Thursday, July 31, 2014

Food for Thought : Pickles

You most often find pickles next to a deli sandwich or a ballpark hot dog; however, don’t necessarily mistake them for just a condiment. Pickles are flavorful, low-calorie vegetables that make a great snack. Pickles start out as a raw cucumbers and are then processed by one of many different ways. Usually pickles are submerged in a brine of vinegar, salt and spices and allowed to ferment. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy pickles as part of an overall healthy diet:

1 .   When making pickles, leave the skin on to make sure you get all their fiber and minerals.
2 .   Cook quick pickles: Heat 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 cup water and ¼ cup honey. Pour over sliced cucumbers and let them sit for 15 minutes. Drain and refrigerate for about an hour. These make a healthy option to go with sandwiches or as a snack without a lot of salt. These will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
3 .   Remember that pickles are typically high in sodium, which can complicate medical conditions such as high blood pressure. When buying store-bought pickles, look for those labeled low sodium.
Words of  Wisdom
Commitments don't have to be chains. They can be rich with meaning." They can be the wings on which our spirits soar." 

"Being happy can be hard work sometimes. It is like maintaining a nice home - you've got to hang on to your treasures and throw out the garbage." 

"Life is the movie you see through your own eyes. It makes little difference what's happening out there. It's how you take it that counts." 

"I ask people if an elephant has ever bitten them. Most of the time people say no. But everyone has been bitten by a mosquito. It's the little things that get us." 

"Remember those ships who pass through your day, touching your life just once, sending you into a better direction than your life was headed."

"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down."
A proud Grandpoppa                 G.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer is Kebab time

French Chicken Kebabs Recipe

One of our summer rituals is putting anything we can on a stick and grilling it. Kebabs are pretty much the perfect thing to grill. They’re bite-size, so they’re easy for parties. It’s simple to combine protein and vegetables, and that minimizes side-dishes. And there are infinite variations.

   4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks
   Kosher salt
   1 tablespoon grainy mustard
   Zest and juice of 1 orange
   6 bamboo skewers
   1 head of fennel, trimmed, cored, and cut into small wedges
   24 pitted black olives, such as kalamata
   Finely chopped, fresh Italian parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)

  1. Place the chicken thighs in a baking dish and season all over with salt. In a bowl, stir together the mustard, orange zest, and orange juice; pour over the chicken thighs. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
  2. When you’re ready to grill, soak the skewers in water for 30 minutes.
  3. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct-heat grilling over medium heat. Thread the meat, fennel, and olives onto the skewers, discarding the marinade and distributing the ingredients evenly among the skewers.
  4. Grill, turning once, until the meat and fennel are cooked through and nicely charred, about 10 minutes (move off the heat if the skewers start to get too brown). Transfer to a platter, garnish with parsley if you like, and serve.
  5. Pair these skewers with a fluffy rice pilaf and a dry French rosé, served very cold.

Lemongrass Pork and Red Onion Kebabs
Lemongrass Pork and Red Onion Kebabs

Satay was the inspiration for the marinade of lemongrass, fish sauce, brown sugar, and soy sauce. It’s lightly sweet and salty, with umami depths, just right for enhancing the taste of the pork. We call for shoulder, a cut with judicious fat marbling—it ensures yours skewers won’t dry out on the grill. Enjoy with a great salad, Thai beer or a pitcher of margaritas.
  • 3 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 small shallots, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for coating the grill
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (1-inch-thick steak), cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 8 bamboo skewers
  • 1 large red onion, trimmed and cut into thin wedges
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish (optional)

  1. Put the garlic, shallot, lemongrass, brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, measured oil, and a few grinds of pepper in a blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides. Transfer to a bowl or baking dish and add the pork, tossing to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.
  2. Soak 8 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes.
  3. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect-heat grilling over medium heat. Remove the pork from the marinade and thread it onto the skewers with the red onion, distributing the ingredients evenly between skewers.
  4. Brush and oil the grill grate. Grill the kebabs over the hottest part of the grill, turning once, until the meat is nicely charred, about 6 minutes. Move to the other side of the grill, cover, and continue to cook until the meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a platter, garnish with cilantro if you like, and serve.

