Brainy Gourmet

Brainy Gourmet
The Doctor is into Delicious!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

If you are like me, you are getting ready to serve dinner to those you love. Hence, I don't have much time to blog. If you remember from an earlier post, I wrote that eating is social and as a sociologist, I can tell you that we live a social reality -Thoreau discovered this on Walden Pond. I pray that those who have no family to turn to on this day, or dinner to go to, will find themselves invited in. Set a plate and invite family and friends and those in need to join you in the celebration of this holiday and of life. If you don't have much to put on the table, don't worry. I lived in Eastern Europe for some time where Thanksgiving is not a national holiday, nor known as a celebration. I bought a chicken and roasted it, boiled potatoes and bakes apples. Guess what, a few friends showed up and we sat down to a lovely dinner. Eating is social, we need other people and they need us. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will filled/" - Matthew 5:6  Make your table special, a setting that looks nice will make the food taste even better and the company even more special.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Preparing Yourself and the Turkey

Throughout the year, I am very cost conscious when grocery shopping. By doing so, I can spend more on the holidays. A fresh 12-15 pound turkey can cost up to $25.00. Of course, there are lots of other goodies that add to holiday costs... items that you don't buy everyday. I am thankful for wisdom regarding the use of money and with that I make my shopping budget stretch. This year's Thanksgiving dinner cost will be $8.50 - per serving for twelve. Before, providing the entire menu, I like to take a deep breath because Thanksgiving preparation can be overwhelming. Take time to feel good, get the juices flowing... 
I have a mini-trampoline in my basement and I jump on throughout the day for 5-10 min at a time to get the blood pumping 're-bounding' to re-generate neural connections, bouncing gets me happy! Jumping on a mini-trampoline is an excellent way to reduce stress. It can provide wonderful relaxation. Jumping for health and fitness not only stabilizes the nervous system during the exercise session, but continues to help maintain a relaxed disposition even after one steps off the trampoline.
This is the day of big preparation if you are cooking at home. The turkey should be thawed if not bought fresh 'unfrozen'. I like to unpack it and let it rest for a while before stuffing. Which happens while you prepare the stuffing... ;-) This year, I am making a 'sausage cranberry' stuffing with rosemary/onion and bread crumbs. I am also cooking a beef tenderloin which can marinated for 24 hrs but 2 hrs for sure. The beef should be laid out to rest just like the turkey. Meat as we call it is muscle and room temperature relaxation makes it more tender. One hour in a cool place (not fridge) is enough for both turkey and beef.  Since I am marinating the beef tenderloin, another 23 hrs marinated in the fridge makes it fork tender. The marinate is just olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, garlic, red pepper flakes and rosemary, mint.
This stuffing recipe calls for a mix of ground pork and pork breakfast sausage (half and half mix). Add dried cranberries, chopped onion and plain bread crumbs soaked in enough milk to get make them soft but not sloppy. Mix by hand and stuff your turkey. Now, this plump stuffed bird goes in the fridge or onto a high shelf in a cold garage if the outside temps are just below 32 but not colder than 25 as it could freeze and you don't want that.


On this Wednesday, I will also prepare pumpkin pie and do other prep work for tomorrow's celebration. For the pumpkin pie recipe, see my older post. On the menu tomorrow will be: egg plant wraps (carrot/parsnip sticks sauteed first), fettuccine with butternut squash Alfredo sauce, asparagus and baked apples. What can wait til tomorrow morning (dinner served at 3 pm)? Egg plant wraps, fettuccine pasta, asparagus and baked apples. Today, I will make the butternut squash Alfredo sauce. Take a med. sized squash and microwave til tender. Into a large glass bowl scoop out the squash and mash, add 1 and a half cup of heavy cream, tbs of butter, a pinch of sea salt, crushed coriander and grated Parmesan cheese. Blend using a hand mixer. Put in the fridge. 
Early tomorrow morning, I will bake egg plant on a cooking sheet using my homemade mix of dried herb seasoning *rosemary, oregano and mint and olive oil. While the egg plant slices bake, I will saute carrot and parsnips 'julienne cut' in coconut oil and olive oil using the same seasoning til tender. When cooked, set a side til they can be touched to wrap in egg plant. Applies go in along the turkey, the tenderloin on the shelf below and the asparagus can be done the last 12 mins. before dinner time. 
Oh, the tenderloin... 

