Foodie: Nov 15th Thanksgiving

The Foodie Column for November 15th

By T. Myers

“Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go. The Horse knows the way to carry the sleigh o’er the white and drifting snow…”

And Thanksgiving is upon us once again! As I grow older, these months are clipping by at a faster and faster pace and although it has been 11 months since we considered Thanksgiving, it seems like just a while ago and all of a sudden, the temperature drops down to near zero and -oops! Here it is! And I am not ready! Not ready for a lot of the things I deal with during the Holiday season, but this year- there are even more things happening and it seems hard to focus. Focus is the key word here and I am so out of focus that I cannot see the forest for the trees!

So what is happening? I did not get the garage cleaned out. I kept postponing it until there was no more time to do it this year and now I am behind. So I put that on my ‘things to do’ shelf. I have had a houseguest for a bit and I am preparing to have another that will arrive soon after this one departs and so there is that transition- to put on the shelf. I will have a new grandchild any day- on the shelf, I am working on several community based projects that each requires a certain amount of attention- they are on and off the shelf. I am trying to write my annual three part story- on and off the shelf and I am revving up a holiday menu that I can do in bits and pieces for any meal I need for over the Thanksgiving weekend!

What do we serve this year to make it easy on ourselves? A big casserole of Chicken enchiladas? Something made with seafood like Shrimp Alfredo that can be dressed up with a great green salad and some fresh bread to make a festive meal (throw a couple of orange candles on the table with some assorted squashes on a bed of pine greens for a centerpiece and have enough sparkling wine to fill everyone’s glass and- there you have it!

Or do I do the traditional meal of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, yams, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pies, rolls and butter, and so on? The coin I just flipped says tails you try something new, but I keep going back to the fact that there will be no leftovers if I don’t do the big meal and…and… Oh, heck! I will put this on the shelf until next week when turkeys go on sale and I can decide then!

In the meantime, I just cooked up my favorite batch of cranberry sauce and put small portions into small canning jars and I have that ready for anything. I also made my pie fillings (not the pumpkin, but the apple and huckleberry) so I have a pie buffet waiting to be self-served with whatever filling/s my guests choose. So now it comes down to main and side dishes. I will bake some bread and Christmas cookies to supplement the weekend and I will whip up a batch of pumpkin pancake batter for the fridge, get in extra eggs and a small ham for breakfasts and load the fridge with juice and have salad fixin’s for an army. If I add sparkling wine, good coffee beans and a couple of jars of special holiday jam, I should be all right, no? Let me put this on the shelf for later.  I have to shovel snow!  Bon Appetit and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Foodie Nov 1: Chocolate Custard?

The Foodie Column for November 1st

By T. Myers

Yes, folks, the recipe for Apple Berry Almond Bars was in the last column as beer bars! Maybe I drink a beer when I am cooking them, but they are berry bars! With that said, November is here and Election Day in on the 4th, the New House Habitat Dedication is on the 9th at 2 PM, Veteran’s Day is on the 11th (-Remember the Bob Shotwell celebration at LPHS at 10 am on the 10th), Thanksgiving is on the 27th and then the race starts for Christmas and New Year!

I put up a few fall decorations and set up the orange lit Thanksgiving tree for atmosphere and now I am busy getting some baking done and cleaning up the summer stuff, unpacking some of the holiday fa-la-la-la- stuff and preparing for the cold weather that comes every year at Thanksgiving time!

During the past few weeks I have made some interesting things to eat- one of which is an easy Chocolate Milk Custard out of three pints of Chocolate milk, 8 beaten eggs, a dash of salt, 1/3 cup sugar and a little almond extract. I put it in a glass dish and baked it at 325 degrees for a little over an hour until a knife came out clean. Warning- bake custards in a Bain Marie water bath. I set the custard dish in a deep pan and filled it with hot water half way up the side of the dish. It came out smooth and wonderful (no scrambled eggs). After it cools on the counter keep it cold in the fridge. I also roll up a paper towel to soak up the watery stuff after I cut into it.

I always love hot bread and I told you about the Feed the Pig Bread that I make- this time I used cooked peaches with the corn meal and flour, milk powder and I loved it even more!

