Speedy Gonzalez – otherwise known as Earl the cat – is whipping around the house like he is possessed! He suffers loss of mental capacity to understand anything, anything at all! In other words he is quite senile, bless his heart. We continue to care for and love him in-spite of his constant need for special help.
Fried Green Tomatoes – a Southern food I grew to love as a youngster.
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
Mix together the cornstarch and flour in a small bowl; add corn syrup and water to this mixture and stir, stir, stir until it is a smooth paste. Make different colors by dividing paste into separate containers and adding food coloring.
A big thank you to my cousin Helen for this one. She always said this soup was hands down her favorite and the best meat/veggie soup she ever made.
This soup is very versatile. I have made it with/with-out the hamburger meat. I have even added small pearl onions, mushrooms, diced sweet potatoes! And elbow macaroni. This is a good next day soup as well as served immediately from the pot! Enjoy.
1 pound hamburger meat
1 small onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, diced
2 teaspoons olive oil, if needed
1 (15 ounce) can cut green beans
1 (15 ounce) can of diced mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, potatoes)
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn
1 (15 ounce) can white navy beans or black beans
- optional – also include 1 (15 ounce) can Carranza beans
1 (15 ounce) can Italian style zucchini
1 (28 ounces) can Italian diced tomatoes, do-not-drain!
additional water if needed for consistence (thickness) of this soup
1 good size bay leaf
1 teaspoon each dried basil, thyme, oregano, and parsley
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt–to taste
Cracked black pepper–to taste
2 dashes of Tabasco for flavor only (optional, more for more heat if desired)
1. In a heavy skillet, saute crumble hamburger, diced onions and garlic until meat is browned and onion and garlic is soft. Only add olive oil if needed for leaner blend of hamburger meat. Most hamburger meat have enough fat on its own. After hamburger, onion and garlic is fully cooked, (very important)drain off all oil/fats.
2. Add basil, thyme, oregano and parsley to meat mixture and let rest to the side while you put the other ingredients together.
3. Combine all other (canned) ingredients including bay leaf in a 2-1/2 quart saucepan and bring to just under the boil.
4. Add meat mixture and Tabasco to simmering pot of canned vegetables; continue to simmer for at least 15-20 minutes to marry flavors. Add additional water at this point if needed.
5. Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste. (note: most canned vegetables have enough salt in them to flavor this soup so do a taste check before adding more salt)
*Remove bay leaf before serving.
Tomorrow is Labor Day. The last Barbeque Howrah for most of the country. After which the equipment will be covered, packed away or hung up until next year. Friends will recollect fond memories of the picnics, cookouts, and other outdoor parties and the amazing foods of summer will be talked about as the weather cools to a chill.
Before the official close of summer occurs, here’s a rundown on some food safety. It absolutely never hurts to be reminded that bacteria is not our friend and that it can multiply faster between the temperatures of 40°F and 140°F. As most of the country still enjoys nice warm days using the following cautions might keep someone out of the latrine if not the hospital. Here is a heads up on food safety, one-last-time.
1. Wash hands.
It seems basic, but not everyone does it. Wash hands well and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom and before cooking or eating. If you’re in an outdoor setting with no bathroom, use a water jug, some soap, and paper towels. Consider carrying moist disposable towelettes for cleaning your hands.
2. Keep raw food separate from cooked food.
Don’t use a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood for anything else unless the plate has first been washed in hot, soapy water. Keep utensils and surfaces clean.
3. Marinate food in the refrigerator, not out on the counter.
And if you want to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a separate portion. Don’t reuse marinade that contained raw meat.
4. Cook food thoroughly.
To kill any harmful bacteria that may be present, use a food thermometer. Hamburgers should be cooked to 160°F. If a thermometer is not available, make sure hamburgers are brown all the way through, not pink. Chicken should be cooked to at least 165°F. If you partially cook food in the microwave, oven or stove to reduce grilling time, do so immediately before the food goes on the hot grill.
5. Refrigerate and freeze food promptly.
It can be hard to remember while a party is going on, but food should not be left out of the cooler or off the grill for more than two hours. Never leave food out for more than one hour when the temperature is above 90°F.
6. Keep hot food hot.
Hot food should be kept at or above 140°F. Hot food should be wrapped well and placed in an insulated container. If bringing hot take-out food such as fried chicken or barbecue to an outdoor party, eat it within two hours of purchase. In addition to bringing a grill and fuel for cooking to an outdoor location, remember to pack a food thermometer to check that your meat and poultry reach a safe internal temperature. When re-heating food at the outing, be sure it reaches 165°F.
7. Keep cold food cold.
Cold food should be held at or below 40°F. Foods like chicken salad and desserts that are in individual serving dishes can be placed directly on ice or in a shallow container set in a deep pan filled with ice. Drain off water as ice melts and replace ice frequently.
You can find this and more information at U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website.
