Cherry Salsa

Cherry Macro

Cherry Macro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fresh Cherry Salsa

 1 1/2 lbs. cherries, pitted and roughly chopped

1/2 cup minced red onion

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 tsp. honey

1/4 tsp. salt 

Mix all ingredients together well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid. Refrigerate until serving time.

(at least a couple of hours for flavours to marinate)

Serve over grilled chicken or pork tenderloin or veal chops.

I received this recipe from a friend of mine who knows my skill set when it comes to cooking (below average) and she sends me recipes that she knows I am capable of carrying out. She always prefaces a recipe with the words “Dave can do it” referring to her spouse. I am no longer fooled by this phrase, which once comforted me, because now I know Dave’s skill set when it comes to cooking is a few steps higher than mine–but this cherry salsa sounds wonderful and so I am going to try it for two reasons:

1. my husband loves cherries

2. I love cherries

Now, tell me, does this not sound just too good not to make? What seasonal fruit, berry, or veggie do you love the most?

Published in: on July 27, 2013 at 1:53 pm  Comments (19)  
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Inspired Bliss

English: As the feel of the event was all abou...

Yes, this is exactly how my family sits down to eat every night. I may give the butler the night off! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The shared meal is no small thing. It is a foundation of family life, the place where our children learn the art of conversation and acquire the habits of civilization: sharing, listening, taking turns, navigating differences, arguing without offending.” ~Michael Pollan, from his book, “Cooked”

I am guilty of much of what Pollan is railing against in his book “Cooked”. I have been wooed by the fast food industry, courted by the industrial food moguls, and a victim of food that is not really food. And I am now inspired to cook food from scratch and not just heat up “packaged ravioli with sage-butter sauce” and consider it a “culinary achievement”.

My Achilles heel when it comes to cooking is the fact that after a while it becomes too routine, and just getting some food to the table is an accomplishment itself—no matter where it comes from—the pizza delivery guy, my freezer, or a package.

Pollan has renewed my pride in cooking, and inspired me. And real cooking can be so simple—sometimes just a quick nuking of fresh asparagus from the local farmers market with a little butter and salt and pepper will satisfy that urging; other times a full-blown meal where one has to actually touch real potatoes, chop real lettuce, and cook some fresh meat meets the criteria.

I must confess that I will still rely on frozen packaged food at times—but I am now determined to take a little more time, take it that one step further, and serve real food on a more regular basis. And I must look at it as feeding my creative beast—there are so many ways to be creative and I no longer want to limit myself to writing literary masterpieces and somewhat lame poetry (I know I am exaggerating on both ends of the scale here).

To share a meal with those you love where you have actually put some time and thought into the effort is most satisfying. If we are going to do important things like teach the art of conversation, and share and listen and navigate differences—we should do it over fare that deserves that deliberation.

Bliss is going that extra mile and fixing “real food” if not every day at least as much as possible. What do you think?

Published in: on May 22, 2013 at 1:21 pm  Comments (31)  
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Dedication

Our most popular cake. Of course anything choc...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the first of my dedication posts. I will choose one lucky recipient a week to receive one of my fractured haiku.

Dedicated to Ms. Loony:

This delicate and highly philosophical  haiku is dedicated to my friend Cindy of photosfromtheloonybin. Needless to say she loves chocolate cake. And is a great photographer. Check her out on Fridays–she has a mystery photo post she submits every week that is designed to stump us. I think I have guessed correctly twice–and that is only because I looked at the other comments.

Cake

The very essence

Of my being calls out for

More chocolate cake.

Published in: on May 15, 2013 at 1:35 pm  Comments (37)  
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A Wonderfully Glorious Bean Salad

NCI EatBeansAndOtherLegumesOften

EatBeansAndOtherLegumesOften (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the title of this post, you may think I am overselling this recipe a bit–after all, just how glorious can a bean salad be?

Well this is one good and well-used recipe passed along by my sister-in-law, Brenda probably 30+ years ago (cannot believe I am old enough to remember back that far). It soon became mine to make for all the family gatherings as: 1. it did not have to be cooked; 2. there was no cooking involved; 3. no burner or oven had to be turned on to make it (are you noting a trend here?)

