No Child Left Hungry

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Today my son texted me from work to ask if I was cooking lunch.  He sounded hungry and I immediately had these irrational pictures in my mind of Biafra.  So even though I had a session at the doctor’s this morning and I don’t usually cook when I do, I wracked my brain for something quick and easy to make for lunch.  No, he’s not starving to death, is an adult, and has never been truly hungry but if my child, your child, any child is hungry, it makes me crazy.

It was particularly difficult for me in Africa and Bangladesh where so many children are hungry.  I carried bags of rice, fruit and vegetables in the car and used to jump out at corners where homeless children were standing to distribute what I could.  I also snatched children off the streets in front of my house in  Senegal, the absolute worse country for child abuse and starvation, brought them into the garden and fed them.  The children were one of the reasons that I left Senegal early, retired to France, leaving my husband to finish out his career.  I couldn’t stand to look anymore.

Here in the affluent U.S., we have an educational program entitled “No Child Left Behind”, which I thought endeavored to ensure that every American child received a basic education but the program, in reality, just lowers the bar and pushes half educated children through high school, ill-prepared to succeed in the job market and life.  But they’re not hungry.  That is, unless they have strange, crazy parents who are untouched by hunger that is not their own.  But that’s another rant.

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Yes, this is a food blog but I felt like saying it.

Quick and Easy Lamb Chili

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 1/2 ground lamb

1 tbsp Penseys hot chili powder

2 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp coriander powder

2 cans Rotel diced tomatoes and chillies

2 cans cannellini beans, drained

2 cups tomato sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Grated cheese

Saltines

Barely wilt the onion and garlic in the olive oil, then add the ground lamb and brown until all the pick is gone.  Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander and stir for about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, beans, tomato sauce, salt and pepper, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes.  Serve with the grated cheese and saltines.

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Pork Stir Fry with Soba Noodles

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I saw some not so baby bok choy, shiitake mushrooms and broccoli rabe at the dreaded Weiss Supermarket, and because they looked acceptably fresh, I bought them.  God knows their provenance; I decided not to freak myself out by looking for “product of” tags.

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What was I doing at Weiss?  My husband forced me in the car, at gun point because it’s his constitutional right to bear arms, and took me to all his favorite stores; Weiss, Walmart and Home Depot.  I chugged a glass of Black “Thunderbird” Box wine before getting in the car.

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Still, I made a nice stir fry with leftover pork rib meat and served it with soba noodles.

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This is an Irish Terrier.  Her name is Jessie.  Jessie snatched two bundles of good quality soba noodles off the kitchen island, took them to her bed, reduced them to tiny pieces, laid down on the floor and arranged her face into cute innocence with a touch of guilt, all in under 2 minute’s time while I was looking in the refrigerator.  The kindest thing I could think to say to her after this incident was, “You sure are fast”, but that’s not what I said.

Pork Stir Fry with Soba Noodles

2 tbsp Tamari soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp lime juice

1 tsp honey

1 – 2 tsp garlic chilli sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tbsp peanut oil

3 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

4 scallions, diagonally sliced

4 slices fresh ginger

2 baby bok choy, quartered vertically

1/2 lb broccoli rabe, halved horizontally

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced

1 1/2 – 2 cups leftover cooked pork, sliced

1 can chicken or beef broth

2 bundles of cooked soba noodles

Mix the soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, honey, chilli sauce and sesame oil together and set aside.

Heat the peanut oil in a wok, add the garlic, ginger, scallions, bok choy, broccoli rabe and shiitake mushrooms, then stir fry until the broccoli rabe is crisp tender.  Add the pork, broth and soy sauce mixture, bring to a boil, cover, then simmer for about 5 minutes.  Serve with the noodles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Pork Rib Roast with Apples and Potatoes

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My husband took a break from retirement avoidance and came home for a week.  It was nice to have the whole family in town for Sunday lunch.

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A few days before, my son and I were discussing cooking with fruit.  I thought I would make a pork rib roast with apples and onions but he, I guess feeling hungry, also suggested pears and whatever else would bulk up the meal, a la Americain:)

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I told him not to worry and assured him that I would work something out.  I chose Granny Smith apples, added thyme, onions and some biggish red potatoes, halved and sometimes quartered.

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The pork rib roast that I found at the Super Duper was not bad and actually had some pork flavor.  Still too lazy to make up batches of meat seasonings, I rubbed it with the last of Caroline’s Spanish rub and that was that.

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In France it’s illegal to label certain comestibles using the regional name unless they were actually grown in that region.  I found some nice looking Anjou pears from Washington State.  While not what the French would consider a true Anjou, they were a welcome break from fruits and vegetables grown in Central or South America.

