Tuesday, January 23, 2024


That's what they always say when it's picture time. Usually I don't mind, even though I'm not particularly photogenic. Lately, however, I'm reluctant to get my photo taken because my smile has become so uneven where my teeth are concerned. You can see above that one of my front teeth is much longer than those next to it. The eye teeth are another story for another time!

Over 40 years ago when my daughter was a few months old, I rode Bart to San Francisco and shouldn't have tried to take her in her stroller up the escalator. I found out later that it runs at a slightly faster speed than, say, department store escalators. Long story short, I flipped her out of the stroller and she rolled down while I fell and scraped my cheek and knocked out a front tooth. My daughter was completely encased in a quilted sleeping bag and so she just rolled...and wasn't hurt at all thank heavens!

The broken front tooth was replaced with a dental one and that has been replaced a couple of times over the years, but the last time was over 20 years ago and so that fake tooth is the same color and size while my natural teeth have yellowed a bit and are smaller through use. Time to get it replaced. This time they are also going to replace the rod that holds the tooth since the current one is also pretty old. 

By the time that my daughter gets hitched in the spring, I will have a much nicer smile...and will be ready for photos.

No food stuff or pics this time. Since I use this blog as a journal a bit as well as a food blog, this kind of post will show up now and then! 

Friday, January 19, 2024

Buttermilk Waffles!

My favorite waffles are the ones where you start the batter the night before...and it has yeast. In the morning you add eggs and melted butter and you are ready to put the batter in the waffle iron.

Recently I was going through some recipes found in my local newspaper, the Press Democrat, that I saved to try. A recipe for buttermilk waffles was one of them...and I had plenty of buttermilk in the fridge.

A few mornings ago I gave the recipe a try. For the batter I followed it as written with two exceptions: I added 1/4 cup chopped walnuts to the flour mixture and, because my waffle iron is ancient and slow, I added 1/2 teaspoon baking powder to the flour mixture. Baking soda reacts quickly with the acid in the buttermilk, but the baking powder would continue to give lift to the waffles throughout the cooking time.

Once I decided to bake the waffles, I realized that I had both blueberries and raspberries, so I added about 1/4 cup each to the flour mixture right before I added the liquid. It takes a bit of care to mix in the liquid and not crush the berries, but it's worth it! Just the fragrance of the hot raspberries is intoxicating.

These were great waffles...light, crispy on the outside and tender and fluffy on the inside. The buttermilk adds tang and the walnuts and berries added crunch and flavor. Soooo good. Try this one yourself!

Buttermilk Waffles
Press Democrat and Washington Post by Becky Krystal

Makes 5 servings (five 7-inch round waffles)

2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 large eggs,
2 cps (480 ml) buttermilk (whole or low-fat)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick/57 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for optional topping 
Note: May substitute some or all with neutral oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 cup each blueberries and raspberries (optional)
Neutral oil, for brushing the waffle iron
Maple syrup, for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Have a large baking sheet ready.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Stir in the walnuts.
In a separate medium bowl whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Whisk in the buttermilk, butter and vanilla until combined.

Add the berries to the flour mixture and gently toss to coat with flour and combine with the flour mixture.

Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture gently until it forms a smooth, thick batter...any lumps should be fruit.

Brush a waffle iron with oil or spray with nonstick spray, and preheat it according to the manufacturer's directions. Ladle enough of the batter to cover three-fourths  of the surface of the iron...roughly 1/2 to 3/4 cups (120-180 ml) of batter per waffle. Close the waffle irone and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the iron alerts you the waffle is done. You will be looking for the waffle to be crisp and golden brown.

Repeat with the remaining batter, placing finished waffles on the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm, if desired.

Serve with maple syrup, pats of butter or other toppings as desired.

Friday, January 12, 2024

A New-To-Me Green

My neighbor who has the chicken, sheep and cow also has wonderful raised beds and she grows lots of veggies. Recently she asked if I'd like some spigarello leafy greens because she had a lot of them. I had to look up what kind of greens spigarello are. Turns out they are like a combination of arugula and kale, although they are members of the broccoli family. 

