May 23, 2015 Settling in Time at the ‘Farm’

Settling in time at the ‘farm’ – we certainly have lots of work to do to make our little farm really “ours” but slowly we will make it just as we want. First big project was to create a  parking space for our travel trailer which would have the feel of being part of the family yard for visitors. And, as our new little farmhouse has only one bedroom, we need guest facilities. The new driveway is turning out exactly as we had visualized and we’re almost ready to bring the trailer to its new home.
Apr 26 Monroe Rd 9  May 21 Gravel work 4
Back in the kitchen, it’s been an adventure learning to work in the much smaller kitchen than our old house, but thankfully after spending 10 months on the road in the smallest of small kitchens, this new one is looking kind of large right now!

All the boxes are still not unpacked as yet, so it’s a challenge to work around what I don’t have accessible! For this next treat what I miss the most is my half pie tin which allows us to enjoy pies, but not have a whole one in the house to over-tempt us. If your house has only 2 people, this might be an idea for all of us who love pie!
Apr 29 Apricot  pie 2
But, since it was still packed, sigh…I had over-ripe bananas which needed to be used and HAD to make a large banana pie and boy, did we eat it all with no problem at all, except a  little guilt thrown in. It’s been years since I’ve made this pie and my old recipe stands up well and is delicious.

Banana Cream Pie
May 17 Banana Cream PIe
1 baked pie crust, cooled
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups milk
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 Tbs butter or margarine
2 tsp vanilla
2 to 3 medium bananas, sliced

In 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in milk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens; boil and stir 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir about 1/4 cup hot mixture into egg yolks. Gradually stir yolk mixture into hot mixture.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until mixture begins to bubble and is thickened. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Cool until lukewarm, about 20 minutes.

Arrange banana slices in cooled baked shell. Pour cooled pudding over bananas.
Refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours. Store in refrigerator.
Yield: 8 servings

Here is a recipe for roasted veggies which can take you through a complete day of enjoying healthy meals, well at least 2 of your meals while busy going through boxes. I made just 1/2 the original recipe, but now I wish I had made an entire amount, it’s that good. I found myself picking at the peppers until I just had to hide them in the refrigerator to stay out of them. The original recipe came from o old Weight Watchers magazine.

I started the day roasting the peppers and trying to stay out of them until I could serve them with our grilled chicken wings and Brussels sprouts.

Roasted Pepper Salad
May 21 Roasted REd Bell Salad  May 21 wings, b.sprouts, bell pepper salad
2 large plum tomatoes, seeded & coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
1 Tbs capers, rinsed and chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed thru a press
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 tsp olive oil
4 different-color bell peppers cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbs red-wine vinegar (I’ll probably use white balsamic)
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs coarsely chopped fresh basil or parsley

Preheat oven 350° F. Spray a large rimmed b. sheet with nonstick spray.

Mix the tomatoes, olives, capers, garlic, red pepper flakes, and 1 tsp. oil in a bowl. Spread the bell peppers, skin side down, on the baking sheet. Spoon the tomato mixture over them.

Cover loosely with foil and roast 30 minutes. Uncover and roast until the peppers are tender, about 15 minutes. (NOTE: When I removed from oven to uncover, my peppers were just al dente – to me perfect, so didn’t do the additional 15 min.) Let the pepper mixture cool. Transfer to an airtight container & refrigerate up to 2 days.

To serve:
Transfer the salad to a bowl and let come to room temp., about 1 hour. Whisk the remaining 2 tsp. oil, the vinegar, and salt in a small bow. Drizzle over the salad and sprinkle with the basil.

And for our later snack/supper, I tossed the other half (really a quarter of the original recipe) the roasted peppers with 1/3 cup marinara sauce I had in the freezer and tossed with hot pasta. Delicious. Such an easy day of healthy eating.
May 21 Rstd Pepper Pasta

So, I’ll continue in my small kitchen working with whatever utensils/pans are unpacked while Farmer Roy is out playing with his new toy……
May 16 - ride on mower

P.S. And, look what Farmer Roy just brought home to me… smoker!! What a happy cook I will be now that I can pick up a pork belly and get busy smoking some bacon for the family. Yum!
May 22 Smoker HOme

And, with Memorial Day coming up, I can smoke some ribs!! Have a wonderful holiday, everyone and let’s all remember those who gave so much for us in the Armed Forces – God Bless them all.





































