About Me

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I grew up in Annapolis, the capital of MD, on the Chesapeake Bay and the Severn River where we always had fresh fish and seafood. I love all things food: cooking, eating, trying new recipes and sharing what I make with family and friends. I must say that my most favorite (I have many favorites) food is fish and mostly catfish. So, I'm always seeking catfish recipes frolm all olver. I like my cooking, my daughter, Wendy's, cooking and my son, Dan's dishes, as well. I'm not a food snob; in other words, I also enjoy OPC, (Other People's Cooking) also. I've got loads of interests: cats and dogs, taking photos, Giant pandas, chandeliers and the arts. I am a former teacher, personal chef and recovering lawyer turned information marketer. I love (watching) football, basketball, extreme sports like mountain/rock climbing, snowboarding, skiing and surfing. My own extreme sports are swimming, walking and talking. Not necessarily at the same time.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Foods Can Bring People Together


Have you ever noticed how food can bring people together?  It is amazing that even the grumpiest curmudgeon  or the shyest of introverts can be brought to animated and extensive conversation when it comes to the subject of food.
It doesn't matter who we are or where we come from, whether we are vegetarian, vegan or lovers of poultry, meat and seafood, the scent of food, the sight of certain dishes or even something outside of the realm of food itself, can evoke heartfelt sentiments that take us back to childhood and family or to pleasant memories of a special meal in a distant place far away from familiar surroundings.  Just ask ask  people about their favorite comfort food.  That's a two or three day conversation, because nobody has just one.



When it comes to food, every country on the planet can boast of a vibrant history and proud heritage of, at least, one dish that has become a classic.  Food does more than just sustain life; it is love, life and the heart of society. Food brings people together. It is the shared flavors of friendship and community. 

Wherever people congregate, a long wait in the grocery line, a business meeting, a neighborhood festival or a date with old friends, the subject of food invariably creeps into the conversation.  Food breaks down barriers. More than anything else in society, food binds people together.  And, now, with so many foods imported and exported from many different places, we are all interconnected.

Our attitudes and behaviors center around food.  We may have learned how to behave or not behave at the dinner table.  We may have learned how to curb our selfishness at meals when we were children.   Mom said, "share" or "save something for someone else," or even, "think about all those starving children in...."

Food can set off an emotional charge also.  What do we feel when we hear that many people starve in many countries for lack of food production, while in others, people get certain illnesses because of eating too much food?   Food is a common denominator.  We all need it.  We all have different relationships with food. We may either love or hate it.  Or, it may be that we can take it or leave it. 

In any case, there's much to be said about food.  And, we always find something to say about it.  Are you a meat lover?  A vegetarian?  Do you love fast food, healthy food, sweets, snacks, big meals?  All of the above?  Believe me, of all the subjects in the world, everyone can talk about food.  Foods bring people together more than sports, movies or entertainment.  Just sayin.'

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Rambutan Exotic Asian Fruit

Today, I went to my favorite Korean grocery store which carries an extensive array of fresh Asian vegetables and fruits from Korea, Japan, Vietnam and China.  On display as samples for tasting, there were several offerings of fresh fruit; clementines, Korean melons and other exotic (at least to me) fruits being offered.   There were also these beautiful tiny fruits with funny looking little spindly things coming out of it.  The store had them as samples so I tried a half.  It turned out to be a Rambutan.  It was delicious, juicy with the texture and feel of a grape and just so sweet. 


I asked one of the store managers how to choose the best and ripe ones.  As we walked over to the section that held the fruit, she explained that the Rambutan is a relatively common tropical fruit  in many South Asian countries and easily accessible in her country the same way an apple is common to us here in the US.  She showed me what to look for in the ripe fruit and also pointed out which ones not to buy.  She said that any with black forming on the tips means that the rambutan is old or beginning to dry up.



She showed me how to open the fruit by using her thumbs to break the skin to peel away part of the spiny exterior to expose the fruit inside.  It then slips easily out of the skin, because the spines are very soft. The fruit actually looks  like a large white grape.   It has a seed inside and you just eat around the seed.  Wow, what a treat!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fast and Easy Salad with Tomato, Avocado and Ground Lamb Salad

When I was growing up, salads meant red ripe tomatoes, lettuce and sliced onions with a homemade  "French" dressing drizzled on top.  Admittedly, they were yummy and fresh, however, they were pretty much relegated to the summertime because that was when our local Maryland tomatoes were available.  Every year I would look forward to eating succulent tomatoes right from our backyard or my grandfather's garden with the juice dribbling down my chin.  For many years, I used to wait for the summer season to buy fresh tomatoes.  Out of season, a good tomato is hard to find.



