Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Simple Oyster Stew

I was inspired to make this by Jimmy Buffett's "Boomerang Love" (the story, not the song), wherein "Angel... stirred the oysters into steaming hot milk. She added some fresh chives and a few shakes of Tabasco sauce to cook up a simple, delicious oyster stew."

Of course, I couldn’t do anything quite that simple, so I added chopped onions & celery sautéed in butter…

1 ½ pints whole milk
2 8 oz cans whole boiled oysters – do not discard juice
½ c chopped onions
¼ c chopped celery
1 T butter
dash of cayenne (I loathe Tabasco but use it if you wish)
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the onions & celery in butter until tender.
Heat milk in saucepan until hot but not boiling.
Add oysters, juice, onions, celery, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cover and turn off heat.
Allow to sit for about five minutes for oysters to warm.

The most spectacular oyster stew I ever had was at one of the airport hotels in Charleston, SC (I forget which one) which served it with several fried oysters floating on the top. But that’s definitely getting away from simple…

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Almost Paleo Chicken Satay

I finally ran out of Trader Joe’s Satay Sauce so I broke down and made my own. I used cashews instead of peanuts to make it more Paleo/Primal and in retrospect I rather wish I’d left out the sugar to make it completely so.  But I originally intended it as a grilling sauce rather than a dipping sauce, not realizing that the sauce for satay is SUPPOSED to be a dipping sauce though of course you can brush some on when you grill. So in the future I’ll mix it up sans sugar – neither of us thinks it really needs it.

Sauce Ingredients:

1 cup salted cashew halves & pieces
1/3 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T organic cane sugar
1 T Tamari (soy sauce will work)
½ T lime juice
2 t sesame oil
1 t Sriracha

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. None of the ingredients require refrigeration so I don't believe this does either.

This time I used breasts rather than thighs. Slice however many chicken breasts you’re going to cook (I used three) into one inch strips and marinate in soy sauce and a dash of garlic powder and another of turmeric for a couple of hours.

Skewer chicken strips, brush with sauce and grill until just done. It looks burnt but that's just the sauce on top - the meat was tender and juicy!

Kate stirred up some mixed veggies - summer squash, zucchini, cabbage, red bell pepper, broccoli stems, carrots, onions and garlic - with some soy sauce and Chinese Five Spice seasoning to go with it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Shrimp Stuffed Sole

I recently discovered Bob McDiarmid's blog, Bob's Cooking. He has what appears to be a wonderful recipe for Yellow Mango Curry Stuffed Dover Sole which I started to try. However, I'm not that big on mango (we have none in the house) and really wasn't up to trying to make the sauce. So, using Bob's recipe as a starting point/inspiration, I Googled a few other stuffed sole recipes and modified them to make my own. Here's the result. Note: in going for stricter Paleo/Primal food I use tapioca starch instead of corn starch or flour for a thickener. I probably should have used coconut oil instead of butter but a man's got to know his limitations.


• ½ pound cooked shrimp
• 1 T parsley
• 1 T herbs de Provence
• 3 shallots

Wine Sauce
• 1 T lemon juice
• 2 T thinly sliced green onions
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• ¼ c dry white wine

• 4 (6 ounce) fillets sole
• salt to taste
• ground black pepper to taste
• paprika to taste

Butter Sauce
• 2 T butter
• 1 T tapioca starch
• ¼ c dry white wine


1. To make the stuffing, set aside twelve shrimp to use as garnish. Mince remaining shrimp and the shallots very fine. (I use a food processor.) Add herbs and parsley and mix well.

2. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, green onion, garlic, and ¼ c wine. Set aside.

 3. Lay filets flat, and divide shrimp mixture evenly among them and pat down. Roll up the fillets around the shrimp mixture, and place in a baking dish. (Secure with toothpicks if necessary.) Season to taste with salt, pepper, and paprika. Place three shrimp atop each filet and pour wine sauce over the fish.

4. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes.

5. When fillets are done, prepare the butter sauce. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in tapioca starch. Transfer fish to serving platter. Pour pan juices into butter/tapioca starch mixture, add the remaining wine, cook and stir until thickened. Pour over sole, and serve.

As you can see I only had three sole filets: that just meant they were a little more stuffed than they would have been otherwise. Some of the excess stuffing that fell out got sprinkled over the top and it came out just fine.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Moroccan Smoked Chicken

Joseph's turn to write!  (And yes, we're still on that Moroccan kick.  I made Moroccan Spiced Vegetables to go with this...)


