A Soul and Stomach Pleaser

Are you happy it is Spring?  I am thrilled, ecstatic, joyful!  This was a difficult winter, with the exception of our two week vacation on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai in February, but I will tell you all about that in coming blogs.

You might call it convenient that I love potatoes, knowing that my darling Hubby works with potato farmers, but they have been one of my favorite foods all my life.  Do you also recall that I have a fondness for homemade soup, from the broth on?  Given the slightest provocation I will combine the two for a wonderful, decadent potato soup.

Maybe it was finding our friends’ potatoes in the local grocery store (Basin Gold), maybe it was the bright green of the parsley and chives outside my kitchen window, maybe it was just my desire to make this dairy-free, creamy soup – but I had to make it for a gathering of friends. ( It was a large pot and we had no leftovers.)

As much as I have been a life-long potato consumer, I am a very recent convert to bacon.  I believe I have told you about it in other blogs, but I will tell you again: Hills Bacon is a relatively clean bacon. There is no MSG, which is very important to me.  It smells and tastes better than any other bacon I have been exposed to.

Usually potato soup recipes call for leeks, but the humble yellow onion, or Walla Walla Sweets when they are fresh, are perfectly acceptable here as well.  When the leeks look best, they are my go to, shallots have also gone into the pot.  It is the fresh garlic, that I enjoy with the potatoes and bacon the most though.

Intrigued?  Here is my recipe:

Decadent Potato Soup

  • 20 ounces high quality bacon
  • 2 T. bacon fat
  • 2 T. chopped garlic
  • 2 cups onions, chopped small
  • 2 cups chopped celery stalks and leaves
  • 3 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • 6 c. broth, homemade if you can
  • 8 medium/large yellow potatoes (I used about ten pounds of potatoes for this pot)
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • salt and pepper to taste when serving

Directions:

  • Cook the bacon.  I lay strips on a wire rack in a cookie pan to bake them; put the pan in the oven to preheat to 350*F, cook until as crispy as you like them.  They should be pretty crisp for this soup.
  • Chop onions and celery
  • Mince garlic
  • Remove a couple of tablespoons of bacon fat to a thick bottomed stock pot for the onions, celery and garlic.
  • Once softened, pour the broth into the pot.  Chop the potatoes into 1/2″ cubes leaving the skin on them, boil in the broth with the other vegetables and the bay leaves.
  • When the potatoes are soft add the thyme and celery seed to the pot and remove the bay leaves.
  • Use an immersion blender, or do batches in a regular blender, to puree the chunks of potatoes as much as you would like.  I like to leave some cubes of potato in mine.
  • Chop the bacon into small pieces, chop the fresh parsley fine and add this to the now creamy, hot soup.  Give it a good stir to incorporate the bits.
  • Chop the fresh chives into small pieces, reserve for serving along with salt and fresh ground pepper.
  • If you wish, you can add a dollop of sour cream to the bowl and swirl it for contrast before sprinkling the chives on top.
Potato soup with crispy bacon and fresh chives.
A hot bowl of potato soup with fresh chives on top and crispy bacon in it is a delightful comfort food.

I drank a Merlot with my soup this last time, but have enjoyed smooth whites like a Chardonnay or Semillon and other reds when we have had it other times.  Cheers!

A Comfort Food Rethought

Last week I told you Hubby still wasn’t feeling well; he (finally) took himself to the doctor to learn he was suffering from Walking Pneumonia.  This form of the illness is not necessarily life-threatening, but it is a lung infection that drains your energy and prevents sleep at the same time it demands it.  He came home with an antibiotic and proceeded to sleep in his chair for two days.  As he regained his sense of smell and taste this week it made sense to make him one of his favorite dishes: Cabbage Rolls.

The head of cabbage was large enough that I decided to make my family’s traditional recipe and play with the filling with the rest of the leaves.  Since I can’t use the tomato in my mother’s version, I use broth (yup, our home-made) to cook the rolls in.  I believe the tomato comes from a Polish recipe while the broth is more traditionally (southern?) German.  But there are variations of cabbage rolls from much of Europe and Asia.  Hubby warms some of the tomato sauce I made him this summer to put over the rolls as he enjoys the combination.

