Recently my Mom (79 yrs) used a laptop and digital slide converter to convert several trays of old Kodachrome slides to digital .jpeg images. Many of these pictures we hadn’t seen for decades and they brought us much joy as we reminisced. Of particular interest to me was this photo of my maternal Grandmother at the stove putting the finishing touches on a Partridge in her well-worn cast iron pot while my Grandpa waits patiently to savour his quarry. The old pot was somehow passed on to me, and shows up in several places throughout this blog. I’m pretty sure cast iron holds onto the flavours of the years, at very least some sort of ‘food memory’, as everything that simmers there today tastes extra special!
from Chapter One ‘Not To Mention That Her Apple Tarts Would Change Your Life’, of a little book by Sophie Hudson entitled, A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet ~ Southern Stories of Faith, Family, and Fifteen Pounds of Bacon.
“The mental picture of Mamaw standing at the stove is one of the most enduring images of my childhood, mainly because she stood at that stove so faithfully. She cooked three hot meals a day, seven days a week. There was never anything made from a box, either – no powdery macaroni and cheese or Hamburger Helper. Oh, no, ma’am. There was hot cornbread, beef stroganoff over rice, pot roast with carrots and potatoes, fried chicken, creamed potatoes, fresh peas, fried squash, fried okra (I have to pause for a moment whenever I mention Mamaw’s fried okra and give it the reverence and honour that it is due), egg custard pie, pound cake – I could go on and on.
We didn’t have all that food at one time, mind you, or else we’d have alternated trips to Mamaw’s table with trips to the cardiac care unit, but there was always something delicious and homemade on that stove. Mamaw didn’t think she was doing anything special – she was just taking care of her family the best way she knew how – but I think her children and grandchildren can all testify to the fact that those meals she cooked ministered to us like a good Sunday sermon. And she didn’t have to say a single word.”
with joy over memory, and the go-to mental images of those we love,
Diana E. Natalie
Two reasons we call these scalloped potatoes ‘epic’. The first is that we quadrupled the recipe to fill a very large pan for a big crowd. The second is the addition of the cheese and seasonings which make them irresistibly savoury and scrumptious.
Below is the ‘normal’ recipe for 4 to 6 people. Double, triple, or quadruple as i did, depending on the size of your pan and how many mouths you intend to feed. This recipe, fully cooked, also freezes well for later use. Just thaw and reheat in hot oven or microwave.
INGREDIENTS listed for smaller casserole: Double, triple, or quadruple the recipe for extra people.
2 1/2 cups potatoes, pared and thinly sliced. (Use a food processor blade if you have one. I prefer white potatoes over the yellow variety. If you peel your potatoes ahead of time, set them in a bowl of cold salted water to prevent browning).
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour (or a gluten free blend)
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon finely chopped onion (optional)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 cup Old Cheddar cheese, grated or shredded
1 3/4 cups mild, scalded (see method below)
To ‘scald’ milk ~ is to heat it slowly in a heavy bottomed pot, to just below the boiling point. (As soon as you see bubbles starting remove from heat).
Scald milk and set aside.
‘Grease’ your casserole/baking dish or pan with butter &/or extra virgin olive oil.
Place half the sliced potatoes into baking dish.
Sprinkle with flour, salt, onion, mustard powder, and 3/4 of your grated cheddar cheese.
Layer the rest of potatoes on top, sprinkle with ground pepper, and gently pour scalded milk over the entire thing.
Sprinkle remainder of cheese on top.
Tent over top with tin foil (shiny side down).
Bake at 350 F. for 1 to 1 1/4 hours. (Remove foil after 1 hour and brown top under 325 F broiler for 3 minutes if necessary).
Double or quadruple the recipe for extra people. Serve alongside ham or pork roast (see ‘Stand In My Kitchen’ pork entree recipes).
with joy over traditional Easter fare, and the humble po ta to,
Diana E. Natalie
Beer Brine a Costco-size Pork Loin and Feed A Crowd for Easter! (The brine could be used for lamb or venison, though the cuts of meat will vary).
Aren’t you glad that Spring has arrived on the calendar at least, if not out your window?
It’s been a while since you’ve stood in my kitchen! We weren’t actually hibernating the past few months…just not focused on writing things down. Winter hours while not at work, filled fast with ‘sandwich generation’ things like helping elderly in-laws settle into nursing care and cleaning out their house…
…By the way, there’s a funny, touching new read by Toronto author, Plum Johnson, entitled ‘They Left Us Everything ~ A Memoir’, about the importance of preserving family history to make sense of the past and nurturing family bonds to safeguard the future. Having attended the funeral of a 53-year-old brother-in-law yesterday, these thoughts are forefront in my mind and heart. http://www.amazon.ca/They-Left-Us-Everything-Memoir/dp/0143189050
There’s been lots of cooking and baking going on though ~ for family and friends, house-church gatherings and so on. And quite a queue of recipes to post for you, the first of which might be useful come Easter, especially if you’re cooking for a crew!
