Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ethnic Roots, Winter Soups, Country Biscuits, & UFO Aliens

This past Saturday we participated in what was billed as an indoor ‘garage sale’, but in reality turned out to be a Bazaar style happening. We sold half of what we took to display, but came home ‘in the hole’ because I simply had to have this pretty neck band as soon as I saw someone holding it up and passing on it because of the price – I do have Lakota DNA as well as Hebrew, and I have a weakness for Native American items as well as Jewish items. So I slapped down a hefty amount of $$$$ for this Lakota neckband and I LIKE how it looks on my neck :-D

Lakota neckband in its original state: the metal trim has got to because metal burns my skin like acid.
Lakota neckband without the metal trim; Hubs removed the metal trim for me so I can wear my pretty without fear of neck burn (pardon the pun). Except for the piddley amount of metal that had been removed, the entire neckband is made with leather ties, which suits me just fine ;-)

It has been raining here; Saturday it rained so hard that trees all over the place have been blown down or have collapsed under the onslaught of soaking wet wind storms. When the weather turns chilly and the rainy season sets in, I prefer hearty and heart-warming winter soups to heavier meats & potatoes meals. My husband prefers the heavier meals, but since I am the chef and the kitchen is my domain, he eats what I cook. And after 43 years of marriage, I think he is finally coming around to appreciating the Fall & Winter Menus primarily dominated by soups ;-)

As well as making these soups, I mixed up a batch of ‘Country-Fresh Biscuits’ too to go with them. These baking powder biscuits are made with a healthy dose of granulated white sugar, so they are as sweet as they are delicious :-D

While the soups simmered, I grabbed some skeins of yarn and got busy making a plump stuffed crocheted flying saucer from a freebie pattern found on the internet – I opted to leave off the button closure, and switched out the original colors to something a bit more realistic (in regards to metal coloring and hazard lights); I also designed my own aliens because the original aliens looked more like green ghosts than aliens: MOD Aliens are more fanciful, more colorful, and I’m thinking will be more fun for little tykes to dink around with. Our little prince likes “monster aliens”, so I modeled my own designs after that 3 year old mindset. LOL I think they are cute, and I am sure the kids will too ;-)

Crochet UFO. Original PATTERN Link @ http://www.katestitches.com/ufo-aliens/
Crochet UFO w-MOD Alien Monsters. I will tag this ensemble for $15
Green 3-Eyed Alien Monster
Purple 1-Eye/1 Horn People Eater Alien Monster

FRUITED BEEF STEW – 6 Servings

This hearty beef & fruit stew is stellar fare for winter Suppers. We like it with a crusty Pumpkin Bread.

Fruited Beef Stew

**NOTE: Since I make my meals ahead and refrigerate them or freeze them in specific portions, I add the fruits to this stew AFTER it is cooked in the crockpot, while it is being reheated.**

½ pound slab bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces * 3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 2-inch pieces * ¼ cup all-purpose Flour * 6 TBSP Olive Oil * ½ teaspoon ground Cinnamon * Salt & Pepper to taste * 3 medium onions, thinly sliced * 3 large Garlic cloves, minced * 6 TBSP Tomato Puree * 1-1/2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet Paprika * 12 ounces dark Beer * 1 cup rich Beef stock * ¼ cup Brandy * 4 ounces pitted dried Prunes * 4 ounces dried Peaches * 4 ounces dried Apricots * 2 Thyme sprigs * 1 Bay leaf * 2 TBSP fresh Lemon juice * 1 TBSP grated Lemon peel * minced fresh Parsley

Place sliced onions and minced garlic in crockpot.

Combine the flour, cinnamon, and sat & pepper and dust beef cubes. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and bacon in batches (do not crowd) and brown. Transfer to crockpot using a slotted spoon.

Add remaining ingredients to crockpot (EXCEPT FRUITS unless you are serving same day) and set temperature at HIGH until bubbly, then reduce to LOW for 6 hours.

*Can be prepared 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Rewarm over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.*

WHITE BEAN, HAM, and LEEK SOUP – Makes 8 cups

White Bean, Ham & Leek Soup

Chef Lisa Joy of The Restaurant at 23 Beverly in Staunton created this delicious main-course soup.

 2 cups dried Great Northern beans * 1 large Onion, diced * 4 whole Cloves * 4 cups Water * 4 cups chicken stock or canned broth * 2 Bay leaves * 2 cups Leeks, chopped (white and green parts only) * 1 cup Ham, chopped * 2 TBSP fresh Rosemary, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried, crumbled * 1-1/2 TBSP chopped Garlic

Place all ingredients in crockpot and cook on HIGH until bubbly, then reduce heat to LOW and cook 6 hours.


*Can be prepared 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Rewarm over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.*

SPLIT PEA SOUP – 8 servings

I used yellow split peas because it adds color to the dreary rainy days here in the PNW, but green peas are my favorite and I do use those too as the weather changes to lighter days; either way, the soup is delicious ;-)

Split Pea Soup

8 cup Water * 2-1/2 cups dried Split peas * 2-pound smoked ham Hock * 1 medium Onion, chopped * 1 teaspoon Salt * ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper * 2 medium Carrots, cut into ½-inch pieces – about 1 cup * 2 stalks celery, cut into ½-inch pieces (about 1 cup)

Place all ingredients in crockpot and cook on HIGH until bubbly, then reduce heat to LOW and cook 6 hours.

*Can be prepared 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Rewarm over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.*

COUNTRY-FRESH BISCUITS – Makes 2 dozen

A basketful of baking-powder biscuits adds a special touch to any meal, but especially to a bean dish. And raves are guaranteed when you follow these easy steps below to make these melt-in-the-mouth type of biscuits.

This is my go-to biscuit recipe: its fail proof!

Country-Style Biscuits

6 cups all-purpose Flour * ½ cup instant nonfat DRY MILK powder * ¼ cup double-acting Baking Powder (YES; ¼ cup) * ¼ cup granulated white Sugar * 2 teaspoons Salt * 2 teaspoons Cream of Tarter powder * 2cups Shortening * 1-1/2cups Water

ABOUT 45 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING: Preheat oven to 400-degrees. In a large bowl, mix well with a fork, all ingredients except shortening and the water. With pastry blender, or 2 butter knives used scissor fashion, cut shortening into flour mixture to resemble coarse crumbs (I use my hands - it’s easier and quicker for me); stir in water until moistened (if too dry, add ¼ to ½ cup more water).


Turn dough into floured surface; with floured hands, knead 8 to 10 times until smooth. With floured rolling-pin, roll dough ¾-inch thick. With a floured 2-1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut biscuits; place on cookie sheet, 1-inch apart. Press trimmings together – reroll and cut. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden. Serve warm.