Today there are many varieties of tomatoes with all kinds of shapes, sizes and colors. There is no doubt that they may not be at their best flavor, however, tomatoes are available in markets everywhere throughout the year.  Although nothing compares to the distinct mouth-watering  taste of a garden-fresh, vine ripened tomato, I can't resist having having tomatoes in  all seasons, either in a salad or in one of my bacon, egg, tomato and avocado sandwiches.  Besides, it has been fun experimenting with different the varieties throughout the years.

This salad doesn't really have a recipe.  The only quantity that I can almost specify is that from almost a pound of ground lamb, I made four patties and put two in the freezer.  I cooked one of the frozen patties and used a half crumbled up for the salad.  I sprinkled the patty with BBQ Tandoori seasoning and cooked it slowly in a tablespoon of olive oil and about a half a cup of water.  I let it cool a bit before adding it to the salad in the bowl.

Here are the ingredients I used

Italian greens, already packaged and cut
Romaine lettuce, torn into pieces
Tomatoes cubed
Avocado sliced
Onions, thinly sliced
Cooked Ground Lamb
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 TBs light dressing

Way yum!






Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Speaking of Catfish Family Appetizer

 

I haven't actually talked about catfish for a long while,  so I feel the need to get back to it. Catfish, in my view, was born to be dunked in milk or egg, coated with cornmeal and fried crisp and golden. Although my favorite is the fried catfish, there are so many other tasty ways to eat it.  I have used it for fish tacos and, particularly in this weather, in catfish stew spiced with Caribbean curry powder.  Catfish is so versatile that you can bake it, encrusted in grated potatoes, grill it or broil it. with garlic, herbs and lemon or lime.

 You can add it into your favorite pasta dish or in put some of the sweet little morsels into salads.  Or, for example, you can or use it in little pastries as appetizers for a dinner party.  (See recipe below) Be careful, though, you may end up indulging so well in the little pastries, you may find you have left no room for the main dish.


Chile and Cheese Empanaditas

Catfish and Goat Cheese Appetizers

Ingredients

1 - 15-ounce package folded, refrigerated, unbaked pie crusts (2 crusts)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 TBS butter or margarine
1½ pounds U.S. farm-raised catfish fillets, cubed
8 oz fresh goat cheese or soft-style cream cheese
2 TBS chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp dried basil, crushed

Directions
  1. Let pie crusts stand at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes according to package directions.
  2. Unfold pie crusts.
  3. Place on ungreased baking sheet.
  4. With 3 1/4-inch round cutter, cut 8 rounds from each pie crust
  5. In a saucepan, cook onion and garlic in butter or margarine until tender.
  6. Add catfish; cook and stir about 5 minutes or until flakes easily.
  7. Use spoon to break into small pieces.
  8. Add goat cheese or cream cheese and basil.
  9. Cook and stir until cheese melts.
  10. Remove from heat.
  11. Spoon the catfish mixture evenly onto half of each dough round.
  12.  Brush edge of crust rounds with beaten egg.
  13. Fold crust rounds in half; press edges with fork to seal.
  14. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  15. Brush tops with egg or milk. Cut small slit in top of each.
  16. Bake in a 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until pastry is brown.
  17. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This recipe is a take on a dish from the US Catfish Institute Cookbook

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cod Filet and Black Bean Sauce



It's funny how things happen where you think your discussions or thoughts seem to have no relationship to anything.  They are just random; just like last night at a fabulous and tasty dinner at the home of Alisa and Greg's, close friends of my daughter's, the conversation, as usual, turned to everybody's take on food.  The food was great!  There were many cooks in attendance, 8 people out of 9, as a matter of fact.  Greg made the Shrimp Creole. Gerri made a Key Lime Pie to which she added toasted coconut and Alisa and Wendy W made a delicious salad.


 Of course, with that many cooks at the table, the conversation naturally turned to food.  Then, the discussion shifted to the subject of vegetarianism and "organic foods."  I mentioned that a friend of mine from Ethiopia who travels extensively in Europe laughed and noted that only in America are people concerned with "organic" foods and vegetables.  She said that in Europe, and in many other countries, the food is fresh, in other words, it's already pesticide free. 

Then, the hostess, Alisa, my daughter Wendy H's contemporary, commented that when she first stared cooking a cookbook she used started every recipe with the ingredients, "a can of this" and 2 cans of that.  We all laughed and tried to figure out what foods we still use from a can.  Not too many we thought, with a slight bit of arrogance.

We pretty much poo-poo'd the idea, thinking of the foods we still use from a can as if everything else is beneath us.   Everybody thought of beans and I thought of anchovies, because that's also a favorite of mine that I use salted from my favorite Italian deli or from a can.  However, like food snobs, we decided canned foods are relatively obsolete and it's passé to use them in healthy cooking.  So, I didn't think that anything more about the subject of canned foods.

