Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My Brother Barry Died Monday Night

Lung cancer. Diagnosed only last April, he fought it with chemo and radiation and lots of spirit. He was only 53. He leaves behind his wife, a daughter, a son, a daughter-in-law, and a granddaughter.

I'm flying to North Carolina Friday; will be gone over a week. The family's gathering at my sister's house who lives nearby--there are five kids left plus Mother.

Mother's 83--I agonize for her having to bury a child. No parent should have to bury a child. I agonize for Barry's wife; she's my age and is now alone. I agonize for his teenage daughter, who'll graduate high school in two years without her father there to see her. I agonize for his son and daughter-in-law, and his granddaughter, who'll grow up never knowing her grandfather.

If you smoke, QUIT NOW. Please. Lung cancer's a horrible, painful way to die.

I'll be back soon.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Texas Goulash

I haven’t posted for a while since I either haven’t been home or haven’t cooked or have been too busy. This past weekend, I went to the Universal Sheraton in Hollywood, where my teachers’ association was co-hosting a small leadership conference with four other associations. I was a trainer, and conducted a workshop called “The Role of the Rep and Advocacy.”

I went into LA Friday afternoon, making a stop at the Whole Foods Market in Glendale. There I bought some more white whole wheat flour, some wine, and a loaf of Organic Wolfgang bread--what I’d call a Mischbrot in Germany. Sort of like a light rye. Friday evening I joined several colleagues at the Karl Strauss Brewery for dinner.

Saturday was the main part of our conference, and after the workshops we had a reception at Cafe Tu Tu Tango on Universal City Walk. We had the whole second floor to ourselves, with our own bar, and they served all kinds of finger foods. There was spinach dip and pita crisps, terkyaki beef skewers, bean and cheese empanadas, southwest egg rolls, chicken skewers, and some bread pudding with dulce de leche sauce. I wanted to grab the bowl of dulce de leche sauce and eat it with a spoon! This was the sauce that’s made by cooking the heck out of sweetened condensed milk until it’s light brown. Yum!!! But I was good, and had only a little bit.

I came home Sunday to another foot of snow, and then it snowed another 6 inches last night. It’s snowing tonight. DH is now yelling at the weatherman on TV as if it’s his fault that we’re having all this snow. He’s tired of shoveling. But he was so wonderful to get up and shovel a path to my Jeep this morning, and to clean off my windshield and send me on my way! So I rewarded him tonight with one of his favorites.

This is another “heirloom” recipe from my mother. Like the Southern Frank Dinner, DH douses this one liberally with Tabasco, and I do my best to not sit downwind. (Just can’t stand the smell of Tabasco) Mother used to make this often since it is economical, and doubling it or tripling it lets it feed a great deal of people. You can substitute ground turkey for the ground beef, which I have done in the past with no noticeable taste difference, and you can substitute whole wheat pasta to make it a bit healthier.

Texas Goulash

8 oz. elbow macaroni
3/4 lb. ground beef
1/3 c chopped onion
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained
1 small. can tomato paste
1/2 to 3/4 c cubed Velveeta cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Boil and drain macaroni. In same pan, brown the ground beef and onion. Add remaining ingredients and cook over low heat until cheese is melted. Add macaroni back to pot; heat through. Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Lemon Chicken and Roasted Vegetables

Doctor appointment today. Checkup. Words of encouragement and praise gave me the uplift I needed to keep trying to fight this battle of weight and blood sugar. So tonight’s dinner was low carb and healthy, like all my dinners should be, but aren’t.

My sister Eileen is two years younger than I am, and lives in Lubbock, Texas. She gave me this recipe about 15 years ago, and it’s one of my favorite ways to fix chicken when I’m in a hurry. Tonight I wanted a quick meal, so I chopped up some veggies for roasted vegetables, and made Eileen’s Lemon Chicken. It’s a different lemon chicken, in that it’s slightly sweet, with a bit of tasty sauce that goes on top after the liquid cooks down.

