Food Post; pizza, soup, and pretty dishes

Forgive the unoriginal title.

I made white pizza for supper. (Vegetarian recipe, but could add some crumbles of bacon. This recipe is really versatile.)

You should definitely try it! There are multiple steps, but it is still quite simple and oh-so-tasty!

I served it with leftover corn-poblano-potato soup, (vegan recipe) and fresh strawberries we bought from a friend in 4-H.

This blue dish was a gift to me as a young teenager. I know this makes me sound old-fashioned and, well, just old, but when we were young, we always had planning for marriage and family in our forefront. Many gifts I received were given with the idea that one day I would use them in a home of my own. This is one of them. I still treasure this gift, but more so, the friend who gave it to me. I think of her every time I use it.

Here’s what it looks like empty.

May your memories be warm, your dishes filled with goodness, and your friendships sweet.

Tip for getting out of the cooking rut

I’ve finally gotten back in the kitchen to create a well-rounded meal. I like to come up with different challenges to get out of my usual cooking habits. Something I do occasionally is try to create a complete meal from one recipe book. I did that this evening with this book. 

This evening I made chickpea and spinach stew served over cooked and fluffed cracked wheat. 


Topped with garlic mayonnaise. 


Our side was honey mustard glazed carrots. 



I also have two loaves of cracked wheat-honey bread in the oven. (Except I used bulgar and molasses.) 


Here they are rising in the pan. 

We will top it off with an evening snack of homemade snickerdoodles (not from the cookbook) and mango sherbert (from the cookbook.) 

Even though I get frustrated with menu planning, finding new and different things everyone likes, cooking and baking on a tight budget, serving my family in this way brings me great joy. 

What do you do to get out of a cooking rut?

Of self care days, cherry cake and the “dangers”of teaching your children to bake

Looking forward to this day has gotten me through two weeks of non-stop busy. My days have been full speed from early morning until late evening with appointments and phone conversations; some expected and some unexpected and unplanned, but necessary. This self-care day where I am home with nothing on the agenda except time with family, catch-up cleaning, and cathartic baking and writing gave me an anticipated point of rest.

I felt somewhat guilty for turning down multiple community events happening today with people and causes important to us. I wanted to go, to support, to help, but by the time this morning arrived it was clear I was totally depleted and taking a day to recharge had to be top priority. 

I’ve been teaching our 5- year-old daughter to cook. The “danger” of that is she wants to make so many treats. The good part is she is learning life skills and it is a great bonding time for us. She has actually created a few recipes totally on her own like Monday when she made “Monkey salad” with sliced banana, kiwi, and grapes, and marinated in fresh-squeezed orange juice. That was the first time I let her use a cutting knife to cut the banana without me holding the handle with her. She chose all the ingredients and was super proud of her accomplishments. I was proud of her too, and the fruit salad was delicious! Tuesday she baked a dessert with flour, buttermilk, honey, dried cranberries and chocolate chips. It tasted very much like a scone. Again, she and I were both proud of her creativity. 

I can’t tell you the last time I watched TV on a Saturday morning, but this morning the girl climbed in my lap and we watched “The Great British Baking Show.” We caught the part where they were baking “Mary’s cherry cake.” Our daughter loves cherries and immediately decided this was our baking project for the day. 

I had to run to the store for maraschino cherries and self-rising flour, but I had everything else. We made a deal that we had to clean several rooms before we baked the cake. 

We took breaks to appreciate classic music like The Oak Ridge Boys, Elvira. 

During our lunch break, the children made their own pizzas with pitas, sauce, and cheese.   

We had an afternoon rest time, too. At one point I had “ambient nature sounds” that sounded like rain on the speaker. The boy came in asking if it was “frying” sounds. I’m sure he was hoping for bacon. 


We eventually got around to baking the cake. I’m a basic country American cook. I use measuring cups, Tablespoons, teaspoons, occasional liquid ounces, and a dry spaghetti noodle to test for doneness. 

The Britain recipe was in grams and dry ounces and I failed math. My Betty Crocker and local Esther Shank cookbooks failed to offer solutions to my dilemma. 

