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.

 

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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GABBY COOKS – bean cakes on kale

Clean & serene living means learning healthy habits and good eating.  And I love recipes that are quick and simple.  Here’s one of my new favorites.  It serves 2.

Gabby created this recipe especially for his friend, Suze, a devoted lover of kale.  For anyone wishing to eat healthfully on a budget, beans are a must.  They are loaded with fiber and nutrients plus they are a great source of low fat protein.  Even more economical are the variety of dried beans available at the local grocery store.  With planning, dried beans are almost as easy as opening a can.

I discussed the absolute magic of kale in our diets in a previous post chili kale and beans.  Refer to that post to understand why kale should be a part of one’s everyday meal planning.  The bean cakes are a great idea because the flavor can be easily changed with different herbs and spices or different vegetables.  Whatever vegetable you have in the fridge that needs to be used is fair game.  Cumin is always good with beans, but chili powder would add an additional layer of flavor.  Be playful, experiment.  It’s not like you are going to ruin a $22 filet of fresh grouper or a $15 steak.  Mmmmmm, remember the days when fresh fish and steaks were affordable?

here are the ingredients

For the bean cakes

  1. a 14 oz can of black beans drained and rinsed or 1 cup dried black beans prepared according to directions for dry beans
  2. 1/2 cup chopped celery
  3. 1/2 cup chopped onion
  4. 1 clove garlic minced
  5. 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  6. 1 egg stirred
  7. 1/2 tsp cumin
  8. 6 TBS cooking oil
  9. salt & pepper to taste

For the kale salad

  1. 3 to 4 cups fresh kale leaves stripped from the center rib and cut into bite-size pieces
  2. a 14 oz can of yellow corn
  3. 1/2 cup chopped onion
  4. 1 tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  5. salt & pepper
Directions
  1. If using dried beans that have been soaked, add the beans to 2 quarts of water in a cookpot, bring to a slow boil and cook for 1 hour checking several times to add water if necessary
  2. Meanwhile, in a non-stick fry pan heat 2 TBS cooking oil over a medium heat
  3. Add the chopped onion, celery and garlic and saute to a golden tenderness being careful not to scorch the garlic
  4. Set aside and prepare the kale-corn salad
  5. Place the 1/2 cup chopped onion in a large bowl
  6. Add the kale and toss with the onion
  7. Sprinkle liberally with salt and add the lemon juice or cider vinegar
  8. And this is the secret to enjoying a fresh kale salad that is not fibrous and chewy.  In the bowl crumble with your fingers the kale mixture.  Massage it gently as if you are in love with it.  This will immediately cause a tenderizing reaction with the kale making it tender and flavorful.
  9. Add the corn, cover and chill
  10. Back to the beans which are cooked and tender
  11. Drain them and reheat the onion, celery, garlic mix in the pan
  12. Toss the beans with the mixture, mash with a potato masher to a pasty consistency
  13. Place in a bowl and allow to cool
  14.  Add 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, the egg and cumin
  15. Salt and pepper to taste, mix well
  16. Wipe out the pan and heat 4 TBS oil over medium-high heat
  17. Form the bean mixture into patties and roll in the remaining 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  18. Fry in the oil until golden brown flipping once
  19. Serve over the kale salad

 

 

Gabby’s garden

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I just got my winter garden planted last week.  Below is what it looked like about a month ago.  Summer heat and humidity along with a flooded yard took its toll.

But, our Florida weather turned beautifully fall within two days, I pulled weeds, spaded the 4 X 10 raised bed, pulled more weeds and raked the soil.  On October 25th the seeds were sown for my winter garden.

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I’m a Yankee gardener from many years ago.  My Grandpa raised over 5 acres of vegetables to huckster at nearby markets and he had several acres of orchards which included Northern Spy, Macintosh, Rambo, Delicious, Cortland and Rome Beauty apples plus numerous varieties of pears and plums.  Grandma had a quince tree in the yard from which she made a delicious jam.

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So, for me, gardening in Florida was a challenge because unlike up north in Pennsylvania, summertime in Florida is best spent sipping mint juleps by the pool rather than toiling in the vegetable patch.  Bugs, blights, birds, and awful humidity guarantee minimal returns on the gardening labor.