When it is time for it all to come together, that is the time I usually panic. But, somehow, it does and all is good! More pics to come, but now I set the table! Prepare and Be Blessed and Good Luck!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

History of Thanksgiving

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. Most of us know the story about Squanto who taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.
In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford  organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although, the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days.

While no record exists of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations. They could have eaten lobster, seal and even swan which is way more exotic than any Thanksgiving dinner I have ever eaten or cooked.
 http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/history-of-thanksgiving

*This year, I am making the traditional turkey and a beef tenderloin. Look for my preparation post tomorrow and Thanksgiving dinner post Friday.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Daniel Plan - Healthy Holiday Preparation

The best time to start preparing for a healthy holiday season is now!  The more energy and clarity you have prior to the holiday season, the less likely you are to fall prey to advertisers, food pushers and well meaning  relatives.
  • Make a decision today to take control of your health and don’t allow others to blindly lead you to poor health.
  • Start every morning with prayer, meditation and journaling at least 5 things you are grateful for. Focusing on what you are grateful for actually alters brain chemistry!
  • Serve others who are less fortunate than yourself. Get your family involved a community service project. This will usually do wonders for shifting the focus from gluttony to thoughtfulness and gratitude.
  • Be an example to those you love. 
  • Break your sugar addiction prior to the holidays so you will be less likely to fall victim to gorging on sweet “death” traps.
  • Eliminate simple carbs, sugar, pasta, bread, white rice and white potatoes immediately. For most people it takes about 3 days to kill the craving for sugar. For some of you, it can take a couple of weeks.
  • To help eliminate the craving for sugar.
 http://www.danielplan.com/healthyhabits/healthy-holiday-preparation-tips/

Saturday, November 22, 2014

As Good as it Gets ~ Great-Grandma's Risotto

Price per serving for two: $1.45

Hard to believe the cost per serving for a meal that you could not get in any restaurant. Over the years, like any good cook, I have been perfecting my recipes and I can tell you that this one is better than grandma's.

Actually, I cook more like my Nona - great grandma Antonia. Why? Maybe because she was a frugal cook like me. She and her husband and seven children lived on the other side of the canal in small Italian neighborhood. It was that same neighborhood where I grew up. They lived frugally, I think everyone did on the westside. There wasn't a lot of processed food back then. With so many mouths to feed, they had very little options to pick from and use. Nona could make soup stock from bones if she had to; and, bone marrow soup happens to be very healthy.

That may sound absurd today given the vast amount of food stuffs in every grocery store. However, frugal cooking is not a thing of the past. With ever increasing inflation and financial demands, families will have to become more frugal. My great grandmother knew that. She knew that keeping a stock as a base, she could add rice one day, pasta another day, bacon or side pork with potatoes or polenta another day; and add diced tomatoes (sometimes roasted in a dry skillet) gives you a whole other eating experience that will keep the husband and kids fed and the household up and running.

So, in the tradition of Nona, you will need to buy one pound of fresh ground breakfast sausage. She would have used any ground meat available but often it was a cheap cut ground (sausage) or chopped in tiny pieces. Basically, you can use breakfast sausage (home mix of pork and spices). Take 1-2 tbs of olive oil in a small skillet melted, sprinkle in some dried herb seasoning and once hot enough, add the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces.

