Food Tips, Meals

Casseroles

In times like we are facing now, casseroles can be a saving grace.  Even if you have a large family, you can usually bake once and eat twice by doubling recipes if necessary.

Hands down, the best and most comprehensive casserole cookbook available today is

The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever by Beatrice Ojakangas.

Not only will you find all the old favorites, but hundeds of imaginative ideas for quick food prep, most of which can be made the day before and popped in the oven as needed.

And, if you have time, recipes are included that replace the traditional use of canned soups, so you can control what goes into your food.

The one drawback is that there aren’t a lot of vegetarian recipes, but that’s what casseroles are all about.  You can substitute to your hearts content and still have a delicious dish.

We are huge fans of her Blueberry-Maple French Toast recipe.  I sometimes add sauteed breakfast sausage to the dish to boost the protein and then eliminate the blueberry sauce. A simple reduction of whatever frozen berries you have on hand, a little water and a teaspoon of sugar works well and reduces the sugar load.

If you like casserole cooking, this is the book for you.

Food Tips, Ramblings

Sourcing Healthy Foods

These last few months have been stressful for everyone.  In so many parts of the world, it has been difficult to obtain healthy foods as grocery store shelves have been stripped bare as a result of panic buying.  With the country under lockdown in most places, our shopping trips are limited which makes it harder to keep a stock of fresh fruits and vegetables on hand.

What we eat plays a huge part in the strength of our immune systems.  In Europe, Scandinavia and the UK small dedicated food shops are still the norm.  They are starting to make a comeback in the US.  It is my hope that when we climb out of the current economic disaster caused by the pandemic, the local neighborhood markets of my childhood with re-appear across the country.

In the meantime, there are many places where you can find either a CSA to join or a weekly delivery of food boxes from a local farm.

Community Supported Agriculture survives on the shares purchased by their customers every year.  The money the farmer takes in from the sale of shares determines how much they are able to grow in any given year.  Our local CSA is a five minute drive away, and we pick up our vegetables once a week.

CSAs usually produce organically grown food. In season, ours also offers fresh cut flower arrangements for an additional price.  Individual vegetables are also available to add to your share or for people who just pick up a few things each week.  This is going to be a real blessing for us this year, as the county has cancelled the farmer’s market which usually runs from May to October.

In some communities, you can subscribe to deliveries from an area farm.  Usually you get to choose your delivery schedule from once a week to once a month.  On your delivery day, you will receive a box of vegetables and possibly seasonal fruits. Sometimes there will be a local spot where you will pick up your order.

In these trying times, these services are a godsend.

Stay well!

Food Tips, Meals, Recipes

Autumn Soup

Summer is not even over, but I’m already looking forward to autumn soups and stews.  This recipe is one I concocted a few years ago from some of my favorite ingredients. It does contain chicken broth, cheese, cream and butter, but with a few tweaks, it can become a delicious vegetarian or vegan dish to warm your autumn evenings.

 

Autumn Soup

 

2 large sweet potatoes

1 carnival squash, or your favorite winter squash, about 1.5 c.

6 c. chicken stock

1 clove garlic

1.5 c. sharp cheddar

cream

rainbow chard

butter

salt, pepper, nutmeg

 

Boil the sweet potatoes and allow to cool before peeling.  Cut squash in half, remove the seeds and bake in a 350F oven 30 minutes or until done.  Cool and remove squash from the peel.

Puree the sweet potatoes and squash, along with the stock, in a food processor and add to your soup pot.

Heat the puree, adding minced garlic and grated cheese.

Wash, dry and chop the chard leaves then saute them in butter.

Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

Add the chard mixture to the soup and continue to heat through. Stir in cream to taste, heat and serve.

This soup lends itself to many condiments. You can add more cheese, sprinkle with chives or parsley or even top with a spicy Asian sauce.