I have not made it for a few years, and it was resurrected in my memory bank the other day when my sister Peggy asked me for it, as she was making some salads to take to the cottage with her and she could not find hers. So a big thanks to Peg for reminding me of this “politically correct” salad, which not only tastes good, but is darn good for you. (Unlike my ode to bologna sandwiches yesterday).

Bean Salad

You will need:

19 oz tins of green beans, wax beans, kidney beans, lima beans and chick peas

I onion sliced thin

1 green pepper chopped (or red as it has lots of good stuff in it–but I am not going to go all nutritional on you)

Marinate several hours in:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup salad oil (today I might use olive oil)

1/2 cup wine vinegar

1 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. parsley

pepper (I love when no amount is given–it feels so creative)

1 tbsp. seasoned salt

1/2 tsp. dry mustard

1/2 tsp. tarragon and basil or Italian spices

This is seriously good and easy–and even though it has more than my five ingredient criteria–there is no cooking involved which makes up for the length of the ingredient list.

Enjoy!

My idea of bliss is rediscovering a recipe I have not used in a long time. Do you have one you have forgotten?

Published in: on April 20, 2013 at 7:51 am  Comments (20)  
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Blueberry Bliss

List of U.S. state foods

List of U.S. state foods (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can attest to the fact that this recipe is absolutely outstanding–a friend served it at a dinner party she and her husband hosted last week. Barbequed Steak (even though it was cold as cold can be, Dave braved the outdoors for us), baked potatoes, asparagus and this dressing on a baby spinach salad with roasted walnuts, dried cranberries, blueberries and red onion:

BLUEBERRY SALAD DRESSING
1 cup of blueberries
2/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
Put all of the ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. Refridgerate until serving time. This recipe accents a spinach salad well. Use up dressing within a week.
By the way, I brought garlic butter buns–that was my safe contribution. And we were served a chocolate cake celebrating the upcoming birthdays of my husband and I. Within a month of each other we are turning the big 3~0 x 2.
English: Flowers round church door at St John ...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But the big news of the night was that Debbie and Dave (our hosts) got married. They have been together for well over a quarter of a century and decided to take the plunge in a private ceremony. They broke the wonderful news to my husband and I, and our other good friends, Lee and Rhonda (who were married the same day a year later than we were) after they had celebrated our birthdays. Talk about humble hosts. I did not notice the flowers in the kitchen from their small but elegant wedding, nor the beautiful ring on her finger, (or Dave’s finger for that matter)–which makes me wonder: what kind of a reporter am I?

Anyway–it was a blissful night of food and friends.
Do you have some blissful moments shared with friends?
Published in: on March 16, 2013 at 12:32 pm  Comments (52)  
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There Is a Reason I Have Not Been Freshly Pressed

Anniversary wine

(Photo credit: kerryj.com)

I have not been Freshly Pressed.  The Food and Wine Hedonist was Freshly Pressed for writing an article about the three things you can find in her refrigerator. Then she asked her readers what three things are always in their fridge. There were all manner of answers. Some were quite eloquent. Some were so good, I would like to get to know these people who always have sparkling wine, a good cheese and something exotic in their fridge. The Hedonist herself always has roasted walnut oil, a specialty hummus, and pecorino romano cheese.

My answer was: mold, mildew, and crumbs. She did not comment back.

If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that my answer was none too appetizing. Perhaps I was not supposed to be honest. Maybe my food hygiene came into question. So I think I may go back and reanswer her question, and see if she responds. What might be acceptable? Cheeze Whiz, cheese slices, and spray cheese? No, not sophisticated enough.

How about goose liver pâté, Freixenet, and caviar? (Do you keep caviar in the fridge–guess if I have to ask then I might not be too convincing.) I would love to always have Freixenet (Spanish sparking wine) in my fridge — I love this stuff.

Yogurt, soy milk, and celery? Nope, too boring.

Okay, I admit I was being tongue in cheek. Three things that are always in my fridge: mustard, mystery meat, and withered carrots. That is my answer and I am sticking to it. I have a feeling that Food and Wine Hedonist may not respond to that one either.

