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Nov 19, 2012
Category: Holiday Cuisine
What's on YOUR table?

Thanksgiving is coming. Many of us are getting ready for the standard fare. Turkey (or other type of poultry), stuffing, a potato of some type, sweet potatoes and/or squash, either some sort of cabbage or veggie casserole, and the usual pies.... Pumpkin, pecan, apple, or other type of berry or something.

That is all fine and dandy, and I love this traditional fare just as much as the next person. Just that I don't buy croutons at the store. I save up the bread crusts or the other pieces that no one ate from the end of the bag, and I cube those up (yes, just plain stale) and make the stuffing from that. I add my large minced onion, 3 ribs of diced celery, 1/4 cup parsley, 1 heaping TBS sage, salt and pepper to taste, and 2 eggs... It's actually quite tasty.

Many people like my pumpkin pie, also, but that's a secret recipe that I might share, if I'm feeling generous, at Christmas time.

But anyway, I think it's neat how different cultures have their different foods, such as the fact that my step father has something called lefse. It's Norwegian, and it's a very thin potato & cream flat bread, almost as delicate as a crepe, and it's eaten with butter and brown sugar on it. We've used this in place of dinner rolls, though I do like plain rolls to scrape up the left over gravy off the plate...

But, it is interesting to have other stuff besides the regular foods. MY thing would be to have an "International" Thanksgiving. I think that would be fun.

Why "international"?

I think, TOO often, we think of the First Thanksgiving as something that was celebrated with the colonials and the Native Americans as a peace offering with the feast, where the Pilgrims were thankful for the feast in front of them, and so that is how it got to be that way.

But, lets think about it here in this country, there are so many more things than the merge of two cultures, and then surrounded by nuts, squash, and all of the same old usual... I think it's neat to do something different.

So, fry bread rather than dinner rolls. For those of us too busy or not coordinated enough to make a home made bread dough, buy the frozen kinds, let it thaw, and when it begins to rise, stretch it out, and it's okay to have a little poked hole in it to deep fry to a nice golden brown. The hole will allow the grease to pass through, rather than make the bread too soggy. This would be a nice tribute to our Native American heritage that is so rich in the USA.

To honor the Jewish roots that many Christians have, making mashed potatoes using soy milk would be a great way to substitute it, so the meal is kosher. Season with onion and/or garlic, salt and pepper. I don't normally like drinking silk milk, but, the texture is that silky that it's a great compliment to mashed potatoes.

Being part Japanese, the thing that I miss during American holidays is either something that resembles miso, and some sort of pickle. Japanese people love pickled anything, and I like the radish. But, a salad with that Asian Sesame & Miso paste dressing is top notch, and some pickled cabbage would be great as a side to it too. The acid actually helps clear the palate with all the surrounding rich foods, to better enjoy the new flavor of each different dish.

But then again, I'd be happy with a good Hungarian goulash as the main course as well, though maybe a type of paprikash would actually be a better substitute for the turkey. The stuffing can be made with some chicken or turkey broth in a slow cooker if you want that to go with the meal, if you're replacing turkey with the paprikash.

So, what's YOUR non-traditional tradition? Inquiring minds would like to know...

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Posted: Nov 19, 2012 10:50pm
May 9, 2011
Category: Seasonal - Summer
Cuisine: American
Hi all! I know I've already done a mother's day tribute.

 

But anyway, we ended up celebrating Mother's Day over at my mom's, where my grandparents are there also. They're 98, going on 99, and they're very sweet. I don't think I could ask for better grandparents, and being they can't go anywhere, we went there. My grandma is so cute. While she still has her wits about her, since she can't physically do much for her self, her semi-helpless state makes her cute.

 

This year would also celebrate their 74th wedding anniversary, if they make it to September. I'm not so sure, though, but regardless, they've lived a good long life. We also sent a nice card to Euro's mom, with all the updates to let her know that even if we can't be with her, we're still celebrating her in spirit.

 

Anyway, we went over there to my mom's on Saturday to celebrate with them, since my grandparents don't like large groups of people, and it's more enjoyable anyway, talking to her when she doesn't need to keep asking me "What?" because she can't hear past the background noise. It was nice, I'd brought Jello, because my grandparents like it, and a green bean casserole to go with my mom's home made Sloppy Joe's, and she'd found a good potato salad recipe online.

