From breakfast to lunch and dinner, from garden, kitchen and restaurant,
great grub abounds in the Ozarks and at Moonmooring!
great grub abounds in the Ozarks and at Moonmooring!
This passing summer saw a garden of amazing abundance. More than we could have ever hoped for. It was on a piece of ground that had not been tilled in many years. Everything we planted went in quite late, some just at the cusp of what might produce for the season. In spite of all that seemingly went wrong, everything went right.
We even had an amazing obligatory volunteer squash which has been tentatively called several things. Buttershaw, Nutcup, and Frankensquash were but a few suggestions. These squash produced mostly near basketball size fruits nicely shaped like a Buttercup. The color of the shell very similar to last years Cushaw and the inside brilliant orange like a Butternut. Buttershaw seems the most apropo name. There were a few perfectly shaped like the Butternut but I haven’t opened any of them to inspect the contents.
I can only hope this to be near the last harvest! There are still scads of peppers, a few tomatoes and the sweet potatoes to harvest.
I swear I am not cooking one more tomato this season! So much abundance this year! I’ve resorted to pureeing, cooking and freezing the last of the yellow tomatoes. They aren’t good candidates for canning because of low acidity, unless you pressure can them.
What to do with yellow tomato sauce? Use it for rice and vegetable dishes. Add potatoes, especially the golden varieties. Adding red chili powders for Mexican dishes will give you a beautiful rustic orange color. I have used it for pasta sauce and it is delightfully tasty. I did not find the color off putting but I can imagine some might. Saffron is a great spice to use with the yellows.
Whatever you do, explore food varieties and tastes. Happy cooking!
Today’s lunch came directly from my garden to the kitchen, the pan and then my tummy. It had been picked less than an hour when I was stuffing myself – with reverence of course!
All told there was zucchini, green beans, okra, eggplant, green tomato, new potatoes, and peppers. It all started off with the cucumbers though.
I melted some coconut oil in a large skillet and prepped my veggies. The okra and green beans were left whole. But the potato, zucchini, eggplant and green tomato were sliced thick. I chunked the beautiful round orange pepper.
Each piece of vegetable was dipped in country fresh egg then a mixture of course ground organic cornmeal and whole wheat flour. I carefully laid each breaded piece in the hot oil and browned till crispy on the outside and barely tender on the inside. A mixture of mayo or Miracle Whip (I know…) and prepared horseradish is a nice condiment for this meal.
Spanish rice is a long time favorite in my family. We can trace it back six generations. The seventh generation of family Spanish rice eaters isn’t old enough to cook yet but they sure do enjoy it!Everyone alive now who makes it has their own twist. My mother likes it soupy and with a lot of tomatoes. My brother makes it even more tomato-y. My Aunt Zoma created a Spanish rice that was yellow, without tomatoes. I haven’t hd my sister’s rice in so many years I haveno idea what she does.
The point it this; My Great-grandmother Lydia Boren travelled to California as a young girl in a wagon train with her family. There her mother learned to make Spanish rice and it was handed down to Lydia, Thelma Boren Hargett Dall, her daughters, Eunice, Zoma and, Odessa, ____, then on to my generation of cooks, our children and my sister’s grandchildren. It’s a family tradition with all my known cousins – first, second and third.
I prefer my Spanish rice with venison, plenty of garlic, light on the tomatoes, chicken broth is nice and bone dry with long grain rice. Plenty of heat.
This recipe is a guildline. There are plenty of options to choose from as you see with most of my recipes. Take all the liberties you want!
1 lb. ground meat
4 to 5 Tbls. oil
1 C. white rice, long grain
2 large pepper, any kind
1 medium onion
1 stalk celery
3 cloves garlic
8 ounces tomato sauce
salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder
Brown the ground meat in a skillet and drain off any liquid. Meanwhile chop the onion, peppers and celery in bite size pieces. Mince the garlic.
Heat the oil in a larger skillet. Add the rice. Bring heat up till the rice sizzles slightly and adjust heat so it doesn’t burn. Keep the bottom of the pan covered evenly with the rice so it will toast or brown. Stir frequently. Do not burn the rice! If you do burn the rice throw it out and start over. This takes a bit of patience.
Once the rice is browned, add a good splash of oil, turn the heat up a few notches and toss in the onion, peppers and celery. Stir and cook until the vegetables just start to get limp, Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more. Immediately pour in the tomato sauce and 1 C water, add the cooked and drained meat. Stir to mix. Add the spices. Bring to a low simmer. Cover with a tight lid and cook about 15 minutes. Check the rice for doneness. Let sit with the lid on for an additional 5 to 10 minutes to finish cooking.