Use Crisco Pie Crust recipe: 2 cups of flour, 2/3 cup Crisco, 1 teaspoon salt and 4 Tablespoons of ice water to make a crust. Roll it out after it rests and cut out circles of dough and bake them off after you sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar so you can use them for a variety of pies that you can make with any fruit filling or even pumpkin custard! I cooked up some Huckleberries with cornstarch thickeners. Your gluten intolerant guests can have the fillings and the others can eat the crust on top like pie.

When you make pie fillings, make some extra and add it to things like waffle mix for say- apple waffles. They will have the flavor of the apple pieces and spices like the cinnamon and are delicious.

It is meatloaf time! 3 pounds of ground beef, 1 egg, and ½ cup bread crumbs, 1teas garlic salt and pepper to taste, mixed and divided into halves. Spread the first half across the loaf pan and add a layer of cooked caramelized onions (cool them) and spread the rest of the meat over the top. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Pour off the juice and use for gravy. I like a béchamel sauce that I add the drippings to and I serve it with mashed potatoes and a crisp green salad. Yum Yum!

Enjoy the first part of your month. Bon Appetit!

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Oct 15th: Coach House Chicken and Apples for Fall

The Foodie Column for October 15th

By T. Myers

A couple treats and savories to make October a better food experience!

The falling leaves have covered my bark dust, tracked into the house and made me feel like fall is really here! I am decorated for the season, moved my furniture around so that the big dining table is close to the window so that the brightly colored fall lights will give ambience to my dinners and now I am working on some new recipes to share with my friends.

If you did not know this, I am happily cooking lunches for the habitat Crews that volunteer on the two house sites on Fridays and Saturdays. They have become a learning lab for my creative foodie endeavors and I am pleased with some of their reactions to the dishes I serve them. Here are a couple of recipes for you to consider for your own families.

Using the rotisserie chickens from the markets to save time, they also gave me a tasty ingredient for my Coach House Chicken. This is a ‘base dish’ that I can use for serving on noodles or rice, or as a base for chicken pot pies for those cold days ahead.

Coach House Chicken:

Take the chicken off of the bones and set aside. Use the bones and skin pieces for stock. Cut three stalks of celery and two large onions into ½ inch pieces and cook until soft in chicken stock. Season the stock and veggies with salt and pepper. Cut up and add the pieces of chicken to the cooked veggies and make a béchamel sauce out of milk, butter flour and seasonings to thicken the mixture. Cook over a low temperature until thickened and serve with pasta, rice or potatoes. If you add a couple of packages of frozen vegetable medley and some cooked potatoes, you can put it in a crust and make wonderful chicken pot pies. A salad, good bread and light dessert will finish this meal.

Try these Apple Almond Berry Bars: 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of butter, 1 teaspoon salt and three eggs creamed together. Add 3 cups of flour, 1-2 teaspoons of almond flavoring and 1 teaspoon soda and mix well. Turn the dough into a greased ½ sheet pan and even out the dough. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes plus or minus until the dough is lightly browned. Remove and cool slightly. This is where you get to use up all of your dibs and dabs of leftover jam and jelly. I used raspberry to melt and pour over the top of everything and the blueberry and strawberry jam was spread over the cooked dough. I laid out sautéed slices of cooked apple across the jam layer and threw on handfuls of nutty granola, whole almonds and sliced almonds. I baked this concoction for an additional twenty minutes. Take the pan out of the oven. Cool completely and sift a little powdered sugar over the top and cut into serving pieces. These are tender, almond flavored bars with the flavor of apples and berry jam and they are texturally wonderful!

When your oven is still hot, throw some of your nuts on a sheet pan and toast them up in the heat of the oven. It brings out the flavors and will let you store the cold nuts for longer in the freezer or fridge.

I bought a box of apples recently. The variety is called Melrose. They are sweet and tart and are good bakers. I sliced several up and chunked them and made an apple sauce that I thickened with cornstarch after they cooked. Add a pinch of salt to heighten the flavors. I pack this mix into canning jars and store it in the fridge for use as pie filling or bread fillings. Some of it will go into sweet rolls this weekend. The flavor is nothing like the stuff in cans, but just as convenient and everyone will really love it! Bon Appetit.

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Foodie Oct 1: Crab Casserole

The Foodie Column for October 1, 2014

By T. Myers

We start the Pumpkin thing this month! I have been keeping my eye on the weather. During the past few weeks we have had some extraordinary weather and even though it has been feeling like summer, fall is moving in with cold mornings, leaves turning to gold and people are wearing long sleeves!