You will boil the rice as you would a pilaf... in a stock. Remember the chicken stock I started last Monday, well this evening is another opportunity to use the last of it. In a small cast iron pot, heat your stock. Add 1 cup of Arborio or a Basmati  rice and cook until most of the fluids disappear. Remove the rice, you can ladle it onto the sausage which should be already fully cooked. Turn off the heat under the sausage and let it rest, with the rice resting on top. Into the cast iron pot, I pour in one small can of roasted/seasoned diced tomatoes (you use fresh tomatoes diced and skillet blackened on the edges with a bit of garlic). Turn up the heat and get it bubbly.


Re-enter the rice and sausage, stir and cover. Add an extra dash of dried herb seasoning - from the pantry list, rosemary, oregano and mint. While the risotto simmers, grate fresh Parmesan which I add to the rice before serving and or also leave on the table in a small dish. Then, set the table and pour the wine. You can also put out hard salami and cheese.

~Tutti a Tavola!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Price per serving: $.95 + roll with butter/slice of cheese = $1.10

You won't need to buy anything for this soup. Why? Because, it is based on the chicken stock you cooked a few days ago (refrigerated) for future soups.  All you need to buy or take from your pantry are egg noodles of any kind or if you prefer like I do- long traditional egg noodles, which I happen to have in my pantry. I never pay more than 1.09 for a large bag. I also had saved from the whole chicken, used to cook the stock,  half a breast. Today, I will use that half diced to put into the chicken noodle soup.

Take a small stock pot from your cabinet and fill with water and add a pinch of salt to cook the noodles. While the noodles cook, take out enough stock to use for this soup and heat it up. Remember, I always keep the stock pure - no noodles, no rice and no veggies. All of those food items can be added at any moment or day of the week to make 'soup' of the day using that same chicken stock made back on day one of your week.

Once the noodles are done and the stock warmed up, you are ready to serve. I put the noodles, diced chicken breast and stock into my lovely soup tourine/tureen (seen it spelled both ways), sprinkle with fresh dried parsley flakes and serve.

With such a simple dinner, I like to oven toast some multi-grain rolls and put out fresh butter and a few kinds of sliced cheese. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Benefits of Rosemary

I have always liked the taste and smell of fresh or dried rosemary; but, I had no idea that it had so many interesting and healthful attributes. Recently, in 'Mother Earth Living' magazine, I read about all the benefits of rosemary. This year, I finally able to plant my own rosemary in the garden and took a pot of it into the basement before the frost. I have been able to keep it going and still able to harvest and dry the herb for cooking pleasure.
As the author of the magazine article put it I too love to run my hand through the branches and take a deep breath of its dewy sea fragrance. Rosemary's botanical name is Rosmarinus officinalis which means 'dew of the sea' probably linked to its native Mediterranean habitat. When I was in Italy, I used it everyday and I still do in all my cooking from soup to sauce and even in tea. The best though is barbecued chicken with fresh rosemary. I prepared this once while at the Villa of San Martino in Vicchio Italy. I was staying at the villa participating in a sculptor workshop and commune art experience getting credit toward my Fine Art degree. Aside of being a student of the sculpture process, I also conducted a photo documentary of the entire 3 months of my stay that summer of 97; the year my first granddaughter was born. It was also required that students do the cooking and cleaning. One beautiful Sunday, I decided to make a more American dish - barbecued chicken. I used the upper salon kitchen with a wood-burning stove to cook the barbecued chicken with fresh rosemary in. The smell filled the entire 30+ room villa with its adjacent chapel and large inner courtyard.To say the least, it was a splendid dinner in Tuscany.
Growing rosemary is easy and also easy to harvest and dry. Besides providing wonderful flavor to just about anything you cook it also is touted as a brain booster and memory aid, a hair growth tonic, anti inflammatory effective and numerous other health benefits. This coming Thanksgiving, I plan to cook beef sirloin with Rosemary Portobello Gravy, my all time favorite gravy, great on baked butternut squash or sweet potatoes.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Filet Mignon with Left Overs, Really???

Filet Mignon with leftovers. Yes! 

