Birthday Celebration, Cake
Smiles, laughter, fun, love
Family, friends, food, photos
Birthday Celebration, Cake
Smiles, laughter, fun, love
Family, friends, food, photos
Mac n Cheese has not always been a part of my life. Growing up, my mom bought the pre-boxed powdered sauce (reconstitute with butter and milk or water) and my kids grew up with the Velveeta brand Mac, creamy unknown cheese sauce in a pouch.
My childhood version seldom had anything mixed in with the noodles and cheese sauce mixture, it was more of a side item on a plate next to a meat or sandwich, if served at lunch. My children would only eat their Mac n Cheese with a can of tuna fish in water (water drained). That mixture was a weekly lunch dish that stood on its own in a big bowl. They fought over who would get the coveted last morsel bite. It became a childhood comfort food for them. Mac n Cheese morphed into an upscale version at dinner time; fontina or corkscrew pasta with tuna, capers, kalamata olives, feta cheese crumbles, tomato and cucumber all bathed in a generous amount of Greek salad dressing and served cold, not hot.
A few years ago I met and fell into the deep chasm of uncharted love with a man from upstate New York. He loves his Mac n Cheese. His memories of the dish from childhood often send chills up his back as he recalls his mom’s version to be a mass of overcooked pasta that had more butter than cheese in the sauce. He vowed to tweak the recipe and make his own version, Al dente’ corkscrew pasta or other slightly curved pasta that would withstand small chunks of melted New York cheddar within its crannies. Below is his newest version, adapted to what he is served when he is brave enough to order it in a restaurant. Of course this version is upscale with fresh lobster and should be served as a dinner accompanied with a side salad and a baguette slathered with fresh garlic and butter and lightly toasted.
Serves 2 with some left overs, may serve 4 with people wanting the last crumb!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9×12 glass dish and set aside.
Boil 1 package of the best dried pasta you can buy to an Al Dente’ or slightly underdone bite when tested. Depending on the type of pasta you choose depends on the cook time. Watch pasta carefully because when baked it should not turn mushy.
Prepare fresh lobster, chopping meat into chunks. We have tried frozen lobster tail in this recipe but I will suggest you to purchase a live lobster and have it steamed at the store. Once home, remove edible meat from claws and tail, discard shell.
Brown a package of premium bacon, diced once cooked to a soft- crispy texture.
1- 2 (8oz) packages of a favorite cheese. We enjoy sharp or extra sharp cheddar, feel free to play around with the cheese you use. Dice cheese into smallish chunks. Set aside.
1 or 2 jalapeno or other hot pepper, chopped, with seeds if you want it to be spicy. If you want a mild spice, remove seeds and veins from the peppers before chopping. Add to the cheese chunks.
Once pasta is cooked to the desired bite consistency, drain and return to the warm pot. Add all of the above ingredients and mix gently until all ingredients are incorporated on and into the pasta crevasses. Pour this mixture into the 9×12 glass dish and dot the top of the pasta with a few pats of salted butter to your desire. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the tips of the pasta are starting to brown. We enjoy some pasta to be crunchy so we tend to allow it time to brown a bit. Serve immediately, before the cheese starts to cool. Although just as good to eat at room temperature, this dish is best served hot.
Yes, just barely, as this recipe unfolded itself in my thoughts. The cast iron skillet is only now heating as I type. I still haven’t really dressed (the FLYLady isn’t active this morning!) and although I will put in a full 8-hours tonight, today is a lazy start to the weekend, a nod to the leisure class I strive to enter with the rest of society, on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Ah, the blessed weekend! As a single person with a cat as the only other object in my house on mid-mornings (My S.O. escapes shortly after the sun rises, to his own home, he must be a vampire!) I pretty much eat anything I want. Sometimes it is a sweet affair but most of the time it is a savory one- usually cheese of some kind, a veg., like radish or onion, and crackers with salted butter. Sometimes a farmed chicken egg from a hen who knows what free range is in the very local, down the street sense, may be my breakfast, almost always over-medium fried in butter. I search out my local homestead farmers on a regular basis. When I purchase my own home with a scant piece of land, I will own my own hens and have a garden. Right now, single life has me in a one-bedroom apartment in a rural area that supports my desire for local food stuff.