In keeping with the theme of bliss–what three things do you wish you always had in your fridge?

Crazy Cracker Candy – And You Thought I Forgot That Today was Recipe Saturday

English: Six saltines and a fork on a large plate

Turn these into candy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am going to provide you with a bit of an eccentric recipe but one I made a lot when my kids were little. It uses saltines as the base and is super easy. It is a fun recipe to do with kids, because they love to line up the crackers on a cookie sheet and try to leave no gaps.

I was given this recipe during a phone conversation with a friend. I had tried the candy at her house and just loved it. As such, this is a rather “loose” recipe, but it works with just a few ingredients and is super fast to make.

Crazy Cracker Candy

Ingredients:

Saltine crackers; 1/2 cup butter or margarine; 1/2 cup brown sugar; chocolate chips; nuts if you desire

Instructions:

Line a cookie sheet with tin foil. Line up saltine crackers so there are no gaps or overlapping. Boil 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter or margarine. Spoon over the crackers covering them with the liquid “gold”. Put them in the oven for about a minute in a preheated 350 degree oven.

Take them out of the oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips and then put back in the oven until the chips melt and spread. When they come out you can sprinkle them with nuts (I never do this). Put them in the fridge for 1/2 hour to cool. Score bars and remove them from cookie sheet. (I usually just break them up).

Seriously, these are so good–and your kids will love them. You will love them. And most of us have these ingredients hanging around our pantry and fridge.

Do you have a recipe that is blissfully easy, but good, and uses really accessible ingredients?

Or Just Eat Quiche

fried perch

fried perch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have trouble eating. In front of people. I had TMJ years ago, and though I no longer suffer from the annoying clicking, jaw ache, or barely being able to open my mouth (for a while I was eating through a straw, which cannot really be called eating)—I still cannot open my mouth very wide.

Restaurant food is not made for someone who cannot relish their food with big bites. Salads are not cut in bite-size pieces, so I have to take a knife and fork to any salad I order, and I still tend to not be able to get it in my mouth without it: 1. Falling back on my plate;  2. Leaving a smear of dressing on my face; and/or 3. Being stuck with it half in and half out of my mouth, and having to stuff it in with my fingers. None of these would be easy to watch if you are eating with me. And I tell you, it is no fun being a messy eater.

People are kind. They ignore my difficulties and just continue conversing with me even though it is apparent that I cannot seem to feed myself with the proper etiquette.  I really do try to cut things into small pieces, but sometimes I misjudge, and do not realize it until it is too late.

English: Homemade cheeseburger with french fries.

Burger with french fries. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever tried eating a hamburger if you cannot open your mouth very wide? Close to impossible, as they make hamburgers super thick then pile everything but the kitchen sink on it. I usually sort of nibble away at it—but it is frustrating, and darn it, sometimes I am hungry, and want a mouthful. That is when I get into trouble.

I was out for dinner the other night and ordered perch and coleslaw and French fries. A meal made in heaven for someone with my problem. The perch could be cut into my mouth-size pieces, the French fries successfully dunked in ketchup and easily devoured, and the coleslaw was chopped small enough that I did not have trouble eating it. A blissful meal indeed. (See how I worked bliss into this? Clever, eh?)

I guess I should just explain to anyone I lunch or dine with that I have a problem opening my mouth very wide so they will not think that I am a bit of a pig. I think though I should just acclimate myself to the situation, be careful about what I order, and cut my meal into smaller pieces. Or just eat Quiche. (This can get a little old.)

Do you have to make any adjustments to your eating habits so you will not appear to be a messy eater?

 

Published in: on January 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm  Comments (54)  
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Can Bliss Be Nutritional? ~ Recipe Saturday ~ 1/12/13

Spinach

Spinach (Photo credit: stormgrass)

Seriously, the irony is not lost on me that I am providing you with recipes. For a number of reasons I am about the last person to provide information on cooking. Here is why:

1. I generally do not like to spend more than thirty minutes in the kitchen as it does not take the people I cook for thirty minutes to eat what I have prepared. It takes them five minutes. I like a balance between the time I put into a project and what I get out of a project. (Yes, I call cooking a project). I will put in more time when I have company as the time it takes them to eat the food is more than five minutes.