After repeated conversion attempts online, I decided if the recipe called for 6 ounces of sugar, I would measure out 6 ounces. (The online sites always gave me conversions for liquid ounces.) If anyone has a better method for conversion, please please post it in the comments here. 

The cake, however, came together very nicely. 


It was a little crumbly, but so delightful that our son kept thanking Great Britain as he promptly (and quite improperly) inhaled two pieces of cake with a glass of milk. 

Try as I might, I cannot get the link to copy into this post, so I’ve copied and pasted the recipe here. I always want to give proper credit when I can, so you can also find the recipe by typing “British baking show Mary’s cherry cake” into your web browser. That’s long, but it’s how I found it. 

Cherry Cake 

Ingredients

200g (7oz) red glace cherries

225g (8oz) self-raising flour

175g (6oz) softened unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

175g (6oz) caster sugar

Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

50g (1¾oz) ground almonds

3 large eggs

For the decoration:

175g (6oz) icing sugar

1 lemon, juice only

15g (½oz) flaked almonds, toasted

5 red glace cherries (quartered)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease a 23cm/9in bundt tin or savarin mould with butter.

Cut the cherries into quarters. Set aside five of the quartered cherries for the decoration later. Put the rest of the quartered cherries in a sieve and rinse under running water. Drain well then dry thoroughly on kitchen paper and toss in two tablespoons of the flour.

Measure all the remaining ingredients into a large bowl and beat well for two minutes to mix thoroughly. Lightly fold in the cherries. Turn into the prepared tin.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until well risen, golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out and cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, mix the icing sugar together with the lemon juice to a thick paste. Drizzle over the cooled cake using the back of a spoon, sprinkle over the toasted almonds and reserved cherries.

Here is a link to the recipe on Pinterest. 

Hopefully the link works if you want to see the original recipe. 

I need to move along now. I have six baskets of laundry to fold and put away. I’m so thankful for this day at home and will continue enjoying these seemingly small ordinary moments as holy time, paying attention to God’s presence in and through it all. 

Have a great weekend, everyone. 

Facebook Food; dill pickle soup and grilled cheese dippers

Life has been unusually busy for us these past few weeks as we continue to adjust to a new foster placement and maintain our already hectic schedule. 

These are the days I find the morning coffee I didn’t get to drink in the microwave in late afternoon. 


The days I am thankful that an old top entertains four children for long periods of time. 


I am thankful for friends who lend helping hands in so many ways, whether it be for our children, our non-profit, or for our larger community. 

These are the days that pass so quickly, but that I will one day miss and long to re-experience. 

In the meantime, I sit with our littles as they drift off to sleep. To stay awake myself, I read articles and often scroll through Facebook to catch up on friends and the rest of the world. I’ve been saving recipe links my friends have shared on Facebook. Tonight I made a combo of two I was most excited about, dill pickle soup and grilled cheese dippers.

The original recipe for the soup can be found here.  

Since we eat a mostly Whole Foods plant based diet, I adapted the recipe, but I can assure you the original would taste quite fantastic as well! Here’s the recipe with my changes. The whole family loved it! 

Dill Pickle Soup

5 cups vegetable stock

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small-ish pieces

4 medium carrots, washed but unpeeled, chopped small

1 cup chopped baby dill pickles 

(I skipped the butter altogether)

1 cup all purpose flour

1&1/4 cup unsweetened unflavored plant-based milk

1&3/4 cup dill pickle juice

Old Bay seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

Method: Pour the vegetable stock into a large pot and add the potatoes and carrots. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add chopped dill pickles. Mix the plant-based milk and flour in a gravy shaker and shake well. Pour into soup pot, stirring continuously and vigorously. This will thicken quickly. 

Add dill pickle juice and seasonings. Cook and stir another five minutes. 


Fabulous!!!!! 

The other recipe I was excited to try was the grilled cheese dippers. I know that these grilled cheese include dairy, but we are not a teetotaler Whole Foods plant based family. You can also substitute vegan cheese and butter for these if you’d prefer. I want to try the tomato soup included in the post, but haven’t yet. Grilled cheese and homemade tomato soup have long been one of my favorite fall suppers. 

The recipe for the grilled cheese dippers can be found here. 


I’d love to know if you try these either with the original recipes or my adaptations and what you think. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did. 