Today’s pancakes kind of represent a need (hunger) and a desire to use what I have on hand without going out to spend more money. My ‘nest-egg’ is abundant only if I don’t succumb to instant gratification! Today’s break-fast is the creation of such a thought.
Pancake recipes are pretty straight forward. I used the base of today’s recipe from this source: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/232131/100-whole-wheat-pancakes/ , because I have Bob’s Red Mill 100% Stone Ground whole wheat flour in my cupboard, that I purchased 6 months ago for a recipe I never did make. Hummmm… time flies!
My batter is thick, mainly because I do not have milk, only half and half on hand. To make the ‘buttermilk’ for this recipe, I used 2 cups of half and half, 1/4 cup, more or less of water, and 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar. I let this set for 10 mins. after stirring with a plastic spoon to distribute the vinegar into the milk. Still, looking at the stack of pancakes that are growing behind me as I type, they are fluffy like the recipe and reviews state, despite the added other ingredients I put into the pancake batter.
I had two dark, brown skinned, (aka, soft and mushy) bananas in the fridge. I mashed the bananas and combined a heavy splash of Madagascar 100% Pure Vanilla into the mash. I have Organic cacao powder with Maca in the cupboard and put in a heavy 1/8 cup of powder into the dry mixture. I picked up a jar of the Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter the other day and added a big scoop of that into the dry mixture, breaking up the yellow pea butter (yep, absolutely no nuts in this butter, yet kind of tastes like peanut butter!) into the dry ingredients. I’m not impressing anyone other than myself, so I wasn’t too careful with the distribution consistency of the now slightly lumpy dry ingredients. The pancakes taste great! They are not overly sweet or savory. I generally like a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of granulated sugar on my pancake but I also have tried a pancake with Blue Agave organic sweetener, acting as a syrup. YUM! This recipe has made approx. (15) coffee cup plate-sized FLUFFY pancakes. I had cut up fruit this morning, which is pictured below with a serving of pancakes. Bon Appetit’! Happy Saturday to you and yours!
Fast food, no matter if it is from the grocery store hot bar buffet to the drive-up window, the take out pizza, the delivered chinese dinner, or the sit down, five star restaurant, fast food is often a welcome addition to a person’s day. Sure, it may cost more and there may not be left overs but it serves a dire purpose of not wanting to cook and clean up the mess afterwards that kitchens become after creating a meal.
Slow Food on the other hand is often planned, a craving a few hours to a few weeks ahead of time, the writing down of ingredients, both on hand and needed from the store. A trip into town or down the street or into the city miles away are often scheduled. Sometimes other activities are planned around a home cooked meal, such as a movie to watch or a puzzle to work on, or homework to do. Home cooking, in the privacy of your own space often allows comfy clothes and shoes shead, laughter and help from the littlest to the biggest or youngest to oldest.
No matter what, time and passion is given to the art of preparing and consuming food. That alone often brings people together to socialize. Whether a glance over a computer screen at Panera’s or a smile from the baby across the dining room table, humans get enjoyment from food, over food, and through food.
I love the art of preparing food and drink. I enjoy making food for myself and really enjoy making food for others; family and friends. Food is life, food is love, food is desired, food is amazingly simple and increasingly complicated, yet a lover we invest in daily and socially. Create meals around the passion for food. Life is amazingly good!
I often wonder where Julia got her zest for life from. Was it the shear luck of the domestic relationship she had with Paul or the time she grew up in? She published Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 1961, only a mere six years before I was born. In reading a little about her childhood, mine was identical sans the multitude of in- house cooks. T.V. dinners were the rage and an occasional exotic fondue, which was the only time my lips touched the taste of wine until I was 19 years old.