I did not know this but each day during December Screme’s Bar delivers up a festive drink. Kind of sounds like fun to me and if I drank like a sailor I’d spend some coins at Screme and taste a few combinations but the fact is I don’t drink hard liquor and rarely enjoy a small glass of good wine. But, if you are interested and in NYC during the holidays I will tell you that the normal small will cost you a fiver ($5), a medium $7 and a large $9.
Anyway, if in NYC during the holidays and you feel the need to imbibe to reduce your swollen tootsies Screme is at 2030 Broadway between 69th and 70th Sts, and at 242 W 42nd St between Seventh and Eighth Aves; you can also visit them at screme.com
I have added Screme to my 100 things to do list before I die….it is included with shopping at Strand book store and to ice skate at Rockefeller Center which will be done to my joy or detriment this coming December.
This morning I spotted a ripe Black Brandywine heirloom tomato on the vine. Of course I immediately picked it! If you have not tried growing heirloom tomatoes I encourage you to try growing some. They are chocked full of incredible flavor and are quite easy to grow either in your vegetable garden or in a patio container. The picture to the left is of a cluster of these delightful and colourful Black Brandywine tomatoes. Naturally, my picking that ripe tomato meant a nice lunch on the patio for me and the preparation was simple and so easy.
First: I placed this canning jar outside in the hot sun (yes, it was sealed and had some sugar added too) – after about two hours I brought it in, gave it a quick stir, added ice – and walla – iced sun-tea was ready to enjoy.
Second: I took the heirloom Brandywine tomatoes and sliced them along with a nice globe eggplant I had on hand; placed the tomatoes and eggplant into a roasting pan, sparingly drizzled light olive oil over the top, then sprinkled one (1) tablespoon chopped fresh picked rosemary and one (1) tablespoon chopped fresh picked sweet basil from my herb garden. Tossed ingredients to coat. Placed into the oven at 350 degrees for about twenty minutes (my oven is OLD so you might not need twenty minutes in yours) removed, sprinkled with very little salt and some white pepper and served with sliced pita bread and a variety of cheeses I had on hand. A simple and easy lunch for a summer’s day. And I topped it off with two (small) scoops of coconut-milk sorbet. Right now I’m in heaven.
Don’t be wasteful – Recycle!
Below are two fail-safe recipes for melting all those bits and pieces of crayons otherwise tossed into the rubbish.
I know you are so excited you’re gathering up all those bits and pieces right now, aren’t you! Your aspiring young artists will love making these multi-coloured “chubbies” and it is so easy and fun to do. Plus, it is a great way to teach kids the benefits of recycling and being thrifty.
Best recipe for oven melted crayons:
- Gather up old crayon pieces, remove any paper.
- Place pieces into paper-lined muffin tins.
- Place tins in a 200-degree oven for just a few minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool slightly before removing from tins. Before the “chubbies” are completely cooled they can be deeply scored with a metal knife allowing them to be broken into smaller sized “chubbies” after they are completely cooled, if you like.
My kids always loved to look through the oven glass window to watch them melt. And they loved making interesting colours we called “chubbies” by mixing all the colors together. You can also make one solid and vibrant colour if you like. There are no rules!
Best recipe for Microwave melted crayons:
- Gather old crayon pieces, remove any paper.
- Place pieces in a throw away microwave-safe plastic container. (NOTE: the plastic will stain leaving the container unusable for any food product!)
- Microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time; check after each 30 seconds, swirl with plastic spoon or knife until melted.
- Remove from microwave, let cool slightly before removing from container. As with oven melted crayons these can be scored and broken into smaller sized “chubbies”.
- Allow to completely cool before using.
The rest of the story: In 1947 Mamma gave me a box of eight crayons which were immediately broken to bits. My chubby little fingers apparently the culprit. I cried over it but Mamma, experienced in a child’s tears knew exactly what to do. She peeled the paper from the broken bits and put them into a glass dish and placed it out in the direct hot summer sun and told me to wait for my crayons to become something special. What resulted was a mixture she molded into several rather crocked but sturdy sticks which were not so easy for my chubby fingers to break. Problem solved!
When I had children of my own I knew exactly what to do with all those multi-coloured bits and pieces of crayons. And although my children never cried over broken crayons saving all the bits and pieces stretched the crayon budget, taught the concept of “waste not, want not” and recycling before recycling became so fashionable.
- 2 cups half & half
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons peach preserves (not jelly)
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- Combine all ingredients (including the bean and its pulp) in a large saucepan and place over medium heat.
- Attach a frying or candy thermometer to inside of pan (see note below)
- Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to 170 degrees F.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Remove the hull of the vanilla bean, pour mixture into lidded container and refrigerate overnight to marry flavors.
- Place mixture in a ice cream freezer and process according to unit’s directions (the mixture will not freeze hard in the machine).
- Once the volume has increased by 1/2 to 3/4 times, and has reached a soft-serve consistency, spoon the mixture back into the lidded container and harden in the freezer at least one (1) hour before serving.
Note: If you do not have a thermometer, bring the mixture just barely to a simmer. As soon as you see a bubble hit the surface, remove it from the heat. Do not let it boil!