To mix things up I began thinking of what else I could fill the cabbage with.  The lamb filling from the Dolma would be amazing.  How about lentils with curry, chili or Garam Masala for a vegetarian version?  Traditional fillings are pork, beef, or lamb, but I am sure are just as good.  Fish?  What ethnic seasoning combination wouldn’t be fun to try.  Pork with ginger and soy sauce in Napa Cabbage?  Savoy, red or green head cabbage, pickled or fresh… the possible options are unlimited.

Needing to work the Locati Cellars tasting room at the last-minute, I had less time to play than anticipated.  Hubby, my driver, as I can walk but not yet drive after my surgery, was in charge of choosing what to pick up to fill the remaining cabbage leaves.  Ground turkey that I combined with onion, turmeric and Garam Masala, also cooked in the broth as that is what I had available.  These smelled heavenly as they cooked and they are wonderful!  Traditional Polish Cabbage Rolls can be served with yogurt, I took out a bit of my locally made sheep milk yogurt to have with this and it is fabulous!

Stuffed Cabbage Balls

  • 1 large head cabbage
  • 1-2 lbs lean ground beef
  • ½ lb ground pork (not necessary, but flavors well)
  • ½ cup par boiled white rice
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • ½-1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 can V-8 style juice
  • 1-2 Bay leaves

Cut the stem from the head of cabbage, steam in two inches of boiling water (stem side down)in a large pot until the leaves are cooked, 5-8 minutes (they should be pliable, but still firm enough to work with). Cool the head of cabbage, maintaining the stem side down as the water drains through the cabbage best that way. When cooled, peel leaves from the head as carefully as possible, set aside to finish cooling.

To par boil the rice put rice and an equal amount of water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, simmer until water is gone. Let cool.

In a large bowl, place all meat, rice, etc. and work until well mixed. Form balls to fit the cabbage leaves, rolling the leaves around the ball of meat. Place each roll, seam side down, in a large pot, layering until they are all in. Place the bay leaves among the rolls; pour tomatoes & juice over the whole pot, just covering the cabbage. Cover and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours to cook the meat thoroughly. This can be done in the oven if you are using an oven proof pot (dutch oven style or in a lasagna pan) at 350*F.

Serve hot with liquid from the pan or thicken to a gravy if desired.  A piece of fresh rye bread is my favorite accompaniment to sop up the broth at the end of my meal.  But potatoes would be just as good.

Ok, your turn, does your family have a favorite Cabbage Roll recipe?  How do you serve it?  What else would you like to try wrapping?  Since the rolls freeze well and are easy to heat, they make a quick mid-week evening meal or nutritious lunches for work/school.

Happy New Year to everyone. Cheers!
Happy New Year to everyone. Cheers!

Have a spectacular and safe New Year’s Eve celebration and ring in 2017 with those you love close by.  Cheers!

Kale and white bean soup

Hey, I am on my feet again!  For the last two days I have been able to stand and walk on the foot I had surgery on six weeks ago.  After so much sitting, I am thrilled to be up.  My Hubby has been the best care provider, despite not completely getting over the cold we both had right after my surgery.  He has been shoveling the snow from the walks and driveway in sub-freezing temperatures, traveling and working hard on top of caring for me, it isn’t too surprising he is struggling to shake this cough and cold.  Despite not feeling too great himself, he made us a wonderful and nutritious chicken soup for our Thanksgiving dinner.

On my first full day up and about I decided it was my turn to make a soup for him that would help him recover.  With our homemade soup stock, (‘bone broth’ for those of you in the trendy scene) as a base, I wanted to ensure there were lots of good vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, so dark leafy greens (kale), carrots, onions and garlic, potatoes with their skin, and white beans.  Granted, the garlic is the best for immune support, but the combination is worth the effort for flavor.  The parsley is frozen, so I couldn’t put it in this soup, but fresh parsley would be great at the end.  This made enough soup for two meals for us.  If you make it as part of a larger meal, it will feed more; conversely, if you need to feed more than four people, increase the ingredients as needed.

