GABBY COOKS – fresh beets

A dear friend of mine is an exercise freak.  When she’s not cooking a scrumptious omelet or mixing a Greek salad, she is jogging or working out at the gym.  I asked her, ” Why the strenuous activity and attention to a healthy diet?”

“When I die,” she responded, “I am being cremated.  I don’t want to be a grease fire.”

Okay, okay, you’ve heard it before.  I just couldn’t let that little snippet pass without sharing it with you guys.  But, it is a great bit of advice to heed.  Obesity is becoming a leading health concern in the United States.

I’ve been enjoying fresh red beets ever since my boyhood days on the farm.  The sweetness surpasses anything that comes in a can with a beet label.  When I bought a few at the market today, my friend said he loved beets but did not know how to cook them.  I’m sure most of you know what to do with beets, but for the few who don’t, this post is for you.

The beetroot is the taproot of the beet plant known in North America as the table beet, garden beet, red beet, or golden beet.  It is a cultivated variety of Beta vulgaris.  They are a powerhouse of beneficial nutrients including vitamins A, C, E, K, and the B vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, B6, B12, pantothenic acid and folate.  They are also high in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.  Additionally, beets contain important phytonutrients and dietary fiber.

Beets are not recognized as a super food as much as kale or blueberries, but these roots can hold their ground against the best of super foods.  Check the link

your wellness guide

for all the great health benefits available.  And if you are not yet convinced, BEETS ARE CONSIDERED AN APHRODISIAC.  Yeah, I can see those busy little fingers tapping on the keyboard now.  The high content of boron boosts sex hormone production and the nitrates increase blood flow to the organs.  Guys, y’all know what that means.  Hey, I’m just passing along information available on the great link I provided above.

There is a simple method to cooking those great roots.  I learned it from my grandma who pulled bushels of red beets from the garden and canned them.

ingredients

red beets

directions
  • If you are lucky enough to buy beets with the tops, cut the tops off about 1 ” above the root.  DO NOT CUT INTO THE ROOT.  The tops are delicious cooked or in salad.
  • Scrub, scrub, scrub the roots
  • Place in a pot large enough to cover them with cold water
  • Cook for about an hour.  It depends on the size of the beet
  • Refrain from piercing the roots until you think they have cooked long enough
  • Pierce one beet for tenderness
  • Remove from the heat and run cold water over them
  • When cool enough to handle slip the skins off.  You will be amazed how easy they skin
  • The top and the root ends will have a coarse texture.  Slice them off

Now you have fresh, cooked beets ready to prepare according to your favorite recipe.  Honestly, I keep a bowl full in the refrigerator and eat them like snack candy.  They are that sweet.

GABBY COOKS – pickled beef tongue

Hey, if you haven’t tried it, don’t knock it.  This is not the time to be squeamish.  The major problem with this recipe is finding a fresh beef tongue in your neighborhood.  I highly discourage anyone from raiding farmer Brown’s beef herd for that tongue.  My favorite butcher shop which sold beef tongues and hearts went the way of other mom-n-pop stores in my neighborhood when the corporate stores moved in.  But, I have wonderful memories of a pickled beef tongue sandwich slavered with a horseradish sauce and a bag of potato chips.  Gabby says, “It don’t get any better than this.”

here are the ingredients

 

  1. 1 beef tongue scrubbed, rinsed, then scrubbed again
  2. about 4 quarts of cold water
  3. 1 onion sliced
  4. 1 carrot sliced (optional)
  5. 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  6. 1/4 cup sugar
  7. 1 TBS pickling spice
  8. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  9. 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  10. 2 bay leaves
  11. 1 tsp salt
directions
  1. In a large pot cover the beef tongue with 4 quarts water
  2. Add the onion and sliced carrot.  Simmer for 3 hours and reserve 3 cups of the water
  3. When the tongue is cooled, remove the outer skin
  4. In the cooking pot combine the remaining ingredients with 3 cups of the reserved cooking stock
  5. Add the tongue and simmer for about 15 minutes
  6. Place the tongue in a plastic container, cover with the cooking liquid, cover the container and store in refrigerator for 3 or 4 days

When pickled, the tongue can be sliced and stored in mason jars in the brine.