Eileen’s Lemon Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 c lemon juice
1/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 t paprika
1/4 t salt
2 T vegetable or olive oil
1/2 c chicken broth
3 green onions, chopped (including green part)
1 T Splenda Brown Sugar Blend (or 2 T brown sugar)
1 T grated lemon peel

Cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 3 smaller pieces. Brush each piece with some of the lemon juice. Combine flour, paprika and salt in a plastic bag and shake each piece in the flour mixture until coated. Brown chicken on both sides in hot oil. Reduce heat; add chicken broth, green onions, brown sugar blend, lemon peel, and any leftover lemon juice. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Serves 2.

Roasted Vegetables

2 yellow squashed, cut in strips
1 onion, sliced vertically
1 bell pepper, cut in strips
1 c fresh mushrooms, cut in half
1 c carrots, cut in half
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed through press
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 450˚. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and spread on a cookie sheet. Bake 25 minutes.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Quotes From a Fun Book

My friend Diane game me this book: Today I Will Indulge My Inner Glutton: Health-Free Affirmations for Cynics, by Ann Thornhill and Sarah Wells. It's full of great one-liners for those of us who aren't health club members, or who are feeling guilty because we've put on a few pounds. This books celebrates "the joys of not following the slim-waisted, sunken-cheeked pack."

Here's a few to get started, and I'll do more as time goes by.

Today I will intentionally tell a coworker whom I dislike and who has obviously gained weight that she is looking thin.

Today I will embrace my shallow existence.

In order to feel productive today, I will go on a ludicrous fad diet that will accomplish nothing except make me miserable.

Today I will direct all my resentment towards people who can afford personal trainers.

I understand that I must learn to love my body, but I reserve the right to do so only when highly medicated.

If we could harness the energy created when my thighs rub together, not only would it save the environment, but it would make me a hero.

That's all for now. I'm feeling this way, I think, because I was really stupid today. No breakfast--just coffee--since I had a meeting at the high school that ran long, a HUGE lunch to make up for it, including dessert, and now I feel too bloated to eat supper. I bet at 9 tonight I'll be hungry. Not now. I just feel full, and it's 6:30. So, no ARF-5 a Day post. No dinner with a nice photo. Just whining.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Swedish Meatballs

DH has been wanting something with noodles, so tonight I made Swedish Meatballs. If you’re unfamiliar with this dish, it’s meatballs in a creamy sauce, served over noodles, or boiled potatoes, or even rice. We prefer ours over egg noodles.

Swedish Meatballs

1 slice soft bread (white or whole wheat)
1/4 c milk
3/4 lb. lean ground beef
1/4 t salt
1/4 t ground white pepper
1/8 t ground allspice
1 t grated onion ( I take a little bit frozen chopped onion out of the freezer and mince it while it’s still frozen)
1 T butter

3/4 c beef broth, divided
1 T flour
2 T cold water
1/4 c heavy whipping cream
1 T dried parsley

Meatballs: Tear bread into very small pieces, and place in medium bowl with milk. Crumble meat into bowl, and add salt, white pepper, allspice, and onion. Mix well, using your hands. Form into small meatballs of uniform size, about 1 inch in diameter. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and brown meatballs. When they are browned on all sides, remove from skillet and place into a medium saucepan.
Sauce: Increase heat under skillet to high and deglaze with 1/4 cup of the beef broth. Add broth to saucepan containing meatballs, cover, and simmer about 5-7 minutes. Remove meatballs from pot and set aside. Add remaining 1/2 cup beef broth and bring to a boil. In a small dish or shaker jar, mix flour and water to form a thin paste; add to boiling sauce, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Whisk in cream and simmer another 2 minutes until sauce is slightly thickened. Add parsley. Add meatballs to sauce to rewarm. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over hot noodles, boiled potatoes, or rice. Makes 3 servings.