Today’s Spanish Rice
2 Tbls. coconut oil to brown the venison in
1 lb. ground venison
4 to 5 Tbls. oil
1 C. white rice, long grain
3 or 4 large pepper, a variety
1 large onion
2 stalk celery
4 cloves garlic
1 – 16 ounce jar of home made salsa or tomato sauce ounces tomato sauce
salt, pepper, 1 tsp. cumin, 2 tsp. chili powder
Any ground meat is fine, short or long grain rice will work, use your favorite oil, don’t worry about the exact amount of vegetables – use what you have. Tomato product – can be anything from commercially canned sauce to freshly chopped raw tomatoes. I have even used tomato juice or V-8 when that was all I had on hand. I suppose you could use a can of tomato soup if you wanted. Vary the amount of cumin and chili powder to your liking. Cumin is an acquired taste for some people. Leave it out if it doesn’t agree with you.
Most importantly – have fun with your cooking! Don’t be afraid to adjust the recipe. If something is critical I will tell you. Don’t burn the rice OR the roux! That is critical.
Vietnamese in St. Louis. Yes. It was my first time for this cuisine. The last new exotic Ethnic food was Ethiopian and it is still my current favorite. The Vietnamese was fresh, light and delicious!
The Ca Ri Ga is a traditional yellow curry with potatoes and carrots. Lots of cilantro and lime juice and something hot. Maybe Thai chilies? I accidentally used too many Thai chilies in a pot of chili one time. It was deadly hot!
The Dau Xao Toi is seared green beans in a black bean sauce. It was marvelous.
I have nothing to compare with this restaurant but it was good enough that I would return to try more entrees. So, next time you are in St. Louis check out Little Saigon on Euclid.
Beef and Noodles
1 Tbls. coconut oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 mild pepper (red or green), chopped
8 ounces leftover steak, sliced thin
2 – 3 cloves garlic, smashed
3 handfuls of egg noodles, cooked according to package direction, drained
1/2 head broccoli, cut in flowerets and steamed about 6 minutes, drained
1 can Cream of Chicken or mushroom or celery soup
6 – 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
Cook the noodles and drain. Cook the broccoli and drain.
Melt the oil in a skillet. Saute the peppers and onions a couple of minutes. Add the sliced steak to heat. Add the garlic and cook about one more minute. Add the soup plus about one cup water or milk. Cook and stir untill bubbly. Add the mushrooms and cook for about two minutes. Add the noodles and broccoli. Heat through. Serve with sliced tomatoes or a salad.
This makes two REALLY hearty serving or 3 – 4 small servings.
My reality…I had a jar of leftover Chicken Divan sauce and used that instead of the canned soup. I also forgot the garlic. I can’t imagine cooking this without garlic, but it happened. It was really good in spite of that.
I love pesto! Many of my friends love my pesto. Today finds me making pesto for the third time this season. There could be a big ole discussion on growing and harvesting pesto to maximise your efforts etc. But you know what? I don’t have time today. And we are way past that point anyway. Maybe later then.
I have twenty-two Genovese basil plants and fifteen Thai basil plants. I’ve harvested the Genovese three times not counting the random pickings here and there to season something. The Thai basil went in really late. Later than all the other late stuff this year. I have not harvested it yet although I have plucked the ends off enough to force it to branch a couple of times. I expect a harvest will be coming soon.
You can see comprehensive visuals here, at Moonmooring, that I photographed in 2009. I am a much improved photographer since then! The pesto is still ‘da bomb! So check out those pics and here are some more to encourage you along your own pesto excursion.
When making pesto – work fast! Pick the top branches of each branch leaving a bilateral leaf so it will split and grow more. Make sure the pesto has been watered well for a few days prior to harvesting. Pick about one or two hours after the sun hits the leaves to bring the oils to maturity. Waiting until late in the day on a sunny day will give you limp leaves – try to avoid that if you can.
Rinse the basil leaves well checking for little spiders, slugs and other assorted bugs that might be hiding in this aroma den. Shake excess water from leaves. Drain and lay out on absorbent towels to dry. I have used my Pampered Chef salad spinner and it works well for small to medium amounts of basil. Today’s was an especially large harvest. After I laid it all out to dry on towels I put a small fan on the counter to gently speed the drying time. That was a good idea – thank you Marideth Sisco.