 

GABBY COOKS – porcupines & mushroom sauce

There are no quills in this dish about which to be concerned.  It’s just simple, down-home cooking that combines pork, rice, and mushrooms in a one pot, stove top meal.  For many years pork was the bad boy in the health-conscious diet.  Those ribs, chops, sausages, and bacon were attributed with ailments from cardio-vascular disease to bad skin.  Baby, times have changed.

We don’t eat pork 5 nights a week nor do we have BLTs  at every lunch.  But, in moderation, chops, ribs, cutlets, sausages are a wonderful alternative to beef and chicken.  Remember – pork is the other white meat.

Here are some pork facts:

  • pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig (Sus scrofa domesticus)
  • it is the most commonly consumed meat worldwide
  • pig husbandry dates back to 5000 B.C.
  • pork is the most popular meat in Eastern and Southeastern Asia
  • Asia cuisines prize it for its fat content and texture
  • it is forbidden by Jewish, Muslim, and Rastafarian dietary law for religious reasons

A three and one-half ounce serving of lean pork contains the following nutritional value:

  • 13.92 grams fat
  • 27.32 grams protein
  • 36% DV of Vitamin B-6
  • 29% DV of Vitamin B-12
  • 35% DV phosphorous
  • 25% DV zinc

Add this meat to the wholesome goodness of mushrooms and rice – voila – heaven in a Dutch cooker.

here are the ingredients

 

 

  1. 1 cup cooked white rice
  2. 1 LB ground pork
  3. 2 cloves chopped garlic
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1 tsp dried basil or 1 TBS chopped fresh basil
  6. 1 tsp dried parsley or 1 TBS chopped fresh parsley
  7. salt and pepper
  8. 2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
  9. 1 cup chicken broth
  10. 2 TBS flour
  11. 2 TBS butter
  12. 2 TBS oil, olive or canola

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook the rice according to directions
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the pork, garlic, herbs, salt & pepper, egg and mix well
  3. Reserve a small portion of the herbs to add to the mushroom sauce
  4. Add the cooked rice which has cooled and mix well
  5. Shape in balls just like meatballs, place on plate and chill for an hour
  6. After an hour’s chill, heat the oil in a Dutch oven or heavy pot with a lid
  7. Brown the porcupines in the oil
  8. Remove them from the pot
  9. Add the butter to the pot and another TBS oil
  10. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat evenly with melted butter and oil
  11. After about 3 minutes sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms
  12. Cook the flour to a light brown, don’t burn it, stirring as it cooks
  13. Add the chicken broth and stir to mix with the mushrooms
  14. Stir constantly until the broth thickens into a creamy sauce
  15. Add the reserved pinch of basil and parsley
  16. Return the porcupines, cover and simmer about 1/2 hour

This dish is complete in itself, but sometimes I like to serve it in a bowl over hot noodles.

CABBAGE, anyone?

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OK, I don’t want to hear any bellyaching about cabbage, “Ohhhh, it gives me gas,” or “I just don’t like cabbage or anything that smells like cabbage,” or “it stinks up my house when I cook it.”  Get over it!  Cabbage is wonderful.

My heritage is Pennsylvania Dutch.  Born and raised in Dutch country with traditional Dutch cooking, our New Year’s Day supper was always pork and sauerkraut.  Loved it!  But, I’ll cover that in another post sharing with you memories of cabbage fermenting in 5 gallon crocks in the cellar.  Mmmmm.

There are hundreds of ways to eat this vegetable, but one of our favorites happens to be a cole slaw recipe which I will gladly share with you after I trumpet the benefits of including this wonderfully nutritious vegetable in your diet – daily is not too often.  Sautéed and mixed with your morning scrambled eggs, simmered in a light lunch soup with garlic and tomatoes, or a robust stew with pasta for suppertime are just a few of the amazing ways to pack your diet with this delicious member of the brassica family.