“Sick Soup” and Turmeric Tea

Or “On the mend spiced red lentil-kale soup.” 


With cold and flu season on the horizon you will want to keep these ingredients for the soup and the tea handy! This is our family’s favorite “sick soup.” It’s a little spicy for the kiddos so adjust seasonings according to taste. It is also a good preventative from even getting the crud. 

The recipe is from “The Oh She Glows Cookbook” by Angela Liddon. 


On the mend spiced red lentil-kale soup

1 teaspoon coconut or olive oil

1 sweet onion, diced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

3 stalks celery, dived

1 bay leaf

1&1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4-1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juices

5-6 cups vegetable broth (more as needed)

1 cup uncooked red Lentils, rinsed and drained

Salt and pepper to taste

2 handfuls destemmed kale leaves or spinach (I’ve used both)
Method: In large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5-6 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and celery, season with salt and sauté a few minutes more making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. 

Add the bay leaf, cumin, chili powder, coriander, paprika, and cayenne and stir to combine. Sauté a few more minutes until fragrant. 

Stir in tomatoes with juices, the veggie broth, and Lentils. Bring mixture to boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes until Lentils are tender and fluffy. Season with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaf. 

Stir in kale and cook for a few more minutes until kale has wilted. Serve immediately. (I like to make a double batch and freeze half.)


Turmeric Tea

In a saucepan, bring four cups of water to a boil. Add 2 inches of sliced fresh turmeric root OR 1 teaspoon ground turmeric. I also add about 1 inch of fresh sliced ginger root. (You can leave the peel on both roots.)

Summer for about 10-15 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh or cheesecloth. 

Enjoy as is or add raw honey to taste. 


Here is a link to the health benefits of Tumeric tea. Turmeric Tea Benefits  

Stay well, my friends, and enjoy! 

Herbed lentils and rice, African influenced spinach, and apple cake

I try to vary my recipe sources to keep cooking fun, but sometimes for something different I make a whole meal using recipes from one cookbook. Tonight was one of those nights. 

I used a personal favorite, Mennonite Recipes from the Shenandoah Valley (Phyllis Pellman Good and Kate Good.) Besides being filled with delicious choices, one of the pictures inserted is actually my family’s very own horse and buggy! 


That picture was taken by our local celebrity photographer, Allen Litten. He knows our family well, but had no idea that was our buggy until we told him. We have that same picture framed. That was our beloved horse, Charger, bringing mom home from church one fall day. He was a faithful steed. I’m almost weepy thinking of him as I write this. I got my first car at 18 years old, but until that time my mode of transportation was horse and buggy, bicycle, or walking. 

Now you know why this cookbook ranks high on my list of favs. 

The first recipe is a family favorite. 

Herbed Lentils and Rice

Submitted by Leanna Yoder Keim 

She included this recipe note


Herbed Lentils and Rice

2&2/3 cups chicken, beef, veggie broth, or water (I used veggie broth)

3/4 cup dry brown lentils 

1/2 cup brown rice

3/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed basil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed thyme

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded (optional for vegans)

Paprika (preferably smoked)

Method: mix together broth, lentils, rice, onion, wine, basil, salt, thyme, garlic powder, and pepper. Pour into 1&1/2 quart greased casserole dish. 

Bake covered at 350 degrees for 1&1/2hours. (If omitting cheese, test at this point to make sure lentils and rice are cooked and if so, the casserole is done. If adding cheese, remove the cover, sprinkle cheese over casserole, then sprinkle paprika on top. Return to oven for another 15 minutes or so until cheese is melted. 

This is a dish every single person in our household enjoys, which makes it that much better! 


(I left cheese off the one end for those who don’t eat cheese, but the rice got a little dry without the cover on.)

Next was a brand new recipe, but was such a hit it will become standard fare as well! 

African-Influenced Spinach

Submitted by Edith Shenk 

2 Tablespoons butter (I just used veggie broth, no butter, adding a tablespoon at a time so the onions didn’t stick.)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium tomato, chopped

1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter

2-10 ounce packages frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, or 1&1/2 pounds fresh spinach, lightly steamed and drained

Salt to taste

Nutmeg

Method: In frying pan, sauté onion in butter, veggie broth, or water, cooking until soft 

Stir in tomato and cook for 5 minutes

Stir in peanut butter and salt. Cook for a few minutes until sauce forms. 