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On October 25th I planted kale, radishes, carrots, red beets, and spinach in the raised bed.  In the pots I planted sugar peas.  The radishes and kale poked through the ground within 4 days.  That’s what the above pictures show.  The spinach and red beets emerged today, just 6 days after planting.

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To all my relatives and friends up north enduring the first fingers of frost and chilly temperatures bracing for the wintertime snows and frozen gardens, HAPPY GARDENING from sunny Florida.

GABBY COOKS – chili kale & beans

Clean & serene living means learning healthy habits and good eating.  And I love recipes that are quick and simple.  Here’s one of my new favorites.  It serves 2.

All the experts tell us about the nutritional values of kale.  But, I’m tired of kale in my salads and white bean & kale soup.  And good Lord, who can get past the visual of kale juice in an eight ounce juice glass.  Here’s a new twist on healthy eating.

Kale is a member of the cabbage family Brassica oleracea.  Of all the super healthy greens, kale is acclaimed as king.  Some of the beneficial compounds in kale have powerful medicinal properties.

A single cup of raw kale ( 2.4 ounces) contains:

  • 206% of DV of vitamin A (daily required value)
  • 684% of DV of vitamin K
  • 134% of vitamin C
  • 9% of vitamin B-6
  • 26% of manganese
  • 9% of calcium
  • 10% of copper
  • 9% of potassium
  • 6% of magnesium

This 2.4 ounces also contains 3% or more of DV for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, and phosphorous.  This nutrient dense green contains very little fat, but that fat is mostly the healthy omega-3.  And it pumps another 3 grams of protein into your diet.

Red beans, also known as Mexican red beans,  are nutrition dynamos.  They are rich in antioxidants and packed with protein, folate, minerals, and fiber including resistant starch.  Resistant starch boosts the body’s ability to burn fat, aids the full feeling, and controls blood sugar.  A 1/2 cup serving will provide 90 calories and 7 grams of protein.

Great Northern beans per 1/2 cup serving contain 104 calories, and provide 6.2 grams or 25% of fiber DV plus a little over 7 grams of protein.  They are rich in vitamin B-6 and are dense in minerals and amino acids.

I love using dry beans in cooking.  They have a better flavor and are much less expensive.  The process of a soak is easily manageable when planned ahead of time.  My favorite soak method is to place the desired amount of beans in a heavy cookpot, cover with water, bring to a boil for one minute, turn off the heat, cover with a lid and allow to sit for at least an hour.  When ready to cook, drain and rinse, and cover with plenty of water or broth (at least 2 inches over the beans).  Cook on slow simmer for an hour or until tender.

here are the ingredients

 

  1. 1/2 cup dry Mexican red beans
  2. 1/2 cup dry great northern beans
  3. 4 cups rinsed and chopped kale center ribs removed
  4. 1-2 TBSP olive oil
  5. 1 quart vegetable or chicken broth
  6. 1 bay leaf
  7. up to 1 TBSP chili powder
  8. 1 tsp dried oregano
  9. salt
directions
  1. place the beans in a heavy cookpot, cover with water and bring to a boil
  2. allow to boil for 1 minute and turn off heat, cover pot, soak for 1 hour
  3. drain and rinse the beans, return to the pot
  4. add the quart of broth or stock
  5. add the bay leaf and dried oregano
  6. bring to a boil, reduce heat to low simmer and cook for 1 hour
  7. add water during cooking to keep beans covered with liquid
  8. preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  9. meanwhile, rinse the kale leaves, cut out the center rib
  10. chop into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl
  11. add the olive oil and toss with kale to evenly coat
  12. sprinkle salt and desired amount of chili powder on the kale
  13. toss again to evenly coat
  14. spread the kale on a baking sheet and place in the oven
  15. allow about 10-15 minutes in the oven until the leaves wilt and slightly brown on the edges
  16. when the beans are tender, add the kale and stir to mix
  17. simmer for another 15 minutes to blend the flavors

I love this served atop a baked potato ( microwave will work) with a dollop of sour cream.  Sharp cheddar sounds good, too.  This is a power-packed dish that takes a little time to prepare, but is very simple with only a few ingredients.