When processing multiple batches (I had five large food processor batches today) place each finished batch in a large bowl and stir them all together for uniformity. Taste once in a while and tweak your garlic , cheese and nuts if need be.
Jar up in straight sided jars or freezer jars. Use a table knife and run it around the edges and sides to remove air pockets. Air will make the pesto oxidize and it will turn dark faster. Mash each jars contents down flat with the back of a spoon and top with a thin layer of olive oil to seal out the air. Freeze in an upright position. This will keep all winter and still be delightful!
I expect to put up about thirty half pints this summer. Some of this will go to friends and we will eat most of it. It makes a great pot luck dish! Just pour a jar over hot cooked pasta for a quick delicious meal or have it with your favorite crunchy vegetables and crackers!
I’ve been wanting to make fresh pasta for years. Here is a perfect go at it – for me anyway. Now where is that pasta machine… yes I think there is one laying around somewhere.
I have a pretty great life and lifestyle. I am incredibly fortunate and really don’t have many things to complain about. But every now and then I am going to have a bad day, whether it be due to stress at work, homesickness or just general annoyances. I am going to get stressed, angry, sad, tired and I have the cheapest and most effective form of therapy to get me through those bad days…. PASTA MAKING!
The process is so familiar, repetitive and calming that by the end when I am more than likely sitting down to a giant bowl of delicious fresh pasta I am back to my regular happy self.
The recipe we use for the pasta is one that my mother gave me and it is slightly ridiculous. Promise not to laugh!! The measurements are very much open to interpretation. Going by feel is the best way…
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Ohmagosh! Can anyone say Chicken Divan!? Made from scratch – the old fashion way. Okay sure I have tweaked it a tiny bit, but not much.
Many years ago, like in the 1970’s after my maternal grandmother died I found her original hand written recipe card for Chicken Divan. THEN I found the magazine page she had cut out with the very original recipe made with Hellman’s mayonnaise. I senselessly threw out the magazine page and only saved Grandma’s hand written copy. I have no idea which magazine it was or the year. But I know it was way before my cooking years.
I’ve had modern versions of Chicken Divan made with canned soup and frozen broccoli. It was good. This is better.
That said, here is my recipe with my minor tweaks.
one medium chicken cooked, boned and cut into bite size pieces – this can be roasted or poached or boiled if you are a chicken boiler – just sayin’
one big head of broccoli cut into flowerets and steamed for about 2 minutes (I’m not convinced you have to steam this as it will bake for 45 minutes)
1/2 medium onion, chopped and sautéed in a dab of butter
2 C. chicken broth (I used my home-made broth)
1/2 scant C. flour
1 C. milk – whatever kind you like to use
1/2 tsp. curry powder – your favorite of course
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 C. mayo – Miracle Whip will work if that’s what you keep
1 pkg. stove top stuffing – yea this is a cop-out I know, bread crumbs, Panko, dried up cornbread crumbled – all will work
1/4 C. Parmesan cheese
Make the sauce; put the chicken broth and flour into a 3 or 4 cup glass jar and screw the lid down tight. Shake the heck out of it till the flour is blended in real well. Pour into a medium saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer, stirring continuously. As soon as it starts to thicken add the milk. Use a whisk if you want to. Add the curry powder and lemon juice. Cook at a light bubble while stirring for a minute or two. Remove from heat. Let cool for a few minutes then stir in the mayo. Add the sautéed onions.
Prep the broccoli and place it in an 11 X 13 baking pan – I used a round glass dish. Layer the prepped chicken over that. Pour the sauce over the chicken and broccoli. Top with the stuffing mix and sprinkle the Parmesan over it.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Makes 4 – 6 hefty servings.
I served it with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden and a meal was made. Oops, I forgot to photograph the plate! My’bad.
Some notes: The onions were my idea – I can’t imagine cooking savory foods without onion. The broccoli did not need to be precooked. Use canned cream of chicken soup if you like. Or canned chicken broth, or vegetable broth and tofu instead of chicken. Viola! Nearly vegetarian. You know it’s almost never about following a recipe exactly. Make due with what you have or use the product you like best. Once in a while a substitution won’t work but usually it will be fine. Sure you might notice the difference between whole milk and skim, but oh well.
Let’s visit gravy in all its glorious manifestations one day soon. This lemon curry sauce is a gravy. Wasn’t it easy.