First, let’s talk about the cousins of cabbage.  Yes, I’m sure you are familiar with most of them.  Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy (a friend begs my shrimp/bok choy/noodle bowl when constipation is a problem), broccoli, and last but not least, the famous sweetheart of super foods, kale.  So many ways to enjoy this treasure of the vegetable world that nobody should go through life lacking its benefits.

And those benefits are numerous indeed.  I’ll cover the highlights here for you, but check out the website nutrition-and-you.com for greater detail. These are percentages of RDA per gram of cabbage.  A small, one pound head of cabbage is 454 grams, so a person would consume several grams in one helping.

  • folates                                 13%
  • niacin                                  1.5 %
  • pantothenic acid               4%
  • pyridoxine                          10%
  • riboflavin                            3%
  • thiamin                                5%
  • vitamin A                             3%
  • vitamin C                              61%
  • vitamin K                              63% 
  • a host of minerals including potassium (helps control heart rate and blood pressure), manganese (used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase), iron, and magnesium.

Cabbage also packs phytochemicals, potent antioxidants known to protect against breast, colon, and prostate cancers.  Additionally they help reduce LDL, the “bad cholesterol” in the blood.

(Medical disclaimer)  Cabbage family members contain “goitrogens”, a compound that can cause swelling of the thyroid gland in people with thyroid dysfunction.

Now, that you are absolutely sold on the greatness of cabbage, here’s my favorite cole slaw recipe.

HERE ARE THE INGREDIENTS

  • about 1 pound of shredded cabbage (a small head)
  • up to 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (adjust this to your taste)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS 

Nothing fancy here – place the cabbage in a large bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients in a smaller bowl, taste it and adjust the dressing to your liking, mix well with the shredded cabbage, chill before serving.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR

My New Year’s Resolutions
  • To procrastinate as much as possible in doing the things that other people think I ought to do.
  • To eat as much ice cream as I want today because in today’s social turmoil tomorrow could see dairy cows going on strike.
  • To rest my muscles and watch TV from my recliner  more frequently because the latest scientific studies prove that the theory of exercise is a conspiratorial hoax promoted by 1) Democrats, 2) Republicans, 3) Independents, 4)Libertarians, 5) idiots, 6) all of the above.
  • To stop screaming at the TV while watching the day’s headline news and scream instead at my 1) neighbors, 2) significant other, 3) cat , 4) garbage man, 5) congressman.  (Folks, there is only one correct answer here)

Yes, 2018 has been less than most of us wanted.  2019 could be worse.  Buckle up and pay attention to the road signs.  Let’s try our best to make it serene and prosperous.

WISHING EVERYBODY SUCCESS IN 2019

fireworks 2019

Merry Christmas, Suze

Y’all know Gabby has a giving heart especially at Christmas.  The tree is up, most of the gifts are bought, cards are ready to send.  The bell-ringer at the grocery store gets a buck every time groceries are bought and a hearty Merry Christmas is exchanged with friends and neighbors and strangers.

But alas, one gift remains to be bought and sent.  Ms. Suze in Enid, Oklahoma, is a difficult gift to choose because, having seen pictures of her house, I know she has every creature comfort at her fingertips.  Any floral creation I could put together would pale sitting next to her beautiful craft work.  I considered sending her and George a crisp, new $500 bill, but money is such a cheap substitute for a real gift.

So, after much consideration, I finally came up with the ideal present.  It is not only useful and pretty, it is practical and healthy.  MERRY CHRISTMAS SUZE from Gabby and Larry in Florida.

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A carton of fresh, delicious kale from the sunny farms of Florida shipped every month for life to my dear friend in Oklahoma.  Enjoy!

smiley face 2EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHAW

Johnny prays

Eight year old Johnny and his family went to Grandma’s for Christmas dinner.  The feast was laid out on the table, Grandpa was carving the turkey, Grandma was checking to be sure all was in order.  As always it was an irresistible setting and finally all were seated ready to eat.

Johnny, unable to wait, began with the mashed potatoes and gravy.  Mother scolded him for not remembering his manners.  Johnny, with a mouthful of food, looked at her questioningly.

“Johnny, at home we always say a prayer before we eat.  Remember?”

“Yeah, but we’re at Grandma’s and she knows how to cook.”

ugly treeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHAW

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