What's on My Food?

Find out what's on your food at: whatsonmyfood.org

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Another Block Finished Despite Car Shopping

Hello Boys and Girls!

Yes, I did happen to get another block finished. This is Block 4 from
Pieceful Nights: A Sampler Quilt. As mentioned in a previous post, this sampler is from Oak Leaf Quilts http://www.oakleafquilts.com/ and when I finish one block on time, I get the next one free. It is a  great way to get a quilt practically free. The fabric is not batik, http://www.batiks.com/ which is my fabric of choice, 2nd only to Civil War http://www.bonniebluequilts.com/, and a close 3rd to hand-dyes, and coming up 4th to anything from Moda http://www.modafabrics.com/. Seriously, I love just about all fabric!

This Sampler Quilt is designed by Lori Smith http://www.frommyhearttoyourhands.com/. Check out her web site. If you are a traditional quilter, you will lover her work. I don't know where I fit...traditional, artsy quilts, off-the-wall quilts, baby quilts...I love them all. Well almost. I am having a time with the Washington State sampler from Gathering Fabrics in Woodinville, WA http://www.gatheringfabrics.com/. Basically, the theme blocks are floral but the latest block was a birdbath and bird. I had a problem with the bird because it was a blue bird. Washington state bird is the American goldfinch http://www.netstate.com/states/symb/birds/wa_willow_goldfinch.htm. So, I proceeded to change the block with a goldfinch at the birdbath. What do you think?

Well, now on to dinner. I tried another Thai dinner. The problem is this: I only had a few things in the refrigerator. Here goes another hit or miss! This is what I had on hand.
  • celery
  • tofu
  • Chinese cabbage
  • sweet red peppers
  • venison sausage
  • onions
  • scallions

OK, I thought I could make something tasty. So, I chopped the celery and onion and got those heating in the wok. Then I chopped the firm tofu and added that along with the fish sauce and chili garlic sauce. Take my word for it...you only need 1 teaspoon of this stuff! So far so good...smells good. I add the venison almost
last because there is no fat in the vension sausage. OK, stir fry all this,

add 1 TBLS corn starch to a bit of water and thicken the sauce. Add coarsly chopped Chinese cabbage.
Meanwhile, boil water and place the rice noodles in the water to get soft. By the time the noodles are soft the main foods are ready. It was not bad. Oh, we did add a little soy sauce to the finished product. This is low sodium and very good.

So, no matter what you have in the fridge, something tasty can be made. You have to use a little imagination and be brave. It would help to be really hungry too!
Let me know what creations you come up with only 7 ingredients in your fridge. Good luck!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Organic Cooking and Drinking 101

Hi Boys and Girls!

You probably know I love organic foods. Tonight's dinner was extra special...and it took a whopping 20 minutes to make!

Start off with a shopping trip to Whole Foods http://www.wholefoods.com/ or other natural foods store. Our store in Austin has 3 floors but I only make through the 1st floor most of the time! If you go on a Saturaday, you will enjoy lots of free samples. Like the Hawaiin beer http://www.konabrewingco.com/. It is a limited release only September thru April, so I was told. Look for Pipeline, Porter Made with 100% Kona Coffee. Coffee in beer you say? Yes! It is really great! I just wish I had a pastrami sandwich to go with my sample! Of course, I bought a 6-pack and will go back for more before April. OK, back to the dinner.

  • Organic mustard greens ($1.99 each. Can you believe that?)
  • Organic sweet potatoes
  • Farm raised, organic pork chop from Richardson Farms (http://www.richardsonfarms.com/) which is local but Whole Foods sells organic, hormone-free meat products.
  • Organic bottle of Stellar Merlot with no sulfites from Africa.
1. First wash and start to steam the sweet potatoes. I use a steaming rack.

2. When sweet potatoes are about half done (test with a fork) start heating the BBQ or George Foreman Grill http://www.georgeforemangrill.net/. I used the G.F. grill this time. I sprayed both top and bottom with Pam and sprinkled Mrs. Dash Extra Spicey on each side of the pork chop http://www.mrsdash.com/.
This is hard to find for me in this area. However, I found it at Wal-Mart and bought all they had! You can order it on-line but the shipping is cost prohibitive. Pre-heat grill 5 minutes. If using a gas BBQ grill, pre-heat same but cook pork chop on cool side of grill with heat on the other side. If using coals, you know what to do. OK, in case you do not, coals are ready when they turn grey...about 20 minutes after lighting. Pork Chop will take longer to cook on outside grills. Use your digital meat thermometer to test for doneness.