Kale White Bean Soup

  • 4 cups broth, home-made if you have it
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 large clove minced garlic
  • 2 medium potatoes with skins on, cubed
  • 2 medium to large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried winter savory or lemon thyme
  • 1 can, well rinsed, reduced sodium white beans
  • 1 bunch of curly leafed kale, prefer organic for us, chopped torn or into small pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste

Bring the broth to a boil and reduce heat.  Saute’ the onions, garlic and carrots in olive oil or butter until just soft, add to the broth.  Add the potato and simmer until the potatoes and carrots are soft enough to stab with a knife.  Add the thyme and winter savory (a lemony flavored herb), and the can of white beans, simmer another five minutes to incorporate the flavors of the herbs and warm the beans.  With the soup removed from the heat, turn the kale pieces into the hot soup.  Cover for a couple of minutes to allow the firm leaves to fully wilt.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, serve immediately.

Following supper the annual Carolers knocked on our door with a lively rendition of Jingle Bells.  We can now look forward to increasingly longer days since Wednesday was the Winter Solstice, I am on my feet just in time for the Christmas weekend.  Wishing you and yours a festive and fun, yet safe, Holiday.  Cheers!

Festive fare you’ll love all year

Are you looking for something a little different to make for holiday guests this year?  You can slice these for small bites or serve as-is for dinner.

When my mother, a heavy influence in my cooking, told me Rouladen was her choice of birthday dinner every year with her parents I wondered why I had never seen her make it or had it myself.  Curiosity led me to look into what went into making them; remarkably straight forward I decided to get to it.  I was certain they were more complicated than they looked as my mother’s reticence to making them had to have a reason.

No such thing, they are simple and easy to make.  I began with the German version from my old German cookbook (yes, I still use paper cookbooks) using raw bacon and raw onions.  The Scandinavian cookbook had a version with cooked bacon and sautéed onions, so I made that next.  To me the German recipe cooks together, melding the flavors better than the Scandinavian recipe.  But my mother was content with the Scandinavian ones I brought to her just before Thanksgiving; that is apparently her preferred style.  My Hubby was thrilled to be a guinea pig for my learning and hopes I will make them again once I am back on both feet.

I did find a version online that was a bit different, it had parmesan cheese in it rather than bacon.  What the heck, we had the cheese, so we tried it; no disappointment here.  I also found an Italian version of rolled steak with tomatoes.  Apparently, as with so many things, there are ethnic recipes that use local ingredients and techniques common to cooking in general.

Rouladen

  • Thin cut beef, veal or pork; pound to thin if necessary
  • Thin sliced onion (saute’ for Scandinavian style)
  • Dill pickles sliced or spears
  • Stone ground mustard
  • Bacon slices (precook for the Scandinavian style)
  • Shredded Parmesan, optional (in place of bacon slices if desired)
  • Soup stock
  • Olive oil to brown
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cotton string or toothpicks

Layer, roll, tie, brown, simmer and enjoy.  We paired this well with a local Cabernet Sauvignon.

Hope your holiday celebrating is well under way and those you love are close to heart if not to hand.  Cheers!

So Lame

Did you have a wonderful dinner with friends and family yesterday? Will you be continuing your celebrating with everyone and everything you have to be Thankful for or shopping on Black Friday?  I hope you have been enjoying your extended weekend with family and friends.

When Harvest ended I made a concerted effort to see a doctor to set in motion the process of correcting a painful bunion and hammer toe on my right foot; last Friday, I had my surgery.  Has anyone else experienced this?  After being foggy brained for a few days, Hubby and I came down with colds and we knew we were having chicken soup for supper on Thanksgiving.  He makes the most amazing chicken soup, all from scratch.  Despite his cold he has taken such good care of me!

Foot surgery convalescence.
Keeping my foot elevated with ice most of this week with my most excellent Hubby taking care of me.