The price per serving for two is just: $1.85.

You will have to buy:
One package of Scottish Chuck Eye 100% Angus beef. I found a package at my local grocer for 3.77 for two. I did not buy anything else since I had potatoes, for my sweetie, and left over from last Friday for me which was the Greek Fish and Fettuccine with Scalloped Parsnips.

Take from the pantry list:

Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil

Dried Herb Seasoning
Red Pepper Flakes
Garlic Powder
Sea Salt

About two hours before cooking, marinate the steak in balsamic vinegar, olive oil and seasonings listed in a glass dish.

When you are ready to cook, turn your oven to F400. Once heat is reached, put your filets in uncovered. You can microwave potatoes and the left overs just before you take the beef filets out of the oven.

Vola! An awesome dinner in just minutes.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Farfalle with Red Sauce

Price per serving: $2.39 for two people

Farfalle with red sauce is absolutely delicious!
This dish takes all of about 25 min.

You will need to buy:
1 one pound package of ground breakfast sausage. I buy at my local grocer their butcher shop special breakfast sausage as it is not spicy and contains little sage. The taste is very delicate. I pay about $2.99 per pound. You will need to buy a box of Farfalle pasta or 'bow-tie'.  If you do not have fresh frozen tomatoes in your freezer, then you should buy Red Gold whole tomatoes and chop them as you remove from the can. I am still fortunate to have a few bags of fresh frozen in my freezer. I just love the taste of tomatoes from the garden, even when frozen the sunshine is sealed in. In earlier in the day, I took a package from the freezer to thaw. Also, if you don't have any Parmesan cheese in your pantry or a large onion, you will need to make that purchase.

Take from the pantry list:
Coconut Oil
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Onion
Fresh Dried Herbs
Parmesan Cheese 

I get the water going right away since the red sauces with pork sausage cooks quickly. Take out a large stock pot, fill with water, add a two pinches of salt and get a high flame/heat under it. Chop your onion and then take our our covered skillet and melt 3 tbs of coconut oil and the same of olive oil. Add the chopped onion to the skillet. Then add your sausage and fresh dried herbs: rosemary, oregano, and mint. Cover and let simmer.
Remove tomatoes from their freezer bag or can and cut into smaller pieces if you don't like the bigger chunks. I prefer bigger pieces of tomato for this recipe, not diced; but you can cut smaller chunks.

Check your water, should be time to add pasta to the now boiling water. Stirring occasionally and also the red sauce. Set the table because dinner will be ready. Once the pasta is 'al dente', drain under cold water, but not for long. Pour out the pasta onto a large low lipped serving dish and pour over the pasta the bubbly red sauce from your skillet. Sprinkle fresh grated Parmesan on top and a few sprinkles of dried parsley.
I put out on the table grated Parmesan and a bottle of olive oil, some like a little extra, as I do!
This meal can feed up to six people.

Three Course Polish Dinner

When I lived in Eastern Europe, I learned that dinner included three courses and everyone stayed at the table until dinner was finished. In fact, it was considered rude for anyone to leave the table even if they were finished eating and there was only one person left, not yet finished. As I wrote in a previous post, eating is social. In America, we wonder what is happening to the American family, we wonder why so many Americans are obese, we wonder why certain illnesses and disease are on the rise. Though concern for what we eat, no one wonders if it has anything to do with the way we eat which is in a hurry, alone, over the sink or in front of the computer.
A simple three course dinner is not expensive nor time consuming. Start a soup stock on either Saturday or Sunday morning, or evening. It requires no more than submerging a whole chicken in a large pot of water and adding an onion and salt to be basic. This stock will take you through the week becoming a new soup every night not just one kind that everyone is tired of eating the second day.