3. While the grill is warming up, sweet potatoes are steaming nicely, prepare your mustard greens.

Wash and pat dry. In a large-size saute pan, warm 1 TBL virgin olive oil. Put in 1-2 garlic cloves, chopped and one small onion chopped. Saute for about 5 minutes or until onion is translucent.
4. Put chop on G.F. grill and close. Set for 5 minutes.
5. Put greens into pan with sauteed onions and garlic. Add 1 TBL Basalmic vinegar. Cover.
6. Set table, pour your wine and when you hear the "ding" you are ready to eat.

Enjoy! As a side-note, the basalmic vinegar left in the pan is great on the sweet potatoes! No need to add butter.

If you are as fortunate as I am, you will have dessert of Pineapple Upside Down Cake! My daughter made a wonderful dinner Sunday of skewered beef (flank steak), saffron rice and pineapple upside down cake. I got to bring some leftovers home!

Until next time, remember to eat your greens!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Quilter's Nirvana...or close to it!

You see the glazed look on a guy that is eying a Harley...or the far-off look one gets when watching a thing of beauty (male or female) pass by...Well, now picture 50,000 crazed women with the gleam in their eyes that convey determination, skill, lust and a hard cold cash ( or better yet, plastic)! Yes, it is that time of year again in Texas. The International Quilt Festival held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas! Our local quilt shop, Oak Leaf Quilts http://www.oakleafquilts.com/ provided the luxury bus for the 3-hour drive to Houston. We had a "bus Mother" who provided pastry and juice (we had to meet at 6:45 am sharp!) and door prizes and most important, made sure the same people left Houston who started in the morning. Johnny, our driver was a really good driver in the morning fog. He made record time and did not get lost!

Sure, we all come to see winning quilts especially the Best of Show $10,000 prize winning quilt.

Copyright Houston Int.Quilt Festival, 2009
Jaw-dropping gorgeous! It almost looks like a photo. Millions of stitches and half that in hours spent creating this work of art.
There is a world of  beauty in these quilts for they come from Japan, Australia, Spain, China and United States just to name a few. Yes, we almost reach nirvana when gazing upon such beauty. We almost can fly!

Copyright Houston Int. Quilt Festival, 2009

Along with a week of classes with world-renowned instructors, the Festival also provides FREE Demonstrations during the day and into the early evening all week long.

With 950 vendors, quilters and non-quilters alike can find just the right tool "that is too cute" or  a "must have." How about an iron that steams wrinkles out of fabric but does not iron? Or jewelry made from porcelin china? Who could resist the 2-ft size true-to-life Panda?

We can stock up on thread, books, patterns, fabric, test drive new machines (and sometimes buy demos) and even get a massage. Let's face it...we have a ball!

If vintage linens or quilts are your downfall, there are many booths offering such. Who knows? You may be stimulated to make an art quilt using lots of buttons like these adorned turtles!
Copyright Houston Int. Quilt Festival 2009
So save the date for next year. November 4-7, 2010. If you would like to see more winning quilts, go to http://www.quilts.com/

Don't quilt? Bake some cookies, make some bread, pull that weed...oops, don't do it...it is blooming!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New Thai Restaurnt in Town

A new restaurant opened in town. Our first Thai restaurant! Those of us that love Thai food were so excited about this momentous event. Well, the opportunity came about for a group of Master Gardeners to eat there.

Sarika Thai Gourmet is only about one month old and no web site as yet. You can http://www.google.com/ this restaurant and read two reviews.
There is an extensive menu. Lunch is served Mon-Sun from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Dinner is served Mon-Sat from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Sarika's also offers delivery service. Handicap accessible.
There are 19 selections for lunch in which you can choose beef, pork or tofu for $6.50. If you prefer seafood combination, pay $7.50. All lunches come with steamed rice or fried rice, egg roll and soup of the day. Dinner prices range from $9.95 for beef, pork or tofu and $12.95 for seafood or combination.

The soup served was Tofu Vegetable soup and everyone enjoyed it. Meal selections are ordered numerically but heat index is not indicated. For instance selection could be rated with one red star * for mild heat, ** for medium heat and *** ultimate heat. We were not asked about heat preference. Hence, a couple of guests felt the food was bland. There was a container of a spicey condiment on the table but it had no smell and no one used it. Bottled Asian hot sauce was brought to the table.