We ate our Swedish Meatballs and noodles with a Kopfsalat. Kopfsalat in Germany is butter lettuce. I don’t have a recipe for the dressing, since I use a packet of Knorr salatfix (salad mix) that I buy at the German market near my office. All I do is add some cream or sour cream to the water and oil that the mix calls for, and we have a creamy dressing that we mix up with the torn Kopfsalat leaves.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

An Easy Oven Chicken Dish

I wanted to use the oven tonight to help heat the house. I used my Foodsaver marinating canister to speed up the marinating. Make sure you put a pan inthe bottom of the oven to catch the drippings from the cooking chicken.

Easy Tandoori Chicken Breasts

1 t finely chopped fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press or finely chopped
1 very small onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
dash cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/8 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground cayenne pepper
1/8 t ground black pepper
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t coriander
1/8 t turmeric
1/8 t nutmeg
1/8 t paprika
1/2 t lemon juice
2 T plain nonfat yogurt
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Blend ginger, garlic, onion, cinnamon, salt, and cloves in a small bowl. In a small skillet, mix cayenne, black pepper, cumin, coriander, turmeric, nutmeg, and paprika. Heat for just a minute, and add to wet mixture. Add lemon juice and yogurt, and spread mixture all over the chicken. Marinate, covered two hours or more. If marinating overnight, take the chicken pieces from the refrigerator an hour before cooking to bring them to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 375˚. Place the chicken right on the low rack, and cook for 15-20 minutes. Turn over and cook for 10 more minutes or till the chicken pieces are completely roasted and golden brown. Garnish with sliced onions, tomatoes, or lemon wedges.

Snow Pictures--Can You Believe this is Southern California?

It started snowing Thursday night. When I got up to go to work there was already 8" on the ground; luckily my Jeep and I made it down the mountain. When I tried to come home, I was stuck behind a line of cars on the straight stretch of Highway 38 just above Mountain Home Village--for an hour! I learned from the paper the next day that there were 25 different car accidents on the upper 38, so the Highway Patrol had closed it. Eventually our line started moving, and the policeman drove by using his bullhorn/speaker to tell us that the 38 was closed to all traffic except those who lived in Forest Falls and Angelus Oaks. Hooray! I could go home. This picture was taken about 5 pm from my front door, after we had about a foot on the ground.

It continued to snow all Friday night, and we woke up Saturday to about 20 inches. It snowed heavily all day Saturday, and I took this photo of DH talking to our neighbor Tom. Tom owns his own Bobcat tractor and does his own plowing. Occasionally he'll come clear out the berms that the big plow puts up behind the cars in our driveway. All DH did Saturday was try to keep ahead of the game by knocking down the bigger berms.

These are the steps to our deck, taken Saturday morning. It continued to snow Saturday night, and at 10 the thunder began. We know from past experience that when it thunders, we get popcorn snow. It's kind of like those little dippin' dots ice cream treats you get at the mall--lots and lots of them. We got about 3-4 inches worth of popcorn snow on top of the regular snow.

Pepper had great difficulty finding a place to do her business--everywhere she went it was up to her neck!

I spent about an hour this morning helping DH with the shoveling. I did the back yard area--cleared a path to the woodshed so we could get more wood for the fire, and then I did the steps leading down from the house to the street. DH did all the rest--he's a stud! He called me up to the deck and showed me how deep the snow was on the deck (after it had been cleared Friday morning of the first 8 inches!). It was about 16 inches--so my estimate of about 2 feet from this storm is right on.

It's snowing lightly again--we have another two inches on top of what we had when I took the photos.

I think we've had enough for now. Stop already!

A Belated Post

Wow. This week has been really hectic. We managed to do some great eating, though. I just didn't get many photos. I mean, why should I take a picture of a filet mignon? Wednesday night we had steak, since I'd picked up some filet mignon from Vons. I've been looking for great filet and had tried the ones at Costco, but wasn't satisfied. The Vons ones were great. I'll watch for more sales.

