing on a Reuben. I prefer mine without it.

Chicken salad is always popular whether on a plate or on bread.  It’s a safe meal to serve to a gathering of women; in fact it is the first choice for women preparing a lunch for card club or baby showers.  I served it for both my daughters’ baby showers, slightly different versions both times.  (I guess my chicken salads are always slightly different  since I don’t use a recipe but just keep adding ingredients until it looks and tastes right.  Lately I have been adding mango chutney, along with curry powder, and some fruit and nuts along with the requisite chicken, onion, celery, mayo, and lemon juice.)

I always like what used to be referred to as a “Dagwood” sandwich, one popularized in the “Blondie” comic strips.  Dagwood would sneakto the kitchen in the middle of the night and prepare a huge sandwich of 20 or so layers, filled with everything but the kitchen sink. My “Dagwoods” contain meat (ham, turkey, bologna, pastrami, alone or in any combination), cheese (American, Swiss, or provolone), mayonnaise (Hellman’s of course, light is okay – but no Miracle Whip has or ever will grace my refrigerator), occasionally mustard, lettuce,  tomato slices, and hoagy spread (red pepper flakes in vinegar and salt). When I was a kid, I would put potato chips on the sandwich if we didn’t have lettuce, which of course was always iceberg lettuce. (Who even knew there was such a thing as Romaine lettuce?) Now I hardly ever have iceberg lettuce in the house,  sometimes for tacos or if we are retro-ing a blue cheese salad,  a wedge of lettuce and a big dollop of blue cheese dressing. I remember being served wedges of lettuce in the college dorm (in my freshman year, I was in a dorm with a private diningroom and we were served all our meals, except Sunday’s evening meal which was a buffet.) Sometimes the lettuce had blue cheese dressing and sometimes Thousand Island.  

I suppose our lunches should look more like this  salad-plate.jpg, a healthy combination of greens, other veggies, nuts, and a small serving of cheese.

lunch-caprese.jpg This looks pretty darn good, too. We often have this caprese bruschetta as an appetizer in the summer when the tomatoes are fresh and full of flavor.  If I have basil growing, I will occasionally pick some to have with tomatoes and mozzarella on toasted English muffins for lunch in the summer.  We can go through 4 or 5 tomatoes a day, just the two of us and look forward to farmers’ markets selling piles of tomatoes in the summer.

Maybe you might like thisbagelavocadolunch.jpg, a bagel, avocado, tomato, and some cheese.  Looks mighty good to me.  I wonder if a Prince would like it?  This Princess would.

It’s only 9:34 am and I am ready for lunch!  I think I’ll  have chicken salad, or maybe a Reuben, or … a mini “Dagwood”.  That’s it, a “Dagwood”!!!

Tomorrow, we will discuss dinner, supper, whatever you want to call it, it’s the last meal of the day.

Our spaghetti dinner last night was excellent, if I do say so myself.  Tonight, we are going to a friend’s house for a “couples” get-together.  They are forming a group to meet once a month or every other month for whatever, food, games, movies, activities.  We are having our first meeting tonight. It should be fun.  I have to make something to take to the party and I haven’t decided what it will be yet. 

Until next time, happy dining.

Morgana

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Breakfast Like a King

King’s table 

I remember my parents’ doctor recommending that they eat “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” Although I think that this is good advice, maybe even great advice, it is not easy to follow. Of course, like all diet and nutrition ideas, the more planning one does the easier the diet is to follow. But first, we must define what kind of meals, kings, princes, and paupers would eat.

Picture a groaning board in the great hall with silver salvers steaming with sizzling hot meats, eggs, fresh pastries, creamy butter, fruit from exotic locations, the king and queen sitting in splendor while white gloved servants bustle around, anticipating  every need. The prince and princess are in a slightly smaller room, less magnificent perhaps, with fewer gastronomic delights on their table, but still having the freshest, most tasty food available in the kingdom. In a shanty way behind the castle, when finished cooking, serving, and cleaning up from the royals’ repast, the lowly servant breaks off a crust of bread, sops up some broth, made from scraps from the castle’s kitchen, and eats just what he needs to keep alive, occasionally enjoying an apple, scrounged from an orchard along the way, or cabbage stewed in the broth.

How do we translate this into something that would fit into our modern day lifestyle? Not many of us have servants, white gloved or otherwise, at our beck and call. Neither do we have the habits that would allow us to arise early enough to prepare the gustatory wonders fit for a prince’s breakfast, much less a king’s. We are more likely to break our fasts with a pauper’s type of meal, a piece of toast, maybe a glass of juice, coffee and out the door! We have all heard and no doubt believe the adage “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” but we still give it short shrift and spend most of our time, energy and money preparing the last meal of the day.