Broccoli spigarello, or spigarello for short, has the bluish-gray hue of its cousin cavolo nero (Italian black kale). Its leaves are like long, thin broccoli leaves with ruffled edges that twist and twirl upward from the stem.

She brought over a produce bag full and we enjoyed them for a couple of meals.

Never having cooked these greens, I decided to go with a method that would allow the greens to shine. I sautéed a half onion in a little olive oil, turning the heat to low after a minute, then stirred frequently until they were translucent and a little bit golden in color. I rinsed the greens briefly in cold water and then threw them into the pot where I stirred them quickly to coat with the onions and oil. In just minutes they wilted. I sprinkled in a bit of good balsamic vinegar, about a 1/2 teaspoon, stirred that in and served the spigarello greens as a side dish to the hunter's style chicken.

They made a great contrast to the mellow chicken and tomatoes and mushrooms since the greens were slightly bitter but flavored with the slight sweetness of onion and vinegar.

If you don't have access to this particular green, try arugula, chard, kale, broccolini...all of them would be great prepared this way.

Saturday, January 06, 2024

Italian Hunters Chicken Stew

Just imagine yourself out in the woods, someplace in Italy. It's a frigid January evening and you and your hunting companions have bagged yourselves a brace of some kind of wild fowl. While you were kneeling behind shrubbery under an oak tree, you noticed that there were mushrooms and later, in a meadow, wild parsley growing. Various members of the group had brought some tomatoes, an onion, some olive oil, salt and pepper and a pot with lid. Of course all of you had sharp knives.

After the fire had gotten going and the most intrepid of you had cleaned and cut up the poultry, the designated cook for the evening put together a delicious hunters stew using what was available. Maybe it was the company, maybe it was the alcoholic beverage consumed as you waited for the chicken to stew, maybe it was the fresh air and freedom, but you were certain that you had never tasted a better stew!

Fortunately, we don't have to cook out of doors to have a delicious Hunter's Chicken Stew. We can make it in the kitchen and the simple ingredients allow us to put it all together fairly quickly and then into the oven for about 40 minutes to stew.

You start by browning the chicken in a tiny bit of olive oil. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but a cut up whole chicken or a mixture of parts, with skin or without work well, too.

After you remove the browned chicken from the pan, you sort of stir-fry the thinly sliced onions quickly. Once those are removed, you add a bit more olive oil and brown the mushrooms. A can of diced tomatoes and juice get added. The acid in the tomato juice allows you to scrape up the browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan, adding great flavor to the stew juices.

Everything goes back into the pan after you've added salt and pepper to taste. Then you sprinkle on a good amount of Italian parsley, cover the pan and into the oven it goes. Much easier than the time the hunters had! When it's finished, you have a wonderful pan of tender, falling-of-the-bone (if you used chicken with bones) flavorful chicken, plus a savory pan sauce to enjoy.

Serve this up with something that will soak up the juices...polenta, mashed potatoes, rice, or chunks of crusty bread. A green salad on the side is about all you need to have a wonderful meal. Still have things to do? That's O.K....you can leave the pan in the turned-off oven for up to an hour more before serving.

Chicken Cacciatore
Based on a recipe from Women’s Day 12-14-82

1 chicken, cut up (I used 7 chicken thighs)
1 large onion, sliced thin
4 oz. fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 16 oz. can tomatoes, cut up
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

salt & pepper to taste & olive oil for the bottom of the pan & an oven-proof pan

Sprinkle chicken with salt. In a large, heavy ovenproof skillet, over medium heat, brown chicken in hot oil. (I use just enough oil to coat the pan bottom to keep the chicken from sticking. If you have a large, heavy ovenproof non-stick skillet, you don’t even need the oil.)
Add the onion; cook about 3 minutes, stirring, until the onion is crispy-tender. Remove and put with the browned chicken. Add another tablespoon olive oil and the sliced mushrooms. Stir to coat, cover, turn heat to low, and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove pan from the heat. Stir in the tomatoes and pepper. Add back the chicken and onions. Sprinkle with the parsley. Cover the pan.
Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree F. oven for about 40 minutes, or until tender.
Serve, or stand in turned off oven up to 1 hour.
Serves 4-6.