My independence and activity level have been curtailed drastically and I have at least another week of no weight baring to get through.  (It actually helps to not feel good, I am less antsy.)  The prescription medicine makes me so dizzy I can’t function, so lots of keeping my foot raised and ice (primarily behind my knee) with an over the counter anti-inflammatory when needed.  Our new floors are perfect for a few minutes of zipping around on my rented scooter when I do get up.  I am sleeping on the sofa so I can keep the foot raised without keeping Hubby awake all night fidgeting.

Chicken Soup

  • 1 whole chicken or 2 game hens (turkey breast works well here too)
  • Water to cover the bird(s)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 4 cups frozen peas
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped parsley
  • 1 package of your favorite egg noodles or 2 cups cooked grain of your choice

Boil the bird in water until cooked, approximately 45 minutes. Remove from the water to cool.  If your broth isn’t strong enough for your liking use a high quality bullion replacement (low sodium is best) to amp it us a bit.  Cool the broth enough to skim the fat from the top and dispose of it.

When the meat is cool enough, remove it from the bones and skin, pulling into bite sized pieces.  (I keep the bones and skins to continue to boil in my soup stocks as there is still a lot of nutrition left in them.)  Turn the broth on and put the chopped carrots in to cook.  Saute the onions and garlic in a small amount of butter or olive oil until they are soft, put it into the simmering soup pot with the egg noodles.  Cook as long as the noodles need.  Add the chicken, peas and parsley right before the end of the required cooking time. Serve immediately.  This is a family favorite and comfort food extraordinaire.  Cheers!

Thankful, just thankful

This week, with only a few days notice,  a group of friends gathered at our house for a ‘Feast of Friendsgiving’; a Harvest meal to celebrate our successful Crush experiences and catch up.  We hadn’t seen each other since August, as the first grapes were coming in.

Monday afternoon we decided Thursday evening we would have ourselves an ‘alternative’ Thanksgiving meal together.  Traditions are all well and good, but you can change it up once in a while, or think outside the box, if you will.  Utilizing the traditional foods of Thanksgiving we were to each prepare a dish to contributed to the whole.  Our contribution was a pot pie of turkey and garlic mashed potatoes, the recipe is below.

I grabbed a few sprigs of berries, red leaves and greenery from the yard, put out the hand thrown pumpkins my son made many years ago, and lit candles (I love candles) and some appropriate napkins and the tables were set.

As everyone arrived the meal came together: glazed carrots, corn bread, spring rolls, pasta with Brussel sprouts and prosciutto, the turkey pot pie, cranberry walnut tarts, cranberry Sangria, and a deconstructed pumpkin pie.  Great food, excellent wine and the best of company…

Turkey Pot Pie with Garlic Mashed Potato topping

  • 1 or 1.5 lb precooked turkey chopped or ground turkey browned
  • 1 minced onion
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery hearts
  • 1/2 lb quartered fresh crimini mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup high quality chicken broth with 1/4 cup reserved
  • 2 table spoons cornstarch to thicken the 1/4 cup reserved broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ground sage
  • 6 cups peeled, cubed potatoes
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 large cloves of garlic minced fine
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

Your pan should accommodate your meal, shallow is better.  I used a 14″ cast iron frying pan for a group of ten.

Boil the potatoes to just soft, drain the water and return to the pot.  Add the sour cream, butter and minced garlic and mash to a creamy consistency.  Keep warm.

Brown the meat, if it is uncooked, add the carrots, then mushrooms, adding the onion, garlic and celery hearts (the leaves at the middle of the celery bunch) pouring the white wine over everything and lowering the heat.  Add the peas to the pan, spreading them out over everything.

Have the 3/4 cup of broth simmering, whisk the cornstarch into the cold, reserved broth to thicken it.  Pour this over the turkey and vegetables.  Either dived into ramekins or leave it in the large pan.  Cover with the mashed potatoes, sealing them to the sides of the pan as best as you can.  Place under a broiler (or in a hot oven if it is on for another dish) for a moment to brown the potatoes.  Sprinkle the parsley over the top and serve.  The wine you cooked with is likely a terrific wine to pair with.

As you travel or make room for family and friends in your own home, we wish you the most wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.  Cheers!