Here’s how this one began. I walked into Costco for a sack of potatoes to make what I call ‘Epic Scalloped Potatoes’ for a community Sunday meal (in a very large industrial-sized pan I inherited), and passed a cooler full of 2-foot long (and 6-inch wide) Pork Loins ON SALE. Excited to cook a piece of meat this large that’s not a Turkey, I did my due-dilligence on-line, amalgamated a bunch of ideas and came up with this fantastic concoction!
1. About Boneless Pork Loin: Full loins can have a lot of variation in size and weight. They average about 3.5 – 4.5 kg but might be much larger or smaller with an average length of around 50-55 cm. My ‘Costco loin’ weighed in around 5 kg. so I cut it in half and brined it in the LARGEST BOWL i could find. Note that with a $5. off promotion it only cost around $16., and it fed twenty people.
2. About the Brine: Brine ingredients work together to ensure meat will be tender, juicy and flavourful once roasted. Combine all of the ingredients listed below in your largest bowl or container. You’ll want the pork loin to sit in the brine for 6 to 8 hours. If you make your brine up first thing in the morning and get the meat into it, it’ll be ready to roast in time for dinner. If you don’t have room to refrigerate it during brining, use very cold water & chilled beer, place it all in the coolest spot you can find, adding a few ice cubes after 3 or 4 hours to keep the mixture cold around the pork.
8 CUPS Coors Light beer = 5 cans
8 CUPS Cold Water
1 Cup Salt (I used 1/2 cup Himalayan Pink Salt, and 1/2 cup Pickling Salt)
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Molasses
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
1/4 Cup White Wine Vinegar
1/4 Cup Low Sodium Soya Sauce or Bragg Liquid Seasoning
1 Tablespoon Natural Liquid Smoke Flavor (Hickory).
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons coarse ground blended pepper, or black pepper (or just toss in whole peppercorns). I prefer to coarsely grind.
6 to 8 Whole dried Bay Leaves
1/4 Cup dried Parsley + 1/4 Cup dried Thyme (OR 1/2 cup each chopped fresh parsley and thyme). I used dried.
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Remove Pork from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Brush with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and place into roasting pan. Scoop out some ‘floating spices/herbs/pepper’ front the brine and spread over top of meat. Set brine aside.
3. Cover with lid or tin foil and place into hot oven for 15 minutes. Turn meat over, spread top with more ‘floaty brine herbs/spices’ and return to 400 degree oven for 15 more minutes.
4. Reduce oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly baste roast with some of the brine, and continue roasting (covered) for 1 to 1.5 hours, until internal temperature (using a meat thermometer) reaches 160 degrees F.
5. Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes before slicing. A slightly ‘pink’ centre means a perfect medium roast.
SERVE WITH ‘EPIC SCALLOPED POTATOES’ AND ‘SPRING SALAD’ ~ Recipes Queued and Coming Soon to Stand In My Kitchen.
with joy over Spring, and Easter and the celebration of Hope everywhere,
to you and yours,
Diana E. Natalie
July through October in our city, there’s a little downtown farmer’s market on Wednesday’s from dawn ’til 2:00 p.m. not far from where i work. I’m off at 1:00 p.m. midweek, and the past couple of months I hurried down the street each Wednesday as the vendors were closing up their booth’s, hoping there would still be some fresh Kale available. After a few weeks it became a bit humorous and a catalyst for conversation with some of the growers – this woman running from booth to booth trying to find out who had any Kale left on that particular day. Without fail we’d teamwork to find one or two bundles left – usually from two lovely girls who just happened to grow the most wonderful tasting organic Kale. I’m sure theirs was the most expensive, but worth it! I’d snap it up and hurry home to make homemade Kale Chips. Kale has become one of my favourite things about autumn harvest! Both the chips, and adding chopped fresh Kale to soups and other dishes, are A BIG HIT with my husband, and visitors to our kitchen as well!
Kale Chips are easy to make and so good for you, yet they feel a bit make-it-yourself fancy gourmet!
What You Need:
1 bunch fresh Kale
good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Nutritional Yeast Flakes
Spicy seasoning of choice
1 plastic bag – a clean biodegradable one from a store, or a large reusable zip bag.