Today is the Excelsior Springs BBQ and Fly-In - a marvelous annual event where BBQers from all over converge on the town to compete for the Grand Championship. Here's the web page -

I really love this event, but Kate's knees can no longer do the kind of walking necessary to enjoy it. So I decided to break out my little smoker and have our own event. Given that the whole town is filled with traditional BBQ, I decided to opt for something different. Inspired by a recipe for Moroccan Grilled Salmon that I received this morning via e-mail from Paleo Recipe A Day, I adapted it to chicken. I used their spice recipe exactly:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I use sea salt)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix together into a paste and spread on the chicken. On a grill this makes a crust but in the smoker it just kind of oozes around and flavors everything. I cut the back and the dorsal bone out of the chicken so it would lay flat - the same as you would do if you were going to grill it using a brick. But I just put it in the smoker and let it go. It took rather longer than I expected - almost four hours - but it was well worth the wait. We already ate half of it before Kate thought to take a picture, but here's the other half still in the smoker:

Moroccan Chicken (2)

Tomorrow will be the Fly-In portion of the event, held at the Excelsior Springs Airport. We'll be having our monthly sketch crawl out there and I may try to catch a ride on one of the planes. We'll see...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Fabulous Sweet Potato...salad-ish something or other!

So what do you do when you suddenly find yourself with three of the biggest sweet potatoes you've ever seen in your life?!?

My cousin Keith is a wonderful gardener, and he gave us some of the last of last year's crop--the vines are busily out there making MORE, even as I type!  (And as you noticed from our last post, I've got my OWN garden again this year...with sweet potatoes, along with other goodies...)

Well, coincidentally, one of my favorite blogs, Mark's Daily Apple featured Purple Primal Potato Salad just the other day, and it's Independence Day today but I'm avoiding regular potatoes, so it got me thinking...why not try one out as a salad--ish? (And no, I didn't end up following Mark's recipe at all...I just went wild!)

Keith's aren't purple, but they ARE organically grown and huge--they're crowding my kitchen!

I'm feeling Middle Eastern these days, loving that tangy-spicy-savory flavor, so I made it up as I went along--measurements are strictly approximate, depending on the size of your sweet potato(s) and your appetite.  It tastes like something you might order at the Blue Nile or the, Marrakesh Cafe in Kansas City.

Feeling adventurous?

You'll need:

Sweet potatoes
1/2 onion (I used sweet yellow onion)
Sea Salt
Coarse black pepper
Garlic salt
Turkish seasoning or your own Moroccan mix
Cinnamon (yes, cinnamon)
Sesame seed oil (toasted)

Boil 1 huge or 3 smaller sweet potatoes till fork tender

Cool, peel and cube (or cube first and THEN cool till fork tender!)

Chop onion as fine as you like and add to sweet potato

Stir in 2 dollops of mayo (you know what a dollop is, right?  Bigger than a tablespoon, not so big as a half cup...)

A few shakes of sesame seed oil...this is mostly for the delicous nutty flavor

Add a good teaspoon of  Turkish Seasoning (I like Penzey's, but I also make my own Moroccan mix)--you can add more or less as you like

A nice shot of cinnamon...maybe 1/2 t. to start?

A good shake of garlic salt, more or less

Salt and pepper to taste

Now, mix all that up.  Add more Turkish Seasoning, cinnamon, garlic salt, whatever you like.

Refrigerate and then--dig in!

This gives you an idea how HUGE that thing was!  That's a big French chef's knife there, and a slice of normal-sized onion!

I was tempted to throw in a few raisins, but J. thought that might be a bit much.  I'm thinking some of his home made relish would be good, though...

I wasn't sure he'd like it, but he keeps going back for more tastes!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Containers for a Kitchen Garden


So we've been going to the farmers' market in the summer months and dealing with our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group for some time, but I was really missing growing my own! We'll still keep both of those assets, but somehow having your own fresh goodies feeds my soul as well as my body.

Unfortunately, the trees have really grown since the last time I had a garden...because of their spreading shade, I've actually moved my garden 4 times in 30 years.  Now the only bit of sun we have is in the front yard of the house we're rehabbing next door...and I hated to dig up the front yard.  Not entirely sure how the City would feel about that...

I think the Onion Farm got that urge going may have read about it in this post. 
When spring came, we moved the onions outside to the deck where they CONTINUE to thrive and provide us with green onion tops...the same onions we got last winter, yep.

So...that and my age and arthritis seemed to make container gardening  the perfect solution.  I found huge, colorful, lightweight (and relatively inexpensive) pots at my local discount store and my imagination was off and running. 

To provide ventilation, Joseph drilled holes in the bottom of the pots and I added rocks and broken bricks both to aerate the rooms and to make the pots good and heavy.

Then I added whatever weeds and such that were needing pulling...

And having done some research on hugelkultur, which usually involves raised beds built on an aged woodpile, I decided to give it a try on a small scale--we had a lot of dead sticks, bark, and rotten wood after the winter, and I broke up whatever I could for the next layer in each pot.  This will provide feeding and aeration over the long haul.