What do I like to cook during these fall days? A mix of comfort foods, a little heavier on the potatoes and gravy, a good roast or two and the last of the summer fish!

Whatever your preference, this month is one that deals with Halloween treats, children’s lunches for school days and a nice evening with friends to kick off the change in the weather. I load up the fire pit, put on the hot apple cider with a few cinnamon sticks simmering in the pot for extra flavor and gather up a few pals for an early dinner and out to the fire for hot cider and some kind of treat. A dish of apple cake or warm bread pudding is always great to serve after dinner. Making old fashioned popcorn balls or caramel corn or pulling taffy with your friends used to be the norm at fall parties, now it is easy fun to melt Kraft caramels and dip green Granny Smith apples in caramel and roll them in nuts or other toppings to take home as a memento of the evening. Or you can eat them around the fire in the back yard with a piping hot cup of coffee to finish the meal!

I made a ‘kinda’wonderful’ fake crab casserole this past weekend. It made two, actually, and the flavor is delicious! I had a 2.5 pound package of crab meat from Costco. I cooked up 2 packages of wide noodles and started a béchamel sauce for a base. I also sautéed some chopped onions, celery and red, yellow green and orange pepper diced. Using a little salt and pepper I seasoned the mix mildly because I had a 1 pound block of pepper jack cheese I shredded to mix into the sauce. Dumping the sautéed veggies and the cheese into the sauce, I divided the noodles into 2 greased casserole dishes. Last thing to go into the mix was the chopped up crab legs. I mixed the sauce and put it over the 1 casseroles, stirred the contents of the 2 pans and then I topped them with shredded cheddar. They went into a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes until the cheese on top was melted and lightly browned. I wrapped one with heavy foil and popped it into the freezer and the other went to serve lunch to the Habitat building crew. Yum—-my!

The other bean dish I made was what I called SW Beans and Balls! Starting with cooked and drained pinto beans I set them aside until the broth was ready. I put carrots, celery and onions in a big pot to create a tasty base for the dish. When they were softened, I added a big jar of black bean and corn salsa, and two cups of diced fresh tomatoes. I use a Cajun flavoring and added a heaping Tablespoon of that and garlic salt and pepper to taste. (When you have a sausage or pieces of roast pork or whatever, you can add those to the soup pot with the spices). After the pot simmers until the flavors blend, I added the beans and brought everything up to a simmer. Now comes the fun stuff! I add more medium salsa for heat and ½ bag of a two-three pound bag of the frozen meatballs available everywhere. Just before serving, I add one 8 oz. cream cheese. It forms a creamy bean and balls pot of deliciousness and you will be able to see for yourself when your friends gobble up the bowls and go back for seconds!

Fall is a good time to try a few casseroles, bean pots and soups. Bust out your recipes and have some fun getting ready to feed the family some of their favorites during the cooler weather. Bon Appetit!

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Foodie Sept 15th Gingerbread Bars

The Foodie Column for September 15th

By T. Myers

Gingerbread bars anyone?

I have been playing with my food again folks- remember being a foodie is just as much about the exploration as it is the creation, so I like to try to make things better and I have hit on a good one! Gingerbread bars!

I wanted to have the flavor and depth that gingerbread has, but in a ready to hand out bar form and here is what I did: 1-1/2 cups of butter, creamed with 1 cup of white and 1 cup of brown sugar until fluffy. I added four large eggs and beat them together well. I added 1 Teaspoon soda to ½ cup of strong coffee and mixed it into the wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, I combined 2 Tablespoons of Cinnamon, 1 Tablespoon of ginger, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, ½ cup of diced candied ginger, 2 cups of mixed raisins, 4 cups of flour and I stirred to mix well and coat the raisins. I combined the two and spread the batter in a jelly roll pan and a 7X9 (lots of batter!) evenly. Using some of the turbinado sugar, I sprinkled the top with sugar crystals and baked the pan for about 25-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. I tested with a toothpick that came out clean and the top was lightly browned. While they were warm, I cut them into big squares and left them in the pans to cool. Don’t over bake these!