There is an old fable - The Story of Stone Soup that goes something like this: a traveling man came into a village and sought a place to stay the night and have a simple meal. An old woman and child approached him and said that this was a poor village and food was scarce. She said he could stay in her barn but as for food, she had none. The traveling man agreed. After he settled in the barn, he knocked to the old woman's door and asked for a pot and if he could fill it from the well. She said yes but what for. He said he was going to make stone soup. The woman was a curious and so she asked how and if she could help. The traveling man said of course. They got the pot of water going on a fire. Then the man took out a stone and threw it into the pot. They watched it boil. A neighbor came by and asked what they were doing. The woman told the neighbor. The neighbor wanted to help too and asked what he could do. The traveling man asked if he had salt since the stone he had used so many times was losing its salt. Yes, the man said and he got salt. The next neighbor came by and the same thing happened, this time the contribution was a few cloves of garlic and a sprig of rosemary. The word got round and people started coming with all kinds of things to make stone soup. Then everyone sat down to a lovely soup dinner.

3 course dinner.
You will need to buy a whole chicken (remember this will stock can be for all week) I bought a whole chicken at Aldi for less than $4.00. Soup stock for every night of the week for less than $4.00. Wow! Into that pot went 2 tbs of sea salt. (this is not salty, given the large stock pot with at least 6 six cups of water) The best way to judge the amount of water is to place your whole chicken into a large empty pot (the largest one you have) and cover with water til the whole chicken is covered and floating. Add your salt, and one whole large onion peeled and cut into quarters. I also sprinkle in my concoction of dried herb seasoning. It is a good idea to let the stock perk for at least 90 min. before removing your whole chicken, usually it will not be overcooked and easy to take from the pot. Now that you have stock, you can decide which kind of soup you want, I like to make chicken noodle as the first soup of the week. You can choose whichever pasta noodle you prefer, my husband likes both the short and long egg noodle. The pasta 'noodles' are cooked separately and put into individual soup bowls, not into the stock. Serve!

The second course is pierogi and veal or lamb chops; buy as much or take from the freezer as you will need to serve. I like the Kasia brand of pierogi, potato with onion or bacon or cheddar cheese. Any of those will be delicious. A package of 10 is only $3.50. As for the cost of the chops, you can expect to pay  no more than 5-6.00 dollars for 4 chops
.
The chops should be started before the pierogi (which only have to be boiled for 8 min.)

Heat your covered skillet over medium high heat adding 3 tbs of coconut oil and olive oil. Season chops with salt and red pepper flakes and rub them each with about 1 tablespoon of chopped sage. Rub the sage into meat on both sides of each chop. As they start to fry, get the water boiling for the pierogi; once water is rolling, add pierogi. Turn over the chops as they cook. After 10 min, melt butter into the oil  and cover, cooking an additional 5-7 minutes on each side and transfer to warm platter and let them rest. Back to the pierogi, they should be soft and ready to drain. Take a platter or large low lipped bowl, ladle the pierogi onto the serving plate/bowl, add a drizzle of olive oil and stir, this will keep them from sticking to each other. Take another platter for the chops. Add wine to the pan and scrape up drippings. Spoon drippings down over the chops; cover and wait to serve.. til everyone is ready!


I always put on the table a small bowl of sour cream, a must when serving potato 'ruskie' pierogi.

The third course is as simple as you want it to be. My sweetie likes cold coffee with flavored cream and a homemade cookie or almond biscotti. You can also serve fresh fruit, pears are my favorite. The point is to keep everyone around the table for a daily dose of reconnection through good food and conversation.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Potatoes, a Staple Around the World

Potatoes, the staple of many diets throughout the world. Potatoes are gluten free if you buy them in their natural state; which means not processed, dried/boxed or in a frozen mix and certainly you should be careful when eating in restaurants as likely they are not using 'fresh/natural state' potatoes.


Baked potatoes pack a bigger punch of nutrients than you might realize. They also supply magnesium, potassium, foliate, vitamin B-6 and vitamin C.  Potatoes have all nine amino acids, but they don’t have an adequate amount of all of them to be considered a complete protein. Like most other plant foods, potatoes are incomplete proteins. One large baked russet potato has 8 grams of protein, or 14 percent of men's and 17 percent of women's daily allowances. 