1 large cookie sheet
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F (95 C).
Examine each Kale leaf individually (under frilly edge) for unwanted little munching guests (:
Using a sharp knife, remove woody centre stems from each leaf.
Chop stemmed leaves coarsely and place chopped Kale into colander of a Salad Spinner. Rinse well.
Spin most of the water off in a salad spinner (or rinse in a colander and shake well in a tea towel).
Dump chopped rinsed Kale into plastic bag & add 1 Tablespoon of good olive oil. Shake vigourously. Sprinkle in approx. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and shake bag again.
Spread Kale out evenly on large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Sprinkle sparingly with nutritional yeast flakes, and a touch of spicy seasoning (i use Tony Chachere’s More Spice Seasoning). Use your own certified GF spice blend for Gluten Free or SCD diet-safe chips.
Place in preheated (200 F) oven for 10 minutes. Remove pan, turn Kale over, and return to oven for another 10 to 15 minutes (check for doneness after 10 minutes). Your Kale Chips are done when they’re crispy and not too dark.
Cool before storage (if they last that long!!!) and DO NOT STORE IN AN AIR TIGHT CONTAINER. Use something with a hole in it, or a lid that can open partially for air flow.
with joy over turning autumn harvest into nutritious snack food that feels a bit make-it-yourself fancy gourmet!
Diana E. Natalie
What a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend we had here in Ontario, Canada this year! After the usual high-fat traditional fare – gravy, stuffing, pie & whipped cream – it’s time to get back to perhaps a more moderate eating routine!
Biscotti is the perfect low-fat Italian cookie to snack on with your morning or afternoon coffee or tea … and this recipe yields a cookie with over 5 grams of protein (with the eggs, almonds, and flour blend).
It’s simple and fun to make, and the secret to success is a FIRST and SECOND bake. So get your timer ready! (see Method below).
ALSO SEE BELOW for Lemon Twist Biscotti, and Chocolate Almond Biscotti variations on the same basic recipe & method.
ALMOND-ANISE BISCOTTI ~ INGREDIENTS:
1 Tablespoon Anise Seeds, Crushed
1 Tablespoon Anise-flavoured apertif or liquer (optional: use anise extract flavouring)
2 cups DJ’s GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR BLEND
1 cup sugar (we use organic florida sugar) in this recipe
1 cup whole almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped (NOTE: toast almonds ahead of time, spread out in single layer on cookie sheet – 10 to 15 minutes in 350 F. oven)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 Tablespoon milk
Combine anise seeds and anise flavour in a small bowl and let stand for 10 minutes or more.
Preheat oven to 325 F.
In mixer bowl, combine flour, sugar, coarsely chopped toasted almonds, baking powder, and salt.
In separate bowl, beat together the eggs and the anise mixture, and the milk.
Mix the wet ingredients into the flour mixture with electric stand mixer, or mix together well with a wooden spoon.
Remove the dough from mixing bowl and pat or roll into a log approx. one foot long on parchment paper or a floured surface, and gently flatten with a rolling pin to about 5 inches wide.
Transfer log (if using parchment, slide parchment paper with dough) onto cookie sheet, and bake until golden about 40 minues (at 325 F).
Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Transfer your log onto a cutting board and with a serrated knife, carefully slice 3/4 inch thick slices, placing the slices cut side down, back onto your cookie sheet.
Bake biscotti slices 10 minutes more (@325 F), remove from oven and turn each piece (with tongs or fingers if you’re brave), then return to oven for a final 10 minutes.
Transfer biscotti to wire rack to cool completely before storing. Biscotti hardens further as it cools. Ideally it should be stored at room temperature in a glass jar.
LEMON TWIST BISCOTTI:
Replace Anise seed & anise liquer, with 1 Tablespoon Lemon Peel (dried), combined with 1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon rind, 1 teaspoon lemon extract, and 1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice.
Instead of 1 cup organic florida sugar, use 1 cup organic Sucanat.
Instead of using whole toasted almonds finely chopped, use 1 cup Blanched Almond Meal (almond flour).
To the above recipe, substitute almond extract instead of anise extract, add 1/2 cup dark royal dutch cocoa (22/24), 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 2 Tablespoons milk.
Instead of 1 cup organic florida sugar, use 1/2 cup organic florida sugar + 1/2 cup Vanilla Agave Nectar.
with joy over a gluten free version of the Italian cookie that’s taken North America by storm,
Diana E. Natalie
After experimenting initially with gluten-free ‘bean-based flour blends’ (such as Bob’s Red Mill GF all-purpose baking flour), and not being a huge fan of the ‘beany’ taste, I came up with the following non-bean-based Gluten-Free blend that works well, cup for cup, in almost any recipe.