The Roots of Thanksgiving

Next to turkey’s starring roll (for many people) in Thanksgiving, root vegetables are likely the next most common food on the table.  And why not, they are spectacular in their own right!  My family does both creamy mashed potatoes and cavity-inducing candied sweet potatoes (same root we call yams) in a big way.  Naturally, onions and garlic are present as seasoning in many dishes and carrots are sometimes cooked with peas.  But with so many delicious roots, why limit ourselves?

Root vegetables
So many delicious roots! Do you know them all?

I asked you how you cook your turkey last week, have you ever cooked some root vegetables with or right after it?  There is a fried turkey every year for our family festivities.  (During the first few years of this we brought some Russet potatoes sliced in wedges to fry too.  Wow, did they disappear!  But the mashed potatoes  were still more popular, so we ended that.)  Grilled or roasted?  Sautéed?  Oh, the yummy possibilities!  Can you imagine the beautiful look, as well as flavor, of a bowl full of cooked red beets, yellow sweet potatoes,  orange carrots and white potato or parsnip tossed with thyme and olive oil?  I would then sprinkle a bit of chopped fresh parsley on it.

By the way, if you grow your own or find them attached, most of the tops (examples) are not just edible, they are delicious!

Suggestions for healthy and possibly more decadent root vegetable recipes from the internet.  Enjoy:

If you aren’t quite sure what all of the roots in the above picture are here is a quick reference:

  1. ShallotsID of root vegetables
  2. Red Onion
  3. Parsnip
  4. Celery Root (Celeriac)
  5. Rutabega
  6. Turnips
  7. Russet potato (baking potato)
  8. Yukon Gold potato (thin-skinned as are other specialty potatoes in various colors)
  9. Beet, red
  10. Carrots, they come in various colors too
  11. Radishes and their tops
  12. Garlic bulb
  13. Yellow Onion
  14. and 15. Both are sweet potatoes, sometimes they are labeled as yams but that is a very different root (see).

How did you do?  Hope you find something fun for your holiday gathering here.  Cheers!

 

Turkey season

It is November, time to think about Thanksgiving.  Do you travel or do you do the cooking?  If you stick with a traditional turkey dinner, how do you like to cook your turkey?  With or without dressing/stuffing?  Deep fried?  Smoked?  Gravy or not?  What else to you make to go with it?

Most of the time we are visitors to my brother and sister-in-laws, unless weather prevents our making the five hours drive.  I love turkey, but with this arrangement I don’t get leftovers.  My answer is to roast a turkey before hand, typically stuffing the cavities with fresh herbs, apples, onions and garlic.  Removing the meat right away I put the drippings, carcass, bay leaves and lots of vegetable scrapings and trimmings into a large pot of water and simmer it for hours and hours to make a rich turkey broth.  Next to chicken soup, this is a fantastic way to fend off germs during the cold and flu season.

We provide the cranberry sauce and wine, easily replaced if we can’t make it across the state. Yup, lots of wine I make goes with us, and I cook the cranberries into a whole-berry jam that finds it way to toast and waffles over the course of the next few mornings when not used with leftovers.

Turkey soup from homemade turkey broth.
Making turkey broth from the pan drippings and carcass of the turkey, with all of the vegetable scrapings and clippings is the best!

Ah, leftovers: love ’em, hate ’em?  Hubby isn’t fond of them, I find them a challenge.  How to use the left over white meat before it dries out too much to enjoy.  What to do with the small pieces that inevitably cover the serving platter after carving and at the end of the meal.

There is the tried and true turkey sandwich, of course, and it does have a place of honor as a quick way to use the leftovers.  That dry meat cries out to be made into turkey salad (like chicken or tuna) with mayo and celery, also a great standby.  Use some of the broth, small turkey pieces, fresh vegetables, barley, rice or pasta to make a wonderful soup.

I try to get a bit more creative.  I am a fan of grain in my salads, high in nutrition and flavor with lots of texture hot or cold.  When you find yourself faced with the leftovers in your fridge, try this recipe.