 

On Sunday, my son and I spent about an hour or so over at Our Savior's Church to serve the meal for the soup kitchen they run every Sunday. Our church helps serve every so often, and there are a group of churches that help take turns.

 

Funny thing, is that the menu for that evening was Sloppy Joes, coleslaw, potato chips, two types of pickles, baby carrots, a small casserole, and a bunch of cookies that were left over from my church, some donated by O & H bakery. I was worried that there wouldn't be enough, and there was JUST enough to feed everyone to a comfortable full, and to send home some left overs for whom needed to bring some with them.

 

I got put in charge of serving the slaw, and my son served next to me dishing out the pickles. After the meal, while I was helping to dole out the left overs, my son rinsed off the food serving trays. He worked hard, and well, I think he practically took a shower at the sink, as well as got the floor washed with the sprayer. But hey, it's just water, and it's fun for a kid.

 

It always amazes me when I go to these places to serve it up for these people who may or may not be homeless, some are transient though they work, others have a permanent place but don't have food security, and a few are there for the company and fellowship because they have no one else. Yet they come in, and are so thankful that we are here to help them out.

 

I remember one time, before there was HALO, there was REST, and we'd take turns serving supper during the summer. Once we had a cook out, and all I'd brought was a cake. They were so thankful that they'd acted as if I'd brought them steak, for a cake mix I'd bought on sale... I actually thought that maybe I was lucky to have served them, and not the other way around.

 

Regardless, it was cool to be of community service with my 11 year old, who is learning that even if we don't have a whole lot, that there are those less fortunate, and in some ways we are rich, because we have each other.

 

Your Recipes:

Barbecued Hamburgers (Sloppy Joes)

3# hamburger meat, the leaner the better. (For a vegetarian or vegan twist, you may use smashed hard boiled eggs or firm tofu crumbled up, just use oil for these options), A large minced onion. A large minced green pepper. About 3 stalks of celery, minced. Brown meat or meat substitute well, drain extra grease, add onion, brown a bit, add bell pepper & celery, and brown meat very well.

For the sauce:

2 cups ketchup. 2 TBS dry mustard. 6 TBS vinegar. 1/2 cup sugar. 1/2 cup water. 1 tsp salt. 1/4 tsp paprika. 1/2 TBS black pepper.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add to the meat mix, and let stew for flavors to blend.

Potato Salad:

6-8 red potatoes, cube to large bite size. 3 eggs. Boil potatoes 30 minutes, until barely done. Hard cook eggs, crumble into the potatoes.

2 celery stalks, 3 bunches of green onions, 1 green pepper, & 6 radishes diced small.

Add diced veggies and mix with salad dressing until just wet. Let sit overnight, and the flavors are well blended. You won't need to add any more seasoning.

 

Serve with a salad or vegetable of your choice to keep it healthy.

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Posted: May 9, 2011 5:59pm
May 5, 2011
Category: Other Meats
Cuisine: Other Regions/Ethnicities
Many of you are familiar with Cinco de Mayo, literally translated as the Fifth of May. It's a Mexican celebration in honor of the unlikely win of the small Mexican Army against the mighty French back on May 5, 1862, where they held their ground, and kept their territory. It is not overly celebrated in Mexico, but here in this country we like to toast margaritas (Mexican) and daiquiris (which are actually Cuban) or Dos Equis - a Mexican beer, that you can serve with or without the lime, while munching on good Mexican food.

While it's highly unknown here in the States, May 5th is Boys' Day in Japan. Everyone with a son flies wind socks in the shape of salmon, to show off the strength.

 

It is a time to honor the personalities of the children, and to respect their personalities and celebrate their happiness.

Of course we all love an excuse to have a celebration, because we all love to eat, drink and be happy.

I just think it's cool that with good food, we keep our children happy also.

Here are some recipes in honor of both cultures.

Flautas -

1 pound of chicken, diced and sauteed in onion powder, cumin & cilantro to taste. 1 or 2 cans of black beans, drained well. Tortillas of your choice, I prefer the flour, in the fajita size. Dice up tomatoes & lettuce to set aside, along with shredded cheddar cheese or the Mexican crumble cheese. Sour cream, salsa, and guacomole is good too.

Roll some chicken and black beans into a tortilla wrap, and use tooth picks to hold together. Deep fry, and set on drip tray. You'll want to keep them warm.