We didn't have pots of good dirt available, so we had to resort to buying, just like the Ozarks!

We ended up buying about 10 bags of organic humus, peat, potting soil, mulch, and plain old dirt to supplement the bags of potting soil we had sitting in the garden shed for years...hopefully, if I feed it well, it'll last from year to year and so will the planters!

Doesn't look half bad!  I dug between the pots and the stone pillars and added a few more plants...spinach, tomatoes, mesclun, squash...

Here's the first pot, all planted...cucumbers and green peppers!

Here's the only spot that gets a LOT of sun!  It was necessary to mulch to hold in the moisture already, in the pots and around the plants in the ground.

And the babies are growing!  This pot has cukes, peppers, a couple of red cabbages, and marigolds to help protect them from pests.  (And oh YES they're planted too close...we'll see how that goes...)

In front of the house, I planted the strawberry pot in herbs...there's another in the back yard.  Sage, thyme, oregano, and chives...
We've planted several tomatoes in hanging pots and in the ground--heirloom varieties for maximum flavor.

Out back, I've planted a big old pot of sweet potatoes and plan to do another, plus two long metal planters I've had of spinach and one of mesclun, or mixed salad greens.  We put them in an area that gets partial sun, since they are supposed to tolerate some shade... before long, if all goes well the Starving Artists will be sharing recipes made with our own vegetables!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Primal Chicken Kiev--tweaked!

You all may have noticed a bit of a shift in this blog...I'll try not to get all wacko on you, but I've changed the way I eat about 7 months ago now, have lost 27 lbs., don't have heartburn or acid reflux, feel better and stronger, AND my hernia almost never hurts.  So yeah.  I'm pretty much primal/paleo now, and loving it!

The recipe on the Mark's Daily Apple blog was too good not the try--and of course tweak the way we like here it is:


3-4 or more chicken breasts, skinless or with skins, though that might make the prep more difficult
(We get Smart Chicken, free range chicken, or other hormone-free meat--believe it or not, Costco    and Walmart may have this fairly inexpensively!)

1/2 stick unsalted butter--organic if you can find it

2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced

1 tsp. parsley flakes,
1 T. Herbes de Provence
or the herb mix of your choice...fresh herbs are fine, too, just use more.  Make it Cajun, if you like...go wild, Kiev won't care.)

(Chicken Kiev normally calls for dill, but we're not crazy about it...)

Sea salt or Pepperman All-Purpose Seasoning Blend Organic - 6 oz,(Frontier) to taste (we both love Pepperman, an organic pepper and sea salt blend with a variety of peppers.)

2-3 T. Bacon grease (we get nitrite- and nitrate-free bacon), lard, coconut or olive oil


Lay out your chicken breasts and pound them flat with a meat mallet or pounder, or the edge of a heavy plate.

Mine looks like this, but there are all types--click on the little image to see more:

Cut your half stick of butter into quarters lengthwise and center one on each breast (obviously if you're making more, use more butter.  (Mark's recipe calls for making actual herb butter, but this is lots faster!)

Sprinkle with herbs and some of the sliced or chopped garlic

Roll the flattened breasts up around the butter and herbs and secure with toothpicks.

("Normal" Chicken Kiev is breaded or at least floured at this step...not necessary, and I dunno about you, but I don't need the gluten, the empty calories, OR the carbs.)

Heat skillet with the grease or oil, and place the breasts in carefully; saute at medium heat.  Keep turning until all sides are browned, then put a lid on and lower the heat for a few minutes till the breasts are done.  (I test doneness by poking with a shark knife...if the juice is clear, they're done, if pink, they're not.)

The butter will have melted and infused the meat with garlic and herbs--some will leak out into the skillet giving you a marvelous sauce.  You can reduce it by cooking down further, or use a bit of wine or ale, but it was just wonderful exactly as it was, spooned over the chicken and over leftover fresh asparagus.

Give it a try!

Here it's shown with my cranberry mustard coleslaw...funny looking, since it's pink, but it's GOOD.

2 T. good quality mayonnaise (or home made, I'll do that next time!)
1 tsp. cranberry mustard
Splash of apple cider or rice wine vinegar

Mix with chopped or shredded cabbage (white or red)...optional, add a few shredded carrots!


And if you wonder what all  this "primal" stuff is about, you might like the Mark's Daily Apple blog above, or check out Mark Sisson's books, particularly The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy (Primal Blueprint Series).  I've read several books on the Paleo Diet, including Loren Cordain's groundbreaking book by that title, and Michael and Mary Dan Eades' Protein Power Life Plan--all of these are well documented, fascinating reading, but Sisson's book is just plain FUN--as is his blog, and the forum for "blueprint" fans.