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Jalapeno peppers seem to be inconsistent in their “hotness”.  Sometimes they are almost as bland as a bell pepper, and other times they can light up your life.  It must have something to do with how and when they are harvested.  The ones I used in the salsa were perfect.

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Pear salsa is a pretty salsa and absolutely delicious!

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Pork Rib Roast with Apples and Potatoes

Pork rib roast, 4-6 ribs

Your favorite seasoning rub

2 onions, quartered

3 apples, cored and quartered

6 small new potatoes, halved

1 handful fresh thyme

1-2 tbsp olive oil

Rub the roast with the seasoning mixture and set aside.  Mix the onions, apples, potatoes, thyme and olive oil together and place in the bottom of a tajine/roasting pan.  Place the roast on top and roast at 350 F for 1 1/2 hours.  Slice the individual ribs and serve with pear salsa.

 

Pear Salsa

3 pears, peeled, cored and diced

1 shallot, chopped

1 cup cherry tomatoes, seeds removed and diced

1 handful each mint and cilantro leaves, chopped

2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed and diced

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tbsp sugar

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Hot Italian Sausages with Peppers

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In the beginning of my married, cooking life it was necessary to school my husband and children in the mathematics of taste.  One of my first lessons was Mild = Tasteless. Having grown up eating in a family who didn’t see anything wrong with mild, benign meals, it took several years for my husband to appreciate this lesson, but he eventually did and is glad:) The children were easier; as it was when I grew up, after adjustment to solid food, we all wanted to eat what the parents were eating and  “Chillies for Babies” was the only modification.  I practically beam with pride when one of my children says, “Get the normal sausages Mom, those mild ones are tasteless”😀

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I found some hot Italian sausages made by a small firm in New Jersey.  New Jerseyites would know because New Jersey has been inhabited by Italians forever and still has good traditional, neighborhood Italian food stores and restaurants.

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I guess Saint Avarice Incorporated ran all the fruits and vegetables out of the USA because the only one of these peppers that comes from the US is the orange one from Michigan, the other two are from Mexico and, wait for it, Canada!?  Less we forget, Wayne County, Pennsylvania is supposed to be an agricultural area, which means farmers.   And for produce unavailable in Pennsylvania, whatever happened to fruit and vegetable imports from California and Florida?  I mean!  It gets on my nerves!  No Roger, I can’t go back to France right now.  My daughter is graduating from high school soon, needs to be installed at college and my husband has escaped retirement to work in Haiti for an obscene amount of money.

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I was going to slice the sausages but because they browned so plump and firm, I decided to leave them “old school” whole.

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Poor Paula Deen!  Whenever I use her wonderful pan, I feel a little sad for her.  As the comedian Bill Burr hilariously explains, people of her age who grew up in a certain environment, a member of a monochrome society where the “N” word will out and not much is thought of it.  Confused, baffled and resentful of the new politically correct agenda, that attempts to police peoples’ thoughts and opinions, many of these people cheer the Trump phenomenon because he’s saying out loud what they have suppressed for so long.  Does it matter that people think and use the “N” word when speaking with their peers, family and friends?  I don’t think so.  It allows them to blow off steam and reduce stress that many times has nothing to do with the “N” people.  Does it hurt anyone? Maybe it hurts the Paula Deens, in that they remain in narrow worlds with narrow minds, unwilling to enhance their knowledge and experiences and waste their lives with non-issues like who goes to what bathroom.  Anyway, I’ve always thought it’s better to be     “N”-ed than lynched.   Certain West Africans call white people “red monkeys” and this doesn’t seem to hurt or matter to anyone except my husband, and that’s only because when I understood what they were saying to him, I laughed immoderately😀

Hot Italian Sausages with Peppers

8 fresh, hot Italian sausage links, browned

2 tbsp olive oil

3 multicolored bell peppers, cut into strips

1 large onion, sliced

4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 cups homemade or jarred marinara sauce

8 hoagie buns

Parmesan cheese

In a large, non-stick skillet, saute the peppers, onion and garlic in the olive oil until the peppers are crisp tender. Place the browned sausages on top of the vegetables, then pour the marinara on top of everything.  Cover, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes.

Place each sausage into a bun, add some peppers, onions and sauce.  Sprinkle with a little cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Italian, Recipes, Sandwich | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Spicy Aubergine with Udon Noodles

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Because we like Asian spicy aubergine, I have made many variations of the recipe.  Today I used lean ground beef for the meat;  usually I use ground veal or pork but I had lean ground beef.  So that’s why:)

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After I took this picture, I realized that I had “grain” vinegar, a mixture of cheap grains, and not rice vinegar.  I thought I had thrown all these bottles out.  I “binned” it and went back to the pantry for the real rice vinegar.  The fake vinegar bottle is the second bottle on the left.

