Food & Cooking… Do Spice Cabinets Lie?

I have a sister-in-law who insists she’s not handy in the kitchen and yet when I looked into her spice cupboard it was well stocked. And well used. How do I know this? I know because I saw spice dust on the little jars and there was a slight disarray to them. I’ve seen plenty of tidy little spice cupboards with unused bottles of spices. They stick out like unopened presents under a Christmas tree.

I am not one to condemn those who don’t enjoy cooking. Laboring in the kitchen is not everyone’s favorite pastime. However, there is something about a spice cabinet. It conveys how someone genuinely feels about cooking. Everyone can have pretty things in their kitchen. But when it has spice dust on it… watch out. Spice cabinets don’t lie.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

eBook or computer download through Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260122

eBook through Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/poor-jonnys-cookbook-suellen-ocean/1102338251?ean=2940016618609

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Tasty Salad Greens, Vinegar, Olive Oil, Ancient Romans… What’s Not to Love?

Today we think we ‘re hot stuff with our ‘spring salad mixes’ and unusual flavors of vinegar, not to mention the latest gourmet salt craze. But… I suspect the ancient Roman salad would surpass ours when it comes to taste. Imagine… ancient olive oil. Long ago, these Mediterranean people were tossing their salad greens with olive oil and vinegar and by the 1300’s, salads had become so trendy, English cooks had over fifty varieties of greens to choose from, including crispy, sweet, bitter and butter lettuces. English housewives were very creative with their salads, sprinkling them with herbs and spices and tossing violets into them. Mouth-wateringly good… what’s for dinner?

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

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Go Ahead Get a Little Egg on Your Face, Make Dumplings!

Making egg dumplings doesn’t require much effort or ingredients. They’re also hard to mess up. Because it requires little resources, if you mess it up you haven’t wasted much food. Dumplings can be dropped into any soup or stew. They would also be good dropped into simmering Italian sauce and there is no end to how you could get creative with dumplings. Because they are made with flour, it’s a quick way to add carbohydrates to your meal without making biscuits or bread. Here is a simple recipe:

1 & 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup of milk (I experimented with water and it worked so try soy, rice or almond milk)

1 beaten egg

salt to taste

In a small bowl, beat the egg with the milk and no more than 1 teaspoon salt. With a wooden spoon, mix in the flour. Drop by spoonfuls into your choice of simmering stew or soup and cover with a lid, cooking about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and serve.

Variations could include adding spices and experimenting with different types of flours.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

eBook or computer download through Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260122

eBook through Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/poor-jonnys-cookbook-suellen-ocean/1102338251?ean=2940016618609

Minestrone Soup… Also Called Italian Vegetable Soup

When I was young my father always took us to the best Italian restaurants. One of my favorite dishes was hot Minestrone soup. The red beans and saute’d onions cooked in fresh tomatoes along with other vegetables and topped with grated Parmesan cheese … well, makes my mouth water just thinking of it. Here are the ingredients that you need to make a great Italian vegetable soup:

dried beans (my favorite are red beans)

olive oil for sauteing herbs and spices: garlic, onions, green and red pepper, celery, parsley, thyme, freshly ground black pepper and a little salt.

Vegetables like cooked potatoes, zucchini, cabbage and of course those fresh tomatoes I mentioned above.

You’ll need to soak and cook your favorite beans, using lots of water. You’ll saute your herbs and spices separately. Drain the beans after they have been cooked, leaving enough liquid for the vegetables to cook in and to have a soupy consistency, being careful not to dilute the flavor with too much water. Throw a huge spoonful of cooked macaroni in with the beans and veggies (one cup each vegetable) and add the herbs and spices. Simmer long enough to cook the vegetables. I suggest you let it cool then put it in the refrigerator overnight, it will be much tastier the next day. After reheating, don’t forget to add the Parmesan cheese on top unless you’re going Vegan.  Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

eBook or computer download through Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260122

eBook through Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/poor-jonnys-cookbook-suellen-ocean/1102338251?ean=2940016618609

Radiation Exposure? Try Some Kelp Salad Dressing

Always keep a shaker of kelp on the table. It’s available at health food stores, buy a little at a time, there are different varieties, some varieties tastier than others. Kelp is loaded with trace minerals and vitamins. Due to kelp’s iodine content, it is reputed to be advantageous in the event of exposure to radiation.