Yes, you have to purchase each ingredient separately and do the mix up yourself, but you’ll be glad to have it ready-to-go when you need it. If you know you’ll be doing a lot of GF baking, double or quadruple the flour recipe below for a BIG batch of flour blend to have on hand! (0:
DJ’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend Recipe:
You may purchase just the quantity you require of each individual ingredient at your local bulk food store, such as The Main Ingredient, 326 Charlotte St., Peterborough, ON.
Once you get your ingredients home, measure each into a medium size bowl and gently stir together, blending well with a wire whisk. Store in an airtight container (preferably a glass jar) and keep in a cool dry place for up to one month.
2 cups Sorghum flour
1 cup Potato Starch (NOTE: this is potato starch not potato flour)
1/2 cup Tapioca flour
1/2 cup Arrowroot flour
1/2 cup Coconut flour
1/2 cup Brown Rice flour
1 Tablespoon Xanthan Gum
with joy over preparing the way for easy gluten-free baking!
Diana E. Natalie
There was always a fancy crystal dish on my Grandma’s dining table filled with one of my favourite flavours of the past…Mustard Bean Pickles. Bright yellow mustardy sweetness.
I can’t remember if hers had flecks of red pepper throughout, or not, but in attempting to replicate her recipe (without her recipe to go on!) I decided to add some red pepper any way. I’m sure it added some flavour but mostly it makes it look pretty in the glass canning jars.
I also decided to use white wine vinegar rather than distilled spirit vinegar (regular white vinegar), because it was available to me, and I also believe it to be milder and thus gentler on the taste buds.
EQUIPMENT You will need eight to ten clean 8oz. canning jars with two-piece lids, and a large pot or pan to simmer jars & lids in water prior to canning. You will also need a large (approx. 8 litre) pot for boiling the vegetables, and a smaller stainless steel heavy bottomed pot to cook the sauce in. You will need a wooden spoon or spurtle, a ladle (preferably with a spout), a canning funnel (fits into tops of jars for filling) and canning tools for lifting hot jars and twisting lids on tightly (available in the kitchen section of your local hardware store).
Wash and rinse jars and lids; place them into a large pot or pan and bring to boil, turn down heat to low and let stand in hot water while you are preparing the bean pickles.
16 cups fresh yellow beans
3 cups sweet onion diced
3 cups red bell pepper finely chopped, or diced
3 cups sugar (i used 1 1/2 cups white sugar, and 1 1/2 cups organic florida sugar available at your local bulk food store).
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons modified corn starch (available at your local bulk food store so you don’t have to buy a whole package)
1/2 cup dry mustard
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seed
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 Tablespoon turmeric
2 Tablespoons pickling salt
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
[Note: the pickling salt, and the spices listed above are all available at your local bulk food store, so you don't have to go out and buy whole packages when you only need a little bit to make your bean pickles.]
1. Fill your 8 litre heavy bottomed pot 1/3 to 1/2 full with water , add sea salt to the water (until it tastes like sea water) and bring to a boil.
2. Wash beans, picking out any “duds”, and cut into 1/4 inch pieces with a sharp knife. Place into pot of water.
3. Wash, seed, and chop the red bell pepper, and add to the pot with the beans. Boil the beans and peppers until just tender.
4. In a separate (smaller) stainless steel heavy bottomed pot, combine sugar, flour, modified corn starch, spices (mustard, mustard seed, celery seed, and turmeric), pickling salt, water, and white wine vinegar. Whisk together. Add chopped onion and red bell pepper. Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to dissolve sugar and salt. Reduce heat and boil gently until onions become translucent and mixture thickens somewhat, about 5 minutes.
5. Drain beans in a large colander. Return beans to big pot and pour the sauce over the beans. Return to a boil, then shut off heat.
6. Ladle bean mixture into hot sterilized jars one at a time. Wipe rim clean with paper towel. Center lids on jar and screw rim down tight. Lids will suction down on jars as they cool. You will hear the popping sound as this is happening.
NOTE: If for some reason the lids do not seal down (because they are reused older lids that are wearing out, or for some other reason) you will be able to tell by depressing the lid center with your finger. If any jar does not seal down, just keep it in the fridge and use it first. The sealed jars will not need refrigeration. It is not very common for jars not to seal properly.
with joy over revisiting old recipes and favourite flavours of the past,
Diana E. Natalie