Like Julia, I didn’t know how to actually cook without a microwave until I was married. The first marriage happened when I was 20 years old and I felt this was a good idea since I didn’t feel I had a passion to articulate into wasting years in a college degree. Instead, I worked several jobs at once to keep me occupied and met a tall, dark man who tantalized my senses. At that young age I figured maybe being married was my career, and my career should have me being a retail working housewife and mother. Mr. Tall and Dark was a Sous Chef by a fault; his father was a cook in the Army and he had a knack for it through his father’s ‘career’ choice. His other passion was drinking and having a good time and that proved to be a bad choice for someone whom I wanted children with. By year two, I was seeking a divorce after he landed in jail for a weekend and I had my sights shortly after that on another man who seemed to be good husband/father material.
The first cookbook I owned was The Joy of Cooking. The first recipe I used called for sugar in the spaghetti sauce (NEVER AGAIN!) and it became a laughable joke for many years that I tried to kill the Second Husband through my attempts to cook. Second Husband was born in England to pure English stock parents who made their way to America when he was seven years old. Like Julia’s husband Paul, my Second Husband was 9 years older than me and grew up with a mixture of Illinois American heart attack foods and traditional English recipes like Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Potatoes. As a, still young, retail working housewife, Second Husband’s mom taught me how to cook traditional English/ American food dishes that my new husband was accustomed to eating. Two children later, I became a career housewife and mother, a true passion- filled career I cherished for nearly 20 years.
Today I am divorced a second time ( Second Husband thought he’d have a go with the other side of the fence) and have been living the single life (both children are independent adults) for nearly four years now. I did give college a try when I was 42 years old and graduated after six years last December with a bachelor degree in Interdisciplinary Studies which focused on Technical Writing and Research, Public Administration and Organizational Communication. I am still working in retail, appropriately I suppose, as a cashier and occasional bakery clerk in a major grocery store chain. I will be 49 years old in a few months and I am itching to do something else with my life. My passions are in teaching (individuals, not classrooms of students), cooking savory meals, and communication through the written word. I had thought I’d be a freelance Grant Writer for local non profits, yet that work is self- sacrificing and rarely earns one a living unless you are also doing other work like Administration on the side. I have the time to write but have yet to find the ambition to do so, either for myself or for others. In many ways I feel somewhat stuck where I am and as about as free to do what I want (what is that exactly?) with my life without too many restrictions.
I realize that is the crux of my current position.
Happy Birthday Julia. You are truly an inspiration to me in that you laid the foundation of success (fortune in your own work) by following through with your passion. I am forever grateful for your perseverance and successful legacy you left all of us to enjoy.
Thankfully somewhere along the way I lost The Joy of Cooking cookbook and now own a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. 😀
Tonight’s dinner a year ago:
A marriage includes the father of the bride; chicken stock, the groom; cannelloni beans, the mother of the bride; chopped tomato, blushing orzo, the bride to be; chicken in bite sizes. Sage was the flower of choice with a handful of baby arugula. Guests threw cracked black pepper and a dash of salt for luck. Fresh mozzarella graced the cake. Yes, I sang love songs to my food while watching Chef’s Table.
Tomato Orzo with Chicken
I have a funny feeling that the chicken was a rationing was not the main course selection, and the beans and orzo stole most of the plate’s surface above. Please adjust accordingly, this recipe obviously was thrown together to satisfy hunger, yet, it could be a recipe for guests if done up elaborately.
4 chicken breasts or thighs, boneless and skinless, flattened before pan cooking
(1) 15 oz can of cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup of dried orzo, or serving size of prepared per package directions
1 medium tomato, chopped
Fresh sage, diced
4 handfuls, divided of fresh, chopped arugula
Salt and pepper, or seasonings of choice
In the marriage description I cut up the chicken and incorporated it with the mound of orzo and greens. If you are serving to friends, you may want to present a whole, flattened, chicken breast or thigh on top of the orzo mixture, taking it from a deconstructed mess to an actual dish worthy of serving.
I would butter a pan before browning the flattened chicken, tossing in capers near the end of the cook time, and add a squeeze of lemon on the chicken before plating on top or to the side of the orzo.