When done, place them on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan, spread sour cream, cheese, lettuce and tomato over the top. Reserve the salsa on the side for everyone to take for themselves.

Salsa -

4 Roma tomatoes, diced. Mince up a small onion, 3 jalapenos, and add a little lime juice & cilantro.

Guacamole -

5 avacados, scooped out of shell. 1 medium tomato, diced. A small onion, minced. About a tsp of salt. Juice of a lime (or to taste). Cilantro to taste. Mash and mix. Can be served with your flautas or with chips.

 

Japanese stir fry -

Cut about 1.5 pounds of chicken to bite sized pieces. (Or use shrimp). Dice/cube a large onion, and stir fry in oil. Add chopped cabbage such as bok choy, and other cut veggies like broccoli, cauliflaur, baby corn, green beans, slivered carrots, or what ever you like.

At the 2 minute mark, when they're just about crisp yet tender, add about 2 tsp of sugar, or if you need some liquid, use 1 Tbs of mirin. Add about 2Tbs soy sauce, or more to taste, and some pepper. Keep stiring on high until done.

Serve with tender brown rice. Enjoy!

 

p.s. you may substitute firm tofu for the chicken, for a vegan switch.

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Posted: May 5, 2011 6:12pm
Apr 21, 2011
Category: Seasonal - Summer
Cuisine: Japanese
Prep Time: Less than 30 min
Special Considerations: Vegetarian
I came of age in the 80's where anti-establishment sentiment was high, but not necessarily like it was in the 60's. People didn't necessarily want the status quo, and if something wasn't fair, we wanted to fix it. But of course we grew up with the idea that politics was for the adults, so we took it to our music. I'd like to share some of what we listened to. My first favorite song of the 80's alternative rock genre, is "Just Can't Get Enough" by Depeche Mode. It's an upbeat song. I actually like many songs from this group. Another good one was "Metal" by Gary Numan, it's a cross between industrial and alternative, and has a little of grunge in it. Another good song by the same is a song called "Cars", which more people may be familiar with. Alphaville, with their strong synth sound, helped pave the way to dance music, which eventually to House & European dance music (Euro-dance), the song "Forever Young" is classic to 80's alternative music. This kind of represents how there are always loose ends, not enough time to do what counts, etc... This one is one of my all time favorite songs. Other good songs are "Big in Japan" as well as "Dance With Me". I HAVE to include the group Dead or Alive here, they are definitely the most awesome alternative rock band. The song "You spin me round" is my all time favorite, but songs like "Lover come back to me" and "Something in My house" keeps everyone dancing. There's also the remake of "That's the Way I like it". There are so many of their great songs, I'll post one, but please check out their albums, with loads of shake your booty music on there. Then, of course who can forget Paul Lekakis? Yes, he's very forward with what he wants. He represented the sexual freedom that was making it's way head strong, and this was the alternative song to answer Madonna. Here is "Boom Boom" On a much tamer note, here is Baltimora with "Tarzan Boy". This song is more representative of self expression. The Cure is another with the classic sound of 80's alternative, and while I'm posting the song "Just Like Heaven", I'm not sure which song is better. "Love Song" and so many of their others is equally good, it was difficult to come up with a 'best song'. Please take a look at others by The Cure. Erasure, a bold band, with lots of creativity, I think actually did bridge to the next level, my favorite song from them is "Little Respect", it's kind of a fun song, with some innuendos and has rebellious written all over it. I just love what this song is, all the way around. Another song, which is more romantic, representing Japanese folk lore and love, called "Always", about an all sacrificing love across the cultural borders. But, of course, the romance is up to Euro, I'm the rebel. lol. Here is your recipes for the blog, and now mind you, since we're here with alternative music, I'm here to present alternative foods, and here are some good ones that are meatless and delicious. I also promised Martha Magenta with some of these recipes, and I finally am keeping The Promise, another great song by the group When in Rome. Okay, okay, recipes. Tofu: Unwrap, drain water. Chill in ice water. Cut in desired size (I like to quarter the large squares). Serve with fish flavored flakes (or a sesame paste) and soy sauce. Spinach: Cook until just done, and drain water. Place in refrigerator as a log. Chill until cool, cut, and serve with a tablespoon of stock (In Japan they use fish stock, but a hearty veggie stock will work just fine). Top with fish flakes soy sauce. OR, here is this other awesome dressing for your spinach instead. Toast 4Tbsp white sesame seeds, and put hot seeds in large suribachi (wooden bowl) and crush with the pestle. Add 1 tsp sugar. Stir with pestle. Add 2 tsp dark soy and 3 Tbsp dashi (fish stock or veggie stock). Mix with relatively great speed and strength, almost a whipping action to blend well. Taste and add more sugar if necessary. The tofu has protein, and spinach has iron. Have another type of salad with raw greens, tomato, cucumber, red onions, croutons or what have you, and here is a miso dressing to put on. 1/4 cup miso paste. 2 TBSP each soy sauce, sesame oil & rice vinegar. 1/2 tsp freshly minced ginger OR 1 tsp ginger powder. This is very delicious and you have a well rounded meal. If you really miss your starch, have a baked potato (skin included) on the side, and skip the croutons on the salad.
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Posted: Apr 21, 2011 12:50am
Apr 2, 2011
Category: Seasonal - Winter
Cuisine: Other Regions/Ethnicities
Prep Time: Less than 1 hr
As we all know, about 3 weeks ago, Governor Walker signed the so called "Collective Bargaining" bill which got separated from the actual Budget Repair Bill. This, was in part due to the fact that Unions supposedly had too much power, and that in this day and age, they're just costing the public way too much money.