Thursday night I used some more pork sirloin and made No-Fuss Pork Chops. I used to buy the boneless pork chops from Costco, since they were the right size for DH and me, but I didn't like how they cooked in the oven. Since they're really lean, they dried out and were tough. I'd used pork sirloin for schwenkbraten, and tried this recipe with them. What a difference! And since they were on sale, I'd picked up 4 packages and put them away in pairs with the Foodsaver.

No-Fuss Pork Chops

2 boneless pork chops or pork sirloins, cut 3/4 to 1" thick
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1/8 t onion powder
2 T soy sauce

Brown pork chops on both sides in an oven-ready skillet over medium-high heat. Combine remaining ingredients; spoon evenly over chops. Cover pan with foil. Place in oven, turn heat control to 350˚. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes longer, or until chops are tender. Serves 2

I had some fresh brussels sprouts in the fridge, so I just steamed them up, and then cooked some Rice-a-Roni (the wild rice flavor).

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Another "Heirloom" Recipe

Tomorrow night I won’t be cooking, since I’ll be leading a demonstration at the school board meeting. Yeah, another one. So I decided to see if today’s eats included 5 antioxidant-rich foods. Breakfast: yogurt and granola with dried blueberries, pecans, and ground flaxseed. There’s two. Lunch was barbecued beef and soup--not really a good source of ARFs. Dinner had veggies in it. While they’re not on the top 20 list of ARFs, they are considered to be ARF. So, here’s the description:

This is another one of DH’s favorite meals, a recipe given to me by my mother. We ate it all the time when I was growing up since it’s inexpensive and filling. (I have five brothers and sisters, so we needed inexpensive meals!) My sister Eileen calls this Weenee Mash, and refuses to eat it as an adult. My husband likes for me to make 5-6 times a year, and douses his with Tabasco. He makes me make a whole batch, since he thinks the leftovers taste even better. What’s it called? Southern Frank Dinner. It’s made dogs!

I did a search on google for the name, and found NOTHING. My mother wrote “1946” on the recipe card for this, and I’ll update with more information after she calls me back.

Southern Frank Dinner

1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper (any color), chopped
2 T butter or oil
dash salt
1/4 t pepper
2 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 lb. hot dogs (you could try this with soy dogs), sliced
Crusty Cornbread Topping (below)

Preheat oven to 425˚. Sauté onion and bell pepper in oil until golden; turn off heat and add salt, pepper, tomatoes, and hot dogs. Pour into a greased 13 x 9” baking dish. Spoon Crusty Cornbread Topping on top in evenly-spaced dollops. Bake 30 minutes. Serves 4-6

Crusty Cornbread Topping

1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
3/4 c yellow cornmeal
2 T shortening
1 egg
2/3 c milk

Sift flour, salt, baking powder and soda. Stir in cornmeal. Cut in shortening. Add egg and milk.

Now I know that a dish made with hot dogs doesn’t appeal to most of you. But you gotta remember that there are some foods that you grow up with that just stay with you when you’re an adult, and this is one of them. It’s definitely a Texas thing. Just wait till I cook Texas Barbecued Brisket! Now that’ll be a great hunk of meat.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Perhaps no food brings back better memories of Germany for DH and me than Schwenkbraten. It's basically a tender cut of pork that's marinated and then grilled on a hanging griddle over wood or coals. Go here for an explanation in German plus a picture of the special hanging grill.

When we were stationed at Zweibrücken Air Base, DH and his buddies in POL (aircraft refueling) were in charge of the schwenkbraten booth at all the base events. He and Lee would go to Globus, a great big grocery store in Zweibrücken, and buy dozens of pounds of already-marinated schwenks. They'd then put them in big foil pans next to the grill, and add beer to keep the meat moist until it was cooked. No matter how many schwenks they bought, they always sold out.

Schwenkbraten is a regional specialty from the Saarland-the area of Germany that's southwest of Frankfurt, northwest of Karlsruhe, along the French border. I believe it was part of France once-correct me if I'm wrong on that. But you can go elsewhere in Germany and look for schwenkbraten, and no one will know what you're talking about.