May 7, 2015 – Summer Eating and Grilling (Part 1) Plus Mother’s Day Ideas

For a hot weather no-cook salad, this is such a vibrant and scrumptious side dish or, it could be a complete light dinner, also. Adapted from a Whole Foods recipe. You don’t have to ‘shave’ the zucchini into noodles, you can roughly chop and add to the salad, but the noodles give the salad a uniqueness that is pretty and interesting.
Apr 5 Zucc 'Noodle' Cannellini Salat
Zucchini “Noodle” & Cannellini Bean Salad

Basic Salad:
1 medium-size (about 1 lb.) zucchini and/or yellow summer squash
3/4 cups corn (frozen, canned or fresh off the cob)
1/2 cup minced red onion
1 jalapeno, minced (seeded and membranes removed, if desired)
15 1/2 oz can Cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup crumbled feta chees
Additional options:
1/2 cup chopped pea pods or frozen peas
1-2 hard-cooked eggs, roughly chopped
Other veggies that need to be used found in your fridge
Basic Dressing:
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
3 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tsp Extra-virgin olive oil

Using a vegetable peeler or mandolin, cut squash lengthwise into long thin ‘noodles’ rotating the squash as you peel. Discard seedy core. In a large bowl, combine the ‘noodles’ and rest of the salad ingredients adding whatever options you choose. Salt and pepper to taste.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour about half the dressing over the salad and gently combine. Add more dressing as desired, but you don’t want it soupy. Keep any remaining dressing to add to a green salad.

a Chef’s Journey Tip: Wne: 2-Vine Shiraz, Pinot Grigio and 14 Hands Hot to Trot have all been very good with this salad.
Lots of fast and easy cooking and eating for the next few months while we remodel our new (to us) little farmhouse. Today was a combination of an old recipe used in a different way. I’ve had MasterCook program on my computer for years and years and Thai Pork Burritos is a recipe I’ve made many times. I made a large batch a few days ago to package up in small, fast and easy to use sizes and while they are wonderful used in burritos, today I mixed with cooked rice and cheddar cheese to fill bell peppers. Topped with a little hot sauce, we were happy and contented eaters.
Feb. 1 Thai Pork  Burritos Burritos – wonderful
May 7 Thai Pork Stuffed PeppersStuffed Bell Peppers, also wonderful
Thai Pork Burritos

1 lb lean ground pork
2 Tbs grated fresh ginger root
1 garlic clove — peeled and crushed
2 cups cole slaw mix with carrots
1 tsp sesame oil
3 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs lime juice
1 Tbs honey
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
4 large (10-inch) flour tortillas — warmed
Fresh cilantro — chopped (garnish)

Heat large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add pork, cook, crumble and stir until pork is no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, onion and cole slaw mix and stir-fry with pork for 2 minutes, until vegetables are wilted.

Combine all remaining ingredients except tortillas and cilantro in small bowl and add to skillet. Stir constantly to blend all ingredients well, about one minute. Spoon equal portions of mixture onto warm flour tortillas, garnish with cilantro, roll up to encase filling and serve.

Source: From MasterCook – “National Pork Producers Council”
Mother’s Day is Sunday  and here is my favorite brunch drink ever! Ramos Fizzes is a luscious, frothy drink my old friend Susan Mitchell Ayers brought into my life in the 70s and I have loved since. You’ll want to plan a light brunch because these drinks are very filling. In fact, these are the only drinks I’ve ever planned food around – except wine, of course.
Ramos Fizzes

6 oz gin
2 oz white crème de cocoa
2 oz triple sec
4 oz sweet & sour
2 egg whites
6 oz half & half

Add all ingredients in a blender; add ice to the thickness you prefer – Swirl them up good!.

Here’s the brunch I love with the Fizzes – not to mention making me a very happy mother indeed.
Open face crab sandwich
Open Faced Crab Melts

BECHAMEL SAUCE (Makes about 2 cups)
2 cup hot milk
4 T.(1/4 cup) butter
6 T. flour
White pepper
For the Crab melt:
8 oz. crab meat, pick out and discard any cartilage  or shell
2 English muffins
Cheddar cheese for garnish

In a heavy 2- to 3-quart saucepan, melt butter over moderate heat, and stir in the flour. Cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Do not let this roux brown. This step will cook out the floury taste.