Stir in spinach, heat through, but do not overcook. Pour into serving dish and sprinkle with nutmeg. 


I promise this is FAR more appetizing than it looks. My husband said he could eat the entire dish in one setting. I said the same thing. The nutmeg is a MUST to finish it off. 

Lastly, we splurged with “Elsie’s Fresh Apple Cake.” I know the Elsie that submitted the recipe. Our 5-year-old daughter’s name is Elsie, so when we came across this recipe she really wanted to make it. I’m glad she did! She put all the ingredients into the mixing bowl for me. We healthified it a bit so I will include those notes as we go along. 

Elsie’s Fresh Apple Cake 

Submitted by Elsie Rohrer Terry

1 Cup oil (I used 1 cup unsweetened pear sauce I’d made this summer, I’m sure unsweetened applesauce would be great too.)

2 eggs (I used eggs, but vegans could use ground flax meal/water)

2 cups sugar (I cut it to 1&1/2 cups and used raw sugar)

1 teaspoon vanilla 

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon salt 

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2&1/2 cups flour (I used 1 cup oat flour)

3 cups peeled, chopped fresh apples

1 cup chopped nuts

1 cup flake coconut (I used unsweetened)

I also added 2 Tablespoons ground flax meal

Method: Mix together oil (or pear or applesauce), eggs, and sugar and beat well. 

Add vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking soda, and baking powder, and beat well. 

Add 1 cup flour (this is where I used pat flour) and mix well. 

Fold in apples, nuts, and coconut. Add rest of flour (and ground flax meal if using) and stir well. Pour into greased and floured tube pan. 

Bake at 325 degrees for 1&1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

Elsie’s note says this is a great breakfast cake or a satisfying dessert. We loved it for dessert this evening and the kiddos are excited that it is on the breakfast menu for tomorrow morning. It was a huge hit. 

Let me know if you make any of these recipes and what you think! 

Watermelon Soup and Cheese Muffins

I love friends and cookbooks. Last week combined both. During a wonderful visit with a long-time friend, she gave me a cookbook she’d bought at a thrift store. I’ve already used it multiple times and will reference it below. 

We ventured way out of the Harlow norm last evening and had “Watermelon and Blackberry Soup” for supper along with “Cheddar Cheese Muffins.” We served this as a meatless meal, but you could easily add a side of grilled chicken breast. Whatever your palate persuasion, carnivorous, vegetarian, whole foods, this soup will delight your senses. For vegans, replace cheddar cheese muffins with bread of choice. 

This was a perfect summer evening meal and was a BIG hit with the kiddos. Let me know if you make it and what you think.

Both recipes come from “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” by Deborah Madison. I will share variations and simplifications. 

Watermelon and Blackberry Soup

No cooking required. Serve chilled. 

  • 6 cups seeded chunks of watermelon
  • Fresh lemon or lime juice (I used lime)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Cups fresh Blackberries
  • 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar (I used Sucanat, but found the sugar addition to be a little too sweet. Next time I will half or omit the sugar)
  • Rose water or orange flower water (I had rose water I’d purchased at the International market. Even though it lends a beautiful floral flavor, I’m sure you could substitute with regular water) 
  • 1 pound each red and yellow watermelon (I used red watermelon and a Lemonburst melon which is green in color with a slightly lemon flavor. It went fabulously with this dish. I’m sure you could use cantaloupe or honeydew in place of the yellow watermelon, too)
  • 1/4 Cup pomegranate seeds if they are in season (would have loved but didn’t use)
  • Mint sprigs for garnish 

Method: Purée the 6 cups watermelon chunks and pour into a bowl. Add lemon or lime juice and pinch of salt. Cover and refrigerate. Toss the blackberries with a few drops of rose water and the brown sugar, cover and refrigerate one hour. Seed the remaining melon and cut into bite-size chunks. 

At serving time, flavor the puréed watermelon with rose water to taste, starting with one teaspoon. (I must have used at least two tablespoons) 

Divide the purée among chilled soup bowls and add the melon pieces and then the berries. (If using pomegranate, add one tablespoon seeds to each bowl and a splash of the juice.) Garnish with mint leaves and serve. 