The basic meat for a good schwenk has got to be pork sirloin. If you use boneless pork loin chops, they're too tough. Pork sirloins are not only tender, but are just the right size to put on big crusty rolls.

There's a mixture (schwenkbraten gewurz) that's the same concept as a rub. It is reminiscent of curry, since it's a lot of spices and herbs mixed togther: garlic, paprika, onion, oregano, thyme, parsley, nutmeg, and mustard. I've added curry powder, since curry powder reminds us of the marinade they used at Globus.

So, here's how you make it: in a flat dish, lay down a thin layer of vegetable or olive oil, a layer of very thinly sliced onions, and a layer of the herb/spice mixture. Then put in some pork sirloin steaks, sprinkle with more of the herb/spice mixture, and top with more onion and oil. Cover and marinate overnight. You can also try this in a large ziploc bag, or in a Foodsaver marinating canister.

When you're ready to grill, you can either try grilling the onions on the grill,too, using foil, or grill them on an indoor grill (I use my little George Foreman). Either way, you've got to have the grilled onions on your sandwich, too.

Grill the meat until done through, and serve with the onions on crusty sandwich rolls. I use a litte mayonnaise, DH eats his plain, and my daughter likes hers with mustard.

Of course, we had this with Kartoffelsalat, or German potato salad.

Hooray for Reese Witherspoon! It really takes guts to take a role in which you have to sing, and sing like a country legend. I think she was fabulous.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A Taste of Texas - Meatloaf, Fried Okra, and Turnip Greens, plus an Australian Dessert

Heather at Eating for One is hosting an event called Meatloaf Madness this month, and I decided to try my usual meatloaf recipe in muffin tins instead of a loaf pan. This is another one of my recipes that’s influenced by my mother. I use my own recipe for the meat part, and then Mother’s topping, made up of a sweetened ketchup mixture. Sometimes DH likes barbecue sauce on it instead, but this time we’re having Mother’s topping.

Cyndi’s Meatloaf Muffins

3/4 lb. lean ground beef
2 slices soft whole wheat bread, torn into very small pieces
3 T milk
2 T finely minced onion
1 egg, lightly beaten or 1/4 c Eggbeaters
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t rubbed sage
1/8 t ground pepper
1/3 c ketchup
1 T Splenda Brown Sugar blend
1 t yellow mustard

Preheat oven to 400˚. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread, milk, onion, egg, Worcestershire sauce, sage, and pepper. Divide into equal portions in 6 muffin cups. Bake 15 minutes. In a small bowl, combine ketchup, Splenda Brown Sugar blend, and mustard. Spoon evenly onto each “muffin.” Bake another 10 minutes. Makes 6 (3-4 servings)

With our meatloaf, we had fried okra and turnip greens. I’ve posted before about how I truly love turnip greens, but I have to admit that I’ve only eaten canned ones. After seeing a great post on turnip greens by Susan of Farmgirl Fare, I decided to try some fresh turnip greens to go with my okra. (Susan’s wonderful post is here) She states, “Turnip greens are, in fact, one of The World’s Healthiest Foods . Turnip bulbs are a good source of vitamin C and have two to three grams of fiber per serving. They also contain the potent phytochemical sulforaphane , which has been shown to protect against cancer, especially breast cancer.” In looking around for ways to fix the greens, I decided to keep it simple. First, I knew they had to be washed thoroughly, so I filled up one side of my sink with cold water and 1/4 cup of salt and swished them around a few minutes. (The salt helps to dislodge any sand that’s still stuck to the greens). Then I did this again in the other side of the sink. My greens were then ready to cook.