 

Which we're all entitled our opinion. Of course some people want to talk about how public school teachers make too much money, and how they shouldn't get so much because it's taken out of taxes, and it's not fair because public workers make so much more than private workers. When I asked about the teachers, I was told she doesn't care how much the private teachers are paid because she doesn't pay them. Fair enough, but then don't go complaining about how public teachers make so much more, when you don't know how much private teachers make. Yet when asked for proof, she complains about why she has to do all the work... she's doing the complaining. Then don't talk about how private teachers are so under paid.

In this particular blog, it states how the Wisconsin "Union Law" will likely be on hold for 2 months. This particular bill is being held hostage in the courts, by a judge who is questioning the legalities of how this got passed, and so the Republicans either must wait through the court process; or vote again, this time following what ever standard operating procedure they're supposed to do.

Now mind you, this is talking about the "non-fiscal" end of the Budget bill, to help balance the budget. Yet the bill that got passed has nothing to do with the actual budget, it's about busting some unions but not others. At least the police and fire fighters get to keep their collective bargaining rights. It's just the teachers who are restricted in this portion of budget repair.

Thing is, I don't understand why people are so up in arms about the teachers, but no other group, when it comes to the collective bargaining. If they are asking for too big of sticker price, the answer is no, with a counter offer. Keep bargaining, and the median level will be reached, if one end or the other won't do.

Back to the balanced budget... I've kept wondering HOW, the busting of Unions in the public sector will help balance the budget. You see, I'm pretty good at getting along and/or communicating with people of different cultures, linguistic/ethnic backgrounds, and more... I'm NOT always keen on the specifics of economics, since I understand the basics of micro and macro economics. So I kept asking, and never quite got that question answered...

But then, here is an interesting article about the Wisconsin Budget would balance without union bill. This was my opinion all along, that the union busting measure was only to point the finger at "the bad guy" while not really contributing to the balancing of the Wisconsin state budget. There are other ways that are more efficient to balance this budget, and it can come, when we find an efficient way to cut/spend the state tax money.

I'd also like to see some of the top executives paid for by the tax payers to willingly take a pay cut.

Please feel free to come in and comment, my blog is open wide to the public. While you're here, give honest opinion, and if you tout your opinion as fact, proof, or it's only an opinion.

Your recipe for the blog:

Sarma - an Eastern European cabbage roll delight.

Take a head of cabbage, and place in large pot of water, with 1 cup vinegar (I prefer the apple cider, since it's flavor is more pleasant) and simmer until you have a head of sour kraut. You may drain the juice of a can if you wish, also. Cool to temp you can work with. Take some of the outer leaves and cover bottom of a baking pan.

While you're waiting for the cabbage to sour and cool, get out about 1.5 - 2# ground pork. Add in about 6-8oz rice. Add about 2Tbs onion powder, 1 Tbs garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste, 1/2-1 tsp celery seed, 1 tsp paprika, 1 Tbs parsley, a dash of Worchestershire Sauce and optionally use 1/2 tsp basil. Mix well with your hands.