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/much-protein-large-baking-potato-8380.html

Pork cutlets and roasted potatoes, a simple dish and made gluten free, using olive oil, butter and fresh dried herbs from the garden. I paid 2.25 for two juicy cutlets. If you prefer, you can pound them a bit, which I do sometimes. About 15 mins. of cooking time for the thicker cuts and only 10 for pounded.

The Gluten Free Craze

The gluten-free craze is something of a unique cultural phenomenon as viewed by social scientists like myself. Gluten is a protein! It is found in wheat, barley, rye, etc. and is one of the components that makes bread dough stretchy and and baked bread chewy. For most people, gluten is a 100% safe, digestible, natural protein. But an estimated 0.5 - 1% of the population has a condition called Celiac's Disease, which basically means that their immune systems see partially digested gluten as a threat and cause reactions in the small intestine similar to a severe food allergy (severe inflammation, stomach pain, diarrhea, severe gas buildup, etc.). However, Celiac's Disease is different from a wheat allergy in that it only reacts to partially digested wheat *gluten*, where people allergic to wheat react to any form or part of wheat products.

Even though it only affects a very small percentage of the population, modern food production methods have made it very difficult for people with Celiac's Disease to find gluten-free food, which until the gluten craze started, almost always meant avoiding any food with wheat in it. You'd be surprised how many processed foods contain wheat ingredients, such as Twizzlers licorice, pickles, blue cheese, salad dressings, and even sausages all frequently contain wheat gluten. For those living with this condition, having many gluten-free foods to choose from, especially when they go out to eat, really helps to make their lives easier and lessen the anxiety of possibly having a reaction to something.

It's unclear what triggered the explosion in gluten-free products within the past couple of years. It has been observed that early on, food companies looking to make their brand look healthy noticed that an increasingly large percentage of people who bought gluten-free products only bought them under the incorrect assumption that gluten-free made the food healthier and/or less fattening. Simply by labeling their gluten-free products as such began increasing sales, and as the number of gluten-free products began rising, so did the hype surrounding the mysterious idea of gluten-free food. Today, estimates vary on what percentage of the gluten-free market is being bought mistakenly by (non-Celiacs) people presuming that it's good for them, but it is safe to say that it is a very large percentage, and that the gluten-free boom would not have happened if it weren't for this widespread misinformation.

So unless you have Celiac's Disease or some other kind of wheat allergy, gluten is completely safe and healthy to eat in moderation. Gluten is NOT any more fattening than other wheat ingredients (though eating a lot of refined carbohydrates IS!) and is NOT dangerous or "bad" for the average person. In fact, some gluten-free foods are actually LESS healthy than the original foods because the recipes have to be reformulated to make up for the lack of gluten, which sometimes means adding one or more ingredients that are slightly less healthy substitutes. But do keep in mind that this recent trend has been enormously helpful to people with Celiac's Disease, who have probably spent most of their lives jumping through hoops to find safe food to eat every time they're hungry, so even if for the most part it's all just a way for food companies to make money from misinformed consumers, it has benefited certain people and should be considered a good thing for that reason. So if you don't have Celiac's Disease, don't pay extra for gluten-free. It won't affect you either way!

Source:

http://www.fitsugar.com/Surprising-Foods...


*With the rise in diagnosed cases of celiac disease and interest in gluten-free diets, consumers may be interested in gluten-free white breads. In the case of commercial white bread, "gluten-free" means that the product contains less than 20 milligrams of gluten per kilogram. Therefore, some gluten may still be present but poses minimal risk to celiac disease sufferers compared to conventional breads. Look for breads labeled "gluten-free" in the health food aisles of grocery stores.