Turnip Greens

2 c water
1 large bunch turnip greens, thoroughly washed and then chopped coarsely
1 slice bacon, cut in 1/2” pieces (or you could use 1/4 cup diced salt pork)

Put water in a large s tockpot. Add the turnip greens and bacon, and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer about 2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure water hasn’t boiled off. Add water if necessary. Salt to taste. Serves 2

Now for dessert. Niki of Esurientes made some fantastic dessert bars called Raspberry and Coconut Slice.
Her recipe can be found here. I looked a the enticing photo, did an inventory of my ingrdients, and decided I’d go to an adaptation. I switched a few things, like whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose, Splenda for some of the sugar, and mixed berries instead of raspberries. I brought out my trusty former coffee grinder and ground the almonds first for the crust, then the sugar for the caster sugar. This was a very easy recipe to make, and now it’s lower in sugar than Niki made hers. And it tastes wonderful!

Mixed Berry and Coconut Slice

2 1/4 cups white whole-wheat flour
3 tablespoons ground almonds
3/4 c Splenda, divided
1/2 cups caster sugar*
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, chilled
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t baking powder
4 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1 T lemon juice
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen mixed berries (I used the triple berry blend of raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries from Costco)
1 cup dessicated coconut (this is unsweetened-I purchase mine at the local vegetable market)
Preheat the oven to 350˚. Grease a 12 x 8" baking dish and line with parchment paper.
Sift 1 3/4 cups flour into a bowl. Add the ground almonds and 1/4 cup of the Splenda and stir to combine. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Press the mixture into the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Reduce the oven to 300˚.
Sift the nutmeg, baking powder and the remaining flour into a bowl.
In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, vanilla and remaining sugar with electric beaters for 4 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Fold in the flour with a large spoon. Stir in the lemon juice, raspberries and coconut and pour over the base.
Bake for ~1 hour, or until golden and firm. Chill in the pan, then cut into pieces. Makes 24 pieces.

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Weekend Herb Blogging #22 - Okra

“Okra, also called lady's finger in Indian cuisine, is a flowering plant in the mallow family Malvaceae , originating somewhere near present-day Ethiopia. It was formerly considered a species of Hibiscus , but is now classified in the genus Abelmoschus . The word okra is of African origin and means "lady's fingers" in Igbo , a language spoken in what is now known as Nigeria .

Okra is grown throughout the tropical and warm temperate regions of the world for its fibrous pods full of round, white seeds, which, when picked young, are eaten as a vegetable . It was brought to the United States via the African slave trade route, and can be grown in the southern states as an annual crop. It is also one of the most popular vegetables in late 20th century Japanese cuisine . In Israel ,Jordan and other parts of the eastern Mediterranean, okra, known in Arabic as bamia, is widely used in a thick stew made with vegetables and meat. It is also common in Indian cooking where it is either sauteed or added to gravy-based preparations.” (From Wikipedia)

Okra is very easy to grow, especially in hot, dry climates. When I lived in Texas during my college days, I grew okra in my garden, and had plenty of it to cook any time I liked. It’s best when it’s still young, so you have to make sure that you don’t sacrifice tenderness in trying to get larger pieces. It gets woody when it gets too mature.

While many recipes use okra steamed, boiled with tomatoes, or as the thickening agent in gumbo, I have always eaten it fried in a cornmeal-flour coating. You can buy it frozen and already breaded, but it’s a flour-based batter, as opposed to what I do. DH likes pickled okra, but I can’t bring myself to even try it. Yuk. Here’s how my mother taught me:

Fried Okra

1 lb. fresh young okra
2 eggs
1/4 c milk
1/2 c flour
1 c yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Slice okra into 1/4” slices, throwing away the caps (but keeping the pointed ends). In a large bowl, mix the eggs and milk. Add the okra, and stir to coat. Sprinkle with flour and cornmeal, and stir until all pieces are well coated. Fry in oil, covered, stirring occasionally, until golden and crispy.

For more information about Weekend Herb Blogging, go to Kalyn’s Kitchen!