Lunch choice #6 Pad Ka Pow, stir fried with basil mixed with green chili and onions, was considered very good by one guest. One comment was the egg roll became soggy from being on the same plate as the main course. The food was steaming upon arrival.
Selection #12, Pad Egg Plant Basil with black bean sauce, came with no egg plant. It was highly seasoned with fresh jalapeno. The cook may have confused #12 with #6 which calls for green chili. However, green chili is not fresh jalapeno. The waitress gladly replaced the dish and the guest was happy.
Selection #5, Pad Pug with mixed vegetables and brown sauce (vs oyster sauce) was considered "bland" by the guest. However, the tea was voted to be very good and very generous.
There was a distinct odor of Ben Gay or other pain relieving salve. It permeated the entire dining room. The menu does not indicate use of MSG. When asked, the owner stated that MSG is in the soy sauce and the oyster sauce. The decor is modern and very crisp and clean. The atmosphere was very enjoyable with table linens and waitresses in native clothing. There is a bar with wine but no wine is on the menu. Possibly they are waiting for their license.

Overall, everyone enjoyed their meal. They all said they would return. Two people had enough left over for a take-out container. If you do not eat fried foods, this restaurant may not suit you. This is the nature of Thai food. They do have salads on the menu. Child's plate choices are fried chicken or fried shrimp.
Please send your comments if you have eaten here.
Sarika Thai Gourmet
263 Loop 337, New Braunfels, TX 78130

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Today is Chicken Soup Day!

Hi Everybody!

Yes, finally it is chicken soup weather. One of my most favorite soups (there are so many) is chicken noodle soup. Of course, you can add rice, barley, noodles or potatoes. I prefer home-made noodles from Albertons's. Well, that's not home-made, you say? You try these and tell me if you don't think they are just like "mama used to make." (Not my mama but you get the picture!) I used to make my own noodles but these are so good and so quick. I always keep about 4 packages in the freezer. Check them out at Albertson's in the frozen food section. http://www.marzetti.com/

Even though fresh chicken breasts are used, a lot of flavor is gained by adding additional Chicken Broth. I like Pacific Foods Organic free range Chicken Broth. http://www.pacificfoods.com/
Other ingredients are organic also, but if you cannot find them at your store buy the freshest you can. Wash all veggies. I don't find it necessary to peel the carrots but you can if you want. Make your soup the same day you purchase your ingredients. The first day, your soup will be yummy...By the second day, your soup will be AWESOME...That is, if any is left! This soup is so good you will experience a nagging desire to call your mother. So do it!

Chicken Noodle Soup

2-3 32 oz Pacific free range organic chicken broth
3 organic carrots, chopped
1 organic celery heart, chopped (from the whole celery, take the outer stalks off and use inside.)
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup organic parsley with stems, chopped
3 small organic, hormone-free chicken breasts (cook for 30 minutes in pot with small amount of water. You can use this water in your soup too. Set aside chicken breasts to cool while you prepare soup.)
1 Reames Home Style Egg Noodles
Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour chicken broth in large pot.
Put in all veggies and cook on medium heat until carrots are almost tender.
Meanwhile, shred chicken meat disposing of any fat. Add to soup.
Cook about 30 minutes until veggies are tender.
Add noodles and cook another 10 minutes or until noodles are cooked.

You can also prepare this in a crock pot. I suggest cooking the noodles last in a separate pan (follow package instructions) and then add them to the crock pot. If they cook all day, they may become soggy.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Farm Aid 2009 Live Concert

Today is Farm Aid 2009 concert in St. Louis presented by Horizon Organic http://www.horizonorganic.com/ There will be live blogging by http://www.farmgirlfare.com/ for the Farm Aid website. Not only will those in attendance hear some great music but they will learn about homegrown food production, composting, how our farmers care for the environment, beekeeping and lots more information that ordinary gardeners like us do.

You can get a live feed or watch the concert on Direct TV's The 101 Network, live on FarmAid.org's Webcast and live on Willie's Place on Sirius XM Radio http://www.xmradio.com/onxm/channelpage.xmc?ch=13&utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzEmail&utm_content=46021&utm_campaign=0
Check out the just released video of Willie Nelson & Lukas Nelson talking about Farm Aid 2009 on YouTube.  For a full line-up of entertainment, including Willie, visit the website. http://www.farmaid.org/ 