Remove the pan from the heat and blend in the hot milk; return to high heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce comes to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer, still stirring, for 2 or 3 minutes, or until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon heavily. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.

Add the crab, breaking it up and combine. Over low heat cook just until the crab is heated through.

Toast muffins halves and put one or two on each plate; spoon the crab mixture over the muffins and top with cheddar cheese. Put under the broiler to just melt the cheese and enjoy immediately after refilling your glass with another Fizz!!

Happy Mother’s Day to us all!





May 2, 2015 – Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup and…



This post will be short and sweet, but wanted to get this down on paper before I forgot the particulars – after a long day of Septic inspection, mentally planning where everything will be situated within the confines of our 1 acre, we came back to the RV park to crash and have something simple. And, here it is – if you try this soup combination, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did and will again tonight!

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup and…
May 2 Rst Peppr Soup
Simple, Easy, Fast, and Delicious!

Divide between two bowls:
(I use SST bowls so I can heat the soup baine marie style)

1 box Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato soup
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked rice
Sriracha, a couple squeezes for each bowl

Cover one dish and refrigerate until next day.

Heat other bowl of soup and enjoy!!

Each bowl serves 2 generously
And, Chardonnay is delicious with the soup

a Chef’s Journey recipe – May 2, 2015

Short and Sweet! Now, to finish the Chardonnay and crash!

April 30, 2015 – What to do While Waiting for Purchased Home to Close!!

To back up a little and fill in the blanks – Last July, we put our house on the market with the plan of taking our time over a couple months to plan our strategy in selling what we didn’t want to keep (as we wanted badly to down-size) and what we would put in storage to wherever we finally decided to put roots down.

With St. Joseph buried in the back yard to (hopefully) insure the house sold in a reasonable length of time…. Our house sold in 3 days and the buyers wanted in A.S.A.P. – Panic time. So, after a scramble of a few weeks, we packed up the travel trailer and headed out on Highway 2 with the intention of driving across the northern U.S. and see new sights and old friends. We made it to Minnesota where snow was predicted – in September, for God’s sake!! After visiting with and being fed like royalty by our friends, Laura & Brad Behrendt in Rogers, MN, we hightailed off Highway 2 plans and headed south.

We gave it a bloody try to go south and then east to Florida and be able to head north up the eastern coast. But, after roosting for 3 months in Louisiana waiting for good weather and road conditions, we gave it up as a lost cause.

O.K., that’s the background to where we are today. We left Louisiana traveling west stopping here and there to visit friends and kids and landed back in Washington April 21st. We started our search for a new home Sunday, April 26th AND found the house with the Denham name on it that first day!! If you haven’t noticed Roy and I do not move in slow motion – when we see what we like, we know it and act.

This little farm was calling our name and we knew it the minute we drove in the drive way – this is us!!
Apr 26 the view
and, the bilious blue house, which will morph into a Barn Red farmhouse SOON!
Apr 28 the house
Apr 26 Apple trees  Now is the time of waiting – offer accepted and paperwork crawling along thru all departments it needs to travel. Anyone who has ever bought a house knows how this is just the slowest, agonizing time of waiting……

Hence, the question – What to do While Waiting for Purchased Home to Close!
The answer is – COOK!

I’m filling my days by cooking all kinds of goodies to have pkg’d up and in the freezer so when the house closes, and we are swamped with moving in and beginning remodel, we will have fast food available to us.

Today was a marathon of cooking and remember we’re in a travel trailer. Hope the following pictures don’t bother anyone –

Started yesterday with a Wine-Braised Beef Short Rib dinner from Ruhlman’s new Braising book which is over the top delicious!
Apr 29 Brised Short Ribs  Apr 29 Braised Short Ribs Plated
This morning, I started with a crockpot of Chile Colorado Burrito filling – a recipe which a number of friends (Daphne, Blane and ‘Trixxee’) have made over the last couple of years and we all really enjoy! I plan to use for topping pasta, sandwich and taco filling. Because I lack space in the travel trailer, the crockpot needed to go in the bathroom!
Apr 30 'bathroom' Crockpot

Crockpot Hawaiian Beef Cubes – I’ve used this mixture in sandwiches topped with Fontina cheese, also Garlic jam as a condiment and slices of candied Jalapeno peppers slipped inside. This one braised in the kitchen oven.
Apr Hawaiian Beef Cubes