Kelp Salad Dressing

1 cup olive oil

1 Tbs dried kelp

1 Tbs seasoning salt

1 tsp each of: sage, basil, tarragon

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

eBook or computer download through Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260122

eBook through Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/poor-jonnys-cookbook-suellen-ocean/1102338251?ean=2940016618609

Experimenting With Achiote Entero

I know, I know, it sounds like a hot romance but I’m referring to the spice annatto, of which the official name is achiote entero. I was at the grocers spice rack the other day and a man next to me was looking for annatto. “I’ve been experimenting with it,” he said answering my curious inquiry. “I use it for coloring.” So, not to be out done, I grabbed my own bag of annatto and stared at it for months, the red colored pulpy seeds stared back and I wondered why I bought them. I don’t need coloring in my Mexican food, the chili powder (which probably has annatto) gives it enough color. But I finally succumbed and threw a little, just a pinch, into my soup and was surprised at the little bit of unusual flavor it imparted but disappointed that there were a few hard pieces that were like tiny rocks so watch out. Annatto is a popular addition to Latin dishes and is used by dairy farmers to color butter coming from cows who don’t get enough vitamin A in their winter feed.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

eBook or computer download through Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260122

eBook through Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/poor-jonnys-cookbook-suellen-ocean/1102338251?ean=2940016618609

What’s the Deal with Coriander Seeds and Cilantro Leaves?

Coriander is called a seed but it is really part of a tiny fruit. The seeds are used to flavor cookies, cakes and candies. Cilantro is the foliage of the same plant and it is used fresh or dried. Freshly chopped green cilantro leaves mixed with chopped tomatoes and onions used, as a topping for tacos, burritos and other Mexican dishes will have you hooked on this plant. The fresh leaves are especially refreshing and tasty.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

eBook or computer download through Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260122

eBook through Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/poor-jonnys-cookbook-suellen-ocean/1102338251?ean=2940016618609

Cooking With Mustard … Seeds and All …

Mustard provided a flavorful spice to our medieval ancestors. As a condiment, mustard is a mixture of black and white mustard seeds. The Germans like their mustard from black mustard seeds as do the French but the English differ and go for yellow or white seeds, which are milder. If you’re wondering how to be creative with this spice, buy a package of mustard seed, open it up and taste one or two in your mouth. They are tasty and tangy. To my taste, I could see adding a pinch of the seeds into gravy,  soup Italian dishes and especially to potato or pasta salad. The release of the oils when one bites into the occasional mustard seed equals a culinary delight.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

eBook or computer download through Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260122

eBook through Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/poor-jonnys-cookbook-suellen-ocean/1102338251?ean=2940016618609

Flour, Butter and Sugar … Until You Get to New Orleans

I’m reading an old cookbook written before WWII, showcasing different regions in the United States and sharing their traditional recipes with us. I’ve read pages and pages of recipes so far, and one thing most of the recipes have in common are flour, butter and sugar, over and over again. Until you get to the section on New Orleans. The various cultures who called Louisiana home (African, French, Spanish, Native American, etc.) combined with the availability of game in the swamps, a climate enabling early fruits and vegetables in great varieties and an array of seafoods, are why New Orleans became delightfully world famous for it’s delicious foods when a lot of the rest of America was figuring out twenty different ways to make flour, butter and sugar taste different. But we’ve been hearing for years that Americans eat too much sugar and how it isn’t good for us. Olive oil is being substituted a lot for butter and those on low carb diets desire cutting back on bread and flour. Butter and sugar are two ingredients we need to use moderately (some people not at all). It isn’t always easy but we’ll probably maintain better health if we do.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

eBook or computer download through Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260122

eBook through Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/poor-jonnys-cookbook-suellen-ocean/1102338251?ean=2940016618609

Bread Is Expensive, Make Wholegrain Chapattis Instead

A good loaf of bread in California is four to five dollars. That’s a chunk of cash for what many think of as “the staff of life.” But what surprises me is how many people today don’t know that for pennies you can make delicious quick breads. If you have a good cast iron skillet you can make delicious chapattis out of flour and water. It takes experience to get it right and even pros can burn them but they are delicious and you turn a tight budget into a gourmet opportunity. The key is to use cast iron and to have it warm before you put the flour mixture in it. The flour mixture is just flour, water and a tiny bit of salt and it is made up just like kid’s play dough but it is a bit “dry.” You can roll them out on a floured board or have a little flour in the skillet and pat the dough into it. Be careful that you don’t get burned. Cook it on medium heat, flipping it after a few minutes depending on how hot the skillet is. If you incorporate herbs and seeds into the dough it is very tasty. Sesame seeds, caraway seeds and herbs and spices make these chapattis a treat. Have them with anything from shredded carrots, sprouts, hummus, beans or sour cream and cheese.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

eBook or computer download through Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260122

eBook through Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/poor-jonnys-cookbook-suellen-ocean/1102338251?ean=2940016618609