Prepare the orzo as directed on the package, add in chopped tomato, sage and season to taste. Plate the chopped fresh arugula, top with the orzo mixture which will allow the arugula a few minutes to wilt. Plate the chicken on top of the orzo/arugula mixture and drizzle with pan juices and bits. Serves 4.
Small, red or yellow skinned potatoes, halved or quartered, cooked and finished with butter and parsley would be a nice accompaniment.
Chilled white wine of choice would be my suggestion for a beverage.
Perhaps fresh berries masticated in a wine and sugar sauce over top a slice of pound cake and vanilla bean ice cream.
I work retail, often standing an entire shift of 8+ hours in one spot. As a mid century woman, I’m starting to feel joint pain caused my inflamed body parts. I do my best to stay limber through yoga and other non-pavement pounding exercise, yet I’m still finding myself needing to find ways to alleviate my physical discomfort. I decided to try bone broth soup. If anything, it is a comfort food! I used my slow cooker and one container of organic beef broth with additional water to cover the bones. I also used scallions, carrots, leeks, and celery in my soup as well as adding in gnocchi for a change of pace. The rest of this post is from the web site mentioned below….
The web site https://draxe.com/the-healing-power-of-bone-broth-for-digestion-arthritis-and-cellulite/ has this to say:
By regularly drinking bone broth or using it in recipes, you can help promote healthy gut integrity while reducing permeability and inflammation. Here are the six major bone broth benefits.
1. Protects Joints
Bone broth is one of world’s best sources of natural collagen, the protein found in vertebrae animals — in their bones, skin, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and bone marrow. As we get older, our joints naturally experience wear and tear, and we become less flexible.
Why does that matter? As we age, cartilage diminishes as it gets attacked by antibodies (age-related degradation of joint cartilage). As bone broth simmers, collagen from the animal parts leaches into the broth and becomes readily absorbable to help restore cartilage.
One of the most valuable components of bone broth is gelatin, which acts like a soft cushion between bones that helps them “glide” without friction. Gelatin also provides us with building blocks that are needed to form and maintain strong bones, helping take pressure off of aging joints and supporting heathy bone mineral density.
Research done by the Department of Nutrition and Sports Nutrition for Athletics at Penn State University found that when athletes supplemented with collagen over the course of 24 weeks, the majority showed significant improvements in joint comfort and a decrease in factors that negatively impacted athletic performance. (3)
2. Good for the Gut
Studies show that gelatin is beneficial for restoring strength of the gut lining and fighting food sensitivities (such as to wheat or dairy), helping with the growth of probiotics (good bacteria) in the gut, and supporting healthy inflammation levels in the digestive tract. A report published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found that gelatin effectively supports intestinal health and integrity. (4)
Bone broth is easily digested and soothing to the digestive system, unlike many other foods, which can be difficult to fully break down. After all, a food is really only useful if we have the means of absorbing its nutrients.
Studies have found that in individuals with digestive imbalances, serum concentrations of collagen are decreased. (5) Because the amino acids in collagen build the tissue that lines the colon and entire GI tract, supplementing with collagen can support healthy digestive function.
3. Maintains Healthy Skin
Collagen helps form elastin and other compounds within skin that are responsible for maintaining skin’s youthful tone, texture and appearance. Collagen integrity is accredited with helping reduce the visible signs of wrinkles, decreasing puffiness and fighting various other signs of aging. Many people report a decrease in cellulite when consuming foods and supplements containing collagen, since cellulite forms due to a lack of connective tissue, allowing skin to lose its firm tone.
Double-blind, placebo-controlled studies investigating the age-defending properties of collagen have found that 2.5–5 grams of collagen hydrolysate (CH) used among women aged 35–55 once daily for eight weeks supports skin elasticity, skin moisture, transepidermal water loss (dryness) and skin roughness. At the end of only four weeks, those using collagen showed a statistically significant improvement in comparison to those using a placebo with regard to skin moisture and skin evaporation, plus noticeable decreases in signs of accelerated aging, all with little to no side effects. (6)
4. Supports Immune System Function
One of the most remarkable things about bone broth is its gut-supportive benefits, which as described above actually have a holistic effect on the body and support healthy immune system function.