Wrap some of the meat mix into the cabbage rolls, you don't want them too big or too small. Place over the layer of cabbage in baking pan. Use the small pieces of cabbage to wedge in between the rolls. If you opened the sour kraut, feel free to spread this over the top. You may substitute grape leaves for your cabbage, if you wish.

Bake covered at 350F until fully cooked.

Ibanitza - a side to go with your sarma.

Take a package of fillo dough, and place into the bottom of a well greased round cake pan. Saute a large minced onion, along with some ground pork. Layer into the fillo dough. Layer back and forth until full. Drizzle top with olive oil. Bake @350F until golden brown at the top.

You may use bread dough instead of fillo dough. It's good.

Traditional Ibanitza -

In a bowl, mix up about 6 eggs, 12 oz sour cream, 16 oz cottage cheese, and about 16 oz softened cream cheese. Blend well.

Grease well a 9x11x13 cake pan, layer some fillo dough, about 2 or 3 sheets at a time.

Pour a bit of the cheese mix, layer with another 3 sheets, and every other layer of fillo dough, use oil and butter alternately, ending the top with the fillo dough and oil. Make sure that the corners are well pressed and such, so they don't get too dry and bubble over.

Bake until golden brown.

One or the other of the ibanitza goes well together with the sarma.

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Posted: Apr 2, 2011 1:58am
Feb 27, 2011
Category: One-Pot Meals
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: Less than 1 hr
Special Considerations: Low Fat

Every now and then, I like to try to eat a meatless meal.  I try to serve at least one vegetarian meal a week, and will try to go vegan once a month, although it’s not always easy.  But, since we get way too much fat in our diets and not enough fiber and the goodness of veggies, I figured one good way to be able to do this is with chili, since it’s good this time of year, and being a favorite, maybe we won’t miss the meat so much because of the other flavors.  But just remember, a good chili is a well rounded meal, so make sure there is some protein in it.  And a good chili is hearty, so make it chunky.  I think these will be good to start.

Vegan Chili:

A large onion, green pepper, a couple celery stalks small bulb of garlic, cleaned & minced.  In a little oil, brown with a generous amount of chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste.

Add a leafy green such as spinach or kale, course chopped.  Stir a little.  Reduce heat.  Add two cans of your choice of black beans, chili beans or kidney beans.  I like to use one spicy chili and a black bean.  Use the whole can, including liquid.  Add 2 cans of your favorite style tomatoes such as stewed tomatoes or chili style.  Let simmer until desired thickness, and enjoy.

If you prefer more bite, take a chunk of tofu, drain liquid, allow the water to soak in a plain paper towel.  Cube to bite sized pieces and toss in the last 20 minutes of simmering.  It will take on the taste of the chili, and give your teeth something to sink into.

Serve with corn chips and avocado slices. Now you’ve got your whole protein string, along with lots of fiber and vitamins.  This is also high in lycopene, to keep you guys healthy from prostate cancer.

Vegetarian Twist:

Instead of the leafy green, use hard boiled eggs instead.  You may use whole boiled eggs peeled, or you may chop it up.  For texture reasons, I recommend NOT using tofu, if you’re using eggs.  There is no harm, so you’re fine using both, but, the texture may be off that way.
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Posted: Feb 27, 2011 1:37am
Feb 17, 2011
Category: Soups and Stews
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: Less than 30 min
Special Considerations: Low Fat
This is a pretty healthy type recipe, it's hearty, it's natural, and it's darn good!  I got this recipe from my grandma, and it's the best stew I've ever had.

2#'s of beef, cut in large bite sized pieces.
1 large onion, cubed.
5 stalks celery, cut to bite sized pieces.
2-3 stalks carrots, peeled & cut to bite sized pieces.
3 potatoes, peeled & cut to bite sized pieces.
1 Rutabega peeled and cut to large cubes.
2 large cans of whole tomatoes.
Salt and pepper to taste.
1/2 cup of raw tapioca pudding.

May garnish with fresh parsley sprig.

Mix with hands in a large roasting pan.  Bake @ 250F for 5 hours, no peeking!  This will be good to feed to anyone, from your 6 month old to your great grandma!  Everyone can eat because it's tender, and no guilt because it's healthy.

Optional:  buttered bread on the side.
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Posted: Feb 17, 2011 1:31am

 

 
 
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Lika S.
, 2, 2 children
Racine, WI, USA
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