2. I am a gourmet reader of cookbooks. I am not a gourmet cook. I am barely a cook. I hardly ever follow a recipe. The fact that I have fed my family for about thirty years and they have not died from malnutrition gives me a gold star in my book.

3. I generally do not use a recipe that calls for more than five ingredients or has more than three steps.

4. I hate to clean up after I cook.

So, what makes today’s recipe special (blissful even, since that is the topic of the year)? It has more than five ingredients. It has more than three steps. It is not quite gourmet but pretty darn close for me. But it is soup so it makes more than one meal. It is healthy and my husband likes it. Usually those two phrases do not go together.

I must warn you that when I provide recipes—they are sometimes written down quickly, the steps truncated, and they are not triple tested by me. They are maps, not definite trips. But I try to be as clear as I can be. Without further ado, here is a recipe I enjoyed at my sister’s, wrote down, and made. It is good and warming on a winter day:

White Bean and Spinach Soup

Ingredients:

2 tsp. of olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Pinch hot pepper flakes

1 –  19 oz. can of white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

5 cups of chicken stock or 1  – 10 oz. tin chicken broth plus water to make up 5 cups

½ cup small pasta (macaroni, stars or wheels)

3/4 lb. fresh chopped spinach or 10 oz. frozen

1 tomato diced

Salt and pepper to taste (always feel so creative when something is to “taste”)

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (I used dried—certainly not 2 tbsp though)

Directions:

1. Cook onion, garlic, and hot pepper flakes on low until tender (of course I cooked them on high—I cook everything on high—though I am learning to turn the heat down).

2. Add beans and stock—bring to boil. Season with salt and pepper “to taste”.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for ten minutes.

3. Puree soup and return to heat. (I did not puree, but mashed it a bit). Add pasta and cook 5-10 minutes or until tender. Soup will thicken.

4. Add fresh spinach and cook until just wilted – 2 – 3 minutes. (Frozen—I suppose you thaw it out— I used fresh).

5. Add tomato.

I don’t know where the parsley came in— guess I did not write it down. Since I used dry—I am sure I just threw it in with the spinach. Most of you are more highly developed cooks then I, so you make the decision.

Makes six servings.

EAT!

January 2010 Snow Scene

January Snow Scene (Photo credit: ς↑r ĴΛϒκ❂)

I love this soup, though I am pretty sure I only added about half of the fresh spinach. My husband loved it—so that was a super bonus. It is good for you too. Nutrition can be bliss.

Do you have a healthy recipe that tastes really, really good?

Published in: on January 12, 2013 at 1:23 pm  Comments (42)  
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Unusual Bliss

As good as Soup Nazi's Soup

As good as Soup Nazi’s Soup (Photo credit: naokomc)

Feature blogger of the day: the usual bliss.

Why? First and foremost because of the name of her blog, but today she featured a most delicious soup recipe and she also has not taken her tree down, which will make anyone who has not taken their tree down yet happy. Blissful even. Her excuse is that she is sick, but personally I do not think she needs one. Many years I do not have my tree down by this date. I consider this year a fluke.

Unusual blisses:

1. A chili dog on a hamburger bun. The hotdog buns were gone, but I still had hamburger buns and the makings of two chili dogs. It tastes just as good on a hamburger bun as a hot dog bun. My recipe for a chili dog: hot dog, fried; top it with chili, mustard, and onions. Bliss.

2. When something broken gets fixed. My furnace was broken and it is fixed now. No more expensive electrical heaters (which did the trick but did not add much to my Christmas decor). Bliss.

3. A new handle on my back screen door. Now it does not open at random. Bliss.

4. A flu shot given by my favourite nurse who knows how to give shots that do not hurt. She did not even have to ask me what flavour I wanted (a trick my doctor used when I was little). Bliss.

5. Finding a blog called the usual bliss. How fortuitous is that. Kismet. And again, bliss.

What are some of your unusual blisses?

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