Meanwhile I mixed up ½ stick of butter with 4 ounces of cream cheese and ½ box of powdered sugar (Half recipe) Instead of vanilla I used lemon rind and then added some heavy cream to thin the mixture into a pipe-able consistency. This made it easy to pipe a big flower on top of each square when they cooled. These bars store well in the fridge and you can freeze them if people don’t discover that you have them- ‘cuz they will eat them all up!

Now is the time to make a few good pound cakes that you serve with pudding or jams. Use 1 pound of butter mixed with 1 pound of sugar and beat thoroughly. Add 9-10 (1 pound) of large eggs and beat well. I add 1 teaspoon salt because it makes the cake richer. Lastly, add 1 pound (4-1/3 cups) of flour and pour into a well-greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 350- degrees for 55 minutes and check to see if it has popped and it passes the toothpick test. The pound cake can be pulled out in slices for desserts with or without toppings and it is a large cake that can be frozen in quarters for use when you need it.

Hope your fall starts well, that you play with your food and we will see you soon. Bon Appetit!

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Foodie: Sept Back to School

The Foodie Column for Sept 1 2014

By T. Myers

September is School Snacks time. Every year I try to offer suggestions to parents and students going back to school about organizing lunches so it is an easier process. I think it is great when the children are involved with weekly planning and “packing the snack containers” they will use during the week and it makes for good family time while it eases the burden on parents to do it all!

Recently I picked up a great cookbook for kids because my grandson went to a cooking camp and I thought he would like it for his own use as a junior chef in training! The book was full of ideas and on every page, they offered up recipes that would make a meal or an after school snack. Cookies were still big, but, wrapped sandwiches or tortilla bound delights were listed, coming in a close second. The book examined how to keep things fresh, safely prepared, and easy for young cooks.

I recommend that you pick up one of those sets of little plastic containers that are designed to hold small portions and that have several of each sized containers so you can actually use them to fill some of your lunch orders in advance.

Here are some ideas:

Set aside a few containers to fill with cut up veggies that can be refrigerated and grabbed in the morning for the lunch bag.

Set aside a few for, carb loaded munchies like baby pretzels, potato chips, corn chips or crackers. Store them on the shelf in the pantry to grab at the same time.

Planning the entrée or protein choice can be as easy as using a cup of yogurt/gogurt, a slice of cheese and a slice of lunchmeat, cut into quarters, ready to put on a cracker or a portion of tuna fish (must be kept cold) with some cut up veggies to make tuna salad.

Use 6 inch tortilla wrappers for the following:

            Spread with a combo of peanut butter and honey, add some raisins and roll up.

            Spread with cheese slice or spread and top with a piece of fat free ham, a little mustard and a slice of lettuce. Roll into a log and drop in a baggie.

            Use cheese (Kraft singles) and jam or jelly and roll up.

            Spread cream cheese over the tortilla and drop pieces of pineapple tidbits then top with a piece of ham for a Hawaiian rollup.

            You can heat up a rollup and serve it cold for lunch by filling it with your favorite beans, rice, cheese and meat, too. Making small burritos? Take along a tiny container of mild salsa and your lunch will be completely ‘ole!’

            Help the kids make some homemade cookies on the weekends and send a one or two (depending on size) along with your child to round out their lunch.

Trail Mix Cookies are always fun- and plenty healthy because they are filled with fiber, vitamins and plenty of Yum! 1 cup of butter or margarine with 1 cup of brown and 1 c of white sugar creamed together. Add three eggs and ¼ cup of water mixed with 1 Teaspoon of soda. 2 teaspoons of vanilla go into the wet right before you mix the dry into the big bowl. For dry ingredients use 3 cups of flour, 2-3 cups of oats, 1 cup of craisins, 1 cup of raisins, 1 cup of chopped nuts, 1 cup of cut up dried apricots and some of anything else that is dried fruit and 1- 6 oz. package of chocolate chips.

Preheat the oven to 325. Spray the baking sheets and scoop out 3 oz. portions. 18-20 minutes bake time. Cool on racks and serve one. With a glass of milk, two of these big cookies make a good breakfast, too- like my breakfast cookies, only these are a little sweeter. They make a great cookie to take on a hike or out camping, too.

 A premade veggie pack, a crunchy pack, the daily protein and a cookie will be work half done and your child will have to get milk at school or take one of your containers of juice and your school lunches are out the door. Kids are great partners in the kitchen. Enjoy the time together!