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Käse Spätzle and a Kitchen Troll to go With the Witch

The odd-looking appliance to the left is a spätzle-maker. Spätzle is a Bavarian dish of noodles, sometimes homemade using the spätzle-maker, and sometimes made using dried noodles. DH’s mother, Erika, was born and raised in Augsburg, Germany, in the heart of Bavaria. She taught me several great German recipes before she died, and gave me this spätzle-maker so I could make my own spätzle from scratch. While I’ll post the recipe here for spätzle, tonight I used dried spätzle since I didn’t have time for the homemade. The most common way to eat spätzle is boiled and then served plain, as a side dish, but a very popular, tasty way to do it is what DH calls Ka-Spatzen, (kay-spotzen) which is slang for Käse spätzle (Kay-suh-spaytz-le).

Käse spätzle is spätzle mixed with Swiss cheese, topped with sautéed onions, and then baked until hot and bubbly. I’ve had it before at some German restaurants where instead of Swiss cheese, there’s a cheese sauce. We prefer it the way DH’s mom did it. She always served it with what we lovingly refer to as Erika’s Romaine Salad. It’s a simple salad of romaine, thinly sliced onion, and a dressing that just vinegar, water, oil, salt and pepper. The two are served on the same plate, so that the dressing from the salad mixes with the spätzle. Sometimes you take a bit of both together–the spätzle and the salad–it’s a really tasty combination. Every time I fix this, DH says, “Now, don’t let me eat too much. I’ll just do one good serving of the spätzle and finish the salad.” But every time, he goes back for a big serving of seconds and then complains because he eats too much. Oh, did I mention DH was also born and raised in Augsburg? His father was U.S. Army, and was able to stay in Germany until DH was in third grade. DH went to German schools until he left for the states, so he speaks German with the southern-style Bavarian dialect. He loves it when I cook German food, so I try to do it often.


2 1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c water (approx.)

Combine flour and salt. Add eggs and 1/4 c water. Mix until the dough is stiff. Continue adding water until the mixture is of the correct consistency--that is, until it comes away easily from the sides of the bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes. Process through spatzle machine into boiling water. If you don’t have a spatzle machine, you can press it through the holes of a metal colander. Cook for about 5 minutes. Makes enough to feed 6-8 people.

Käse Spätzle

3 onions, chopped
1/4 c butter or margarine
1 batch spätzle
1 lb. Swiss cheese, grated

Saute onions in butter until golden. Mix spatzle with cheese and place in baking dish. Top with onions. Bake at 350˚ for about 20 minutes, or until bubbly. Serves 6-8.

Erika’s Romaine Salad

1 head romaine
1/4 c thinly sliced yellow onion
1/4 c white vinegar
1/4 c water
3 T vegetable oil
1/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper

Chop romaine coarsley. Put in a large bowl with the onion. In a small jar with a lid, shake together the vinegar, water, oil, salt, and pepper. Toss with romaine and onion. Serves 4.

Hanging next to last night’s Swiss kitchen witch is a German kitchen troll. (At least I think he’s a troll–if you know what he really is, let me know.) He serves the same purpose as the witch–to watch over my kitchen and help me make good food. Erika used to have it hanging in her kitchen, and after she died, it came to us.

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

How Not to Add Liquid to Hot Skillet

Here’s a new way (for me) to do lemon chicken–I added crushed red pepper. While the final dish was really tasty, cooking it was an eye-watering, cough-causing experience. When I added the lemon juice to the hot skillet, the red-pepper-laden steam just about killed me. If you make this dish, BE CAREFUL! Back away from the skillet. Do not breathe for a while anywhere near it. It took a good 5 minutes before I could stop coughing. Big lesson learned here.

Lemon Chicken Diablo

1/2 c all-purpose flour
dash salt
dash pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, sliced horizontally
2 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 T grated lemon peel
1/4 c lemon juice
2 T dried or fresh chopped parsley

Combine flour, salt and pepper in a bag. Shake chicken in flour mixture to coat. Sauté in olive oil and butter, about 8 minutes on each side, until cooked through and golden. Sprinkle with garlic, red pepper flakes, and lemon peel. Cook another 2 minutes, turning chicken over a couple of times. Add lemon juice to skillet, pouring over all pieces. (This is where you try not to breathe the steam!). The chicken will absorb the lemon juice. Sprinkle with parsley. Serves 2

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