*If you are just visiting this blog, and interested in reading about bread/gluten, I recommend my past post "What has happened to bread?" 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sweet Italian Sausage and Shrimp Jambalaya

Saturday night in Louisiana, I am pretty sure they're havin jambalaya.

 

Price per serving: $2.99

You will need to buy 1 pound of Italian Sausage or whatever sausage you prefer. I used Sweet Italian turkey sausage and paid $2.99 for the Fit&Active brand at Aldi. I like a little fresh shrimp in my jambalaya. Instead of buying a large bag of frozen shrimp that can cost anywhere from 7-15 dollars; I just buy fresh cooked tails. I ask the person at the fish counter if they can weigh out the amount I need based on whatever I think one person would like to eat - 6-12 pieces. For today, I have just six cooked shrimp tails and paid only $1.80.

I also bought a large2 lb. bag of Basmati rice also from Aldi for $1.89; from which I will get at least 8 - 10 meals from.


Take from the pantry list:
Coconut Oil
Olive Oil
Butter
Sea Salt
Red Paprika
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Red Pepper flakes
Dried Herb Seasonings
*rosemary, oregano, mint

Get about 2 cups of water boiling in a med stock pot to cook the rice. I like to use the high heat burner as that gets things really rolling.
While watching for the water to boil, I melt 3 tbs coconut oil and the same of olive oil in my covered skillet and immediately season the oils using the above recommended herbs/seasoning. When this starts to hiss and spit, I take the sausage into my hands and squeeze the sausage out from the casing and into the skillet in the shape or amount you would use to make drop cookies.
Once I have done that, usually getting about 15 ball size drops, I cover and let simmer on low.
The water should be ready to receive the rice. I also add to the water a pinch of salt and dollop of butter, cover and simmer on low. This entire dish takes only 20 25 minutes to cook.
Hold back the shrimp til the sausage balls are cooked. Then place the shrimp on top just to steam/warm up as they are already cooked.
When the rice is done, drain and pour out onto a serving platter (stir into the rice a 1/2 tsp of mild Louisiana hot sauce for a little color). Then take your sausage and shrimps from the skillet and place on top of the rice, pour over any remaining juices from the sausage and shrimp.
Get out your favorite hot sauces and beverage - and whew wee!

A Simple Breakfast Morning!

If you have left over bread rolls of any kind, you can make French Toast fast and simple.
I just use whatever rolls I might have left over from the week. I soak them in egg wash (about 3-4 eggs beaten til frothy) and pan fry in a blend of organic coconut oil and black walnut oil - two inches deep.
You can sprinkle powder sugar if you have or squeeze fresh lemon juice and then sprinkle organic cane sugar on top. Also, if you like, and I do, pour over your favorite syrup or jam, mmm blackberry or even homemade applesauce. I processed six quarts from the old apple tree out back.
Yes, I did write, black walnut oil.  We have a few large black walnut trees in our yard. The fruits can be a nuisance if you don't know what to do with them.

What can you do with black waluts? Make gourmet cooking oil.

The simplest way is to pick them when ripe (hulls are dark and dry). Crack open and take out nut meats.  Dice them up small


and place in a garlic press.
This however takes time if you want enough to cook with. If you want just for a salad, it is a quick and easy way. Now, if you have more time, a lot of eager helpers and some additional tools/equipment you can make more oil for yourself and friends.


Instructions:
1.      Pick Green and Dry 4 lbs. of black walnuts thoroughly. Once they have dried, wait another month before shelling them.

2.      Shell the walnuts and then grind them with a hand-cranked meat grinder or a stand mixer fitted with a coarse, meat-grinding blade.




3.      Put the ground walnut meat in a pot with a heavy bottom or a Dutch Oven. Cook over medium-low heat for a half hour, stirring constantly. Remove from the pot.


4.      Place the hot walnut meat in a press. Apply pressure until the meat stops releasing oil.


5.      Filter the oil through fine cheesecloth and then bottle it.










 If you want to see how the French do it, then watch this video.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yV6s10amuHA