My sourdough needed feeding, so used the extra for a loaf of Sourdough bread and a focaccia. Stove was too hot with oven on to rise my bread, so found a sunny spot on the bed!
Apr 30 Bedroom Bread
Apr 30 Sourdough Bread loaf
Lastly, with all the nice flavor aromas floating around this trailer, I was in the mood for a simple pasta and tomato dish – and, a new favorite was born! This is such an easy to put together flavorful Mediterranean-style dish and will be called upon in the coming months as we work our aging butts off with no energy to make complicated dinners!!
Apr 30 Pasta w tom, capers, kalamata, wine
Tomorrow will be an easy day of making rice to pkg. up to be added to the different burrito dinners. And, figure out what’s for dinner as everything is in the freezer!!!!   Now, I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine and beat my loving husband at a few games of Cribbage!

P.S. I need to pass along a tip I was reminded of when reading the Braising book – Michael Ruhlman’s “How To Braise” – when braising, topping the pot with a regular lid allows the  contents to come to a boil, which is counterproductive to a braising  method. The meat and veggies can fragment and loose valuable flavor.
Apr 29 short rib parchment
A parchment paper lid is a perfect solution; one which I learned in culinary school and have completely forgotten over the years!! Cut a circle of parchment paper and cut a little hole in the center of the paper for steam to escape and keeps the meat/veggie from drying out. I hope you all will give this a try and find how well it works.

Here are a couple of the above mentioned recipes –

Chile Colorado Burritos
This recipe is from a blogger – and it is delicious!

2 lb stew meat
1/2 cup of tomato sauce (if you’re out of tomato sauce – mix 1/2 tomato paste & water for a substitute)
1 Tbs Knorr’s Caldo de Tomate (easily found in the Mexican section of grocery stores)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbs chili powder
3 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
flour tortillas
shredded cheese

Make enchilada sauce. In a medium sauce pan, whisk together tomato sauce, Caldo de Tomate, garlic powder, chili powder, flour and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Place stew meat in 6-quart slow cooker. Cover with enchilada sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Shred beef. On an oven-proof plate, lay out a tortilla. Top tortilla with about 1/3 cup of the meat and some shredded cheese. Roll up into a burrito. Pour some enchilada sauce from the crock pot over the burrito to cover it. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly, about 2-4 minutes.
Crockpot Hawaiian Beef Cubes
This recipe is very flexible – can be doubled, tripled; whatever your needs are. I made this with no clear idea of what to do with it after….So, I’m still looking for ideas other than sandwiches and topping pasta or a pizza. I adapted this recipe from one given to me by my cousin, Lynn Shelledy and we bless her every time I make it! Serves 6 to 8

1 1/2 – 2 lbs. Beef chuck roast, cut in chunks, 1” to 1 1/2″ size
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tsp Sriracha, optional – but so good!!

Spray crockpot with cooking spray for easier clean up later.
Combine all together, cook in Crock-pot 6-8 hours…that’s it! Done!
Pasta with Tomatoes, Capers and Kalamata
Serves 2 generously

It can be a bit tricky cooking angel hair pasta. You have to pay close attention to cooking time. Here’s the trick: Cook this pasta to just below al dente, drain, and toss it with just enough olive oil to avoid stickiness. Then add the pasta back to the pan, and heat it through quickly so the pasta does not overcook. It is worth the attention because when you get it right, this dish is sheer perfection. This tip is from The Fast Diet Cookbook for Weight Loss.

4 oz Angel hair pasta
Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced (or if you have them, 2 T. roasted garlic cloves)
3 tomatoes, rough chopped
1 Tbs capers, rough chopped plus 1 tsp. of the brine
8 Kalamata olives, rough chopped
2 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chicken stock
Chives for garnish
1/4 cup (1 oz.) grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

Cook the angel hair pasta according to the package directions, drain, toss with
1 teaspoon of the olive oil, and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil until shimmery. Add the garlic and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, capers, olives, and basil, salt, and pepper, and cook until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the cooked spaghetti to the vegetables and toss to combine.
Add the chicken stock and reserved brine; stir well to coat the pasta; continue over heat until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Serve the pasta sprinkled with chives on warm plates and pass the Parmesan cheese in a bowl.
Enjoy! Come back and visit – I’ll be making some easy summer dinners for a while and I’ll share the best ones with everyone.