We do better at lunch sometimes, “treating” ourselves to a hot meal, which is more likely than not a fast food meal, with maybe a salad thrown in as a salve to our dietary conscience. I know no one who prepares a princely meal at noontime, barring holiday meals, of course. At those holiday times we come closest to having a prince’s lunch. Usually we have vegetables, meat, special treats, and afterwards eat more like a peasant that evening, if only because we are tired of being in the kitchen all day.

Most of our dinners are heavy, meat, lots of red meat, potatoes, maybe with gravy, but certainly with butter, and/or sour cream. Usually some type of common vegetable appears on the plate, peas, green beans, carrots, rarely anything “exotic”. Maybe a salad with some tomatoes, or onions, and definitely salad dressing, creamy or otherwise laden with fats and questionable additives. Ice cream, anyone? Chocolate sauce, anyone? Anyone?

I would love to awaken, find my clothes laid out, freshly laundered and ironed, have my hair styled for me, and see in the diningroom scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, sliced tomatoes, warm toast, freshly squeezed orange juice, maybe pomegranate juice, coffee or tea piping hot. I don’t need the silver salvers, or the servants. They can stay in the kitchen and start cleaning it up. I can serve myself, thank you very much. But the clean up? They can do it. Not many of us want to spend the time to clean up the kitchen after cooking such a breakfast and then rush off to work. How much more time would it take? Say fifteen minutes, minimum to prepare the food, fifteen to eat it, and another fifteen minimum to clean it up. That adds nearly an hour to the morning routine. What if you plan ahead? Sure, go ahead and set the table, get the pots/pans ready the night before. That saves little if any time. Table setting can be done internally to the cooking time, anyway. And just when you find that you can prepare scrambled eggs in just a few minutes, you read somewhere that “real” scrambled eggs should take at least twenty minutes to cook. Makes Cheerios sound better and better.

So, we settle for a bagel and cream cheese, or toast and peanut butter, cereal and milk. And rush off to spend our day.

Tomorrow, we will discuss lunch.

In the meantime, tonight’s “pauper’s dinner” is spaghetti and salad.  I made enough sauce to feed the proverbial army.  I had a meeting to attend early this evening and so I prepared the sauce early in the day and transferred it to the crockpot to keep safely warm while I was gone.  Now I am heating up the water to cook pasta and sipping a glass of Cab. sauvignon while I wait for Mac.  I think I will use some of the leftover sauce to make lasagne or some other casserole Sunday night.  I never manage to successfully freeze leftover spaghetti sauce.  I either forget to do it and the container gets shoved waaaay back in the frig until it becomes worthy of a science project, or I do freeze it and it gets shoved waaaay back in the freezer until it is so covered with freezer frost that I don’t even know what it is. As Mac says, “Plans are nothing, but planning is everything.”  I think Ike said it first. 

So, until tomorrow, happy dining.

Morgana

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A Frosty Morn and the Fairies Play

      fairies-at-play.jpg This morning dawned foggy.  When the fog lifted, the trees and bushes were covered with glistening ice crystals.  It’s a wonder to behold every time, a fairy-land where the wee folk are bustling under low-hanging branches gathering frozen berries fallen from above. After tending to their chores, they often find time to amuse themselves in the snowy pleasures enjoyed by children everywhere.  Then it’s back to work for them. I am very fortunate that I have a healthy population of “little people” living happily in my yard.  I cannot count them, because they move so quickly and are never in one place for very long.  There may be ten, or twenty, probably not much more than that, but I do have lots of places for them to hide. My dogs have learned to accept them as part of the family and, for the most part, leave them to their work and play.  Sometimes, when the dogs chase rabbits, the fairies get disturbed and their little homes get damaged. But they are more worried about hawks, bluejays, and other large birds, as well as cats, who don’t always know a little person from a mouse. Usually, the fairies come out of their hiding places at night or when no one is around.  This morning I was able to catch them cavorting in the snow and take a photograph of them. Their love of play was greater than their fear of me.  Of course, they know I would never hurt them, but I am quite a bit bigger than they are and I might not always watch where I am walking as carefully as I might.I hope they don’t mind my sharing the photo with you.  They are usually very shy about things like that.snow-on-tulips-and-anna-009.jpg  In the spring, I often see a fairy or two scurrying around the stems of tulips. They especially like the large leaves which easily hide them. snow-on-tulips-and-anna-015.jpg My little dog, Dixie, is still young and she likes to chase the fairies although she never hurts them.  My big dog, Kirby, has a habit of picking up birds and even though he tries not to hurt them, he sometimes does.  So we are careful that he doesn’t find any fairies.Maybe I will be able to catch some more photographs of the fairies in my yard.  It’s easier to find them in the spring, because they take advantage of the warmer temperatures to make repairs to their homes and to work in their gardens.UPDATE:I CAUGHT THEM ON CAMERA AGAIN! See the photos here

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