Today, however, after an entire day of not eating because I overslept and then was really busy all day and unable to eat until I got home at 4:30, I was ravenous.  So right away, I made a salad of only romaine (because it was right there), sprinkled on some grated Parmesan and a bit of salad dressing and started on that.  I knew that I wanted some fish so I took a couple of frozen cod fillets out of the freezer to thaw out.

Did I mention that I was extremely hungry?  So, after I ate the salad, I thought about the kind of taste I wanted for my fish.  The night before, we had eaten Greg's Creole shrimp, which was delicious and took a little while to chop and cook the ingredients. 

Yet true to my way of cooking and the state of my hunger, I didn't want to wait too long to eat.  So I opened up, guess what?? A can of black beans and a can of tomatoes and hot chilies, threw them into a pan in which I had already melted a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of light butter for flavor and let them cook about 5 or 6 minutes to let the liquid evaporate and thicken the sauce.  Then I placed the cod fillets into the black bean sauce.  (I was so hungry,  I couldn't even wait for the fish to thaw completely.) 

I lowered the fillets gently into the sauce and let them cook for about 3 minutes on each side, smothering them, so to speak, with the black bean and spicy chili tomato mixture.  Then I let them simmer for about  3 minutes more to soak up the flavor of the sauce. I didn't add anything extra; no salt, no pepper, not even any herbs or spices.  I was ready to eat!  Lo and behold—the fish and canned vegetable were delicious; and satisfying and healthy to boot!

I realized that there are many foods we still use that are canned and bottled and can be a lot healthier than some so called "healthy, low fat" foods that have loads of sugar and sodium in them so they taste good.   Just like this cod filet and black bean sauce recipe.  Way yum!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Kale and Daikon

I


Daikon and Kale Greens

If you love kale as I do, you will appreciate this simple and delightful side dish to accompany chicken, tofu or other vegetables.   It only takes a short time to make and the results are very tasty. Plus, for me, it's a new twist to add Daikon and fresh ginger to one of my favorite greens.

As I make my dishes, one of the hardest things for me to do is to write down exactly how much of anything I use.  I suppose that goes back to my mom's and my grandmother's way of cooking.  Unless it was a cake or cookies, something that needed precise measurements, they didn't measure everything exactly. 

I am likely to throw things into the pan and then add seasonings and ingredients that In most cases, I have to painfully try to remember and then record it.  That's why it takes me so long sometimes to put a recipe on my blog.

Anyway, here goes.

Ingredients

1-2 Tbs vegetable or canola oil
1 lb fresh kale
½ lb Daikon radish
1 Tbs minced garlic
½ medium onion, sliced thin
1 Tbs fresh minced ginger
1 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 Tbs hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

Wash kale.  Tear the leaves from the stems.  Discard stems.  Cut or tear leaves into smaller pieces or strips.  Peel the Daikon radish, cut into ¼ inch thick slices and then into four small pieces.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add Daikon and cook for about minutes.  I actually cooked it until it got a little brown.  Add sliced onions, garlic and ginger and co2 ok until soft, another minute.  Add red pepper flakes and washed kale, being very careful because the water from the kale may splatter.  Cover with a tight fitting top and cook about 5 minutes, stirring, occasionally.   Raise heat to medium high and cook another 5 minutes allowing the liquid to evaporate.  Stir in hoisin sauce and vinegar.  Way yum!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Easy Ways to Reduce Blood Pressure



Easy Ways to Reduce Blood Pressure

I've been thinking recently that I have been spending too much money on blood pressure medicine and arthritis pain relief.  I have realized for some time that I know how to combat these symptoms by spending that money on adding more vegetables and fruits to my diet and dropping some weight, especially from my belly.  Now, mind you, I know how to do that and have done it before; it just takes my determination to make a change.

So, the other night, I attended an event where my daughter was sworn in as member of the board of the county women business owners association and met a woman who was a vegetarian.  She and my daughter started talking about vegetarianism.  My daughter is a new vegetarian.  This woman mentioned that she freezes her tofu, which changes the texture and also makes it easier to cook, eat and marinate. 

I am not a vegetarian, however, my motto is, "pretty much if it's food, I like it."  I love all kinds of food, including, and not limited to, junk foods, healthy foods, international cuisine, soul food, ethnic foods, meats, poultry, vegetarian and vegan.  Other people joined the conversation and the vegetarian mentioned kale and collards and how difficult it can be to cook them with flavor without meat.  It got me to thinking about how I have cooked collards and kale and sauerkraut without the meat.

For some reason, after that conversation, I have been craving kale.  I've also been thinking about adding some vegetables that I have tried and either haven't cooked or haven't cooked for a long while. 

So my next recipe will be a kale and daikon mixture that hits the spot.  It was something new for me; because even though I feel I must eat healthy, it must taste good to me, otherwise, I can't encourage anyone else to eat it.