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AFC_Turkey

 

I send wishes that your Thanksgiving be filled with great food, loving family, and wonderful friends.  So many of us have so much and so many more have so little; this is the time to cherish our blessings and share our bounty.  Happy Thanksgiving from all of us!

NewGift_Beans

 

You will be hearing more about this but I just had to show you my newest toy.  My very special buddies, Stuart and Dean, took a cooking class in Italy this past summer where the instructor used a glass beaker to cook his beans.  Stuart knew that I would love to experience this so, once home, went on a hunt to find the glass.  And last week he surprised me with the gift.  I researched this cooking method and found that it has evolved from hearth cooking whereby a bean-filled crock was placed in the embers at the end of the evening so that the beans would slowly cook all night in the warmth of the ash and hearth.  As years passed and cooks abandoned the hearth for the stovetop, this glass beaker took the place of the crock.  I couldn’t wait to try my Tuscan bean cooker although I couldn’t believe that the glass would not break on the stovetop.  I soaked some dried red beans that I had on hand for the trial and then put them to cook with olive oil, garlic, herbs, and water.  It took a few hours over very low heat, but the glass didn’t break and the beans were soft and creamy.  I can’t wait to begin cooking white beans in the Tuscan manner this coming week.  I will keep you posted on how my recipes work.

Kale Salad_DSC_3373

I know, I know everyone is getting tired of being bombarded by kale, but it is so good for you, filled with vitamins and minerals, inexpensive, and versatile that I just have to add my voice.  At the moment, kale is high on our list because of its cancer-fighting properties.  My son, Mickey, is fighting lung cancer (no he never smoked, was a runner in the best of health until now) and kale contains sulforaphane which offers strong anti-cancer qualities as well as indole-3-carbinal, a chemical which seems to help in blocking the growth of cancer cells.  I’m not crazy about it raw, but to retain its amazing strength I often just wilt it by adding something hot to it as I did in this salad.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup quinoa (plain or multi-colored)
2 cups vegetable broth or water
Salt
1 bunch kale, tough stems removed and finely chopped
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
Citrus Dressing (recipe follows)

Place the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear.  Set aside to drain well.
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until just beginning to color.  Stir in the quinoa and then add the broth and season with salt to taste.  Raise the heat and bring to a boil.  Cover, lower the heat, and cook for about 15 minutes or until the broth has been absorbed.  Remove from the heat and set aside to steam for about 5 minutes.
Place the kale in a large salad bowl.  Pour the hot quinoa over the kale and, using your hands (I use thick rubber gloves to keep my hands from burning) toss the quinoa along with the pumpkin seeds into the kale.  When just about totally combined, add just enough vinaigrette to season nicely and continue to toss and blend.  Taste and, if necessary, season with salt and pepper.
Serve at room temperature.

 

Citrus Dressing
Makes about 1 cup
5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon mirin
½ tablespoon tamari
1 teaspoon ginger juice
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons white miso paste
6 tablespoons canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the vinegar, orange juice, mirin, tamari, and ginger juice in a jar with a lid.  Cover and shake to blend.  Uncover, add the orange zest and miso and, again, shake to blend.  Open, add the canola oil, recover, and shake and shake to emulsify.  Taste and, if desired, season with salt and pepper.

vegetable-chili

 

Everybody seems to have a favorite chili recipe, but I generally just wing it.  I do from time to time stick to my mom’s method (see a post from November 13, 2012) but as often as not I do some type of vegetarian chili.  Since the weather had cooled and I had a mess of cooked red beans on hand, I decided it was going to be easy to put dinner together.  I sautéed a big chopped onion and a few minced cloves of garlic in a little canola oil.  I added a large can of plum tomatoes (that I had squished), a medium can of tomato puree, a couple of dollops of tomato paste along with 4 chopped carrots, 2 chopped zucchini, 1 chopped red bell pepper, 1 minced jalapeño, and some mushrooms that were needing to be cooked.  To be honest the additions were based solely on what I had on hand.  Seasoned the mix with a good amount of seasoned chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes and, of course, salt and pepper.  Had I had some winter squash or sweet potatoes on hand I would have added either of those also.   I added the cooking liquid from the beans and then let the vegetable mix cook for a while before adding the cooked beans as they were already pretty soft and didn’t really need much more cooking.  I baked some corn muffins, quickly tossed a green salad, and Eh! Voila! dinner was on the table and we had lunch ready to go to our besties at Loupe Digital.

©StephenKolyer_CountryHam

 

Once again we are moving into that time of year when entertaining and traditional meet hand in hand.  If you have followed my ramblings or have read my most recent cookbook, An American Family Cooks, you know how much a traditional country ham is part of our holiday season.  Our holiday ham of choice is Col. Bill Newsom’s Aged Ham which comes from Newsom’s Old Mill Store in Princeton, Kentucky (www.newsomsham@yahoo.com).  Touted by James Beard and Julia Child when they discovered them in the 1970s, these spectacular hams are now high on the list of many famous cooks.  Col. Newsom was a cousin of my Uncle News so I always consider his daughter Nancy (who now runs the store) to be a kissin’ cousin.    The hams are authentically cured and are sodium nitrate and nitrate free.  You can order free-range, naturally cured or the regular, ambient weather cured.  Whichever you choose, they are the product of treasured tradition.  These hams do take a bit of work to prepare, but I guarantee the end result will thrill.  While ordering your holiday ham be sure to add some bacon and sausage to your list– you won’t believe their smoky goodness.

 

Newsoms Country Ham_DSC_3377

Multitasking_R0011740

 

Steve loves this photo of me – why I don’t know.  But it might be because it amuses him and everyone I know that I can wield a knife and talk on the phone at the same time.  Looks like – in this instance – that I was putting together one of my impromptu fried rice meals, but I really don’t remember what I was doing.  I was probably on the phone with one of the many health professionals that have recently been part of our lives, but I could just as easily been gossiping with a friend.  I hope the photo amuses you as much as it does my family and friends.

baby-fennel_p6181522

 

Recently I bought an expensive bunch of baby fennel at the greenmarket and when I got it home had no idea what to do with it as the bunch was comprised of lots of fennel fronds and almost no bulbs – as you can see from the photo. I chopped the fronds and froze them for future flavoring of soups and stews. I trimmed off the root and was left with about a handful of nowhere-near-large-enough-to-do-anything- with bulbs. That led me to ponder why eager farmers often pick some things too early and busy farmers pick others too late, such as this “unborn” fennel and those 2-foot long seedy, spongy zucchini seen in late August. Anyway, I finally decided to make a stir-fry with chicken, fennel, leeks, and red bell pepper. I threw in some of the fronds for added flavor ‘cause those babies didn’t carry much. Was the dish worthy of the expense – absolutely not. Would I buy those little guys again – of course I would just because maybe next time I’ll think of something really interesting to do with them.

 

©StephenKolyer_fennel

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