Lazy time-constrained chef tip: throw it all into a big glass dish and serve. 

Serves 4


Cheddar Cheese Muffins

  • 1&1/4 cups flour (I used whole wheat pie and pastry flour)
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 2&1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons corn oil (I used olive)
  • 1&1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1-2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Method: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil or spray muffin tin. Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the eggs, milk, oil, and honey in a second bowl. Wisk the wet ingredients and pour into the dry. Stir briskly but do not over stir. Add the cheese and stir just until incorporated. Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full with the batter. (Made 12 for me) Bake about 25 minutes until browned and springy.

Cheers!

Best ever whole wheat dinner rolls 

I haven’t tried to “healthify” these like I do most recipes. I don’t make them that often so I make them exactly like the recipe and save them for a special treat. 

  • 2&1/4-2&3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon (or 1 package) active dry yeast. (Not instant)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup real butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 beaten egg

I use my Kitchenaide stand mixer for this. 

Stir together 1&1/4 cup all purpose flour, and the yeast in a mixing bowl. 

In a saucepan, stir together milk, honey, butter, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Heat just until warm, about 120 degrees. (If it gets hotter than that, add an ice cube to cool slightly. If this mixture is too hot it will kill the yeast. If it is not hot enough it won’t activate the yeast. This is the trickiest part.)

Add the milk mixture to the flour and yeast mixer. Add the beaten egg. 

Beat on low for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Beat on high speed for three minutes. 

Return to low speed. Here I stop and switch the batter hook for the dough hook. 

Add the 1 cup of wheat flour and the remaining white flour as needed to make a dough that is smooth and elastic. (Remove from mixing bowl and use hands if needed.) 

Place in a greased bowl, cover with a light cloth, and let rise until double. About an hour. 

Punch dough down. Divide in half and place on lightly floured surface. Let rest 10 minutes. In the meantime, lightly grease a 9X13 pan. 

Take each half of dough and divide into 12 pieces. Roll into balls and place into prepared baking pan. 

Cover and let rise again for about 25-30 minutes. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Brush tops with butter when you remove them from the oven. 

Try not to burn your hands and your mouth when eating immediately. 

Enjoy! 

Vegan Whole Grain Pancakes with Fresh Berries and Coconut Cream! (With non-vegan alternatives)

If you are not vegan, please don’t let that word scare you from trying this recipe! It is fabulous for all eaters. I’ve also included non-vegan alternatives. 

Ever since we’ve had children I’ve made breakfast for supper one night a week. For the past few months, about ninety percent of the time, our family has been eating a whole foods plant based diet. Pancakes are so easily adapted to plant based recipes and they are one hundred percent fabulous! 

Vegan Whole Grain Pancakes

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (can also use oat or buckwheat flour or plain old white flour)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sucanat or Raw Sugar (of course you can use regular sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (almond/coconut) or just plain dairy milk for non-vegan
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce (or vegetable oil)
  • Chocolate chips for the children (of all ages.)

Mix all dry ingredients together and add the non-dairy milk and applesauce. Stir until incorporated, but not too much. 

Heat a non-stick griddle or skillet to medium-high heat. Drop 1/3 cup of batter into preheated pan. Cook until bubbles appear on the top and middle. (If you are adding chocolate chips, now is the time to sprinkle a few on the pancake before flipping.) Flip and cook for a few more minutes on the other side. 

Toppings:

Of course you can used dairy whipped cream, but the whipped coconut cream was delish and worth it! 

Whipped Coconut Cream

  • 1 (14 oz) can full fat coconut milk 
  • 1-2 Tablespoons sweetener (maple syrup/honey/raw sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chill the can of coconut in the fridge overnight. An hour before whipping, chill a bowl in the freezer.  

Open can and pour off coconut water (save water for smoothies and other yummies)

Scoop the solid coconut into the chilled bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add sweetener and vanilla. Beat until mixed through. 

Layer a pancake on a plate. Drizzle with pure maple syrup. Spread a dollop of whipped coconut cream on top and add fresh sliced strawberries. Repeat layer if desired. 


Delicious!