Bon Appetit!

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Foodie: Pumpkin Bars and Chowder

The Foodie Column for August 15th

By T. Myers

It is difficult to believe, but once the middle of August hits, the warmest days disappear and everyone on the high desert begins to think about fall being right around the corner. It seems awful, but when the weather changes it seems as though the cold drops down- starting with cooler mornings and then the days get shorter and the sun cannot keep up with the cold of night and the cold starts to make headway as it pushed through the area on its nightly forays, skimming the dog dish of water with ice until the sun thaws it out and making it impossible to sit outside past an hour after sundown without a sweater or a light coat.

When this weather change happens, the smells of fall can precede the cold or follow it. There is that mushroom-y smell as the molds evaporate up with the dew. There is that loamy smell of gardens that are ready to give up for this year and the lush aspect of blossoms that were so hearty two weeks ago, thin out and droop over. Lawns don’t grow so fast and sometimes the garden hose freezes up if you leave it exposed.

Then there is the back to school rush, the last summer weekend camping trips, the hurried vacations and staycations that everyone takes to squeeze the last out of this year’s summer. And boom! It is done!

As we come to the end of the summer, so do we start the final touches on the new Habitat homes. On Friday and Saturday I have been trying to take lunch to the volunteers and this past week we had a great experience with a New England Clam and Fish Chowder and some Pumpkin flavored bars that were softly spiced and not too sweet.

Pumpkin Bars (makes a 13X18 pan): If you follow my column, you know I make pumpkin custard from the Libby recipe and freeze one half of the recipe for use in other things. (1 Pie without crust) the custard becomes a base to add to and this is what I added! In a large bowl beat 3 large eggs, 2 cups of sugar, 2 T of cinnamon powder and ¾ cup of salad oil. Mix wet ingredients together with the pumpkin custard. Then add 4 cups of flour, 2 Teaspoon soda, and 2 teas salt. When mixed, the batter will be like a brownie batter. Spray the large baking pan with PAM and spoon in the mixture. Spread it evenly and bake it at 250 for 30-35 minutes- until just done. Cool the pan, cut into 2 Inch squares and dust with powdered sugar right before serving. These are just right for a mid-morning or lunch dessert and the leftovers will freeze or keep in a Tupperware in the fridge for a week.

I shared my three onion clam chowder recipe with you and this one is different so here goes: In a large pot on the stove, add 2T of oil and sauté 1-1/2 cup onion diced, 4 stalks of celery- diced, 2 carrots sliced- more veggies if you need to feed more people. When sautéed veggies are soft, add 6-8 cups of broth or water and fish bouillon to flavor the water. Open 4 cans of clams and add with 2 filets of salmon or white fish that is cooked and cubed to the liquid. Simmer until it slowly boils and then take it off and set aside. Here is a neat trick: Cook 6-8 pounds of potatoes peeled until they are just cooked through. Cool and cube them and add them to the pot of veggies and stock. Open two cans of condensed milk and mix it with ½ cup of corn starch and 1 spoon of pepper and check to see if any additional salt is needed if you use boullion or stock. If so, add it now to the cornstarch mix. Bring the pot back to temperature and add the thickening liquid and stir. Taste when thick and adjust any seasoning. I add a huge handful of chopped parsley for the vitamin a and the look. This will feed twenty people and give you leftovers for dinner the next day. Last week I also added 2 cans of whole corn and it was great- so do not be afraid to make this your own. Chowder can be thinned with whole milk or made thicker with milk and cornstarch.

 Chowder is always a great bowl. Hope you give it a try! Bon Appetit!

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Foodie: Summer Salads

The Foodie Column for August 1, 2014

By T. Myers

The Season for summer salads is upon us!

There is no getting around how refreshing and delicious a bowl of greens with added vegetables and proteins can do for the hurried cook and the rest of the family on a hot summer day. You come home from work after a long day and the last thing you want to do is spend time over a hot stove so you open up the door to the fridge and voila! It is full of lettuce, celery, carrots radishes, colored peppers, red tomatoes, green and sweet onions, apples, feta cheese, and cheddar. Cooked beans, nuts and left over meats-chicken or pork! Have some corn chips or croutons? Use them as a topping.