“Just as rock & roll is loud and proud, so is Farm Aid. Farm Aid's greatest accomplishment, I believe, is in the spirit. It's the fact that we represent the spirit of the good fight, to keep something good happening. It just keeps getting stronger and stronger....”
– Neil Young
What exactly is Farm Aid? I remember the first Farm Aid concert many year's ago when their was an extreme crisis among the farmers of America. They were losing their farms due to lack of water, poor crop production and bills just kept piling up. DeJaVu....Anyway, Farm Aid has been helping farmers for 24 years now. If you want a bite of Heaven, taste a home-grown tomato or squash. Industrialized farming has it's place but most of us want to eat fresh foods that are not harmful to our bodies and are not grown hundreds or thousands of miles away.
Where would we be without our local farmers? What local farmers, you ask? http://www.greenling.com/
With Greenling you too can have home-grown veggies delivered to your door at a pretty fair price. Of course, we in Centeral Texas are blessed with all the local Farmers' Markets. Just about every city and a market open on Saturday and some on Wednesday too. Read more about Farmers' Markets here http://www.garden.org/urbangardening/index.php?page=august_market
If you live in or around Austin visit their award-winning market on Wednesday and Saturday, rain or shine. http://www.austinfarmersmarket.org/  When you go, take the family. It is not just to purchase the freshest fish, veggies, fruit, flowers, bread and cheese anywhere, but a fun-filled time with live music, entertainment for the kids and lots of samples! I bought my blueberry plants there last year. Even my small town has organic beef. I suggest you try home-grown foods!

Speaking of inspiration! I have a good recipe for you if you have too much basil. No one can have too much basil...I meant a bumper crop of basil. Let's say you want to veg out and watch football today but you don't want to spend your time in the kitchen or spend big bucks on snacks. This recipe is very good and takes no time at all.
  • Buy a Bobolli pizza dough http://www.boboli.com/ (you will probably want 2 or 3)
  • Gather your favorite toppings for pizza. Hold it! Try my recipe before adding pepperoni or sausage.
  • Make basil pesto by blending a large hand-full of basil, fresh garlic, some pine nuts and some Parmesan cheese. As this is swiling, pour in about 1/2 cup of virgin olive oil.
  • Spread your dough with a few tablespoons of pesto. Take it to the edges.
  • Sprinkle with Feta cheese, or if you must, Mozellrella
  • Add any of the following: chopped black olives, chopped green chiles, chopped cherry tomatoes, fresh mushrooms, chopped pepperonicini...get the picture?
  • Now bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes...keep checking for doneness.
Easy, right?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Not Too Late to Plant for Fall

Hi all you procrastinators out there! Yes, I mean you...and me! If you have not planted your fall garden do not fret. You still have time to plant some veggies. Remember from a previous post about counting the days to harvest. If you plant something that takes 70 days to harvest, it will probably freeze. However, Mother Nature being what she is, you may get lucky. So here are some items you could plant now.
  • Swiss chard
  • broccoli
  • collard greens (really good sauteed with onions, bacon and a little basalmic vinegar)
  • onions
  • garlic
  • radish
  • And if the weathers cools, try carrots, endive turnips (if you can tolerate them) and spinach.
What? You did not get that raised bed made? Chill....plants in pots. Be sure to add compost and keep them in the sun and close to water. One year, I got a bag of really good potting soil, like Gardenville or Lady Bugwww.ladybugbrand.com/ and I slit the top in which I planted about 4 veggie plants. The bag was in the sun and they produced! So, anything is possible. BTW...Gardenville has really good soil and compost. This is a great site to learn a lot about gardening. http://www.gardenville.com/

Not only is this a good time to garden but it is a good time to plan. I am planning a sewing/quilting studio in my back yard. I have lots of space and if I lose any plants they will be the Flame Acanthus! http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=anquwBelieve me, this plant will come back. It is a great hummer magnet. Anyway, back to the quilting studio. I am thinking it could be about 16' by 20' or maybe a tad bigger. It all depends on the plans. It will face east to capture a lot of morning sun. The door will face west. One wall will have no windows. In that area will be shelving for fabric hidden by a sliding design wall. This is still in the planning stages so any ideas will be greatly appreciated.

I started yet another quilt project. It is called Pieceful Nights: A Sampler Quilt. Oak Leaf Quilts here in New Braunfels is offering this project. oakleafquilts.com The deal is you pay for your first block and bring it in the following week finished. Then you get the next block free. The quilt is not entirely free but it is darn cheap! Here is the block.
If you find any mistakes, let me know...and let me know gently! This weekend I will be working on two other applique blocks...of course, Birds of a Feather is an ongoing project.

Piece something! Grow something! Make homemade bread!