Leaky gut occurs when undigested particles from foods seep through tiny openings in the weakened intestinal lining and enter the bloodstream, where the immune system detects them and becomes hyperactive. This increases inflammation and leads to dysfunctions all over, as the immune system releases high levels of antibodies that cause an autoimmune-like response and attack healthy tissue.
Bone broth is one of the most beneficial foods to consume to restore gut health and therefore support immune system function and healthy inflammation response. Collagen/gelatin and the amino acids proline, glutamine and arginine help seal these openings in the gut lining and support gut integrity. Traditionally made bone broths are believed to support healthy inflammatory response and normal immune system function. (7, 8) Bone broth can even promote healthy sleep, boost energy during the day and support a healthy mood.
5. Boosts Detoxification
Today in the Western world, the average person is exposed to an array of environmental toxins, pesticides, artificial ingredients and chemicals of all sorts. While the human body has its own means of detoxifying itself from heavy metals and other toxic exposures, it often has a hard time keeping up when flooded with an overwhelming amount of chemicals. Bone broth is considered a powerful detoxification agent since it helps the digestive system expel waste and promotes the liver’s ability to remove toxins, helps maintain tissue integrity, and improves the body’s use of antioxidants.
Bone broth contains potassium and glycine, which support both cellular and liver detoxification.
Some of the ways in which bone broth boosts detoxification is by supplying sulfur (especially when you add veggies, garlic and herbs to your broth) and glutathione, which is a phase II detoxification agent that lowers oxidative stress. Stanford University’s Medicine Preventative Research Center has found that glutathione helps with elimination of fat-soluble compounds, especially heavy metals like mercury and lead. It also helps with the absorption of various nutrients, the use of antioxidants and with liver-cleansing functions. (9) Bone broth also increases intake of essential minerals, which act like chelators to remove toxins by stopping heavy metals from attaching to mineral receptor sites.
6. Aids the Metabolism and Promotes Anabolism
Bone broth is a great way to obtain more glutathione, which studies show plays important roles in antioxidant defense, nutrient metabolism and regulation of cellular events. A 2004 study published in the Journal of Nutrition states that glutathione’s roles and benefits include regulating gene expressions, DNA and protein synthesis, cell proliferation and apoptosis, signal transduction, cytokine production, and immune responses. (10)
Amino acids found in bone broth have numerous metabolic roles, including building and repairing muscle tissue, supporting bone mineral density, boosting nutrient absorption and synthesis, and maintaining muscle and connective tissue health. Glycine found within collagen helps form muscle tissue by converting glucose into useable energy, plus it slows cartilage, tissue and muscle loss associated with aging by improving the body’s use of antioxidants. Studies have revealed that glycine protects skeletal muscle loss and stops the expression of genes associated with age-related muscle protein breakdown. (11)
Glutamine is another amino acid that’s important for a healthy metabolism, since it helps us maintain energy by sending nutrients, including nitrogen, to our cells. Arginine also has the role of breaking down nitric oxide that helps improve circulation and sends blood and nutrients to cells throughout the body, improving muscle and tissue integrity and promoting normal wound healing.
Bone broth could be called “nature’s multivitamin.” How so exactly? It’s packed with:
Did you get that? Bone broth benefits literally every part of your body, from your gut to your brain, from your muscles to your ligaments.
It’s also relatively low in calories yet very high in minerals and other chemical compounds that many people are lacking. There’s no doubt that bone broth makes a great everyday addition to your diet.
Here are six of the key nutritional compounds found in bone broth that help provide all these wonderful bone broth benefits.
1. Glycosaminoglycans (GAG)
Glycosaminoglycans have the primary role of maintaining and supporting collagen and elastin that take up the spaces between bones and various fibers. GAGs are supportive for digestive health since they help restore the intestinal lining, which is why a deficiency in these nutrients has been linked to digestive challenges. (12)
Several important GAGs are found in bone broth, including glucosamine, hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate.