Korean Short Rib Kebabs
Korean Short Rib Kebabs

Korean kalbi was the inspiration, but these skewers have their own personality. Soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, and a kick of Sriracha give boneless beef short ribs tons of flavor. Unlike chunky kebabs, the meat gets threaded on the skewers satay-style. Serve with sautéed Asian-style broccoli and a mountain of steamed rice.


   3 tablespoons soy sauce
   1 tablespoon mirin
   1 tablespoon brown sugar
   1 tablespoon rice vinegar
   2 teaspoons Sriracha
   1 teaspoon sesame oil
   4 green onions, minced
   2 garlic cloves, minced
   1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless short ribs, trimmed of silver skin and large bits of fat, cut into 3-inch chunks, and then thinly sliced against the grain into 1/4-inch slices
  12 bamboo skewers


1. In a baking dish, stir together the soy, mirin, brown sugar, vinegar, Sriracha, oil, half of the onions, and the garlic. Add the short rib strips and toss to coat. Cover and let marinate for 4 to 6 hours.
2. When you’re ready to grill, soak 12 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes.
3. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct-heat grilling over medium heat. Thread the meat onto the skewers like an accordion, then flatten it out (kind of like satay). Discard the marinade.
4. Grill, turning once, until cooked through and nicely charred, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a platter, garnish with the remaining green onions, and serve.

Grill on my friends, The summer is still young and it's hot in the kitchen.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Maxy's Gone....And his Family is Broken Hearted

Our precious Maxy passed away on Friday. He died while my daughter and I held him at the animal hospital. He was a victim of someone's carelessness. They left out some poisoned bait meant for rodents , we assume, and Maxy ingested some. He had an agonizing death that has traumatized us all. And all we could do was stand helplessly by and watch him suffer.

Please, Please don't use poisons on or around your property for any reason at any time. It is a risk to so many innocent little lives and the dying process is horrible. Maxy bled internally and then his eyes and ears hemorrhaged and he vomited blood. We could not bear to watch him suffer any longer and asked the vet to euthanize him. She thinks it was Warfarin (rat poison) or possibly strychnine.

He was a wonderful little guy with lots of personality and a member of our family. He was beloved in our neighborhood and our friends and neighbors are upset and angry and have sworn to find the culprit. He will be so missed by so many, but he will always be in our hearts and will always be the 'Dog on the Blog'.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Food for Thought : Herbs and spices

Looking to add a little flavor without a lot of calories or sodium? Add some fresh herbs and spices. Herbs can boost the flavor to your favorite dishes without adding salt and many herbs contain disease-fighting antioxidants.
Here are some tips:

Basil is one of the most popular culinary herbs. Sweet basil is used in salads, sandwiches and soups. Try a simple summer salad made with sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil and olive oil, or add basil to tomato soup for a light meal.

Mint is a very versatile herb and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It is often used in fruit and vegetable salads. You can also try adding mint to ice cream, tea, peas, carrots or meats.

Rosemary is one of the most aromatic herbs you can find. It has a very distinct lemon-pine flavor and pairs well with many foods. Try rosemary with summer vegetables such as zucchini and squash, as an addition to tomato sauce or pizza, and in marinades for chicken and beef.
Cilantro is an herb that is typically used in Mexican, Latin America, Asian and Indian cuisines. It is best served fresh by adding to a dish just before serving. It makes a great addition to your favorite salsa. It also works very well with other dishes such as summer salads, fruit salads and sweet potatoes.

Words of Wisdom :
"Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim; accept no ones definition of your life; define yourself."-

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

"The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way."

In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover."

"The world we are experiencing today is the result of our collective consciousness, and if we want a new world, each of us must start taking responsibility for helping create it."

A proud Grandpoppa G.

Watch the little Hummingbird flying from flower to flower .


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cherries are In...And Boy Are They A Sweet Cherry Pie

Bings fill in for the usual (but harder to find) sour cherries in this summer pie. A simplified lattice crust gives you all the wows with half the work.