Turkey, Kale and Buckwheat Salad

  • 3 cups cubed cooked turkey meat
  • 6 cups cleaned, stem removed, torn kale leaves
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats, dry toast in pan before cooking
  • 2 cups home-made broth
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup Craisins
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Dressing as desired
Thanksgiving leftovers as salad
Turkey, craisins, onion, garlic, kale and cooked buckwheat groats make a flavorful salad from leftovers.

Lightly toast the buckwheat groats in a dry frying pan to bring out the best flavor; once toasted the buckwheat is referred to as Kasha and is likely available where you can purchase buckwheat groats.

As with rice, 1 cup of groats to 2 cups liquid (water or broth) to a large pot and simmer for 10-15 minutes after coming to a boil.

Once cooked, leave the remaining liquid in the pot, add your other ingredients to the hot buckwheat, tossing well. The kale wilts and everything warms, releasing aromas but not loosing crisp texture or nutrition. Season to taste with salt and pepper, adding a dressing as desired.

Turkey salad after Thanksgiving.
Fresh greens and buckwheat groats amp up the flavors of leftover turkey from Thanksgiving in a super healthy way.

As we ramp up to the holiday season and all of the excess that comes with it, this is a nutritious, tasty meal to keep you going.  Hot or cold (leftovers of leftovers?) we enjoyed this salad; even my darling Hubby.  Pairing it with a rose’, dry white, or light red if you leave the salad naked, pair to your dressing if you use one.

Tell me about your favorite recipes for Thanksgiving left overs.

Cheers!

Red, White and Smoking

Once the Pinot Noir and Riesling grapes came in (both on the 9th, not staggered like planned) we didn’t harvest anything else this week.  The cooler temperatures over the last couple of weeks slowed ripening enough to make us put off bringing in more grapes.  Between this enforced plodding pace, some might call it a sane pace, and having a WWCC EV intern with us this year there is much less action on the harvest front.  All good, but I am a bit antsy as I look forward to the rapid-fire, hard work of harvest each year and it isn’t happening so far.  Note, I took video of the Pinot Noir crush for you since I wasn’t the one on the ladder.

Foot Stomped Pinot Noir.
1/3 of the Breezy Slope Pinot Noir grapes were foot stomped and fermented with the rachises for Lagana Cellars.

I did work a ‘Cigarbeque’ on Sunday evening selling cigars for Locati Cellars during a delicious barbecue put on by Chef Nathan Carlson (whose day-job, if you will, is at Cameo Heights Mansion outside of Touchet).  The humidor in Locati Cellars is carefully stocked by Nathan.  My previous experiences told me once a cigar was lit, I wanted nothing to do with it.  Jason, owner of Viva Republica, and Ed, rep out of Portland, were on hand to answer questions about their wares, like when and why to choose a cigar.  Then smelling the different smoke as people lit up brought about a whole different understanding for me.  As with wine, tea and food, quality ingredients means quality experience.  I have no intention of taking up smoking cigars (nor do I encourage you to), but at least now I have a bit better idea of what someone who enjoys it is after.  The following day the t-shirt I wore smelled like a good cigar rather than acrid smoke (good = pleasant smelling).

 

Nathan, remembering my food allergies, left a rack of ribs unglazed for me (thank you Nathan).  It tasted fabulous, super smokey and just right with the cigars actually.  When we were leaving he wrapped the remaining ribs up and sent them home with us.  I picked at it for a couple of days before deciding to chop up the meat (bones in the freezer broth bag) and make my dearest Hubby a pot of chili; there were a few tomatoes that needed to be used too which was ideal for this.

Smoked Chili

  • 2 lb smoked meat (beef, pork, chicken), cubed
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 sweet bell pepper coarsely chopped
  • 1 lb fresh tomatoes chopped into 1″ cubes
  • 2 tablespoons dried red pepper (we grew Anaheims that I dried)
  • 2 tablespoons minced or grated fresh horseradish
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 to 1 cup stock or water
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground red pepper, to taste

Chop all of your vegetables and the meat. Open, drain and rinse the two cans of beans. In a dutch oven or stock pot, saute’ the onions to translucent, add the bell pepper until fragrant, and toss in the tomato pieces.  With the heat on medium low, add the meat, beans, seasonings and enough liquid to ensure nothing will stick or to make the chili more soupy as you prefer.  Toss well, heat to low and cover to cook for an hour.  I remove the cover and cook another half hour to reduce the liquid and thicken it.  Then, while it is still warm, I add the horseradish and stir it in to warm and release its bite.