The food is delicious, I'm losing weight, and I feel good...what's not to like??

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Primal Beef Stroganoff

Primal Beef Stroganoff

Beef Strogonoff is one of my favorite winter meals, for family or for guests

This is SERIOUSLY good, elegant, and actually quite easy!

We try for grass-fed, hormone-free beef--the difference in nutritional value is startling, compared to feedlot animals!  Much, MUCH higher in Omega 3s...I like to think of  the cattle out there peacefully grazing, anyway, like the ones we see as we drive home to our small town.

It's not that expensive, especially if you go in with another family or two and buy direct from the farmer. 

Here's my usual recipe:

1 lb. stew-cut beef (give or take...the package we got today was about a pound and a quarter)
1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 large clove of garlic
4 ounces crimini or other mushrooms, sliced--we got them on sale, two packages for $4, so used one and saved one for another dish.
2 T butter
8 oz. water or broth, also give or take--enough to cover the meat and vegetables
1/2 cup white wine or dry sherry (optional)

1/2 cup sour cream--organic, if you can find it.
1/4 cup unflavored Greek yogurt or heavy cream--again, organic if possible

Sea salt, a sprinkle of fancy paprika and black or mixed pepper to taste

I sautee'd the onions and garlic in butter till golden, with a few browned edges, and removed them from the pan. Then I added the beef and let it brown a little, till the watery liquid had cooked away and turned a deliciously dark, rich brown--don't let it burn, though!

The onion and garlic go back into the pan with the beef and water or broth; meanwhile, I sautee'd the mushrooms in another pan till golden, and added them to the beef mixture.  (Deglaze the mushroom pan with a little of the beef broth--you don't want to lose any of that deliciousness!)

The meat has simmered in the broth till tender, along with mushrooms and onions...
Add the salt and pepper and a dash of paprika, if you like.  Then add the optional wine or sherry and simmer with a lid on till the meat is tender--an hour or two, or all day in the crock pot or slow cooker. 

Remove the lid and reduce the stock by about half, then add the sour cream and yogurt.  (Or you can use one or the other of these, depending on what you have on hand.)

Serve over steamed cauliflower, if you wish, or just pile on your plate or in a shallow bowl.  If you don't mind the carbs, you can use white potatoes or noodles, but I've cut way back on that stuff and feel much better for it!

I served it with a carrot salad, and we're both quite happily, I mean, satisfied!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Onion Farm

My husband is an interesting guy...when he makes enchiladas or other things that he uses scallions or green onions in, he doesn't use the white part, just the tops.  Soooo...he decided, rather than let them go to waste, he'd stick them in the ground. 

Ah ha, indeed they DID grow new tops...outdoors.

Winter came, and we decided we were fond of those fresh, always-ready scallions, so we put them in a pot indoors, in the kitchen. 

....and that worked, too.  Recently, our CSA, Fresh Connect, offered organic green onions, so of course we got them.  And now we have too many onions for the pot above!  We got a long, rectangular, terra cotta pot, and now we REALLY have an onion farm. 

We cut them back whenever we need a bit of garnish...and so far, we've never run out of green onions, free and fresh.  Doesn't get much better than that.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Simple pleasures...

Not only did I enjoy PAINTING the interesting little thing that looked like it was right out of The Jetsons, but the eggs taste great, too...
He'd told me about this thing for years...I was delighted he finally found an affordable one on eBay.  But I'll let Joseph share about this in his own words!


Ya gotta wonder...

…about the elegantly beautiful inventions from the past that are no more. Why did they become extinct? What stupid business decision caused them to be “improved” out of existence?

Behold the Sunbeam E2 Egg Cooker.

Prick the narrow end of up to a half-dozen eggs with the needle inside the lid (to keep them from exploding), measure the amount of water you need for the desired hardness (using either the graded levels inside the lid or, if you want to be really precise, the plastic measuring dohicky on the top), pour the water in, add the eggs, put the lid on, and turn it on. When the water inside the unit is steamed away, your eggs are done to perfection. A heat sensitive metal contact trips the electric switch to the off position with a loud click. Kate nearly jumped out of her skin the first time this happened!

My mom had one of these, probably from when it first came out in 1954. It was in her kitchen cupboard up until around the time she passed away. Whether she gave it to someone, or it got moved to some other place in the house, garage or storage shed, or someone simply walked off with it, remains unknown. But courtesy of eBay I now have a replacement.

I love soft-boiled eggs but I have never had the patience to sit beside the stove with a timer to get them done properly, probably because I grew up with this marvelous device. I’m happy to have one in our kitchen once again.


Gotta love those simple pleasures, too...
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