Sweet Cherry Pie


  • 2 pounds Bing cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • All-purpose flour, for rolling
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado or granulated sugar, for sprinkling
  • Basic Pie Dough for Sweet Cherry Pie

Basic Pie Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

  1. Step 1

    In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar; pulse briefly. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Do not overmix.
  2. Step 2

    Divide dough in half, and turn out onto two large pieces of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over each portion of dough; press to shape into two 3/4-inch-thick disks. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days); dough can also be frozen up to 3 months (thaw before using).
  3. Step 3

    On a floured piece of parchment paper, roll one disk of dough to a 14-inch round. Wrap dough around rolling pin; unroll over a 9-inch pie plate. Gently fit into bottom and sides of plate (do not stretch dough). Using kitchen shears, trim dough to a 1-inch overhang all around; refrigerate until ready to use. Reserve and refrigerate remaining disk of dough for top crust.

Directions For Pie: 

  1. Step 1

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in lowest position. On a floured piece of parchment paper, roll one disk of dough to a 14-inch round. Wrap dough around rolling pin; unroll over a 9-inch pie plate. Gently fit into bottom and sides of plate (do not stretch dough). Using kitchen shears, trim dough to a 1-inch overhand all around. In a large bowl, combine cherries, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice; toss until cherries are coated. Pour into prepared bottom crust.
  2. Step 2

    On a floured piece of parchment paper, roll second disk of dough to a 14-inch round. Cut into eight 1 1/2-inch-wide strips; discard the shortest two. Weave strips over filling to form a lattice (see photo, page 28). Using kitchen shears, trim strips so they hang over rim by 1 inch. Tuck strips under rim of bottom crust; press to seal. Crimp with a fork all around the edge.
  3. Step 3

    Using a pastry brush, lightly brush lattice with egg wash, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  4. Step 4

    Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until filling is bubbling rapidly all over, 60 to 70 minutes (tent with aluminum foil when crust starts to brown, about 40 minutes). Transfer pie to a wire rack, and let cool to room temperature, at least 3 hours.
Awesome with ice-cream on a summer's day, just like Mama made when you were a kid. Have a slice --- you deserve it.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Beer Can Chicken... Still Grillin

  • 2 cups mesquite or apple wood chips, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
  • 1 (3 to 4-pound) roasting chicken, preferably kosher (since it has been brined)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite dry spice chicken rub recipe, divided
  • 1 (12-ounce) can beer
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Prepare a kettle grill with charcoal off to one side for indirect grilling and add the soaked apple wood or mesquite wood chips over the coals. Remove the neck and giblets and pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Brush chicken all over with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and 3 tablespoons dry rub. Set aside.
Open the beer can, pour out about 1/2 cup of the beer into a cup and drink it (or pour it over the wood chips). Make an extra hole in the top of the can with a church-key can opener. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon dry rub to the beer can (it might fizz up a little bit at the top, but don't worry, that is normal), the garlic and rosemary.
Hold the chicken above the can of beer and slide the chicken over the can. Fold the wings back behind the chicken. Make sure the legs are in front of the can, supporting the chicken. Place the chicken inside a disposable pan.
Place the pan on the grates of the grill on the opposite side of the charcoals, put lid on and cook the chicken until golden brown and the internal temperature registers 160 degrees F in the breast area and 175 degrees F in the thigh area on an instant-read thermometer, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the grill (be careful not to spill the contents of the beer can as it will be very hot) and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Use a pair of locking tongs and grab the bottom of the beer can to remove from the chicken cavity. Place on a platter or cutting board to rest and cool. Carve and serve.
It is good chicken...Tried it and liked it.

We served the chicken with easy homemade potato salad

Grandma Jean's Potato Salad

5 large red potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, 2 chopped and 1 sliced
2 heaping tablespoons sweet pickle relish, drained
1/2 cup salad dressing, (recommended: Miracle Whip)
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
Paprika, for garnish


Boil cubed potatoes until they are tender. Drain and cool. In a large bowl add celery, onion, 2 eggs and pickled relish. Add the salad dressing, yellow mustard and sugar. Stir well. Place the sliced egg on top of potatoes and sprinkle with paprika and salt. Let the potato salad chill in the refrigerator for 2 1/2 hours or overnight.

Easy Peasy and so much easier, on the day of the barbecue, if you make it a day ahead

Friday, July 18, 2014