What do you do? Peel, wash, slice and dice and suddenly it is salad! With a variety of toppings you can change up the main course to make any picky family member happy.

When you think ahead for the evening while you are making your morning coffee, why not boil some water and you can do a Jell-O with canned or fresh fruits (Read the label to determine if the fruit need to be cooked so it does not break down the enzymes and gelatin like fresh pineapple does.) If you make the Jell-O in the morning, dessert will be ready, too. I try to keep a bottle of that whip cream you shake and squirt on top for a sweet little finish.

What about dressings? I do not appreciate bottle dressings because they always taste off to me. I like fresh ones instead. Here are a few easy favorites:

Blue Cheese: In a medium sized bowl put in 1/4-1/2 cup butter milk, 4 oz. of crumbled blue cheese, 1 T. lemon juice or vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly, but do not break down the crumbles. When you are satisfied that everything is mixed, add 1 cup of good mayo, stir and store in the fridge for a day to blend the flavors. This will last about a week before it begins to weep. You can add a teaspoon of horseradish or garlic powder for a change up.

If you want to make good vinaigrette, you will need ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice and the zest of the lemon, 1-2 T of good Dijon mustard as an emulsifier and 1 cup minus of good oil. You can herbs or just use the 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper to finish the mix. This stores well in the fridge. Just shake and drizzle over the greens in a bowl and toss, then add the toppings after you dish a portion onto your plate.

Greek salads are the rage and my favorite is made with fresh tomatoes, green or red grapes, sweet onion slices and halved Greek Olives. The dressing is unique to these salads and it is made with ¼ cup fresh lemon juice and the zest of the lemon, 1-2 T sugar, 2/3 cup oil, black pepper and a large handful of both fresh mint and one of parsley chopped fine.. I make the dressing with the onion slices in it and pour it over the tomato and grape mixture when ready to serve. I add crumble feta to the top and serve as a main dish salad with good bread.

I have been serving fancy decaf at night and it would also be wonderful to have a cup of mint tea to sip outside on the patio as the air cools down at the end of the day. Enjoy these lovely evenings- but make it easy on yourself! Bon Appetit!

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Foodie: Breakfast Cookies and Picnics

The Foodie Column for July 15th 2014

By T. Myers

Hot days! Warm nights! Picnics by the lake- it is the time of year to make it easy on yourself with a little preplanning and using the baking oven during the evening once it has cooled down, you can get up on a warm morning and eat a couple of breakfast cookies with a cup of coffee and a glass of skim milk for about 250 calories and no messing about in the kitchen and then, when the hunger hit you in the afternoon or early evening, instead of struggling over a stove, grab a big slice of sandwich from a fresh loaf of bread that you butter with cream cheese on one side and butter on the other, load up with toppings and wrap in plastic wrap- ready for cutting and stick it in the fridge for when you need it!

Tonight- for instance, I have set up the old above ground pool and a couple of folks are coming over to have dinner and dunk their heat of the day away and we will pop the top off a bottle of wine and enjoy a cold cuts sandwich and a plate of fresh fruit followed by- an ice cream cone. Simple, easy and satisfying. If the weather turns colder, (HA HA HA, I put on a pot of decaf or coffee or hot tea and I am set to enjoy my time with friends without any clean-up or bother in the kitchen.

Check out my rendition of an Italian sandwich favorite the muffelo! Buy a fresh loaf of French bread and cut off the top. I make a spread with cream cheese or Neufchatel and garlic spice mix like Garlic Garni from Gilroy’s Garlic Festival, and I spread it on the bottom half of the bread as a base. I went to the market and bought some bologna and salami and two kinds of sliced cheese- Cheddar and Provolone or if you serve the sandwich immediately, sliced mozzarella (warning, mozzarella gets liquid with any contact with juices from pickles, olives slices, tomatoes or lettuce) I butter the top or brush it with olive oil to keep it from getting soggy. Then I start building the sandwich with slices of the meats and cheeses, slices of tomatoes, pickles, good olives and a large handful of shredded lettuce, romaine or arugula. Put the top on and put toothpicks in to hold it in place, then wrap it with plastic wrap until tight and stick it if the fridge for the flavors to meld. This large sandwich will serve 6- 8 people if you cut thick slices across the bread.