Serve it with corn bread, over burgers, rice or potatoes.  Top it with fresh onion, sour cream and cheese, or what ever you usually do.  Try it with a smokey red wine of your choice.

We have some mid-high eighties temperatures for almost a week; Dolcetto and Cabernet Sauvignon are slated to come in Saturday and Tuesday respectively; about nine tons of fruit for this week between those two grapes.  Actually a good number of bins to do punch downs on, so a definite perk to the current, sane, pace.  Cheers!

Work with what you’ve got…

This week didn’t happen as planned, not unheard of during crush, but way off of everyone’s expectations.  We did get Sauvignon Blanc for Lagana Cellars and Orange Muscat for Locati Cellars, but the Pinot Grigio we anticipated didn’t get harvested by the vineyard as expected.  Everyday those grapes hang they are more ripe than we want them to be; a full week will pass from the day we planned to press them before they are harvested.  We will make it all good, but I think this is the longest delay we have ever had waiting for grapes.  Previous record is a day after schedule, just for reference.

At home we have some harvesting of our own to contend with.  My herb gardens are prolific as usual, so I have been cutting and drying for tea and seasoning.  This week Hubby picked five pounds of tomatoes from the three plants he has on the patio.  Considering he already eats lots of tomatoes daily he knew he needed to do something with the volume so he wouldn’t lose it.  I suggested I cut some of the basil and make him pasta sauce; he accepted.  Although I can’t eat it, making it is a pleasure.  He gave it a thumbs up and has added it to pasta and cabbage rolls already this week from the bowl I left in the fridge.  About three quarts of pasta sauce went into the freezer for him to use through the winter.  So, if you have lots of tomatoes and need to do something with your bounty, consider this a quick recipe that lends itself to lots of applications.

Quick Pasta Sauce

  • 5 pound fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 yellow, orange or red pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped (Walla Walla Sweet Onion went into ours)
  • 1 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dry fennel fronds
  • 2 teaspoons dry oregano crumbled
  • 1 large bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup red wine, (Locati Cellars Sangiovese went in ours)
  • 2 small cans tomato paste

Chopping your vegetables is the most work for this sauce.  In a large, thick bottomed pot, saute’ in olive oil the onions until translucent then add the garlic and pepper until fragrant.  Put all of the tomatoes into the pot and cover, lower the heat to medium.  When they are soft and the skins leave the flesh use an immersion blender to puree everything.  (Note: using a blender is great, just do small amounts at a time and return all to the pot for seasoning.)  Add all herbs and the red wine at this point and heat to a simmer; try to avoid boiling as the herb flavors will be better retained without the high heat.  Once the sauce is hot through open both cans of tomato paste and add promptly, stirring everything together. (Note: opening both ends of the can, or puncturing the bottom of the can and blowing the paste out, is a quick way to empty the cans.)  I removed the sauce from the heat and let it sit for several hours covered before removing the bay leaves.  Putting it into containers and then into the refrigerator overnight before they went into the freezer.

Despite not eating nightshade fruits like tomatoes and peppers, I do cook with them for those I love.  There is a lot of hand washing and I am careful not to rub or scratch my skin until I have washed with soap, but the smiles and exclamations of goodness are worth the effort.  (For chiles I wear gloves as they don’t wash off well enough.)  We have learned to work with my allergies and sensitivities without having to make either of us do totally without something we love.  The basil I grow makes pesto that I will put on my pasta and pizzas in place of pasta sauce and I love the flexibility I have to add lots of garlic to it – something I really enjoy.  Let me know if you have a pasta sauce you love to make that has different ingredients. Cheers!