There are two main types of naturally occurring glucosamine: hydrochloride and sulfate. Both help keep up the integrity of cartilage, which is the rubbery substance within joints that acts like a natural cushion. Studies show that glucosamine can become depleted as we get older, so supplements are often used to support joint health.
An easy and relatively inexpensive way to obtain glucosamine naturally is from drinking more bone broth, which helps support the loss of cartilage health, acting as an alternative to pricey glucosamine supplements. (13) Consuming more glucosamine can help support joint health, flexibility and comfort.
3. Hyaluronic Acid
Found throughout connective, epithelial (skin) and neural tissues, hyaluronic acid contributes to cell proliferation, differentiation and mitigation, allowing our cells to perform various functions throughout the body as needed. It offers support for multiple skin types and promotes healthy aging, cell rejuvenation and skin firmness. (14)
4. Chondroitin Sulfate
Chondroitin sulfate is a beneficial glycosaminoglycan found in the cartilage within the joints of all animals. It’s often used to support joint health and comfort, especially in combination with glucosamines.
Studies have found that supplementing with chondroitin supports healthy inflammation response as well as cardiovascular health, bone health, skin health and healthy cholesterol levels. (15)
5. Minerals and Electrolytes
Bone broth provides essential minerals, including electrolytes, all provided in an easy-to-absorb form. Electrolytes found within bone broth include calcium, magnesium and potassium (not to mention many other minerals, such as phosphorus), which are important for supporting healthy circulation, bone density, nerve signaling functions, heart health and digestive health. When added sodium levels are kept low, bone broth contains an ideal balance of sodium and potassium to support cellular health and efficiency.
Collagen is the main structural protein found within the human body that helps form connective tissue and “seals” the protective lining of the gastrointestinal tract. It’s also the gel-like, smooth structure that covers and holds our bones together, allowing us to glide and move freely.
Irritation within the gut that impairs normal digestive functions and causes permeability, allowing particles to pass into the bloodstream, known as leaky gut.
As a rich source of gelatin, bone broth protects and seals the mucosal lining of the GI tract, which means it improves nutrient absorption and also helps keep particles from leaching out where they shouldn’t be.
Real collagen is the source of stock’s immune-boosting properties. You’ve probably seen this jiggling layer atop the broth in your cooling roasting pan and discarded it, but think again next time — this is the good stuff that provides many of the bone broth benefits available.
Collagen is the protein found in connective tissue of vertebrate animals. It’s abundant in bone, marrow, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. The breakdown of collagen in bone broths is what produces gelatin.
Gelatin (the breakdown of collagen) was one of the first functional foods used as a medical treatment in ancient China. Dr. Francis Pottenger and other world-class researches have found gelatin and collagen to have the listed benefits:
Here is another incredible benefit from the collagen found in bone broth: It can make your skin look amazing! According to Donna Gates, author of “Body Ecology,” bone broth benefits you skin because it makes it supple and can decrease cellulite!
She says cellulite comes from a lack of connective tissue, and if someone has very smooth skin, it’s because the skin is high in connective tissue. Gates explains that consuming collagen-rich bone broth can reduce cellulite and tighten your skin, making you look younger — adding it to the long list of bone broth benefits.
Conditional amino acids are those classified as nonessential amino acids that are essential under some conditions. You don’t produce them very well if you are ill or stressed. Kaayla Daniel points out that unhealthy Western diets, heavy on processed carbohydrates, low in quality grass-fed animal products, and devoid of homemade soups and broths, make it likely that these amino acids are chronically essential.
What do these conditional amino acids do? (17)
Talk about some incredible bone broth benefits! For these reasons, I have most of my patients consume bone broth as a partial fast, detox or during meals to help heal their guts and detoxify their cells, gut and liver.
Fallon describes the essentials as bones, fat, meat, vegetables and water. If you’re making beef broth or lamb broth, you should brown the meat before putting it into a stock pot. Fish and poultry are fine to put in a pot without browning first. Add a bit of apple cider vinegar to your pot to help draw the minerals from the bones.
After cooking, the broth will cool and a layer of fat will harden on top. This layer protects the broth beneath. Discard this layer only when you are about to eat the broth.