Fruit Plate: Fresh strawberries this time of year are usually very good and paired up with a few bananas, orange slices and quartered apples that have been dipped in orange juice or lemon water make a nice accompaniment to some good potato chips, pasta salad or potato salad.

I like a Napa Gamay, Gamay Rouge or other chill able red wine with these treats. Club Soda with a twist of lemon goes well and so does a good iced tea. Set a pretty tablecloth and a vase of wildflowers for the perfect summer touch and turn the occasion into a party!

Here is the recipe for Breakfast Cookies: 1 cup of butter. 1 cup white and 1 cup brown sugar. 3 eggs and beat together until creamy. Add 1 cup of dried craisins or raisins to ½-2/3 cup cold breakfast coffee and microwave for 2 minutes on high to soften. Let cool and add to the wet ingredients. Dry ingredients: 1 teaspoon each salt and baking soda to three cups all- purpose flour. Add 1to 1-1/2 cups chopped nuts and 3-4 cups of oats. Mix the dry to coat and incorporate with the wet. Scoop out in 3 ounce scoops and bake 350 for 17 minutes on a greased or sprayed pan.

This recipe makes 30+ large cookies. 2 per serving with 8 oz. of Milk is around 250 calories with skim milk. You get fruit, bread, protein and yumminess! And no cooking!

Have a wonderful time outside this summer. Bon Appetit!

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July 1 2014 Foodie from the Forest Column

The Foodie Column for July 1 2014

By T. Myers

The wonderful sentiment from the musical Oklahoma is a sentiment that is perfect for this time of year: “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh, what a beautiful day, I have a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way!” There are additional lyrics about the corn being “as high as an elephant’s eye and it looks like it’s growing clear up to the sky…” finishing the full feeling you get this time of year that gives you the feeling of summer’s warmth and the growing season where we want to enjoy the out of doors! I just love that song! And I just love it when the warm days of summer make our long days a delight to be savored and enjoyed.

This is the time of year when I eat more rabbit food. I pack a lunch and nibble on celery sticks and eat whole cherry tomatoes by popping them into my mouth and biting down to get every drop of juicy flavor. I live on sandwiches- with lettuce and tomatoes piled on top- even if I would never do that in the winter. I make fruit salads to divvy up for my everyday eats and for company meals, but these fruit salads are not based on the sour cream filled ambrosia type salads, but more about adding  fresh fruits to a bowl, with nothing but their juices to unfold the many flavors in the bowl.

But, my favorite thing is the picnic. You can compose a picnic out of the simplest fare and make the day special when you share it with others in the great outdoors. When I say simple it can be breads and cheese and a bottle of wine. You can make it more special by adding some fresh fruit and some home baked cookies and a thermos of hot coffee for later in the day, but with the basics, a picnic is really the best kind of party that you can have in the summertime.

Think of it: You pack up a big blanket you will use to cover the ground. If you are lucky to have an actual picnic chest circa 1950s, you add the sandwiches, the fruit salad, the cookies, and the wine and check to be sure you have your corkscrew, glasses and cutlery you will need. Napkins are a must and put a few matches, fire starting materials in a sealed plastic bag for when it gets cold and you are set for the day!

I have had a moveable feast (New term for picnic) all done up in Scandinavian whites with creative dishes that celebrate being Norwegian and I have had an all Greek menu of finger foods and hummus dip, pita bread and olives, feta cheese and lamb kabobs with bottles of Retsina wine and Ouzo. All of them are fun, because you are with your friends and family, eating and experiencing a new location to play and enjoy a meal.

Why not start with a 4th of July menu of Fried Chicken, potato salad, crudités, fruit plate, and something made out of blue and strawberries for dessert? Add lemonade or champagne and you are set! For those of you who grill, steaks, hot dogs and burgers never miss the mark when you add some baked beans, potato chips, a crisp green salad and the condiments to personalize your BBQ creations.

I just made an orange pineapple cupcake by using an orange cake mix and a 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple with the juices, an extra ½ cup of flour, the three eggs and 1/3 cup of oil it called for. I used Cream cheese frosting to top the little treats and they were gobbled up! These little cakes were moist and delicious (24 regular cakes) and they will be on my menu for summer activities from now on!

Well, until we go through the 4th, be safe and bon appetit!

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