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We like this dish with noodles or just alone.  In both cases it’s filling and satisfying.  I had some dried udon noodles that, after cooking, I washed and rinsed about 10 times.  That way they can be eaten warmed or cold without sticking together.  I ate some cold with mentsuyu sauce😉

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This variation was good but I think I prefer pork or veal.  Still….

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Spicy Aubergine with Beef and Udon Noodles

3 tbsp sambal oelek

3 tbsp soy sauce

3 tbsp rice vinegar

3 tbsp sake

2 tbsp mirin

1 1/2 lb lean ground beef

8 tbsp peanut oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 inch fresh ginger, minced

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

2 large aubergine, cut into chaos chunks

Scallions, sliced

4 bundles of dried udon noodles cooked, washed and rinsed at least 10 times

 

In a little bowl, mix together the sambal oelek, soy sauce, vinegar, sake and mirin.  Set aside.

Cook the beef in a large skillet with 1 tbsp of the oil , remove, drain and set aside.

Wipe out the skillet,  add 1 tbsp of peanut oil and fry the garlic, ginger and bell pepper until the pepper is crisp tender, then remove from the skillet and set aside.

Wipe out the skillet, add 3 tbsps of peanut oil, then brown half of the aubergine chunks, remove when done, add the last 3 tbsp of oil and brown the other half of the aubergine. Put all of the aubergine into the skillet along with the sauce, beef and vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with scallions and serve with the noodles.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Navy Beans with Kielbasa

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I found an artisanal kielbasa sausage at the Super Duper market.  Quelle surprise! Kielbasa seems to be popular in our area, however the sausages available are usually produced in large, name brand factories with God knows what profit maximizing ingredients.  I grabbed two packages of the artisanal sausages for the freezer and future meals.

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The coarse grind of the meat, fat and the little dots of pepper was reassuring.  I should have bought all the packages because there is no guarantee that I’ll find these again.

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If it ever stops snowing and warms up, it will be nice and inspirational to have a greater selection of bright, colorful, seasonal vegetables and fruits.

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Still, you can’t keep a good bowl of beans down:)

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Navy Beans with Kielbasa

1 lb dried navy beans

1 large chunk of cooked, smoked ham or 1 large ham hock

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced

2 cans diced tomatoes

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp piment d’espelette

2 bay leaves

1 “loop” of kielbasa, sliced

2 handfuls of baby spinach

Soak the beans overnight in a pot with water about 2 inches above the beans.  The next day, place the ham or ham hock in the pot with the beans.

Saute the onion, garlic and bell peppers in the olive oil until the onions are soft, then add to the bean pot, along with the tomatoes, oregano, thyme, black pepper, piment d’espelette and bay leaves.  Bring the pot to a boil and then simmer for 1 hour.

Remove the ham from the pot, cut into medium dice, then put back in the pot with the kielbasa slices.  Continue to simmer for about 25 minutes.  Stir in the spinach and allow to just wilt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Sweet Chilli Fish Fillets with Coleslaw

 

IMG_1899bI found some rather nice fish fillets in the freezer that my husband had bought.  I don’t know how long they were in there, but they looked better than a lot of the fish I see in the supermarket.  I also had a nice looking leftover piece of cod that I bought at the Southside Seafood market in Scranton.  What to do?

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I had a taste for something vaguely Asian but didn’t feel like making anything complicated. The real cooks are going to be horrified but the truly hungry will take this in stride.  I laid down a bed of raw coleslaw that I bought in a bag, topped it with the fish and poured a sweet chilli sauce mixture over everything.

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Now doesn’t that look exciting :D  The coleslaw vegetables were crisp tender and a perfect foil for the flaky fish.  The sauce was mah-ve-lous!  Serve this with rice or Asian noodles.

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Sweet Chilli Fish Fillets with Coleslaw

3 cups raw coleslaw vegetables

2 lbs firm, white fish fillets, cut into serving size

1/3 cup sweet chilli sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

2 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp grated ginger

1/2 colorful bell pepper, thinly sliced

Make an aluminum foil tent, lined with parchment paper and large enough to accommodate the fish fillets.  Spread the coleslaw evenly over the parchment paper, then top with the fish fillets.

Mix the chilli sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce and grated ginger together, then pour over the fillets.  Sprinkle the bell pepper over all.

Tightly close the aluminum foil tent and bake in a 425 F oven for 20 minutes.  Open the tent, push the foil to the side, then continue to bake for 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Asian, Cooking, fish, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments