Monday, March 16, 2015

Two Cookbook Reviews

Growing up I spent fall, winter and spring in California with my mom and summers with my dad were spent in the Midwest. While spending my summers in the midwest I remember Sunday Suppers being the huge meal of the week where the whole family sat down together to eat and talk about the week.  Two meats were served one being a poultry dish and the other beef or pork. There was always a salad, two vegetables and one of them had to be a green vegetable and mashed potatoes and gravy, this was not considered a vegetable but a stable. Even if rolls were served there was always a plate of sliced white bread on the table and a simple dessert.

In California I remember going to many pot-luck picnics with friends and family that moved from the midwest to California, the families would get together to reminisce about the old neighborhoods and talk about what was presently going on in their lives.

During my teens in the 1970's I had my fair share of Avocado and Sprout sandwiches, fruit smoothies and granola, California Hippie Food. One thing that never changed was the food from the midwest and how we ate.

I have always been drawn to Southern Cooking and it's not just the fried food. During the time I was growing up in California you didn't find collard greens, black-eyed peas and fried chicken in Southern California was KFC or Mrs. Knott's Fried Chicken Dinner.  Even Southern Food is getting an facelift and I love what I'm seeing.

This brings me to Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook - Recipes and Stories to Celebrate the Bounty of the Moment - a 150 seasonal Southern Recipes by Nancy Vienneau.  You can find out more about Nancy on her blog Good Food Matters along with many other delicious recipes.

The introduction is written beautifully and you can sense the love of fresh produce, cooking and friends in Nancy's writing. What really caught my eye is the cookbook is broken down by seasons/months. I wish all cookbooks were written this way. It makes it so easy to find dishes geared to what's in season and that CSA box you just received.

While I was reading  through Nancy's cookbook I kept saying to my husband Bill, oh this recipe sounds fantastic, he would ask what's in it and I would list off the ingredients to him and he would say, bookmark that one. I ended up with a bunch of of post-it's marking all the recipes that need to be made first. Here are some of my favorites that I'm looking forward to preparing first, no joke I didn't find one recipe that I didn't want to make. I love the section for gifts you can make and not all of them are edible like Jessi's Lavender-Oat Bath Soak.

Plumgood Roast Chicken
Teresa's Cucumber Salad with a Caribbean Twist
Warm German-Style Potato Salad with Benton's Bacon (this one reminds me of those pot-lucks I went to growing up)
Gigi's Pavlova
Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart with Olive Oil Crust
Honeycrust Fried Chicken Tenders
Bourbon Pecan Bars (I got Bill's attention with this recipe)
I'm just going to say it - The whole section on Figs - we love figs
Deep-Dish Lemon Tomato and Lemon Basil Pie
Diane Stopford's Autumnal Cocktail
Not Your '70s Green Bean Casserole
Cathy's Euphoric Raspberry Mojitos
Watermelon Margarita Wedges (you can not believe how happy I am that watermelon season is just around the corner)

Keeping with the Southern theme is The Southern Pantry Cookbook 105 Recipes Already Hiding in your Kitchen by Jennifer Chandler you can find out more about Jennifer and her other cookbooks on her website Cook With Jennifer.

The first thing that grabs you with Jennifer's cookbook are the biscuits on the dust jacket. Jennifer's introduction Welcome to my Table is just that welcoming reading about her family and where her cooking roots comes from makes me feel like part of the family.

I love the section "A Well-Stocked Pantry" Southern Pantry Essentials. I found this thoughtfully written and a huge asset to the cookbook along with the section on Cooking Tools. This cookbook would be a perfect Shower or New Home gift.

Again there are so many recipes I'm itching to make out of The Southern Pantry, here are a few that caught my eye.

Cheddar-Pecan Shortbread (I have already made these, so much flavor)
Tex-Mex Corn Dip
Corn Salad (are you thinking corn season is just around the corner too)
Shrimp Remoulade Salad
Southern Chicken Salad
Creamy Vidalia Onion Soup
Braised Chicken With Mushrooms and Grits (OMG, I'm drooling over this dish)
Grilled Chicken with Peach Barbecue Sauce
Fried Pork Medallions with White Milk Gravy
Honey-Balsamic Flank Steak
Blackened Red Snapper
Snapper with Mustard-Pecan Crust (Bill can not make up his mind which Snapper recipe to make first)
Trout Amandine (I think the Trout is going to be first I have it in the freezer)
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars (I have made these, they were gone by the next day)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Healthier Me - Update

I have really dropped the ball on posting about my path to a healthier me, the last time I posted was January 5th.

Let me tell you what has been going on:

1.  I made the big leap by registering to run a 1/2 marathon

2.  I'm having a hard time finding the right combination of eating to lose weight and fuel my body for running.

3.  I joined a gym

4.  Learning as I go along about the do's and don'ts of running

5.  Subscribed to 2 running magazines - Women's Running and Runner's World

I've never been a runner - to be frank I hated to run. When I started my walking regiment last year I decided to run a 5k, it was hard, I pushed myself and I can say I completed that run without stopping or walking.

When I was looking at another 5k to run this year I came across a 1/2 marathon. As a joke I sent the info to my daughter and said I'm considering this. Her message back to me....Let's do it, I will run it with you. My message back to her, okay. My next thought what the hell did I just commit to and then to make sure I didn't back out I registered the two of us for the run. The big day is September 12th.

I searched running apps to help me train for the 1/2 marathon. The app I found that is working the best for me is Run Coach 13.1, 3 days a week for 18 weeks it is slowing preparing me for the run. After the 18 weeks I will run every other day until the 1/2 marathon. I have also added another app RunKeeper to track my running.

I then joined a gym, Anytime Fitness. I'm doing strengthen training the days I'm not running. My other plan with the gym if we have bad weather I can always run on the treadmill or use the elliptical. The jokes on me right now...We just had a huge snow storm come in a drop a ton of snow on us. I can't even get down to the gym. LOL

I'm doing my training right, slow, baby steps I do not want any injuries. This next part isn't something that you enjoy talking about but it is important if you are thinking about running. Find a store that really knows about running to get your shoes. I bought my first pair of running shoes in my normal size, just tried them on they felt good and the guy at Dick's Sporting Goods didn't know jack about running shoes. I got what is called a Runner's Black Toe, it's from not having properly fit running shoes and the black toe is a blood blister that forms under the toenail. I found a running store that measured me, checked my gate walking and properly fitted me with new running shoes. I went up a 1/2 size and found out that my foot rolls in, my new shoes correct this problem. Running shoes are expensive but the most important part of your running regiment and you will need a new pair after 500 miles. If you find a pair of shoes that work well for you consider buying a few pairs that way when race day comes you are using a pair of shoes that you are use to.

One of the most important things I have learned hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I found out the scary way to drink water before running and it's not what you think. I was so afraid of drinking water before running, because what if I'm out there running and I have to pee. Let me tell you you sweat that liquid out no need to worry about that. What happened to me from not drinking water before running I had blood in my urine. So now the night before running I drink a lot of water and before going running I have two to three glasses of water and since I have been doing this I have not had a problems with blood in my urine.

It's important to educate yourself when taking up serious running. A Facebook friend Christine Dutton suggested the book The Complete 26-week Training Program Marathon and Half Marathon The Beginner's Guide by Marnie Caron. It is a great book, I have pages tagged and highlighted. I also bought it for my daughter and sent it to her, she loves it too. Ask other runner's questions, check out running sites online, running magazines and running groups in your area.

I will work harder on updating my progress a couple times a month.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Mexican Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know it's been a while since I have written a post. A lot has been going on, which is a post for another day.

We have been having a really dry winter until this past weekend. Close to 4 feet of snow has dropped on us and we are currently snowed in. The snow is too high to even get out of the garage. I can't see dropping a few hundred dollars to be dug out when we can just wait until it melts down a bit.

From My Deck

It's snowing right now hopefully the last of it and we will be back to blue skies. While waiting for the snow to pass and get to melting I thought I would bake some cookies. I decided to play with the original Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe, nothing new but what recipe is anymore. The warmth from the cinnamon and cayenne is perfect for this snowy day.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Nestle Toll House Cookie Recipe

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon prepared strong coffee, cooled
2 large eggs
1 12oz bag of Nestle Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a medium bowl add flour, baking sode, salt, cinnamon, espresso powder and cayenne powder; whisk together and set aside.

Beat butter, sugars, vanilla and coffee until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.  Mix in flour a little at a time until completely incorporated into the sugar mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop a rounded tablespoon of cookie batter onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, bake for 9 to 11 minutes, allow to cool 2 to 3 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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